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My name is Paul Waldron; I am from Ocala Fl, born and raised in Marion County my entire life. This is my story of the "White House".
I was twelve going on thirteen when my mother and Judge Meyers sent me to Marianna. I was sent there for truancy, and neither the judge nor my mother knew what to do with me at this point, I just would not go to school. I stayed there for fourteen months. I have blocked out a lot of what happened to me, and since this story broke out it has been coming back to me. I believe the years I was there was 1959-1961.
I was taken to the “White House" one time, but it is one time I will never forget. My assigned job was to work in the laundry building; two of the boys I worked with in the laundry were caught in a sexual act together. They were taken to the “White House", beat and questioned.
During one of the boy’s beatings, he was asked repeatedly, “Who else was involved"? The boy was so scared; he just wanted it to stop, so he gave up my name, and three or four other boys. I was jerked out of bed later that night, and taken to the administrator's office along with the other boys. There we were accused and questioned about what happened with the two boys that were caught together. I begged and pleaded with the men, and told them that it was a lie (which it was), but they would not listen to me. We were then taken to the "White House", and told to sit on the bench and wait our turns.
I was second to get a beating that night. The fear that I experienced while waiting for my turn was monumental. I remember hearing the boy that was first screaming, crying, and begging for them to stop. I could hear the men yelling at him, telling him to bite down on the pillow, quit screaming or we will start all over again. Each blow with that leather strap sounded like a shotgun blast.
Then it was my turn - Walking into that room was like walking into a tomb. It was cold, and it had a musty odor that hung in the air, and seeped into the walls. There was blood all over the concrete walls and floor. The cot we were to lay on had a metal rail as a headboard, and a pillow, and mattress that was covered in human feces. They then told me to lay face down on the mattress and look at the wall.
The man that administered the beating told me, “You might want to bite down on that pillow." I was told not to make one sound or to look at any of them, or they would start the beating all over again. I had to grab hold of the metal railing over my head, bite down on that mess that was called a pillow, and take my beating in silence.
I may have been silent on the outside, but on the inside I was in an agony of fear. I was terrified; I thought I was going to die. Everybody knew that boys had disappeared there before. I thought I was going to be next.
They beat on my legs, my back, and my buttocks. I can't explain what each blow that landed on me felt like. The pain is indescribable, an agony that NO child should know. They gave me 70-75 licks, and I truly believe they might have given me more, because I didn't make one sound, and I think that made them mad.
They took me out on a stretcher because I could not walk. I was taken to the infirmary where the nurse had to pluck my underwear and pajama bottoms out of the cuts, and abrasions. My legs, back, and buttocks were black, and it felt like hard knots of stone where they hit me. It took around a month or so for the bruises to heal. After fifty years I still have faint scars on the back of my legs. The emotional scars still have not healed. To this day I have horrific back problems. I never told my mother what happened to me at my time at Marianna Reform School; it would have broken her heart. She passed on in 2000. I didn't and still don't think it would have done her any good to know what happened to me.
The time that I spent in Marianna is a time that I have kept to me. I have blocked out a good deal that went on. It has all flooded back in, the emotions, the pain, and the memories. I will relive these atrocities in my mind if it will help anybody else. I hope myself and the other men that have lived through this (and the ones that didn't as well), can find some peace after all these years.