I was standing by the banister of the rear stairway of the Gay Street House. From where I was, I could see several small children playing downstairs. Suddenly one of the children knocked against something which was stored against the wall, and something like a large, fold-up couch fell from the wall. My mother, downstairs taking care of the children, immediately became angry with them; it appeared she was going to start hitting them.
While watching, I had leaned over so far that I suddenly began falling over the banister. I grabbed a mattress which was standing against the wall and clutching it, fell to the first floor. I was completely uninjured and landed holding on to the side of the mattress.
Now that I was downstairs, I stepped up to my mother. I was quite upset with her because I still thought she was going to beat the child who had caused the couch-like apparatus to fall from the wall. My mother seemed to be frequently beating the children and I thought she had turned into a child abuser. I grabbed her and asked her if she knew that there were other ways to discipline children besides beating them. I told her that if she beat any of the children I was going to report her to the child abuse agency. She was shocked and surprised that I would dare to do such a thing. It was as if she thought she could beat the children with complete impunity. I tried to explain to her why she needed to stop beating the children.
My father walked up; apparently he had overheard us. He immediately began defending the times he had beaten children by saying the beatings had been called for in order to discipline the children. Of course I completely disagreed with him; but since I thought his beatings had been less severe than my mother's, I wasn't as concerned with him.
I picked up a small girl (probably 2-3 years old) who was among the children. She had dark black hair and was wearing a dark-colored dress. She was beautiful. I held her in my arms and walked around with her. I could feel the soft skin of her legs and it felt extremely pleasant to be able to hold her. There was no sexual feeling involved, but it felt so uniquely good holding the little girl tightly in my arms, I didn't know quite how to interpret the feeling, and thought it might be misconstrued as being sexual.
I had written a letter to a child abuse agency, describing my mother's conduct with the children. I had put the letter in an unsealed envelope, addressed the envelope and given it to a fellow sitting with several other people at a table out in the street. I stepped back and noticed the fellow (probably in his early 20s) had opened the letter and was reading it. He even read parts of it aloud to another fellow standing next to him.
I wasn't really angry that he was reading the letter, but I knew he wasn't authorized to read it and I decided I should take some action against him. I walked back up to him and abruptly asked him if he knew he had just committed a federal crime by opening the letter and reading it.
He immediately seemed contrite and obviously realized he had committed an infraction. I asked for the name of his superior. At first he couldn't seem to remember, but then told me the name. I told him I was going to report him.
To myself I began pondering what would be the proper punishment. I thought if he hadn't previously committed any violations, then he shouldn't lose his job. But if he had a previous record of violations, then he should be dismissed. I wasn't particularly enthused about turning him in, although I felt it was the proper thing to do and it made me feel good to be doing my duty.
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