This Story is True!
In the 1960s, very few parents knew anything about Attention Deficit Disorder or Hyper activity and most who had it were misdiagnosed with emotional troubles or mental illness. Well, as most of us now know it can be something that makes you stand out from other kids, like a sore thumb on a hand. You never, ever fit in till you out grow it in later years, but then some of us who had it paid the price for having it too. The 1960s medicines and Doctors were not like todays, who have the knowledge they do. They were still plodding along with this type of condition, and had no idea what to diagnose it as.
Sadly I was such a child one who stood out, fought against all, and wouldn’t stand still. I was a child who wanted nothing but love and understanding, but what I got was force, pain, beatings and mental torture by my parents and my elder sibling and his friends. Yet today I overcame and live a normal happy life with a wife, home and two of everything. Not bad for a boy they all called emotionally disturbed and put away for two years in an institution.
In 1965, 9 years into my life, my sister was born, and we lived in the projects. My parents at the time, worked, and we were left to be babysat by my elder brother. His idea of babysitting was to throw me and my younger brother outside in the yard and him stay inside and keep an eye on the baby. His way of dealing with me was to tease, tease, tease and anger me, repeatedly from the day I was born. When I was a baby, I had my problems too, I suffered from seizures and has 199 in the first 9 months of my life, I guess the one thing I owe to my elder brother is he removed the tray from my high chair at nine months old and I tumbled to the floor on my head, somehow the seizures ceased and they were no longer a problem for me and have never come back.
Any way in the summer of 1966 when I was ten I was outside playing in the yard as usual. When I got an urge to go to the bathroom and tried to get in the house to go. My elder brother stood at the door, and wouldn’t let me in to pee. I became angrier and angrier and yelled at him to let me in, he stood there laughing at me is all. I remember it like it was yesterday, his big ass Cheshire cat grin on his face. He pissed me off. I told him, open the damn door and let me in nope he just laughed and stood there. In anger I stepped back and grabbed a rock and tossed it through the screen door window. It shattered the glass all over the place and without realizing it I also shattered the window all over my baby sister. Well it got me in to go to the bathroom, but it also started the end for me for two years of my life. It led to things no person wanted to face, especially me at 10 years old. I had problems in school as a cast off because I never fit in and now the problems at home had elevated to point where my baby sister almost got hurt. My mother made a decision and called in State Social Workers for help to handle me. It would lead to my being put away for two years, but it also led to what I call the chase.
When your ten years old you don’t stop to think what may happen if you do anything, you just do it, such was the case when I threw the stone. But what it began was a period of my life I never forgot period and never will for that summer, my life would change, thanks to my mother and the State Social Worker assigned my case. I had no choice even though I fought it all the way.
It started with home meetings between myself, my family and the social worker on weekends, We would all gather in the living room of our apartment in the project and talk she called it communication chats or something. The gatherings would take place once a week and she would be the one in the middle directing the conversation. Of course these were directed at me, my behavior and my reactions to things around me and what she called self-control lessons. They never amounted to much except us all staring at each other and no one saying a word for hours on end. I wish I could have spoken up, it may have saved me from the two years I was put away for, but I feared my elder brother, my step-father and my own mother and what they would say or do to me once the social worker was gone. My resistance was strong to saying anything and so were my fears.
This all started these weekly meetings in May of 1966, and went on till August of 1966. In between things got worse at home and in school for me, I was in more trouble every time, I turned around. For instance in June of that year we went to the ocean and the beach. As we were there I was playing in the water and didn’t see my sister. She was smaller than me and I didn’t realize she snuck up behind me. I accidentally stepped on her and didn’t realize she was under the water dad ran in and pulled me off of her. He went nuts and so did mom, it was an accident, but all of a sudden I was evil. The beginning of my end at home was coming and what awaited next, more meetings.
July 1966, I grew tired of the yelling and screaming of my mother, my step-father coming home and pulling me from bed and beating me and my elder brother just laughing at me and teasing me. My decision was to run away, I did and ended up in West Haven Connecticut, all the way from Waterbury, CT. to Savin Rock Park an Amusement park. I stayed there a week while they searched for me, and ate candy and junk food from the booths and slept in one each night. On the seventh day, I was out looking for food through the booth when a cop found me and picked me up. I was returned home that night to my mother who went nuts on me with screaming and yelling once more and put me to bed. She told me she couldn’t handle me anymore and that she called the State Social Worker for help and things would be changing. Once more I was in deep trouble for running away and knew something was coming now, what I had no idea.
Suddenly the following week I was taken out by my mother and clothes were bought for me. I had new sneakers and shirts and pants and shorts, yet I never saw them for a while. They were put away by my mother as the meetings began again with the Social Worker in our home, The family would gather and discuss me and how I was doing and whether I was doing better, worse or why I did what I did. Sadly, they never understood why I reacted the way I did, because they weren’t living my life as a ten year old boy in a home where I wasn’t really wanted. The conversations were always directed at my behaviors, my reactions, why did I do this or that, yet no one else was ever questioned by the state social worker as to what they did to get me to react that way.
No one told the State Social Worker of my mother’s hate for me because I looked like my father, or how she never hugged me or kissed me, but yelled at me and slapped me around. No one told the Social Worker how my mother would pressure my step-father each night to come upstairs and drag us out of our beds and beat some sense into us, did they? No one told her how my elder brother senselessly teased me and pushed me away and never wanted me around him. Nope, the fault was always mine it seems, and they wanted to know why I ran.
As July 1966 ended in our home, the closer I came to not being in our home, much longer or at least for a while. In early August a decision was made by my mother, she kept saying she couldn’t handle me no more, she didn’t understand me, so she decided in early August of 1966 to send me away, give me to the State to Institutionalize. I had no idea what that meant when told one August Morning but, I knew at ten it wasn’t good.
Hot August day and I was dressed that morning in a white polo shirt and pink and white stripped shorts, my new sneakers and a suitcase was by the door with my clothes in it. I was given breakfast by mom and told to sit and wait the Social Worker was coming, I wasn’t told why, but I reasoned it out I guess, because I didn’t stick around that long.
I went out the front door to our apartment and I ran, and ran towards the woods in the back, As I did my mother sent every kid including my older brother to catch me. I hit the woods at full speed and stride , darting down paths I only knew and hit an open field of hay. As I hit the field I knew I was crossing a boundary for me a place I had never been before but they were still chasing me so I ran further and deeper into the woods. I hit the opposite end of the field just as they were entering it and found the woods filled with pine trees below the slope. I ran in and kept running till it became dark and I couldn’t hear anyone, anymore. And stopped and listened finally, to hear silence and nothing else. They had stopped chasing me and it was now, an hour later. I was scratched up, bruised, tired and sweating but they never found or caught me in those pines, I was alone now and on my own.
I cried for hours that day as I walked slowly through the woods deeper and deeper into them. I couldn’t believe my parents wanted to give me away and I didn’t want to go, but too late, I was now a ward of the state unbeknown to me and they would get me sooner than later.
My day in those woods and that chase formed me for life, I would always know how to run forever if needed and avoid. I learned that day I was capable of taking care of myself, just as I did when I ran to Savin Rock Park before. Yet I needed food and water and a way to survive so I walked and walked and walked, through those woods. When I came out the other side of those pine trees and woods I was on a hill looking down on a different town and area, I had run and made it ten miles away to Watertown, and across from my step-father’s factory where he worked it was dark out as I struggled down the hill to the road. But I had made it out and not been caught, I thought ok what next when I hit the street, but it was too late for what was next, the cops were waiting for me, and picked me up as soon as I darted out into the open. I was finally caught, the chase lasted 6 hours and the sun had set, darkness was all around as the lights of cop cars and search lights hit me in the face and froze me in place. I was picked up by a cop, and carried to a cruiser and placed in the backseat with no door handles in place. As I stared out the window at the woods I had run through and made it safely out of, I knew I wouldn’t see it again for a long time.
The following day that August I was redressed by my mother, the suitcase was by the door and this time it was too early to run and my step-father watched me closely. The Black State Social Workers car pulled into the parking lot early that morning. My suitcase was stuck in the backseat and I was handed over to the Social Worker and never once kissed or hugged by mom. I knew then how unwanted I was and still know it to this day 46 years later and she has been dead now for 22 years. But that was life in our home back then, at least for me, I was no longer a member of my own family, but a ward of the State on my way to who knew where.
The drive was about one hour in that car with the Social Worker, never once did I speak to her or her to me I sat in silence, staring out the window the whole ride as she drove along. At the end were The Black Wrought Iron Gates of The Children Center on Whitney Avenue in Hamden, Connecticut, my new home for the next two years. The chase did end, but not in the way I wanted it to, you see, for my parents had institutionalized me.
I was now labeled an emotionally disturbed child, given my suitcase and a bed in a dormitory building with other kids around my age. I can still see the brick buildings, the wrought iron gates, and smell the green grass after it was mowed. I can still remember wanting to go home and throwing a temper tantrum that night and the red-headed counselor who sat on me to hold me down and control me and made me clean it all up in the end. Never again did I throw a tantrum, I quietly assimilated into the Children’s Center because I had nowhere to go any more. I was stuck and defenseless against the State holding me, so I had no damn choice.
Unbeknown to the State, my parents or anyone else is what I saw and learned in that Institution. I saw for the first time, evil. I saw people using drugs, cocaine, pot and more. I saw, people kill themselves, I learned to skate and play tennis and basketball, I learned many thing I would never have seen at home. Scenes, of kids having sex behind buildings, in buildings, and more. If my parents had known what I saw would they have gone along with it all, I doubt it but it was all there for me to see. Sadly, I lived through it by avoiding others I felt danger from, and staying in the open, to play cleanly.
I learned Ice Skating, Roller Skating, wood working and arts, and went to school like any other kid, on the compound of course, not off. But I also learned bad things, drugs, alcohol, sex and beatings people gave to other kids. It was a sad two years before I went home again. The ending went like this, one day.
I was called into the Administrative Building for a meeting with my Social Worker to discuss my problems, so to say. To me each meeting was a pain in the ass and a bother and I didn’t care what she wanted or anyone else. I just wanted to go home. It began with that call and ended a month later. For the call was for me, to meet a couple that was looking for a kid. I refused to do it and walked out, upset that my mother would try to adopt me out. So I waited until the couple left with my Social Worker and went in her office. I turned on her dictograph machine and recorded a statement for her to hear.
I don’t want adopted, I don’t need a new family, I have a family send me home! In the end that is where I went, home 30 days later!. The year was now 1968 and I returned to school in 7th grade and would graduate in 1969. Life would never be the same from the day of the chase till today, for I still run and run as needed to stay safe and secure. I did it through High School, and then through my sixteen years in service. In the end I survived and still do today at age 56. Thats why men and women run all their lives, the chase as children never leaves your mind and heart and head. But it’s the ending that always leaves you scared and running forever!