Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 16, 1972 · Page 82
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 82

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 16, 1972
Page 82
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Page 82 article text (OCR)

A Sinner Returns By Bob Hayes Saints and Sinners When some fellow yields to temptation, and breaks a convention or law, We look for no good in his make-up; But, my, how wepick at the flaw! Nobody asks how he was tempted, nor allows for the battle he fought; His name becomes food for those jackals--the ones who have never been caught. "He has sinned," they proclaim from the housetops, they forget the good he has done; They tell how he lost his last battle, they forget the times that he won. "Come hither and gaze on the sinner; and by his example be taught that primrose paths lead to the devil, "Cry those who have never been caught. 1'masinner, 0, Lord and I know it! lam weak and I blunder and fail, As I'm tossed here and there on life's ocean, like a ship that is caught in a gale. And I'm willing to trust in Thy mercy, whose blood our forgiveness once bought, But deliver me, Lord, from the judgment, of those who have never been caught. In the merry month of May, nearly 25 years after I left the West Virginia Industrial school for boys, about five miles from Grafton and named Pruntytown after the small town in which it is located, I returned for a brief visit. The poem with this article has so much significance to the visit and the feelings as I drove out that I had to use it to lead into this article. West Virginians have long been known for their religious attitudes. Recently when capital punishment was abolished in the state, many various verses of scripture were among other reasons for consigning this archaic practice to its rightful place, among the archives of criminology and penology of which few if any can be proud. When you mention Taylor County and Grafton to most West Virginians, they immediately think of the beautiful Tygart River Valley and the dam, a spectacular tribute to man's constant struggle to control and properly utilize his environment. You might also think of Grafton as a one-time rail center, hauling in and out cargoes of coal,, lumber, wood products and many petroleum by-products. It also ranks among the most abused counties where strip mining is concerned. Its mountain tops have been decapitated, raped and scraped barren. Some reclamation has been done and that is to everyone's credit. The last thing people like to associate with Tyler County is Pruntytown, the "Reform" school. It is an antique relic, condemned as a fire and safety hazard at least 25 years ago. The Administration building, which also houses the bulk of the boys, defies description in terms of deterioration and ruin. The old institution was formerly opened in July, 1891, and the purpose as stated on the landmarker, was for the training of boys committed by the Courts of West Virginia. Older West Virginians may remember the terrible atrocities that occurred there regularly in the late 30's and early 40's. Boys were beaten, killed and often ma- jmed for life under the disguise of training. When I was there in late 1947 and 1949, beatings of a severe nature with a large two-handed wooden paddle were still commonplace. In addition, it was customary practice for inmates, who were big enough and strong enough, to be made trusties for the expressed purpose of maintaining discipline-much like the old Arkansas "prisoner guard" system so vividly exposed a couple of years ago. Fortunately, there were no guns available to the boys, or I reel certain, some of them would have neen allowed to carry and use them. The 6m CHARLESTON. W. VA. Author Unknown "outlines" as they were called, helped chase boys who ran off. often administering their own perverted form of punishment when they apprehended an escapee. This usually entailed a severe beating and stomping. For the information of the people who pay both the costs of keeping the boys, the courts, and the many agencies that play with their lives, only two changes of any major nature have occurred at Pruntytown in the ensuing 25 years. The old chapel building has been closed in fear of its collapse; and in 1954, a gymnasium and swimming pool was built. This was accomplished by some benefactor at no real cost to the state. The boys, many of whom I talked with, are very much the same: orphans, truants, runaways--some there for their second or third trip. I was taken on tour along with my wife of the existing facilities. The old shop building (with the exception of the new cottages built in 1949), once the home of from 100 to 140 boys at any given time was no longer used to house them. Instead, they had been transferred back to the old Administration building, an edifice so hazardous the mortar is falling out of the bricks. It, along with the dining room, probably remain as the original institution buildings. One of the new cottages was being used for "troublemakers," "non conformists" and the new boys just committed by the courts. That makes for a good way to start off one's training career. "Meet the problems and learn to be one" might be an apt way to put it. The shops appeared in real desolation. The print shop that once turned out the main part of the state stationery and office forms at a very minimal cost has been turned into a sheet metal shop. I was so depressed at the total lack of progress in one of the most important levels of delinquency control, I failed to ask a lot of questions I should have. Farming as always seems to be the main function of the institution. The boys attend school one-half day and work one- half day. I've often wondered what the benefits really were in taking boys, who come from the cities and larger urban areas, and make fanners of them, releasing them then bade to the city where they would never associate with the industry again. West Virginia is not noted as a highly productive agriculture state. Suadw Gazette-Mail As we orove around the grounds, I asked about the marching. Yes, the biys stiB march wherever they go, arms folded now and some progress has been made in that they no longer march to military cadence such as was the case for years. We visited what had been the "little poys collage" while I was there, but now is used to house all age groups according to size and behaviour. It was obvious immediately that the old "bench 1 ' rule still is in effect. This is the practice-for punishment or not obeying rules-where a boy is made to sit apart from the others with his back to them, not allowed to talk or participate in the others' activities. This tradition is as old as the Institution itself and no dodbt on the day when Pruntytown finally collapses, hopefully no boys will be in the buildings for as sure as they are, then just as surely will you find some sitting on a bench, all by themselves--part of their training. I stopped and talked to some of the boys who were busily mowing some grass at the lower end of "the institutional grounds. This was, I was told by an officer, a combination punishment and orientation program. New boys had to do this type of work as their introduction to the school. Others, who had been bad, must do this as extra punishment. Again, a very good start for the new boys, assuring them they will learn all the tricks and the games of the older more sophisticated ones. Just behind where they were working was the old Chapel, rotting away day by day, no longer safe for use. I recalled the Chaplain who was there in my day. He was one of the only fighters for progress. He was a very proud man the day the stained glass windows were put in. I worked for him and with him on several projects. He was a terrible preacher or speaker, but a good man, who cared for what happened to the boys. It was he. in 1959, who helped i n s t i t u t e the honor system. This enabled the boys who had good conduct and the proper attitudes to gain extra privileges in six months, among which were free run of the grounds, (this has now been curtailed i. visits home on certain holidays and a part in the policy making of the Institution. In f a c t , so far progressed were we in those days, that established honor boys had some say in who among the boys were qualified to join their ranks. Perhaps this is still in effect. I didn't ask. Perhaps (his sousds 2. liilTe critical and if so, then the purpose has been accomplished. The people of the State of West Virginia and their duly elected and appointed representatives should truly be ashamed lo be a part of the perpetuation of such a dismal, self-defeating system such as is evidenced by the very existence of Pruntylown's Industrial ScheoL If you doubt the degree of the ruin there go visit. While there, don't look at the employes in scorn. They only work as a part of the total system and have very little influence on whal goes on in the halls of the legislature, where monies and law changes must occur. Most of them are good people as much victims of the system as the boys locked into a state of never knowing how Jong the political system in power will coniinue programs or people. They are protected by a merit system, but all the progress they can make in four years can be eradicated with one phone call or one signature on an interoffice memorandum If you wonder why crime is steadily on the increase, why violence is the order of the day, then in your survey for facts don't overlook places like Pruntytown as a mam contributor. In too many instances the training you receive there far better gears you for a further criminal career than it does towards restoring you to good citizen standing. *' * I would hope that should it be my food fortune to be alive in 25 more years, my next visit might find just this on a marker "Once the sight of the now infamous West Virginia Industrial Schoolfer abolished by an act of the H73rd lure, its buildings demolished bitter memories consigned to the Section of the West Vir Department." Edited by Arther C. Buck, asatstanf iversity The Reincarnation of Grandma's Album ByKayHaugaant As a young girl looking through my grandmother's old, velvet covered family album, at the daguerreotypes therein, I used to wonder at the pictures of the men--like the one of my grandfather just before he was married. Grandma said he was barely 20 at the time, but with a huge, luxuriant, black, walrus moustache like that! I knew she must be joking. I had never seen a man that young with a moustache. And whenever I would read in a piece of !!?th century literature, of a "dashingly handsome" young man with a full beard or long. - l u x u r i a n t m o u s t a c h e which he twisted proudly, I would just giggle at the a'bsurdily of it. Frankly, such a thing was as incredible to me as some of those African fashions I s a w i n t h e N a t i o n a l Geographic such as the big. wooden plugs some women wore in their lips or the metal coils around their g i r a f f e - l i k e n e c k s EVERYONE then knew that a moustache or a beard on a man meant age. A young man with a beard was a phenomenon that surpasseth all human understanding. Now and then I would reflect on the strange thought of a young man with facial foliage. How could you tell he was young? How could you stand to kN - s- or be kissed t h r o u g h a l l t h a t shrubbery? The mystery was compounded by reflecting on whether women of those times really were attracted to these men or whether the poor, oppressed creatures were simply subjected to (he Little Girls Are Nice By Louis A. Orlando Little girls are the nicest tilings that happen to people. This liitle girl's name is Karen Lee. She likes pretty dresses, dolls that go to sleep. Mom's dress shoes, pretty hairdo's, noise makers, the little girl next door, make-believe, dancing lessons, tea parties, TV cartoons and her favorite Uncle Lou. She doesn't care too much for her big brother or boys in g e n e r a l , for visitors, vegetables, large hats and her crabby Aunt Alice. She is loudest when I am thinking, prettiest when she has provoked me, the busiest at bedtime, quietest when I want her to show off, and the most flirtatious when I vow she absolutely must not get the best of me again. Sh believes in "Herman the Bear" who lives down in her uncle's cellar. Every time she goes for a ride in the country she keeps looking and hoping to see Herman just once, but he's never around. On every visit to her uncle's house, she takes him by the hand and c;m't wait to go down in the celler to see if Herman is at home. She knocks on the dwr but Herman doesn't answer. There is, however, a Exotic Driving ByKayHaugaard First Student: "Did you hear about George? He got a ticket for erotic driving." Second Student: "What are you talking about erotic driving! The word is erratic!'* First Student: "That's what you think! Some cop caught him kissing his girl whitt drivinf en tat tr.iuu»j.u *' STATS MAGAZINE, July 16,1972 litlle note from Herman which reads: "Dear Karen: Thanks so much for the cookies you left for me the o t h e r d a y -- t h e y were delicious." Karen likes to hide things and write little notes like " K a r e n Lee's birthday--Friday, October 18. please come," and put them in my desk calender... sometime during August or September. I don't know who else caa cause me more grief, joy, irritation, satisfaction, embarrassment and genuine delight than this combination of Eve, Salome, and Florence Nightingale. She can muss up my hair and my dignity--spend my money, my time and my temper. Then, just when my patience is ready to crack, her sunshine peeks through and I've lost again. She is innocence playing in the mud, beauty standing on its head, and motherhood dragging a doll by the foot. She is nothing but a noisy bundle of mischief and a nerve-wracking nuisance. But, when my dreams are shattered and the whole world is a mess; when it seems that everything I do is wrong, and I feel like a no- good bum; it is at a time like this when she climbs on my knee, kisses me on the cheek and whispers, "Uncle Lou. I love you best of all." Yes. she always says her prayers at bedtime. "God. watch over mommy and daddy, my Uncle Lou and Aunt Alice, all my friends and my big brother too, and please watch over Herman, wherever he may be Thank you God-and goodnight" (Mr. Orlaftd* is · Mftttttf New **, t y r a n n y of a h a i r y , masculine world and had no choice but to suffer the outrageous tickling of nostril, cheek and eye because they had not been liberated enough to rebel. I would finally give up trying to understand and simply lake it on faith that people were different--and strange -in THOSE DAYS. But many strange and marvelous things are made clear if one lives long enough. Mysteries are made p l a i n and i n s i g h t s are received--some unlocked - f "r. some merely uncalled for-andVOILA!ilseemsas though THOSE DAYS have returned. As I sit behind my desk in front of a college class I find myself looking out at my grandmother's album. My records tell me that these are young, college age buys I am'st'cing but 1 know differently. Anyone who has managed to cultivate a s h a r p l y upward-curved, spiky, "Kaiser Wilhelm" moustache, which he keeps neatly waxed is no young man! And that gentleman silling in the back row who wears thosp broatf, black and white striped pants with tread suspenders and a neatly trimmed black fringe contouring his chin--I just know he is a dour, old, Amish patriarch although someone in the office insists he is 19 and was born and raised in beautiful, downtown Burbank, California. I always call him MR. Hansen. though, because I'm not fooled for a minute about his age and I can't get over my habit of being slightly deferential to my elders and not calling tliein by their first names. Another gentleman in my class has wide, fuzzzy, m u t t o n - c h o p w h i s k e r s sticking out on bolh sides of his face like a Scottish terrier in a high wind and there is one whose full, brown beard spills down over his blue workshirt which he wears with sadly faded and worn dungarees. I keep looking around in the parking lot to see where his pick - and-ax-and-gold-pan- iaden burro is parked but I haven't found it yet. His registration card indicates he is 21 but the whole thing is just a practical joke and 1 laugh right along with it B is obvious that he is. at LEAST 45. ' I sometimes wonder hew it is that all these old gentlemen from my grandmother's album have suddenly come to life and decided to go back to college at the same time. It appears to be some k i n d of widespread movement, perhaps because college wasn't as widely available to them in their time. But the one that I like the best is a fine, kindly, looking gentleman with a merry twinkle in his old, blue eye* filial are surprisingly bright lor one so elderly) who h listed on my records as 22. He is dark,' rather slightly built man of mixed French ancestry. His hair is dark anil so is his abundant, f l o w i n g , w a l r u s - l i k e moustache. He reminds me so much of my grandfather that I jtist know some day I'm going to slip and call him. "Grandpa!" (Mrs. Haugnard is a teacher, free lance writer, and humorist of PasadcM, Calif.) Ulcers, See Decisions ByG.M.Wosk Two purchases recently entered our household at the same time: ^·A medical dictionary which was to prove finally to e a c h m e m b e r of that household that his or her symptoms were the most serious. ^·A lamp, not to shed more light on these symptoms, although not a bad idea either, but to look good on the table next to the sofa. The medical dictionary, purchased hastily because the father of the household was w a i l i n g impatiently with the cartoned lamp, but also purchased victoriously because it was on sale even beyond the discounted price, is really thi first medical book to enter the household. The lamp is the fourth in a period of four weeks. Each of its predecessors has been either too big, too colorful, too den-ish--decisions reached indecisively by the f i n a l a r b i t e r o f ' t h e household, the mother, who. after all spends the most time with it. who is the family art expert, and reached also in fear and trembling, because she must also ask the father to repack the lamps and return them. Let us now set the next wene: + The mother is perusing the lamp with a sinking feeling. Its pitted, mottled ceramic base looks, after aB. less like Jackson Pollack in ceramic than one «f the oral ejections describe* in the medical *-The daughter is perusing the new book. "Doctor," reads the daughter. "Doctors are just like fish in the sea, in more than one respect, that is, they are in all sixes, shapes, colors and constitution and mentality..." She continues to read more of "Doctor."' which continues to inform similarly and concludes with: "Of all good doctors in the world I shall use the best four Doclor Clean Doctor Quiet Duclot Merryman Doclor Diet These doctors prescribe no harmful drugs Charge no lees Treat no disease But prevent them. "See 'Diet,' Hygine,' 'Mind and Body'. 'Worry.' ". The mother now openly groaning out the lamp's shortcomings rechecks the copyright dates of the medical book: 1950, 1952, 19ti2. 1962 isn't bad, she remembers herself thinking at the time of the purchase, although the pictured hemlines of the nurses and the lady patients at the hospital emergency, just below the knees, are neither mini or midi. With an added sinking feeling now, the mother returns to her lamp studies and the daughter to the dictionary Fourteen Mkt's age MU* "Love' dklfoaary, CHARLESTON, W.VA. years old, the daughter in the medical "Love?" she reads loudly. "See Marriage." But "Marriage" turns out to be several columns titled "Marriage and Reproduction,'* and she fails to go beyond the caption, partly from indignation and partly bccuse REPRODUCTION was what she learned in sixth grade. In searching back for "Love" now to make sure "See Marriage" is all that follows "Love," she finds a few topics ahead of it, "Lamp."' "Good grief!" she shouts. "Lamp!" Before her mother can lift her stricken eyes from the newly purchased lamp to say, "Must be ultra-violet heat lamps like for muscle pains." Die daughter on the trail of two-can-play-this- medical dictionary-game-as- well-as-one-and- probably - weller-at-fourteen. she calls forth her own, "Lamp, See Ulcers." As things turned out in this household, even though the youthful game player's later perusal revealed "The Love Relationship and Mental and Spiritual Health of Modern Man, See 'Adolescence.' 'Child Training,' 'Contraception,' 'Sex Organs,' had followed "Marriage and Reproduction," the medical dictionary was required to go back to the store, and the lamp allowed to stay. As was the ulcer. See "Decisions." EDITOR'S NOTE: Mn. W«k is * free latt* writer ·f EvMStOR, 111. 19m

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