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Fiction for the Heart

Anita Mabel's Journal 1920-1921

On the cover, written in tiny script, was Anita Mabel. I opened to the first page...

June 1920

Today Dick and Buss and me had to go live at the Childrenís Home. I hate it here. But mom went away, and Grandma took the twins and I donít know where dad is. All the other children here are orphans. I try to tell myself that itís different for me because Iím not an orphan, but I donít know where mom is and I really hope dad is dead! The good lord might punish me and I know youíre not supposed to harbor hateful thoughts. (But I do hope heís dead!) At least heís gone and I wonít have to fear him anymore.

Dick and Buss are in different buildings so I never get to see them. I hope they let them see eachother, but they probably keep them in separate places, too. They have no feelings.

Itís like a prison here. We march in groups to meals and we mustnít speak, even in a whisper. This morning I said something to a girl sitting next to me and the matron came over to me and smacked my knuckles HARD with a ruler three or four times. I wonít do that again.

If I was older Iíd run away. Iím almost 10, I could work as a seamstress or something. I have a good hand at sewing - I made all the kids clothes and my own. Mom was no help to us especially after the twins were born. She got strange and wouldnít cook or clean or anything anymore. I had to do it all because Iím the only girl and dad would get out the switch if I complained.

I lay in this big dark place on a hard bed and cry. Loneliness is my only friend. I wonder what will become of us. Are we to spend years here? If the matron finds me writing this Iíll catch it for sure.

Dear God, please get us all out of this place. God, where is my mother?

Sept 1920

I saw Dick today! He was working on the grounds with a group of boys and I got to talk to him for a minute. He told me the most horrible lie, I hope itís a lie, why would he tell me something like that? He said mom went crazy. He said she believed that having twins meant you were evil and God was going to punish her and she went crazy. He said dad put her in a place for crazy people and then just left us. Gramma took the twins, but there was no one who wanted us, so we got sent here. I wonít believe it. Mom was just sad and acting kind of strange. I donít want to believe she was crazy.

Dec 1920

It feels like forever weíve been here. I made a friend though. She taught me a song. It goes like this

Playmate come out and play with me
and bring you dollies three
climb up my apple tree
look down my rain barrel
slide down my cellar door
and well be jolly friends forever more.

Then the other one sings

Playmate I canít come play with you
my dollies have the flu
boo hoo boo hoo boo hoo
canít look down rain barrels
or slide down cellar doors
but well be jolly friends forever more.

We sing it very softly when no one else is around. Weíd be in the doghouse for sure if we were caught singing.

Dear God, please donít let me stay here too much longer. And make my mom well. Donít let her be crazy.

Jan 1921

I told my friend what Dick said about mom being crazy. She said he was probably just mad at her for leaving and was saying mean things. But then that awful Mary came up and heard us talking and started telling us about what it was like in a nuthouse. She said they chain crazy people to the walls and let them sit in their own slobber and messes. And everywhere people are screaming and crying and they get beaten if they make too much of a fuss. I told her SHE was crazy and lying, and anyway, my mom is not in the nuthouse. We would have gotten into a real fight, except that the matron came up and yelled at us. We were paddled (it really hurt and I tried so hard not to cry but I couldnít help it) and sent to our beds without supper. I hate it here. I hate the matron. And I hate Mary. May the Good Lord forgive me.

Dear God, please donít let her be in a nuthouse. And please keep Mary away from me.

July 1921

Mom is here!!! She came to see me. She looks so old and tired. She said she is going to be working here at the Childrenís home as a cook, so weíll get to see her sometimes. But she canít take us away from here yet because she has to get back on her feet and save some money and then weíll all go away and live in a house maybe. She said the twins are ok, but she didnít seem too worried about them. Iam worried though, because theyíre just babies and Gramma is kind of old. Maybe too old to take good care of babies like I could, even though Iím only 11).

I told her Iíve been practicing hard at my sewing and I could help by getting work as a seamstress and we could do it together. And Dick could get a job - heís 12 and big enough to work as a laborer. But she said we just have to wait a while. I asked her about dad, but she wouldnít talk about him. She just said he is gone and we were well rid of him.

Dear God, thank you for bringing my mom here and keeping her safe all this while. And please help her get on her feet so we can get out of here.

To be continued...

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