Please note that our next reunion will be over the Labor Day weekend, 2006. I have just learned that the film 'Homecoming' is on sale for $19,99. Richard McKenzie informed that the film will be aired on at least 80% of all PBS stations across the country. I also understand the Ruth Cobb is making great strides on completion of ISSCS Book of Oral Histories.
Recently, I was asked to speak to a graduate class in the School of Social of Work at Highlands University of New Mexico. I was pleased to find out that they were remarkablly up-to-date on Richard McKenzie's past work on the value of Orphanages, now called 'community living centers'.
I began my 'spiel' as it were, by explaining to the audience that if an individual hasn't experienced living in an institution like ISSCS or any other form of orphanage style home for children, that you can no more tell me what life was like. than I can tell your professor (who, incidentally, was African American) what it is like to be of that particular race. A person can only presume to know through empathy but it is not the same as the experience of living and growing up at such a institution.
I spoke for more than an hour to the group and I told them of the enormously rich life I had during my years at ISSCS. I explained to them that everything was not perfect but it was as perfect as I could expect. Once, I was free of the madness of my home life I began to grow, physicallly, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I was a very lucky fellow to have been place at ISSCS at that is the end of that. I ended my talk by telling them of the upcoming film and Mr. McKenzies book "The Home', and thanked them for inviting me to speak of my favorite topic ISSCS and the very large family of brothers and sisters one could have ever wished for.
Oh yes, that is my brother on ther right and the little guy is me. I was about age 3, my brother was 8. We were taken out for the day from St. Vincents Orphanage in Freeport, IL., on Easter Sunday to visit Rockford, Il. were my relatives lived at the time. I was very upset because I had wear shorts. Can you tell how upset I was??? My brother Angelo passed away two years ago on Easter Sunday, April 11th, it was his birthday, he was 66 years old.
Tony Spataro (May 2006) A Very Proud Homer Indeed.
This page has been developed for the all former residents of the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home (ISSCS) of Normal, Illinois. It is also here to inform anyone who is interested about the ISSCS Historical Preservation Society, and the rich history of this once wonderful place. ISSCS was in existence for 114 years (1865-1979) before it closed it doors forever in 1979. Prior to the closing of ISSCS many children passed through and out it's doors into the mainstream population to lead full and productive lives as contributing partners in this society.
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J Anthony Spataro
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