Mya tells her story~
When my boys were younger they always complained when they didn’t get their way… I would tell them they didn’t know how lucky they had it, “I could tell them some stories”… I never told them my story instead I told them stories of bad people and poor children kept captured in a large kingdom called Geneva, it was surrounded by a moat and tall guards on horses sat at the gates making sure all the poor lil children didn’t get out… The boys loved my stories and soon forgot why they couldn’t have their way and would insist on me telling them more. My husband thought the stories were a lil too scary for bed time but the boys insisted I tell about the Kingdom Geneva every night…

So Cherie, here goes my story of Geneva:

It was the winter of 1967 when my parent’s were killed in a car accident south of Chicago… I can remember the funeral a lil mostly that my Mom’s hands were so cold… My Dad’s coffin was closed with his service picture sitting on top surrounded by flowers… I wondered if he was really in the coffin or if he was hiding and going to jump out any minute to surprise us… It had snowed and the grave site was cold… My three sisters and I were told it would be hard to put us with white families since our Mom was Korean and, we had no family in Illinois… I can’t remember having Grandparents or Cousins… We stayed with some people from the church for a lil while then I was taken to Geneva… I never knew till years later my sisters were adopted and grew up just a few miles from Geneva… I worked hard at being a good soldier in Geneva but got pissed my first year… It seemed I had to fight for everything there, my commissary was stolen from my room then the candy ate in front of me while they laughed at how easy it was to take… Telling on them only got them madder and they hit harder… Soon I learned to hit, kick, bite and do whatever it took so no one crossed me while I was there…

It all started when I first went there… I was taken to see a doctor and he touched my vagina… I kicked him in the face and told him “do it again and die”… I spent the first week in the hole screaming my lungs raw to get out… I can see my first cottage but can’t remember the name, it was either Hope or Elm… The girls acted so tough during the day but at night in their rooms they cried… I hung out with two black girls from the south side of Chicago and a white girl from Rockford they were gang girls one had killed some one on a dare, one had killed her baby and the other had pulled a knife on kids at her school… I couldn’t beat’em so I joined them… I didn’t have to fight the teachers off at school like a lot the girls… I told them I had the disease and they didn’t even talk to me… I didn’t learn much at that school except how to smoke the cigarettes the girls got from the teachers who they let touch them… I went to school until I was thirteen then worked in the laundry sewing the dresses and clothes for the girls at the school… I just now thought of sweat shops, LOL, if there ever was one it was there…

I never got into any of their honey business shit but, my girls and I crocheted and wore matching colored tams to state our connections to each other… I never missed a communion but secretly hated God and he hated me… I remember crying for each one of my girls when they had to move onto another prison and left me alone… Soon I was too old for one cottage and moved to another leaving those girls too, a total of four cottages, Hope, Elm, Geneva and Maple I don’t recall the order and it made no difference they were all the same… It didn’t take long to pick out the bad bitches on a cottage and I quickly earned their trust, again crocheting colored tams for my new girls, always different colors from my last girls… I was a leader not a follower I had been in Geneva for five years and in that time I was in the hole at least once a month sometimes more… I hated everyone that wasn’t locked up and they hated me… If they left me alone I left them alone… I fought all the time with any one who wanted to fight and for any reason… I never excepted Geneva but got use to it…

I was told months in advance that a family was coming to interview me for their group home in southern Illinois… I think Geneva was ready to get rid of me… My counselor role played with me for weeks making sure I gave a good impression when they came to see me… I was sixteen and four months when I was driven to Chicago train station headed for a group home in Belleville Illinois… I remember buying a pack of Kool cigarettes in the machine and it cost me four dollars… I smoked most of the pack by the time the train stopped… The group home was small only three other kids my age two boys and a girl… We lived in a large house in the middle of town… I had to work hard at controlling my anger when the other kids were being so childish… I was so far behind in school that I worked as a waitress at a Lums Restaurant saving all my tips along with the fifteen bucks a month I got from the state…

On the anniversary of my parent’s death my parole officer handed me my parole papers… I was finally free… No one could send me back to Geneva now! I wanted to see my sisters but couldn’t try to contact them till they each turned eighteen and no one seemed to know where they were… The couple at the group home asked me to stay till spring and continue working while I decided what I was going to do… I didn’t have a car I didn’t know how to drive so I made that my mission, learn how to drive and buy a car by spring… Spring turned into Summer and I was still at the group home… I had bought a used car an old Maverick and they taught me to drive it then I got my license… I said good bye the first week in September and headed west… No place in mind just west where it was warm and far from Geneva…

I tried to forget Geneva and all the suffering I went through alone there… But Geneva had left it’s mark on me… I had learned to read peoples faces and trust no one’s word… I learned to depend on myself and be my own best friend… I learned patience and self discipline which came in handy when I felt the hate and anger Geneva had taught me… But most of all I learned “there is no innocence just degrees of guilt”.

Before I stop I want to let everyone know I settled in LA and went back to school one step at a time and stayed with school earning my degree in Arts and Photography. Now I run and own a photography studio… I married a law instructor I met at school, the love of my life and we raised three amazing boys, now grown and happily married, no grandbabies yet :( I found my sisters they didn’t remember me, but seemed so happy with their lives I never contacted them again, I know they are happy and didn’t suffer that’s all I can ask for…

This is for Brenda-thank you for writing your story it has helped me more than I can say just knowing it is okay to stop and remember those dark days in Geneva… BTW, I think we were on the same cottage at one time… I’d be willing to write if you ask Cherie for my e-mail addy… In conclusion, let me add that is not a disgrace to be in Geneva, it is a disgrace to leave Geneva and not learn from the experience…

Cherie it is ok to print this now that my box of tissue is empty, lol