The cottages were lined in rows of three," Straley, a white house boys survivor.
But soon after he said things drastically changed.
"I didn't know it, but I stepped into a beautiful hell because that night I went down to the white house to get my first beating," Straley said.
Straley is one of many who call themselves the white house boys.The boys, now men, say those beatings took place here at this white house in the 1950's and 60's.
Behind these four walls students say they were beaten with a thick leather strap. That strap was doubled with sheet metal. "I turned over and I thought it would be better to fight them or try and get out or something to get away from that and they were all over me in an instant and they gave me 40 lashes," Straley said.
"It's just terrible, terrible feeling to be beat like that when you're hollering out for someone to help you but nobody would. The more you screamed, the more they beat you," Patrick Hallinan said.
Patrick Hallinan, now 64 can still remember the man who beat him. "Mr. Tidwell was a very aggressive man. He had one arm. Intimidating, verbal abusive. He was the one who beat me twice and I hate to say it. It was almost like he enjoyed it," Hallinan, a white house boys' survivor said.
This weapon (LEATHER STRAP) inflicted tremendous blunt trauma and deep bruises. I have also been told that with some of the boys, the giant strap was turned sideways so that on impact the sheet metal edge would slice open the skin of the children, this is barbaric, what kind of man was the one armed tormentor, Mr. Troy Tidwell Jr, who is still living in Marianna, Florida..... he is 84 today.
Governor Charlie Crist has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a full investigation into the beatings and whether or not they had anything to do with the 30-plus unmarked graves found near the old school.
All the white house boys want is closure and they're hoping this investigation will bring them that so they won't have to keep reliving their pasts.
Local historian Doug Cox doesn't believe the graves contain any murdered students. He says he has records of who's actually buried there. But for right now, F-D-L-E officials want to be as thorough as possible before they decide to start digging up graves.
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