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I was sent to Marianna Fla. FSB. Exactly 52 years ago to date. They called it “a crime” not going to school. I was 11 years old and hadn’t ever really gone to school; or at lease enough to know about what school was. My two sisters and I were victims of a broken home at an early age we stayed with my dad until he passed away. The family constantly traveling from state to state doing migrate work. I was nine years old at the time and was sent to a place called Crescent City Florida. Someone dropped us off on a porch where they say our mother lived but no one came home for days. A few concerned people came to our aid after a day or so, some body contacted the welfare and they came to check us out and found out it was our mother who lived there but she out of town. Mama finally returned home and was shocked to see my two sisters and I were there. My sister fourteen, my baby sister was seven and I was nine years old. Children left on the porch of a strange house in a strange town called Crescent City. Cold, tired and scared little children waiting on a strange lady called “Mama.’ Life for me ended in that little town. A life of having no idea of the woes of life or the lies that lay ahead. Having never gone to a school or knowing what school was at the time, being the age I was I assumed people thought I should know things and that was the beginning of the end of life as I knew it.
Well, when I went to this place they called “school,” I would do what seemly every one else was doing. But after going out to play and returning to class I would pull my shirt off in the classroom and blurt out whatever I felt. Always seemed like nobody wanted to talk or play any more. After a couple times they called the police to the school thinking something was wrong with me. I just didn’t know what to do or how I was suppose to act. I don’t think I will ever forget that policeman’s name (“WHITECAP”). He came to the school, talked to me in the office, and said if he had to come back one more time he was going to take care of me in a proper manner. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but the other children were laughing at me and I didn’t go back to school for a couple days. When I did return, because of my brother, I don’t remember what I did but Officer Whitecap came and took my brother and me into the principle office. He literally beat us half to death. A few days later my brother, Arthur, and I rode the school bus to his friend house and had to walk back home. He said he knew a short cut but during the walk the police picked us up and put us in jail charged us with “WALKING IN THE WRONG NEIGHBORHOOD LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO STEAL.”
Mother bought us back to Orlando, where I was born, and enrolled us in Holden Street School. I was having a very difficult time adjusting from “country life” and knew absolutely nothing about city life or city schooling. My brother would always leave me at home when he went out but he always stuck with me and I would always fight for him if somebody wanted to harm us. He didn’t like fighting much at all. As I can remember, we were walking to the store and this lady, Mrs. Alexander, stopped us and asked us our names. She wanted to know why we were not in school. After a brief conversation, we were riding in her car as she stated she wanted to get us some stuff for school and all that. Well, she took us to the Juvenile Center and we stayed there until they sent Arthur and I to the Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna, That is when all hell broke loose in our lives. All in all, I was good boy and tried my best to do all I was told to do by the Cottage-Father. Mr. Ellis of Robinson Cottage and Mr. Crockett was there. We use to call him “Radar” as he was long, tall and sneaky. He would pop up from out of no where and bust you. He had a habit of pointing that finger and beckoning for you to come to him. He would put your nose between his two fingers, squeeze it as hard as he could and then hit his hand with the other hand. That was his way of issuing a “mini punishment.”
I was not there very long before things started happening. One of the boys took me for a push-over. If you didn’t fight that’s what they took you for. Because I hadn’t got in any trouble he said I had to be “throwing a shift,” meaning ‘you are sneaking and telling the man everything that is going on.’ Every time I passed by him he would have something smart to say. He was trying to make a reputation off me. When it’s time for war is time for war and a fast quick war is what I gave him and I whipped his ass. I won’t forget that day because after that I didn’t have any other problems out of him. I was busted and that put me in the “GRUBS’ ranking which meant if you got written up you would get a ride to the dreaded White House Building.
I worked in the fields, feeding hogs, feeding cows, processing plant, laundry and the sewing room. “Even” numbered days we boys worked and on “Odd” numbered days we went to school. I took a test and made third grade. That is as far as I ever made it in school. If you fell asleep in school Mr. Evans (Johnny Drunk) would break one of those school rulers on your knuckles,
When I was there in 1957-59 Mr. Mitchell was The Superintendant. When I held a “Grub” rank I got a "spanking" for seem like everything possible. Mrs. Mobley, Mr. Mobley's wife, was one of the teachers. When I was getting some water in the hallway she seen me and she reported that I got a "spanking" and an additional four beatings following that.
The office boy would come to get you and take you to the office, if Mr. Mitchell put your in a certain basket you was going to ride that day, you go back to class hoping and praying the office boy didn’t come back at 5:PM for you if he did that indicated had to ride, that’s it. The first time Mr. Mobley and Mr. Tidwell rode us three or four packed in the back seat, when we got there Mr. Mobley opened the door turned the lights on he pushed open the door this place was like I never seen before after all I was only eleven years old I didn’t understand to much of anything going on except it was dirty smelly and dim lights we walked in a line in this dim lighted room a bed cart we sat on, bare of cover like in a death chamber pulled on that muttered big FAN the other boys shaking like a dog shitting Simon seeds. Mr. Mobley called the first boy in the other room across the hall, he was told to lye down and hold that bed, with that big fan running all you could hear was like a small scrape and THUMP THUMP-THUMP over and over the sound being drowned out like a hand clap with the palms hollow all we hear is moaning and groaning. By now it’s my turn and I am so scared I can’t hear all that was in my mind is this is not happening. That I am some place else and all I needed to do was fade away, vanish walk through the walls and go get my daddy. But shortly reality sit in and I was getting on that nasty bed, the boy before had wet the spot where my head had to be and then the first lick was like nothing I had ever felt before. The licks kept coming down on me and I prayed that I would not to turn loose of the bed. I tighten up my butt I wiggled back and forth, moaned and groaned. All I know is that each time I went to the White House that excruciating pain would shoot into my brain and I wouldn’t know where I was. I didn’t weigh 95 pounds soaking wet. I got spankings for fighting, not being able to keep up with the big boys on the farm. I cut the top of my big toe off with a hoe, got scald on my feet in the processing plant. I can still remember, it was like an out of body experience. I didn’t know weather to run, scream, fly, die, trembler or what. That is also another pain I can’t describe.
On the school side, I could hardly spell my name. All I remember about school was “Johnny Drunk” who would beat your knuckles until you can’t use your hand if you didn’t learn two things. We were instructed to write a letter home and you were guided as to what to say.
"Dear mother, How are you I am fine and hope by the time you receive this letter you will, be doing the same, I am in school today and we are having a good time learning not to get in trouble."
Say or write anything different and they would beat you half to death. All your letters were read before being sent out. One night I dreamed I attended my own funeral while doing time in Marianna. I honest to goodness dreamed I died and went to hell.
People would say why now, come after 52 years of being in Hell? Well do I need to say what like of knowledge can do for an unlearned person? (MY PEOPLE DIE FROM LACK OF KNOWLEDGE.) First he is considered as a want to be smart nigger need teaching a lesson, no where to turn no attorney to take the case, you know….The good old boys thing but when one door closes GOD opens another and then another and as we all know 'the show goes on.'
After the two trips to FSB; my next trip was to Florida State Prison, Oct. 10th 1960-6 months to 3 years my two brothers and I all went to prison, my older brother Willie Huntley Jr. age 18, now (deceased) Arthur Huntley age 15, and my self age 14, sentenced by judge Richard Cooper, The youngest boy ever sent to Prison from Orlando, Fl.
Return home after serving 2 years at Tallassee S.R.D. after all the punishment I received for being black, underprivileged, ignorant and many nightmares to live with for the rest of my life. I have learned to camouflage most of my past but the thoughts and the memories still live on.
It has not been an easy road to carry this type of burden. It took 25 years of abusing myself to gain some sort of control over my life and tucking away memories of often teary-eyed thoughts of the brutal beatings, the pride of human rights, education, freedom of speech as some of you scared state employed diminished supposed to be educated bastards. Many terrible things still live in a private sector of my brain. My struggle with alcohol, assault and battery charges, being in and out of small jails never seemed to end. Then there are the family issues. My first wife, GOD bless her forever, but even she could not understand why I could not stay home. After a while it was like you were chained and bound and for whatever reason I had to be free, to move when I choose. Many times she thought that I was running women in the streets, fighting, staying in small time trouble and that I couldn’t love her or my children. I couldn’t keep a job, I can’t stand anyone looking over my shoulders to make sure I did everything right. Report on time,' 'never be late' or 'come to my office.' When those types of things were said, my guard automatically went up. After being treated and beaten in the manner that I had; I promised to forever strike first anytime danger came close to me.
After coming out of prison in 1962 at 16 years old, I vowed to do what I could to stay clean, follow the rules, and if possible go to the army when I turned 18. But it never occurred to me you had to have a 12th grade education and have no criminal records to do so. I turned 18 didn’t understand when I went to register for the US Army these facts. In 1968 I was living in Georgia when my mother contacted me and told me I had a long letter from the Army. I asked her to open it and let my step dad read it. It read: "YOU ARE HEREBY INDUCTED INTO THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. PLEASE REPORT TO YOUR INDUCTION STATIION IN JACKSONVILLE FL. TRANSFERRED TO ATLANTA GA. INDUCTION STATION." From there I went to Fort Benning Georgia for infantry training and Viet Nam bound. I took my basic training, got married and off to Fort Lewis Washington I went. The army is another institution and to many memories of Marianna and prison. “NO WAY,” I told my First Sergeant. I was going home and I did. Three years later the FBI came to get me off my job took me back to the military stockade and the debt was settled. I have an "other than honorable" discharge and until this day it still remains the same.
Richard Huntly. May, 15th ,2009