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A Monster Named Sally

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“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

Nobody explained to me what was actually happening as we drove those five hours along Interstate 20 from Midland, Texas to Dallas – I just knew something was not right. There was nervous tension in the air, despite the occasional laughter sprinkled in between rounds of “I Spy” and other assorted road games that keeps kids from asking, “Are we there yet?”

We arrived at what they called The Receiving Home in the hot Texas summer of ’57. Mom and her sister-in-law, Aunt Tootie, somehow managed to keep their composure as they handed us over to Sally Polk, the director of the home; a large, middle-aged lady with a foul and intemperate disposition.

monster houseThe Receiving Home was the place kids went before being admitted onto the larger campus of Buckner Orphan’s Home. The idea was to inoculate us from any germs and contaminants we might be carrying. It was also a place of indoctrination into how we were expected to behave once there.

We watched from the window as the car drove away, following with our eyes until it faded out of sight. My brother Jere, almost two years older than me, and my sister Valerie, five years older, both knew what was going on. I did not.

Mom was leaving us there, and she would not be coming back. Valerie and Jere wept uncontrollably as they watched mom drive away. Just three months shy of seven years old, I was clueless and confused – a condition that would soon change. For old Sally Polk was a force to be reckoned with – a massive woman, weighing about 300 pounds. She had weird eyes that operated independent of each other, like that lizard you see on National Geographic; so you never knew exactly where Sally was looking.

And she didn’t walk, as much as she waddled. Shifting her enormous weight from one foot to the other and landing with such force that the floor would vibrate, and the water in your glass would ripple. You know, like T-Rex in Jurassic Park. It didn’t take long for us all to learn that when you heard that sound and saw those ripples, the Monster was on her way.” (Excerpt from pg.27,28, Released From the Prison My Father Built, James Ryle, 2010) Get Your Copy Today

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