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Donald Powe (David Vaughn)
Donald Powe (David Vaughn)
I was remanded to the Florida Industrial School for Boys in 1954. The ten months spent there have remained a bitter memory throughout my life. The fear of a trip to the "White House" was weekly. I say weekly as in the first four months I witnessed many cottage mates return from a beating that left them bloodied and black and blue physically as well as emotionally traumatized. I helped a number of buddies by peeling off the blood soaked underwear stuck to the open wounds on their backside's and thighs.
I was aware that this beating could occur with little provocation. Beside the obvious major rules broken, you could be a candidate by not ratting on someone or by not including in your required "confession" the names of people who were aware of your infraction. In retrospect, it was all very Gestapo-like. As an "Office Runner" it was my duty on Fridays to escort boys who were "going down" (to the white house) to the main office pursuant to their punishment (beating). The entire process was orchestrated to instill the utmost fear in us. It worked.
My fears became a reality in my fifth month at FIS. Having failed as an informer, I was stripped of my privileges as Office Runner and found myself one Friday in the damp- walled dungeon I had come to dread. I remember it vividly: the bed with the blood stained pillow, the bent bars of the headboard stripped of paint from the desperate grasp of children before me, the sound of the industrial fan whose duty it was to mask the screams of the victims, the scraping foot on concrete of Mr. Hatton just before the agonizing blow of the leather strap found its mark, the resulting upheaval of my skinny 125 pound body with each of the 20 blows I was to receive and the humiliation of having to shake hands with Hatton after he was through with me.
It is 55 years later and I remember them all; Mr. Dozier, Mr. Hatton, Mr. Tidwell, Mr. Smith (Cottage Father) Mr. & Mrs. Womack, (Band Director & Nurse) Coach Zych, Dr. Coggin (Psychologist) Drs. Edinger & Rubin (Dentists), and Priest, Father Roy. But most of all, I remember Mr. Hatton.