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Delbert William (Bill) Bailey
My name is Delbert Bailey and I received your 'thewhitehouseboys.com” newsletter on the 4th of this month.
Feb. 19, 2009, I signed up with the Masterson Law Group, in St. Pete. I also spoke with you for a few minutes on the phone, along about that time. To start off, I have enclosed $20.00, toward the website and those books of facts you mentioned. I wish it could be more but I am on a fixed income these days (SS-disabled-lost my leg among other things). I will send what I can each month, as I have learned of your efforts to help children and you can count me in. I have seen your posts in the Fl times Union also from time to time.
I was on the above website and I would appreciate my name being listed there, among the others.
I was in FSB in Marianna, in '65' & '66 for about 13 months.
I would appreciate it if you could also list my story. I had a couple of other things to mention to you but am having a senior moment, so I will begin my story, and insert them back up here near the top, when I recall them.
Re; The attached images. The only one of me young I could find was taken in '73 in Attica Correctional Facility in New York. The other was a year or so ago.
As a young fellow, I had a pretty abusive father and ran away a lot, starting at the age of twelve in South Miami. I pretty much was a confused lad and always in trouble.
I was sent to Marianna in July 1965. I had violated my probation (by running away) on which I had been placed on for skipping school. I was sent from Jacksonville, Florida and I was 16 years old.
I had heard about Marianna and Okeechobee as all kids in juvenile shelters had. Mostly, we were told of the beatings. The staff delighted in the telling...it was like they were telling us “ghost stories” on a campout or something.
One morning, about 4am, we three were loaded up in a station wagon for the most of a day ride to Marianna. At first, it wasn't so bad – it looked like a military school or something. I kept my nose clean and made pioneer, I think, then was busted to a “grub with a 0”. It meant what it said in the title. Plus, when you got busted to grub O you got an automatic whipping'. Of course, they didn't call it that – they called it a 'spanking'.
It was at that point that I met the 'One-Armed Bandit', one of the 'paddle men. In fact, the worst 'paddle man' of all as fae as I am concerned. Of course, they were not called that. They were called 'Guidance Counselors!
There was a very pleasant appearing area in the center of the campus with Live Oaks, benches, flowers and sidewalks. If you stood in the center and did a 360' you could see most of the buildings except the school and cottages. One of the surrounding buildings was where they did the counseling. There were several offices inside. A bench was outside and another bench was inside, in the hallway. Generally, counseling was done when there were enough offending boys stacked up to make it worth their while.
A short, mousy looking man came out of his office with rimless spectacles and one shirt sleeve folded to above the elbow. He introduced himself a Mr. Tidwell. I had heard about him and the leather paddle but I was not overly concerned. I had had my share of paddlings, including the renowned coach at Lee High school, Leonard Skinner. The man had an upswing that would actually lift your feet off the floor. Plus, I had been bounced around by grown men (guards) in the shelter. However, I had never been 'spanked' with a leather strap/paddle before.
Mr. Tidwell counseled me and then the others, but me first since I was still new, I guess. Most of it I had heard at orientation.
“Bailey, if you ever get 'rabbit blood' go ahead and run. There are no fences here. We have rabbit jeeps to chase you and can call over to the young man's prison at Apalachicola, for bloodhounds. When we get done with you, you will probably spend a few days in the hospital here before going to isolation” I started thinking this guy was enjoying his job too much and was a little creepy.
After the counseling, I was told to go to my cottage and they would come tonight or tomorrow to take me for my so called spanking.
My buddies told me it could be anywhere up to a week before they came and the experienced ones told me the routine. By the time my night came I was sufficiently terrified.
I was in Adam's Cottage locker 101 at the bottom of the hill. We could see the state car coming at night with its lights off. Two miles an hour, from a mile away. An old blue '61 Ford, stopping at different cottages along the way, picking up kids who were doomed. A full load was four in the back seat. One man would drive and Mr. Tidwell would be shotgun, always. There were three or four paddle men who were there in Marianna. One was Tidwell, Mr. White (a giant), Mr. Williams and a black man named Mr. Crockett (years later he would run the whole juvenile system). We called him the 'grey ghost. He was very sneaky – if you looked up he was just there – right there from out of nowhere, like he just appeared or something. He was said to be second behind Tidwell in how bad he could hurt you. Luckily, I never tasted his justice. All were feared greatly. If you saw the car coming with two men in it at night; you knew somebody was going down.
Three or four nights later became my night. This was on purposein order to make you sweat it out a few days. It was called “taking us to get ice cream at the 'Whitehouse'”. It was a little block white building near the chow hall. Mr. Tidwell always unlocked the door and would say right off, “Mr. White, would you please turn on the fan.” And then usher us inside into a long hallway with a big industrial fan at the other end. It was loud and scary – you knew it was so no one could hear the sounds and screams from within, as much as to cool the guys off who where administered the licks.
I doubt any kid ever walked through that door with a pulse less than 135 beats per minute.
It was a smallish building with a hallway running down the middle with cells along each side. I think it was 5 to a side. No longer any doors on them for a few years – it had once been solitary confinement. The white kids went to the right and the black kids to the room on the left. It had been the only place boys of both colors were housed. The black cottages were on the north side of the Panama City Highway – the whites were on the south side. This was the South, in the 60's.
So, they would sit the boys who waited for their beating in the last cell on the left. The one they were working on would be in the last cell on the right. It was the opposite for the black kids – or so we heard – we really didn't know. Mr. Tidwell must have really wanted me bad because I went first. He took this leather paddle about three or four inches wide, with a handle on one end. The deal was, you had to lie on this bed with a mattress and pillow – they were old and flecks of old blood were all over them. You were instructed to hold onto the bar at the head of the bed and turn you head away. If you turned it back mid-spanking or came up off the bed they would get kitchen boys to hold you down and start all over.
At this point, my attention was undivided. I had been warned by my friends DON'T tighten your cheeks – if you did, your skin would bust and bleed after the first few hits. Tidwell always shuffled when he swang. Then, as he was swinging the tip of the paddle would hit first the wall, then the ceiling, then POW!!! So, my friends had advised – listen – shuf shuf, tick, tick then Loosen your butt.
This is really giving me goose bumps, typing this.
I had never known that kind of pain before that first lick or that kind of terror. I was sure I would let go of the bar – my head turned a little, once and Tidwell hollered “Turn that head back, boy” and I obeyed immediately. I thought they would go on forever, the licks never seemed to end – in the back of my head i was trying to count, but I don't know where. I got nineteen licks the first time I went down. Then I was made to sit on the other side while the other boys got their beating.
I soon learned I had been the lucky one. If you are not the first, or second, you have to listen to those loud swats, and screams waiting your turn. When I got back to my cottage my butt was a big black and blue welt and there was blood in three places where I was busted and cut. When the skin welts up it doesn't take much of a twitch on the paddle to break the skin. My Papaw was a barber and I knew a razor strap when I saw one. It was a bit thicker and wider, but a limb razor strap, nonetheless. You could hold it straight up without holding or bending the end with the other hand. Tidwell didn't have another hand.
At first glance, he was a crème puff accountant looking, soft spoken little one armed man. He was the most vicious, and sadistic man I have ever been on the business end of, for sure. Least I forget, the reason they came for you at night? Always after 8:00 showers when you were in your P.J.'s; Thin Pj's and thin jockey shorts. That is how they did it, when they wanted to really hurt you bad. And t did hurt very badly!
When I first arrived, I was told that going down hurt so bad some kids cried. I swore to myself I would never and I didn't. Not ever. All total, I went down 14 times while I was there. I was nothing, if not an exceptionally slow learner, and stubborn in my ways. The least licks I ever got were 19. The most was 37. Mostly, they would number in the low-to-mid 20's Mostly from Tidwell but sometimes from the others.
When Tidwell took kids to be 'spanked' during the day, he would walk them over to the Whitehouse after having called another paddle guy to meet him there.
He would sing “It takes a worried man, to sing a worried song, I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long....you worried, Bailey?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Tidwell”
“Well, you won't be worried very long, son.”
Yeah, he enjoyed it too much! I am glad he has lived long enough to suffer his humiliation.
Another “Special Favorite” of mine was our cottage father, an old man called J.D. Howard (Baby Bird). He had these God-awful thick, long rubber bands. When we showered at night, prior to changing to our pj's he played a game. The showers had multiple heads, maybe 6 boys showered at a time. He watched and if he felt that somebody wasn't moving fast enough he would threaten jokingly, with the rubber band. You knew, if it was you, you had to haul ass through the doorway when you were done and hope he didn't pop you with it. He could write your name on your back – it hurt, really hurt – and he would laugh! Once, when I was in haul ass mode, I slipped and fell, hit my head on a mop bucket where the handle connected. Yeah, to the hospital, towel around my head, twelve stitches on the top left crown – the scar is still there today, a ridge, I have to be careful when I shave my head, or the razor will cut it. Just a little reminderance of the good old days, I remember almost every day.
Of course he apologized and laid off of his game awhile. But he went back to it but he never popped me again, only other kids.
There was verbal abuse on us as well, but these are the really big things, I have told about here.
I maxed out in Aug '66 and got on the Dawg (Greyhound Bus)
It took a lot of jails and two prisons for me to start growing up. In Attica in NY and down in Florida too, when I got back here. My last felony arrest was July 17, in '77 for punching a safe in Jacksonville. They caught me practically with my arm in the box. The cop who found me was very young, and as I was spread eagle against the wall, I could feel his gun barrel tapping me on the back of my head, he was so nervous, and I just prayed to God that he wouldn't shoot me.
Sitting in the back of the patrol car, I thought “here we go again” and decided this is enough. They finally got their point across.
To wrap up, I have been in some bad situations – some where I thought I was going to die for sure. Had my share of scrapes a few times not able to give as well as I got. I have never known a terror to equal that of the White House. No man has ever hurt me as bad as did Troy Tidwell. I never knew his first name, (or forgot it if I did), until I was channel-surfing early last year and switched to CNN and there it was; that little white building. There HE was, that little man. And that graveyard we had heard so many rumors about, but had never seen. Those cross, with no names....and I was bawling like a baby. What kinds of people do that to children?
Delbert W. Bailey Age; 61
1591 Lane Ave. S. #21-S
Jacksonville, Fl. 32210