Author Topic: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School  (Read 4050 times)

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Offline Dethgurl

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A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« on: January 31, 2011, 01:21:34 PM »
Moderator's note: Due to contract issues with Amazon, the book author has requested and the post author has agreed to redact at least 20% of this content from this posting. I'm just doing it cause I'm here and dethgurl is busy atm.


A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School

Chapter One


An early frost killed the fall colors that year. Everything died before becoming beautiful. The Great Blizzard of 1978 had come and gone leaving Connecticut buried in snow and its residents in the mire of an ugly winter.

When the call came the night before, informing my parents that I had been accepted at Elan School, in Poland Springs, Maine, the man on the phone said that I should come right away. I wanted my father to drive because there was snow in the forecast, but the man said that the school would fly me the next morning in their private jet.

There were two things on my mind as we climbed the stairs to the glass doors leading into Danbury airport: Airplane crashes and Roy Sullivan. In the past year jumbo jets fell from the sky like 400-ton snowflakes. There had been crashes in Guatemala, Havana and Bombay, and in Tenerife, two Boeing 747 jets collided on the ground killing 583 people. Those places weren’t very close to home, but in December a Douglas DC-3 crashed, killing the University of Evansville basketball team, and in October three members of the rock group, Lynyrd Skynyrd, were killed as they attempted an emergency landing in Gillsburg Mississippi.

I called Doctor Peck and told him about my fear of flying, but he explained to me the amazing odds against being in a plane crash, and told me it was safer to fly than drive, but I thought of Roy Sullivan, a park ranger in Virginia who had just been hit by lightning for the seventh time. My father looked at me when we heard about it on the TV set. “Sounds like something that would happen to you.” He said.

Bad luck and bad timing were my forte. If there was a wrong turn to take or a wrong time to do something, I did. As the insanity in my head became worse, so did my luck. I was convinced that I was going to die in a plane crash.

The wind blew; causing Mom to duck her head. I lost my balance and my hat almost blew off, so I grabbed the hat with one hand and handrail with the other, steadying myself on the wet stairs. “Wow, I almost fell.” I said. “The wind…”

Mom pulled the door open. “C’mon,” she said, “Damn the wind.”
Danbury airport was the size of a supermarket, not what I expected for a major traffic hub. Even the planes were small. In New York City we took commercial jets, and though bigger planes crashed, everyone died on impact. Small planes always went down in icy waters, rarely killing everyone onboard, leaving survivors to suffer before they die.

Mom looked tired. Her clothes didn’t fit, and her hair was undone, which was unusual for her. She was anxious, and rushed me the whole morning, as if she wanted the trip to be over. She was intense and silent the whole day. There were seven other kids at home to take care of and the stress was taking its toll on her. I could see that she felt bad about my leaving, but I could also see that she felt guilty for being relieved that I was going.

As she dealt with the woman at the desk, I pointed to the vending machines. “I’m gonna go get a Coke.”

She paused the conversation with a hand gesture. “Get me one, would you?”

“You got it.”

In spite of a snow warning the woman at the desk said I was going to fly to Lewiston Airport. I didn’t understand the extreme urgency but was happy to be getting away from home. I needed a break from my family as much as they needed one from me, so when Doctor Peck suggested Elan, I was happy to go—I just wanted to drive.

I considered the coffee machine for a second, but my stomach told me not to. I got two cans of Coke and returned to the desk. “Here ya go.”

To Mom, for one day, on March 23rd, 1963, I was the miracle child because I wasn’t supposed to be born alive. The umbilical cord had broken the day she went to the hospital, so, they did an emergency cesarean section, and I was born into the world in horror. I didn’t remember it, but Doctor Peck told me that my subconscious did, which affected me nonetheless.

That may have been the reason for the nightmares. I had them for as long as I could remember, but they got worse at ten years old and I went from miracle child to problem child. I wet the bed until I was a teenager, and dreamed of monsters. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time and got into trouble at school and play. I stole money from my parents and fought with my siblings.

By the age of twelve the monsters in my sleep began to haunt me when I was awake. Though I knew they weren’t real, I saw bloody, violent flashes, which scared me, so I said, or did inappropriate things to get away from people. At thirteen years old I was caught lighting fires by a neighbor, and my parents realized my behavior was more than just growing pains.

The guidance counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists were a waste of time because I lied to them all. They reported to my parents, and my parents made fun of our Uncle Mike for being crazy. I didn’t want them to humiliate me that way. They called him, “Mike Loose,” because he was loose in the head, and my brothers laughed.

My brothers already made fun of me. They called my bedroom, “Wayne’s Pissaria,” so I let the shrinks believe that I was acting out for my parent’s attention. My father beat me with hockey sticks: his attention was the last thing I wanted. But, it was better they believe that than know the truth.

My psychologist, Doctor Adler, suggested, Vitam, a drug program in Norwalk, Connecticut, and though I hadn’t done drugs, I wanted to get away from home. I did better there, and my family seemed to do better without me, so the relief was mutual. After Vitam it was clear that a drug program wasn’t going to help me, so that was a concern when Elan was suggested.

“I liked Vitam,” I told Doctor Peck, “but, I didn’t have anything in common with the people there…they were all drug addicts.”

“Vitam was a mistake,” Doctor Peck said, “Elan is different.”


“Elan specializes in troubled adolescents, and has a ninety five percent success rate.” He said. “It’s like school, with therapy. They have counselors and psychiatrists, and activities.”

He was very convincing.
The pilot looked like a pilot, with his official hat and jacket. He was old and sure of himself, so I relaxed a bit. He spoke to Mom first. “Hi, I’m Jim,” he said, and shook her hand. “I’m going to do this run.”

He shook my hand next. He had hairy hands, like the monster in my dreams. “I hope the plane don’t crash,” I said.

Everyone stopped and stared at me. I regretted saying it as soon as I did, and was as shocked by what I said as they were. It was a line from a Bill Cosby comedy routine, so I knew why it was in my head, but something told me that it was inappropriate, and not to say it, and my mind agreed, but my mouth said it anyway.

“Wayne!” Mom said.

“I’m sorry.” I hung my head.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jim said, “It was a joke.”

Mom turned to me. “So, I guess this is goodbye.”

As happy as I was to be leaving, I wasn’t. “I guess.”

“I’ll come up and visit as soon as I can.”


I turned and gestured for Jim to lead the way. We started towards the tall grey doors to our left. I didn’t look back.
We passed through the doors, went down a hallway, which led to another door, which let us out to the runway. There, a six passenger, twin engine plane sat with its engines running. “Get in the front seat,” he said, “I need you there to take off.”

“Do you?”

“I can’t take off or land without a copilot.”

He was being nice, I knew, because he would then have no way of getting back, but I smiled and climbed into the front seat like a starry eyed kid. “Cool.”

Jim taxied us to the runway, cleared us for takeoff and took to the air. My stomach felt queasy on the way up, but when we leveled off it passed. I looked out at the ground below, to check for icy waters.
The airport in Maine was smaller than the one we left. It was simple and quiet, and there were only two runways. They were expecting us, obviously, because there was a group of people there to greet us—two men in work uniforms, a man in a suit and a mid twenties hippie-looking guy in jeans and a ski parka.

The two workmen didn’t mind me as I got out, but the man in the suit greeted me, and introduced me to Mark. I shook his hand. “Good to meet you.”

“Same here.”

When we had my things, Mark and I got into a striped Chevy van, and started down the road. “You don’t have any drugs on you, do you?”

I shook my head. “I’ve never done drugs.”

“Oh, so you’re court ordered.”

“No, I’ve never been arrested.”

He laughed. “Then what are you doing here?”

I shrugged. “I’m a problem kid.”

“Well, if you don’t cause any problems for a while, you’ll be going home in a year to eighteen months,” he said, “Some people go through the program in less than a year.”

“How long can you stay if you like it?” I asked.

He laughed again and turned down a road that looked like it went nowhere. We drove quietly for a while as if he didn’t want to burst my bubble by telling me that I wasn’t going to summer camp. Eventually he pulled into a clearing and said, “Here we are.”

It looked like a camp, with small cabins and a bigger, more administrative looking house. Mark pulled up next to the bigger one. That’s when I heard the screaming. It started out as one voice, was followed by another, and then another.

Mark led me toward the screams unbothered. “It’s not all that bad, Wayne. You’ll get used to it soon.”

“What’s all that yelling?”

“That,” he said, “is a haircut.”

“What’s a haircut?”

“If you do something wrong you get yelled at. Sometimes there are three or four people who do it. It’s called a haircut.”

Only the staff did that at Vitam, and they didn’t scream with the venom these people did. I knew there would be discipline, but this was bad. I already wanted to go home.

What greeted us entering the main house was out of Alice in Wonderland. People were dressed up like babies and Klansmen, and people with signs and household appliances hanging around their necks wandered the huge house as others shouted at them angrily, berating and degrading them. There were people with cups and plates strung around their necks like chunky junky jewelry. Everyone was screaming at everyone else.

The Klansmen were actually dunces, wearing dunce caps, and signs that explained why. My Vitam experience told me that these were punishments, and that Elan was going to be more than simple discipline, so I told Mark that I wanted to go home.

“You don’t get to go home.”

“What do you mean I don’t get to go home?” I said. “I’m not mandated here. I was told that if I didn’t like it I could leave.”

“Then you were lied to, Wayne. You’re not going home for a while.”

He was telling the truth. Doctor Peck and my family had lied to get rid of me.
I spent the first night in the dorm of Élan Three because it was late. Though I was going to be a resident of Élan Seven, they kept me there to go over the rules, and do what they called, “Pulling you into the program.”

Mark told me that I had to sing at the morning meeting in front of fifty people. “I can’t sing in front of all these people.” I said.

“You have to.”

I was angry for being abandoned and deceived. “I’m not doing it.”

“You will, though. Everyone does it.”

“Not me.”
When I repeated this during the morning meeting I was allowed to sit back down. It wasn’t without warning. “You’ll sing down at your house,” Peter McCann said, “And you’ll dance as well.”

“No, I won’t.”

He laughed.
I was sent down the hill to Élan Seven a few hours later. The house at the bottom of the hill had the same yelling coming from it that Élan Three had, but by that time I was used to it. I understood that Élan was just a super strict version of Vitam, and to get along I was going to have to play ball.

The first thing I noticed about Élan Seven was that there were black and Hispanic people there. Three was only white kids, so I asked Stan, the guy Mark turned me over to, why. “Three is for rich kids. We’re the lower class here because we’re from the streets.”

“Why am I here then?”

“I don’t know. But you can ask Danny Bennison when you talk to him.”

“Who’s Danny Bennison?”

“Danny runs the house. All new residents speak to the director in the first few days,”

“Good, maybe he’ll let me out of here.”
I was introduced to Danny Bennison a few hours later when the house was ushered into the dining room, as if for a fire drill. The older residents, who patrolled the house with clipboards and did security—what Stan called, “Expeditors”—came out of their office screaming at the top of their lungs, “General meeting!”

We were ordered to sit in the dining room in silence with our hands folded on the table, to wait for whatever was coming. The quiet was harder on the senses than the constant commotion. Finally, my director came out and I knew it was going to be bad. He had a white mesh laundry bag with bright red boxing gloves in it, and everyone froze when they saw it.

He threw the bag against the wall, and there was a thud. Then, he looked at the waiting crowd and at Mike Calabrese in particular. “Get the fuck up here.”

Mike was dressed like a baby, with a bonnet and diaper. He wore a sign that he read every time he entered or left a room. He shook his rattle first. “Waa, Waa, Waa. I’m Mike Calabrese, and I’m a big baby. Please confront me about why I act out and make everyone miserable if I don’t get my way. Waa, Waa, Waa.”

Mike didn’t move fast enough, so Danny grabbed him by the neck and dragged him in front of the room. “I said get the fuck up there!” he yelled, and threw Mike against the wall.

Danny was physically imposing, with a smug face and perfectly feathered hair. He was a dark-haired, moustache and attitude, badass-white guy, and he was good at it. I was afraid of him immediately.

“What the fuck is your problem, Mike Calabrese? I have a pile of incident reports in my office, and your fucking name is on every one of them.”

Mike said nothing.

“I asked you a fucking question!”

“I don’t have a problem.”

Danny turned to the house, and said calmly, “Would you people like to tell him his problem?”

Suddenly, everyone jumped up from their seats and rushed at Mike. They stood inches away from him, screaming in his face. It was angry and bitter, and they sprayed him with saliva as they yelled. It lasted five minutes. When it was over Mike wiped the spit from his face.

“So, what do you have to say for yourself Michael?” Danny said, “You have the fucking audacity to question my expeditor in the kitchen, and then stand here telling me you don’t have a problem. I think you have a problem with authority as well as a lot of other things. You big fucking baby.”

He broke off and looked at the crowd, “Who wants to go in the ring with this motherfucker?”

Hands went up, and Danny picked the biggest guy in the room to have a boxing match with Mike. Mike resisted putting the gloves on, so, Danny had four guys hold him down while they spanked him with a racquetball paddle. He fought, but was outmatched. The paddle had holes drilled in it to maximize the pain. When he shouted out, I turned away: and looked instead at Danny Bennison, who was smiling. “Are you going to put the gloves on now Mike?”

They tried again, and Mike fought again. He was thrown back down and paddled some more. “Ten…ten more…Next… Ten…ten more…Next…” As good a fight as Mike fought, I could see that he was going to lose. It was brutal to watch.

When Mike put on the boxing gloves, guys from the house who were physically superior to him beat him into submission. I kept waiting to hear what he did to deserve such battering and humiliation, but all I heard was, “For being a baby.”

As the general meeting went on, Danny told the house about his prison experiences. “You’re going to prison someday Michael,” he said. Then, he looked at the rest of us. “All of you people are going to end up in prison with attitudes like this.”

He shifted back to Mike. “You, they’ll just gang rape in the shower, you fat piece of shit.” Then, he held everyone’s attention as he described sitting in his cell listening to a young man being raped. “I sat on the end of my bed wondering when they were going to come for me,” he warned.
I ran to catch up with Stan after the general meeting was over. “What was that?” I asked.

“That was a general meeting...”

I cut him off. “I know what a general meeting is, Stan. I told you that I know certain things from being in Vitam. I mean the boxing ring and the paddle. What’s the deal with that?”

“They have a physical abuse license. If someone is physically violent, they can punish him with the ring or spankings.”

I didn’t say a word, but he knew what I was thinking. “Wayne, if you just do what you gotta do, and keep your nose clean, you don’t have to go through any of that.”

I sang and danced the next morning without a fight.

Chapter Two


The yelling was constant, and there was no way to stop it. If you were going fast enough for their liking they found something else to yell at you about. It would have been pointless if it wasn’t a prelude to the boxing ring or paddle. I did as I was told, and stood silent when they gave me my first haircut.

Though I was there for four hours—and two of those were in a general meeting—they decided that I wasn’t sharing enough about my feelings. It made no sense, but I thought about Mike Calabrese’s face when they beat him, and stayed quiet. I also remembered Danny’s advice to the house about injustices before the G.M. broke up.

“If you don’t like something around here, and you think it’s unfair…rub it on your chest.” That didn’t really make sense either, but his message was clear. “Shut up, and do as you’re told.”

After lunch, Stan took me to his office, and said “You’ll be starting off where everyone else does…on the service crew.” He pointed to a chalkboard, with the job positions written on it.

“I’m your boss, or department head, and George Rees is my boss, your coordinator.”

He introduced me to my peers, Gary Ross, Jane Tolar, and Lisa Groton. “You guys will stick together most of the time because you’re all new.”

My three peers helped Stan acquaint me with the routine. In the morning we cleaned the house, and as we did that the coordinators gave haircuts to the people in their crew. At noon we had lunch, cleaned up some more, and had groups until dinner. “After dinner, we clean some more,” Stan said, “And then we have school, and free-time.”

“Unless you have no privileges,” Gary Ross said, “Then, you clean some more.”

“After snack, we clean up again, then, we carry the cleaning equipment to the dorms when we go to bed at night.” Stan said. “It’s a lot of work, but you’ll get used to it.”

“And, then there are the rules...” Yvette Portella cut in, “Let’s not forget the rules.”

Yvette was an expeditor, and they were in charge of the security in the house. There were five expeditors, and their boss was Dave Winston, who spent most of his time with staff. Yvette was there to tell us about the rules, but Stan did most of the talking.

He explained cardinal rules. “No sex, no drugs, and no physical violence,” he said, then, told us that the cardinal rules were strictly enforced, but didn’t have to. I saw the brand of discipline they used. Gary, Lisa and Jane didn’t need to be told either. We knew that if we were caught breaking one of the cardinal rules we were dead.

“Another thing to know, “Yvette said, “Is that new residents are not allowed to hang around together.”

“But, Stan told us we have to hang out together,” Gary said.

Yvette smirked. “Wise guy, huh?”

“You can be together as long as there’s an older resident with you.” Stan said, “It’s just that we don’t want you sneaking off together.”

“And another big one is splitting,” Yvette said, “If you take off, you get killed.”

“I’m surprised anyone here is alive.” I said.

Yvette punched me in the shoulder playfully. “Yo, don’t make me kill you.”

We laughed.
As we cleaned the dining room Gary Ross told me his story. He had done stick-ups, shot heroin, and driven stolen cars. “I was arrested two days out of Daytop, and they sent me here,” he said. “It was either here or Long Lane again.”

Daytop was a drug program, like Elan, but they didn’t have a license to beat their residents. I had heard about it at Vitam, but hadn’t heard of Long Lane.

“What’s Long Lane?” I asked.

Gary put down his bucket. “That’s right. You’ve never been arrested, have you?”


Gary and Lisa took turns telling me about the Long Lane School. They called it, “The Farm.” “It was a fucking prison for kids.” Gary said.

“Gary Ross, watch your language,” Jane said.

“It was.”
After lunch we had encounter group, which was where we dealt with our anger. If someone pisses you off, when the person screaming at someone is done, you proceed to scream at the person you want to scream at. That person usually begins screaming at you until you’re both done, at which time someone else begins screaming at you, that person, or someone else. If no one screams at anyone else fast enough you can begin screaming at someone else altogether. It was loud.

The banter was vicious. You weren’t allowed to threaten anyone, so instead; they said what they would like to do to each other. You couldn’t say, “I’ll break your fucking legs,” but, you could say, “I’d like to break your fucking legs,” or “If we were out there, I’d break your fucking legs.” Anything, “Out there,” was allowed. It’s hypothetical. “Suck my dick,” was out, but, “If we were out there, I’d have you sucking my dick,” was fine. The context was clear. The people in Elan Seven were angry and wanted to hurt each other.

Gary Ross started the group off by going after Jane Tolar for being a slut. Jane went back at him for a lewd remark he made in the kitchen.

“Fuck you, you whore…”

“Fuck you, you piece of shit …”

“You said to me in the dining room …”

“When we were in the dining room…”

“I’d like to…”

“If we were out there…”

And on it went.
When attacked I become numb or defensive. Defensiveness was reserved for threats, so I got numb when Gary turned on me because it wasn’t one. He was, ‘pulling me up,’ about the fact that I didn’t share about my feelings. I didn’t say a word until he was done.

“I have nothing to say,” I said, “because I have nothing in common with you people.”

Donald’s eyes widened at the term, “You People,” so I beat him to the punch. “I don’t mean, “You people,” I mean all of you people…I’ve never done drugs, and that’s all you guys talk about.”

“You earned your seat here,” Donald said, “One way or another.”

“But I’ve never done drugs, and that’s all you guys ever talk about…I have nothing to say.”

“You’ve never even tried them?” Jane asked.


“Then, what are you doing here?”

“I keep asking the same question.”

Donald pointed out that Elan was for more than just drugs, and told us that lots of people had graduated without ever having done them. He didn’t sound convinced of what he was saying. “Talk to Danny about this.” He said.
The second half of encounter group was for resolving the problems of the people that confronted each other in the first. The person who got the worst of it was up to the staff member running the group. Being ex junkies they were good manipulators, and pinned the blame on the person they didn’t like.

Gary got the worst of it with Jane. It was obvious that he was attracted to her, but Donald went past that to, “Reverse racism,” which got my attention. Donald wasn’t very intelligent, so he acted like a street-tough sophisticate, but he didn’t hide his lack of education well.

“What’s reverse racism?” I asked.

“It’s when black people hate white people.” He said.

“Wouldn’t that just be racism?”

“What do you mean?”

“Wouldn’t the reverse of racism be non racism?”

Donald looked one-upped for a second, and then said, “You know what the hell I mean.” He continued questioning Gary Ross, blamed him for the incident in the kitchen, and didn’t argue the accusation about Jane being a slut. Danny deemed her that, and that’s all there was to it. We weren’t allowed to disrespect Danny’s decisions behind his back.

Denise McDaniel was the senior resident in the group, and didn’t like Gary Ross, so she helped Donald tear him to shreds. When they were done with Gary, the rest of the group was amateur pop psychology meted out by Donald and Denise like bologna sandwiches at the county jail. It was cold and tasteless, and did little good. I smoked cigarettes and spaced out for the rest of the group.

That night, after school, the expeditors came out of Danny’s office, shouting, “General Meeting.”

We gathered in the dining room, sat in silence with our hands folded, everyone hoping that whatever it was didn’t include them. I hadn’t done anything, and yet, I was afraid. That fear increased when Danny kicked the door open and threw the bag of boxing gloves out ahead of him.

Debbie Dole had mouthed off to Donald earlier, so she stood up and walked to the front of the room without being called. Danny laughed. “You bet your ass this is about you, ya titless bitch. Who the fuck do you think you are?”

She slowed down to answer the question, but Danny grabbed her and threw her against the wall. She hit it as hard as Mike Calabrese, had that morning and when she did, I knew we were in the hands of a sociopath. Danny Bennison liked to hurt people.

Donald Hampton was a new staff member. The story Gary Ross told me was that he beat a man to death in the adult corrections center in Rhode Island. He was broad and muscular, and had crazy eyes, plus, he went through Parsonsfield, the lockup unit, so I was convinced the story was true.

Danny said to Debbie, “Do you think that because you’re going home, you can talk to my staff any way you want?”

Debbie was in reentry, which was the final stage of Elan, so she was on her way out the door. Stan told me that reentry people rarely participated in house events and were allowed out to bars to drink. Until the beginning of the meeting I had no idea they got the same discipline we did.

Debbie shrugged. “I…”

Danny cut her off, looked at the room, and said, “Who has something they want to say to this bitch?”

The older residents rushed to the front of the dining room and screamed obscenities at Danny’s command. I stayed in my seat, afraid to get up. Finally, the crowd finished and Debbie wiped the spit from her face.

“So what do you have to say for yourself?” Danny said, “Do you think you can go out there in the streets, with this kind of attitude?” He paused. “You’ll be sucking dick for drugs in a week…a day.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Look at you. Ya look like a prostitute…except for those ingrown tits of yours. How did you end up with ingrown tits?” He laughed. “I guess you have to blow guys that like young boys.”

Donald laughed at that, and said, “Ya know, we’d shoot you down and keep you longer, but you’re hopeless. You’ve gotten nothing out of being here.”

“Oh, there’s no way I’m keeping you here,” Danny said, “You’re a fucking cancer, so next Thursday, you’re out.”

The degrading remarks about Debbie’s tits went on for another half hour, and then, Danny had girls from the house beat on her in the ring the same way the men beat on Mike. When that was over he had the men spank Debbie with the paddle.
There was one last piece of business when Danny was done with Debbie. He looked at me, and said, “Get up.”

I did. My knees were weak, so my body shook as I stood at attention. “So, you want to know why you’re here.”

“I was told this wasn’t a drug program…”

Danny cut me off, “It’s not. It’s a therapeutic community for emotionally disturbed individuals—of which you are one. You flunked out of the last place you were in, and your parents don’t want you back, even when you’re done here.” He got in my face. “They want us to put you in a foster home.”

I looked at the ground.

“Time will answer your questions,” Danny said, “And that’s all I have to say on the subject at this time.”

And, the subject was closed.

Chapter Three


Niggers—we had ‘em. We also had spics, dykes, faggots and bitches. Danny’s language was foul and he didn’t hide his disdain for any of us. As the general meetings became more so did the list of abuses. I avoided confrontation and thanked God that I was only being yelled at.

Fear factored into every move we made. Even older residents weren’t immune to the insanity. In my first week two people in positions of authority were shot down. They lost their jobs, had their privileges taken away and were sent to scrub floors for minor infractions of the rules.

Shot downs wore shorts, signs, and costumes, and got the brunt of the one on one haircuts for something stupid, like not cleaning fast enough or well enough. They worked when they weren’t eating or in school and did service crew jobs so we hung out with them a lot. I became friends with Mike Calabrese.

Mike had been in Elan for thirteen months and was shot down for most of the time, but he didn’t seem broken by it. I liked Mike because he told stories about the old days; when Alan Frey was the director and the house was corrupt.

“Corrupt...Ya mean, worse than this?”I asked.

“Much worse than this,” he said. “Alan was a sick fuck.”


“There was a sign on the T.V. that said, “If you touch this television without permission, you’re dead.”

We weren’t allowed to talk to about past staff members like that, and Stan was supposed to report us for doing it, but he sat at his desk smoking a cigarette. When Mike started telling the story of the night George White kidnapped a night guard with a kitchen knife Stan stopped him.

“Let’s stop with the war stories, huh?”

Mike laughed, and changed the subject.
At regular group, or what we called, “Static group,” people shared about their past. That afternoon Danny was seated in the group leader’s chair so I was apprehensive immediately. He showed contempt when he spoke to me at Debbie Dole’s G.M. so I was more afraid of him than ever.

“Everybody, sit down, and let’s get this started.” Danny said. “We don’t have a lot of time.”

There were eleven of us seated in a circle, and Danny told us that we were going to go around the room so that everyone could share for a minute about how they were feeling. I was seventh in line and had nothing to say, but with Danny there I needed to think of something.

Dave went first. “I feel great. I’m doing what I gotta do, and getting closer to going home, every day.”

Next, Denise complained about how hard it was being in charge of the expeditors, and then Jane Tolar complained that she was getting tired of losing privileges because of a few people’s behavior. Gary said that he was okay, but not feeling well, and Stan talked about falling behind at work, and how he needed to, “Dig himself.” Mark Strickland said he missed having privileges. I froze.

“So?” Danny said, “We’re waiting.”

I was bereft of any feeling but fear, but couldn’t talk about that, so I shrugged.

“Well, c’mon,” Danny said, “Say something.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ, you’re not going to start that, “I don’t belong here,” shit again, are you?”

“No, I’m just not feeling bad about anything.”

“Really,” he said, “So everything was okay with your home life?”

“It was bad, but not too bad.”

“From what I’m hearing, your daddy was never home, and he ran around with his friends while your mother was taking care of the kids and the house.”

Danny sensed that he had me, so he followed my obvious stunned look by telling the group about the night my sister was born, and how my father was drunk at a poker game when he got the call. When my family talked about it, it was as a joke because my father didn’t usually drink, but the way Danny told it made my father sound like a drunken degenerate. I was afraid to contradict him, and stayed quiet.

When he was done he looked at Yvette Portella. “So, how are you doing today?” and Yvette told us. Then he did Robert Gamble and Lisa Groton. He finished with Wayne Weaver. “So, how are you adjusting to being an expeditor?”

“Good,” Wayne said, “Good.”

“Really? Because you look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Wayne laughed, and lit a Marlboro menthol. “I’m just taking my job too seriously.”

Danny followed that with a two minute speech about how he wanted people that were too serious about their job, rather than not serious enough. Wayne didn’t nod or smile because though Danny was complimenting him, he wasn’t. Wayne could feel that Danny didn’t like him, and I could too. It was obvious in the tone of his voice.

Danny picked Robert Gamble to share first, who told us that he was doing what he had to do, but Danny disagreed. “I don’t hear about what got you here. Why aren’t you sharing about that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you enlighten the group?”

For the next ten minutes Robert told us his story. He was court ordered to Elan for killing a man. Danny didn’t show disdain for Robert. I watched his face as he confronted him, and he seemed to like him. Then, he had Robert tell us why he did it.

“Because, he was a faggot.”

“Did he touch you?”


“Did he try to?”


Danny shook his head. “So, you killed the guy, just because he was a freak?”

Robert nodded.

The group stopped because Peter McCann came through the front door. He was followed by a man I didn’t recognize. They called Danny over and went into the coordinators office. A few minutes later Dave was called in, and a minute after that Dave came out and yelled, “General meeting.”
There isn’t a good answer to the question, “Why are you staring at my tits?” but with Denise McDaniel you better damn well come up with one. I didn’t get the confrontation from her because I wouldn’t let he catch me staring even though her tits were her best asset. She got too much of a thrill from degrading guys she did catch.

Denise gave particular attention to Gary Ross when she was in charge, and caught him staring when we stopped in front of Elan Three’s porch. It was warm, and Denise’s top was very revealing. “I’m not looking at your chest.” Gary said.

“Yes you did Gary Ross, now, dig yourself, and get in line.”

“If I was staring at your chest,” Gary said, “I would’ve fell asleep.”

“Gary Ross, just get in line, Stupid!”

We weren’t allowed to call each other names or yell at each other outside group unless it was after asking someone to do something more than twice. The third time you were allowed to call them; “Stupid,” and you were allowed to yell it. They called it a, “Pull up,” which was supposed to be reserved for extreme disrespect, but like the yelling it was overdone and rarely effective. When it had any effect, it exacerbated a bad situation.

“Gary Ross, knock on that tree.” Robert Gamble said.

Usually, a haircut was given inside, behind closed doors, but in slim times there were exceptions. They could give one anywhere and make you knock on anything, so, Gary knocked on the tree like he was knocking on a door.

“Who’s out there?”


“Come in!”

Gary took a step forward like he was entering a room, and Robert screamed at him for disrespecting Denise, causing a commotion in line, and making us look bad in front of another house. The guys on Elan Three’s front porch were watching the whole time.

When Robert was done, Gary got back in line, silent. “Does anybody have anything else to say before they make us look bad in front of Elan Three?” Denise said. “”Because I’m tired of always looking like the street house.”
Inside Elan Three’s dining room there were chairs lined up in rows, and expeditors from each house steered their people where they were supposed to sit. It was quiet considering how many people were in the room. We, from Elan Seven, were placed in the back. It was easy to spot our house because Three and Five had all white people.

Parsonsfield had niggers, spics, faggots, and bitches too, but we never interacted with them because they were far away. They were a lockup unit for the real bad guys according to what I heard. Waterford wasn’t a lockup unit, but it was in a different location as well, so we didn’t interact with them either. When Three, Five or Seven needed large numbers of people to scream and spit on someone we did it together because we were close.

When Peter McCann came out the room quieted a little more. He was big and burley, and according to Mike Calabrese, had hands of steel. “When he yelled at me, he poked my chest with his finger, and it was like being poked with a pool cue.” He said.

The stranger that came into our house with Peter was Marty Kruglick, the director of Elan Five. He stood next to Peter and Danny was to his right. Elaine Eisenberg was in the corner, on the stage behind them.

“So, we’re here to greet Elaine back,” Peter said, He turned to the two expeditors watching her. “Get her over here.”

I met Elaine when I was at Elan Three overnight. She was perky, had a pretty face, and was nicely dressed, but when she stood up I could see she had been through a rough time. Her hair and clothes were disheveled and she was dirty.

The people from Elan Three started to grumble and Peter sensed it, so, he turned to them. “Who wants to welcome Elaine back?”

They didn’t wait for her to get off the stage. Everyone rushed up onto it and surrounded her. Residents from my house and Elan Five joined in, but I didn’t. Most of us didn’t. We were the house at the bottom of the hill, so most of us didn’t qualify.

When they were done, Marty took over. “You know what I wanna know,” he said, “I wanna know how the fuck you got all the way to California…How did you pull that off?”

Elaine didn’t say anything.

“I asked you a question.”

She shrugged. “I hitchhiked.”

“You hitchhiked?” Marty said. “Really?”


“Yeah” He mimicked her.

Peter cut in. “You seriously expect us to believe that you got from Maine to California with your thumb alone?”

Danny laughed at that.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Marty laughed. “Bullshit,” he said, “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides free. And, you only had your ass with you when you left here.”

“Well, I didn’t do that.”

“C’mon,” Marty said. “You didn’t suck dick for rides?”



It went on for twenty minutes. Marty did his best to cajole Elaine into admitting that she had sex for rides like a truck stop hooker, but she stuck to her story that people were nice to her. When Peter and Marty knew they weren’t going to get her to say what they wanted, they prompted the crowd to charge her once more.

Marty wouldn’t let it go. “So, who picked you up?”

“Truck drivers, mostly.”

Marty had an evil look in his eyes. I was convinced that Elaine was telling the truth, as were most of the people in the room, but he wanted something and wasn’t going to stop until he got it. “So, you expect us to believe that they drove you around out of the kindness of their hearts?”


“You’re a fucking liar…Who wants to go in the ring with her?”

For two hours Elaine stuck to her story as Marty had her spanked with the paddle and yelled at and spit on. The physical abuse was bad, but the filth that came out of Marty’s mouth made it worse. He wanted her spirit. He pushed to get something sexual out of Elaine like he was appeasing a sexual fantasy in public, and when it didn’t work he got angry. Eventually, he wore her down and forced her to say that she was raped, and that the man who did it defecated on her when he was done.

The crowd lost some of its vigor when it was clear that she was saying she was raped to stop the abuse, but they deadpanned when he made he say that she was shit on. They were less venomous when they went up to yell, and Marty could sense that he was losing them, so, he went on to what costume she would be wearing and what her punishment would be. When it was over none of us spoke about it, which was rare after a general meeting.
School made no sense. We were all lumped into the same grade no matter age or education, for two hours a night. I didn’t mind the short day because the less chance of getting in trouble in school the better. Acting out there was dealt with more severely than normal.

During second period I raised my hand.

“Yes,” Mister Dionne said.

“May I use the bathroom?”

“Sure,” he said, “but, use the one in the expeditor’s office… Miss Russell is using the one in the back.”

Miss Russell was my favorite teacher. She had a pretty, freckled face, and a body like a porn star. It was hard to see because she wore conservative clothes, but it was there. She was done, I knew, because I could hear her voice in the class in the living room. I wanted the solitude of a locked door so I went to the bathroom in the back. I realized that it wasn’t her voice when I opened the door and she stood there with her blouse open, fixing her brassiere.


“I’m sorry.”

She covered herself, but it was too late—I had seen it all. Her initial shock wore off, so she looked out the door to see if anyone else had seen. There was no one in the back room, so she looked at me. “Get out of here before someone catches you.”

I turned. “I’m sorry,” I repeated, and left.
After the filth I heard at Elaine’s general meeting, I thought my dick would never get hard again, but Miss Russell cured me. That night, when we were in the dorm, and the lights were out, I thought of her tits and masturbated.

Jerking off was tricky to get away with in a room with four guys, and though everyone said it was normal it was treated like a sin, so I needed to be careful. I checked the door, and then looked to my left at Matt Brennan, and stopped.

He smiled, because he was looking at me and doing the same thing, like we were doing it together. He was a fag.

Chapter 4


March was bitter cold and it snowed almost every day, but the worst was the wind. It drove the snow sideways and intensified the cold making it almost unbearable to be outside. By the middle of the month I was relegated to shoveling the path from the house to the dorm because Danny took an interest in me.

I liked Vitam in spite of the fact that I didn’t fit in because people liked me and didn’t treat me like a kid. They included me in things and didn’t make fun of me. I could have left anytime I wanted, but didn’t. The good times ended when I was introduced to Kip Neville.

Kip was admittedly gay, and confronted the guys about homosexuality in group all the time. I didn’t like him because he enjoyed it. He sensed that and did his worst to try and get me to admit that I had homosexual thoughts. I hadn’t, but Kip didn’t believe me and was deliberately mean to me. In return I deliberately pissed him off until I was thrown out.

The question came up in a group that Danny was running, and if Elan was the therapeutic community Doctor Peck said it was I might have been willing to share what was really wrong with me, but Danny was never going to hear it. Because of the torture Kip put me through at Vitam I told the group that I had thoughts but was straight. Danny asked if I had ever had sex with a guy, and I told him that I hadn’t, but he said, “I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t either,” Robert Gamble said. “I see the way you look at me in the shower.”

“What are you talking about?” I said. “I never looked at you in the shower.”

“Oh, yes you did. I knew you were a faggot the second I laid eyes on you.”

“Now, you’re just being stupid.”

Robert asked Danny to change to an encounter group because he had to get his anger out about the incident. Danny agreed, and Robert unloaded on me. I sat back and laughed.

Danny stopped him. “You’ve never had sex with a guy?”



Robert continued with his tirade, and after, Danny told the group that he wanted me to be confronted day and night about my sexuality. Then, he looked at me. “Your life is going to be a living hell until you start telling the truth around here.”

“I am telling the truth.”

“Y’know what? Just shut the fuck up until you’re ready to cop to the truth.”

After group I was told to knock on the coordinator’s office door and received a haircut for being in denial about my sexuality. That night I got another, and in the morning I got two more. In encounter group the next day Robert went after me again, but I didn’t respond. During the second half of the group I was confronted again about being gay, and I denied it again. Donald called me a liar.

“I’m not here for being gay.” I said.

“Then, what are you here for?” He asked.

“I don’t know…I really don’t know.”

“You’re not going to tell me that you don’t
belong here, again, are you?”

“No,” I said, “I’m telling you that I’m not gay.”

“You’re a fucking liar.”

He spent the entire second half of the group confronting me but I wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. As he went on I could feel the rest of the people in the group start to turn on me. Jane and Gary told me that they didn’t believe me, and Robert confronted me with rage. “C’mon, Wayne Kernochan, you’re a fucking faggot. Why don’t you admit it?”

“Because, you’re wrong.”

Donald interrupted. “So, you’re saying, Danny is wrong.”

That was a loaded question because that was exactly what I was saying, but there was no way I could say that. Donald was a good manipulator, but I was better than him. “I’m not saying anything of the sort.”

“Then, you’re saying he’s right.”

“I’m not saying anything about Danny while he’s not in the room…That’s against the rules.”

“Okay then, I’ll go get him.”

“Go ahead.”

Danny was busy, so Donald continued without him until the end of the group. When it was over I still hadn’t said what they wanted and could see that my fellow residents were getting frustrated by my defiance.
Days went by, and Stan pushed me to tell Danny what he wanted to hear. “You’re not going anywhere until you do,” he said, “So why don’t you get it over with?”

“Because it’s not true.”


“Sew buttons.”

“Sew buttons?” He said. “Do you realize what you’re doing?”


He shook his head, took a puff of his cigarette and said, “Don’t you at least want to smoke again?”

Danny pulled my smoking privilege for, “Lollygagging in the kitchen,” but that wasn’t why he did it. I was the only one doing anything when he walked in. He did it to torture me. I could see the torment wasn’t going to end until I told him that I had sex with a man.

“Yeah, I want to smoke again.”

“So, say it.”


He laughed, shook his head again and sat down. He opened his notebook, signifying that we were done talking.

Promotions were constant because Danny shot so many people down. His hair trigger caused him to have to promote people who had only behaved themselves for a short time. It didn’t matter because he would just shoot them down again. Pat Carlson had been shot down, promoted to department head and shot down in the first three weeks I was there.

Mike Calabrese greeted me in the dining room without his costume, “Hey there, fellow service crew member.”

“Wow,” I said, “Cool for you.”

“Danny said if I behave myself for a while, I’ll be getting out of here in six months or so.”

“Even better.”

“C’mon,” he said, “let’s go have a smoke.”

The front porch was open air, so the March wind was unobstructed, making it excruciating. Most people smoked inside the house because of the cold but Mike and I liked it because of the serenity. The windows muffled the screaming inside the house.

Outside, Mike said, “Don’t do it.”

“Don’t do what?”

“You’re going to be here for two years because that’s what the state pays for no matter what, so don’t.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face,” he said. “When they say, “Do your thing,” they mean, “Do our thing.” Tell Danny what he wants to hear and get it over with.”

He went to the window to see if anyone was listening from the door. “You don’t want to do your time here the way I did, believe me.”

“Ya know what. I’ve never been a big fan of, “Do what I say, not what I do,” so I really don’t want to talk about it.” I said.

“I’m only looking out for you.”

“I know.”

“It’s only going to get worse.”

I knew that too, but didn’t care. As afraid as I was of Danny there were limits to what I could take, and saying I had sex with a man to appease him was over the limit. Besides, there was more to consider—like Robert Gamble.

Where I grew up in New York City, murder wasn’t uncommon. Cuckoo Sal—one of the customers from my father’s bar—was found in the park up the block from our house dead from a gunshot wound to the head. It wasn’t far from where his brother shot and killed a man for making a comment as he kissed a girl on a bench. Later, the brother was shot in the head on Cross Bay Boulevard for going after a gangster with a whiskey bottle. It was a tough neighborhood.

Murderers didn’t scare me. A week after Cuckoo Sal stabbed Richie Ebert six times I played cards with him in the bar. I felt safe in the company of killers, but that wasn’t the case with Robert Gamble. I watched him when he yelled at people and beat them in the ring or with the paddle. He had a mean streak, and he didn’t like me, so I was afraid of him.

As creepy as what Matt Brennan did was, I couldn’t go to anyone about it because Danny would pin it on me, I was sure. I kept it to myself, and kept an eye on Matt. After a few weeks Matt didn’t try it again, so I let it go and forgot about it.

In the weeks that followed Danny pulled my free time and activity privileges, and put me outside to shovel snow. The haircuts continued and the encounter groups got more heated as others jumped on the bandwagon. The only time the pressure eased was when someone acted out and Danny had to deal with them, so the horror I once felt when he abused people turned to relief.

Danny Broach and Cathy Collins became the new target of Danny Bennison’s cruelty. Everyone talked about how crazy Danny was from the day he came in, but that didn’t stop them from beating and mistreating him. That didn’t stop him from acting out and becoming one of Danny Bennison’s new projects.

Cathy came in after Danny Broach, and though she was perfectly sane her behavior was as bad. I could see that she hated the physical violence but tolerated it for some reason. I didn’t care why because between the two of them I was forgotten.

One day, the expeditors called a general meeting, and the two of them were in opposite corners for breaking one of the cardinal rules: they had sex in the bathroom. Danny Bennison came out with the paddle and gloves, and didn’t waste any time. He grabbed two chairs and pulled them to the front of the room.

“Both of you get over the chair.”

Cathy smirked as she walked to the front of the room. She stopped in front of the chair, and bent at the knees, like she was curtsying, and when she did, Danny came up behind her and kicked her square in the back. “Get the fuck over the chair,” he said, “And, just for that, you get twenties instead of ten.”

“I wasn’t doing anything.” She said.

Danny kicked the chair across the room. “Fuck the chair.” He threw her down on the floor. “Pigs belong in the dirt.”

By the time the tenth person was done hitting her with the paddle, Cathy’s pants had dark blotches on the seat.

“What the fuck is this?” Danny said. He pulled her pants down, and realized that it was blood. “Look at what you did to yourself.”

Cathy tried to speak, but couldn’t, and Danny didn’t let her try to continue. “Shut the fuck up,” he said, “I’m going to have to put you in the ring from now until this heals…You’re a real piece of work, ya know that?”

“I didn’t do nothing.”

“You admitted it in group.” Danny said. Then he looked at the crowd. “Who wants to go in the ring with this whore?”

Denise McDaniel was first, then Monica Olen, and then Cathy Hogan. They went in order twice, and then Danny declared her, “Bad, Bad, Pig Woman,” and told the business crew to make her a sign, and a pig costume.

“You’re going to sing a song.” Danny said.

He gave her the lines one by one, and she practiced for us. “I’m bad, bad, pig woman, da, da, da, da…Watch me play with my tail…”

“Swing it.” Danny said. “Swing the tail like it’s actually there.”

Cathy swung an imaginary tail and sang the song she would have to sing every time she entered or left a room. “I’m bad, bad, pig woman, da, da, da, da…Watch me play with my tail. Because it gives me that, da, da, da, da. I’m bad, bad, pig woman, da, da, da, da. I like you to watch me play with my tail. I’m bad, bad, pig woman, da, da, da, da.”

She was contracted to wear pig ears, a nose, and tail, with a prostitute’s outfit, and given a sign to wear. After he was done with her she was sent to the dorm to change, and Danny looked at Danny Broach. “Get up here you fucking retard.”

Danny got up from his chair in the corner and walked to the front of the room. He stood on the balls of his feet and stared at the ceiling. “We’re down here, Psycho boy.” Danny Bennison said.

Danny Broach smirked at that.

“Ya know what?” Danny Bennison said, “I forgot all about you.” He pulled the chair to Danny Broach. “Get over the chair.”

He did, and Danny had the men beat him with the paddle. He didn’t make a sound, but his smile went away, and by the fourth set of ten his face screwed up in agony. Tears came to his eyes. When it was done Danny Bennison put him in the ring and shot him down.

Through the beating he called Danny Broach crazy ten different ways. Psycho boy was his favorite, but he called him a nut job, a mental case, and stone cold fucking crazy. When he was beaten and subdued, Danny asked him about all the mental institutions he had been in.

“I don’t remember them all.”

“So, you’re that fucking psycho, that you lost count.” Danny Bennison said. “That’s sad.”

“It was because of the wine,” Danny Broach said, “It’s always because of the wine.” Then, he told us that he was a homeless wino, and that he got in trouble whenever he had money. Danny and Donald injected jokes, and the house had a good laugh at Danny Broach’s expense. He smiled at one of Donald’s jokes, and said, “One time, I had five dollars and a bottle of Old Crow..”

Donald stopped him. “Five dollars and a bottle of Old Crow? How would you like five knuckles and another round in the ring?”

The smile went away. Danny Bennison said, “This isn’t you birthday party, Psycho boy. This is a general meeting.”

“Yeah,” Donald said, “We’re not laughing with you. We’re laughing at you.”

Danny ended the G.M. by giving Danny Broach a hobo costume, and a sign explaining why, and sent him to the dorm to change into shorts. . Then, he gave the house a twenty minute lecture about how bad the house’s attitude was, and dismissed us.

“Danny Broach had it coming.” Gary Ross said to Mike and me afterward. “He’s been pushing everyone’s buttons since he got here.”

“Yeah, but he’s seriously crazy.” I said.

“Uh huh, and he better knock it off, before he gets some real pain.”

“I don’t think he’s sane enough to realize that.”

“The ring knocked the crazy out of him.”

“Yeah, but for how long?” Mike said.

Gary shrugged.

Chapter 5


Spring brought Maine to life. The snow white and pine green colors gave way to red and blue wildflowers and grass replaced the icy paths we traveled in winter. It was as beautiful as Doctor Peck said. Birds came to wake us in the morning and life rose from the muddy earth, brilliantly disguising the horror of Poland Springs.

On April 25th 1978 Saint Paul, Minnesota repealed its gay rights ordinance after Anita Bryant succeeded with her anti-gay campaign in Dade County, Florida. She was satisfied with taking gay people’s rights away but my director wasn’t. Danny’s anti-gay campaign was more violent—he wanted to beat the gay out of them. His homophobia was loud and proud, and the pressure on me continued.

I was shamed constantly for being a liar and not sharing about my feelings. Danny and Donald got angrier as time went by because I accepted whatever punishment they gave me and didn’t give them a reason to beat the truth out of me. I stayed quiet, cleaned floors and took the humiliation without a word.

Stan and Mike pushed me to tell the lie that Danny wanted to hear, but I wouldn’t do it. Eventually, they began to get angry about my stubbornness. “I can’t help you if you refuse to help yourself.” Stan said. “This is getting stupid.”

“Yeah,” Mike said, “This is getting ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous is that I have to lie to get ahead in this place.”

“Injustices are part of the program.” Mike said. “You just have to deal with them.”

Stan nodded.

May brought more job changes. Mike had behaved himself on the service crew for a few weeks so he was promoted to department head of the kitchen. Stan was made coordinator of the service crew. Lisa Groton and Jane Tolar were promoted to the kitchen crew and Danny Broach and Cathy Collins were taken off shot down and put back on the service crew.

Danny left me on the service crew because he was determined to make me admit to being gay. I didn’t mind because I saw that having responsibility brought more attention to the person with it, and the last thing I wanted was the attention of staff. Danny had replaced my father as the person I most wanted to get away from.

On May 5th Pete Rose got his 3,000th hit as a Cincinnati Red but we didn’t see it because the house had lost its TV privilege. The harder Danny beat on people the worse their behavior became. I wasn’t the only one defying our terrorist leader.

The pressure on me dissipated over the months, and the new focus of staff became about my intellect. One night in school, during a lecture about the ocean, Mister Dionne started looking in a book for the weight of water. “I forget what it is.” He said.

“Isn’t it, like, sixty two pounds per square foot?” I said.

He stopped. “How the hell did you know that?”

“I don’t know.”

He pointed to the page he was searching. “Well, it’s actually sixty two point four pounds per square foot. But who’s counting.”

The class laughed, and my fellow residents marveled about how smart I was for a few days, but then Danny turned my newfound fame against me. Whenever I did something wrong after that, he had me blasted in haircuts for thinking I was smarter than everyone else, and being a know-it-all. The encounter group anger followed the theme. What people liked me for a week prior turned into the reason why everyone hated me. The new focus made me forget about the incident with Matt Brennan until it happened again.

There were three people in the house in positions of authority that I trusted. Wayne Weaver and Yvette Portella were nice to me, but I didn’t feel comfortable telling either of them. Mike Calabrese and I had a contract. We talked about the program negatively, and that was a big rule to break, so I trusted him. Everyone ratted themselves out, which was called, “Copping to you guilt,” and if someone had a crisis of conscience and ratted you out, you were dealt with more harshly than they were. I went to Mike the next morning.

“Matt Brennan was looking at me, and jerking off, last night.”


“Yeah, man, but here’s the embarrassing part…I was jerking off when he did it.”

“Okay,” Mike said, “That’s kinda weird.”

“I stopped when I saw him…I’m not a fag….you gotta help me, man.”

Mike said, “Danny’s been after you, so he ain’t gonna take your word for it.”

That was a fact, but Mike had a plan. “If I catch him doing it, then you have a witness, and Danny has to believe you.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I’ll watch from the door, and you get him to do it. Then, we’ve got him.”

It was a strange request, but everything about Elan was strange, so I agreed to it.

That night, when everything settled down and the men were asleep, I pretended to jerk off, and Matt took the bait. He started doing it with me like we were doing it together. When he did Mike waved to me, and I sat up. Then, he stepped inside and turned on the light. “You’re a fucking pervert, Matt Brennan, I can’t believe this shit.”

Matt yelled. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I saw you looking at him, ya pervert. What are ya trying to do, get him to do it with you?”

By that time Dave Winston was in the room. What the fuck is going on in here?”

Mike explained as Matt protested, so Dave said, “Matt, be quiet until Mike is done, and then you‘ll have your say.”

“But, this is bullshit.”

“I said to be quiet.”

“But, this is a fucking lie.”

“Shut up, Matt.”

“No, I’m not going to shut up.”

Dave took him go into the bathroom, then, came out alone, and told Mike to go up to Elan Three to ask the director on duty what to do. Mike went, and Dave got everyone settled back into bed.

In the morning, Matt was sitting in the corner, and I was relieved. After breakfast, they called a general meeting and we were herded into the dining room to sit and wait. Eventually, Danny came out, carrying the bag and the paddle. “Get up here,” he said.

He was looking at me.

I had just let out my breath, I remember, because I couldn’t get another for a few seconds. When air finally filled my lungs, the panic kicked in.

“I said get the fuck up here.” he yelled.

I got to the front of the room as fast as I could. Danny didn’t throw me against the wall, so I relaxed slightly. He didn’t seem as angry as usual.

“Get up here.” he yelled, looking at Mike Calabrese.

Mike shrugged, put out his arms, and pointed the palms of his hands to the sky. “What did I do?”

Danny sneered, “You fucking faggot, get up here.”

Mike moved as fast as I did but Danny cut him off and threw him against the wall again. I was confused. Danny turned to the house. “Who’s got something to say to these two?”

The shot downs were the only ones that didn’t charge us. More than twenty people stood inches from me screaming profanity in my ears and face, spitting into both. Through it, the thing that bothered me most was that they had no idea what they were yelling at me for.

When they were done, Danny addressed Mike. “So, what the fuck is going on here, Michael?”

Mike told the story up to the idea of busting Matt watching me as I jerked off, and Danny started laughing. It was an evil laugh. The house could sense that Danny wanted blood, and I could see that he wanted it more from Mike then me. Danny didn’t like him even when he was a department head.

“Do you expect me to believe this bullshit?” Danny said, “You two faggots are gonna try and put this whole thing on Matt Brennan?”

“I’m not a faggot.” I said.

“Shut you fucking mouth, I wasn’t talking to you.”

I lowered my head.

For the next hour they beat on Mike until he admitted that he had set the whole thing up to get off on Matt and I jerking off together. It wasn’t true, and the crowd knew from the amount of punishment it took that Mike said it to appease Danny. I watched in horror, waiting my turn, like Danny in his prison cell waiting to be raped.

Though I was afraid, I was calm, and considered my options. My father was heavy handed and I was from a tough neighborhood, so I got my share of beatings. There was no way I was going admit that I was a willing participant in what happened, so it was going to be a severe one.

“And, you,” Danny said. “This is how you get your rocks off…by setting up this asshole.” He pointed to Matt.

“I wasn’t the one,” I pointed to Matt. “He was the one that started this…He’s the fag, not me.”

Danny looked at Matt. “Is this true?”

Matt shook his head. “That’s a lie.”

Danny looked confused for a second. “Ya know what—I don’t know who to believe here,” He looked at Donald. “Do you?”

Donald said, “I don’t believe either of them…I think they’re both faggots.”

“Well, people at Vitam have told me that this isn’t the first time you’ve been suspected of being a fruit, Wayne, so I’m leaning in Matt Brennan’s direction.”

“I’m the one that came to staff.”

“Your friend Kip says,”Hi.”

That was what it was about. Vitam had given information to Elan to use against me, and the thing that got Danny’s attention was Kip Neville’s assessment that I was gay. Considering the circumstance it didn’t look good for me.

“Kip was wrong about me.”

“That man has worked with people like you for years,” Danny said, “As a matter of fact, he sounded like a faggot himself…C’mon, dude, admit it…you enjoyed this.”

“No, I didn’t, Danny, I swear to you, I’m not gay.”

“Only faggots use the word, gay, dude. Get the fuck out of here.”

Danny wasn’t happy not getting the answers that he wanted, but there was a ring of truth to my story, and everyone sensed it. Danny couldn’t ignore it. “Y’know what,” he said, “I’m going to shoot the both of you down until the truth comes out. You two work it out. I don’t have time for this shit.”

And that was it. No ring or paddle. I hadn’t seen anyone refuse to admit to something the staff wanted in a general meeting without one or the other, or both. Danny had serious doubts about Matt Brennan or my fate would have been worse.

After the general meeting, I was ta
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 08:16:52 PM by Dethgurl »
"The people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally, and without one exception, usurped over the rights of the minority." ~John Adams

Offline Dysfunction Junction

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 01:34:48 PM »
I read the whole thing this morning.  As I read all I could think was "Wow, this is Daytop, redux."  They seem to be just about the same thing entirely.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Inculcated

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2011, 08:50:57 PM »
Well, “entirely” is overstating it. The boxing ring and beatings were Joe Ricci’s twist on an already twisted ‘concept’ from Daytop. Nevertheless, "just about" is closer to it, as the screaming haircuts, tricky invective laden landmine riddled terrain of encounter groups and the humiliations, forced confessions and nearly interchangeable loaded language are all brought to you by Daytop having sent Joe Ricci out to be a change agent.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Dethgurl

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2011, 10:05:02 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"The people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally, and without one exception, usurped over the rights of the minority." ~John Adams

Offline seamus

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2011, 11:07:12 PM »
fuck me running. :eek:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
It\'d be sad if it wernt so funny,It\'d be funny if it wernt so sad

Offline Samara

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2011, 01:12:07 PM »
This is truly, truly disturbing stuff.... It disgusts me that this can occur undeterred... I don't know how you all lived with the chronic fear of being subservient to sadistic f*cks.  And not having a voice or anyone who will hear you. And having no voice to protect others as well. It makes me so angry. Do you folks know about and accept what has happened to you and others at Elan.

If you survive these places the very least -very least- one deserves is validation and recognition. I really admire people who can delve into the details long enough to create narrative that is illuminating to others. To write it is to re-live it and that would be torturous. I'd love it if every program had a survivor manuscript such as this one so that people can show their parents or loved ones an example of what they lived through. Not all of us can articulate our experiences. Many of us disassociate from the experience so it's all a hazy, wincing fog.  CEDU was bad enough. Elan sounds like a horror show. The terror is more pronounced, but I recognize many similar elements.  They take away your voice and worse, your conscience.

I feel like I dodged a bullet because I split before my conscience was compromised, even though certain social memes were altered.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Dethgurl

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2011, 07:47:08 AM »
What the hell, I'll leave the end. If you want the middle, then Buy the book here.
Chapter 14


Monday morning brought dark skies and the threat of rain, but our first practice scrimmage was close so Marty insisted that the football team meet in Elan Three’s dining room to be sure of the weather. When we arrived the players from Three were huddled around tables talking. We waved to the ones we knew.

Mike Skakel was with Jamie Newfield and John Higgins. He nodded to me when we arrived. Joe Peterson liked to be in charge so I let him pick our table and situate the guys. He did it in a loud, military manner.

“You guys stay here and behave yourselves,” Marty said, “And, I’ll go get the guys from the bus.”

Only Shane McGarrah was lower than Joe, Gary and I, and Joe needed to look like the boss so he looked at Shane. “Did you hear what he said? Behave yourself until he gets back.”

Shane said. “I heard him.”

“Did I tell you to cop an attitude?”

There was no right answer to that question so Shane didn’t say anything, but that wasn’t enough for Joe. He was in his first position of authority and it was obvious that he enjoyed it. He would have fit in perfectly in the old days. “You’re not denying it, so now I’m sure you were copping an attitude.” He said.

“I wasn’t.”

“Now you’re lying.” Joe asked Jamie Newfield. “Is there a room I can use?”

Jamie pointed.

Joe said to Shane. “Knock on this door.”

Shane muttered something about Joe being on a power trip as he passed me and I would have said something, but I agreed. We didn’t nitpick at football. The guys from Three were also uncomfortable because of it.

When Joe was done, Marty and the players arrived. The commotion drowned out Joe’s victory lap, and Shane blended in rather than take the walk through a tense, quiet dining room. Wayne Weaver was having a conversation with one of the guys from his house, and when he saw me I gestured to him that we needed to talk, and he nodded. He put his hand to his face and mimicked eating a sandwich to tell me that we should do it at lunchtime. I nodded.


“Jane Tolar told me that she’s going to tell Jeffrey that she lied on you, man.”


I told him the story from the beginning and he looked happy at first, but by the time I was done he looked angry again. Yvette and Jane were a small victory compared to Cathy Collins and Willie Garcia.

“I’m working on Willie and Cathy, but if Jeff gets mad at Jane and tells us to stop talking about the old days I’ll never be able to confront them.”

“Then, tell her to shut up about it for a while.”

“She spoke to him last night. She might have already told him.”


That night, I had my first coordinator’s meeting with Jeff Gottlieb and Gary Ross. Jeff started by telling us that Jane had been shot down for guilt that she had copped to, and then he made me the chief coordinator, Joe Peterson a coordinator, and Gary the coordinator of the department heads.

I cut myself for fun and I was in charge of the house. Twenty five people’s lives were in the hands of a fifteen year old who wanted to kill someone. After the next week’s scrimmage game we were scheduled to start the season. Summer was coming to an end and so was my time away from the house. Before long they were going to figure me out.

Jane congratulated me on the promotion. “You’ll be going home soon,” she said, “I’ll miss you.”

“I’m not out of here yet.”

“You’re doing good….You’ll be out of here soon.”


If someone makes you angry and you want to sit on the end of your chair in an encounter group screaming at them, you, “Drop a slip,’ on them. Encounter groups took precedent over other groups, so there were a lot more of them. There were rarely slips in the box for static groups.

As the participants set up to scream they’d let you know who they were angry at, and when it began three or four people would start yelling at the same time. Usually one outlasted the others, but in the event that two or more people were going on for too long the group leader had to assign an order.

Cathy Collins yelled at Jane Tolar for getting shot down because she considered her a role model, and when she was done Gary asked me to be in charge of the group for as long as it took for him to yell at Jane too. Jane didn’t shout at them, which was rare for her. She was dejected and embarrassed, so she sat and took it.

When Gary was done, he said, “One more,” and went after Cathy Collins for having the nerve to yell at Jane. Cathy called him corrupt and said he had no right to yell at her. The language had changed in the year and half I was in Elan, but it was easy to see that the residents still hated and wanted to hurt each other.

When the yelling was over Gary confronted Jane about losing her job and asked her what guilt she had copped to. Nothing had been announced except that she was shot down, and the house wanted to know why.

Jane gave the list of offenses but left out the part about lying on Wayne. She told me that Jeff told her to shut up about it. “It wasn’t so much one thing,” she said, “as it was a lot of little things.”

“So, you let it all build up till you lost your job.” Cathy said.

“What do you care?” Gary said. “You just want to jump on her now that she’s down.”

The group felt that, so when Gary said it they agreed.

“Exactly.” Richard Kogut said.

“You’re just jealous of her because you’ve never had a position of authority.” Amy Ericson said.

Gary didn’t like Cathy, so he let the group turn on her. The next ten minutes were spent going over her latest list of incidents. She was always in trouble so it wasn’t hard to do. Jane was relieved until I went after Cathy.

“You’re not jealous of Jane’s position in the house, Cathy. You’re jealous because Wayne Weaver liked her, and hated you.” I said. “So, why don’t you cop to that?”

“Wayne Weaver didn’t hate me.”

“He does now…He told me so.”

“Why would he hate me?”

“Because you lied on him.”

She stopped with her mouth open. “I didn’t…”

“Yes, you did,” Jane cut her off. “Wayne never had sex with you.”

She could see that we were done with the lies, and stared at Jane for a few seconds quietly. Then, she began to cry. “It wasn’t my fault,” she said, “Danny was going to put me in the ring.”

“It wasn’t anyone’s fault,” I said. “Yvette, Jane and you have all admitted the same thing.” I turned to Willie Garcia. “So let’s have it, Willie…You’re the one he needs to tell the truth. You’re the one they’re still torturing him over.”

Everyone looked at him. “I say the same thing…Danny was going to hit me.”

“So, you made it up?”

“Yeah.” He said. “And he hit me anyway.”

We talked about false confessions for the rest of the group. The worst of the violence was what the program took from our being. Danny picked the one thing he could take from Wayne that would destroy him, and he did it after he had him beaten. He did that to all of us. When the group was over Gary and I put together the notes and gave them to Jeff Gottlieb, but we never heard about them again.


Wayne thanked me, but I could see that nothing would change for him. We played out the season, went 0-8, and I never saw him again. Mike Skakel had a great game against Brunswick the last game of the season, and we walked away feeling respectable. Jamie Newfield led us in a song on the bus ride home.

“We’re best friends, we’ll always be…Tackles and kicks, and blocks and blitz…Friends, we’ll be.”

For us there was justice because we publicly hung Danny Bennison in that group and no one was afraid. We also talked about what he did to Mary Jones. We thumbed our nose at the program for a minute and got away with it. What’s more, I pulled it off without losing my job.

Cathy Collins took care of that.

Chapter 15

Chapter 15

When Cathy Collins split she was caught in a few hours because she didn’t want to get away. She was dressed in shorts in the cold, and Cathy wasn’t stupid so if she wanted to escape she would have planned better.

At her general meeting Jeff put her in the ring, spanked her with the paddle and shot her down. He gave her a sign, assigned her a P.O. and gave her a twenty minute lecture. None of it was unexpected. After eighteen months in the program I knew what was going to happen before it did. Except for what happened next.

Donna Bouton was Cathy’s escort when she ran, so Jeff shot her down and gave her the same sign to wear. Then, he did the same to Gary Ross because he was her boss and me because I was his. I had heard of that happening but had never seen it done. I fell from the top to the bottom that easily. It was the third time I had been shot down and all three times I hadn’t done anything wrong. The slogan about injustices was right.

My sign said, “Hi, my name is Wayne Kernochan. Please ask me why I’m too busy trying to impress people to be responsible for the people in my house.” It wasn’t very humiliating insofar as signs went and Jeff told me that it would be a short shot-down, so I took it well at first. Things rarely went according to plan in Elan. No one took Joe Peterson into account.


Amy Ericson came to me in the kitchen. “You have to knock on the coordinator’s office door.”

Joe was the only coordinator in the house and his haircuts were always motivated by anger and degradation. He talked about the military and discipline, but had little to offer in the way of therapy. I prepared for idiocy.

If you hadn’t done anything wrong it was probably a generic haircut with a theme that made no sense. Those could be about your lackadaisical attitude because your bed wasn’t made well, or your problem with authority because you weren’t cleaning the kitchen floor fast enough. They bored me. Joe didn’t.

“Do you know why you’re standing there?” He asked.


I stared at him blankly as he screamed at me about trying to impress people. It was boring until it became about my sexuality, and me being gay. “I’m not gay.”

Joe stopped. “Get back out, and knock on that door.”

I did.

“Who’s out there?”


“Come in!”

I did.

“Do you know why you’re standing there?”


He screwed up his face, and screamed with all his might about me having the audacity to interrupt him while he was giving a haircut and segued into me admitting to being gay in a general meeting so I interrupted him again.

“I didn’t admit to that, ask anyone that was there.”

“Get out, and knock on that door again.”

I did, and he didn’t ask me if I knew why I was standing there. He said it. “I’m not even going to ask you why you’re standing there…” and he went on for twenty minutes.

Joe was trying to humiliate me in front of the house with lies and I wasn’t going to let him. After knocking on the door for the eighth time, he yelled, “Come in!” and when I entered Jeff was standing there.

“What the fuck is your problem?”

He didn’t want an answer. He cut me off as I was about to. “You don’t run this house anymore. Get that through your head.”

When he was done Joe made me knock twice more. Once for making Jeff take time out of his schedule for a nobody like me, and the second for wanting to impress people. He left the gay thing alone.


The bathroom was the hardest work for people that were shot down and Joe Peterson was an Army man so he knew that and gave me the dirtiest work—the toilets. After my defiance he had me scrub them with a toothbrush. I had also heard of that before but never seen it.

“I want this door open all the time,” Joe said, “You’re not going to run off and get me shot down like Cathy did to you…You know what? I think you’d do it just to get me shot down.”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“Get out, and knock on that door, Wayne Kerningham.”

Joe always mispronounced my name. If I corrected him again it would just be another door to knock on, and another and another. I already told him in an encounter group and he continued doing it, so I got used to it.

When he was done blasting me for talking back I took the pail of water and toothbrush and started cleaning the toilet. He left. There was a shortage of people in positions in the house so I was left without a P.O. When Lisa Kelch came by I asked if I could close the door to use the bathroom and she said I could, so I locked the door, took out the razor blade and cut the bottoms of my feet until they bled.

I bit my hand until it had two semi circular purple imprints of teeth. When the initial pain went away the euphoria settled in and I exhaled. I wrapped toilet paper around the cuts to soak up the blood, put on my socks and shoes and opened the door


Over the next week I cut myself. Staff only looked at your wrists because the cutters in the house wanted attention. I didn’t. I wanted the pain. It made the crazy go away and with Joe Peterson in charge of the house I needed that.

When Gary and Jane told Joe that I had never admitted to being gay he changed his assessment of me, and from that point on everything I did wrong was because I didn’t feel like a man and was afraid women wouldn’t accept me. He obviously wasn’t in Denise’s group.

There were always a few that would jump on a bandwagon no matter how stupid it was, so Eric States and Matt Brennan started saying that I was feminine, and made fun of me for it. Joe told them to knock it off, but he smirked when he did.


I was cutting when Lisa knocked on the bathroom door. “Wayne, you need to knock on Jeff’s door.”

I said, “Give me one minute.”


I grabbed the end of the toilet paper and pulled it too hard, leaving half of the roll on the floor. “I need a minute to get decent.”

“Hurry up.”

I wrapped my feet and dropped the razor blade into my shoe. Then, I pulled on my socks, put my shoes on and wiped the blood from my hands with the extra paper. I flushed, opened the door and went to Jeff’s office to knock.

“Who’s out there?” Jeff asked.


“Come in.”

His voice was calm so I relaxed and opened the door. There was a chair where I was supposed to stand which was usually an indication that you were going to be spanked, but Jeff didn’t have an angry tone in his voice, so it was a talking to.

A talking to, was a haircut without the yelling. The convoluted therapy was the same so it was useless to me, but at least it wasn’t another haircut. It was Jeff, Joe and Jane. I looked at Jeff.

“Do you know why you’re in here?”


“Sit down.”

I did.

“Look,” Jeff said, “I’m not gonna pull any punches with you. You were my coordinator and I like ya…you’re a good guy.” He sighed. “But, Jesus Christ man, you’re making it hard on me and my crew.”

He told me that I wasn’t long from going home, but that I wasn’t going until I straightened out and did my thing. He finished. “When you go out of this office, I want you to change the way you act, okay?”

I nodded.

Joe was uncomfortable doing a talking to. He stammered because he was angry, and blamed everything on the fact that I had a bad relationship with my mother. I wanted to correct him because in spite of all the problems at home, I didn’t, but Jeff was there so I left it alone.

Jane told me that she had respect for me but was losing it as my behavior got worse. When she was done, Jeff spoke again. “I want to see a remarked improvement in you.” He said. “Now get out.”

I went back to the bathroom, closed the door and cut some more.


By lunchtime that day the pain was almost too much to hide. It took more cutting to get the same high so in a short time I needed to stop. I ran out of safe places to hide it. When I needed relief I hyperventilated but that gave me headaches and didn’t last very long. Joe became more vicious, so I got worse still. I left the talking to with every intention of trying to get my job back, and mutilated myself in the bathroom to try and make it happen, but there was no way I was going to let Joe Peterson win.

It was going to be another long winter. :eek:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"The people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally, and without one exception, usurped over the rights of the minority." ~John Adams

Offline seamus

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 03:01:59 AM »
if only 1/3 of what you say is factional( and I dont doubt ANY of it) What s seriously fucked -up place elan is/was. damn how is a soul supposed to be "normal" after a dose of that shit? Am I missing something?(besides my marbles) DAMN.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
It\'d be sad if it wernt so funny,It\'d be funny if it wernt so sad

Offline Dethgurl

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 10:10:28 AM »
My thoughts on Waynes Book by Danny Bennison


I have read Waynes book as many here. I will not be trying to compete with his writing skills nor length of his book. He beats me hands down. The book was mesmerizing to say the least. Names were brought up that I have not thought about in years (decades). Some of the people I have/had stayed in contact with throughout the years. So it was interesting to hear their thoughts on the book also. The chronicling of my work history was for the most part off but only by a few months, I was wrote about being at Elan 7 at a time I had already left.
I am not going to get in a big argument about the book at this time if ever. I don't see the need after all. Yes at first I wanted to jump all over it but I was encouraged not to by many. This story brought up old hurts, wounds and anger. I was a resident at Elan for almost 2 years, I watched Elan change into a violent atmosphere in a matter of years. I witnessed the change in residents being brought to Elan from Mental facilities, Juvenile detention centers, Autistic children ect....I watched Staff and Directors leave en-mass and I watched 3 people who are still there deny they are doing children harm, It is beyond shameful.
Back to the book, two people I will talk about that I felt were erroneously portrayed one was my best friend Donald Hampton. I knew Donald prior to coming to Elan, we met at YCC in R.I. We were residents together at Elan, became staff together.
Don was a black guy and while we worked at Elan we were roommmates, along with 3 other people. So I'm sorry I don't know where this racist "nigger shit" is coming from but ya got me confused with someone else. Donald left Elan because of the violence, he worked as staff for a whole 4 months. He hated Elan. AS far as calling people faggots and so forth, well ya got me there. During the football season in 76 George White, Wanye Barnes, Steve Sperry, Mike O'Neil, Alan Frey and others use to egg one another on across the lines calling each other faggots. We would wait to see if George was going to carry the ball and Dominic Parker and myself would call George a faggot if he ran away from us. As far as calling residents faggots as staff no I'm sorry once again not my style.
In early 1978 I was 18 years old and most of the people I wrote about above were my age or a year younger. I was in the program with them, hung out with them and kept in touch with three of them over the years. If you were from Rhode Island and followed college basketball and the NBA during the early 70's you knew Wayne Barnes older brother. His brother was paying for Wayne.
Second person is Mary Jones. Mary has been talked about a lot on this site and fornits. She was used to embarrass me. You guys remember the story of Mary being tied to the back of a Van and dragged around Elan. Now the story is Mary was beaten by 15 to 20 people. Well everyone that really knows Mary Jones finds this to be a bit incredulous. I'll tell you why, Mary had a kidney abnormality so she was never put in the ring or received any kind of physical punishment. This came down from Joe straight from Rhode Island. So I find this a tad difficult to understand because if she was beat she would definitely sustained injuries that probably would have killed her or very near. This is a fact, just ask anyone who knew Mary Jones from 75-79. I feel for Mary and they way she has been treated.
As I said I am not going to minimize this book. I am sure Wayne invested his soul in this book. I do believe it took a lot of courage to put yourself out there. To talk to a audience about what you experienced at 15 years old. No one could have prepared us for Elan and the mind fuck that happened to us. So no, I am not going to fight Wayne or anyone else over the barbarous abuses that went on.
If Wayne was in the House, Elan 7 as he said he was then we both know what I did and what I did not do. I do not have the luxury of remembering Wayne and for this I am sorry. It does not mean you were insignificant it just means I can not recollect.
Wayne I also want to take this time to apologize for any and all harm I caused you either directly or indirectly. I was put in charge to care for you (whether Elan wanted me to do this or not) I knew that you needed to be protected and I failed horribly.
I can only hope in time you can see just how sincere I am.

Now I would also like to take the time to express my sincere apologies to others to have gone to Elan that I was unkind to and down right rude to over the last year or so. As I have said before I could not have prepared myself enough to understand the impact of emotions that stormed back into my life when I ventured onto this site and others concerning Elan.
I did not handle the emotions from others well. I can only hope that Felice, Sharon, Matt, Mark, Wayne and others can forgive my intolerable behavior I displayed here and other sites a while back. My ongoing amends to you all has been to leave you alone and to empathize with your pain and how I can irritate this with my behavior.
I now understand that just by being staff and a Director will be enough for many of you to push me away. I am OK with this now. I guess I have acquired enough information so it is not as important to be heard as it is to listen. I have people I can go to to help me when I need it.
I was so naive and ignorant when I first got here because I had not put two 'n two together yet. This is a survivor site and I was staff. I had never really looked at myself that way. Being staff was just another phase of Elan until I left. I never had any intention of staying at Elan. I just had no other place to go and until I figured out what was next I thought I would just stay there. What was next came 20 months, when I moved to Louisiana and worked in the Gulf of Mexico on oil rigs. I have never looked back since.

Wayne thanks for a great book. Hey I have no problem really you using my name. I am sure I have injured you in some way. Just by being staff.
Just know this, I have a heart and a soul. I love and I am loved. I know what you went through and I am sorry I am a part of your life in the way I am.
Please think about this, you and I know what I did. Part of our healing process is getting honest about our past so we can forgive. Forgiveness does not mean you invite me into your life, forgiveness means we look at our past honestly and have no more illusions about it. We see it as it was and say Ok this is what happened and I am letting it go.

With my love in your healing process,


P.S. These were just some heartfelt thoughts I had.

Diane love you much.....
My little sister wrote to me the lyrics to the song "Daniel" from Elton John in 1975. I read this letter while sitting in my bunk in the mens dormitory. They converted the mens dormitory into Elan 7 eighteen months later.
I thought that had some significance here.

* I report, you decide  :nods:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"The people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally, and without one exception, usurped over the rights of the minority." ~John Adams

Offline Ursus

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M. Scott Peck - "The Road Better Left Untraveled"
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2011, 12:15:08 PM »
Quote from: "Wayne Kernochan"
"I liked Vitam," I told Doctor Peck, "but, I didn't have anything in common with the people there...they were all drug addicts."

"Vitam was a mistake," Doctor Peck said, "Elan is different."


"Elan specializes in troubled adolescents, and has a ninety five percent success rate." He said. "It's like school, with therapy. They have counselors and psychiatrists, and activities."

He was very convincing.
Might you be referring to this guy?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Anonymous

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2011, 03:32:41 PM »
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 11:20:55 AM by Anonymous »

Offline Ursus

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2011, 01:22:58 PM »
Quote from: "Wayne Kernochan"
Mom always said he was a better writer than a shrink
Ya know... I think some people jumped into the Human Potential Movement so whole-heartedly, they plumb forgot to hang on to some common sense.

This especially seems to be the case with a fair number of psych professionals.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Dethgurl

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2011, 12:48:23 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"The people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
The majority has eternally, and without one exception, usurped over the rights of the minority." ~John Adams

Offline Anonymous

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2011, 11:45:39 AM »
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 09:45:56 AM by Anonymous »

Offline Anonymous

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Re: A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2011, 11:49:27 AM »
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 09:46:15 AM by Anonymous »