Friday, April 01, 2011

'We were not orphans: Stories from the Waco State School'

I heard a fascinating if disturbing interview on NPR this morning with the author of a  new book out on the history the Waco State School - a reformatory created by the Legislature in 1923 and closed in the late '70s - with the same title as this post, including allegations of extremist brutality (e.g., sexual molestation and beatings with baseball bats). But there are also many positive memories and stories of redemption from school alumni, says the author, and the oral histories are supplemented by extensive documentary research. See early reviews here and here, as well as this video preview of what appears to be an extraordinary work of historical and archival research, performed just in time before those who could supply first-hand accounts are no longer around to tell their stories.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm struck by the fact that the children shown in the pictures are all white. What happened to poor black or Mexican children at the time?

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

If this place was such a bastion of state sponsored child abuse you should learn what tyc had going 30 miles west of Waco in the little backwoods redneck town of Gatesville.
Texas had laws about white kids comingling with “colored” kids. In Gatesville the black kids were kept in a totally separate facility by the river and the Mexican were kept in separate dorms in the white facility, Hilltop.
I wonder if Waco State Home is haunted like Gatesville and still has kid buried around it in unmarked graves?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a very powerful novel.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:58, it's nonfiction, actually; oral and documentary history.

Anonymous said...

Sheldon needs some God Love in his life and learn to forgive and move on. I went to school with the kids from one of the homes back in the 60 and 70 and none of them have such bitterness. My best friend lived there and I even spent the weekend with her. Most of them come back every year for a reunion. I guess they were just glad to have a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes to wear. They never talk about things like that going on here. He just sounds like someone who has a chip on his shoulder that can't let it go. I pray for you Sheldon that God will give you peace and forgiveness.