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Comments on: Learning about life from kids from the ghetto. http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/ Kids Behind Bars, Geneva Illinois Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:25:20 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 By: Sharon S. http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-1998 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:25:20 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-1998 Can any of you tell me what the “Elm Cottage” would have been like in 1926. Still trying to figure out why my grandmother went there. Also, if she would have been sent there if she was pregnant?

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By: Marilyn Brandt http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-536 Sat, 13 Aug 2011 22:39:14 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-536 HI,everyone!! well,i guess ill get my,2cents in here too.lol.When i was there Willow Hall was the “punishment cottage” (noone ever reffered to it as”the hole” It was just a regular cottage,just like all the others except.,it was used for girls that ran away,..etc etc.I told you guys “somwhere in this” about the crummy food served there..YUKKKKKK!! Ok noone mentioned Campbell Hall cottage,where i was as a “returniee” It was the cottage on the very end ,.over closest,to the cematary,and it had big white pillars out on the front pourch…actually,it was the prettiest cottage there. The Matron there wasreffered to as “Ma Campbell” and ive often wondered if her name and the name of the cottage,….were somehow related.(?)…Do you remember Campbell Hall,Cherie?? Also, there was NO swimming pool OR, a place to skate,when i was there (1955 and 1956) My favorite job while there was working in the general store, filling food orders,for the different cottages……..right in front,as you first walked in..there was severals torage bins,all inna row,with all kinds of dryed fruit…..apples,pears, apricots,peaches etc etc……….and,…..ohhhhhh yeaaaaaa lol…..i ate plenty of um !! loli also got into a big ol jar of green olives and got me a handful every day.loveeeeeeee green olives!! then,id slide the open jar in behind one of the unopened jars…slick,huh?? lol.id of thought “slick” if id ever have been caught!! lmaooooo! thats where,i learned how to split a paper match,in half as to get 2 matches out of it. The only puff offa cigarette i, ever got,was a cig.butt someone found and several of us gals huddled in behind a tree,taking a few puffs.(good gawdddd) lol im wondering when,Michael (the guy who said he worked security)worked at Geneva?? i mean,which yrs?,….probbally way after i was long gone,outta there, cuss,..im older than dirt…but ido have a question for him..myself and 3 others girls “run” one evening…across the grounds and up,over some railroadtracks, into town where we just kinda gave up……to outta breath to go on,..lol…….but ok, heres what im wondering from Michael,……HOW DID THEY SEE US RUNNING??? wasnt, no fence around the place,and it was close to dark…never seen any guards just out walking,around,…………..sooooooooo,……howd they know?? i mean now to tell ya,…they were right smack,on our tails in no time!!! right,….behind us ..ive often wondered about that, i hope he can tell me,how they knew we were running? okie dokiee,.im outta here for now,got my 2 cents in LOL later,yawl,….Marilyn

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By: Sharon http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-475 Wed, 06 Jul 2011 22:41:51 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-475 I just found some letters from my great grand father to my grandmother, Muriel K. French from 1926, addressed to the “State Training School for Girls, Geneva, IL. “Elm Cottage”. I don’t know anything about why she was there. I was looking for her name on the registration list, but couldn’t find it.

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By: Cherie Bombell http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-83 Fri, 27 Aug 2010 22:01:43 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-83 In reply to Sharon.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Sharon. You’ve brought back many memories for me. I remember taking the girls from Geneva cottage roller skating one night. Most of them could have competed in a roller derby they were so good and confident. I was like a colt finding it’s first legs – totally unsure and clumsy. To ‘help’ me two girls grabbed my arms and took me around the rink. I was terrified at first then realized I was in good hands. It was fun. I also worked as a counselor on Oak (upstairs) and Wallace when it was the Boys Annex. Oak was the same as when you were there.

You have an excellent recall for the place and all the buildings, Sharon. There was a chapel and a swimming pool there too but the pool may have been built after you left. I hope you write more for us – you have so much to share from an earlier time. I’d love to create a page for you and your experiences. Your strong sense of social justice should be shared. Thanks again, Sharon.

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By: Sharon http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-81 Thu, 26 Aug 2010 00:55:03 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-81 Also concerning the cottages. Each cottage in geneva had a purpose. For instance, some were for younger girls, some for older girls, some for the worst, some for the best. More specifically, Beverly Cottage was for pregnant girls only. While Howe Cottage was for those who wanted to train to be a waitress. I lived on 8 of the 12 cotttages at some time or another during my teenage life. The cottages that I personally lived in were Willow Hall, Faith, Hope, Maple, Williard, Howe, Oak, and Wallace. Not necessarily in that order. Please forgive any typos in my messages, as I too frequently type in the dark these days, as light hurt my eyes.

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By: Sharon http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-80 Thu, 26 Aug 2010 00:43:38 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-80 There were 12 cottages in Geneva. They were: Beverly Cottage; Elm Cottage; Fabyan Cottage; Faith Cottage; Geneva Cottage; Hope Cottage; Howe Cottage; Maple Cottage
Oak Cottage; Wallace Cottage; Williard Cottage; and Willow Hall Cottage. I spent most of my teenage years there in the 1960s. It is good to hear someone talking about it, as that topic of conversation was tabu for so many years. In fact, I visited the town of Geneva many years later in the 1990s, and no one had even heard of the place, and furthermore, denied that it ever existed. Of course for those of us whom had the nightmare of having been there for any length of time, certainly know it did indeed exist. I remember many things, even though I have tried hard to forget that part of my life. Geneva [as we girls called it] was similar to visiting hell for some of us. Do not allow anyone to sugar coat it. It was strict, yes, but so many things happened behind the matrons backs. The broom thing was just one of many. I could tell you some stuff that would make your hair stand on end. Of course the nighmare was probably much more vivid for me, as I frequented “the Unit” [sometimes referred to as “the hole”] a great deal during my visits in Geneva. Eventually, I was placed on the most secure cottage in the institution. Which was upstars from The Unit [aka “the hole]. It was as called Oak Cottage, and it was where the worst girls in the institution were housed. If there is anything specific you would like to know about Geneva, then please feel free to ask me. Geneva forever changed my life, and will always be a part of me. The scars run too deep to ever be healed. I was one of the girls that was strapped down to the metal bed frames frequently. Without a mattress of course. No, I wasn’t a bad kid …just a tough one. My visits to the unit were for defending, myself, and other white girls, from the black girls that thought they could push us around because we were white. In the end, they were all afraid of me. I believe the rumor was something like, “you don’t want to mess with that crazy white girl!” 😀 In fact, the staff thought so as well. So much so, that the admins eventually sent me to Elgin for a EEG. Of course, they were all so very disappointed when the results came back normal. 😀 The few who knew me intimately, knew that wasn’t crazy, and that it was just my way of keeping them off my back.

Today, disillusioned by the injustice of the corrupt laws and the American judicial system, I have now resided in England with my 3rd husband for the past decade. I have 4 children, 14 grandchildren, and this year, my eldest grandson made me a Great-Grandmother to a beautiful baby girl. They are all back in Illinois. Although I have had much happiness in my life, it has always been over-shadowed by the nightmare of my time spent in Geneva. I was an innocent when I first arrived there. I, also, was sent there for running away from an abusive family home. Nonetheless, by the time I left Geneva behind me forever, I was almost 17, mean, angry, as tougher than nails. No longer the innocent 12 year old I was upon my first visit. I even lost two of my front teeth in my first fight there. I was working in the kitchen on my cottage, I was 13, and a black girl who worked there with me, threw an indutrial sized can of vegetable into my face. Of course, they sent me to their dentist by the despensary [med unit], and made me some very nice false teeth.

I also remember the Geneva groups/ families. We girls belonged to groups that we made up ourselves, which we called our families. They were our network. A network where the strong could protect the week. I belonged to the most infamous family. We called ourselves the Chandlers. Not many staff member or outsiders knew, as it we tried to keep our families secret. I was the Mother of my family. Thinking back now, our families were possibly equivilent to a gangs. Our families were the ones that caused the riots that other’s heard about, and during my time there I was just as infamous. Everyone in the entire instituion knew my name. 😀 In fact, some years later [already a mother of 3], I met a woman who was a matron at Geneva during my time there. I had never met her. Although I was on most of the cottages at some time or another. She worked at one of the few cottages that I was never on. However, she knew me by name, and was disturbingly visably shaken by it. Of course as we got to know one another better, I found out what it was like to be the target of my rage back then. What made it all sort of humorous, was the fact that I stood only 5’3, and weighed under 100 pounds. 😀 But when I was angry, I was akin to a little white tornado. My mom used to call me a little fire-ball because of my temper. Crazy? No. Just a very very strong sense of justice. I still have the same strong sense of justice. Especially concerning my loved ones. However, these days, my temperment is more akin to a teddy bear. 😀 After Geneva, I finally went to University, and education taught me how to use my brains instead of my temper.

Please do not misunderstand me. Geneva was not all bad, and toward the end of my last stay, Geneva had changed a lot. They had even started a outside work program, and I was the first to be asked if I wanted to participate. If that wasn’t a kick in the head. 😀 I was shocked, when the administrators asked me. Me, of all people! Of course, I said yes. 😀 It was a chance to go outside Geneva, for a few hours every weekday day. I remember that me and another girl, were dropped off in the morning, and picked up in the evening. Needless-to-say, my last couple of months there, in comparison, were almost tolerable. I used to sneak cigarettes back in for myself and the girls on my cottage [Wallace]. Of course the matrons knew, but never did anything about it. A guard we knew as fat Donna, was always the one to search me, and she always did like me, for some unknown reason. In fact, one night, I was smoking, locked in my room. Trying very hard to hold the cigarette by my window, and blow the smoke out. However, the breeze was not in my favor that night. ;-D So, the night matron came down the hall to my room, opened my door, and stepped inside. She asked me for one of my cigarettes, and told me to be more careful, because she could smell it down the hall. 😀 I remember grinning, and offering her one of my smokes. A few weeks later, I was told that I was going home.

Geneva was both my nighymare and my home for 5 years of my teenage life. So, basically, I grew into womanhood in that place. While it was hell, it was my home too. I have always been a survivor, and have always been able to make the best of bad situations. This was due, in part, to my Mother, whom died of cancer this Spring, being an exceptionally strong woman, and also my time spent in Geneva.

Again, if there is anything you wouls like to know about Geneva, please do not hesitate to ask me. You may be interested to know that Geneva had a school and library, a beauty salon, a laundry, a bakery, and meat house/ butchers out back. I worked in all of that at one time or another. In many ways it was a very self-sufficient place. We had our own medical facility, which was called “the dispensary. Mostly because that was where girls went to take any meds they had been prescribed. As I stated earlier, we also had a dentist who came there once a month. They even taught Electronics to the older girls. We also had a gym, where they would let us go roller skating and watch movies occasionally. Geneva was also were I first learned to crochet. For the most part, we were only locked in our rooms all day, if we were sick, or being punished. If you were old enough, you worked. Otherwise, you went to the school during the day.

Of course, the building would seem cold when the plave was abandoned. Most old places that have been vacated have a cold feel to them. Especially institutions of any kind. But it was quite different when it was brimming with life. Here is one instance that has been commited to memory. We did not have heaters in our rooms. There were only heaters out in the hallways. If you want to talk about cold …On Winter mornings, some of us would find that any water left in our plastic cups overnight, were frozen solid. There was no good time to be in Geneva, but Winter, was the worst.

My time spent at Geneva was bad, but the girls that were there before me had it a whole lot worse. Have you ever read the history on the place, and what the original administrator was like? She was really quite insane. If you haven’t read Geneva’s history, then you should. History is important to understand what the place was like for those whom are buried in that graveyard. By the way, some of those girls died of illness …others were died while being punished. By the way, my window on Oak cottage, overlooked that graveyard, and I looked at it everyday for 6 months. That, I will never forget, because that was actually the only times I felt the coldness of the place get into my bones.

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By: Emily http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-44 Wed, 02 Jun 2010 13:32:49 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-44 Hi Cheri,looks like things are adding up here.Now you have most of the names of the cottages,thats great.Im sure soon,their will be others coming along.I did at one time,find pictures of geneva,probably from the 1900s,now i cant find them.I guess,i will continue looking.I will write some more later,i have bone spurs in my neck area,they are going to file down,alittle scared,but nothing a prayer cant fix,right?

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By: Deb http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-40 Sat, 15 May 2010 02:48:26 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-40 Cheri,thank you.My next appt with the surgeon is july 13.Im not sure what im going to do just yet.Im going to get a emg done,to hopefully find a nerve causing a essential tremor.The spurs cause alot of pain in the amrs,neck and bad migraines.I know i dont want to be cut on.Will keep you posted.

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By: Cherie Bombell http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-38 Thu, 13 May 2010 09:14:59 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-38 In reply to Brenda.

You’re way ahead of me, Brenda. I think Lincoln was one only because that one is named in the photos in the link I posted (the link that doesn’t work properly).

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By: Cherie Bombell http://cheriebombell.com/learning-about-life-from-kids-from-the-ghetto/comment-page-1/#comment-37 Thu, 13 May 2010 09:10:27 +0000 http://cheriebombell.com/?p=3#comment-37 In reply to Deb.

Your neck treatment sounds scary, Deb. Did you follow the path on my last post? That will take you to some old photos – maybe the ones you found before. Be sure to let us know when the ‘filing’ is done and that you’re alright, Deb.

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