As a young boy I grew up in Tampa, Florida in an area known as Six Mile Creek. Six Mile Creek was known as a pretty rough side of Tampa and still is today. In Six Mile Creek a young boy was either picked on by other boys or he learned to fight and defend himself at an early age, so I learned to defend myself. I was also a rebellious young man from a poor family. Kids at school could be very cruel to the less fortunate kids like myself and it seemed to me that in many cases to fight was your only recourse.
One must remember that for me to sit down and resurrect old memories that I have buried deep in the back of my mind for over fifty years is very painful, so some of my recollections of exact times and places may not be as accurate as I would like however many of my recollections will always be embedded in my mind because they come back from time to time in the form of horrible nightmares.
On 11 April 1958 I arrived at The Florida School for Boys at Marianna, Florida and my first impression of the campus was that it was a beautiful place. As I said before I was a rebellious young man and I was one of those boys who tried to have the "Elvis look" with long greasy hair, turned up shirt collar, smoking cigarettes etc. and I thought myself to be popular with the young ladies at school. When I arrived at Marianna I was like a little fish in a great big pond and scared to death.
My first few days at F.S.B. I was scared and confused and I trusted no one. I was assigned to Tyler #9 cottage and there were several boys who tried to bully me around but I wasn't that easy to bully so they decided to give me a blanket party, (they would wait until you were asleep and then throw a blanket over your head and hold it tight while others hit you with soap in a sock) One boy told me when it (blanket party) was supposed to happen and I sat up in my bed all night scared but ready to fight and the party never took place. If you told anyone about getting a blanket party you were considered a PUKE or snitch and no one would have anything to do with you. A few days later several of the bully's caught me in the corridor between the dorm and bathroom and started to fight with me they were told to beat my ass by the dorm bully, after the fight was underway three of the boys abandon the idea and only one remained, some how in the fight I had him in a front headlock and was chocking him until he started to pass out I was too scared to release him. When the other boys saw what was happening they ran in and was trying to pull us apart, all the commotion caused the cottage father to come downstairs from his living quarters and he made us all go back to bed.
The next morning I was taken to Mr. R.W. Hatton's office where I was questioned and I was told I would be "going down" for fighting and refusing to tell who I was fighting with. I was then told to sit on the bench in the front office until it was time to go. This had to be the longest wait in my lifetime, minutes seemed like hours. I had been told of the White House by the other boys and I was scared to death. I would not tell Mr. Hatton who I was fighting with because I didn't want to be considered a PUKE I knew I was going down so why tell?
Sometime around noon Mr. Hatton and Mr. Troy Tidwell said to me "come on boy" and we walked toward the dinning hall and on to the White House Mr. Hatton was on my right side and Mr. Tidwell was on my left and Mr. Tidwell had a grip on my left arm that could only be matched by a pair of vice grip pliers or a pipe wrench. Once he had you, you were not likely to get away from that grip.
AS we walked toward the White House I could see some of the boys in the Dinning Hall looking out the windows at us. The walk from Mr.Hattons office to the White House was like a death walk it was slow and methodical.
When we arrived at the White House side door Mr. Hatton unlocked the door and said " get your ass in there boy" and shoved me. It was a 4 to 6 inch step up and I stumbled as he shoved me in the door and we were in a hallway with rooms on each side. The staunch of that building was so bad I began to gag and vomit from being scared and the smell of the place. I was shoved into a room I think on the left and the shoved face down onto a bed where I was told to hold onto the bed rail and face the wall. I was told that if I tried to get up or scream out they would stop and start all over again. At this time one of the men turned on a big loud blower fan apparently to muffle the sounds of what was about to happen.
No mater how many stories you hear about this place, I don't think anything the world can prepare you for what was about to happen next. As I lay there waiting I heard the sound of Mr. Hatton's shoe turning on the concrete floor and then it happened. The worst pain I have ever experience in my life. It was as if my Buttocks had exploded. I received 45 licks on my Buttocks, lower back and the back of my legs and just before each lick I could hear the sound of Mr. Hatton's shoe turn on the concrete floor. When Mr. Hatton finally quit beating me I was told to get my ass up and lets go. When we got to the door to exit the White House I could not step down to the step because my buttocks and legs were so numb I could not walk and at this point I could not tell how much damage had occurred, I could feel the blood running around my ankles. I was too afraid to say anything because I was afraid they would take me back inside. I was the taken to my cottage #9 and was allowed to take a shower and I could not believe what I saw when I tried to look at my back side it was black and bloody with my shorts embedded into my skin. I tried to pull out as much of the cotton fabric as I could but it hurt too much to even touch. By the next day my buttocks felt like a big black crust and I could only take about a six inch step and it was a miserable feeling.The hard part was also trying to walk and act like it wasn't all that bad in front of the other boys but I guess they all knew better and they all wanted to know how many licks I got. The bully's in the dorm all said I was pretty cool because I didn't puke on the others I was fighting with and they accepted me as one of the good guys. That was my first time to go to the White House but surely not my last.
Several months later I had received some bad grades and I was taken to the White House again and received 50 licks. This time Mr. Author Dozier used the paddle. He appeared to be a rather stout man with wavy dark hair and was the Superintendent of the school. Mr Hatton was there also. About three or four nights later I was awaken by someone sitting on my bed, so I jumped up and it was Mr. Tidwell who told me to go out into the corridor where he ask me who had the cigarettes in the dorm and I told him I did not know. He then took me by my arm and out the building towards the office area. When we got to one of the administration buildings with a room that led down stairs there were two other men standing there waiting for us. I was told by the other boys that this was called the rape room and several boys had been taken there and raped. When I realized where we were I began to fight with all my might, I was kicking at their groin, knee caps or anything else I could hit and I did get in a few dam good licks on the three men. At some point I realized I was out of that mighty grip of Mr. Tidwell's and I began to run as hard as I could for what seemed like hours and my buttocks was beginning to bleed again from the beating I had received a few days earlier. After running for what seemed like hours I found myself hiding behind a juke joint in the town of Marianna where one of the black men spotted me and as I got up to run I ran into another black man who slammed me to the ground and held me until Mr. Hatton and Mr. Tidwell came and took me to the White House (I think they paid a bounty for catching boys from the school). Mr Hatton and Mr. Tidwell waited for a time until Mr. Dozier arrived and then Mr. Hatton gave me 112 licks and told me when he was finished that every time I ran I would receive more than 100 licks. Before he began beating me and we were waiting for Mr. Dozier to arrive I was praying that Jesus would take me out of that place and Mr. Hatton said to me "that's right boy give your heart and soul to god but tonight your ass belongs to me"
I was at Marianna for a total of nineteen months and went down eight times, three times for bad reports and five times for running. They had a rank system and the lowest rank was grub, if you were a grub and received a bad grade you had no rank to take so it was off to the White House when the office runner came around to take you to Mr. Hattons office.
When I first arrived at F.S.B. I was assigned to the kitchen scrubbing floors and swill cans. Mr. Edenfield was the supervisor over the kitchen and was always yelling at us to do this and do that. I didn't think he was unfair to any of us but I guess he had to stay on our butt to get things done on schedule for feeding etc. As a matter of fact Mr. Edenfield was the only member of the staff I liked with the exception of MR. Y.J. Allen Tyler # 9 cottage father. We were never allowed to talk to the black boys who came over to pick up the cans of swill from the kitchen and on one occasion I accidentally caused some swill to spill on one of the black boys shoe and I said to him I'm sorry man I didn't mean for that to happen and the black boy said to me that's o.k. don't worry about it. One of the other kitchen boys puked to Mr. Edenfield that I was talking to the black boy and Mr. Edenfield ask me about it and I told him what happened and he said he would tell Mr. Hatton about the incident but he either forgot to tell Mr. Hatton or he just decided to let it go either way I will always be glad he didn't tell on me. I worked my tail off for Mr. Edenfield and he must have seen something in me because It was not long I was moved up to assist the cooks and I moved up to cook and then staff cook which was the best job in the kitchen except for maby the staff waiter.
After having been at F.S.B. for approximately sixteen months Mr. Hatton called me to his office and told me that he had been having correspondance with my father who was stationed in Korea and was scheduled to come home in three months and wanted to know if I would come live with him and his wife? I told Mr. Hatton yes I would give it a try so mr. Hatton said I would really have to walk the streatr and narrow untill the so I did. On 29 November 1959 at the age of sixteen I left Marianna to go stay with my father who I didn't know.
Things didn't work out with my dad and his wife so after a while I returned to Tampa where I found a job working for a plumber for a while. One day while on the job the plumbmer died of a heart attack. I then found my Mother and asked her to sign for me to go into the military and she did. ( at that time you could enlist at 17 years old with parental consent) I knew the draft would get me sooner or later.
I had started my second hitch in the Army when I was hurt in VN and came home. After recovery I went out west and rode the rodio circut for a while and won several Bull Riding Championships and came back suoth.
In 1974 I met a lady in Alabama and I ask her to marry me and she said she would and we have been togather every since. I promised her I would try to make her proud of me and I am still working on that promise.
After a time I found myself in the employement of the Alabama Dept of Corrections as a Correctional Officer and after 19 years as a CO. I was then promoted to Director of the Communications Engineering Division with state wide responsibilities. During this time I also attended Troy University where I graduated with a B.S. Magna Cum Laude and a M.S. in Criminal Justice. In July 2009 I will be retiring from the Alabama Dept. of Corrections with over 30 years service at the age of 66 years old.
While working as a Correctional Officer for 19 years I was required to supervise some of the meanest, ugliest, nastiest men in the State of Alabama in the performance of their duties such as scrub floors, clean grease traps, clean toliets etc and they did not want to do any work. I was able to supervise these men and get the job done with out the use or threat of violence or physical force or cursing and demeaning them, the only thing I used were my communications skills, I always treated Inmates in a firm, fair and consistence maner and if I told a inmate something I kept my word and followed up.
I have tried to understand why as a child in need of supervision I had to be beaten in such a brutal and sadistic manner just to make me comply with simple rules of F.S.B. especially when we did not know what the rules were until after we violated them.
I feel in my heart that god did not forget me in that place but I hope he has a special seat in Hell for people like Author G Dozier, R.W. Hatton and Troy Tidwell and Dr. Curry and the many others that mistreated the boys that went though F.S.B.
I must wonder what it was like on the "Colord Side" did they get as many licks as we did? they sure stayed in there as long and sometimes longer than we did? What about the female kids how were they treated? What did they do with Black females? there was never a place for them until they segregated in the late 60 or 70's. When I was at Marianna they were building another school in Okeechobee, did they have their version of the White House?
There are a lot of questions that should be answered and I think The State of Florida should be held accountable along with those fine upstanding God fearing christian white men who worked at Marianna and abused these children and then went to Church on sunday.
I suddenly find myself sitting here crying like a 65 year old child, like I said in the beginning I am resurrecting old memories that I have had suppressed for over 50 years and its gitting to me so I will end for now and try to replace these old memories back in their place in the back of my memory bank if I can. Maby we can start having a reunion for those who survived. We may be a bunch of old men now but its never too late to stop child abuse and make sure it never happens again. NEVER AGAIN NEVER AGAIN
11April 1958 29 November 1959
14 years old 16 years old