" The Florida Industrial School for boys at Marianna" 1958-59
Larry A. Houston's Story
My name is Larry A. Houston from St. Petersburg, Fla. . I was sent to FSB (Florida School for Boy's) when I was only
14 years old. I came from a broken family, had a sister & brother but was a nice kid not a rough-neck. When I got
there it was a beautiful campus and I thought this was going to be ok. I was put in #12 Cleveland Cottage and the
cottage fathers name was Mr. Robert Sealander. My job assignment was the sewing room with Mrs.Edenfield. She
was a nice lady and her husband was head of the kitchen.
The schools Psychologist was named Dr. Robert Curry and he smoked a pipe with cherry blend tobacco and had a
brand new Desoto that was pink & grey. When you were interviewed by him he asked weird questions like did you like
to masturbate and had you ever thought about having sex with your mother. He was bald on top and sorta husky. I
got called to his office one day and was told someone had overheard me talking about running and I was going to be
punished. Guys had said they like to make you sweat and boy I did. They came for me at my cottage at night just
before shower time. When I got to the "white House" three other boys , Mr. Hatten,Mr. Tidwell and one other man I
didn't know were waiting for us.
The smell of the place was very musty and stale. It was a small building in back of the kitchen. The other boys and I
were told to set on a bench that was in the hall, all of a sudden someone turned on a big exhaust fan that was very
loud then Mr. Tidwell said which one of you wants to be first, no one answered so he pointed to me and said boy go in
that room, which I did immediately.I was scared to death and shaking all over for I had never been treated like this
before. Mr. Tidwell said drop your pants,lay on the cot,bite the pillow and grab the bedrail, look towards the wall and
don't say a word or we will start all over. Mr. Hatten reached under the pillow and grabbed a long leather strap with a
wooden handle. The first blow was so hard it felt like my whole ass was split open. I screamed out in pain and Mr.
Tidwell said what did I tell you boy, you better shut your mouth. I gritted my teeth and hung on to the bedrail as tight
as I could. Mr. Hatten beat me up and down my legs and buttocks as hard as he could, you could hear the strap hit
the ceiling and the wall so you knew it was coming.
I lost count at 39 whacks but it was over soon after. Mr. Tidwell said "get up boy, pull up them pants and go stand in
the hall" I could hardly move, but managed to get my pants up. Mr. Tidwell grabbed my arm and pulled me into the
hall, pointed to the next kid and said boy get in there,but the kid was so scared after hearing me get beat he was
froze to the bench. Mr. Tidwell grabbed the kid by the arm and jerked him up so hard the kid hit the door frame with
his head as he was drug in the room. We could not see in the room because the lighting was very bad. They only had
one small wattage bulb and the bench was down the hall a little bit. Don't know who whipped that kid but he got it
By then I was in so much pain and I could fell blood running down my legs. Next thing I remember I was back at my
cottage. Mr. Sealander took me to the locker room, told me to get undressed and get a shower. I could hardly get my
jeans off because of the swelling in my butt and legs,but finally managed to. My underwear were literally beaten into
my skin. I had to stand under the water a long time and pull very gently to get them off. When I was completely
necked some of the other boys in the showers were whispering that I was the worst they had ever seen. I went to the
mirrors and looked at myself and couldn't believe what I saw. I was already black and blue all over my butt and legs
and had cuts still bleeding. I put on my pj's and went to bed. It took me two weeks to heal up. Believe me I never
talked about running again.
I went"Down" two more times before I went home. Once for low school grades and I cant remember what the third
time was for. I got less wacks but the experience was the same. I'm pretty sure my lower back was injured while I was
beaten. I had back trouble all my life and to this day still suffer.
I heard a lot of rumors about boys going missing and sexual things happening but to my knowledge it never happen
to me other than Mr. Robert Curry asking me strange questions. There were also rumors about the colored boys
getting beat a lot harder and a lot more wackes than whites got but I never witnessed any. I know if you were caught
for running they gave you one hundred whacks but I personally never saw that either. I cant even imagine getting
more than I got.I was really tore up and never want to experience that again.
To Roger Kiser for starting this whole thing, Kudos. You have brought to the surface many hidden memories that
needed to be out of my system. And to Robert Straley,Bryant Middleton,Dick Colon and Michael O' McCarthy who
helped and/or had a hand bring this matter to the Govenor of Florida for the investgation into the thirtynine crosses
with no names on them I want to say "May God Bless each and every one of you"
And to Karl Schultz, thanks for being my best friend while I was in Marianna where ever you are.
Larry A. Houston