The Gatesville State School for Boys

The Gatesville State School for Boys or simply gatesville was a word that conjured up bad thoughts in the hearts and minds of boys all over Texas. A facility in an area of Texas with a 120 year history of perpetrating crimes of physical, sexual, mental and verbal abuse on the throw away kids of Texas. This blog is here to share the state boys story. c/s

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Vampire Room

This article was submitted by a man who was a permanent clothes room boy at the Reception Center in 1966.

 One of many duties that were assigned to me was to assist what I would loosely call a person who had a fetish to play a vampire role, the Dentist.  The nurse would take me to the designated room and I would assist her in preparing for the Dentist.  I would then be instructed to go out to the fields and get the designated boys, aka victims, bringing the first into the room, and line the remaining boys along the wall in the hall outside the room.

It would be naive not to classify this Dentist as someone who had been accepted due to being a low bid, local influence, and a kickback to the individual approving the contract to provide service.  After all, this is Gatesville Texas we’re talking about.  
The room consisted of all the necessary modern features of the day, however, it was clear to me that pulling teeth had to be more of a monetary gain than doing an actual cleaning, filling or even an x-ray.   I never saw him do anything but pull teeth.  I quickly learned that either the individuals had good teeth or were extremely bad teeth. Unfortunately most of these boys had never been to a dental office.
I would escort his first victim into the chair at which point the Dentist would turn around with his eyes wildly open making ungodly animalistic sounds having his hands ghoulishly raised in the air while displaying his fake vampire teeth, scaring the shit out of the boy in the chair.
Shortly thereafter, he would start giggling, remove his teeth and the work would begin.  This is when the horror actually started.  These boys were extremely reluctant to open their mouths, whereby the dentist would either slap them in the face real hard and/or pry their mouth open.  When things really got bad is when the teeth were broken during the extraction process and the dentist had to use a flat shovel like instrument to dig and pry the pieces out of the gums. 
I’ve seen people with hate in their eyes, I’ve seen people with fear in their eyes, but I have only witnessed people with terror in their eyes during this process.  This was a horrible act that some of these boys had to endure.   I felt that due to what I would consider malpractice behavior, that his antics would soon be revealed.   This example and the amount of screams heard by the caseworkers down the common hall you would think... but this is culturally acceptable practice in Gatesville.
After many months of this activity it finally came to a conclusion.  One day when he failed to show up at the Reception Center, I was told he had missed the entrance, barely missing the red brick monument Reception Center sign and was passed out in his car due to what I was told intoxication.  Many boys that went through this process may have hang ups about going to a Dentist and that is unfortunate. 
The Dentist used Novocain prior to extracting the boy’s teeth.  I vividly remember loading the syringes during the process with these tubes of Novocain that had a turquoise rubber blue stopper on one end.  One evening, while cleaning the vampire room with a boy from Laredo, who we called Indian because he looked like a Mexican Indian, he got a hold of one of these Novocain cartridges, popped off the rubber top and drank the Novocain.  I worried if he was going to be alright, and the next day when I asked if it did anything for him, he said that it didn’t.
The reception center has their share of unfortunate secrets. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fried Chicken

Most of what can be said about Gatesville is a horror story unless you’re representing the town’s folks defending their little cash cow to government investigative agencies.  The other day I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the Sunday Fried Chicken dinner that was served when I was there, usually with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, iced tea and a desert. It was truly the best meal of the week. Walking back to Terrace School from chapel on Sunday morning you could smell that chicken frying.  For 2 cigarettes the kitchen boys would throw in an extra piece or send some ‘to go” through the scullery window. I’m pretty sure this isn’t on the current Gatesville menu and rumor has it that the kids in the state schools today don’t get feed as well as we did. Something about fresh food being to expensive since the Fed’s meddling in the states correction business. And it could have just been a small window of time in Gatesville’s history in those crazy Post Morales vs Turman and pre TYC Gatesville facility turn over where the state boys got feed a decent meal on Sunday after chapel.  RIP Father Atwood c/s

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gatesville Cemetery Cleanup

I was sent this email by a Mom whose daughter is locked up at our old alma-mater and because of the nature of the email I thought I would share on the blog.  I only knew of the one cemetery Boot Hill and only suspect there are several unmarked graves around the place, like around the horse barn and Riverside.


My daughter is currently incarcerated in Gatesville she was told today that next week she has to go clean up three boys cemetery’s she said a lot of bad things happened there and ask me to research this.  After going on the internet i found all these horror stories.  M y heart goes out to you and all the other boys who had to go there. Thank God you made it out of that place. My question is did some of these boys die from the torture that they put you through. How come there are so many cemeteries, what did they do to these poor boys. I only hope that these men were punished for what they did.  My heart goes out to all the boys that had to go to this place. All that I have read so far no one mentions any boy dying but with so many graves something had to happen.  Any information you could send me would be greatly appreciated.  I hope and pray I have not opened up old wounds. God Bless You.  Ms. Robbins

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lock Up

Texas Youth Commission Gatesville State School for Boys circa 1974-1977

Crises Intervention Center (CIC) aka Lock Up

During a time when TYC was spending everything it could to protect itself from Federal intervention in the form of the Morales vs. Turman law suit, the Gatesville facility was on life support. The Gatesville reception center where all new male inmates arriving to TYC had been moved to a newer facility in Brownwood and 2 wings at the old reception center in Gatesville were striped to nothing and used for CIC. According to historical witnesses this was an upgrade from the facility used at Hilltop.

Many of the boys who would have otherwise wound up in the Gatesville facility were rerouted to the recently made co-ed state school girls in Gainesville, the boy’s home in Giddings or remained in Brownwood and sent up the hill to the main school. At the time the old colored school for girls in Crocket was being used as a co-ed wilderness program.

A court order from the MvT case forced staff to stop the random beatings of juvenile inmates and many Gatesville dorm staff quit their state jobs because of a fear they would be unable to control the population.Those that stayed either evolved or were let go with cause, while those who struggled and having seniority were transferred to work CIC.

Maximum length of stay was 3 days; any stay longer up to 10 days required a phone call to Austin. Any stay longer than 10 days up to 30 days required a letter stating reason and every 30 days thereafter. There was only one rule in CIC, absolute quietness. Violation of this rule, depending on the mood of the staff, the penalty was deeper isolation in another wing and generally came with a beating. If you became loud enough to be heard in the other wing the penalty was being hung on the wall, also accompanied with a beating. The beating was always 2 or more grown men to one boy.

To accommodate the hanging of a boy on the wall the cell had tall windows with thick bars. The widows at one time could be opened but were sealed. However there was enough room to place a handcuff between the bar and outer thick glass on each side of the window and hang a boy by his wrist where he stood on tiptoe. Minimum length for hanging on the wall was 2 hours. Further noise rule violation would increase the time and in many cases was accompany with a beating.

For TYC at this time this methodology was considered humane in comparison to the decades earlier.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The following article by William T. Field is from The Handbook of Texas, Volume 3, Eldon Stephen Branda, editor, The Texas Historical Association, Austin, 1976, pages 330-331.

Gatesville State School for Boys.
The Gatesville State School for Boys was placed under the administration of the Texas Youth Council by the Fifty-fifth Legislature. An extensive program was initiated by the council to transform the old school into six separate training units or schools, including a security-treatment institution and five open-type schools. The proposed program became a reality in April, 1963, with the completion of the Hackberry School.
The general superintendent directed the five open type schools, which provided benefits from specialized programs of classification, care, treatment, and discipline. Each school was in turn directed by an assistant superintendent, aided by a principal and teachers of the academic and vocational school and by a professional counseling staff.
The Valley School was a training unit for 160 young males. It was situated three-quarters of a mile south of the old Main Campus. The school had its own dormitories, recreational facilities, kitchen and dining facilities, academic school, vocational workshops, and playgrounds. It enabled younger, lesser offenders to be separated completely from older offenders.
The Hackberry School, a training unit for 240 younger males, was situated three-quarters of a mile southeast of the old Main Campus. The school possessed all necessary facilities, including living, academic, recreational, and vocational accommodations. Its emphasis centered on the classification and treatment of younger males.
The Terrace School, one-half mile east of the old Main Campus, provided for the separation and classification of 240 youngsters of intermediate age and background.
The Riverside School was composed of two training units. One had complete facilities for living and recreation and for the academic and vocational training of 160 younger Negro offenders. The other was created by renovating and remodeling existing housing and training facilities. The latter unit accommodated 160 older Negro males.
The Hilltop School, formerly the Main Campus, provided facilities for classification and treatment of 250 young male offenders less sophisticated in delinquent activities than those housed in Mountain View School. The overall daily population averaged for all five units of the Gatesville School in 1969 was about 1,830.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some things never change at TYC/TJJD except the name

A survey of kids posted at the Grits for Breakfast blog said85% of youth housed at the Giddings State School have been in a fight since they arrived. Giddings State School went from a boys home in the 70’s to become TYC’s secure facility when Gatesville closed. The “Mountain View” boys were moved to occupy the closed Hackberry School in the summer of 1975 and in 1979 were moved to Giddings.

The article goes on to note that the biggest concerns among the kids besides getting into a fight are negative interactions with staff.  Staff has negative attitudes towards the kids, there’s shocking news! Weren’t these the same root issues that culminated in Morales verse Turman and the reshuffling of inventory at the states Gatesville facility?

It was the inventory shuffling done by the state of Texas that has allowed the people of Gatesville to continue to profit from the misery of others.  Only now Gatesville’s shadenfreude, its business as usual inventory is women instead of boys. The TYC staff has been bitter ever since the federal government told them they couldn’t beat a state boy any longer. This bitterness is part of the TYC/TJJD ingrained culture like covering up abuses.

The article closes noting that the survey was a wake up call to leadership. You would think that if the leadership hasn’t been “woke up” to this news by now they must be in a coma.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Personal Gatesville State School for Boys Ghost Story

In October of 1976 I found myself back at Terrace dorm 4 contemplating how I would get back to the free world faster than what my caseworker’s plans were. I decided to go out the cloths room window during shower time. That night Booboo, a floater was our dorm man and it was movie night for the level 3’s so they would be off the dorm. I can’t remember Booboo’s real name, he didn’t like being called Booboo and would put some hurt on you if he caught you. While Booboo was in the bunk room shuckin and jivin under the guise of coordinating showers, I used a pillow to muffle the sound and broke the window in the clothes room. When I had as clear a jiggers as it was going to get I was out the window and gone.

I had trash bags for my feet to throw off my scent to the dogs. I started feeling pretty good about my run that it would be a success as the sound of the dogs faded. There was a full moon that night and it was getting a little chilly as the night wore on.

I began to hear sounds that sounded like a Boy Scout camp out. I saw what appeared to be a campfire with several boys dressed in blue jeans and white T shirts shooting marbles. As I got closer I thought they were on a run from another school and felt safe enough to light a fire. When I got closer and called out, they were gone, just like that.

Needless to say the run wasn’t a success and my caseworker Jenson had his usual cunt attitude about the whole thing and left me in CIC, lockup, until January. I thought the ghost stories told by those people down there were to keep us from running. They were real, I saw them. Mayberry, who used to hold Terrace dorm 5 was now working CIC. He knew all about the ghost and other weird shit like the goat man. The jeans and t-shirt style was the state issue of an earlier time. A 60’s era Gatesville. And marbles, who would have thought.

Every October when the moon is full I think about those boys, the ones who never went home. One day, God willing, their bones will be discovered and their souls can get closure.