Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-Orphans Speak out about Bad Experiences

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-Orphans Speak out about Bad Experiences

Article excerpt

Dear Readers: When I asked readers to share their experiences in orphanages, mail poured in from the United States and Canada. I then devoted an entire column to the responses from orphanage alumni whose experiences were mostly positive. In the interest of accuracy, I offer some typical letters from those whose experiences were negative and brutal:

Dear Abby: I was the seventh of nine children. Our father died when our mother was expecting her ninth child, so all of us kids were sent to St. Vincent's Orphanage in Philadelphia. It was a harsh experience that left emotional scars that never healed.

Mickey Rooney (in defense of Newt Gingrich) said, "Boys Town in Nebraska wasn't too bad."

Well, he got paid to be an orphan - none of us real orphans did. I hope they never build any more orphanages!

RUTH L., WEST CHESTER, PA.

Dear Abby: I was born in 1923 of Russian-German parents. I was placed in a Denver orphanage with three of my sisters when I was 7 or 8 years old. I remember using a dirty word (which I didn't even know was dirty), and I was whipped and made to chew a whole bar of Lifebuoy soap. I will never forget the shame and humiliation I suffered. Sign me . . .

GEORGE

Dear Abby: In 1925, my sister and I were taken to an orphanage because our parents had separated, and neither one could give us a decent home.

I remember daily lineups when couples came in looking for a child to adopt. I don't know whether they had to prove they were qualified to raise children. I was picked, and sent to another building for two weeks of observation. My little sister, who was 4 or 5, found out where I was, and she used to stand under my window so we could talk to each other.

Our mother returned to Dad in order to forestall the adoption, but their marriage was miserable. Then I learned Mom was stricken with cancer, and she died at the age of 33.

My memories of that orphanage are vivid: We girls wore ugly uniforms, black stockings and high-top shoes with laces. …

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