April 27, 1998
As the twig is bent, so grows the tree
by Oscar Roloff
Early in our childhood we kids drifted here and there. It was from one family to another. Most cruel, a few not. As for one family I'll only mention one cruel incident we encountered. Constant beatings. Daily the man gave me a gunney sack to go up and down the road to pick pig weeds for his swine. Too cheap to buy food, he had us three kids wander up and down the road seeking weeds.
One day I came back with only half a sack. Couldn't find any more. Taking off his belt, the man whipped me, turning my back black and blue. Noting this, the lady across the street called the authorities in Yakima. When they arrived, the two had me take off my shirt to see blood marks. They wrote down what had happened, then departed.That was the last of it. Never heard a word.
Soon a new pair arrived to take over. They were Henry and Eva Rohn, a splendid Christian couple. Their love for us waifs shone brightly. Like willows we leaned toward them and felt loved. Here and there we bent as willows as others took care of us. There was a total of seven. One was the John Carolus family who put forth care and love for us. Good pair.
As an adult, I looked up the Rohns about 40 years ago and asked if they'd given of themselves to others as they'd done to us. "We've spent years working with the prison inmates at the Monroe Reformatory to prepare them for entry into the outside to join society. We put them on an even keel and that is part of our giving." I said, "I want to thank you two for the love and help you gave us. We three grew up and did well. My two brothers, now deceased, became executives with large firms. I became a long time member of the Fourth Estate and did well. Thank you."
Twenty years ago I formed the Kirkland Congregational Church Toastmaster Club, and one of the first things I did was to have us make trips to the same Monroe Reformatory and work with the inmates as had the Rohns. Thus, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
For us it could have gone either way. We could have amounted to nothing and possibly even ended up behind the bars. Who knows?
That cruel man did have a son, who, at age five, had to saddle a horse and round up the cows each day in snow and rain. As a kid he had to do a man's work. Suffered terribly. When he left that home, he never returned. He's now dead. Poor kid. Thanks to those two caring couples, we made it and became successful in life's endeavors.