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Memories of Marianna Florida and the Industrial School for Boys.

Well, Iím almost 71 years old now and there are things that happen in your lifetime that leave an indelible imprint on ones mind. An overpowering one for me was my commitment and stay at FIS.

A product of an alcoholic Father and depressed Mother, my life prior to FIS consisted of parental divorce, my being sent to California (alone on a train) in 1943 at the age of 5 to share a life with an absentee Father. For a year my meals consisted of what I could get from a fruit peddler in the Hunters Point slums of San Francisco. I was his trained monkey and as he drove his fruit truck through the project, I would deliver the sales to the upper floors and bring back the money to him. The authorities finally picked me up off the streets and put me in a detention home. After a while I was assigned to a Foster home in Northern California and enrolled in my first school. 18 months later the lady who was the foster mother died and I went back through the process again, this time sent to a foster home in Turlock, California, people named Jensen. Continued in school there and after a few years, the State located my Mother and sent me to Florida to join her. This apparently was the last thing she wanted. I was immediately put in a Catholic Orphanage in Tampa Florida. The Priests and Brothers slapped us around quite a bit but no permanent scars resulted. Just distrust of anyone in a white collar.

I ran away from the Orphanage and was collected by the police and sent back to my mother. At this point, after so much traveling and bouncing around, I did not adjust well to school. I did not know how to play with other children, how to study, where did I belong, etc. So I played hooky and went fishing instead of school.

Through some connection, my mother knew the Juvenile Judge in Bartow Florida (Polk County) His name was Hunt. He advised my mother to commit me to the Florida Industrial School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, which together, they certainly did. I was 10 or 11 years old at that time.

I would advise the reader here that this took place over 60 years ago and so, please be kind and forgive me for memory lapses. It happens to all of us, sooner or later.

I was assigned to Washington cottage, a barracks style building that could contain 30 or 40 children as I recall. There was at least one adult who lived in an apartment in that building and he pretty much stayed there full time to supervise us. That Supervisors name was Miller and he was mean to the bone. The only memory I have of him was when he would line us up against the walls in the basement and make us stand at attention for hours at a time. No water, no bathroom, go in your pants and then he would have fun ridiculing and degrading you in front of the other boys. When he was really mean, he would slurp an orange soda that was half frozen to tease us with his power, ask us silly questions and if he was not happy with the answers he would walk up to the boy and slap him in the face to see him cry. The oldest boy in the cottage was maybe 11.

The daily life at that time was half a day in school and half a day at an assigned work area such as laundry, printing shop, sanitation plant, grounds maintenance, etc. School consisted of going to a study hall for 4 hours a day and reading a textbook. There was no teaching of any kind. I was assigned to the Band and was given a trumpet to play; absolutely no instruction about this. You had to ask one of the other boys what to do. After weeks of frustration I could make some burping noises and could even read a little bit of music.

My frustration eventually led to my going to the Bandmaster, a Mr. Womack. I told him I could not play this instrument and that I would like to go to another work area away from the band. Apparently he took this request as rebellion and grabbed me by the shirt and literally dragged me to the Admin Office where I was placed outside of a Mr. Hattonís office and told to wait there. After a while, Womack left and Hatton and another man walked me to the ďIce Cream FactoryĒ (later called the White House). Of course I knew what was taking place and that I would be hurt. Not how much I would be hurt. From here on out, the story is the same as all the others. There was a large exhaust fan to dim the screams, the smelly bed, the instructions to hold the bars, and the incredible pounding of the leather instrument. I donít know how many licks I received, but there were many. When it finally stopped, I could not walk. I was jerked off bed and told to walk or we would start again. Hatton, of course, did the beating. I walked, crawled, whatever, to get away from that awful whip. I was bleeding from the top of my buttocks to the knee joints of my inner thighs. The skin covering that area was a deep black and was as hard as a rock from the swelling. Iím sure I was in shock and cannot remember what happened after or during the recovery period. I may have been put in the infirmary for recovery, I do not know.

My mother remarried and I was released from the school. I never was able to adjust to school or interact with children my age. Of course I resented my incarceration for no understandable reason and could not have any kind of relationship with my mother or step father.

When I turned 17 I joined the Service and decided to make it a career and eventually became a military pilot. and even a business owner. I have enjoyed a relatively successful life but not without debilitating mental holdbacks similar to the other stories. I had problems all my life trusting other people. I have never felt that I fit into whatever level of society I was currently in. I married when I was 28 and it lasted 10 years, ended in divorce and basically lost my children. I credit this, at least a large percentage, to FIS. I feel ashamed of that time in my life and have never told anyone about it. Maybe this story will be a release for me, at least to some extent.

I have been fortunate in that I found a life mate who has been my inspiration and steadfast supporter for the past 30 years. I have never had the nerve to tell her about this episode in my life and, as I write this, she still is not aware of it. Perhaps I shall let her read my story. Thank you for reading my story and if you can, please help Roger Kiser bring these criminals to justice. He is a good guy and has certainly stepped up to the plate when I, and many others did not have the courage to do so.