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.
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.
Please join Host Antoinette Harrell and her special Claude Robbins
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