Claude Robbins

a.k.a The White House

LORD! It was just a dream. Just another dream, but LORD, why is my heart beating so fast? Why am I taking such short breaths? LORD! Why does my body seem to hurt so much? Why do I feel the agony if it was just a dream? Why, LORD? Why? I want to cry, but I can't. Not to cry for myself, but to cry for the boy, the one I was. If I cry, the dream may come again tonight, just start all over again, like it used to do. If I cried the beatings stopped for a minute while I composed myself and then it started all over again. If I already had ten or fifteen licks and started squirming or crying the man stopped until I quit crying and then he started all over again. All over again! No, I won't cry. I won't cry! Not even for the boy I was. After all, it was a dream. Just a dream! Maybe it will help if I write down the way it was. Just the way I remember it. It started when I was abandoned in Jacksonville, Florida by my mother. I was put in the Barrett Memorial Home for Boys. I kept running away to look for my mother, but she was long gone and it was years before I got to see her again. The last time I ran away from the home I was put in the juvenile shelter. Being a runner I was put in a cell with another boy. His name was Russell Rafuse. On January 31, 1951, my thirteenth birthday, someone brought my little brother, David, to see me. I've never seen him since and I still miss him. (Where are you, brother?)

In the door of the cell I was in, there was a square hole about four feet above the floor. This is the way we communicated with the boys who were not locked up, and also with Pop Derickson, the man in charge of all the boys. One day a boy spilled something on the floor and asked me for a rag to clean up the mess. I handed him a towel through the communication hole and forgot about it. A little later Pop Derickson called me over to the hole to talk to me and I put my head there to hear him. That's when he busted me with his fist and laid me out on the floor. I guess that had something to do with the towel. He didn't offer any reason and I had better sense than to ask him. Later that day Russell and I decided to see if we could break out of the cell. There was a little rectangular window in back of our cell that faced the alley. We waited until after bedtime when the supervisor went downstairs for something and Russell broke the window out with his shoe while I kept watch. We tied our bed sheets together and slid out the window, both of us getting cut some on the broken glass left in the window frame. It was a tight fit. Russell went first and slid down the sheets. I could hear him in the dark, but couldn't see. Finally I heard him say "Come on down, but be careful. The sheets aren't long enough." Because of the basement, we were two and a half stories above the alley. The drop from the sheets was probably about ten or twelve feet. Nothing to do but let go. Russell took me to Beaver street as I was lost, then he left. I stayed around McDuff Avenue and Beaver Street for a couple of months and got caught again. This time I was sent to the Florida Industrial School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. I was sent there for being wayward.

What caused my latest dream was a sign. No, not a sign from heaven, but a directional sign. I had gotten off Interstate 10 highway to take a rest and find a restaurant. While on US highway 90, I stopped at an intersection and there was the sign: ARTHUR G. DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS. It was like getting hit in the chest with a sledge hammer. Instead of continuing on to my family reunion in Jacksonville, I decided to eat and spend the night in a motel.

LORD! LORD! It appears the school was named after a demon. Listen to me and I will tell you through the eyes and mind of a child and the memory of an old man. My memory may be faulty on some things, but not on what I intend to tell you on these pages. I can look back over the years and see, sometimes with startling clarity, the terrible things that happened to me and many other boys I was acquainted with. Forgive me if the story sometimes gets out of order, but it will all come together and be as clear as a bell when it is all put together. You will soon see that I am not a writer, but you may soon see that my story is told by an old man who has nothing to gain by lying or making up things that are not true. After all, I must live with the knowledge that I am an honest person or that I am a liar. I am just too near the end of my life to start lying now or to smear the reputation of any person who may be alive or may have relatives who may be hurt. I'm going to tell it like it was and let the chips fall where they belong. I may get sidetracked here and there as I tell the story, but I will keep returning to Mister Arthur G. Dozier, one in a million, nobody else exactly like him. Child abuser, molester, killer, all of these things and more.. Thank God I didn't have to spend much time around him.

The first time I remember the man was on the day I arrived at the institution. He was talking to the ladies in the office and gave the impression to me that he was a pleasant man. I thought he would be a nice person to be around. I was soon to find out that his face was just as pleasant when he was beating boys as when he was talking to the ladies. He could be smiling while the boys were getting the blood and shit beat out of them. What a man! We boys, who got a low grade any time during the week, had to wait and get our whippings on Saturday. Ten o'clock in the morning. After breakfast on that day we went to the office and sat there waiting from about eight thirty to nine thirty, getting more scared by the minute. About nine thirty we were escorted to the ICE CREAM FACTORY, aka THE WHITE HOUSE, where we got in line and waited to get beat. The more savvy boys tried to get to the front of the line. They wanted to get it over with and get out of there. I wasn't a sissy, but still I didn't see any sense in being eager to be first to get beat. Well, it didn't take me long to see the wisdom of being in the front of the line. Wow! You got beat and sent back to your work area and it was over. The boy behind you had to hear you get beat and the anticipation was worse. The boys who were tenth or twelfth in line heard it all. Some of the boys were maybe eight or nine or ten years old and they sometimes lost control. Some cried and called for mama. Some called for Jesus. Some just cried no no no, over and over. The most common cry was just please, please, please, as if begging for mercy. But there was no mercy in that place.

Mister Dozier just kept smiling and maybe put his finger to his lips to signal quiet as he pushed another boy through the door. Some of the boys fainted and were dragged out the side door like a dead hog and left there to recover. Of course they were not really dead. When they recovered they were sent back to their work area. I don't know if any boys ever received medical treatment. Lots of boys were injured during the course of their stay, but I never heard of any being treated. I'm sure some were treated; just as I am sure some were killed and disposed of. Probably they were written up as escaped. I never heard of any successful escapes but plenty of the runners were shot at. No boy was brought back with bullet wounds. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened to them. I challenge any one to introduce me to a successful escapee from that institution during the nineteen fifties. There were not any in the time I was there. Some of the boys were sure to have died from abuse but probably only once in a while. I know my friend Tommy was killed by abuse. One day he was just gone and the next day it was reported that he was dead. Died at the mental institution, or while being transported there. Hell, the boy was only gone one day and he was not that bad off.

Finally it was my turn and I got the worst beating and the most bloody I ever got. The worst I ever received. I don't know who the beater was, but he was good at using the paddle. A kid is not allowed to look at the man with the paddle. Once through the White House door, you are told to lay face down on the cot, face down, bite the pillow, hold the bars on the head of the bed, don't speak, holler, cry, and don't discuss the beating with the other boys or you get another beating. When they get through with the beating, you are told to get up and get out. Keep your mouth shut. Talking about it is one of the worse offenses a boy can commit. The worst offense is running. Next is talking about running or talking about the beating. You know better than to talk about the beating, but there are ways of doing so without saying a word. When in the shower the other boys look and they see what has happened to you, no words spoken.

It sounds crazy but it was kind of like a badge of honor to show your ruined rear-end. Nobody wanted a beating, but once you got it you were in a group of boys who were looked up to by the others. If you got a runaway beating, you were even more of a hero. The beating is not the most lasting punishment it is possible to receive. As bad as the beating is, there are still some boys who were beat to death or shot at and hit while they were running through the woods. I never heard of a boy being returned to the institution after being wounded by gunfire. They were just never heard of again. When I got my beating, I was scared, in fact so scared that I couldn't take in everything that was happening, like what the paddle looked like, who was using it, exactly what the room looked like. I guess it was kind of blanked out of my mind. As I said, some of the older boys couldn't take a beating and most of the younger ones couldn't take it. After the beating, a boy was allowed to take a shower and change from the bloody, shitty clothes he was wearing. The underpants were always stuck in the busted places and it was necessary to soak in the shower for awhile to get them off. If there were any other boys in the area at the time, they would look over the shower partitions at you and watch. If you were crying they considered you a sissy, even if they had cried or had never had a whipping. As I got older I became tougher, as all the boys did. Still, it was hard to hear or see the younger boys abused. (Brother, where you?) It is a hard thing to say, but one time I beat up my little brother and I never got the chance to make up for it. I'm in a public library right now and am almost crying to think of the mean thing I did to him. Please forgive me, brother? Please?

My friend Tommy got older, but he never got tougher. For some reason, I could not stand to see him picked on. Some of the boys did mistreat him. I always fought for him. Only one time did a boy pick on Tommy, because they soon found out that they were in for a fight. Fighting was a whipping offense and nobody wanted one, including me, but Tommy was more important to me than a whipping. Maybe he took the place of my brother, David.

Tommy was afraid to eat because he thought he was being poisoned. I could feed him from my own hands because he trusted me. I could only slip candy and cookies to him. I was able to buy some things at the canteen. One time I was fighting for him and they took him along with me. Poor Tommy! He couldn't understand what was happening to him. The cruelest thing that happened was I had to wait while he got beat and hear everything. If I didn't hear how he took it, some of these terrible things would not be in my head these many years later. Poor fellow. He didn't cry or scream, or do anything like fight back. He did keep trying to get up from the cot and they just beat him harder. He would say “OW! That hurt! Stop! Don't do that!" LORD! LORD!

He was so innocent! God bless his bones, wherever they buried them. I guess my innocence was long gone. I can only say that listening to him get beat was harder than if I had taken the beating for him. I couldn't. That is all have to say. I just kept my mouth shut while the tears ran down my face. I never made a sound out loud, or interfered in any way, just kept my mouth shut. When it was all over, we went to the showers and I cleaned him of the blood and ruined clothes. Mister Daffin, the cottage father, told me to put him to bed and keep an eye on him, which I did. Poor kid never recovered. One day he just wasn't there. I asked Mister Daffin what happened to Tommy and he looked away and said that Tommy was dead. He was transferred or was in the process of being transferred to the mental institution when he died. I never believed that he was being taken for treatment or that he died so fast, but maybe it is so. He was abused and starved for a long time. I never asked anyone else if they knew what happened to Tommy. I was afraid to ask. His name was just not mentioned any more. After getting beat we were allowed to stand up for a few days because the cuts kept seeping blood and would start bleeding again and take longer to heal if we sat down or even bent over. When the boys were counted they were required to sit on benches until the count was completed and all the boys were accounted for. It was easy to tell which boys had been beat lately because they had to stand during the count. We were all counted several times each day and at night. We had to stand up while eating, changing clothes, etc. Getting in bed at night was hell. Getting up in the morning was even worse, because we had stiffened up some by then. The other boys would watch us and some wanted to help but it was dangerous for them to do so. Sometimes, if nobody was around to tell, some of the boys would try to help.

I just can't understand why the school was named for Mister Dozier. He might be allowed some credit for only being a demon on Saturday morning at ten o'clock or some other times when he had to perform some emergency beatings on a runaway boy. Probably he had some good qualities. Maybe he even had a wife and children of his own. Maybe he attended religious services with his family and did good and charitable deeds in the community. Maybe that would account for his name on the school. Lots of maybes. I know there are children's bodies moldering in the woods where they were beaten to death or shot while trying to escape. I have no proof, but circumstantial evidence was plenty good enough to have a boy beat, so why isn't it good enough to form an opinion of what happened to some of the boys? No, they couldn't return with the trophies of the hunt. When the men returned empty handed Dozier knew what had happened. That was the end of the search. Sometimes the search lasted for two days and the boy was caught and returned if he was not killed. I know of no successful escapes, or of any boy being returned after being shot and hit. Lots of boys were shot at and they gave up and were returned to the institution. No wounded were ever returned. How could anybody admit to shooting a child? Find one boy who successfully escaped from that place during the fifties. There were none when I was there. When the search was over in one day and the boy was not returned you can just figure what happened. All conjecture on my part. There seems to be no living witness.

Well, hell. What can be done after all these years? I don't know. I've been told that if enough of us survivors tell our stories, we may be believed and some changes might be made. Maybe so. Again, lots of maybes. I believe that none of his boys would ever vote to have the school named after him. There are still a few of us survivors left who can remember what kind of a man he was. After almost sixty years I can still remember what kind of person he was. That is sure as hell a long time to remember so clearly and to carry a grudge, but I remember and I do carry a grudge. That man was really impressive. OK, now listen and I will tell you about my first real personal experience with Mister Arthur G. Dozier administering the punishment, or corrective action, or attitude adjustment, or call it what you like. Yes, call it what you like, there was no way it was punishment prescribed by law! I will say a little more about Mister Dozier and then describe the events leading up to my punishment. In my opinion, these are the hard cold facts: That man enjoyed giving beatings. Giving pain to others excited him. In the dictionary next to the word DEVIL should be a picture of Arthur G. Dozier. If he didn't personally participate in all the beatings he at least encouraged them and approved of them. Else how could it have happened? To keep the authorities from learning what was going on he had to have done the hiring of the school staff. He used the same staff members over and over to do the beatings. He knew which ones would cooperate with him. How else could he have abused so many boys for so many years? I believe that if he thought me and some other survivors, such as Roger Kiser, Michael McCarthy, Bryant Middleton, Dick Colon, and others that I don't know the names of would someday get past the shame of what happened to us and start telling our stories, he would have found some way to get rid of us. I don't know any of the named men personally, but have seen their names as reported by Rich Phillips, CNN Senior Producer. I talked to Roger Kiser on the phone on two different occasions and got a copy of his book afterward and read it. I wrote my memories several years ago and just got Roger's book about a week ago. I was not influenced by Roger or his book. I had written an account of my experiences at the institution long before I heard of these men. I had never shared my experiences with anyone. Who would believe me? Maybe now my story is believable and I can share it with others. So now I am re-writing it with some embellishments. Everything is still as true as it was in 1953-1954.

As I previously said I do not believe there were any successful runaways. The ones that didn't come back are moldering in the Florida woods and can never be found after all this time. None of Dozier's men could report the abuse or the deaths, because that tight little group were all involved in the atrocities. Now I'm going to tell you about three men who helped me while I was in the institution, then we will get back to my runaway scrape, my capture, and Mister Dozier and my beating. I did admire the three men I'm going to tell you about. I admired them because they didn't try to abuse me. Now, isn't that a hell of a reason to admire someone? Well, that is why. Now I will tell you how each one of the three made my life less hard. They seemed to be pretty decent people. Mister Daffin was cottage father of number five cottage. At the time there were only six cottages. Number one was for the youngest children. Number six was for the oldest. Mister Womack was the band director and Mister Byrd was the psychologist. Each one befriended me in some small way. When I got toughened up Mister Daffin made me cottage supervisor over the eighty some other boys in the dormitory. He made me responsible for the behavior of them all and as long as I was cottage supervisor, none of them ever got beat or mistreated because of me or Mister Daffin. I never knew of Mister Daffin causing a boy to be whipped. He gave me a job that carried a lot of responsibility and it gave me some confidence in myself. The boys could behave or whip me. I had only one fight because of my job and I didn't get whipped that time and remained on good terms with the boy afterwards. This happened much later than the story I am trying to relate.

Next came Mister Womack: For some reason I was assigned to the band and it seems he knew I had no talent for music and lacked the ability to learn to play an instrument well. He gave me a trumpet and I did learn to play all the marches and all the bugle calls. He never fussed at me like he did some of the boys who had the ability to learn. I guess he recognized the fact that I was on the ragged edge of insanity and he didn't want to push me over the edge. Mister Womack never pushed me. In fact, he let me play the bugle for all the school functions. I woke the boys up in the morning and put them to bed at night, with taps. Everything was done to bugle calls and I spent most of the day blowing the damn thing. First one up in the morning and last to bed every night. No days off. I could’ve got someone else to do it sometimes, but I was jealous of my job. Cottage supervisor and bugler. Wow! The first time I ever had anything important to do. As I said, this was later in my stay, and it was only for about three months.

Now comes Mister Byrd. I suppose Mister Daffin or Mister Womack recommended me to Mister Byrd. Maybe both of them did. Anyway, he gave me some I.Q. tests and mental evaluation. He had me to his office quite a few times, but seldom talked much. He would give me books to read and then ask a few questions about what I had read. Mostly he gave me American history and literature books, things that I enjoyed reading about. He was preparing me for something, but I didn't know it at the time. Remember, this was much later, after I made my escape try. Lots of times he would tell me what a good memory I had. Sometimes he would tell me my I.Q. was pretty good for someone with a sixth grade education. Once in awhile I would take a math test and always did well on the test if I had time to work on it.

One day he told me he would help me get out of that school if I would stay out of trouble and study what he told me to study. It seems that there was a law that said a person who was a high school graduate could get released on his own if he was not considered incorrigible. A new law allowed anyone sixteen years of age or older to take the test. I was sixteen! I did exactly what I was told to and took the test along with another boy (Neil Loeb), and I passed the test in August, 1954. I believe my release was a couple months later.

Now to get back to the experience I need to relate. I had been working on the grub squad for several weeks because of making a low grade for some rule infraction that I don't remember. Maybe I was never told why. The grub squad is a punishment squad made up of boys who had committed some infraction of the rules. It was much like the chain gang, except that we didn't wear chains or have a shotgun guard. I believe the supervisor over us had a pistol. We used pickaxes, shovels, sling blades and rakes. The sling blades were used to cut grass and they were called yo yo's because we swung them up and down. One day we were working near some woods and the supervisor was not in a position to shoot me because of boys between me and him. I threw my yo yo down and took off running through the woods. I didn't hear any shots so was not shot at. Probably the supervisor didn't want to shoot me. Maybe he didn't carry a gun, or if he did, maybe it was just to kill snakes and not to kill boys. I didn't want to get shot, but figured that might be better than what I was doing. There was no swamp, like the movies tell of, where the escapee wades through cottonmouth moccasins and alligators and water, to throw off the dogs and man hunters. This was all dry ground with lots of palmettos and pine trees, with maybe some rattlesnakes. I didn't see any snakes. Maybe I was running too fast to see any. I didn't know where I was going or what I was going to do if I did manage to get away. I guess there were no dogs after me, although I thought I could hear them. Probably just someone’s pet dog was barking.

In my imagination, the hounds of hell were after me and would probably eat me when I was caught. I ran before lunchtime and in my panic ran until almost dark. Finally, becoming so weary I could only stagger ahead, I came to a wide creek that was running strong. I was too tired to try to cross the creek so sat down on a boulder to rest. There was an old dirt road running alongside the creek and in my weariness I sat within view of it. Pretty soon I heard a car coming along the road. Thinking I had distanced any pursuers, I continued to sit and rest and act casual. Figured the car carried hunters or fishermen and I could ask for a ride with them. I was ignorant enough to think I had gotten away. Pretty soon the car lights were shining on me and I was surrounded by several men. They were hunters, all right, and they had found what they were hunting. Me! One of the men was from the institution, and the others were just local men doing their civic duty by helping to apprehend me. Nobody said a thing except the state employee. He said , “I see you have some rabbit in you, boy. Go ahead and run." All the time he had a revolver pointed at me. I was too exhausted and too scared to run. One of the other men told him that it was obvious I was too tired to run and that I was just a child. He told the pistol man not to scare me to death. By this time I was trembling with fear. The pistol man dragged me to the car and got in, pulling me after him. I was sitting by the door and he kept poking me upside the head with his pistol and telling me to jump, that the door was not locked. All the other men were very quiet and I guess they were uncomfortable with the situation. Some blood was running down the side of my face and I could feel it. I was afraid to move.

I really believe he wanted me to jump out and run, so he could shoot me down. Finally, one of the men commented that I didn't look dangerous and that the pistol wasn't necessary. I believe that if there had been a different type of men with this guy, he would have found a reason to shoot me, or at least to really pistol whip me. I would've been left in the woods. That guy was really furious. When we got back to the institution, the pistol man directed the driver to pull around back to the Ice Cream factory. I don't remember how the news was spread about me being caught, but several of the staff was standing around waiting for us. This was long before the day of modern communication. There was no such thing as a cell phone. Maybe they stopped at a pay phone and called in. I don't remember that part, but the other part is crystal clear. The pistol guy pushed me out of the car and got out, himself. He was still waving the pistol around as though he didn't realize what he was doing. Somebody told him to put up the pistol before he shot one of the staff. Mister Dozier was standing there talking to a group of men. I had been here before, but didn't at first recognize the place in the dark, I suppose because of the direction from which we had approached the place. It was the Ice Cream Factory alright, also known as The White House. The most dread names a boy was to hear during his incarceration. So here I was and knowing what was coming I guess I went into shock. In a way it could've been someone else watching what happened to me. Still, I was aware of what the men were saying and knew I was really going to get a beating this time. They were talking about where all they had looked for me and what they might have been doing if I hadn't messed up their day. I guess some of the men may have been sorry they were a part of this elite group, because they all had to be there when the beating was done.

Most of the other staff probably couldn't be paid enough to do the beating. One of the men said to get it done so he could go home. Maybe he had a wife and warmed over supper waiting for him. Somebody pushed me through the door and I believe it was Mister Dozier who said he would do the job himself. I remember that he was there and also I heard the name R. W. and Mister Hatton. These last two names may have been the same person. I was afraid to look. Even though I was there for a long time, I never became familiar with these men. I know I was always afraid to look at them. I remember the building was white on the outside and it seems that it was white on the inside, too. Someone later said that the entrance door was green, but at that time it was white. There was a dim light bulb overhead and it didn't do a lot to illuminate the place. The front door might have been low as I seem to remember one of the staff bending over a little to get in the room. I was in a small room, maybe six or seven feet wide and probably eight feet long. The walls were white with a rusty look to them and I soon realized that the rusty look was blood. There was a cot that might be called an army cot. It had a filthy gray blanket on it and an equally filthy pillow with no cover that I can recall. The blanket was bloody and shitty and no telling what else was on it. The Pillow was bloody, pukey, and no telling what else was on it. Some of the boys said there was the tips of bitten off tongues and parts of lips, but I don't believe that part. I got a terrible beating and may have bitten my lip but for sure didn't bite off any part of myself.

The ceiling was kind of low, maybe about six or six and a half feet high. Maybe I haven't described the interior as well as I might have, but I have tried to do justice to the part that would most involve a boy. I believe this was my second trip to the White House. The first time I was just one of a group of boys and didn't really take it all in. This time I was the only boy and was able to see things in a little more detail. Same old army cot, same old bloody blanket, same old bloody pillow, same old bloody walls, maybe a little more shit and blood. I don't see how the staff members could stand the God-awful smell of that stinking room. Well, they could stand it all and soon there would be the same old bloody ass, only bloodier than ever before. I was ordered to remove my clothes, except for the underwear. Mister Dozier was nervously tapping the paddle on his leg. I guess it might be a good time to describe the paddle. It seemed to be made of several strips of leather that were sewed together. It was probably about four or five inches wide and about two and a half feet long and it appeared to have some holes drilled in it. It seemed to be kind of heavy. Probably someone with lots of experience working with leather had lovingly made it. Damn his eyes! The handle was shaped kind of like the handle of a hair brush, except that it was flat. I was kind of in a daze, but still could tell what was going on and was thinking that it would soon be over. They can't stop time. It just keeps on keeping on. That was one of the lessons I had learned about life. Maybe they didn't stop it, but damn! They sure enough made me think they had slowed it down!

Finally, one of the men threw me face down on the cot and started giving me directions like he probably had done to hundreds of boys before me. He said for me to stay face down, hold the bars with both hands (the cot had a row of vertical bars on the head of it), don't move, don't cry, don't try to look around, don't try to get up, or we will start all over. I don't know how many men were there, probably six or seven. I think they all came in, maybe one or two at a time, and watched me squirm as I was beat. They were all in on the beating, just as the beater was. Maybe some enjoyed watching, maybe some did not. They were all just as guilty as Dozier. Damn their eyes! Each and every one of them!

I was face down, holding the bars and biting the bloody, filthy, pukey, nasty pillow so I couldn't see what they were doing, but I could hear well enough. One of the men, probably the pistol man, made a joke about how I was squirming around, said "He'll jump in a minute and then we'll see something!" I think he was turned on sexually. It seems that the other guys only wanted to get it over with. Did the sounds and the blood turn the others on sexually? Did some of them turn away to keep from seeing what was happening? I don't know. Probably these few men were chosen out of all the staff because they had shown a willingness to participate in the beatings. Probably they went home and bragged on the chase, the capture, the punishment. No, they couldn't brag on what they had done to me. They couldn't brag on the abuse. But maybe some of them thought about it as they had sex with their partners. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe some of them went home and complained of the long, hard day they had and never mentioned what had happened. Maybe one of them had a child like me and put him to bed with love and hugs. There are lots of maybes in this story. I don't know what they were thinking or what they did later, I only know that at least one of them laughed and made suggestive comments about how I was squirming around. Damn his eyes again! Lord! Lord! I thought. Here it comes! And I tightened up my ass to receive the first blow. You can tighten up your ass or loosen it up when you hear the paddle coming; it just doesn't make any difference. It all feels the same to start with. Here it comes! Almost over! Well, not quite. Here, let me drag you in the room with me. You can even lay down on the cot if you want to. Just try to put yourself in my place. Try to feel what I felt, hear what I heard, and experience it all first hand. You maybe only need a very good imagination to go through a White House beating. Just pretend you are an eighty five pound boy and a two hundred pound man is standing over you with a heavy board and his best intention is to draw blood on the first lick. Now close your eyes tightly and in your mind bite the pukey, bloody, stinking pillow. Hold the bars tightly because IT IS ON THE WAY! Keep imagining the big brave man over you. Ah, you can hear his foot slide across the cement floor as he moves it to get more power in his swing. Let's see. Was it his left foot or his right foot? Maybe it is important to know. Maybe he has a wooden leg. You don't know, do you?

Anyway, hear it slide across the floor. The strap is in his hand. Left hand or right hand? It could be important, because Mister Dozier could have handed the paddle over to some else. Now try to remember, but don't look. Yes, there was a man with a wooden leg, and yes, there was one with a wooden arm. No, that is just not right. The man just had an empty sleeve. Left sleeve or right sleeve? Maybe someday you will remember. Maybe you are going crazy, but you do hear the foot slide across the floor. The shoe makes a sound like SHUUUUSS and then a faster sound like SSSTTT. O. K. The sounds can't be duplicated on paper, so just drag your shoe across a rough cement floor and you will have a sound that will make you jump every time you hear it for the rest of your life. Just keep your eyes squenched shut and keep listening and smelling that awful place. Taste the rotten, pukey, bloody pillow. In about a minute you will know why the pillow is such a rotten thing because you are going to be glad you missed dinner and supper and you are going to throw up between your clenched teeth. Clench your ass tighter because IT is still coming. Now comes the sound of the strap sliding up the wall behind the man, kind of like the shoe sound, only much faster. SSHHHSTUHTIUHTUH. Now the strap is sliding across the ceiling, only so fast it sounds kind of like a bird's wings rushing across the sky. Then your body jumps and you are sure they have just decided to shoot you and get it over with because you sure enough hear a gunshot go off behind you. But no. It was just the paddle hitting you and you only feel a warm, pleasant feeling spread across your backside. Ha! You now think you can take anything they dish out. WRONG! The blood has just rushed out of your rear. You're thinking POW!POW!POW! Fifty to a hundred times and it is over. Keep thinking. What the hell is he doing? Come on. Get it over with! Hell, He knows just what you are thinking. He knows just what you are feeling, too. This is where he gets pleasure from his job. POW!POW!POW! is too fast. You don't get the full benefit of the beating that way. No, it must be done properly. You must feel all the pain. AHHHHH! Now the blood is rushing back in to your poor rear end. Now you feel all the agony! Over and over and over and .... You better keep your mouth shut, boy, and bite that pillow, because HERE IT COMES AGAIN! Why, you're just a baby, aren't you. I guess you want your mommy, Don't you, boy? Just grit your teeth and try to feel my pain. Every time you get a lick, he will just stand there and let you get the full benefit of the pain. When you quit squirming, the sounds will start over. Pretty soon you will start screaming inside. Never make any noise they can construe as rebelling. You don't know how many licks you have left.

They didn't tell you how many you get for running and you couldn't keep count anyway. Now the big man is inside your head completely. He knows just what you are feeling and when is the best time to strike. Now if you have all these sounds and pains fixed firmly in your mind, why you can now pull them up for the rest of your life. You don't have to even try. Normal everyday sounds and smells will do it for you. When you are young and defenseless, the sounds and smells will cause you to cringe. When you get older, if you do get older, the sounds and smells and even sometimes even the looks or voice of someone will make you strike out. You now have a built in defensive system. It is just not very predictable. Remember when they were beating you and you wanted to fight back but knew it was death to fight? And you were not willing to die? And you were glad they couldn't tell what you were thinking because you were thinking if you just had a father, he would come and kill them all! But you didn't have a father, so you just lay there and took it like the little man you were and waited for it to be over. Still, you learned to scream inside without making a sound. You might think that a growing little boy like I was would heal in a few weeks, but that just isn't so. Those beatings that I received caused cuts, abrasions, fissures, and other injuries to my rectum that will probably never heal. I've had four surgeries in my rectum since I left that terrible place of torture. I also have pinched nerves in my lower back. I never had medical treatment at that school and I don't know of anyone else who received treatment. It is now approaching sixty years since that awful time and I still suffer from the affects of those awful beatings.

I was only one of hundreds who received punishment from that DEMON, that man who was trained and educated in correctional procedures and was entrusted with the lives of thousands of children. How many did he fail? Was it all of us? Or only me? I don't know. After all I don't have the education that great man had. Maybe we all needed to have the coarseness and ignorance beat out of us so we could make good future citizens. Maybe.

I try to not think of Mister Dozier, but sometimes a sound or smell or the voice of someone will remind me of him. I know I should forgive him, but I just can't seem to do it. I feel so unchristian when I have these feelings about him and, yes, some of the others I can't seem to identify in my mind. Well just want to piss on his grave, and will if I ever pass through Marianna again. I will also piss on the grave of Mister Hatton if I can locate it (for the other boys). The Great State of Florida would punish me if I get caught. You know what? I just don't care! Maybe it will bring closure. That man was a demon, a child predator, a man who received pleasure from inflicting pain on children. Ah, but the great State of Florida has maybe mistaken the G. in his middle name to mean GREAT.

My little friend Tommy Wiggins, who died while in his custody, would turn over in his grave if he knew the honor this cruel man has received. Arthur G. Dozier, may he rot in hell! Damn his eyes, and his heart, and his soul! Just damn him for all of us boys who were there when he was. I suppose the persons who had enough interest to read this true story of the time I spent in the Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna, Florida, in the early nineteen fifties might be interested to know how my life has progressed to this point in time.

I live in Southeast Texas, near a little town called Palacios, in Matagorda County. My family and I live on a little ranch with a nice new ranch house that is all paid for, so we can relax at times. I am lucky enough to be married to a beautiful woman and to have two boys who are thirteen and eighteen years old. Neither has ever missed a day of school or made a grade below B. They are both Christians, as am I and my wife. The oldest boy just came and said "Daddy, I'm going to church now." Last night my wife told me again that she loves me. When the youngest son gave me a good night hug, he said "Daddy, you're the best daddy in the whole world."

My life has progressed and improved slowly, year by year, until I have been blessed with an abundance of everything that makes life worthwhile. My wife and children have caused me to have self esteem and confidence in myself without causing me to feel arrogant.

Still, I sometimes have bad dreams, but I always wake up to the greatest blessing a man can have. The unconditional love of a really great family. I love my life. My cup runneth over. LORD! LORD! THANK YOU LORD!

Claude Robins
Post office box 61
Palacios, Texas 77465
Cell phone 361 648-2462
Revised February 14, 2010