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There's one very important thing I want to tell you about before I end my autobiography.It's my trip back to Southern. Six years ago I saw an article in the paper saying that Southern wasclosing after having been in operation for 110 years. I knew I had to go back there and officiallysay good bye. You would think that I'd never want to see Southern again after what I'd beenthrough there. But I did want to see it through different eyes. Sometimes I think I've had fourlives, not one. I wanted to see Southern through the eyes of these four Mary Reillys.If I was to return to Southern, I needed Charlie to go with me. He really didn't want to goback to Seymour. He didn't want to face that part of his life. He'd buried his feelings about hisfamily and Seymour, and he didn't want to revive them. I told him that it time to face them. Hesaid he had to think about whether he was ready to face that part of his past. I told him that therewasn't much time - we were getting old. He didn't want to die with unfinished business.

On the following Sunday after church, Charlie and I went for a ride along the lake.Charlie liked to talk as he drove.

"I haven't wanted to look back at my life in Seymour because it was filled with ugliness.Nothing nearly as bad as yours, but still ugly. I haven't been able to face it and overcome it likeyou have. My parents didn't abuse me or do bad things to me. They were just vegetables. Lifefor them was working and coming home to watch T.V. They didn't talk to each other or to me.We were just people who lived in the same house. I don't remember ever being kissed or eventouched by either of them. Growing up, I was sure I was adopted. How could these sullen, silentpeople who didn't have any friends have a kid like me - a kid who was talkative, friendly, andextroverted? The most popular kid in school. But when I looked at my father's ears, I knew Iwasn't adopted. Do you know my parents never came to one of my basketball games? Everyonein town came to my games except my parents. Once I asked my father why he never came to mygames, and he said, 'Not interested.' That's all. Just 'not interested.' Your kid is the star of thebasketball team and a star student and you're not interested. I was in the National Honor Societywhich was the highest academic honor a kid could get in my school. There was an inductionceremony where all the parents came to show their pride in their kids. All the parents, exceptmine. I was the only kid without parents at that assembly. They called the name of each studentwho was being inducted, and then they called the names of the parents who stood up. When theycalled my parents' name, no one stood. People in the audience looked around, but there were noWebbs to be seen. The school people were so nice to me afterwards. They knew how humiliatedI was. They told me how proud everyone in the school was of my outstanding achievements, thatI was one of the stars of Seymour High School. But their pity only made it worse. I really hatedmy parents more that night than ever before or ever again. Sometimes I think that one of thereasons I didn't care about us not having kids is that I was afraid my parents' genes might comeout. Having a kid like them could have ruined our marriage."

"Did you have any relatives?"

"Not that I knew of. They originally lived in Vernon and moved to Seymour just before Iwas born. I don't know why they moved. You mentioned that your mother didn't tell you muchabout her life. My parents told me nothing, and when I asked they just didn't answer. It was likethey were deaf so I stopped asking.

Mary, even though I lived in Seymour most of my life, can you believe I never sawSouthern? It was like a haunted house that we kids wanted to avoid. We were afraid that therewere ghosts there that would jump out and drag us inside where we would be tortured and killed.The worst future you could imagine was spending your life working there. If you thought that theresidents were jailed there, we thought that anyone working there was jailed too. We knew thatpeople like Jack Miller who were the lowest of the low worked there and we certainly didn'twant to be grouped with the likes of them.

Mary, as usual, you're right. I need to go back to Seymour."

So one spring weekend we drove to Seymour so that Charlie could face his past and Icould see Southern through the eyes of freedom. Charlie talked the whole way, conjuring upmemories of life in Seymour. All of them had to do with school, sports, and friends. He talkedabout teachers who had been good to him. He thought he might want to see if Coach Arnold wasstill around. He'd been like a father figure to him, encouraging him, and always supporting himin basketball. Coach Arnold had come up to Chicago twice to watch Charlie play when he was atLoyola. But after that, they lost contact. He also had two close friends in high school - Andy andJay. They were on the basketball team with him. They had such good times together. It was likea rural "Happy Days." Andy went to a small Christian college in Indiana, and Charlie lost trackof him. Jay stayed in Seymour working at his father's farm supply store.It had been 39 years since I had last driven the road between Chicago and Seymour. Ithad changed a lot. Now, there was a four lane highway where before there had been a narrow,bumpy two lane road. There were short order restaurants and gas stations along the way. Thenthere were just endless stretches of farmland. We got to Seymour and checked into a Super 8motel, the fanciest and only motel in town. It was clean even though it looked like it had lastbeen decorated in the 1950's, especially because of the green shag carpeting and the orangebedspread.

Then we went to the Seymour Diner where Charlie's mother had worked. We orderedchicken pot pie which was the house specialty and actually was pretty good. Hope, the owner ofthe diner came out to chat with us since she didn't get very many out-of-town customers. Charlieasked if she knew his mother, but she didn't since she had only owned the diner for the last 20

years and wasn't from Seymour. Hope did say that the recipe for the chicken pot pie wasMabel's. Charlie was astounded. She had never made chicken pot pie at home. In fact, hecouldn't remember any food that she cooked at home. Meals were usually canned soups andbeans and spam. Hope added that Mabel Webb was known as quite a good cook and that the beefstew, chicken noodle soup, and pecan pie were her original recipes. People came to the diner justto eat her specialties. Hope then said something that astounded Charlie. "I have the originalcopies of her recipes written in her handwriting. Would you like to see them?""Yes," Charlie responded eagerly.

Hope brought out a card box stuffed with recipes. She took out the ones that wereMabel's. Charlie stared at the cards in disbelief. He never knew she was a good cook and hecouldn't recall seeing her handwriting before. She had written the recipes in perfect cursivestyle. In fact, each letter looked like the models Charlie copied from when he learned cursive inthird grade. He had a silly thought that maybe he should have an expert analyze her handwritingso he could learn more about her.

"Would you like these cards? I put the recipes for everything on the computer so I don'treally need them anymore."

"Yeah, I suppose so. Thanks." Charlie took the cards and handed them to me forsafekeeping in my purse.

"Those are the only mementos of my life with my parents and they show a side of mymother I knew nothing about. What else didn't I know about them?"As we ate, I looked around at the people in the diner. They looked very different thanpeople in Chicago. They looked like the country folks they were. Everyone was white and blandlooking. It's hard to describe, but they looked like hillbillies from the dust bowl era of the 30's.The men wore jeans or jean overalls and were rail thin. Under their baseball caps that had logosfor John Deere and not sports teams, they had thin gray straight hair. And their lips were thinlines; no one in the whole diner had full lips. Their lips made them look like they were scowling.The women looked quite different. The older ones had gray hair and gray skin and wore clothes,not unlike what we wore at Southern. And most weren't fat - they were stout with no

indentation at their waists. There were two extremely heavy teenagers with their hair streakedwith pink and green. In Chicago, they wouldn't have stood out, but here they looked likeMartians. And they had squeezed themselves into too-small jeans and tight tee shirts straightfrom the racks of Walmart. I considered my Land's End pantsuit and my Dockers and Charlie'snavy blue Izod shirt and khaki slacks. We looked like Martians here. I wondered what Charliewould have looked like had he stayed in Seymour. Would he be gray and bland too? Is that whathe was running away from?

After dinner, we drove to where Charlie's house had been. It was gone. The land waslevel and there was no sign that a house had ever stood there. Charlie sat on a tree stump andsaid, "I should feel guilty for leaving my parents and never looking back. I don't. I just had togive that part of my life up and move on. Do you think I'm a bad person for deserting myparents?"

"You a bad person? Never. But what you did was bad. In a way you didn't really desertthem, they deserted you by not giving you love or support. But you should have proven yourselfbetter than they were. You should have been in contact with them after you left. No matter whatthey were like. Especially when you started making money. I'm sure it would have helped tosend them some."

"I feel like I never had a family before you. In a way I've always felt like an orphan, justlike you. Maybe that's why we've bonded so strongly."

When we got back to the motel, we looked in the thin phone book to see who was still intown. There was no George Arnold, but there was an Amanda Arnold so Charlie called and toldher who he was. She said that her father died nine years ago. He'd talked about Charlie withgreat pride, feeling that he was responsible for Charlie's success. And that was, in part, true. Hetold Amanda that he had followed her father's example and gone into education and become acoach like him. Amanda was filled with pride that her father's legacy lived on. It was a good talkfor both of them.

Next he looked up Andy Clay, but there were no Clays in the phone book. Later welearned that Andy never came back to Seymour after college. He married a girl he met in collegeand moved to the town she was from. Finally he looked up Jay Pressman. And there was his

name. Charlie was visibly nervous as he dialed his number. No one answered. In a way he wasrelieved. We found out that Jay had gone to Florida the month before. He had a second homethere so he must be doing well. A farm supply business in a farming area couldn't help but dowell.

Charlie said, "Well that's all."

"No, see if there's a Marvin Webb listed."

To Charlie's relief, there wasn't. "No Webb in the phone book."

Then it was my turn. When I planned the trip, I was determined to track down CoraJensen as Wendy did five years later. There was an Elmer Jensen in the phone book who I wassure was Cora's husband, and I was right. I called her number and her daughter answered. Shesaid Cora was out shopping and to call back in an hour because she knew that Cora would wantto talk to me. During that hour, I told Charlie about my experiences with Cora even though I hadtold him about her many, many times before. I reminisced about how she comforted me after Ihad you and how we had these deep discussions about God. Cora was a special woman, not onlybecause of the emotional support she gave me, but also because of her search for God and how tolive a blessed life. Here was another person God sent to guide me to live in a state of kindness.An hour later I spoke to Cora Jensen for the first time in 47 years. She was overjoyed to hearfrom me. She said that she remembered me like it was yesterday. I told her I looked a lotdifferent than I did 47 years ago. She asked me to visit so she could see for herself.The next morning before we went to visit Cora, we stopped at a supermarket to get abouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates. She was now widowed and lived with her daughterand three grandkids. Cora had changed a lot. She was about 100 pounds heavier than when I hadlast seen her. I had put on about 20 pounds, but I was still recognizable. She wasn't. Maybe shehad the gray, bland look back when I knew her, I don't recall. But she certainly had it now. Shehad sparse gray hair permed into little curls, and she wore rimless glasses. But it wasimmediately apparent that she was the same warm, kind woman I remembered from my days atSouthern.

"Cora, it is so good to see you. I can't stop hugging you. I don't think you can imaginehow much you meant to me. You changed my life. Without you, I wouldn't be the person I amtoday. You're my fairy godmother."

She glowed at the compliments and held my hand tightly.

"This is Charlie Webb, my husband. He's from Seymour."

"Oh I remember Charlie. Everyone knew Charlie. He was the best basketball playerSeymour High ever had. The only time I ever went to Seymour basketball games was whenCharlie was on the team. We all knew Charlie would go far in life. We weren't surprised whenhe went off to college in Chicago. A Seymour boy making good."

Charlie hugged her, and said, "I loved playing basketball here because of fans like youCora. You gave me so much support.

I lost touch with my parents when I left. I never came back. Do you know what happenedto them?"

"I remember your parents. I knew your mom from the diner. She was a great cook andthe reason people went there was just to eat her food. Everyone loved her chicken pot pie.Whenever we had a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, we'd go there and get herspecialties. If you let the owner of the diner know in advance, she'd have Mabel bake a birthdayor an anniversary cake. There was no bakery that could bake a cake like hers."Charlie looked at me sadly. I knew he never had a birthday cake baked by a bakery or byhis mother. We shared that from our pasts - neither of us had birthday celebrations. But whatmade Charlie so very sad was that she helped others celebrate their birthdays, but not her ownson.

"It must have been about seven years after you left when your mother died. She waswalking home from work in a rainstorm. She didn't have a car so she had to walk even though itwas about three miles. Your father drove so he could have picked her up, but he didn't. She washit by a car. The car didn't stop and she lay by the side of the road until morning when someonefound her. The police took her to the hospital where she died the next day. They searched for the

hit and run driver, but never found him. I don't remember a funeral or even if she was buriedanyplace. I know she's not in any of the church cemeteries. Everybody talked about the fact thatyour father didn't call the police to report her missing. That was strange. She certainly wasn't thetype of woman to stay out all night. And we all blamed him for her death because he didn't pickher up when he could have. But nobody ever talked to him so we couldn't show how we feltabout him."

"What about my father? How did he die?"

"He shot himself about six months after your mother died."

Charlie looked as if he had been shot. "That's hard to believe. We never had a gun in thehouse that I knew of. He didn't hunt or do anything outdoors. He just worked and watched T.V.""We all wondered where he got that gun. Some people said he went to East St. Louis andbought it on the street. You can buy anything there, especially if it's illegal. He shot himself on aSaturday and when he didn't show up for work on Monday, the boss called and when there wasno answer, he sent the police to check because he never missed a day of work in all the years heworked there. The police found him with a gunshot to his head. It was the talk of Seymour for along time. Suicides don't happen here. We shoot other people, not ourselves. There was eventalk that maybe it was a murder made to look like a suicide. That idea came from folks whowatched too much T.V. Some people said he killed himself because he felt guilty for letting yourmom walk home in the blinding storm. Some crazy people even said that he was the one who hither with his car. And some people who didn't know anything about your parents said he killedhimself because he couldn't live without his wife; he loved her so much. So we never did findout why he killed himself, and frankly no one cared."

"I know they moved here from Vernon where there was a state mental hospital. Do youthink they might have been patients there? Or maybe just my father? Could he have been crazyand that's why he killed himself?"

"I don't know. I didn't even know they came from Vernon. They were the people in townthat nobody knew, and that's the way they wanted it. When you were in high school, we talked

about what a shame it was that they didn't appreciate you. Any parent in this town would havebeen proud to have you as their son."

"Thanks for saying that.

Is he buried someplace around here?"

"Not that I know of. They disappeared after they died. They were invisible people whenthey lived here, and they were invisible after they died."

"What happened to their house? We went there and saw that it's gone now.""Well, it was empty for years and became like a haunted house to the kids. OneHalloween, some kids burned it down."

"So there's no trace that the Webbs ever lived here."

There were so many unanswered questions about the Webbs, but we did get someanswers about Jack Miller.

Cora said, "Everyone in town knew the Millers were violent and crazy. We all stayedaway from them. I didn't know why Jack was hired at Southern. He'd never been able to hold ajob anyplace for long. Southern was always desperate for workers, especially men to work withthe violent inmates. So I'm sure that's why he was hired and kept on even though I know heabused the inmates. Everybody who worked there knew. The bosses at Southern wanted to keepthe rape quiet because of the bad publicity so there were no public announcements, just lots oftown gossip. Miller went to prison for only six years, and then of course, you know he wasreleased and murdered poor Sarah Warner. Everybody bought the Chicago papers so we couldfind out what happened. That's how I knew he tried to kill you too Mary. No one knew aboutyour history except me and the bosses at Southern and we never talked about your. Especiallywhen the newspaper people from Chicago came down to talk to people around here to get thewhole story about Sarah and the Miller family. No one asked about you and no one mentionedyou."

"I'm so thankful for that. My life would have been ruined if the papers got hold of mypast. What a juicy story that would have made."

"You know the rest of the Miller family continued to rape and murder. Jack had two kidsand when they grew up, they did the same thing. One kid raped prostitutes in Springfield andanother shot a cop when he was robbing a Seven Eleven in Urbana. He was killed by the copswhen they caught him. Just like his father. What a family. They had the seeds of evil in them."Suddenly, Cora kissed me on the forehead, my cheeks, and my lips. She said, "Charlie,do you know what people at Southern thought about Mary? They thought that she had God in herand was a faith healer. Everyone knew what this 13 year old did at the hospital when she waspregnant, and then what she did when she worked on the baby ward. How she touched peopleand then they felt better, and how she made people who never smiled before, smile, and how shemade people who had no hope, have hope She even taught the girls on her ward to read,something nobody in the world ever thought possible. Not that she taught them to actually readbooks, but she taught them the abc's and some simple words. She made these little miracleshappen. It wasn't like she created big miracles where she actually saved dying people or maderetarded people normal. It was more like she made these little changes at Southern, all for thebetter. And what made these changes stand out is where they took place. She created littlemiracles in Hell."

She looked at me and asked, "Did you know how people looked at you?""Not really."

"These stories about you grew bigger after you saved Sarah from Jack Miller. Theythought you saved Sarah's life, and maybe you did. All the attendants, especially the women,believed this. And we were so happy that you were the first to be released. Everyone knew youdidn't belong at Southern. Maybe people in an institution need to have a saint in their midst sothey can survive and you were that saint."

My face turned red and I tingled all over as she showered me with her words. Charliepicked up my hand and kissed it.

Before we left, I told Cora we were planning to visit Southern the next day. I asked her ifshe knew where the cemetery was. The thought of the dead souls in that cemetery haunted mesince I first learned of its existence. Cora told me that she had never seen it, but she heard that it

was down toward the river. I hugged her tightly as I told her over and over again how much Iowed her. We both had a good cry. Even Charlie joined in. But I never did get to thank her forthe best thing she ever did, and that was lead you to me, to bring us together.As we were leaving, Cora said, "Mary you confirm my belief in the goodness of people.Anyone who can overcome what you lived through and lead a good life the way you have is atestament that God is good to us. And He has greatly blessed both of you by bringing youtogether. That's a miracle - the star basketball player from Seymour High and a former inmatefrom Southern. Fantastic! Charlie, you're the best that Seymour ever produced, and Mary, yousurvived Southern and became a good woman. I wish you both the best of luck. It has been anhonor to know you."

Charlie said, "Well, we need to get that kind of positive reinforcement more often. I feellike a returning hero after a war and you, my dear wife, are a saint. Did you know that? I did."He laughed heartily as he embraced me.

"Charlie, I knew people at Southern looked at me positively, but I had no idea that theythought I was a saint. Maybe that's why they gave me so much leeway to do what I wanted withthe women in my ward and with my babies. When I think of it now, no one ever tried to stop mefrom doing things even if they were out of the ordinary and in a place like Southern, doinganything different was not something that was looked on positively."I called Cora a week after your visit to me in Chicago to thank her for helping you to findme, but she had died two weeks earlier. I'm sure she was up in Heaven smiling down on us whenyou and I hugged that first time. She made such an impact on me when I was at Southern, buteven more when she led you to me. She was the first guardian angel God sent to me.Then we drove to Southern. As we drove up, it was like a scene from a movie abouthaunted houses. I expected to see lightning bolts and bats and witches on broomsticks flying inthe sky. What I did see were buildings with heavy chains on the doors even though it's hard tothink of anyone wanting to go into those terrifying looking buildings, but of course, the homelessand druggies would gladly make them home. All the windows were boarded up with heavy whiteplanks of wood so you couldn't see inside. The grounds were overgrown with weeds and nettles

that stung even through our pants. They snaked around our legs as if to pull us down. Wewalked from building to building as I tried to recall what each building had housed.Charlie asked, "Do you have memories of any of these buildings?"

We stopped in front of a huge skeleton of a building that I recognized immediately. "Yes,this one is where my ward was. It was on the second floor. My ward was where the ten windowsat the far end are. It's so strange seeing it from the outside. I never even imagined how it lookedfrom the outside. Even though I traveled from building to building, I never really saw any of thebuildings head-on like this. It was like my whole existence was inside the walls of Southern.There is no outside when you're in jail.

That building with the steps over there is where the administrative offices were. I knewhow the outside of that building looked because when I walked down the stairs to Dr. Warner'scar to leave, I turned around to say goodbye. What a day!! Up until the time I met you, it was thebest day of my life. Can you imagine thinking that you were going to live in these cruelsurroundings for the rest of your life? Just think that if I hadn't gotten out 39 years ago and Ilived here until they closed it, I would have been 50 years old. I would have lived here 27 years,but it wouldn't have been living. It would have been existing. I wouldn't be the Mary you know.And maybe I would have died here and been buried in the cemetery we're looking for.Let's find the river. I lived here for eight years and didn't even know there was a rivernearby. I always wondered where my babies were buried."

We walked until we found a creek, not a river. As we followed along the water's edge, Ispotted a cross on top of a hill. We trudged over and saw a field filled with small white crosses,most of them flattened. We tried to read what was written on them, but the engraving had beenerased with time. Then Charlie deciphered one. 1940-1945. That's all it said. No name. At firstwe thought that the person who was buried there had been born in 1940 and died in 1945. Thenwe spotted another one that said 1935-1940, again with no name.

"Mary, these are common graves. All the people who died between 1940 and 1945 areburied together and all the people who died between 1935 and 1940 are buried in this grave. Iwonder how many people are in one grave. I suppose it could be 10 or 20 or even more."

Even in death, the people from Southern were not individuals. But at least they wereburied, and there were some markers showing that they had lived. It could have been worse.They could have been cremated and their ashes thrown in the garbage."Charlie, let's come back tomorrow with flowers and have a prayer service for all thepeople buried here. I know there was never a proper burial and I want to give them one now. Iwant them to know that someone remembers them. I want them to live on through me. I alsowant to scatter Sarah's ashes over the graves. She belongs here."I kept Sarah's ashes on my mantel since Dr. Warner gave them to me. But I knew that if Ifound the cemetery when I returned to Southern, I would spread Sarah's ashes there.That night Charlie and I wrote a service to officially bury the people of Southern. In themorning, we went back to the supermarket for flowers. We bought several bunches so we couldplace a flower on each grave we could find.

The weather was perfect - clear, cool, and crisp. We found our way back to the cemeteryand cleared the undergrowth from the graves. As we cleaned off each grave, we put a flower onit. We didn't have enough flowers for all the graves we found. We found nine graves all for theyears 1918-1919. Those graves were probably with people who died from the flu epidemic then.I found the grave marked 1960-1965, and said a special prayer for Ruth and Freddie, myfirst babies who died when I worked in the baby ward then. I could still picture Freddie as I heldhim in my arms and he passed from Earth to Heaven. I even recalled how his body cooled as hislife ebbed away.

After we spread all the flowers, I started the service with the prayer Lord God Creator ofAll.

Lord God, creator of all,

You have made us creatures of the earth

But have also promised us a share of life eternal;Receive our thanks and praise

That, through the passion and death of Christ,Your children whom we commend into your hands today,Where there is neither sorrow nor pain

But life everlasting, Alleluia.


We took turns reading the prayers I'd brought. We read the last prayer together in loudstrong voices as we looked up to Heaven. The words of St. Francis of Assisi were heard by theears of God. These words guided us to use the deaths of the people in these graves as the basisfor dedicating our lives to making the world a better place for the living.Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seekTo be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Charlie and I hugged. We were enriched by the souls that had gone from this cemetery toHeaven. This was a special place - a place where God dwelt.

Then I picked up the urn with Sarah's ashes and slowly scattered them as I walked amongthe graves, and said, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Dust though art and unto dust thou shaltreturn. Rest in peace my beloved Sarah. You're home. I will always treasure your memory mylittle sister. May you find eternal peace."

We were reluctant to leave; we felt there were spirits in that cemetery. And we felt thatwe were close to God, maybe closer than we had ever been before. When it started to get dark,we left and said goodbye to the souls who I loved. We hadn't had lunch so we were hungry anddecided to go back to the diner. Our souls had been fed, but we needed to feed our bodies. Thechicken pot pie was even better the second time around. Although I've never been much of acook, I learned to make Mabel's favorites and I cook them often. Charlie likes that as a reminderof the family he never knew.

That trip to Southern and to Seymour gave Charlie and me closure. I hate that word - it'sso overused, but in this case it applies. That is the end of one period in our lives and now we'reentering a new period - one as mother and step father of Eleanor Kirk Hastings, candidate forgovernor of Ohio. I can't wait to see you in December when we'll celebrate our first Christmastogether as a family, and hopefully, we'll also celebrate your election to the governorship.Won't that be glorious! My daughter - the governor. I know you won't have a chance to listen tothis tape with your busy, upcoming campaign schedule and then your busy schedule as governorfor four and maybe even eight years. But many years from now after you've retired from publiclife, I know you'll hear this. I hope you will know that I love you as only a mother who is unitedwith a lost child can. I hope you will love me for trying to live a blessed life and do what wasgood and to prove to myself and to the world that kindness is in everyone's heart, even a childprostitute who was once called retarded.