Friday, March 7, 2008

Billy Foote

My name is Billy Foote, I was in Florida School for Boys in 1962-1963. I was in Madison Cottage and my house parents were Mr. & Mrs. Hollins and Mr. & Mrs. Branch. I was sent to the school from Tampa. I, like most boys, thought that the campus looked nice and the people seemed nice. I was assigned to Laundry, ran by Mr Cook. It did not take me long to find out the truth behind the all the niceness.

One day at the laundry after finishing our work myself and a friend of mine, George Balcome (may be misspelled) that I knew from Tampa were talking. George arrived there a few weeks before I did and he had tried to escape a few days before. He was telling me about what had happened to him. He was instruct not to talk about his experience with any one or they would do it to him again.

A boy by the name of Spivey caught some of our conversation and ran to Mr. Cook and told him we were talking about running, which we were not. Mr. Cook called us separately up to his desk. I told him we were not talking about running. He did not believe us and wrote both of us up. I thought big deal. About half an hour later a black state car pulled up in front of the laundry. If I am not mistaken, the man's name Burgess or something like that. He placed George and myself in the car. He took us to the Director's Office. There we sat for one and a half hours. George
whispered to me they were going to take us down to the white house and beat us. I thought to myself, big deal I have had paddlings in the juvenile home before. George looked really scared and I told him not to punk out on me. They finally called us into the office one at a time. I knew from the start they were not going to believe us, which they did not.

In a few minutes they grabbed us up again and walked us down to a little building next to the mess hall. When I walked in I could smell the mold. We went in and took a left at the end of the short corridor. There were two small
rooms, one on the right and one on the left. They placed us in the one on the left and then they grabbed me up and said "You are first." I wasn't too scared at this point. The old building spooked me out a little. There was a bed with only a old, dirty mattress on it. There was a old fan attached to the wall on the upper right hand side. They told me to lie on the bed, grip the bar, look right at the wall and do not turn to the left. Do not scream or shout because they would start all over again.

The fan was started and the blade must have been bent as it made a noise when it went around, I found out later why. The first lick took the air out of my blue jeans and I thought to myself this won't be to bad but the second lick sent a pain through my whole body. I realized that he was taking the leather belt from his left side and then all the way over his head and jumping up and then coming down. I could hear the belt nick the ceiling right before it came down and I knew another lick was coming. By this time I could feel my blue jean sticking to my butt, it was wet with
blood. My God when is he going to stop? At sixty three licks he stopped. I was hurting so bad they had to help me off the bed. Blood was running down both cheeks of my butt. I was informed that if I told anyone about what happened, they would bring me down again. I was not to discuss anything about the event. After they finished with George they made us run back to the Directors Office. I went back to my cottage and took a shower. The next day my behind was solid black and felt like a piece of old leather. The house parents had to know what was going on. They stood there and watched you take a shower, they saw the blood. That was when I really started hating. I hated everything and everybody! I was to go down two more times, each time was the same. I found out later that if they hurt you really bad, they would put you in detention until you healed. I also saw our FDA (FINAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION), (that was the report they filled out every time you went down) because a friend of mine worked in the office and every one of them stated you received only 25licks.

Mr. Taylor was my school teacher and the another man who was the head of the school, I cannot remember,his name, but he was a very strange man. Most of us thought he was gay. He called me into his office after an incident
in the classroom. He would put his hand down your shirt and rub around your heart area. He said he could tell if you were lying when asked a question by your heart beat. If it was beating fast, you were lying. I thought he was gay because his rubbing lasted too long. I can remember a lot more horror stories but space does not allow it. For instance, the three boxers who were supposedly to have escaped ??????

I am glad I found this site. My body still carries the scares from those beatings, but my mind has finally found rest. I still think of all the other boys who suffered at the hands of those monsters.