A Collector Series Story
Charles W. Bird
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely accidental. This story is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced by any means without the express, written permission of the author.
Sam Whimple, age 64 years and widowed for the last ten years, was driving home from visiting his sister in Anderson, South Carolina, after spending the weekend visiting and enjoying his three Grandnephews. His vision was partially obscured by the heavy rain, but, suddenly he spotted something crawling across the pavement. He jammed on the brakes of his big F-350 Ford Diesel Truck and jumped out to better see what the object was. Sam was healthy and athletic, having run his business and farm by himself for many years. He ran to the front of the truck, looking in both directions, finally, he spotted movement through the heavy rain by a nearby oak tree. He walked over and discovered a small boy huddled up against the trunk of the tree. As he leaned down to touch the child, the boy screamed, "Don't hit me again, please stop!"
THE BOYS MOVE IN
They had just celebrated Easter when the mailman brought a huge envelope addressed to Sam, it was the final Occupancy Permit for Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home!
All the boys decided they wanted to live together, so they began occupying the first floor apartments. Phil had already moved in, so there was a mentor already in place for them.
As they were carrying their belongings in the front door, four scruffy looking boys were watching them, longing in their eyes. Phil noticed them and approached where they were standing.
They tensed up, making ready to run when Phil said, "Hi boys, would you like to see inside?" The oldest of them replied, "Yeah, but you don't want us dirtying up them nice rugs."
Phil knelt down beside the boys saying, "You really want to live here, don't you?" The boys began to cry and their spokesman said, "Yes, but we don't know who to pay."
Phil wrapped his arms around the dirty boys and said, "Come on, you just paid me, let's get you cleaned up and settled in your new home." The oldest boy said, tears flowing down his filthy face, "Sir, you want us?" Phil took the boy's hand and pulled him to his chest, "Son, yes we want you and all boys like you. Come and join us." He suddenly had four sobbing boys hanging on his arms.
Bill noticed what was happening and he quietly walked out the door and held out his arms. He was immediately swamped by boys. The men led the boys into the building and had Dr. Joey take a look at them.
As soon as Dr. Joey gave them an OK, they took them to a newly furnished room that had four beds in it, four desks and a huge walk-in closet. He told the boys to toss their clothes in the garbage can and follow him to the showers.
One boy backed off, "No, I don't want no cold water shower!" Bill laughed and told him he could use all the hot water he wanted, the only cold water showers were out at the swimming pool!
He led the boys to the shower room that served two apartments. The building had a shower room for every two apartments, and Elliot was in the shower, making sure his two brothers got clean. He spotted the four new boys and hollered at them to join his brothers in the hot water.
Pretty soon they were all friends in the steamy room. Elliot showed them where the towels were stacked and the four new boys went timidly back to their new room.
There, Bill and Phil had gotten new clothes out of the locker provided by the church ladies, the boys couldn't believe that they were being given new clothes and not having to pay for them.
One little boy asked Phil, "Does I gotta do sex things with you for theses clothes?" Phil nearly chomped his lip off, trying to keep from screaming!
He gently told the boys that they would never have to do those kinds of things at Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home. The only things they would have to do is eat good meals, take regular showers and go to school!
After the boys had dressed, Phil took them to the new cafeteria, where Hannah was fixing supper for the boys. She had them line up with trays and she started loading their plates.
Today's supper was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green peas and coleslaw. She told them to come back for dessert after they had eaten their fill of supper.
One boy timidly brought his plate back saying, "Please Missus, could I have some more meatloaf?" Hanna smiled and placed two more slices of meatloaf on his plate and ladled a dipper of gravy, also.
The other boys saw that and they rushed their plates back for more. Hanna said, "Boys you can have all you want, but don't forget to leave room for strawberry pie and whipped cream!"
Their heads swiveled around, "There's more?" By the time the boys had eaten their fill, all their tummies were groaning in overload. It would be several days before the boys realized that there would be plenty of food at EVERY meal, EVERY day!
By the end of the first week, ten boys had been added. Hanna hired two cooks and several helpers to run the cafeteria under her supervision and Bill located two more house mentors down at the Navy Reserve Center in Anderson.
The boys were all in school and Sam had the local nursery owner and his crew planting shrubbery around the new building. He thought he heard somebody crying, but then it stopped, so he just figured he was hearing things.
He turned to go back in the building when he heard it again, he waved at Phil through the window to come outside. Together, they began to search the grounds and, finally, near the trash dumpster, they spotted a teen boy holding a bundle in his arms.
The boy was crying and saying, "Johnny, I am so sorry, I am so sorry." He looked up as the two men approached him, but there was nowhere he could run. He sat on the dirt and sobbed.
Sam knelt beside him and said, "Son, why are you so distressed, can we help you?" The boy replied, ‘I tried, sir, I tried, but I just can't help my baby brother!" He began to sob great heaving sobs, the boy was near to collapse.
Bill came up and tried to take the bundle from him, the boy shrieked, "NOOOOOOO, you can't take my brother, Johnny!" Bill said, "Son, I am not taking Johnny from you, let's get you both inside and see what is wrong, ok?"
The boy let Bill take the bundle and they all went inside the office, Sam signaled Phil to get Dr, Joey right away! Bill opened the bundle and found a small baby boy, surprisingly clean and well cared for.
Sam held the young teen and said, "Is this your brother, Johnny?" The boy replied, "Yes sir, our parents were killed in a car crash and they put Johnny in a care center and me in an orphanage. We are brothers, I cannot lose him, he is all I got left of my family!"
By that time, Dr. Joey arrived and said, "Son, lets you and I check out your little brother, come on!" He took the two boys into the First Aid Room and examined the baby. He asked the teen what their name was and the boy said, "I am Kenneth Holmes and this is Johnny Holmes."
Joey said, "OK, Ken, Johnny is looking great, let me take a look at you." He had the boy strip down to his underwear and grimaced at what he saw. The boy was covered in bruises and was bleeding from his rectum.
He said, "Ken, tell me the truth, what happened to you?" Ken began to cry again, "The place they sent me, the big boys did things to me, I had to get away and I just couldn't leave Johnny!"
Dr. Joey hugged the boy and said, "If you want, you can live here and I KNOW that nobody will hurt either you or Johnny. Do you want me to talk to Mr. Sam about it?"
The boy nodded through his tears, almost afraid to hope or believe in salvation. Joey called for Sam, who was standing just outside the door and had heard everything.
He sat in the chair and pulled Ken onto his lap, "Kenny, nobody will hurt you here and we can care for your brother, too. Right now, are you hungry?" The boy nodded, "Yes" so Sam had him sit down while he got some clothes out of the locker.
When he returned, he said, "Let's leave Johnny with Dr. Joey for a few minutes so you can get a hot shower." Ken was reluctant to leave his brother, but he did as Sam asked.
He found another boy, who had bright red hair just like his own, in the shower and he showed Kenny where the soap was and how to pull a towel out of the locker.
When he returned, Dr. Joey put some salve on his hurt places and Sam helped him get dressed in new clothes and shoes. Sam finally gave up trying to comb Ken's hair, it was bright red and stood up like a weed patch!
Dr. Joey located a baby carrier for Johnny and they all went to the cafeteria, where Hanna was getting ready for supper. Sam asked her if she could feed a hungry boy and she immediately began loading up a plate of southern fried chicken, potato salad and fries.
Kenny looked at the plate hungrily, hoping that he would get something to eat also. Sam walked them over to the nearest table and had the boy sit down. He then put the plate in from of Ken and told him to eat up!
Kenny stared at the plate, "This is for me?" Sam replied, "Sure is, unless you don't like fried chicken!" The boy dove into the food like he was starving, he probably was.
Hanna brought over a warmed baby bottle filled with formula and started feeding the baby herself. It was a race, who finished first and both boys wanted seconds!
Sam asked if he wanted a room by himself or would he like to room with the boy who helped him in the shower, Elliot James and his brothers.
Ken said, "Could we stay with Elliot, I liked him, he was nice to me." Sam told him that was fine and that they would move a crib into the room for Johnny.
BOYS, BOYS, AND MORE BOYS
Phil had mentoring duty for the night and Sam was exhausted, he had spent the entire day struggling with a manpower schedule and was no closer to completion than he was when he started it!
He had sat on the edge of his bed and was starting to take off his shoes when he heard a scuffling noise outside his window. It had to be something on the front porch, he listened and didn't hear it again, so he supposed it was just the wind.
As he bent over again to untie his shoe, the noise came even louder and then someone said, "I gotta sit down, I cannot go any further!"
He was sure the voice belonged to a young boy, his first thought was that some of the boys were outside playing night time hide and seek, but he remembered that Phil had locked the doors to the Boy's Home so they couldn't be opened from the outside without a special key. All the staff had keys as did both the State Troopers and the Fire Department.
He decided maybe he should go check and see what was going on. He quietly walked to the front door and opened it, throwing the light switch on as the door opened.
He quickly stepped out onto the porch and confronted four teen boys standing there. The boys tried to run past Sam and get away, but he blocked their exit. One of the boys suddenly fell to the floor and started crying, "Please Mister, I need help, please, I will do anything you want me to do!"
Sam knelt beside the boy and said, "Son, are you hurt"" The boy replied, "My crutch, its broke! He pulled a broken crutch from off the floor and showed it to Sam.
Sam looked at the other boys and asked, "Do you guys need help, also?" As Sam was picking the fallen boy up off the floor, the other three boys came up to Sam and asked, "Is this that new boy's home, where guys like us can get off the streets?"
About that time, Hanna, who was getting ready to go home herself, heard the commotion and stepped out onto the porch. She heard what the boys had said, so she replied, "I'll bet you boys have not eaten yet tonight!"
One boy muttered, "Not any, all day!" Hanna swept her arms around the three boys and started pulling them into the house, "You boys wash your hands while I dish up some of this stew and heat it for you."
While the boys were washing, she quickly cut slices of her fresh home baked bread and slathered it with butter and raspberry jam.
Sam had gotten the fourth boy into the house by picking him up and carrying him, all four boys looked longingly at those pieces of bread. Hanna said, "Well, are ya' gonna eat it or look at it?"
Within seconds, the bread had disappeared and there were four set of eyes looking for more! By that time, the stew was hot and Hanna ladled it out into bowls and set one before each boy, along with another piece of bread and utensils.
She poured a large glass of milk for each boy and almost before she could turn around, each boy was holding up his bowl and asking for more! It took two more refills of both stew and milk to fill up those four boys.
Sam had stepped into his office and called Dr. Joey and asked him come over to check out some boys, he groaned, "Maybe I had better move in with you!" Sam laughed and said, "Sure, bring your own toothbrush!"
While they were waiting for Dr. Joey, Sam got their names, Carl and Wayne Forester, Grant Beck and the boy with the broken crutch was Gordon Keller.
Gordon was the oldest and he started their story, "We was all living at that Church Home down near Clemson University, but they didn't like us much. Finally, the Reverend tol' us to git out, they don't like our kind there."
Sam asked, "Your kind?"
Gordon replied, "We's been friend's all our lives an' we wanted to sleep all in the same room." Sam laughed, "Well guys, our room are supposed to have four boys in each one, think maybe you could be happy here?"
Grant spoke up, "What we gotta do to be allowed to stay here? Sam began to get the idea that somehow the boys had been made to pay for their keep.
He replied, "All you have to do is go to school, eat regular meals and a few chores, like picking up your dirty socks and taking a hot shower everyday!" Carl was the smallest boy, he said, "We don't gotta do sex stuff with you or the older boys?" Sam picked the little boy up and said, "Carl, you NEVER have to do that!"
Sam resolved then and there that the Church Home was going to be closed! Just then, Dr. Joey walked in the door and took in the scene. He looked at Sam, "Mr. Sam, are we doing this wholesale now?" Sam replied, "Joey, start looking them over, I got to make a call to the State Trooper Division!"
Joey gave each boy a quick physical, he didn't like most of what he saw, but with proper care and a whole lot of his Momma's cooking, all four boys would recover.
Sam came back from his telephone call, still huffing and puffing his anger, "Boys, is it ok if I put you up here in the house and we get you settled in your own rooms tomorrow? It's getting kind of late now and everybody needs a shower before they go to bed."
The boys all agreed and after the luxury of a hot shower, plenty of soap and as many clean dry towels as were needed, they were soon sound asleep, all four of them cuddled in the same double bed.
Sam, now, was totally exhausted and was desperate to slide between his covers and get some sleep. Had he known what morning was bringing, he might have hidden in the basement or even run away from home himself!
The next day started as a beautiful, sunny day, that is, until the quiet was pierced by Hanna's scream, "Mr. Sam, come quick, HELP!"
Sam went running to the kitchen and most of the boys in the house on his heels. Hanna was standing in the doorway, shaking like a leaf in a tornado! On the porch, just outside the kitchen door were ten grubby little boys between the ages of 6 and 14 years old!
The boys were dressed in filthy clothing, ripped and torn, some with fresh blood stains. They all had bruises and bloody scabs on their arms and faces and one boy had his arm wrapped in a bloody rag!
Poor Hanna sat down on the floor and started pulling boys to her, she hugged them and soothed them, soon, all were crying. Sam finally determined that the boys had been living in the woods and that some older boys had found them and beat them all.
As Sam looked up, he saw horrible words spray painted across the new front door of Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home – "FAGGOT HALL" in bright red paint! He was so angry, he decided then and there to follow up on a thought he had several days earlier.
He asked Kenny to go over to the home and ask Phil to come see him immediately. They started bringing the new boys into the house and get them calmed down.
Phil came and Bill was with him, Sam asked Phil, "Are you still in the Marine Reserve?" Phil said that he was, so Sam continued, "I want you to go there and see if there are any young Marine Reservists who need jobs. If there are, bring them here for interviews, we are going to start our own police force! Take the 20 passenger van, fill it up if you can!"
Even with the older boys assistance, it was two hours before the boys were cleaned up enough for Dr. Joey to examine them! He took three boys over to the clinic for x-rays, they had broken arms, all three of them!
Word soon got out in town about what happened to the boys, mothers and fathers brought clothing and shoes for the boys, some of it had been purchased that same morning!
Sam looked out the front window and saw a crowd of children just standing out there, some had books, some had teddy bears, some had just a blanket or favorite toy to be given to a hurt boy!
He opened the door and the Captain of the High School Football Team, Herb Walton, stepped forward, "Mr. Whimple, we heard that some of your boys are hurt, may we come in and give them comfort?"
Sam was dumbfounded, "Of course, come right in." Soon, every hurt or frightened boy was sitting on a High School Boy's lap, being cuddled or read to or just held.
The smaller children brought in toys and books and favorite things they thought would bring comfort to another boy. Mothers came in and helped Hanna fix meals and Fathers came to help set up furniture and beds in the dorm room for the new boys.
By the end of the day, all the boys had been made comfortable in their new rooms and those boys who were able, went outside with the High School Boys, who organized a baseball game and a soccer match that lasted all afternoon.
When the afternoon came to an end, Herb Walton, the Football Team Captain came to Sam, "Sir, this is Johnny O'Connel, our Co-Captain, we will be back every Saturday afternoon to help with these boys."
Just then, Phil drove up with a van filled with brawny young Marine Veterans!
Phil went to Sam and said, "Sam, I got us a Sergeant, three Corporals and twelve Marines! They all need jobs and they all want to work HERE!"
Sam spoke privately with each man and was so impressed, he hired them all. He was going to show them what had been painted on the wall, but as he turned, he saw three Fathers and their sons scrubbing the hateful words off the wall!
He brought the Sergeant and the three Corporals in the kitchen, the others were already playing with the boys, who looked at these brawny young men with hero worship in their eyes!
Sam sat them all down at the kitchen table, each with a cup of coffee and asked for ideas on a private security force.
The Sergeant, Robert Matthews, said, "Why not make it like a military organization. We could even have some of the boys as cadets! Everyone liked that idea, Phil, who had been a Marine Supply Sergeant, said, "We can buy surplus uniforms, all brand new, and dress out our security AND our cadets. It will make them stand out and proud!"
Everyone thought that a fine idea, so Sam looked at Phil, who replied, "OK, OK, I will get right on it!"
Within two days, the Boy's Home Campus was regularly patrolled and a week later, two cadets were added to each patrol! The Whimple Crossing Marine Corps was off and running!
The cadets had a waiting list, each boy had to wait until Phil could find uniforms small enough!
That night, Sam had just sat down to his supper, Phil and Dr. Joey were eating with him. There was a knock on the door, Phil jumped up to answer it. Corporal Higgins was at the door, he was the Guard Supervisor that evening, he had six boys and he wanted to know what he should do with them.
Sam squeaked, "New Boys?"
The Corporal answered, straight faced, "Yes sir, you want I should toss'em back ‘till morning?"
A chorus of boy's voices behind him screamed, "NOOOOOOOOO" Sergeant Matthews was right behind the boys, "Don't worry, if Mr. Sam won't take you, I WILL!"
Sam started to laugh, "Of course we will take them!" He looked and Phil and Dr. Joey, they both put their forks down saying, "Sam, you owe me another supper!"
It took a couple of hours, but all six boys suddenly found themselves dressed in clean clothes, after a hot shower and they all went to bed with full tummies for the first time that they could remember.
At "Lights out" Phil was walking the hall, in almost every room he heard boys crying. He stopped and comforted every crying boy, telling them that they were safe now and nobody was going to hurt them.
One little boy said, ‘Sssss Sir, does we get to eat like this every day? Phil leaned over the boy and tickled his ribs, "No, not everyday, some days are even better!" The boy was giggling uncontrollably as Phil's fingers raked his ribs.
By 11 O'clock, all the boys were asleep and it was time for Phil to cry, he went to his room and bawled, "How could little boys be so neglected, so hurt and still be so brave about the future?"
The next morning, Corporal Whittaker, who had the Security Duty that morning, stopped Sam as he was walking around the building, "Sir, my baby brother, Kyle, is getting out of the Navy. He is just back from Iraq, where he was a Medic serving with the Marines in the field." He continued, "He is looking for a job and hasn't been able to find anything."
Sam thought for a moment and then replied, "Ask him to come see me, I think it is time we gave Dr. Joey some help." The Corporal grinned, "He stayed with me in my room last night, let me go get him!"
Sam laughed, "I've been set up, huh?" The Corporal just chuckled as he went to get his brother.
Sam was impressed with Kyle Whittaker, who looked more like a full grown tree than he did a baby brother! He hired him that day, telling him to order anything he felt he needed in the First aid Room. He also assigned a different room to the Whittaker brothers so they could continue to live together.
The very next day, one of the boys was playing baseball and slid into second base. He suddenly screamed, "My leg, my leg!"
One of the ball players ran to the First Aid Room to get help and Kyle came running. He was pretty sure the boy's leg was broken, so he gently carried him to the treatment room and called Dr. Joey.
By the time Dr. Joey got there, Kyle had the boy stabilized and ready for the Doctor to examine. Joey was impressed with Kyle's handling of the injury and doubly impressed as Kyle helped him set the break!
Dr. Joey later told Sam that Kyle was as good a doctor as anyone he had seen!
The summer was rapidly ending so Sam went to talk with the school board. What he wanted was for the board to supply teachers and he would provide class rooms and teaching materials.
The School Board was happy to accommodate Sam, they were having a hard time providing classroom space as it was!
Five teachers were assigned to Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home. All the boys groaned, they were not anxious to go back to school!
By now, the Home had sixty boys living there, so those boys who were in Senior High School were sent by bus to the school in town, all the other boys would go to class right there at the Home.
Sergeant Matthews stopped Sam in the hallway, "Sir, I have Elementary and Junior High School Teaching Credentials, I would like to start a class for our JROTC Cadets."
He continued, "I can get books and materials from the Marine Corps and we can have Junior Cadets and JROTC Cadets."
Sam liked the idea so he told the Sergeant to get started right away. Sergeant Matthews turned and gave a "Thumbs Up" signal to a group of boys standing nearby and they all whooped and hollered, yelling, "Right On, Sergeant Matt!"
Sam thought to himself, "A setup, AGAIN!" As he continued to walk around he thought, "We now have sixty boys, how long before all the rooms are full?" He went back to his office and called the contractor, "Stan, I think we had better start thinking about a second building, we are already up to sixty boys!"
Stan Howard replied, "Let's do the second building right and provide for expansion!" Sam gave him the "go-ahead" to begin drawing plans for an additional two hundred boys!
The Security Patrol had been reporting suspected intruders for the last several days, but had been unable to catch anyone. One morning Art James came to Sam, "Mr. Sam, Elliot did not sleep in his bed last night and we can't find him anywhere!"
Sam immediately called Sergeant Matthews on the new hand-held radio he had on his belt, "Sergeant, we have a missing boy, meet me in the lobby!" Sam ran for the lobby and was confronted by all the Whimple's Crossing Marines and several JROTC Cadets.
They spread out and searched the entire premises, but found no trace of Elliot James. His brothers, Art and Paul were sitting with Jake, in tears.
Sam had them spread out and search a second time, but still, there was no trace of the boy. About the time Sam was going to call in the State Troopers, a State Trooper Captain drove into the yard and got out of his car.
He walked up to Sam and said, "Mr. Whimple, Sir, Are you missing one of your boys?" Sam looked at the Trooper, dread in his eyes, "Yes, a 16 year old boy with red hair."
The Trooper Captain replied quietly, "I think you had best come with me, sir." Jake Thomas was standing beside Sam and grabbed him before he went down.
Jake said to the Trooper, I am Jake Thomas, the Home Counselor, I think it would be best if I accompany Mr. Whimple." The Trooper Captain nodded sadly and replied, "Yes, that would be best, you can both ride with me."
They drove to the County Hospital in Anderson and walked in the door of the morgue. Sam was already in tears, afraid of what he was going to see. The Trooper nodded to the attendant, who drew a privacy curtain around the men and then pulled out a drawer from the wall.
On the drawer was a body of a red haired boy, someone had carved the word FAGGOT on his chest. The boy was dead and it was Elliot.
Sam screamed and collapsed in Jake's arms. Both men were in tears and the Trooper Captain was struggling to hold his own tears back. The Trooper and Jake half carried Sam out to the office where he could sit down, his eyes were streaming tears in his misery.
Jake gave the officials the information about Elliot and asked when the body would be released. Sam was in no condition to speak, so Jake gave them the name of the only Funeral Parlor in Whimple's Crossing and asked to use the director's phone.
He called and spoke to Phil and Sergeant Matthews before asking the Trooper to take them back to The Home.
As they drove into the yard, they saw a JROTC Squad lowering the flag to half mast, Cadets guarded each door and two Cadets came to escort Sam and Jake to the house.
Not a word was spoken. Dr. Joey had taken his Momma, Hanna, home, as she had collapsed in her kitchen.
Silence reigned throughout the Boy's Home, word began to spread through the small town and folks gathered in the front yard, many sobbing and others barely able to contain their tears.
As darkness approached, candles were handed out by some parents and soon, lighted candles were being held by those in vigil in front of The Home.
Herb Walton and Johnny O'Conner, Co-Captains of the Football Team at the High School stepped up on the front porch.
Herb held up his hand for quiet, "Folks, I am not a resident of Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home, nor is Johnny, here, but we know all the boys here and love them like brothers. One of our brothers has been cruelly murdered and we are all in tears. Please bear with us, go home and pray for Elliot James, pray for his brothers Artie and Paul, pray for all our brothers who live here in The Boy's Home. We will gather here on the day we must bury our Brother, please join us then."
He stepped down and people began to return to their homes. As they left, boys asked for their candles and Elliot's Brothers, all those who lived at The Home took up the vigil and spent the night in prayer in front of their Home.
The day of the funeral arrived, a Color Guard had been assembled out of the Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home JROTC Cadets, The High School Football Team Members were the pallbearers. Artie and Paul were escorted by the two off-duty Corporals and Sergeant Matthews escorted Sam. All the boys followed as the casket was carried from the Entry Hall of The Boy's Home to the nearby Town Cemetery.
Father Gil, from St. Alban's Episcopal Church conducted the service and then Kenneth Holmes walked to the front, carrying his baby brother, Johnny, in his arms.
He stood for a few moments and then began to speak, "I was new here and a boy made friends with me. He made friends with my baby brother, Johnny. He helped me to get settled and showed me what to do. That boy remained my friend, he helped me in my school work, he babysat Johnny when I wanted to play ball. That boy now lies in that box waiting to be buried. He won't be here for me anymore, but he is still my friend. I don't know how this happened or who did this awful thing, but if you hear me, you who did this, I want you to know that we will find you, we will turn you in and we will see you punished, not for what you did to Elliot but what you did to us and all mankind. You cannot hide, you cannot escape, somewhere, somehow somebody will find you out. You should pray to God now, for forgiveness, because I cannot forgive you, we cannot forgive you and you cannot forgive you. Let us now do this terrible task that my friend, Elliot, might have some peace."
Ken then reached down and picked up a handful of dirt that he gently poured it into that awful hole in the ground. He helped little Johnny do the same and then walked away, his whole body shaking with emotion.
Each boy filed past, pouring his dirt onto Elliot's casket and then joining Kenny and Johnny in their tears.
Elliot James was, at last, at peace but it would be a long time before his Home Brothers slept easily at night. The perpetrators of this hideous crime were never apprehended, but four teenage boys disappeared from town that night and were never heard from again.
From that day onwards, boys from The Boy's Home always went around in pairs. Sergeant Matthews started a Self-Defense class that was always crowded. In later years, a graduate of The Boy's Home took the only photograph of Elliot James known to exist and painted his portrait which hangs in the Entry Hall in perpetual honor.
GROWTH AND HONOR
Boys continued to arrive, looking for shelter, for safety and even love. Their lives had been so hideous, they would walk any distance, do any penance, suffer any hardship in order to be allowed admittance to Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home.
Again, Sam was getting concerned about having sufficient room for the arriving boys. He sat down with his immediate staff, and his contractor to decide what must be done. They came up with a plan to build two more dormitories and expand the older two. That would give them a capacity of one-thousand boys, surely that would be enough!
Hanna had long since given up trying to cook for her boys, she had a kitchen crew of twenty working around the clock to keep everyone fed! In addition, they opened their version of a burger shack and a pizza parlor that both ran 24 hours a day!
Jake hired three more counselors and two academic advisors to counsel the boys, Father Gil from St. Alban's and Reverend Carlisle from St. Andrew's churches held services on alternative Sundays.
They ran a bus if a boy wanted to go to St. Joseph's Catholic Church and a Rabbi in Anderson took care of the needs of a couple of Jewish boys.
Sergeant Matthews' staff of Marines was expanded to twenty ex-Marines and they had a fully accredited High School MCJROTC unit.
While they were building the new dormitories, Sam had them also build a high school so that no boy had to leave the grounds to go to school! Appropriately, the High School was named Elliot James Memorial High School.
Sam collected all the monies donated to the Home and put some of his own with it to create a scholarship funds to enable qualified boys to go on to University or College.
Within a few years, graduates of Elliot James gained such a reputation that college and university recruiters made it a point to check the Dean's office for prospective graduates!
Art James excelled in both academics and sports, in his Junior year, he was selected to be Cadet Commanding, Elliot James MCJROTC. In his acceptance address, Cadet Lt. Colonel James said, "……I have two men to thank for all that I am, My older Brother, Elliot, taught me responsibility and honor and My Dad, Mr. Sam, taught me duty, honesty and work ethic. Without any one of these things, a man cannot succeed, he cannot be a leader, he cannot be what he must be to help our brothers. It is my objective for this next year to make Elliot James the finest high school in South Carolina, to make our MCJROTC the finest unit in the country and to make Whimples Crossing the finest Boy's Home in the world! To that end, beginning next weekend, squads of cadets and their advisors will be travelling all over our state to locate and rescue boys with no homes, no help and no hope! I ask you now, who will volunteer?"
Every cadet in the auditorium stood up and volunteered! The very next weekend, ten 20 passenger vans left the front gate and went in different directions.
One van that was commanded by Art and driven by Corporal Keel, went as far as Myrtle Beach. Each Van had "Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home Rescue Team" written on each side.
They had stopped for gas just outside Myrtle Beach and decided to eat their packed lunch before going on. As they were eating, a small boy came up to them, "Does yous gots anything I's kin eat?"
The pleading in his eyes drew their immediate attention, Art knelt down and said, "Are you hungry?" The little boy replied, "Oh yes, me has not ate in two days!"
Art shrieked, "TWO DAYS, here eat my lunch, guys, we need more food!" Every boy started to pile their sandwiches on the table and they heard a rustling in the bushes.
All those boys who had lived on the streets, recognized that sound, they all turned towards the bushes and said, "Come, eat this food, we can get more!"
Eleven little boys crawled out of the bushes and began hungrily eating the sandwiches. Corporal Keel had been given cash for just this sort of emergency, he ran, double time, over to the Burger King and bought $100 worth hamburgers and brought them back.
When the feeding frenzy finally slowed, Art said, "Guys, we are from Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home, we have all lived like you at one time, but now we are loved and cared for. Would you like to join us?
The little boys, all 9 to 15 years old, began to cry, "Could we" ... "Can we" ... Will you let us" Art held up his hands and said, "If you will join us, climb in now, we return to our home where there are warm, clean beds, hot showers, clean clothes and full dinner plates waiting for you all!"
The Cadets held the door open to the van and all twelve little boys made a running leap to get inside before someone decided to close the doors! The little boys had full tummies and the safety of the warm van made them all sleepy, it was not long before they were all asleep.
When they arrived back at The Home, twelve proud Cadets carried twelve sleeping boys into the First Aid Room for Dr. Joey and Medic Kyle Whittaker to check over.
Art looked up and the whole entrance rotunda was full of new boys being brought in. Dr. Joey and Medic Kyle worked until 2:00 AM getting all the new boys checked out! That one weekend alone brought fifty new boys to The Home.
The Rescue Runs continued each summer, one rest stop along the state highway became notorious among boys living on the streets. If you could make it to the rest area at the Myrtle Turnoff, someone would get you to Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home!
Even the State Troopers would pick up a boy and bring him to The Home. Corporal Keiser had his Rescue Squad out as far as Greenville and had found no hungry boys wanting a new home.
On a hunch, he swung the big van out onto the state highway and headed for the Spartanburg Turnoff. He parked the van next to the rest area and the Cadets all got out to stretch their legs.
As long as they were stopped, the boys decided to eat their lunch, Hanna and her staff had made thick roast beef sandwiches on homemade bread. They were so big, the boys could hardly get their mouths around them.
Kelly was just biting into his sandwich when a small voice behind him said, "Sir, I ain't ate in three days, kin I have your crusts?" Kelly whipped around and found a tiny boy, dressed in rags and no shoes standing there, shaking in fright.
He dropped to his knees and put his arms around the tiny boy, "Here, you can have my sandwich. Are there any more of you boys around here?" The little boy replied, "Yes, sir, they is hiding in the bushes, but I was so hungry I just couldn't wait ‘til you throwed your crusts into the garbage."
While the boy was eating Kelly's sandwich, Kelly stood up and faced the bushes, calling out, "Boys, if you are out there, please come and eat some lunch with us. Maybe we can get you all to a better place, with clean beds, clean clothes and lots of good food. Please come out to us!"
Slowly, a group of ragamuffin boys came out of the bushes, there were twenty boys all crowded around Kelly, their eyes pleading for help.
They were so desperate looking, Kelly and his Squad could not keep tears from their eyes, every Cadet willingly gave up his lunch so that a hungry boy might have food in his tummy.
After they had eaten all that the Cadets had, Kelly asked the little boys, who looked to be 10 years old to maybe 15 years old, "Guys, we are from Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home, we have lots of room for you there and you can sleep safe in clean beds and have all the food you can eat. Will you come with us?
All twenty-one boys crowded into the van, it was dangerously overloaded, but Corporal Keiser wasn't about to leave a single boy behind!
Chapter 7 - LOSS
Upon graduation from High School, Art James was offered a scholarship to attend Clemson University, where his older brother, Paul was a Junior.
Ken Holmes was completing his graduate work and was to receive his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering that very week. Johnny Holmes was an entering Freshman at Elliot James Memorial High School.
Dr. Holmes was already employed at General Electric as a steam turbine design project director.
Adam Kelly was reporting to West point as a plebe cadet and Billy Whimple was a Captain, USMC serving in Okinawa, Japan. Kelly Whimple had just been elected freshman United States Senator from the State of South Carolina.
Sam was getting older now, he had just turned 87 years old. He would sit on his porch and dream about his boys. There was always a boy sitting near him to make sure he was ok.
Sam was beloved by all his boys, never would a day go by that a group of boys would sit and talk with him, tell him what was going on and all the funny little things that teen boys can get into.
It was a sunny afternoon in the late summer when David Callaghan and Peter Jensen, both High School Seniors, walked up to Sam and sat beside him. They began telling him about a prank someone had pulled in the gym when they noticed his eyes were closed.
David reached out for Sam's hand and screamed when he found it cold. David's scream brought others running, soon the yard was filled with crying and sobbing boys, their beloved Mr. Sam was gone from them!
Sam Whimple had died as he had lived, surrounded by his boys. Their anguish was monumental and they just stood, sobbing their way through this dreadful moment.
Kyle and Dr. Joey came running, but there was nothing they could do, they, also, were caught up in the emotion that was running torrent through Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home!
The boys lowered the flag to half mast and town folk began to gather, somehow knowing that something terrible had happened. Herb Walton and Johnny O'Conner once again rose to the occasion. They were now partners in Anderson Timber and Land Company, but today, they were just boys trying to ease the hurt of other boys as they did long so ago when Elliot James had been killed.
Herb held up his hand asking for quiet, "Friends, we have lost a great man today, but please, let us work through our sorrow in our own way. We will have a funeral as soon as possible, but right now, please leave us that we may comfort our fellows, our brothers and ease ourselves through this awful loss. For right now, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home, I appoint Dr. Joey Bascome as Director. Now, please go home that we might have our private sorrow and work through our terrible loss.
Two days later, Sam's casket was placed in The Boy's Home Rotunda and his friends, his boys, his family said their last goodbyes to this great and wonderful man. Men, who were once boys, came from all over the country and beyond to pay homage to the man who had saved them. Major Billy Whimple, USMC flew in the night before with shiny new Major's Oak Leaves on his shoulders. Billy stood before his Dad's casket and spoke, "Friends, Brothers we gather here to pay homage to this man, Samuel Whimple, but he is not here now, he has gone on to a better place. All we have now is his empty shell. What we can do however is pledge ourselves to continue this great and wonderful thing he created, Whimple's Crossing Boy's Home. We cannot, we MUST not allow his dream to fade and die. I have a few statistics you might be interested in; 12,250 boys saved! He never turned a single boy away! The finances have increased 225% over what he started with! 6,327 boys have graduated from college or university! 211 boys have attained doctorate degrees! 75 boys have become medical doctors! 614 boys have become teachers! 106 boys have become religious ministers! 107 boys are currently serving our country in the military! 61 boys serve our country in politics! 1,759 boys own their own businesses! ALL boys, except those now living here have graduated from high school! How much more could a single person give to us? I say, THIS DREAM SHALL NOT FADE, SHALL NOT DIE. MR. SAM LIVES ON IN EACH OF US AND IN ALL THOSE WHO FOLLOW US!"
The JROTC color guard and the Drum and Bugle Corps began the slow march to the Town Cemetery, sounding its terrible dirge. They buried their beloved Mr. Sam, but all pledged themselves in guarantee that his dream would never fail!
Out on the highway, there is an old oak tree with a bronze plaque attached to it. It reads" THIS IS WHERE MY LIFE BEGAN – Billy Whimple