It was September 25th 1969. A Vermillion county female deputy handcuffed me in her personal car for the trip to the court ordered placement of Illinois Youth Commission for Girls, Geneva Illinois.

I was a tiny 12 year old girl and had never been out of Vermillion county. Pauline H………. was her name that complained for miles on how she had to drive me west of Chicago.

The trip took what seemed forever. I remember being hungry and asked if we could stop for something, seeing all the fast foods places along the way made me want a hamburger (my favorite food). We didn’t stop her reply was something a long the lines of “do you have money if you think I am going to stop so you can run away your crazy.” I said no more and sat in silence till we reached this huge gated community somewhere further than I had been in my life.

There we were met by guards that took long things and looked under her car, inside it and in the trunk before letting her drive in the locked gate. She didn’t get out of the car, she handed the guards some papers and reached over me opening the car door and said “get out your here”. Two huge male guards each took one of my arms and lead me in to the Administration building. It was huge, tile floors, tall ceilings just like a courthouse. There I was met by a female and male that escorted me to what was called the Dispensary. The walk to the Dispensary was straight with sidewalks and huge trees surrounding us all starting to turn their fall colors. I saw other buildings and girls walking with guards standing along the sidewalk watching them go to their destinations. I had never ever talked to a black person before let alone be so close to so many black girls in one place. Their eyes were on me some smiled but most gave me the “evil eye”. They scared me. One black girl looked at me and asked “you in the honey business?” Quickly she was told by one of the guards at my arm to move along. I remember thinking they have bees here and we’ll get honey, that thought made me smile.

We arrived at the Dispensary where a nurse took the papers and handed me these yellow cotton shorts and top along with a pair of “scuffs” a tube of toothpaste, Listerine and a big bar of blueish green soap on a white towel and washcloth. The nurse took me to a shower and watched me as I washed then threw this white powder on my head and private area without telling me why. She watched me as I put the yellow shorts and shirt on then walked me to a room with a bed. Without saying a word she shut the door behind me and it locked instantly. The room was a small pink room with just a bed and a 8×10 tin mirror screwed to the wall. There was one window with painted white diamond shaped bars on it. The door was solid and painted pink with a small slit in it. For the first time in my life I was locked up. I began to cry, cry for the abusive life I had back in Hoopeston with my mother and stepfather at least there I was on familiar surroundings. I cried for my mother and promised God if he let me go back home I would watch my brothers and sister and do all the work, just please get me out of this place. I cried because my mother didn’t want me. I cried worrying who was going to watch my brothers and sister now, who was going to take care of them with me in here. I stood at the window and looked at all the girls walking back and forth looking at me. Again I was asked by several girls “are you in the honey business, where you from” all I could do was cry and make them laugh at me.

From my window I could see other huge brick buildings with huge cement steps leading to the doors of what I later learned to be cottages.