Tales of Xenia: The OS&SO Home

29 Dec

Growing up in Xenia, I remember being fascinated by the Ohio Soldier and Sailors Orphan Home. The “ Home” as it was commonly referred to sat on several beautiful, and beautifully maintained, acres on US 68 South near the outskirts of Xenia.  It was a seemingly placid and pastoral place.  The orphans did not attend Xenia Schools for some reason, they had their own schools including Woodrow Wilson High. Woodrow Wilson would play the black high school—East in basketball, but I do not think they were big enough to play Central, the white high school.  The children seemed almost preternaturally polite, orderly and reserved. Since I was not really particularly any of those things I put it down to them being grateful to have somewhere to live since they were orphans.

One of my sister’s boyfriends, Paul B., and his brothers were all residents of the Home. They were quiet fellows who came, often in a pack, to sit on our front porch on East Market Street on warm summer evenings and “court” my sister.  I do not know if they all wanted her for a girlfriend, or just all wanted to get out of an evening.  They did not have much, if any money, of course, so they did not take her anywhere—no movies or restaurants, but sat quietly and chatted occasionally, very occasionally, they were not the talkative types. They did show up with a few tributes from time to time, flowers or candy, but that seemed to be about the extent of the relationship.

We used to go out to the Home on Memorial Day, which they made a big deal of, having a parade of their own and marching to the cemetery on the grounds. At first I presumed that their parents were all buried there, ergo, that is why they were orphans. I was about 12 when I found out, via a classmate, that a lot of the “orphans” were not without parents. It seems that if you fell on hard times you could kind of check your kids into the Home until you felt you could care for them again. The reasons a lot of the children there were there were quite varied. Some of them were there because there was some mental breakdown, usually of the maternal stripe, some were there because the family was destitute and could not feed them, some of them were actually there because their parents, or one of their parents, had died. But, it appears that some of them were there because their parents simply did not want them.

As a child the idea that my parents might die and I might end up in the Home was terrifying. It was even more terrifying to find out that they did not necessarily have to die for me to end up there! I do not know if you truly did have to be the son or daughter of a veteran to live at the Home, I imagine you did, at least at one time. It seemed to me later that they would take virtually anyone.

At the Home they  lived in “cottages”, the name they used for their different dormitories which were arranged according to age. My favorite was the Peter Pan Cottage where the small children lived. It allowed me to romanticize being an orphan to some extent. They might not have parents but they had a communal living arrangement based on a fairy tale. I used to imagine Tinkerbell watching over them and Peter Pan dropping by to take them on excursions to Never-Never-Land periodically. It still did not make me want to be an orphan.


I began to think about the OS&SO recently during a conversation with my oldest son who works in Social Services for Montgomery County. He was describing some horror stories from the Social Workers whose offices share a building with his department. Since I do quite a bit of work with the Social Work School at my university, and since I teach classes on diversity for the Wake County Guardian Ad Litem Program and do workshops for the Victim’s Advocate Workers in NC, his stories were all to familiar.


I greatly admire people who are sociologists and social workers. It is not in my make-up to do that kind of hands-on interactive work with such oppressed populations. I do my service at a distance, trying to help those who actually interact with the poor, the abused, the neglected, the abandoned, so that they can do their jobs, and maintain their own self-care.


During my work with these populations I have become an advocate for the idea of reinstituting government run orphanages. I know all of the arguments against them, but I know that we have populations of children who need respite from parents who cannot or will not parent. Foster homes can be great or can be dicey and they are hard to monitor and regulate. A well run orphanage would be a much better place for abused children than letting them get lost in a system that has too many cases  with too many problems and not enough workers and not enough answers.

If a social worker is called to a home where the parents are dysfunctional, that is filthy and lacks basic utilities, where food is missing or inadequate, if they had a place to send the children I am confident that many, if not most, Americans would say, “ Let the parents figure out their own problems.” In our society people who are not even attempting to do the right thing can get support if they have children. Americans, rightly, do not want children raised in deprived or depraved circumstances. We do not however, have resources, or at least do not know how to allocate and manage our resources, to ameliorate the problems of a lot of these homes which are complex and varied.

If there is drug abuse in the home, for example, any money given to the parent is likely to go to a drug dealer rather than to feed, house and clothe their children. If there is spousal abuse, the money is likely to go to temporary solutions like motel rooms or other attempts to flee and be safe rather than to feed, clothe and house the children in more traditional, stable ways. If there is simply immaturity and lack of understanding of how the world works, the money is likely to go to buy $100 sneakers as a status symbol instead of paying the light bill or buying nutritious food.

We cannot make people be good parents. I have tried to explain this to my friends in public education and academe who insist parents have to participate effectively in their children’s education. No they don’t, and many of them cannot or will not.

So, if we have to save the children and we cannot save the parents, then orphanages—we may need a new name, seem to me to be the solution. I am not a social worker, could not be one, do not intend to be one, so perhaps I am simply offering a solution that seems reasonable because I do not know any better.

All I know is, if I saw a child who was being abused and/or neglected I would want to have a safe, clean, functional place to take that child. That does not mean we would have to abandon the parents, if they wanted help. It does, however, mean that we might be able to save some kids whose parents are lost and who have no idea how to get back on the path, and in some cases at least, no desire to do so.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German pastor and Nazi opponent who died in a concentration camp) said “ The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

I am afraid Americans are going to find ourselves wanting on the scales that determine morality if we are judged by what we do for our children.






Posted by on December 29, 2010 in Xenia


66 responses to “Tales of Xenia: The OS&SO Home

  1. richard

    December 29, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Well Cousin Cookie I do think that you probably will find a great deal of agreement from many social workers because from my experience professionally and personally(i have in-laws who are social workers) they seem to think that society (government)caqn solve those very local problems. Personally i don’t because society will not adequately fund those “orphanges”,which will in reality end up being prisons for people who have not done anything wrong. The better solution is to have “foster homes”, group homes in a system which is adequately funded.
    The notion that we can put large numbers of children in large homes, orphanages or whatever you want to call them and adequately care for them is naive,and ignores history. Those large wharehouse settings are invitations for serious “child abuse”. Children do need more than anything someone to love them, not someone to provide for their needs as an employee. More than their material needs ,children need their emotional needs met,love from a parent or a parent substitute. Proof of this ,the many ill adjusted children of parents who met their material needs but failed to give them love. just my opinion. Anyone else have opinions.

    • minerva5

      December 29, 2010 at 1:38 am

      Cousin Richard, I have known too many “foster parents” who do it for the money and are dreadful to the children. Some of them abuse them. We had a small girl die in the Xenia area about ten years ago after her foster mother dumped a bottle of bleach on her for some behavioral infraction. Added to my displeasure with the foster care system ( and I know there are good foster parents too) is the growing number of children of color being fostered by white couples. I am sure some of them are good, well intentioned people, but I am suspicious that in these hard times some of them are fostering these children because they need the money–which I believe is more than $1500 a month per kid in Ohio currently. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they presume the children of color will not be monitored as closely as white children and they are probably right given the make-up of most of our social services in counties like Greene. I think a well run orphanage could be a safe, loving and nurturing place if properly monitored and it would be easier to monitor than private homes. It would also be fiscally more feasible.

    • Brooke Leimgruber (Hummel)

      October 22, 2013 at 12:28 am

      I am product Of OSSO/OVCH and an orphanage can be ran successfully. OVCH was not closed due to neglect or abuse but because the state and government, and veterans could no longer support the institution. If I had not been placed in the Home I would not be the person I am today. Each dormitory employed what we referred to as house mom’s who had degrees in psychology and/or social work. What the home gave me that no foster home ever could was a chance at a normal life. Being shuffled from foster home to foster home, school system to school system does not allow a child to build social skills and in today’s society the ability to function socially is a big determinant of success. The school also gave a me a safe environment free of abuse and neglect to gain an education and a trade, in foster care I would have been kicked out at age 18 whether I had a job or a skill. It also allowed me to attain self respect, independence, and accountability. None of which I had gained in my previous experiences with foster care. We may not have had $100 tennis shoes, but we had manners, self respect, dignity, work ethics, self esteem and self respect when we left the home. Had I remained in foster care I would have been a felon by now instead of being a member of the medical profession.
      Society spreads it’s social workers thin. Going house to house door to door one child at a time, In a group home setting all the medical, psychological, religious, social, and physical needs of a child can be met and those children s well being can be monitored easier by social services by the use of social workers and psychology majors being employed through the institution and followed up by frequent visits with outside social service agencies. Never in the time I spent at OVCH did I hear of anyone being neglected or abused by any members of the staff. Why do you think they all return year after year?

  2. Mary Beth King

    December 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    As evidenced by the conversation between you and your cousin, there are no easy solutions to this one. I have mentored at risk students for the last sixteen years and have stayed in touch with those students, sometimes long after they left the school system. I have had some who broke my heart and others who amazed me with their resilience. Through it all, I’ve learned that the most important influence a child can have in their lives is a positive adult role model and that can’t always be a parent, unfortunately.

  3. mallorca urlaub

    January 9, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I’ve been following your blog since you started. You have made amazing progress. This site is an inspiration for all pursuing a long transition versus the big chop.

    – Rob

  4. Debra Figgins Fuhrman

    June 20, 2011 at 5:56 am

    As a former child of the OSSO Home in Xenia, Ohio I’d like to extend a inviation to each of you to come to our school’s reunion this July 2- 4th, 2011 to judge for yourselves how a orphanage can affect a child growing up. Although it’s not roses as some folks think, it’s also not as gloomy as most folks think. It’s not like in the Charles Dickens story either. Although we didn’t have what others had such as a family, we did have something others didn’t. We had more brothers and sisters than a normal kid did. We had others that knew what we were going through and ones we could relate too. Kids in foster care don’t have that as most of them feel they are outsiders in today’s society. We were given a good education, religious background, vocations to use after graduation and lifelong lasting friendships. What we lacked in not having parents we made up in our extended family of fellow “orphans”. Each year we return to the OSSO for a annual reunion and relieve our childhood and rekindle with our childhood friends and share both the good and bad of the home. I just wish others that don’t understand the orphanage concept would check with kids that were raised in that envirorment and then they would understand. I’m also a former foster mother and have heard of the horro stories from children that were in the system and I’m happy to say that I’m glad I was raised in a orphanage instead of the fostercare system. Atleast there I felt safe and secure and felt I belonged. Please do not take this wrong, but while some may not understand what it takes to be a child of the system, unless they have lived it, they will never truely understand what it is to be a child of the system.

    • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

      November 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      For Debbie Figgins Fuhrman- Thank you for your wonderful reply. I remember you from Girl Scouts. I think we were camping when you told me how fortunate I was. I don’t think any of us can appreciate what we have, until it’s gone. My father Ted Vandevier passed away in June of 2010. It was so shocking, as he hadn’t been ill or anything. Just dropped over dead, apparently. It’s the way to go, but so shocking for family. Dad was 79, missed his 80th birthday by4 mos. My mom is still living. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, as does my little sister Vickie. I will let my mom know what you said, that will mean a lot to her. I don’t get on Facebook, I found it to be too invasive, but I am glad to know you are in touch with others on there as well. I can see you in my mind as clearly as if you were in front of me. It’s always nice to know we are remembered, isn’t it? I think often of many of the “kids” I was in classes with there at OSSO Home. Thank you for replying. -Val Vandevier Rexrode-

  5. Susan Dotson

    September 2, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I grew up at the OSSO Home in Xenia. There were 5 children in my family, all of us entered the home in 1963. I was the youngest being the age of 7 yrs. I was in the home for 10 years. Graduating from High School at the age of 17.
    My first cottage was Peter Pan 7.
    Not quite the fairy tale you describe but it was a safe clean place for a 7 year old to sleep, play, and be fed. I wasn’t living with my brother and sisters, but I was able to have contact with them.
    Which is what my mother wanted more than anything before her death. Her last wish was for us to be raised together. Not many family’s today could accomplish taking on 5 children to raise, no more than they could have back in 1963. Each of us were safe, well fed, educated and grew into responsible adults. We have children of our own today who have (because of the safety of the home) and how we were raised had the opportunity to go and reap the rewards of Master Degrees. They have a better life because we were given a better life. The last wish of a mother, for her children to have a chance. Thanks to the State of Ohio this was able to happen. Thanks to Institutions like the Orphanage in Xenia, Ohio.
    I attended the hearings back when the State of Ohio was discussing closing the OSSO Home. The Governor made the statement that institutionalized children do not make good social adults.
    I was shocked…..How could this man make this statement? This man had no idea how many children had passed through those gates since the Civil War. How many children were given a chance to live a good social life. During my life in the institute, there were 675 children. Not all turned out great. But given the odds, so many more went on to contribute back to society. Doctors, Lawyers, Military Personnel, Teachers, Play Writes, Authors, Movie Producers, Artist, Athletes, Coaches from Peewee up….Government employees…Computer Tech’s, Preacher’s..the list goes on and on. All of these kid’s were given a chance. Look at what they did.
    Foster care is good in some cases, horrible in others. Institutes are good in some cases, horrible in others. Their has to be a happy medium. There is bad children and bad adults in both. The State’s need to re-evulate the need for where the money is being spent. What produces the greater out come.
    We have (3) foster homes in my neighborhood. One home from what we can see and judge is a really good home. The other (2) not so much.
    When a child looses it’s parent’s, it’s way of life the answers are never easy. Problems that all the educators in the world can not solve. Only the kid can work through it. It takes years for that to happen. What is right? What is wrong? I don’t have the answer, I can only tell you my story.
    The child only grows because of the opportunities it is given.

    • Kathy Hudson

      May 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      You had it pretty rough after you graduated and had a child on your own. Lucky for you another ex-orphan was wiling to help you.We learned to share and help each other. You turned your life around finally due to mutal friendship.

      • Dwaine Everett Thomas

        May 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm

        Hi Mary K.! I’m glad you’re alive, since it’s been since graduation day, I believe…. 🙂

  6. rick millward

    April 5, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Treatment would be better than depriving a family of its unity, parental counseling, marriage counseling, financial counseling, religious or spiritual education, advanced education all would help our society heal what it ignores that causes all our problems!; it is our society that’s ill and needs a doctor to heal it of disease ( dis ease), unrest, being out of touch with nature etc.

  7. Jodi Sturgis

    July 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    What year(s) did the boys visit y’all? I love your story & observation!! I agree!! I spent 6 1/2 years @ the Home!!

  8. Dwaine Thomas

    July 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Those three above were my classmates. Hi Debi, Sue, & Rick. I agree with what’s been said, & would add that my family went through 3&1/2 different childcare systems. 1 was fostered, later adopted by that family, 3 sent to OS&SO, 3 raised by their grandmother (each set of siblings has separate fathers (deceased, mom lockedup in a mental hosp). The 3 with their grandmother would later finish highschool at the OS&SO. We all have faired well, much better that the USA average. However 1 died after college & military with a drug-related suicide; that I believe (a young man being what college & military was doing at that time, 1977) was actually accidental while trying to get a different high. For the record, he was another classmate of ours. Yes, 1 year younger than me but in my class. There’s most always more than 1way to do anything & still get it right; ask a math teacher.

    • Sheila Roberts

      April 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm

      Hi Dwaine,
      My name is Sheila, I also lived at OSSO while you were there. You were the first guy I liked in my life and we used to see each other at the foot of the steps to the cafeteria. We even had some stolen kisses there that I was surprised we got away with.
      It is wonderful to read that you have faired well in your life since leaving there.
      If possible I would love to hear from you through e-mail. Catching up would be nice.
      Thanks again
      Sheila Roberts

      • Dwaine Everett Thomas

        May 7, 2014 at 7:45 pm

        Hi Sheila! Sorry for letting my email pile-up! I’ve just noticed your note. Here’s my email address:


  9. Brenda (Szakal) Dintaman

    July 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I really enjoyed your article, Minerva5. I agree with almost all of it, especially the acknowledgment that not all parents are capable or desire to learn how to parent well. I lived in the OSSO Home for five years. While there was definitely some poor disciplinary monitoring, moreso in the younger children’s cottages, I found the home an excellent place to grow up. It was oppressive in that our interaction with the outside world was very limited, but there were also advantages to our lifestyle. Living in a cottage with approximately 15 other kids was like a slumber party; always someone to talk to or have fun with. Additionally, we lived together as one. You did not have to be a certain color to be my sister or my friend. Initially, three of my birth siblings were also in the home. It is unfortunate that the home was designed in such a way to separate siblings by sex and age, but with large numbers, things can’t be perfect. I just wish I could’ve seen them more often. In my adult life I have made it a priority to be close to my surviving siblings. There are also kids I grew up with in the home that are equally as important to me as my brothers. The home gave me opportunities to try several trades which served me well. I worked for the federal government for 16 years. Later, I worked for the public school system for 12 years. It was during that time that I learned how long and how much the social service system was willing to throw at inept parents in an effort to keep a child in the home, even though they knew failure was imminent. Somehow, they didn’t seem to comprehend the damage and trauma to a child in some of these situations, even though the child wasn’t always abused physically. Feeling certain that one particular child would soon come into the system, my husband and I became official foster parents. We were not offered a child in the age range we requested until two years later, after we decided not to continue being ready and anticipating a life change. We were willing to accept either sex and any race. We figured they must not need it as much as they indicated. They would periodically call us with an immediate need to take in 3 boys with behavior issues, or something similar, leaving us feeling somewhat guilty for not helping, but it just wasn’t realistic with both parents working. We also read accounts of foster parents in the area whose savings accounts were drained defending themselves against a false accusation by an angry child. I would love to see children’s homes make a comeback. I believe it would save society money in the long run. I did some research and wrote a report for a class a few years back and believe there are ways to improve upon the former concept, but the need is great, especially with the amount of parents who are addicted to drugs.

  10. Brenda (Szakal) Dintaman

    July 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Jodi, I have the feeling that the Paul B. she was referring to in the article is Paul Boykin, although she would have to verify that. He was a bit older than us.

    • minerva5

      July 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Yep it was Paul Boykin! I think there were a couple of Boykin boys on our front porch actually! 🙂 My sister is 74.

    • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

      November 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      For Brenda Szakal Dintaman- I was reading about the OSSO Home & came across this. My father was Ted Vandevier. He taught at The Home from around 1966 into the early 70’s. I remember you so well. I attended school there for 2 yrs, before going to public school. I have such wonderful memories of The Home. I was in Girl Scouts, also played piano. Mr. Stanley Gunn was the music teacher. I never realized how lucky I was at the time. I remember so well, Debbie Figgins saying to me once, at Girl Scout camp, “You are so fortunate”. She meant having family. I couldn’t appreciate it at the time. Hope life is treating you well. Do you keep in touch with anyone from The Home? I live in Florida now. Hope to hear from you. – Val Vandevier Rexrode

      • minerva5

        November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        Hello! I live in NC, until January that is. Retiring from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and moving back to Wilberforce. All of the grandkids, and two of the three kids, are in Ohio, so that is the main draw. Good to hear from you!

      • Debra Figgins Fuhrman

        November 19, 2012 at 3:50 am

        Hi Valerie,
        I was surprised to read your message to Brenda and saw that you remembered something I said years ago. Yes I was referring to the fact of you having parents who were there for you and loved you. I never had my parents but I did find love in another way, it was in those who cared for me growing up. One houseparent was especially instrumental in my outlook of feeling loved and that was Mrs. Virginia Watson. She showed me an unconditional love even when I had showed her such disrespect the first year she became my houseparent. She showed me that just because I carried a chip and felt unloved that I was loved and needed to just open my heart and eyes to the love shown me daily. How true those words were!!! I remember both of your parents as very sweet and loving people who showed great love and understanding to not only you but to the countless children they worked with at the home. I just wished that I would of been able to tell them what that meant to me. I’ve tried to remember those lesson I was taught at the home from those who cared for me when teaching my own children. Granted they didn’t always like what I had to say or the punishments they had but they knew in the end I did it out of love for them also.
        I hope life has been good to you and your loved ones. If your parents are still living, please let them know how they affected me in their teachings. I’d love to hear from you if you ever get on facebook several of us orphans are on there and we’de love to hear from you again. Also would love to have you join us at a reunion if you ever get back to Ohio,

  11. eric tankersley

    August 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I lived at the HOME 1977-1980 it was a very memerable experience that l will never forget and would not trade. ET

  12. David Mayfield

    December 11, 2012 at 7:32 am

    The Home was the best thing that ever happen to me. Having a mother that was a drunk and beat me daily that also kept me from my father I hope you understand. I loved being at the home. Christmas time was the best in the Children’s Dinning Room with all the lights and trees. It was something out of the movies. If Had the money I would buy it and live on the grounds until I die and be buried there.

    • Debra Figgins Fuhrman

      December 12, 2012 at 12:35 am

      Like David I’d have to say Christmas was very memoriable day at the home. Waiting with anticipation for the Christmas breakfast and watching the older kids and ex-pupils sing the Home Christmas Carol while walking around the dining room with a lite candle where magical moments. Seeing all the trees lite around the room and the giant Santa that greeted you as you entered the dining hall, you knew you were stepping into a magical day ahead. I can’t say that I enjoyed the rest of the day as well though, knowing that many of my friends had family that they could go home with, the gifts that they would receive from family always made me a little bitter because I knew that wasn’t in store for me or my brother until years later. We spent many years left behind at the home because our grandmother had passed and our family was no longer involved with us. We were later given sponsors who became part of our family and remain to be apart of our lives today who would take us home with them. I also remember the Springfield Air National Guard would come and pick some of us kids up and take us to their hanger and share a dinner and giving of toys with those left at the home during the holidays. That meant alot also. But the thing I think that I miss most of the home… The beauty of the campus after a fresh snowfall with the trees and whole campus covered in a blanket of pure white snow and know the fun woud soon begin when we would be sledding down the front hill with our friends. Yes Christmas was magical at the home because of the memories we all hold dear of the love and friendships we all shared there. Let us always see Christmas as we did then through the eyes of the child we each hold deep within.

      • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

        December 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        Hello to everyone who has posted here, & Merry Christmas. I too remember Christmas morning at The Home, but from a different view probably, as my father was a teacher there. Our first Christmas in Ohio was in 1966. I remember the kids coming into the large dining room, each holding a candle & singing. We were sitting at tables with other folks. It was exciting for us too. My father was raised at OSSO Home, & went there at the age of 3 or 4. At the time he was the youngest they had accepted there. He remembered that they all received a stocking with an orange & some penny candy. That was their Christmas gift back then, & Dad said they were all happy to get that. Dad had lifelong friends from The Home, people he corresponded with until they passed on, & until his own death. David Mayfield, I don’t know you but I was touched by your statement of wanting to be buried on the grounds there. The Home was a beautiful place, beautiful grounds. We stayed at Main Building a couple of months before my folks found a home there in Xenia, & I can still see those beautiful rooms with the high ceilings. It was like stepping into another time. Merry Christmas to everyone. I have so enjoyed reading the memories posted here. Minerva, thank you for this blog!

  13. Barbara Vandevier Lupton

    December 21, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Mostly for Brenda and Deb
    I am Val’s mother, and loved being involved at The Home in whatever way I could as a volunteer spouse of a teacher/coach. My husband, Ted, could not have been more fond of his students and the athletes. Most of the other teachers felt the same; we were all “family”. I have such nice memories of the Girl Scout troops: remember our bake sale where we did our own baking (Mrs. Owens also); I have a photo of two of the girls selling cookies to Gov. Rhodes. Who could forget our experiences out at camp?? Do you remember we were at camp when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and we had to lower our flag? I fight back tears remembering how all of the girls seemed to understand the depth of what this meant as part of the nation.
    Like Val, I’m not on Facebook either; a little afraid it could lead to identity theft, but I’m no glad to hear your names again, and remember how you looked. I think among the pictures is one of you, deb, working on one of the badges. Thank you for the nice thoughts you still have of us; be assured I have them of all of you, the boys who were on the basketball teams as well.

    • Debra Figgins Fuhrman

      December 21, 2012 at 4:32 am

      Ms. Barbara, I remember those days at camp. We had such fun talking around the campfire, skits and the winter polar camp day we went one year. You mentioned the photo of selling cookies to Gov. Rhoades( that was me and it hangs in our musuem at the home). I can still tell you what he bought that year… Thin Mints, Savannahs, and a cookie they don’t sell anymore that had apples and cinnamon in them.
      Do you remember the year that the bear from John Bryan had supposedly escaped it cage and they were looking for it??? We were doing our skits that night when the park ranger came to tell us of it and how scared we all were that it could be out in the woods. Come to find out it had been dead all that time and our fears were for nothing.
      I really hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and hope one of these days that you will come back for our reunion to visit for so may of us remember you and would love to see you again. God Bless.

      • Barbara Vandevier Lupton

        February 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm

        I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back on this site. Yes, indeed,I remember the incident when we thought the pet bear was loose! How could we forget? The bear had a reputation of liking candy, because people fed it to him through his cage. What was the name of the person who helped me that year? Was her name Kathy? was she in the PE dept? Anyway, I wonder if you remember that we went single file to the swimming pool with one of us leading, carrying a hammer, and the other of us at the rear with a bag of candy! Like good scouts, it was our idea of “being prepared” (for whatever mood we found the bear to be in). As I recall,there was a little blurb as a joke in the school newspaper something to the effect “does anyone know who went looking for a bear with a hammer and candy”.
        I’m sorry for “anonymous” who sounds as tho he may not have been a part of the good things that went on. I do recall a few names of “kids” that didn’t care to participate in anything. Believe it or not, that was hard for those who were working or volunteering. We tried to touch as many lives as we could.
        Barbara Vandevier Lupton

  14. Barbara Vandevier Lupton

    December 21, 2012 at 12:21 am

    That was supposed to say “I’m so glad to hear your names again…” sorry for the typo.

    I should have added that I remember you, also, Dwaine!

  15. Dwaine Thomas

    December 21, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I’m honored! Seriously, Mrs Lupton, your family was very well respected for such a positive & personal influence to most every aspect of all home kids’ daily entertainment & education. I remember Ted greatly; as scout leader, coach, teacher, & always friendly. Glad to read you & Val’s comments. Stay well & safe.

  16. ed

    January 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I am doing some family research and several of my relatives were raised at the OSSO home in Xenia, can you help? I have names and dates.

    • minerva5

      January 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Hello, no I have no information about the home, however there Amer several readers of the blog that have some connections,perhaps one of them can help.

      • Debra Figgins Fuhrman

        January 15, 2013 at 12:39 am

        Wanted to let you know that you can contact the OSSO Ex-pupils Association. We have a list of everyone that was ever in the home and maybe you’ll be able to find out some information through the association. There is a webpage set up that is listed under the title of the OSSO/OVCH AXP. The President of our group is Larry Toole and he maybe able to find the information for you or if you live in Ohio you could also ask about visiting our museum that has alot of different displays about our life at the home and has photos that you can look through. Hope this is of some help. Good Luck in your research.

    • Debra Figgins Fuhrman

      January 15, 2013 at 4:14 am

      Ed, Here is the number for the home’s museum in case you”d like to try it to reach someone wo might be able to help you in your research. 937-374-0302.

    • Gary Printz Class of 1957

      July 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      A book about the history of the Home was published in the 1960’s. A portion of that book
      was a listing of all children who had been in the Home from the start until about 1962.
      The name of the book is ” Pride of Ohio” and it can be found in many state libraries. Probably
      at the Greene County Historical Society also.
      Good hunting
      Gary Printz Class of 1957

  17. Anonymous

    January 27, 2013 at 3:52 am

    I do not understand how you could reminisce and fascinate or dream about “the home”… I was there for 14 and a half years from the age of 3 and a half until I graduated. Peter Pan was NOT the fairy tale existence that you dreamed about, I was there from the mid 60’s untill 1980 when I graduated.

    Just to show you the type of love the adults showed, on my first day at the home the cottage I was assigned to was told to go outside and line up at attention, you must understand the home was a military orphanage, when we were outside I stood there crying because I was put somewhere and separated from my siblings ( they discouraged family bonds in the 60’s). As we were outside we were told left face… Remember I was 3 and a half… I turned the wrong way. Can you guess my punishment?…

    My left thumb was broke so it would be a reminder to me what was my left and what was right. That was a lesson I have never forgot!!! When I pull my thumbs back my left one catches to this day.
    I know other children from the home fared differently and did not have the same treatment I received. There are so many other stories I have that could enlighten you to my personal experiences so if you would like to hear some of them let me know. I’m not saying the whole 14+ years were bad, because they were not!

    • David Mayfield

      February 5, 2013 at 3:06 am

      You said “There are so many other stories I have that could enlighten you to my personal experiences so if you would like to hear some of them let me know.” now how can someone do that if you posted this Anonymously?

      • Anonymous

        February 5, 2013 at 3:28 am

        my name is Jeff we will leave it at that for now. I have memories that still are hard to accept, even though I have made peace with myself. On the other hand I have great memories of the home but unfortunately there are more of the tough experiences. I built an imaginary wall when I was very small that I have to break down everyday. That’s what my mind did to protect itself when I was young, so no one could get close to me and hurt me again. That was a small child’s protection…

    • Jodi SMITH washinton and taylor cottages

      January 9, 2015 at 2:07 am

      Well said! I was there 87-88 and it was the most horrible year of my life. The abuse there was life altering and Dr. Cressi was the ring leader

      • Mary Hudson

        January 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        I can’t believe Dr. Cressi was still there in the 80’s,wow, he was there when I was in1969-1973.
        My twin brother tried to commit suicide under his watch and they did nothing. He finally succeeded in 1976, three years later.

      • Jodi SMITH washinton and taylor cottages

        January 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

        Oh Im so sorry. It was so horrible there. I was allergic to penicillian and the nurse kept giving it too me until finally I had to go to the local hospital because of throat swelling. I was trying to get away from a male houseparent and the end of a bed frame cut my leg open and when they took me to get stitches they lied and said I was trying to runaway. I was just given a look to keep my mouth shut.

  18. David Mayfield

    February 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    The Home in the 60’s did have it’s problems we all know that, but time changed. During my time in the 80’s the home was a great place to live. When Mr. Huff took over The Home, that is when things got bad I guess.

  19. laura

    April 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I found it odd that you put the os&so in a posting about going back to the way of orphanages. While a well run orphanage may be a saving grace in this day and time, my skin crawls for this to be brought up alongside your daydreams of osso. My father and many of his siblings were taken from their parent when the other parent died, and placed in the home. I understand it was a great place prior to maybe 1950, but after that it was a place of unspeakable torment for many children. Those boys coming to your porch with reserved, quiet demeanors did so because they had been conditioned to prepare for physical abuse if they spoke a wrong word. For a glimpse at what it was like there, try the book blue popsicles. I am told it is a very accurate depiction of life there, but the boys were treated even worse.

    Please understand that I simply aim to educate people that this home ruined many lives and should not be spoken in conjunction with going back to orphanage systems for that reason.

    Peace and love.

    • minerva5

      April 18, 2013 at 12:11 am

      I only know the home as an outsider. I have to let those who lived at the home respond.

      • michael

        January 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

        To Laura Iwent to the OS&so home in 1973 I was 15 and lost my mom when I was 9 was put in a county home( the system) and my farther was working on getting us out of that hell hole and four out of seven were with him when he pass away and my Aunt was legal gardend of us the wishes of both of my parents was to keep us togeather and that was the best place for us I did not see no abuse and my family ( Aunts and Uncle Grandperants ) were there to every month till the last of us got are educations and spent every Christmas and 2 weeks every summer with my family my have 2 to 3 of us with aunt or uncle snd beleave me if one of us told my aunt we were abused there would not have been anyone that could stop her
        And we had a extendes family that we shared movies ( learn to run an arc projector) skateing , in door swiming a gym and what we called a den and also dances we could also make money doing jobs around campus everyone could chose the trade they wanted to learn I have been around the most of the usa and oversea and the Home leasion help me throw my life and as for the staff and teachers if I had a problem I did set down and talk to them and remember the Diractor of student life just talk with me to make sure everything was going fine with me they taught me you give respect and you will get it back we had rules like quiet hour in the long run they payed off left with 3,5 grad avg. and when I retired was making $20.00 an hour and doing something I enjoyed . So the OS&SO home was home to me . My parents my have passed But had good people showing the way to get throw what my life had waiting for me

    • Kathy Hudson

      January 17, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Book ‘Blue Popsicles’ tell me more, please!

      • Dwaine Everett Thomas

        January 19, 2015 at 4:16 am

        Sorry to see your posting about your brother — there’s no nicer person….

        Blue Popsicles was written by NeAnni Ife (you may heard of her as Nancy Gibson). You can find it new on for $13.99 or used for less than one dollar. She changed the names of the characters to protect herself from lawsuits…. It’s based on her life while in the Home — 1956 to 1967. My wife, your classmate Robin Lasley is Rachel; a very minor character in this book.

      • Mary Hudson

        January 25, 2015 at 7:54 pm

        Amazing !Thank you very much for the input.I find it wonderful that you and Robin are together, all these years……I will order the book immediately.Keep in touch

    • Wanda Pyles

      January 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Paul B. was my 7th grade teacher and i graduated in 1969. Wanda Carsey-Pyles here, sister to Robert E. and Raymond E.Carsey.
      bob in 1968 and Ray (Eddie) IN 1973 ALL 3 graduated and would not have happened if we had not been put in the home!

  20. Shawn P Owens

    May 2, 2013 at 3:15 am

    I met my wife at the OVCH during the early 80s. I had been sent there as a “court kid” for behavioral problems beyond my mother’s control. My wife grew up there from the age of 6. I know the foster care system is the current favorite, but in my experience a well run institution is much better than a mediocre foster care home. In foster care you are always the visitor, the stranger. In my short time at the OVCH, I never once felt that way. While there were problematic staff, the vast majority were kind, loving people. There were almost 500 kids there when I was there. We never felt like we were on our own. Everyone had a friend who was in the same situation. We weren’t strangers, we were home kids. We were family. The fact that ex-pupils well into their 90s still make the annual trip to reunion every year is testament to the fact that in the Home there was love. If nothing else, we always had each other. Given the choice to be a stranger in someone elses house, or a friend and family member in the Home, I’d choose the latter every time.

    • Barbara Vandevier Lupton

      May 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      What a wonderful testimony! I had been disappointed and hurt by some of the negative postings. My ex-husband was one of the youngest ever accepted at The Home (4 yrs of age); his brother and sister both graduated. Ted was very appreciative and sentimental about the Home, and decided he wanted to teach and coach there, so we moved from Florida to be there, and it was a wonderful experience. We felt like we shared our lives with the students, and became very attached to them. We kept in touch after they graduated; I still have a stack of letters from Vietnam..

      Thank you for your kind words, and the knowledge that members of the staff did leave a favorable impression!

    • M Meyer

      May 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Well said Shawn. The span of the Home is vast, and inherently so was society, economics , politics (which DID play a big part, especially in It’s early days), Ohio, and lastly Xenia. Your comment is the best I’ve read in this post.

  21. Gary Printz Class of 1957

    July 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I have put together three narratives about my life at the Home (1949-1957) Total pages is just
    about 50. If you have the space and willingness to print them in their entirety, I would be glad
    to send them to you. Gary Printz Class of 1957

    • minerva5

      July 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Gary! Certainly would love to read it and perhaps, if you do not mind, share it with the Greene County Historical Society. My email is

    • Barbara Lupton

      July 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I would appreciate receiving your pages of memories.
      I enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer with the students during the time Ted was teaching and coaching. The comments that are coming in about abuse are very hurtful to read. I find myself wondering if they are true; there is always doubt when these stories come from more than one ex pupil. If it was, indeed true, I wish one of the Girl Scouts had come to me and told me. Perhaps I could have done something to help.
      I have now read both Blue Popsicles and A Home of Their Own (I think that’s the correct title), and I’m searching for Pride of Ohio. What is obvious is that changes occurred within The Home through the years. Perhaps some staff members were hired who should not have been there. The original concept was excellent; I think it would work today, if it could go back as it began with the farm, the greenhouse, the excellent athletic program, the school, etc. But the country has gone in a different direction. The theory of social work has changed, as several students have pointed out. I live in Nebraska now, and we have had horror stories from the Foster Care program. I’m grateful for those of you who have written the positive comments. One thing all of us must remember, is that God is in charge; He always has been. We can’t understand why things may have been allowed to happen, but we can accept them and grow from the experience.

  22. Orphan 66

    July 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I am intrigued by this thread. It reminds me of the blind men touching the elephant. One feels the tail, one feels a leg, another feels an ear and another feels the tusk. They then describe the animal. While each is right, none is complete.

    I was in the Home during the 50s & 60s. Though there are many who return for annual Reunions, there are just as many, if not more, who do not. Some have said that being in the Home was the worst experience of their lives and that they will never set foot there again. I know of a woman who was married for 28 years before ever telling her husband where and how she grew up; and then it was only because they were in a therapy session. I remember seeing children hit with boards (not paddles), being turned upside down in garbage cans, being knocked out of chairs, being punched (not slapped) in the face, being publicly humiliated, and being called unspeakable names – by adults. I remember seeing girls scrubbing sidewalks with toothbrushes and boys marching around the parade field for hours carrying rifles horizontally with locked elbows as punishment. I remember boys being marched down the sidewalk on the girls’ campus on the way to the basement of the Trades Building, for a private beating for some infraction. If you were there then, you know which the three adults accompanied them. If these are examples of love, then love me less.

    What is particularly intriguing in conversations about the Home is that those who don’t follow the “company line” (the Home was great and filled with love and all was well and we are one) are often vilified for stating their opinions. Jeff, I too was in Peter Pan and while I was abused, I did not suffer bones broken. I am sorry that you did. Laura, I agree that the treatment some received ruined their lives; and I also know that there are some whose lives were saved by being there.

    There is a book by Edward Lentz and a play by Tony Dallas that would negate Jeff’s story, the lives to which Laura refers, and things that I saw with my own eyes. They imply that the Home was a utopian society for one and all. Don’t be naïve. Both authors had the same benefactor: The Rooney Fund of the AXP. Both projects were spearheaded by Bob Impson and Paul Boykin, staunch cheerleaders of the Home. Both were based on interviews conducted with former Orphans. I wonder how many versions the writers had to complete before the Rooney Committee/AXP was pleased. When one is paid to write, one writes until the “payor” is satisfied. Incidentally, both projects were spearheaded after the publication of and publicity about Blue Popsicles. Coincidence? Perhaps.

    I have horrible memories of beatings and abuse, both mine and that of others that I witnessed. I have fond memories of a couple of adults, with whom I had limited contact, who made me feel special. I have fond memories of childhood friends, some of whom I still communicate with to this day. Some I consider good friends, others I consider family. And like a lot families, we respect each other. The fact that we don’t always agree with each other does not affect the relationships we have with each other. I wish all Orphans felt that way. If we did, perhaps those who are still hurting could be helped by those who are not.

    Let love reign.

    Thanks, Minerva, for the post.

    • minerva5

      July 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment

    • Anonymous

      October 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Orphan 66, why can’t you name the certain three adults you say abused the children? Why are their names not important to be spoken?

      • Wanda Pyles

        January 22, 2017 at 6:46 pm

        I have read Blue Popisicles and personally know the very intelligent woman who wrote it. I was there at the home but not present at the time this happened to her and make no mistake, it did happen just as she said, we were on Varsisty Cheerleading toghether when it happened. All i knew at that point was she just disappeared off campus and never came back.I did find out what happened after graduation in 1969.She would have graduated in 1968 but did not. she graduated from a different school but she still makes appearances at reunions once in a while and tells me i have not changed. I laugh and say “yeah, right. She got out of Ohio and has a lovely family and she is ok, is that what really counts? I could say what happened as i know it, but she took care of that in her book and i will leave it at that.

    • Laura

      May 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for your objective post and for pointing out that those with negative stories are often made to feel like they shouldn’t share them. My dad was lucky and managed to make a decent life for himself and overcome his bad childhood, but his brothers did not. It saddens me to see their large family so broken, and I hate that my dad doesn’t get to reminisce on his time at the home which accounted for a lot of his childhood. I am glad that some people didn’t have such a horrific experience. But those who got to enjoy it have to understand that not everyone has good memories to share. Some of them don’t want to speak of the place at all. I don’t know every detail of what happened to my dad and his brothers there, but I do know that I will never pry about the topic because I have never seen such sadness in his eyes as I do when he decides to speak about it.

  23. Daniel M. Reeves

    January 1, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I would love to get a copy of the large barns that were torn down a few years ago. After 9/11, a large Flag was flying for some time and I have lost my pic of that beautiful display.

    • Dwaine Everett Thomas

      May 8, 2014 at 3:34 am

      I guess it’s a picture of the barns that you would like a copy of…. Did you find one? If not, a class-mate of mine was once selling those pix. My email address is:

  24. Mary (Kathy) Hudson

    December 1, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Anyone have access to June1973 Home Review? Mary Kathy Hudson

    • Mary Hudson

      March 6, 2015 at 8:41 am

      CD’s Available Contact AXP

      • Debi Figgins Fuhrman

        March 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm

        Hey Kathy. I still have mine. Were you needing something copied from it? I’ll be glad to copy anything or all of it for you. Just let me know.

      • Debi Figgins Fuhrman

        March 6, 2015 at 4:46 pm

        Kathy ,don’t know if you’ve checked out the site called home pics on Facebook they have all the reviews downloaded on it. Let me know if I can help you out.


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