• Orphanages teach harder lessons

    Wouldn’t if be nice if you could travel back in time and change some of the things that adversely affected the lives of you and your loved ones? There are a lot of things I would change. You can count the things I’m responsible for on one hand. Everything else was somebody else’s fault.

    I think that people with a good family support system make fewer mistakes and are therefore happier with their lives. Parents constantly teach their kids how to make the right choices in life and what will happen if they make the wrong ones.

    On the other hand, this is not the case for those without families. The real world is different for a child who is tossed into a large institution like a Catholic orphanage. Homeless kids learn different lessons, harder lessons. I’ll share some of the lessons that I learned as a child in St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in 1950s Little Rock:

    •  In just about every situation, the first people to approach you are bullies.

    •  There is no such thing as a fair fight.

    •  It is easier to hit someone when they’re asleep.

    •  Stealth and brains can beat a bully every time because he doesn’t know who to beat up.

    •  You will be separated from any family that you may have and it may be years before you see them again.

    •  After awhile, you can walk past a kid on the playground and not know that he’s your brother.

    •  If someone steals your toothbrush, you must stick your finger in baking soda and rub your teeth until they are clean.

    •  If spinach makes you gag, stick it in your pocket.

    •  Even the ugliest of nuns can sing beautifully.

    •  If a nun beats you and locks you in a closet for eight hours a day, as far as you are concerned, she becomes one with the Devil.

    •  At some point before you are 10 or 11 years old you will come to believe that it’s better to live in the streets than in the orphanage.

    •  When you run away, check to see if the gate is unlocked before you climb over an eight foot fence with barbed wire.

    •  When you run away, always go towards the lights. There are better garbage cans with better garbage.

    •  Don’t eat garbage that has worms.

    •  Sleep in the daytime.

    •  Even if they don’t want to, the police will always take you back to the orphanage.

    •  If you run away, you will be beaten and locked in the closet.

    •  An orphanage is exactly like a prison except prisons have bigger and meaner kids.

    •  You’ll never be on a baseball team.

    •  You’ll be an adult before you ever learn to fish, and then everyone will see you carrying a stringer of carp thinking that they’re trout.

    Anyway, I’m hoping that at some point I’ll get so old that I’ll forget everything. Then I can start over. I have a family now. so I can get rid of as much crap as my little brain will allow. My wife is teaching me to solve problems and how to be strong. She sings pretty good too.


      • Gene

      • December 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm
      • Reply

      Don, I was placed in that same orphanage in 1957. Spent four and a half years there. Sister Concetta was in charge of the Boys Department. It was the worst experience in my entire life. My fear of Concetta was palpable. Her cruelty knew no bounds. My brothers and sister and I still talk about it as being the most defining period of our lives. My brother and I spent two hours on the phone today talking about it. People can’t imagine the kind of hell that existed there. I can relate to some of your observations.



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