Allow me to introduce ourselves to you. We are the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Survivors. We come from all walks of life, near and far. When we first came to Boys Ranch as kids, some of us had no parents. Some of us had only one parent. Some of us were labeled as troublemakers. Some of us had been roaming the streets, wondering where our next meal was going to come from or where we were going to sleep.
Your organization was to solve those issues for us. It was going to feed us and give us a comfy bed to sleep in and a roof over our heads. It was to educate us and give us activities to keep us busy and allow us to have fun. And it was to provide us with a safe haven, all in a “Christ-centered atmosphere.”
At least this is what our parents believed would happen based on what Boys Ranch told them and the public.
Are you picturing this, Dan? It’s a nice vision, huh? Peaceful, calming. Like a warm summer day, laying in the grass, staring at puffy white clouds. Everything a child could ever imagine. The way God intended.
But now the public knows the truth—a truth that Boys Ranch survivors and you and the board of directors have known all along—that all that was said about the place was fake. A fabrication of reality.
Here is a glimpse of what that reality was like for us as children. It’s what I and other boys experienced many, many times. And it wasn’t all that long ago. After all, I left only six years before you came to Boys Ranch . . .
Repeated cracks of a belt echoing down a long, empty hallway. Followed by my screams of agony and pain. Another one rings out. CRACK!!! Each one delivered by a Punisher while a Witness dutifully stands by.
Crying becoming uncontrollable sobs. Another one. CRACK!! Each one getting louder and more intense. In between the cracks, my screams and crying. There is the sound of a thud. I have fallen to the floor and hit my head against the cinder-block wall.
In the background, I hear chuckles from older boys coming from the six rooms down the hall. They are enjoying each and every blow, like a band of demons welcoming evil. The smaller boys, though, are terrified. They clinch their pillows and blankets tighter with every crack of the belt.
The cracks have stopped but only because the Punisher and Witness are in fits of laughter. They find it incredibly funny that my body slammed head-first into the wall from the force. Their laughter is evil, demoralizing, and frightening. Under their laughter can be heard my uncontrollable, shaking sobs.
Are you still picturing this, Dan? Stay with me . . .
The Punisher has reached his maximum allowed ten swats. He stands there, pleased with his work. He looks at his belt with pride. With a calm smile, he returns his belt to the belt loops around his jeans.
I fight to regain my composure and rise to my feet. I am dazed and confused from my head hitting the wall. I can feel my backside already forming welts underneath my jeans.
I am still sobbing, with my head hanging low. The pain is throbbing on my backside from the ten licks. I remember the older boys laughing, and my pride and emotional state are shattered. Shame takes over like a virus invading my body. I know that the older boys will harass me about the beating for the next few weeks.
The Punisher is not done. He must now rationalize his actions. “A sixty-eight on a test is unacceptable,” he says. “I’m done with you for now. That grade better be a lot better on the next test. Go to your room.”
I leave the big room and enter the hallway. In the background, I can hear snickers of laughter by the men. I hear the Punisher whisper the word “stupid.”
“Christ-centered atmosphere”? Welcome to the real, Dan. Welcome to our memories. And stay tuned for more.