Autobiography of Steve A. Mizera, From a Dime a Dozen to Priceless, An orphan's seventy year quest for a family.St. Francis Orphan Asylum, St. Joseph's House for Homeless Industrious Boys, Nicholas F. Mizera -

My unbelievable autobiography
From a Dime a Dozen to Priceless

is now available as a 385 page, 6"x9" paperback by visiting my website.
Read the first four chapters below.

Also available is my newest Book:
How to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse.
Start by Asking: Is that a Sexual Predator hiding behind that badge?
It is available at most eBook outlets and from my my website. It is now available as a 388 page paperback.

Steve Mizera with your questions, comments or criticism.

At the age of 73 I decided to write my autobiography hoping that it will shed light on how a person ends up after being raised in two orphanages for 12 years where physical, mental and sexual abuse were the norm. The first four chapters are printed below.

This book is dedicated to my extended family.

Nick and Marina Klimov and their wonderful children: Yelena, Sergey, Slava and Valeriy. Each brought their special brand of love into my empty and wayward life.

Yelena, who with her warm and loving husband Stas, added the immense and intense pleasure, and pure joy of allowing me to observe the formation of their family as they added Benjamin, Nelly, Timothy and Daniel. This has completed the fulfillment of my life.

It is also dedicated to those leaders and my brothers and sisters of Grace Family Church, Carmichael California, who try hard to keep the command: love one another the way the bible - inspired by God - defines it.


Some readers may find the subject matter and language in this autobiography to be objectionable, especially those readers who have been brought up in a Christian family.

Nevertheless, reading this book may be beneficial to society who claims they do not have the answer to two important questions this autobiography raises.

It will also be especially valuable to most Christians as the author relates his personal experiences of being raised in two different Catholic orphanages whose administrators had an excellent opportunity spread the word of God but failed.

Where he ends up may surprise you.


This autobiography is a page-turner and mental health experts should become familiar with both the message and the messenger.

I shed tears and suffered vicariously as the green hickory stick was used repeatedly on this eight-year old orphan's backside in St. Francis Orphan Asylum.

Anger was my reaction to the sexual exploitation he endured at the second orphanage in Philadelphia.

His life on the street was enlightening as well as educational. It was also funny and sad.

Most interesting was the author's attempt to right wrongs as he publishes a small town newspaper while going to law school and working as a railroad conductor. His anti-authority attitude and behavior rings loud and clear and may even be justified because of his upbringing.

Predictably, he sexually abuses a child and serves time in the nation's most violent prison. He survives once again with a mixture of cunning, luck and a long-lost faith.

Tracing his life he clearly establishes the cause of his pedophilia, something which should be analyzed by the experts and serve as a template to prevent future child abuse. Certainly, there are clues they can use because he is giving freely a 377 page interview.

It will be up to the reader to see if his cure is applicable to other pedophiles. It sure appears the cure he explains works for him.

Until more victimizers like this author provide society with unique insight, society will continue to struggle with the problem of child molestation.

This book is a great beginning.


I reluctantly agreed to offer a Forward to this autobiography. because I was concerned that the obscene language, the controversial subject matter and the details Steve offers would disgust and turn-off the reader.

Initially, that was my reaction as I read this sensitive and powerful confession. But instead of soaking in disgust, my perseverance was rewarded as I read the final chapters. He presents summaries of the views of today's experts in psychology and the legal system dealing with child abuse. He shows clearly that they do not have answers nevertheless attempt to provide solutions that are failing.

In contrast, in summarizing his life he points clearly to the cause of his deviant sexually behavior.

I applaud Steve for speaking truth to power in the narration of his personal story. I feel certain that his story will liberate and heal many others who endured similar backgrounds and struggles.

The need for his sound advice, his unique messages, and his heartfelt recommendations will be clear to the reader.

Roseann Valent Straube
Christmas Valley, Oregon


Steve Mizera would not have chosen the childhood he was forced to endure. Nobody would. News reports pop up all the time about figures in positions of leadership using their superiority and power to abuse trusting young children. Boy Scout leaders, Catholic Priests, and even more recently, Penn State coaches have all been stigmatized for their role in the suffering of children under their watch. Unfortunately for Steve, the institution he lived in as a young boy included the stereotypical pedophiliac activity making headlines today.

His journey starts in a very dark place, and brings the reader through his adolescence to his adulthood, including details of the horror he inflicted on victims of his own, eventually finding a new life in Christ, with a loving family that he had been robbed of as a boy. Along the way, the author describes his own theories and insights regarding the choices of those around him, as well as his own.

When the opportunity arose for me to help proofread and edit his initial writings, I found myself intrigued, hoping his words will help reach others and possibly assist them to seek help and/or enlightenment of their own. As it is often said, if this book helps stop one child from being abused, or steers one offender toward rehabilitation, then his goal will have been fulfilled.

Elizabeth McCrory, Citrus Heights, California


Part One

St. Francis Orphan Asylum - 1940

St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys - 1952

On the Streets of Philadelphia - 1955

A Dime A Dozen - 1957

Part Two

Patriotism and Politics - 1960

Conductor and Law Student - 1970

Publisher and Failure - 1980

Part Three

Crime, Folsom State Prison and Punishment - 1982

Public Service: Secretary to Analyst - 1988

Adopted by Immigrants - 1998

Retirement - 2004

Return to Grace - 2006

Priceless - 2009

Select a Chapter: 1     2     3   4  

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Part One

Chapter One

Saint Francis Orphan Asylum - 1940

Imagine standing in a line in your underwear. You are a boy of about eight years of age. It is evening. You are scared. This happens every night. You are awaiting your turn. Along with a dozen or more kids your age, you are focused on a pink butt staring at you. Screams permeate the air. Your butt will soon become pink or red and, you too will scream soon.

This is not my imagination. It was a significant part of my childhood, a sadistic ritual that still haunts me more than sixty years later.

In the 1940s this butt beating was called discipline. The Catholic nuns at Saint Francis Orphan Asylum in Orwigsburg Pennsylvania routinely carried a note pad and recorded every act perceived to be worthy of the nightly punishment. Called discipline then, today it would be called criminal.

(Child abuse and child endangerment are new terms to the twenty-first century. They were non-existent in my childhood. Nevertheless the discipline or abuse had a profound affect on me and may very well be one of the reasons why and how I lived my life. I expect to relive highlights of my journey with this autobiography. Perhaps you will be both entertained and educated on how my life ultimately turned out the way it did. Along the way you may discover why it did, something I have yet to discover or understand. And therein lies the need to write this autobiography.)

The oldest boys - about twelve years of age - had the pleasure or task of administering the punishment dictated by the nuns. A two foot long, puke green, hickory stick - a half-inch thick and an inch and a half wide - was the instrument of terror. One whack for every deed the nuns deemed bad behavior was awarded to any child who failed to perform to the nuns's standard during the day.

As childless virgins, what could they know about normal or abnormal child behavior? Some of these young male administrators of the punishment enjoyed their power, perhaps as much as the nuns enjoyed watching and listening to the whacks and screams. But the older boys were only following orders.

Where and how often has that excuse been used before?

It seems to me now that I was always standing in that line. No matter what I did or didn't do I was enrolled in Sister Frances' note book. Numerous times throughout the day I became part of her record-keeping statistics. Was my conduct normal or outrageous? I think I would still remember if I was behaving irrationally or irresponsibly. But what child knows what either word means at that age. What child diagnoses his or her behavior at that age? What child deserves this kind of discipline?

I simply accepted my evening destiny. Today what I remember most is the blood that sometimes materialized or oozed from the welts from the butts I watched while awaiting my turn. This did not occur if a child received only one or two or even three whacks. But often a dozen punishing blows turned a child's ass from pink to red to purple before the swelling erupted and the blood appeared. I never got to see mine bleed, but lived it vicariously as I viewed the butts of my young peers.

Later they would describe my welts. Screaming mitigated the pain and fear, a little like it does on a roller-coaster ride. I was always determined not to scream. Although I bottled my rage and my pain, I was unsuccessful in preventing the flow of my tears. However, I did perfect the art of not crying when I became a hardened teenager. I was tearless for almost the next half century.

Although the asylum housed less than three hundred boys ranging in age from 2 to twelve, the nightly discipline line consisted of a mere twenty kids. Slightly more than ten percent of the orphans needed to be disciplined. The rest were probably too scared to misbehave. I was among the repeat offenders. My recidivism rate was one hundred percent. The fear of the discipline did not outweigh the joy of being a child, so I suffered the consequences which lasted for half a century.

The nuns were of a German order. The United States was at war with Germany during my first three years in the orphan asylum. Was this fact significant as a contributing factor for the harsh discipline meted out? Nahhh. Many years later I would reflect on these facts and assumed the ladies in black were just doing their part for their fatherland's war effort.

Clearly, their abuse was motivated by religion. It had to be because after the nightly beatings we all gathered around to pray! I never understood the connection. I suppose this lack of comprehension precluded me from being a christian, and planted the seed of anti-religion.

My brother Nick and I were brought to the orphanage by dad, an unwed coal miner. He arrived in the United States from Russia, via Slovakia, through Ellis Island in 1905 at the age of ten. He was born January 4, 1896. His full name was Nicholas Stepfan Mizera. I only recently learned his name and date of birth while doing research. This information was found on his draft registration card signed in 1942 when he was 47 years of age. I suppose he was exempt from world war two because of his age and his employment as a coal miner.

"Mom", who I do not remember at all, had eleven legitimate children older than Nick and me. I was her thirteenth! Nick and I were bastards! The word bastard had a serious negative meaning in the forties. Today that has been softened. In fact, there is apparent pride now on being a single mom, a position teenage girls focus on as a goal.

Of course I don't remember that as infants Nick and I stayed in dad's car while he worked his twelve hour shift in the St. Clair coal mine. Nick told me about this many years later. I heard sketches about mom's character and behavior from other sources in later years. "Mom" claimed to want us living with her yet she periodically didn't want us and dropped us off at dad's at the time he was going to work. We were used as pawns in her war with our father.

She would play games with dad by depriving him from having us but would force him to take care of us while he was below ground in the coal mine. She would show up unannounced and drop both of us off as he was heading to work. This must have drove dad nuts. She treated her bastards much differently than her other eleven kids.

Being rejected by one's mother is a hard pill to swallow at any age.

Dad's two bastard kids did not have either an ideal childhood or a normal one. To say we were products of a dysfunctional family is being kind. So at about the age of four and two, we were deposited in Saint Francis Orphan Asylum to be taken care of. And were we ever!

The need for an orphan asylum for Schuykill and Carbon counties in Pennsylvania was made clear during the influenza epidemic of 1918. That world-wide pandemic took the lives of one or both parents along with close relatives in many families creating a large number of orphans. The estimated 186,000 Catholics were asked to contribute money to build an orphanage.

On October 12, 1921, more than 6,000 people braved the chilly air to attend an open-air mass conducted in connection with the dedication of St. Francis' Orphan Asylum. The red and white building which was a large, old farmhouse together with its 118 acres of ground was purchased for $15,000 and was quickly remodeled and converted to a home to accommodate eighteen girls ages 2 to twelve. Two nuns were assigned to tend to the orphans.

Right Reverend Monsignor Francis McGovern, Rector of St. Patrick's Church in Pottsville, conceived the idea for this orphanage and proposed the idea to Archbishop Dennis Dougherty who presided over the opening ceremony.

The farmhouse was already over one hundred years old and now became a comfortable, attractive home. Over its entrance were engraved the words: "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Also engraved was the golden rule of conduct as laid down on Sinai by the Master Lawgiver of the world: "Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you."

By 1923 the Catholic churches began to collect money for the erection of a new orphanage. A goal of $800,000 was established for a building to house 500 orphans. Ground was broken for the new building on December 10, 1928. The new building was occupied on July 3, 1930.

By May, 1931, there were 125 orphans in the home. My brother and I arrived in May of 1942, just as the old orphanage was being taken down as it was an obstruction to traffic on the highway between Orwigsburg and Schuylkill Haven.

St. Francis' Orphan Asylum quickly reached a population of 250 children, including pre-schoolers. At its peak, the population approached twice that number. The magnificent structure was originally designed to house 500 orphans so it was quite spacious. The orphanage was a four-story, brick building and cost $815,000 to construct. The Catholics operated their own school with six classrooms. During its history it had also taken in 40 Cuban refugees and a number of orphans created by the Korean Conflict. By 1978 the asylum was down to 11 children.

On February 28, 1978, Monsignor David Thompson, vicar general of the Allentown Catholic Diocese, announced that the orphanage would close in June after 53 years in operation. He said the reasons for closing were the same as those for closing Sacred Heart Home in Coopersburg in June - a decline in the number of children to house and a drop in the ranks of nuns to serve them.

Along with the population of 270 boys there were also more than two hundred girls in the orphan asylum. But boys were forbidden to talk to them. There was always a mandatory distance maintained between the genders. On the second floor, in the chapel, boys sat on one side, girls on the other. Meals were served on the first floor in the dining room which was segregated the same way. So were all six classrooms. Even outdoors there was a fence separating the girls from the boys and a 10 foot buffer on each side of the fence kept boys twenty feet away from the girls.

The simple rule was there would be absolutely no talking to each other. Not even wordless talk. Looks meant to convey communication were outlawed. My curiosity must have been strong as I often breached the 20 foot buffer. Because I violated these rules I suffered the consequence of a number of nightly bruises from the puke-green hickory stick.

What has been impossible for me to imagine, however, is the girls standing in a nightly line for a similar dose of discipline. When I was in my early forties I drove from California to Pennsylvania to try to discover my roots. I found a few news articles in the Pottsville Republic that told of a "reunion" of the orphans. I was never invited, because I couldn't be found. (Google was not born yet.)

I called Sarah Romanick who did attend the re-union. She was mentioned in a news article. I asked her: "Did the girls get the same discipline the boys received?" She informed me that there was no nightly green hickory stick line. However, she told me that a playmate at the time and still a friend today was still angry at the nuns four decades later because she was "disciplined." Apparently playing the piano was prohibited conduct. Her seven year old friend was attracted to the piano and thought she would try her hand at it. Big mistake! A nun snuck up on her and whacked her hand with one of those three foot sticks nuns use to point at the blackboard. This resulted in four broken fingers. This child, who was disciplined in 1947, refused to attend the reunion held in 1987.

But the St. Francis' environment was not totally Charles Dickensonian. Picnics and parties happened periodically. But excluded were those who lined up nightly less they misbehave. Punishment was piled on top of punishment. At least the concept of a picnic or party was learned.

There was also an annual May procession. Crucifix and flag was carried by altar boys who were followed by the boys in two lines, smallest to largest. The girls followed and were trailed by nuns. The march through the countryside was always a pleasant reprieve. There were many white statutes at which we would stop to pray.

There were other memories apparently suppressed but awakened later in life. When I went to college in my early thirties, one clear memory surfaced. While taking a psychology course, I learned that a child is naturally curious, especially about body parts, at about the age of five. So that must have been the age I was when I was sitting on a toilet examining my penis, trying to figure out what else it did in addition to pee. A dark shadow interfered with my contemplation. That shadow was cast by Sister Theresa as she peered over the top of the stall's door. She yanked the door opened and pulled me off the toilet. This caused me to pee all over me and her. Yes, I was in that night's line of deviates deserving of at least a few hard whacks. In Sister Teresa's mind I was masturbating, whatever that was.

The Catholic church has bestowed on its priests the power to forgive sins and they have a confessional booth where sinners enter so the priest can exercise this power.

Sister Theresa had me go immediately to confession. "Bless me Father for I have sinned". The priest must have been amused, or perhaps excited and aroused as I described my sin.

His assignment of a penance of three Hail Marys was no match for the six welts created by the stick. That I can remember this incident sixty-plus years later seems to indicate that this was the start of my wayward journey through life. Perhaps it was from that day that my life became much more confusing and conflicting.

There were other good times at the asylum. Christmas comes to mind. Each year we received a brown paper bag containing an orange, an apple, a few mixed nuts, some hard candy and a shiny new dime with the current year imprinted on it. We had to sing Christmas carols to our unknown benefactors for this annual gift. And, later the nuns confiscated the money.

Each year we were instructed to write a letter making a request. These letters were read on the local radio station and interested listeners would wrap up a new shirt or socks and deliver them to the orphanage. These were also distributed with the brown paper bag.

I don't recall a tree, or a santa claus, or lights. We always enjoyed a turkey dinner on Christmas day. Food at the orphanage was always good and plentiful. But if anyone let any food remain on the plate, that was grounds for at least one ass-whack.

One benefit in being raised in the orphanage was the development of a great work ethic. Today, I somehow keep looking back at it as child labor. Child labor laws were relatively new and besides, who would expect nuns to obey them anyway. The downside of an orphanage has always been in my mind the lack of accountability. There was less accountability then to the courts who confined orphans than government exercies today in foster care which replaced orphanages.

The picturesque orphanage was located in a very rural area. One reason for building such an expensive orphanage in its location was that it was one of the few places where coal was not present underground.

Farming occupied the countryside between Orwigsburg to the east and Schuylkill Haven to the west, both very tiny towns. There was an active farm attached to the orphanage. In exchange for cheap child labor, the orphanage received food. I can recall the pleasure of pitching hay to a horse-drawn wagon, and picking potatoes from mounds of dirt. This was the kind of "fun" for which we were NOT punished, unless, of course, we harassed the horse or threw dirt or potatoes at each other.

We also fed the pigs the food that was left over from our meals. I can specifically recall feeding hot dogs to the pigs. And I had never heard of the word cannibalism.

Once I had the rare pleasure of riding a bike to Schuylkill Haven. One of the kids missed Sunday mass and I was directed to ride him to Saint Ambrose Catholic church so he could attend mass. (It is a mortal sin to miss mass on a Sunday and as a Catholic, if you die with one of those on your soul, you go straight to hell and burn forever.)

Yet even this joy turned into a bit of hell on earth. Upon returning to the orphanage, with the mass-misser sitting on the bike's handlebars, I took a sharp left turn from the highway rather fast as I returned and headed down the long driveway to the orphanage. Me, he and the bike flew through the air. Both of us suffered wounds, torn clothing and I earned a place in "the line." The bike was destroyed. I always assumed it was my fault for going too fast. At the age of nine there is no such thing as too fast. Reviewing that accident objective now I know what really happened. The handlebar rider advertently let his toes stop the forward motion of the front wheel by bringing the spokes to a halt. So I was actually punished for his negligence!

Every kid gets disciplined, some a lot worse than others. But one would think that being orphans, being mentored by purported agents of God, being so young and impressionable, we would have had an exemption from discipline especially that which crossed the line into abuse. No such luck.

Perhaps the discipline or abuse was intended to have built the character that the lack of bonding failed to incorporate into our personalities. But instead it created a life-long resentment, a lingering hostility, the opposite affect, and prevented normalcy from ever getting a foothold.

But on the other hand, maybe discipline - even abuse - is healthy. I also contacted a male who attended the re-union. Louie Domday came to the orphanage in 1945 at the age of four. He was the same age as me. He too was quoted in the September 1987 reunion news story. He told the Pottsville Republic that he wouldn't be what he is today if it hadn't been for the discipline he received at the direction of the nuns.

I tried to telephone him when I returned to California. He picked up the telephone and after I briefly mentioned that I wanted to discuss his discipline statement he went silent. He did not hang up, but let me know he was still on the phone by his breathing. No matter what I said he just kept doing his heavy breathing routine. I can only wonder if that is what he really meant by "what he is today."

Just about everyone else I talked to who was at that re-union admitted to having one or more compulsive-obsessive, behavioral problems. One of mine has always been overeating and as you will learn another is something much more horrendous and dispicable.

In addition to those problems, a serious defect in my character has plagued me. It has been my lifelong belief that I had to buy anyone and everyone's friendship.

I am sure there are more but I have not done a lot of self-examination. Underlying most of my problems has been my inability to form relationships, probably stemming from the lack of any bonding with "mom". Some people like and even love me, but it is not because of anything creative on my part. They see something in me that most do not. I have no idea what it is. But would they if they were aware of the most serious behavioral problem which is the subject and object of this autobiography,

But let us go back to the fun of growing up.

After the loving discipline, religion was a big priority at St. Francis's Asylum. In retrospect I have looked at my first home as a nun and priest factory and at myself as a reject from the assembly line. I was a serious defect not permitted to become a priest.

We started every day off with a visit to the chapel on the second floor where we said our first prayers of the day. This was followed by breakfast prayers, before and after the meal. And the first class of the day was catechism where we must have learned the stories from the bible. We did not learn them from the bible because that was written in Latin and we were forbidden to read the bible!

Recess was usually spent in the chapel and after the rest of the morning classes, we prayed before and after lunch.

After school we had a treat. The boys lined up in twos with the smallest in the front, Like an Alaska dog sled setup, just like the May procession. The nun, who accompanied us through the countryside took up the rear but without a whip. We chanted the rosary. The Catholic rosary consists of repetitious voicings of the Hail Mary prayer- fifty plus of them, interspersed with a number of Our Fathers, or The Lord's Prayer. It took about an hour to complete. My contribution, for which I was always awarded puke points, was in taking an unofficial lead. I would raise my voice just a little louder but loud enough to play leader of the pack. Once my voice dominated, I sped up the chant going ever faster and faster until most chanters tripped over their words. The rosary chant would come apart and halt. The nun, with her lip quivering, exchanged glances with me and did not say a word. She did not have to. She always talked ever so softly because she had underlings who carried her big stick.

My brother Nick and I were not close, not even close. I recall a time when Dad came to take us to a county fair where there was a carnival. A nun thought I needed more punishment and prevented me from going. That still hurts today. One of the rare times I would have participated in a family activity was denied me, and I cannot remember why. I do remember that when Nick returned with some souvenirs, he did not bother to share them with me or even share the details how he obtained them at the fair. We were brothers in name only.

Dad did come to visit on occasion. The shout "your people are here" always got everyone's attention, but the adrenalin subsided as soon as you determined that it was not "your" people, your parents or relatives, that were being announced.

But when dad did show up, it would be for about an hour. We would sit in his car and talk, I guess. If I would have had told him about the nightly whippings, perhaps he might have done something about it. In retrospect, that is hindsight.

I do remember him talking about the Chinese on one of these visits and how they had so many people. I recall that he said if and when we ever went to war with them we would lose become we could not kill enough of them. Was this at the start of the Korean police action? Perpahs it was in 1950 and I was nine or ten years of age.

When he did show up he always brought a bag of potato chips. I think that was my first introduction to foil. Dad had a house in Cressona, Pennsylvania. On the very few visits there I recall picking beetles from plants in the back yard and putting them into a coffee can. I remember that he was making wine in small barrels in the cellar. It seems he was remodeling the house as half of it was not usable. I also recall he would dry mushrooms on newspaper. But for the most part I have very few memories of him. The most vivid memory is of his pending death and subsequent funeral. I was about eleven years of age.

The nuns gave Nick and I brand new brown trousers and informed us that we were to go to the hospital to visit our father because he way dying. I recall being at his bedside. He had a large water-filled blister on one of his thighs. I don't know how or if it was connected, but he was dying of miner's asthma or black lung disesse as he had worked in the coal mines for a few decades. I recall making three promises: that I would never visit mom and never drink wine or work in the coal mines. I have no idea what the basis was for any of those promises, but I did not keep two of them.

I only slightly recall the burial, but remember the wake. It was a party and most everyone there spoke a foreign language. I also learned that I had a sister, Anne, much older, who flew in from Seattle, Washington. I do not recall much about her at all as this was probably the first time I learned I had another sibling. She did not share the same mother. Her mother had been commited to an insane asylum. I think this was because she had witnessed someone die in an auto accident and went crazy. Or, maybe that was an excuse used to cover a genetic defect.

I came to this conclusion based on what Anne did to Nick and me after the funeral.

Anne apparently got together with the executor of Dad's will. Together they managed to split the assets: the house, a few bank accounts and an insurance policy. I recall pleading with her to take me with her, but she was too focused on "her" inheritance. Another rejection, another wound, and this one hurt much more that the butt busting.

It seemed that within days Nick and I were whisked away to a place and world much different than our safe home for the past decade. We were being driven to Saint Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys in Philadelphia. This was the beginning of a nightmare for me.

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Chapter Two

Saint Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys - 1953

My new "home" was quite a contrast. All boys, all older than me, no nuns. It was situated in the heart of a black ghetto and it's inhabitants were lily white. The large, brick building was noisey, dirty and scarey. Saint Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys was located at Sixteenth and Allegheny Avenue. It housed about 400 kids from twelve to eighteen. Freshman and sophomore classes were taught in the orphanage, but junior and seniors went "outside" to Roman Catholic High, a half dozen miles away on Broad Street.

Shortly after I arrived the institution tried to integrate by introducing a twelve-year old black orphan. I tried to befriend him as I had never seen a black person before. That was a mistake. I took a lot of punches and insults and it was the first time I heard the words "nigger-lover" uttered.

It seems a wealthy benefactory named Stephen Girard had previously left the bulk of his fortune in his will to the orphanage on the condition that it be used to care for white boys. There was an unsuccessful challenge to his will and the black was sent packing. This was one year before the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that seperate but equal education was unconstitutional.

A large number of other contrasts overwhelmed me: instead of nuns there were laymen. The sounds and smells of the city was very different than the sweet air and silence of farm country. I was soon to learn to my delight that there was no green hickory stick. In its place and unfortunately there reigned an absence of discipline in an atmosphere of fear. But the most profound contrast was with the adults who were charged with our education and care. Compared to the nuns who guided my first decade, these laymen were as different from each other as they were from the religious females.

One of a half dozen guardians who I fondly recall was a Mr. Goodwin. He was old, thin, gray haired and funny. At night he played gospel music to put us to sleep. He was quite harmless and perpetually smiling. In a way when he was on duty it was like a sanctuary: fears dissipated, calm prevailed. But he was only around during daylight hours. He would fill in when other guardians were not present.

Another interesting adult was a Scottish gentleman whose name has long since vanished from my memory banks. His claim to fame was that he coached the soccer team. He was an alcoholic. I guess the alcohol kept him warm on the sidelines as he urged us to "head it" referring to the soccer ball. Other than his slurred speech and wobbly demeanor, he was harmless.

A Mr. Brown taught history and I remember him as a very serious person. I don't recall any time where he caused harm to his charges. He was soft spoken and sincere and took his history seriously even if his students did not. His lack of a smile was haunting. His students were often unruly and I always expected him to explode, but he merely accepted his undisciplined class. But it became clear quickly that he would not harm me, or anyone else. He kept to himself, a comfortable distance from his charges.

Then there was Bernie Meehan. He taught biology. He wore glasses with a large black frame. They would constantly slip down his nose and he would constantly shove them back on the bridge of his nose. He had a way of slipping a piece of chewing gum -green chicklets - into his mouth, believing he was not observed, and taking five minutes to do it. The class focused on his adjusting his glasses and sneaking gum into his mouth while his biology lesson went ignored. He made a lasting impression on me because while I tried to be the class clown and mimic him behind his back, he apparently had eyes in the back of his head hidden in his black bushy hair. He saw me, spun around and knocked me to the ground. This act of violence got a bigger laugh than whatever I tried to do.

And then there was Mr. Whelan. First, he does not deserve the title Mister. Perhaps Monster Whelan would be more appropriate.

Most of these adults took turns watching the kids overnight. There was a very large dormitory where the kids slept and there was a small bedroom where the supervising adult retired to after the orphans went to sleep.

And what happened to me and others my age after the kids went to sleep is how Whelan earned his designation Monster.

Almost every night he would creep through the aisles of beds and select one of the younger and newer children to accompany him to his room. He often waited until he thought all the kids were sleeping so he could have his privacy and practise his secret.

He selected me one night. He woke me. He took me by the hand without saying anything. He led me to his room and closed the door. He was a huge man. I think it is appropriate to say he was rather fat.

He was mostly bald and had wisps of red hair above his ears. As he sat on the side of his bed he had me kneel and he was holding both my hands and talking softly. He was mumbling something about praying. He was not a priest and this was my first encounter with an adult who wanted me to pray.

He had me fold my hands and bow my head. My hands were on the edge of the bed. I followed him as he led the prayer. While praying he put he hands behind my head and applied pressure. With one hand he re-positioned my hands by lifting them and placing them between his legs on his penis. He increased the pressure on the back of my head forcing my face between his legs with one hand and with the other he exposed his penis and pressed it against my mouth. This was a different kind of fear.

I was scared. I had no idea what was happening. He started to tell me how much he liked me and that we were going to be good friends. He had me stand, turned me around and pulled me back so I was sitting on the edge of the bed. He positioned my butt between his legs. He put one hand on my stomach and pulled me toward him. With his other hand he started to rub my penis.

He was wearing clothes although his pants were unzipped and unbuttoned. All I had on were my underwear or briefs. He reached into my underwear and with the tips of his fingers started to slowly masturbate me. I had recently experienced a nocturnal emission - a wet dream - and now I ejaculated while awake. He squeezed my pulsating penis until I finished. He removed his hand and told me to go to bed.

On my way to my bed I heard snickering from a few of the boys who were faking sleep. It took a long time for me to get to sleep. I was angry. I was confused. But mostly I was scared because I did not know what to do.

The next morning was different from previous mornings. I did not like it. As I walked by Whelan to the bathroom he treated me with indifference. Was I dreaming? Was this normal? What happened to me? Would it happen again? What should I do? What could I do?

Whelan taught the tenth grade. I was in the ninth. His shift required him to "supervise" his charges for three consecutive nights about twice a month. It was a long time before he selected me to pray with him again. But I was aware he was selecting others. Although I was relieved that I was not being selected, I couldn't help but think about what was happening in his room to the boy he selected.

I never discussed this with any of the other boys. I was really too embarrassed. I certainly did not discuss it with the alcoholic Scotsman, the senile Godwin, or the serious Brown. There were no personal relationships between the adults and the kids. It seems they were doing time and would rather be elsewhere.

When it was the Scotsman's turn to watch over us, he sought refuge as soon as possible in his room with his alcohol as his companion, seldom checking on his charges. Mr. Godwin was heavily into music instead of children. No other adult to my knowledge was into sexually abusing my peers.

The priest who ran the orphanage was of the Jesuit order. This type of priest is considered to be the Catholic Church's legal arm. They had spent centuries guiding the church, justifying its position, leadership and authority, while controlling the masses and sharing power with kings.

Although he had an office and was in the orphanage throughout the day, he was never present overnight as there was a rectory nearby and that is where he lived. Our supervision was at the hands of the laymen. Was he aware that the orphans were being molested? I have no knowledge or even suspicion that he was aware of Whelan's criminal acts. Were any of the other laymen molesting the kids? Again, I have no firsthand knowledge although vague rumors circulated that this was commonplace.

Father Brown, the Jesuit, had his office on the second floor of the orphanage. It overlooked the enclosed yard where kids hung out. I can only recall one interaction I had with him. Two cats came under the fence into the yard. I was sitting petting both and decided to see their reaction when I held each cat's tail and bent them simultaneously as they faced each other. They screamed, clawed and became the focus of Father Brown who was became aware of my act of cruelty. I thought the reaction I got from the cats was funny. Little did I know it had a deeper, sinister, psychological meaning. He let me know that he saw what I had done, but he never chastised me or disciplined me. Maybe my act of cruelty was my turn to swing the green, hardwood stick.

In fact, I don't recall any discipline being meted out to anyone during my stay. No hickory stick. No nightly line. Only the apprehension that Monster Whelan would be selecting me to satisfy his sickness acted as a punishment.

Another aspect of my religious instruction that was missing at St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys was visits to the chapel, daily rosaries, and legitimate prayer sessions. I am, of course, not counting Whelan's private prayer sessions. These did continue at random and infrequently. They evolved from masturbation and fondling to oral copulation and attempts at anal sex. I felt so helpless and hopeless during these unwanted encounters. And I was angry, anxious, frustrated and fearful. There was no one to turn to.

After my first year of high school I dreaded entering the tenth grade because I would be taught English by Whelan. I knew I was in for a confrontation and had no idea how I would deal with it. I was thirteen years of age. He had to be in his forties. My first confrontation with him occurred almost immediately after arriving at St. Joseph's House. It was more than a year later when I finally refused to submit to his sexual desires that he angrily confronted me. He told me I would regret it. So the time for regrets had arrived.

I am not sure if I was a good or bad student. Usually test grades provide this information. I recall one indication that I was not stupid. There was a citywide test given to all Catholic students in Philadelphia in geometry. The Orphans at St. Joseph also participated. I learned that my score was third highest in the Philadelphia Catholic school district. Whelan gave me Fs in English. That is how he fulfilled the threat that I would regret refusing his sexual advance. He flunked me and I had to repeat the sophomore year. This took the wind out of my academic sail.

The following school year I started to attend Roman Catholic High. What a rush. Instead of being one of forty-five students in the sophomore year, I was one of hundreds of students in my junior year. I was drowning in peer pressure. As orphans, a wardrobe was super-minimal. So was knowledge of the real world.

In Saint Francis, we were immune to outside world influences. Most orphans arrived as infants and the nuns defined our knowledge of the real world. In Saint Joseph's orphans arrived in their teens and brought lots of baggage with them. Bags of mis-information - especially about sex. I learned obscene language and fighting. I also learned survival techniques, otherwise known as gang affiliation.

So I was not interested in making friends at Roman Catholic High. I did not know how. Relationships were not my favorite pastime. I did not last long at this high school. A priest taught the first class: catechism. He was arrogant and intimidating. His favorite pastime was threatening and berating the students.

I happened to obtain a starter pistol. It looked like a real gun but only shot blanks. The noise was used to notify runners that they could take off. I took it to class and found another use for it. As the priest came down the aisle, berating my classmates as usual, I jumped out of my desk into the aisle, pulled out the "gun" and fired it at him three times. I then immediately jumped out of the first floor window. That ended my high school education and my term at St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys. I was now really homeless. But I was free. I was Free from Whelan.

Finding a place to stay was not difficult. A lot of boys ran away from the orphanage. It seems there was an apartment a few blocks away where runaways could seek refuge. And that was the airlock that allowed the transition from the orphanage to the real world. A brief education on survival in the real world was freely available. I was a few weeks from turning fifteen.

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Chapter Three

On the Streets of Philadelphia - 1955

There are a number of considerations a teenaged runaway must deal with once he is free from the shackles of institutionalization. These include housing, food, clothing, medical care, spending money, an informal education and maybe short-range goals to mention a few. I considered none of these, that is, until the need arose.

Housing, as I mentioned, was initially the easiest. Advice to all potential runaways was the same: "You can stay at the third floor apartment at 15th and Tioga." That is where all orphans desiring a better life start life. So I did.

There was a single adult in his forties who was a bookkeeper by day and a child keeper by night. He paid the apartment rent and in exchange extracted sexual favors from most of the boys who did not mind getting head, as I later learned that was what oral sex was called. He was booked solid so did not have time for me on his schedule. Over time, new runaways would show up and others would leave. At times there were as few as three and as many as six others there during my stay. Most readily yielded to the adult's request for sex. Sexual activity in exchange for housing seemed acceptable to the others. I was getting a free ride.

The next consideration - breakfast - was almost as easy to accomplish.

In the mid-fifties in Philadelphia milk was still being delivered by horse-drawn wagons. That meant getting up pretty early and walking a few blocks in any direction. Before long, the milk man would be making his delivers exchanging full, glass, quarts of milk for the empty bottles left on the front doorsteps. Sometimes eggs and orange juice were also delivered. Finding them was a bonus. Together with stolen fresh rolls dropped off in front of the area mom and pop store, these stolen groceries provided a nourishing breakfast. And breakfast was generally the only meal eaten. Caution had to be exercised that the same address was not visited too frequently.

Clothing was a little trickier. But clothing wasn't what one called a necessity. Teens are known to wear the same clothes for long periods of time, unless peer pressure dictates that the rules of fashion be followed, or that they be washed. Neither applied to me. There was no one to tell me what to do or what to wear. I was free. I was independent. No more butt beatings. Mo more Whelan sexual abuse.

At those times when a half-dozen runaways lived at the Tioga apartment, we socialized. Sometimes when new clothing was on our agenda, we would walk the few miles to a small clothing store in Germantown and make our selection of new jeans and a shirt or two. But instead of paying a visit to the cashier, two of us would create a diversion such as a fake, noisey fight to distract the clerk. The rest of us would race out of the store with our selections when the clerk left the cash register to deal with the distraction.

I only had a need for medical assistance once. During the day we hung out at a local soda shop on Germantown Avenue. Three strangers -kids my age - stopped at the door and motioned to my friend Billy Watson to come outside. He and I were the only two kids in the store. It did not take long for me to figure out they were trying to pick a fight with him, by falsely accusing him of making an insulting remark to one of their girlfriends. My friend was not a fighter and definitely would not have committed the insult he was being accused of, so I went to his rescue.

I told him to get inside as I started to challenge the trio by claiming I was the one who said the girl's mother was a whore. Two of the three and me went at it for a few minutes and I was getting the best of them when the third came up behind me a hit me behind my left ear with an iron pipe. Down I went, and off they ran. There was a lot of blood on me, on my clothes and on the ground. I knew I had a medical problem.

There was a hospital about two blocks away. I walked into the emergency room with blood still dripping from my head. I was told to have a seat with the other dozen or more sick or injured waiting to be examined. After a short wait and observing very little movement of those needing help, I took the initiative. I stood up and started to walk toward the nurse and intentionally fell down. That got their attention and it got me examined in a hurry.

With the bandages still in evidence, I visited the home of one of the trio who caused me to visit the hospital. It does not take long to obtain this kind of information, because kids love to brag about their exploits and conquests.

Before I visited his home, I borrowed a 38 caliber pistol. I barged through their front door waving it while demanding everyone come to the living room. I did not intend to shoot anyone, but they did not know that. Maybe it was the "thou shalt not kill" commandment that echoed in my mind. I announced my threat by stating that their teenager caused my head wound and that he would be getting his payback in the near future. His mother and father were terrified. So I guess that made me a teenage terrorist.

I was beginning to understand that my bark could be more effective than my bite. I wanted the entire family to know that I was wronged and for them to anticipate his injury in their future. I can still hear my performance: "It may not be tomorrow or next week, but he is going to suffer just as much as I did." I gave him nasty look and departed just as quickly as I arrived. I never followed up believing that the threat was sufficient payback. I was sure he would relay this incident to his cohorts and that would be enough to keep them out of my life.

For months I did what any irresponsible runaway would do. What took up a lot of my time was joyriding in stolen cars. The subway system has parking lots to benefit the commuters In the suburbs. They drive from their homes to the parking lot, leave their cars filled with gas and then subway it to work for at least eight hours. Me and my friends did the reverse. We would sneak onto the subway by squeezing thru the exit turnstiles and exit the last subway stop in the suburbs. Taking our choice of cars for the day was a little like shopping. So many to choose from. Starting cars in those days was rather simple. Behind the keyhole were four connections for wires. One connection was for accessories such as the radio and one was for the starter. Two others powered the distributor etc. It was simply a matter of using the silver foil that came with packs of cigarettes and wedge it in amongst the four wires. After the engine started, removing the foil from the starter wire was necessary.

We were never caught. Often we brought the car back to the parking lot, unless we ran out of gas first.

Most of the former orphans living at the Tioga apartment eventually got jobs and found their own places. After a few months I found myself the only runaway left. Me and the book/child keeper.

He decided to have a man-to-boy talk with me. He explained that he was gay, (called queer in the fifties) but did not explain what gay meant. Whelan never did either. I suppose he was making an attempt to seduce me. I was 185 pounds and almost six foot tall. He was thin and kind of feminine. I did not contribute to his conversation and he did not try to force himself on me or make any further suggestions. Perhaps I had come across to him as someone who could get violent. In spite of my limited knowledge of sex, I was as naive as they come.

Although my knowledge of sex could fill most of a tea-cup, I was soon to get an education. And my cup would soon runneth over!

I spent most of the day swimming in the Delaware River drinking coke. We did not use alcohol. I came "home" to find everything gone! I guess the bookkeeper concluded that he would not get to first base with me, and feared he might get a beating instead. So while I was out, he moved out. Another surprise was in store for me before the night was out.

This apartment was on the third floor. There were two apartments on that floor. In the other apartment lived an older married couple. The man was absent a lot and his wife sought refuge in the proverbial bottle. She came home rather drunk that night and like a gentleman I helped her into her apartment. She was so drunk she did not know who I was and for once neither did I.

I carried her to the sofa and plopped her into it. She inadvertently spread her legs, her dress fell back exposing most of her privacy. I had never seen a naked woman before and my curiosity tugged at my morality.

Here was my opportunity to experience sex with a woman first hand. I popped my belt, dropped my jeans, leaned over her, put one hand each under each of her thighs and pre-maturely ejaculated!

Wow. Opps. Geezz. What just happened? I had to get out of there before she sobered up or woke up or before her old man showed up. The morality issue along with other nagging questions -like how are you supposed to have sex - would have to be dealt with later.

Days earlier I found myself hanging out at a restaurant and the waitress took a liking to me. She was plying me with free coffee and a sandwich or two. She had asked enough questions to determine I was a runaway. I found myself once again at that restaurant. I manage to mention that I was looking for a place to stay because the bookkeeper moved. I was oozing with confidence. I supposed that now that I had my first piece of ass I could go in search of my next.

But did I hit the jackpot!

She, a twenty-six year old, gave me the key to her apartment on Broad Street, two blocks away, and told me to make myself at home. Wow. I would have a home at last. She said she would be there after work.

When she arrived, I don't think she waited ten minutes before she had me in bed with her. I guess my ego was as hard as my penis. This classy lady wanted me! No premature ejaculation with her. They were all premeditated ejaculations. One after the other. Sex was fun. I had just turned fifteen and now I had an "old lady".

She - I honestly cannot recall her name - had plans for me. She insisted that her apartment was my home. "Just be here when I get off work" she warned with the nicest smile. "Who wouldn't be" was my attempt to be conversational. Even more than fifty years later I can remember that happened on a Monday. On Tuesday, after she returned home from work, she gave me what she called an energy pill. It was such a tiny white pill. Unknowingly, I had my first bout with speed. And she had an exceptional bout with me for much of the rest of that night.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were repeats. Pills were followed by sex, Except that Friday concluded much differently than with me falling asleep.

St. Joseph's, which was less than three blocks away, conducted a dance every Friday. It was one of the ways the orphanage raised money. I had a number of acquaintances, both orphans and girls who attended the dance. I wanted to see them after the dance broke up at eleven that evening.

As I started to leave, my lover turned into Mrs. Hyde. Although I tried to convince her that I would be back after visiting friends at the dance, she was not buying it.

I was determined to go. She was still naked as I opened the door to leave. She came running toward me. I ran away from her. I was actually a bit scared. She followed me out the door and chased me for twenty feet down Broad Street. Broad Street is a main thoroughfare in Philadelphia. Lots of traffic and horn honking added to this unusual scene. I raced around the corner at Allegheny avenue and up to 16th Street. She did not follow.

Fortunately I was able to outrun her. Unfortunately, I was homeless again.

The dance let out at eleven o'clock. Twenty minutes later everyone was gone. I found myself hanging out on the corner of Broad Street and Allegheny Avenue, just two blocks from St. Joseph's and one block from my previous home. I was not about to return to her, not even for sex. I was with someone I barely knew and let him know that I needed a place to crash. He offered a place and we walked about five blocks and entered a building that had apartments on two floors. As I walked into the apartment out of the corner of my right eye I observed a guy, fully clothed and a naked girl on her knees.

I was not even curious and turned away as I walked away into the living room. Perhaps I was too afraid to ask what that was all about. My immediate need for a place to sleep was my only concern. I found a place on the couch and started to watch TV.

Amid lots of noise and yelling I was awaken by someone who grabbed me and yanked me off the couch. I became aware that I was being dragged across the room and down the flight of stairs Except for a few flashlights bouncing off the walls, it was dark. I was being dragged down the stairway by two cops. I was shoved into the back of a patrol car. I was not told what was happening or where I was going, but within ten minutes I found myself being deposited into what apparently was juvenile hall. I was locked in a small room, a really small room. There were no furnishings and the walls were covered with padding. A sink and toilet shared the room with me.There was no windows. A lightbulb burned constantly. Time drifted by slowly. What had I gotten myself into, and why?

What seemed like hours later - I could not tell whether it was day or still night - a bowl of what appeared to be oatmeal was shoved into the room and the door was slammed shut again.

Where was I? Why was I here? I could not understand what was happening to me or what would happen to me. I was really angry and the longer I was held there the angrier I got. I could not communicate with anyone. There was no one to talk with. Periodically food on a tray was shoved past the opened door and it was slammed shut after the previous bowl, dish or tray was removed.

The person who brought the food would not talk to me. He would not answer my questions. He just took the old tray and spoon and replaced it with one with food and another spoon.

After a long time in that room I had no way of knowing the time or if it was day or night. The food deliverer would not even give me the time of day. I thought I was losing my mind.

The room was opened again a short time after an oatmeal meal was served. Two big men ordered me out of the room and motioned for me to go down a hallway. They would not answer my questions either. At the end of the hallway was a door. Before I reached it I vented my anger by putting my fist through the wall. It hurt me but I got my message across without saying a word.

I was ushered into the room which turned out to be a courtroom. The naked girl, now clothed, was sitting on a chair next to a guy in a black dress - a judge as it turned out. She was asked a few questions only one of which got my complete attention: "Was this one of the guys who raped you?" she was asked. She looked at me and then she looked back at the person who asked the question and said softly: "No, he was not." Had I really known how to pray, I would have prayed to God to thank Him for her telling the truth.

Rape? What was that? Was that what was happening when I entered the apartment?

Was I a coward or simply ignorant that night? I have revisted that scene many times and have yet to be able to answer my question.

I was whisked out of the court room and within minutes found myself on the courtroom steps. I was free to go, but to go where?. I had no idea what I would do or where I would go. I knew I was homeless and alone and had to deal with both very soon.

Because I was told I was free to go, I went back to my old neighborhood. I soon learned what happened after I went to sleep on the couch. The girl who was being forced into oral sex had asked to go to the bathroom. She had locked the door and slipped out the window and jumped to the ground below. She was naked.

Two naked girls in one night. One a crazy criminal. (Having sex with a fifteen year old boy and being ten years older is called child-molestation today.) And the other, a victim of crime having sex forced on her. And I was an actor in one and a victim of circumstances in the other.

When I was raised in St. Francis Orphan Asylum I was protected from outside influences. In St. Joseph's that was not the case. Words like rape, gay, or other words dealing with sex were either not used or not explained, or substitute words ike getting laid, blowjob, gang-bang, faggot or queer were uttered. There was no such thing as sex-education. To date, my informal sex education came from sister penis peeper, Monster Whelan, child-bookkeeper, an old-drunk lady, a young, crazy, naked lady, and most recently, an honest rape victim.

I was not in the loop anyway as those kids who were snickering pegged me as a "faggot" because I ended up in Whelan's web a few times. Only one time did any of them have the balls to make a direct comment.

That happened about ten o'clock one night before the lights were turned off. Our dormitory was on the third floor. Five blocks away was Connie Mack Stadium where a night baseball game was being played by the Philadelphia Phillies. Every time there was a home run the noise from the crowd would erupt. Kids hung around by the window to see if they could see the ball flying through the air. Three kids were sitting on one bed and one made reference to me as Whelan's punk. I did not know what a punk was but I knew what he said was an insult.

I slowly walked over to them, leaned over and took one punch at the kid who made the remark. I broke his nose. He was taken to the hospital. I was not disciplined. And, the insults stopped, at least publicly. I was not a violent person. But from somewhere I found the courage to take a stand in my defense. Why wasn't this courage part of my character when the young girl was being sexually abused?

After I left the courtroom I headed back to north Philadelphia to my old neighborhood. I was told that I made the newspaper. I never read a newspaper so I did not know the significance of being the subject of a news article. I was not interested in finding out. I had to find a place to crash.

Finding a place to crash was easy enough but boy did they end up in weird ways. I flashed on the Tioga apartment, the naked lady's apartment, the rapist's apartment. What lie ahead for me? Should I sneak back to St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys? Would they even know I ran away. Nahhhh. Whalen would certainly know. I would take my chances on the street.

I am not sure how but I found myself in south Philadelphia and had both a place to stay and a job! The place to stay was a room in the cellar of a "mom and pop" store owned and operated by three Italian brothers. The job was to be their employee, their only employee. The entrance to the cellar or their warehouse was a flight of stairs three feet wide upon which were nailed 2 twelve inch wide boards. This made it easy to slide boxes down to the "warehouse". It also made it difficult to retrieve inventory or to climb back up with boxes.

I was told I could have the room rent-free, could eat what they had for sale in the store, and would be paid fifty cents an hour. I worked ten or more hours each day. No one kept track. I started on a Friday and was told I would be paid the following Friday.

I worked seven days and when I asked for my pay I was told: "Next Friday".

I suspected I was being exploited and might never see a pay day. I was angry but hid it well. I slid down the ramp and found boxes that contained five-pound containers of coffee. Maxwell House, the coffee company, was running a promotion. They had put a coin in each can. There was at least a quarter in every can and some cans contained a silver dollar.

No one else ever came to the cellar so I was free to open all the cans, dump out the coffee and collect the coins. I went through thirty-six cans and collected two silver dollars, three half-dollars and 19 quarters for a total of $8.25. The sixty hours I had already worked would have paid me $30 so I was still short. Pocketing the loot and brushing off the coffee, I went upstairs.

I waited until only one of the brothers was in the store. I waited until he opened the cash register. Then I grabbed all the twenties and tens and raced out the store. I did not stop running until I reached the subway station five blocks away. I had outrun him and outwitted him. And after counting the money, my payday amounted to $230 plus the $8.25 in change. I headed back to the only neighborhood I knew, that which surrounded St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys. I wondered if what I just did was what the word industrious meant.

I ran into Bill Pegliaro. He had also run away from the orphanage. But now he had a job and he had a very small one-bedroom apartment. After a short discussion, I became his roommate and was able to split the rent and pay for groceries. He turned me onto a job at Gimble's Department store in downtown Philadelphia. He worked in the record department at John Wannamaker's Department store two blocks from Gimble's. My job was supposed to be for the Christmas season only and although I worked full-time, it was to be a temporary job. I worked in the clothing department.

I made it!

Having had a great work ethic, I caught the attention of supervisors who kept me in the employ of Gimble's after Christmas. I was assigned to work in the automotive department. This was not actually a part of Gimble's but a New York company had sublet space in Gimble's. They sold tires and auto parts, and used the Gimble's name in their advertisements.

I worked for a fellow named Robbie Robins. Somehow I learned he was Jewish and in his early forties. We got along just fine. He was a father-figure. He was kind and always lent me a buck or two before pay day so I could buy lunch. I was being paid $37.50 a week for only 48 hours work. The government was keeping some of my pay check for taxes and social security, whatever they were. I was only interested in the cash I was given when I cashed my paycheck. Every week I had more than $32. I worked hard for this money. I did not mind hard work. Robbie really appreciated my hard work.

About three months into this job I arrived one morning and Robbie was not there. He had been replaced by a twenty-one year old college graduate who was related to one of the owners from New York. I was both devastated and apprehensive. How could this happen? Robbie was such a good person and a hard worker and my friend.

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Chapter Four

A Dime A Dozen - 1957

Other employees on the second floor, where the auto department was located, told me about Robbie being replaced. And moments later I met his replacement.

A short, skinny guy popped up in front of me and announced: "You're a Dime a Dozen". He said this with a look of disgust on his face and a sneer, and added: "and don't you forget it."

Now I was dumfounded, and pissed. This was my new boss? I didn't think he should be talking to me that way. He doesn't know me. What had I done to deserve this insult? Surely Robbie must have told him what a hard and dedicated worker I was. What happened to Robbie?

My mind was spinning. My world was upset. Would I be fired next? I kept hearing his insult: "You're a Dime a Dozen" echoing in my ears. I knew what I had to do. I simply had to prove that I was worth much more than a twelfth of a dime. But how? Even though I did not know what it meant, I had very, low self-esteem. Although I did not have an appraisal of my self-worth, it had to be much more than the dime a dozen he thought I was worth. I was totally focused on him, on my survival and on developing a plan to prove my worth.

My duties included keeping the shelves stocked with wax, light bulbs, seat covers, batteries, and everything else one would expect to find in an automotive department of a store like Gimbles or Wannamakers or Macys. They were the big three and their only competition was Pep Boys. Stores like NAPA and AutoZone and other specialized stores were not yet on the drawing boards. But the big item for sale was tires. Ours were kept in a warehouse on the tenth floor of Gimbles. Periodically we ran a full page newspaper ad on Sunday and Monday would be very busy. The ad drew lots of housewives in from the suburbs.

I would wait for a call from the sales floor and grab two or four tires and race down to accompany the buyer - usually a woman - to the parking lot and load the tires into her car. Often I was offered a tip, but I refused them saying I am already being well-paid. My $37.50 gross paycheck usually lasted until the following payday so I really had no need for money.

It was from the sale of tires that my big opportunity to get even with Mr. YouraDimeAdozen surfaced.

Some customers did not want to take the tires with them in their car or because they took public transportation to the store. So we would ship them by United Parcel Service. I would take these orders, tape the tires together and affix a part of the sales slip. Once a day, UPS would take a pallet or two or three away. They would check the slip on each bundle of tires. This was the only security in place to remove tires from the store.

On the sales floor, when there was a tire sale on, the five part sales slip was often not inserted correctly into the cash register. The part of the sales slip for UPS would not print and the sales person would have to use a blue pencil to write one line of information that would have been printed had the sales slip been inserted all the way. That was the only way tires could be shipped. And this was the way that I would get the tires out of the store. There was no accounting of the invoice slips. A new book of invoices was used and those books that had a few invoices remaining were tossed into a box. I salvaged them for my plan.

I was also the inventory clerk in addition to the stock boy. I had to keep a record of all tires unloaded from the trucks and deduct those which sold. Each Friday, the owners of this sublet business would drive in from New York, and visit the tenth floor. They were content to count by noting how many tires high multiplied by how many columns wide multiplied by how many rows deep. They would compare it with their cash registered inventory.

That number would also match one of the two sets of books I kept after my theft of their tires started. New tires had a coating of graphite that migrated on to whomever handled them the tires. Dressed in expensive suits, the New Yorkers never handled the ties. If they had bothered to get a little dirty, they would have uncovered my plan as the numbers would not have matched.

The first pair of tires I stole I sent to my friend Ronnie Gibson who had an apartment in West Philly. He was also an industrious boy who ran away from St. Joseph's and was no longer homeless. I asked him if the driver asked any weird questions to deny the tires were ordered by "his father" and refuse to take them. If, on the other hand, they were merely dropped off, or he had to sign for them, to call me when the driver left.

I waited nervously for that call. When it came and he reported success, I was overjoyed. Mr. YouraDimeAdozen would owe me a re-appraisal one day soon.

There actually is honor among thieves. I soon had four "salesmen" selling brand-new, white-wall tires - even snow tires - wrapped in paper for $20. Ten bucks due immediately and ten after the tires were delivered. The saleperson kept $5 and got another $5 upon delivery. My commission was $10, more than a day's wages for "selling" a pair of tires.

I kept a good set of dual-books. According to my records I sold 1250 tires in two and a half months or about 20 tires a day on average. My take was more than $3000 or an average of $200 a day. The tires sold for about $20 each from Gimble's or four times as much as I was selling them for. (I did not charge sales tax, as I did not know what that was.) Gimble's lost about $25,000 which represented the cost of the tires and the lost profit.

I had one potential buyer - a good Catholic - who changed his mind before I had a chance to ship his tires. I returned his $10 and hoped he wouldn't upset my apple cart. He didn't.

To keep the New Yorkers at bay and in the dark and to implement my plan, I would take the freight elevator to the eight floor where large furniture was sold, and retrieve large, empty, cardboard boxes. I put these in the center of the tire inventory and covered them with the appropriate height of tires, and they occupied the appropriate number of columns and rows. The number matched the cash register report used by the New York owners and matched one set of my books.

All good things do come to an end.

I was rather loose with my new-found wealth. I would put my tail between my legs and even though I would have pockets filled with tens and twenties, I would appeal to Mr. YouraDimeAdozen for a dollar on Wednesday to I could buy lunch because I was "broke". I enjoyed my inward chuckle as he made me eat shit while getting out his fat wallet. I now enjoyed his insults. I planned to have the last laugh.

If you knew me then you made a buck out of our "friendship". I gave anyone money for any reason. I had two cars, both 1941 Plymouths. One was a white convertible and the other a black coupe. But I took the subway to work. I did not want to risk driving to work and parking at the indoor lot across from Gimble's.

And I started to do a lot of dating and partying, which now included drinking.

One Monday morning I showed up with a serious hangover. I was not paying attention to the fact that we had a full-page ad and a big tire sale on. The phone must have rang for twenty minutes. I was sleeping off my hangover on the tenth floor. My sleep was interrupted as I noticed Mr. YouraDimeAdozen wagging his finger and screaming something about I would be fired. I eased out of the couch - borrowed from the furniture department - and stood up to face my skinny, obnoxious boss. It only took one punch to put him out of his misery temporarily. And rather than suffer the humility of being fired. I quit!

I had to get out of town fast. And I knew where I was headed.

St. Joseph's maintained a summer home in Sea Isle City, ten miles south of Atlantic City in New Jersey. Each week in the summer a number of orphans were bussed down for a vacation week. The previous winter, Albie Schmidt and I took off from the orphanage in the winter, and broke into the summer house. We spent a few days there and hitch-hiked back to St. Joseph's. No one was the wiser. We were not missed. We enjoyed our little adventure. Now I was about to go on another and Sea Isle City was my destination. I had heard that Albie recently tried to rob someone with a gun which went off accidentally, and he was sent to prison. Wish he had contacted me, we could have had this adventure together.

I arrived in Sea Isle City and spent the first night in the back seat of my car.

Lady luck was on my side in the morning. While having coffee in a small caf´┐Ż I learned that the owners had a small trailer for rent. I had plenty of cash so we were a match. So for much of the summer I would not be homeless and would be a beach bum.

I soon learned what cash flow meant. Rent, meals and recreation made mine flow away. It would take a job to replenish it. And Ben Alexander had a job he needed to fill.

Ben owned and operated - by himself - Sea Isle City Automatic Transmission Service. In 1956 most new cars were offered with a standard transmission. Automatic transmissions were an option. Sea Isle City had a population of about 10,000 year round residents, but in the summer it swelled to more than 100,000 people, most of whom were from Philadelphia or New York City and maintained summer homes in this vacation town on the Atlantic coast.

There was plenty of work for Ben. He had three or four cars with automatic transmission problems. My job would be to remove the transmission and replace it when it was either rebuilt or repaired. I learned to do this very quickly and I had plenty of time to watch as Ben took a transmission apart, replaced the worn parts and re-assembled it. He was kind enough to explain what the parts did.

I long ago stopped looking over my shoulder for whomever Mr. YouraDimeadozen might have sent to try to find me. Thoughts of him discovering my furniture boxes always produce a smile. I was enjoying weekends and evenings on the beach. I didn't bother making friends or developing relationships. I guess I just did not know how to do either.

Accidentally, I did meet and enjoyed puppy love with Joyce Kitchens. She just turned sixteen, was from North Philadelphia and had to have had an impact on me. After fifty years I still remember her telephone number: Livingston 9-3196. But I did not have much of an impact on her as she went on to marry and moved to Oklahoma. She owned a bike and I took her for a ride one evening. She was on the handlebars and I was singing the Elvis Presley song " I want you I need you I" ...crashed into a pole and she broke her watch . I memorized her number hoping to have a date with her one day in the future, if I ever returned to Philadelphia. But my only memory is her phone number and her broken watch.

Summer ended rather abruptly as it always does after Labor Day. Ben's business dropped off dramatically as did his income. By early November he was concerned about having enough money to pay the rent. He got lucky.

A fellow who owned a funeral business in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was on vacation with his wife. She had been driving on the beach and got stuck in the sand. She tried rocking the car back and forth by using low and reverse gears. She managed to get unstuck but ended up with only low gear. Her husband brought the car to the Chevrolet dealer in town but they did not have anyone who could fix automatic transmissions. Because business dropped for them too, they had laid off their automatic transmission specialist, but referred the funeral director to Ben.

I jacked the car up and noticed the problem. It would be a very simple fix. An "L" shaped piece of metal that connected the shifting rod to the transmission had snapped. I figured it would cost less than a buck and take five minutes to fix.

Out of ear range of the customer I informed Ben as to the problem and solution. He had the biggest grin on his face as he went back to the counter and pulled out a large, cardboard box of parts from below the counter. He switched his grin to a grimace and started to sadly tell the soon-to-be screwed funeral director that it would take two or three days to fix and that he should book a motel room in town.

After the funeral director left to book his room, Ben told me take a rag and can of gas and make sure I cleaned the transmission so that it looked like we had removed it.

Three days later he called the owner of the 1957 Pontiac stationwagon with the good news. "We fixed it and you are ready to go." The bill was for slightly more than $500.

I made a mental note to myself: so this is the business world.

A few weeks later a package arrived from Detroit. It was from General Motors. The letter that accompanied the plaque thanked Ben for helping one of GM's good customer's in his hour of distress. At sixteen years of age I was learning that, contrary to popular belief, crime did pay. Being in business and being a criminal were the same thing!

But that was the last of the good business. Ben started to date the daughter of the owner of the building. She was in her later twenties and heading for spinsterhood. She was rather plain looking and easily a virgin. Ben would become a member of the family where rent would no longer be an issue.

He must have professed his love for her in such a way to sweep her off her feet and cause her to accept a wedding date in early December. I was asked to be Ben's best man.

Ben had a 1948 Hudson Hornet, a fine car that he spent more time with than with his bride-to-be. I also think he loved the car much more than he loved her. On the wedding day, he gave me the keys to his pride and joy and told me to park it outside the church and wait for he and his bride to exit the church. I was then to chauffer them to a local motel for their honeymoon.

I ran back to the shop, threw up the garage door, cranked up the Hudson and started to back out of the garage. Those Hudsons had such small, narrow windows in the rear. What looked clear to me was not enough clearance for the roof of the Hudson. I became aware of this only after I heard the roof screaming as the bottom of the door carved grooves into the roof and then splintered as wood is likely to do when it meets steel.

Ben was not happy to see me drive up in his modified pride and joy.

As there was no work, I left for greener pastures. I went north to Westfield, New Jersey. There was a really nice, large shop specializing in automatic transmissions. It was operated by a father and son. I dropped in on a Friday, noted they had lots of cars and proceeded to pass myself off as an automatic transmission expert.

The son pointed to a 1954 Chrysler and said it had no reverse. "If you fix it Monday you have a job" he proclaimed.

The Westfield library had a Chilton Motor Manual so I check the book out for the weekend. I also found a room for rent almost across the street from the transmission shop. I buried myself into those parts of the book that discussed and illustrated troubleshooting and replacement of parts for the Chrysler transmission. From what I read I could simply remove the pan at the bottom of the transmission and replace a strut - a piece of metal the size of a postage stamp - that normally fit between a servo pump and the band that wrapped around the clutch assembly.

According to the troubleshooting guide, this part generally broke if a driver tried to go into reverse from drive without stopping. Chrysler products in 1957 had pushbuttons to change gears, like the Edsel which had them in the center of the steering wheel. The broken strut was a common problem.

On Monday I put the car on jacks, drained the transmission fluid and removed the pan. I drove to the local parts house and obtained a new seal for the pan along with a replacement strut. When I returned to the shop I used a long screw driver to compress the band while I slipped the strut in place.

Both men were surprised when I removed the car from the jacks and backed it out of the garage before ten o'clock. They charged the customer almost three hundred dollars for my two hours of work and offered me a job at $75 for a five day week.

I actually made a few friends in Westfield. Also found time to drive back to Philly to see if I could score with Joyce Kitchens, my first love, but no luck. Maybe she remembered how destructive I was to my bike and her watch.

Mondays were bummers for an unusual reason. I worked hard and smart and would earn my $75 well before lunch. The next four and a half days I was working for the owners. I decided to ask for a $25 a week raise.

The owners told me they could not afford it and finally offered me $10. I accepted but decided to open my own business. I was gettingready to turn 17 years old.

I had cheap ball point pens imprinted with my name, phone number and Automatic Transmission Specialist. I called in sick and started to distribute them to every car lot and gas station in Westfield. One of my newfound friends had a business rebuilding automobile starters and generators and had lots of extra space. I made a deal with him that I would give him ten percent of any money I was able to make. If I made none, he got ten percent of nothing.

On the following Monday I quit when one of my cards produced my first job. I had the car lot tow the car to "my" garage. I was on my way to success.

It took two more weeks before I received my next call and transitioned from employee to self-employed. My first job was very easy. A leaking transmission did not command a lot of money as it required simply removing the transmission from the torque converter and replacing a seal. It took three hours. I charged $35 plus the cost of the seal. I did not know you could charge a customer more than what you paid for the seal, or more than $10 an hour.

But soon the phone was ringing constantly. Within two months I "hired" my first employee, whose job it was to remove and replace the transmission. I was now doing the rebuilding. Ben would be proud of me, except he might disagree with my integrity.

Somehow I found myself getting involved with SPEBSQA, the Society of the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singers of America. I was beginning to get the hang of socializing. Even met a young lady and we dated. Estelle Zinger was from a rich family in Wynnwood, Pennsylvania. She was attending a fancy private school and singing was one of her interests. I was tagging along.

Unfortunately I was not good at cementing relationships. I guess after being deprived of relating to females, other than nuns, at St. Francis, and their absence at both St. Joseph's and at my one week at Roman Catholic High, curiosity and caution were my guides. I suppose I always expected a little bit of crazy, naked lady to surface.

Estelle had a real mothering instinct about her. She invited me to her home to meet her parents one weekend. This was really awkward for me. Her mom took a liking to me and her dad took to pitying me. He had a sense of humor I did not understand. He was a lawyer and I suppose he looked at Estelle and I as the mismatch of the century.

She took me to her prom and instead of attempting to get a little sex afterward I fell asleep, to the relief of her parents. She was such a moral young lady that I would not have scored had I tried. p>

As I now recall, I must have had a normal or boring existence for the next few years. Although I was "in business for myself" it was not normal. I was not yet eighteen. I did not have a driver's license or insurance. I did not have a bank account. I had a few relationships and fewer friendships and they were not close. I seemed to be drifting aimlessly. Nothing outrageous or even exciting happened in my life. So I decided to join the United States Air Force.

---------------------------------------- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -----------------------------------------------

Follow this orphan through two orphanages in Pennsylvania from the age of 2 until the age of 14 when he runs away and lives on the streets of Philadelphia.

A four year stint in the US Air Force is followed by a concurrent pursuit of education including law school while working as a conductor on the railroad and publishing a small town newspaper. Many relationships are attempted but none succeed.

A despicable crime earns him a punishment of a 20 year sentence in Folsom State Prison in California. Considered the most violent US prison in the 80s, cunning, luck and mainly faith allow him to survive.

Following an early release he spends almost twenty years as a public servant, using computer skills initially learned before leaving the prison system.

The essence of this unbelievable autobiography is a quest to find the answers to two questions that haunt society and whose experts have been unable to answer.

What is the cause and what is the cure for pedophilia?

If those experts read this autobiography, they may find answers to each. The author discovers he has by re-living his life through this writing.

Because of the content of this unique book, there is a printed warning that must be read before reading this unique life story.

This book is intended for open-minded adults, parents, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, law enforcement and justice officials and perhaps Christians who might just read the mother of all testimonies.

But it is especially directed at those persons on the verge of committing the same crime for which Steve A. Mizera spent a frightening time in prison in the hope that they will not repeat his mistake and ruin their life or create a victim which is so much worse.

At times this book is both funny and serious. The reader may cry or get angry. Whatever else it may be, it is an education that may not be available anywhere else.

Author Steve A. Mizera is retired and lives in Christmas Valley, Oregon. He continues to travel and makes large panoramic photographs on canvas which he markets on his website


If you found these four chapters of my autobiography interesting and wish to read the rest, it is now available at either my website or as an eBook at the amazon website, as well as Ibookstore and many other outlets.

The 377 page paperback can be purchased at Amazon for $15


This autobiography is a page-turner and mental health experts should become familiar with both the message and the messenger.

I shed tears and suffered vicariously as the green hickory stick was used repeatedly on this eight-year old orphan's backside in St. Francis Orphan Asylum.

Anger was my reaction to the sexual exploitation he endured at the second orphanage in Philadelphia.

His life on the street was enlightening as well as educational. It was also funny and sad.

Most interesting was the author's attempt to right wrongs as he publishes a small town newspaper while going to law school and working as a railroad conductor. His anti-authority attitude and behavior rings loud and clear and may even be justified because of his upbringing.

Predictably, he sexually abuses a child and serves time in the nation's most violent prison. He survives once again with a mixture of cunning, luck and a long-lost faith.

Tracing his life he clearly establishes the cause of his pedophilia, something which should be analyzed by the experts and serve as a template to prevent future child abuse. Certainly, there are clues they can use because he is giving freely a 377 page interview.

It will be up to the reader to see if his cure is applicable to other pedophiles. It sure appears the cure he explains works for him.

Until more victimizers like this author provide society with unique insight, society will continue to struggle with the problem of child molestation.

This book is a great beginning.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

You may wish to check out my newest book: How to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse

It examines news reports of members of law enforcement who have been convicted of either child molestation or possessing child pornography in an effort to answer the questions who is molesting kids, how and where, when and why. But most important it offers recommendations on how to abolish this moral epidemic.

You may wish to visit my other web sites: or

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