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"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world," sang the orphans.

I stood amongst the sixty orphan children, mouth tightly shut, as the kids sang for a large church group which had come to visit our orphanage.

"Red or yellow, black or white they are precious in his sight," they continued to sing.

I looked around and thought to myself, "I don't see no black, red or yellow children here, just us real white kids."

I looked up and saw Mother Winters, the head matron, motioning for me to come to her position at the back of the dining room.

Slowly, I made my way through the group and stood, silently looking at Mother Winters' face. Her large head and big, dark red lips towering above me. She gently took me by the arm, smiled at the members of the church, and led me into the long, dark hallway. Within inches of entering the darkness I felt her long fingernails dig into my wrist. Tighter and tighter she dug until we reached her living quarters. All at once she grabbed me by the throat and slung through the open doorway. I rolled against the wall and lay there shaking, waiting for her next move.

"You want these God damn church people to think we don't love you little bastards?" She screamed.

"No ma'am, Mother Winters."

"You get your ugly little ass out there and I had better hear you sing louder than anyone else. You got that?"

"Yes ma'am, Mother Winters."

Slowly I picked myself up off the floor and headed back down the hallway. Her thumbnail pushed into the middle of my back as if it were a sharp spear. My eyes traveled from right to left, and then from left to right, as I looked into the smiling faces of the people from the church.

I took my place in line and stood there waiting to see what we would be instructed to do.

As the preacher talked about how much the world loved children; my mind wondered if anyone would ever know about the beatings we received almost every Saturday. How we raked leaves and pine straw, cleaned floors and bathrooms from morning till night, day after day, week after week and year after year. My legs began to ache as the large man, with dark stained teeth, rambled on and on about nothing important. I watched as Mother Winters smiled as the various church members who would look in her direction, nodding in recognition of what a fine job she was doing caring for us poor orphans. I also notice the dirty looks she would give me as she tilted her head and showed her snarling teeth.

"In closing this precious event, I think it is only proper that the little children sing "Jesus loves the little children," one more time, said the Preacher.

He began waiving his hands as though he were instructing an orchestra.

"Jesus loves the little children," the kids began singing.

Mother Winters looked at me, pressed her lips together as if to say "You sing, or you are dead you little bastard."

"All the children of the world," I sang.

"RED AND YELLOW, BLACK OR WHITE, they are precious in his sight. JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE BASTARDS OF THE WORLD." I screamed, as loud as I could.

I ran toward the breezeway door, pushing and shoving, knocking down children and adults as I traveled.

To this day I don't know why I did what I did, but I knew I would be beat to death once Mother Winters got hold of my "ten-year-old ugly ass." I was shaking, crying and my mind was in a state of total confusion and fear. My ears burned as I felt sharp, electrical impulses shoot, like lighting bolts, through my "little retarded brain."

As I look back I remember Judge Gooding sentencing me to ten days in the Juvenile Hall lockup for using "bad language," and for doing such "a despicable thing in front of God fearing people."

Even to this day I cannot stand to hear that song. I still do not know if Jesus loved those little orphan children, but I know this: I sure did (and still do).

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