The Orphans' Nine Commandments
Publication Year: 2013
His long journey through three orphanages and several foster homes is recalled with surprising humor and insight. Eventually, the boy finds a home in a small Oklahoma oil town, obtains degrees from two universities, marries and raises three sons, and becomes the youngest director of the San Francisco Public Library and an award-winning book designer.
The book is an unsentimental look at Bechan’s life in the child welfare system of Depression-era Oklahoma.
Published by: TCU Press
Download PDF (44.3 KB)
Depression in Oklahoma—one of the most depressed states of theera. It is a story of resilience and of the right people, at just the rightgle mother, takes her six-year-old son, Roger, on a trolley ride to thecity. They visit her friend, Uncle Paul, and have a check-up by theirfamily physician. The following day Mother Bechan abandons Roger...
Download PDF (37.9 KB)
Download PDF (70.1 KB)
...fell in love and were close for several years, gave birth to me, andwove a covenant of secrecy that took over six decades to unravel.Because he was a prominent citizen, already with a wife and children,it was necessary to invent a myth about the birth of their child. Athat my parents were separated and divorced before I was born. This...
Download PDF (51.1 KB)
I didn’t know it at the time, but Mr. William Wheeler, the superin-tendent of The Oklahoma Society for the Friendless, made his livingby soliciting donations and pocketing fees from brokering abandonedchildren into adoptive homes. His benevolence also provided guid-ance for state prisoners and released felons, placing their children...
Download PDF (69.9 KB)
...“Roger, get down here. A young man is here to see you,” Tillie shout-I was upstairs building a fort with a box of dominoes. Could it bestairs. A tall, stout-looking teenager with wavy black hair and large,dark eyes stood in the entry holding a piece of paper out to Tillie. She“Roger, this is Jay Cole Minter. He’s unable to talk, but this paper...
Download PDF (46.9 KB)
...apprehensive. Will fumbled in his pockets for his keys. Not findingthem, he rang the bell. After a long delay, Helen cracked the doorenough to let us in.We struggled through the half-opened door, shut-ting it quietly behind us. Obviously, skulduggery was afoot. Helenkitchen where she fixed a pot of coffee, lit a Lucky, and told of being...
Download PDF (72.8 KB)
...south from Oklahoma City. Mrs. Hardt steadied the steering wheelthe oncoming cars bled through the mist. The tail lights ahead, likeblinking fireflies, guided us around the curves. Over an hour later, asroad, the storm slackened and the world glistened after its dramaticMr. Hardt, a hefty man of about fifty with blue eyes and a bronzed...
Download PDF (37.6 KB)
Download PDF (63.6 KB)
...smelled of urine. One boy, wiggling like a worm, lay at the head ofIn the twilight, I looked up at naked lightbulbs dangling from ahigh ceiling. Streaks of yellow light streamed across the barn-sizeddormitory crowded with iron beds laden with sleepy children. Steamradiators hissed and rattled, struggling to heat the lofty room....
Download PDF (67.1 KB)
On the opening day of school in January, Leroy and I struggled outof bed at 5:30 a.m. We washed up and marched in line with our class-smoothed his hair with a pat of Bessie’s pomade, and he smelled likeBessie stomped her foot on the floor. “Don’t you boys hear thefront gate with sleep in our eyes. A sliver of orange stretched across...
Download PDF (53.1 KB)
By the middle of March, the days lengthened, and around noon thebreeze streamed over Red Hill. It came at first as only a breath. Then,after a few hours, the wind blew with gusty freshness. Kite-buildingdays had finally arrived. Leroy and I dreamed of building high flyersthat would spread a rainbow of colors across the sky, but we needed...
Download PDF (82.2 KB)
Standing tall and looking official in her white dress, she announcedthat we boys were to quit straying off the grounds. “The Rose HillCemetery, Belle Isle Lake, and Uncle Walter’s shack are off limits.”From the crest of Red Hill I could see a fresh stream wandering tothe east around four small islands and flooding into the main body of...
Download PDF (75.1 KB)
The fall season of 1935 is planted in my mind with colors. Halloweenmy black entirely. The other crayons became nubbins as we coloredfeathered turkeys, pilgrims in black cloaks and hats, and corn stalks.The waxy aroma of Crayolas filled the air as we ringed Miss Specht’sclassroom with our handiwork. A Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and...
Download PDF (51.1 KB)
In the spring of 1936, I still lived on “orphan time,” shadowed byPop Hall, Olga Tuttle, and the damnable bells, and always fearfulthat my guardian might return and snatch me away. I worked along-side Leroy to finish the first term of the fourth grade at the UniversityMyrtle Critchfield, our favorite teacher, often wore a purple dress...
Download PDF (71.5 KB)
...with this thought as the Pontiac cruised east. Mr. Holman said it wasa historic oil town and talked of Mobil Oil, Texaco, and Flying A:from Ohio so he could work as a foreman at John D. Rockefeller’sthey had brought the Blackstock boys and their mother along withthem. Benny and Bob groaned about the bumpy road. To me, travel-...
Download PDF (37.6 KB)
Download PDF (83.1 KB)
I now lived in the West Oklahoma Home for White Children, locat-ed six blocks west of Helena, a small farming town of seven hundred.The home’s ninety-acre campus included a weathered main building,three red-brick dormitories, a dining hall, a dairy barn, and a gradeteenage girl entered and called, “Roger Beacham. Come along.”...
Download PDF (74.9 KB)
...approached Tiger Hill, I saw orange-red flares casting dancing shad-ows across several oil rigs and dozens of silver oil tanks. I loved thebright sights, oily earth scents, and the sounds of the pumping wells.The town of Drumright didn’t need a town square, a stately courtAt home on Ohio Street, I threw myself across my spacious bed. I...
Download PDF (69.2 KB)
...those evenings on Broadway Street, and Mother took on a more spir-ited air when she dressed up for the weekly event. When the sun sankover Tiger Hill and the earth cooled, hundreds of people who livedon the outlying farms and oil leases streamed into town, joining the“There is no other town like Drumright,” Dad said, and he was...
Download PDF (37.8 KB)
Download PDF (78.4 KB)
But true to the essence of my peripatetic life, changes came to mysmall world. In early January 1944, Dad, having sworn off gambling,decided to accept a challenge. The B.F. Goodrich Company offeredhim a responsible position to supervise the construction of a newreluctant but curious. Could we adjust? I would have the most diffi-...
Download PDF (65.4 KB)
When we returned home, I abandoned the judges and the courts andinstead searched for Paul Minter, my so-called Uncle Paul, who hadI finally found Paul Minter’s former secretary. She thought Dr.Walter Dardis’ son might know how to locate the Minter family.abouts of the Minters. He said that he hadn’t kept up with the fam-...
Download PDF (40.7 KB)
Download PDF (41.9 KB)
...careers: first as an innovative director of metropolitan library systems,After a successful tenure at one of the loveliest public libraries induced modern library practices to the San Antonio Public Library.Building on that success, he was asked to bring the same kind oforder to the San Francisco Public Library. A recognized renaissance...
Page Count: 246
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013