Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clifford Hastings


I embark on a journey through my memories that I have tried to forget throughout my life time. A journey that takes me down many paths better forgotten, however I have found that to be impossible for me, as I feel that it would be for anyone who walked it.

I am a very un-proud graduate from the death camp that was called; '' Marianna School for Boys'' I started in 1954 & graduated in 1955. The school was beautiful; however the operation and the operators were another thing completely. I am 69 years of age now, so please forgive me if I can’t remember all the names of the people
involved in the tortures. I have not read any ones story about this place. I did this so that I could be as honest as I could about it.

The main culprit that I hold responsible for this nightmare was Arthur G. Dozier the head master of all the crimes committed during my time there. First of all he was completely in charge, and then he turned a blind eye to everything. The beatings were so horrendous that they defy descriptions. I personally experienced 9 or 10
beatings in this time. The so called white house was white in color from the outside only. The inside was stained with the colors of vomit, blood, tears and the agony of everyone who experienced the inside. This building was supposed to have been built to make ice cream for the students (prisoners) of the State of Florida. When they
started buying ice cream in the early 50's they needed another reason not to tear the building down, thus the torture chamber came into existence.

They did not need a reason to beat a child, but if you spit on the ground or scraped your shoe in the so called class room, that was good enough. I was beaten so severely on two occasions that I had to be taken from the torture chamber straight to the hospital to be given medicine for shock, and to be sewn up. Ironically the head nurse that worked on me was married to the monster that caused it. I worked in the laundry with this same man, if he should be called a man.

That is where the child was mysteriously burned to death in the mattress sterilizer; of course no one could ever prove this. There are many unmarked graves on the west side of the state highway that ran through the middle of the school. That was the black side of the school then. I won’t even go into how blacks were treated during this segregated time we were living in.

I forgot to mention why I was there in the first place. I ran away from home, like I'm sure most of the prisoners did. No I never made Ace, I didn't make Explorer. That was their ranking for the good boys, but after my first 5 beatings I just couldn't see myself being good any longer, all I wanted was to get as far away from that hell hole as I could. I can't remember a lot of names.

R.W. Hatton is one that stood out, he was the one who tried to shoot me, but he missed. Why did he try? Well we had a basket ball court right outside of our cottage #3 & it was time for bed at 7pm. at 7:02 Mr. Hatton drove his old black 49 ford car by the basket ball court, there I was making my last hoop. Long story short, he called me over to the car and told me he needed to talk to me. Seems another kid had told him I was talking about running away, and that was a big no, no. He started off to the white house with me, but as we pulled up to the side of the building he got out to open the door, so I decided if I was going to be beat for it, I may as well do it. I ran, and ran, with him right behind me. He shouted if you don't stop I will kill you, I have a gun, so I said shoot me then, well he shot and the bullet zinged right beside my right ear, so I knew he was really trying, I just ran faster. I heard him yell as he fell in ditch that fortunately I remembered was there. Last thing I heard was you'll be sorry you little bastard.

About 102: am I heard hounds baying, he had went to the local road gang and got 3 prisoners and 2 blood hounds, I had climbed a tree as a stupid child would, in about 5 minutes there was a black prisoner holding a knife to my leg telling me, if I didn't come down he would cut my leg off. I came down. They took me to the local jail and left me there for 3 days. Jail was nothing, but the agony I suffered, knowing what was going to happen when I got back was a living hell. Needless to say what happened when I got back, R.W. administered this one himself, it was two in one, back to the hospital for me again.

There was a time a boy climbed the water tower right beside the office. R.W. was involved in that also but it wasn't his fault. The boy jumped and splashed his life away from the top of the water tower; fortunately I did not see this in person. I could write a book about this place and it still wouldn't cover every evil thing that happened there. My life would never be the same.

Clifford Hastings
Pensacola, FL