PART ONE LEFT off with the Bestie & I exiting through the back doors of what I believe to be one of the campus infirmaries. As we walked down the chipped, moss covered terra cotta steps & stepped out into the drizzling rain, we saw another large section of fence that had been smashed down by some large fallen branches.
Down & Out…
WE STILL HAD the protection of the trees but we could see through just enough to notice an open area that was at least the size of a football field.
DECIDING TO WAIT to check it out, we opted to access the middle area of the building. Even though the structure was technically 1 building, it was divided into 3 sections…The 1st, where we had just exited from, had the set of steps inside of a partial enclosure. Once down those steps, we had to walk across the fallen chain link fence, climbing another set of steps, up to a small, elevated patio. Only then were we able to enter the 2nd set of rooms.
DOOR NUMBER TWO was a large room that I recognized instantly…It was the same room I had been in just a little over 2 months earlier. As horrible as its condition had been then, it was 100 times worse this day. The ceiling had come down even more, causing several beams to fall. To say that the entire structure was just hanging on by a thread was putting it lightly. With the amount of rain that had saturated everything the fear of the building coming down at ANY time on top of us started to become a real possibility.
AS WE LOOKED around it was hard to ignore that the floor had almost a spongy feeling to it due to a mixture of rotting floor, soaked insulation, mud & debris that consisted of God ONLY knows what. There was also at least an inch of water that had accumulated. Our feet sunk in with every step, a feeling that for some reason made my stomach turn.
I’M STILL ABSOLUTELY amazed at the amount of deterioration that had taken place in just a few short months. What was even more amazing were the little random things that had been spared. A couple of fire extinguishers…One still hanging on a wall that was barely supporting a sagging sealing; The 2nd sat upright on the soggy mess that had once been a floor. The 2 large whiteboards still hung firmly in place as well. The bigger of the two still contained the list of “Rules/Expectations” that the boys were expected to follow. I read each one again, finding it ironic that there were a number of things that the students were forbidden to do & yet most of them were repeatedly victimized by the adults that had written them, often in the very same ways that they, themselves, were forbidden to behave.
AS WE MOVED through to the back room, we had a funny moment that broke the tension that we’d both been feeling since entering the building. It happened when we attempted to exit through the same back back door that we’d entered through, only this time when we went to open it was freaking stuck! As I tried gently pushing it open, the Bestie came up beside me & before I even realized what was going on, I see her lift her leg & literally kick the door so hard that it opened partially…You read that correctly, Homegirl thought she was the newest member of the SWAT Team & kicked open a 118 year old door…That was ONLY attached by 1 hinge…That was attached to a 118 year old building; The same building that I spoke of earlier, mentioning how it was barely hanging on by a thread! She started giggling & this immediately became hysterical laughter when I yelled “WTH are you doing? You can’t kick open a really old door attached to a REALLY old building!!” She looked over at me, hunched over, arms covering my head in case the place started to cave in & laughed even harder…She laughed so hard that she probably would have rolled on the floor…If the floor wasn’t so gross! We quickly left the building through the barely functioning doors, making our way toward the open field we’d seen before.
OK, SO MAYBE it might have been just a little funny AFTER we actually made it out alive! Unfortunately, what would be in store for us later would NOT be funny before, during OR after…At least NOT to me!
SHE WHO MISSES EASY PATH MUST SCALE FENCE…
BY THE TIME we were back outside, the rain had finally let up. Shoving our flashlights into our backpacks, we made our way toward the small opening in the trees to see what was in that field. At this point, it could be just about anything & I still hadn’t been able to pinpoint the exact location of the Boothill Cemetery. Could it be in that clearing, hiding in plain sight?? Probably NOT but I wasn’t going to leave the property without being 100% sure. Since there was a large section of chain link fence covering the path, we stepped on it & when it held, walked across & through the bushes….Within seconds we were on the other side of the woods, staring across a massive grassy field that was bordered by more fencing on 2 sides with the main school board building directly across.
WE MADE A beeline to one of the main focal points, an odd mound that was overgrown with grass & weeds. It was interesting to say the least but once we got closer, it was actually something else odd that caught our eye. It was hard plastic & mostly buried in the ground & had a fairly large rock next to it. We were both curious about what it was so of course the Bestie flipped the rock over & then started digging around it’s edges. After several minutes the object was free & it was…The seat part of a chair??? Hmmmm…Underneath was some pea pod looking things with roots growing into the ground.
MAYBE THE AREA had once been used for farming; Who knows. The possibilities were endless considering it had been a part of the school for well over a century.
MOVING ABOUT THE outer of circle of the field, I decided to snap a few pics of the wooded area behind the fence. What was out there? The not knowing was killing me because my gut was telling me it was something important.
SUDDENLY THE SURROUNDINGS began looking a bit familiar. Another handful of steps & HEY, that looks like the same gravelly path that we drove up when we got…OH SNAP! Cue Bestie Eye Roll…NOW!
WHAT CAN I say, some days you win, some days you lose & some days you end up performing insane acrobatics just to climb over a fence that’s been flattened by a rotting tree trunk.
I’M TIRED OF THESE MOTHER FLIPPING SNAKES AT THIS MOTHER FLIPPING SCHOOL!
SOME MAY RECALL my earlier mention of a “NOT So Funny” moment that was to take place. Well folks, here it comes! When I had come a few months earlier, I had parked my SUV beside a small brick storage room but this time, the car got pulled up into that grassy path that we had walked to get back to the downed fence. Obviously we took the newly discovered, much easier way back which meant having to walk a longer distance through that grass to get back to the car. About a foot in & the Bestie calmly says “Don’t look down & just walk that way.” I didn’t need to look down OR ask ANY questions…I just knew the reason for her specific instructions.I started repeating “OH CRAP” over & over again as I made the widest path I could around the snake that she had seen. Unfortunately leaving such a wide space between myself & the invisible to me snake solved one issue BUT put me in a whole new world of sh!t as when I was told not to look down, I did & continued to do so as we kept walking. In my head I made up a little song timed to each step. “One Step, Two Steps, NO SNAKES NO NO SNAKES!” I kept it up…“One Step, Two Steps, NO SNAKES NO NO SNAKES!” “One Step, Two Steps, NO SNAKES NO NO SNAKES!” “One Step, Two Steps, NO….FU@K A SNAKE!!!” I literally froze like the Karate Kid; Right leg in mid air, ready to set down…Right on top of a curled up, REALLY BIG, Cottonmouth! I literally held my breath, shifted my weight backwards & stood paralyzed inches from “The Beast” & tried to get the Bestie’s (whom I will be referring to by her nickname from here on out!) attention, who happened to be standing almost right next to it! All I could get out was “OH GOD!”, which actually got her attention & she turned to look at me. Then, fearing that she would step on it OR it would strike if she moved, I said “Don’t freaking move! As I had known what her earlier warning was about, she already knew what I was talking about. She calmly said “You don’t move & I’m going to go get the car…Throw me the keys.” I was in one of those places where fear causes your adrenaline to jump & you can’t really hear anything. For at least a minute I could see her lips moving but really couldn’t make out one damn word! I started freaking out, crying & finally one word got through…KEYS! Oh sh!t, I had the keys in my backpack & she wanted me to toss them to her! I slowly reached my hands around to my back, unzipped the front pocket & felt around for my keys, eventually feeling the familiar shape of my car remote. Pulling them out slowly I stood there holding them in my shaking hands. E said “Now throw them over here.” I couldn’t bring myself to do it as ALL I could see was a scenario of my shaking hands trying to throw a set of keys & if my throw was off OR if she didn’t catch them, they’d land on the ground & she’d get bit trying to retrieve them. Finally she said “Throw the damn keys!” Without thinking I did an underhand toss & she actually caught them! She then pointed at me & said “Stay There” & started walking to the car again. It only took a minute before that sunk in & I said “F That” & did my best Forrest Gump run! I didn’t stop until my feet were firmly planted on the gravel road. She drove up not even a minute later & found me bent over, hands on knees, out of breath & trying not to puke! “You OK?” I responded with I think I may have peed myself! This was definitely going to put a damper on the rest of the day.
SORRY FOLKS BUT NO pics OR videos were taken during this horrible event as I was too busy trying to keep “THE BEAST” from eating us BUT I do have this…
SNAKE COUNTER:🐍 🐍🐍
TO BE CONTINUED…
☆ IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW WERE HOUSED AT “THE FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL FOR BOYS” AKA “THE ARTHUR G DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS” OR THE OKEECHOBEE SCHOOL FOR BOYS, PLEASE REACH OUT VIA HERE AT findingflorida.blog OR ANY OF THE CONTACT INFO LISTED BELOW!!☆
PLEASE SUPPORT FINDING FLORIDA BY “SUBSCRIBING” & “SHARING”
FOLLOW FINDING FLORIDA:
FOR ALL DOZIER RELATED INFO: