LOST SON?
A Child's Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery and Healing

BOYS TOWN GRADE SCHOOL





I arrived at Boys Town, Nebraska in the late morning of April 16, 1961. A priest from Boys Town had met my social worker and me at Eppley Airport in Omaha and drove us the miles to the Boys Town campus. At the time, Boys Town was 10 miles west of Omaha. Today Omaha surrounds the campus.

I arrived a terrified boy of 11. I had "my bag" of worldly possessions with me. I had no idea what was to become of me. I was in a place I had never heard of before arriving.

After a brief meeting with a caseworker, my social worker departed Boys Town for her return flight to Detroit. I felt I was alone and lost in the world.

I was taken to what they, at that time, called the Orientation Center. There, I was shown a bed and a locker that was to be mine supposedly for the next 2-3 weeks. Then I was tested, interviewed and they determined to what part of Boys Town I would be sent.

I still very clearly remember crying myself to sleep my first night at Boys Town and for nights afterwards.

Boys Town at the time, was divided into a grade school section and high school section. Grade schoolers, such as me, were sent to one of four dormitory styled buildings after orientation. Each building had four dorms holding 25 boys. Each boy was assigned a bed and a locker.

Part of the testing program in orientation was that each boy who came through was taken to what was called the choir section, to be voice tested to see if they had a voice that might have choir potential. Apparently I did, as after orientation I was assigned to Gregory Hall, in which only choir members were assigned.

I still remember after being at Boys Town about a week, a counselor coming to visit with me. While talking with me he decided to checkout my locker. There he found "my bag." I should say that in the first days there one was taken to the clothing store on campus and given a number of sets of clothes and toiletries. Mine were all packed in "my bag."

The counselor asked me "Why were all your things in a bag rather than hanging up or on the shelves?"

I told him "I wanted to be ready when they came to get me again to take me elsewhere."

The counselor called me over to and took me in his arms saying, "No one is going to come and take you away. I know about your life to this point and I want to let you know....you now have a home."

I don't think he ever fully figured out the emotions he triggered within me with those words. My eyes began misting up and before long I was crying uncontrollably. "You now have a home" kept going through my mind. "No one is going to come and take you away." For the first time in my life someone had actually said "I was home." I had waited over 11 years to hear those words. I don't know how long the counselor held me in his arms, but I know it was long enough for us to miss dinner in the dining hall and he had to make arrangements for food to be brought to me. I know that for the first night since coming to Boys Town I did not need to cry myself to sleep.

Soon after leaving orientation for Gregory Hall, I was caught up in the activities at Boys Town as most boys were. Though the school year would soon be over, I was assigned to the 5th grade. I began daily choir practices along with the other choir members. Now that I had a home, my life looked different. I even unpacked "my bag" for the first time in almost 11 years...it was never packed again.

Each boy at Boys Town was allowed to have an approved mailing/visitor list. I submitted only one family's name; The Monshors. I might be over 800 miles away from them but I still considered them my parents. I could only hope they would be approved, as I did not know if the court would tell Boys Town not to allow any further contact with them. Fortunately there was no court order and they were approved to write and visit. I wrote them long letters every week telling them of "my home." They promised to make the trip to Nebraska for Christmas to visit me.

Christmas 1961, was my first of seven Christmas's at Boys Town. The Monshors kept their word and did come to visit the Sunday prior to Christmas. It would turn out to be the only trip they were able to make to Boys Town. The following spring Ernest suffered a heart attack that would limit his abilities from then until his death in 1975.

Because of the long bus journey to and from Boys Town, they were only able to stay for a few hours. They saw to it that I would find presents from them under the tree come Christmas Day. I remember standing at the Boys Town Pylon as they boarded their bus to travel back to Omaha to catch the Greyhound to Detroit....crying because I wanted to go with them.



Christmas is the highlight of the year for most boys there. It starts actually with all the boys attending Midnight Mass followed by hot chocolate and donuts at the dining hall. Upon the return to our respective dorms, Father Wegner, then the Director of Boys Town, came by each dorm to give out Christmas presents. Boys Town made sure no boy was forgotten at Christmas, even if they had no family to remember them. Each boy was given a gift and a large stocking full of candy, nuts, fruit and other stocking stuffers. Christmas Day brought a holiday meal with all the trimmings. Despite all Boys Town offered this holiday, it left me with an empty feeling. Yes, I now had a "home." Yes, the Monshors considered me a son adopted or not. Still loneliness filled me as I felt so alone...for the first time in months I cried myself to sleep early that first Christmas morning. I would rarely celebrate Christmas again during my remaining six years at Boys Town.

One year I did celebrate was during my 7th grade year....didn't want to but was more or less forced to do it. Boys Town used to have what was called "Twelve Nights" during the holidays. Each day brought some new activity. On December 26th, St. Stephan the martyr was commemorated. A boy was chosen as the St. Stephan and he chose his protectors.. He was allowed for a period of hours, to give orders to anyone and they had to be obeyed. Of course his day ended by him and his protectors defending themselves in a snowball fight. This particular year I was chosen...doubt it was for popularity reasons. I have to admit, I had fun for the day.

The remainder of my middle school years were rather uneventful. I continued to pass to my next grade. I was singing in the Chancel Choir and later the Repertoire Choir. During those years, I did not consider myself very athletic, so I left sports alone. I was awaiting graduation from eighth grade when I would be able to transfer to the high school section and a new world of privileges would await me.



Though Boys Town was considered a village unto itself, it was very much a part of the Omaha community. Because I was active in choir and other music programs, I had many opportunities to travel into Omaha with escort, to attend a wide variety of functions. These events could include chamber music concerts, chorale concerts or even us boys giving concerts.

Boys Town also had a wide-ranging athletic program and back in the 1960s we were amongst the top teams in the state. Boys Town won several state titles in basketball and football. When the teams were not playing at home, we boys went to town with them to cheer them on. Thus, many opportunities presented themselves for us to meet people of the community and even develop friendships. Most of my friendships came while I was in high school, but I loved the chance to go to Omaha for events while still in grade school.


Singing during Mass 1961



CLICK BELOW TO PROCEED

CHAPTERS:


EARLY YEARS


MOM & DAD MONSHOR


FOSTER HOME #11


BOYSTOWN GRADE SCHOOL


BOYS TOWN HIGH SCHOOL


JIM ACKLIN: DEBATE PARTNER


COLLEGE & ACCEPTANCE


MATT: LIFE PARTNER


NEW YORK, NEW YORK


SEARCH & DISCOVERY


FIRST LETTER TO BIRTH MOTHER


BIRTH MOTHER'S STORY


FINAL LETTER TO BIRTH MOTHER


BIRTH FATHER'S STORY


FIRST CHRISTMAS


A HOLIDAY SEASON TO REMEMBER


REMEMBERING 1ST COUSIN DOROTHY


REUNION WITH THE MONSHOR FAMILY AFTER 45 YEARS


WHY DID I SEARCH


RETURN HOME TO BOYS TOWN


BOYS TOWN TALES OF YESTERYEAR


MEMORIES OF A LIFETIME


FRIENDS LOST TO AIDS


A FEW LESSONS OF LIFE


EPILOGUE


A SEARCHER'S GUIDE



Used copies of "LOST SON?" only may be ordered through Amazon.com, B&N.com and other major online book retailers since as of August 1, 2007, book is no longer being published.
ORDER FROM BARNES & NOBLE
ORDER FROM AMAZON



TO SECTION TWO OF WEB SITE, NOT PART OF ANY BOOK:

FAMILY GENEALOGY SECTION


Please, take a moment to sign my GUEST BOOK to let me know you stopped by :



View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook



Site Meter



larry@larrya.us


2002-2007 Lawrence P. Adams

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED