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"Our Challenging Lives at Laconia State School" - How to eliminate "to-be" verbs


lilacmay4 1 / 1  
Aug 6, 2011   #1
I need your help! How do I eliminate "to-be" verbs in my writing?
Would you please thoroughly check the following essay for weak verbs,
passive voice structures, and other grammatical problems?

Our Challenging Lives at Laconia State School

At 9:45 pm on May 4, 1951, Mom delivered me at the Saint Louis
Hospital in Berlin, New Hampshire. Entering this world was
complex. During birth the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck,
depriving my brain of oxygen; therefore, it did not develop properly.
Seventeen months later on September 1, 1952, my sister Jocelyn
entered the world. Five days after an uneventful birth, she developed
a blood clot in her brain. Later, a doctor diagnosed both Jocelyn
and me with significant intellectual disabilities. Our interesting
lives began in this manner.

After the doctor's diagnosis, Mom and Dad admitted Jocelyn and me
to the Laconia State School and Training Center on October 27, 1956.
Jocelyn and I were four and five respectively. We were not the only
kids whose parents sent their children to this institution. In the 1950s
and early 1960s, parents frequently placed their children with disabilities
in institutions. During this period, every state in America had residential
institutions for people with intellectual disabilities and other significant
challenges. Some states continue to fund these types of facilities.
The Laconia State School and Training Center was the institution
in New Hampshire where our parents sent us. They, like many others,
did not have the knowledge and skills to take care of their own children
with disabilities. They already had two sons and one infant daughter
and money was tight. Our parents opted to place us in the Laconia
State School and Training Center.

Being left at the Laconia State School and Training Center was difficult
for Jocelyn and me. We hated leaving our home in Berlin, New Hampshire.
Jocelyn and I never imagined that our parents desired to leave us at Laconia
State School the way they did. Our parents' abandonment frightened us.
Visits were few and trips home were rare. Extreme homesickness is
something Jocelyn and I felt every day and night. Constantly, I threw
tantrums and sobbed. Our distant parents infuriated us. They left us
with strangers at Laconia State School.

Life was rough at the Laconia State School and Training Center.
Some of the attendants and residents sexually, verbally, emotionally,
and physically assaulted me. The staff said they did this to me because
I misbehaved or acted "silly". The attendants and residents there struck me
in many ways. They used their hands, feet, coat hangers, wet towels and
clothes, mop and broom handles, leather belts, straps, rulers, yardsticks,
and stainless steel serving utensils. They bullied me. They pulled my hair,
spat at me, and called me names. They bit and pinched my arms and other
body parts causing me pain. The employees and supervisors at the institution
threw buckets of cold water on me - clothes and all. They did this to me
because of my acting out physically and aggressively. "Cold water", they
said, "Would calm me down." They put straitjackets on me for behaving violently.
Jocelyn and I were not the only ones who suffered these abuses. Sometimes,
I watched the attendants do the same acts to the other residents. These residents
also screamed and cried. Something that infuriated me was when residents messed
their pants; the employees rubbed the feces and urine on their noses with the messy
underpants. This facility was not a pleasant place in which to live.

Every resident had his/her unique behavior. I picked up weird habits
from many of the residents. Some of these quirky behaviors included
picking my nose, sneezing and coughing without covering my mouth,
sticking pencils and pens in my ear canals, and burping and expelling gas
without excusing myself. I bounced all over the furniture pieces: couches,
beds, tables and chairs. Additionally, I pulled hair from my head and played
with myself. Because of these behaviors, the staff punishes me by slapping
my face and shoving me up against the walls.

Personal belongings were not safe. The employees, supervisors,
and residents took advantage of me for my money and snack-food
items. They stole my possessions: my clothing and footwear, prayer
beads, a harmonica, jewelry, money, toys, pens, pencils, crayons,
and coloring books. Some of these items were the birthday and Christmas
gifts from my parents and some of the attendants. Jocelyn faced the same
experiences. When I placed a grievance to the administration office, no one
helped me. This whole situation infuriated me!

When I was age 12, people at Laconia State School put me to work
in the dormitories. These dormitories included King, Murphy, Powell,
Keyes, and Duby buildings. Personal care for the residents and janitorial
tasks were part of my daily responsibilities. Jobs I performed had me changing
babies, feeding the residents, dressing adults and children, and helping them
with their personal hygiene. I even had to help toilet both adults and children.
When I finished helping the residents, people found me sweeping and mopping
the floors, scrubbing toilets, sinks, and windows, bagging dirty clothes, and
cleaning up the kitchen. For all of the tasks I performed, my supervisor paid
me only five cents an hour! At this time, the minimum wage was $1.25.

The New Hampshire state laws did not provide people at Laconia State
School opportunities to receive elementary and secondary educational
services. During my childhood, the teaching staff made me color, cut
pictures from books and magazines, and occupy myself with paper dolls.
In the classrooms, the teachers taught me almost nothing. Not all of the
attendants were abusive, though. Some attendants cared about the residents,
and I was able to convinced these employees to help me learn how to read
and write better. Obtaining an education challenged me.

The Laconia State School and Training Center was a dangerous hospital.
Not only were the residents dangerous but also some of the staff members
were abusive. Some employees and administrators burned residents with
burning cigarettes just to create problems. Jocelyn and I were fortunate
that staff never stabbed us with their burning cigarettes, although they
abused me in other ways. To defend myself, I became violent and aggressive
toward other people at the school. I did not want anyone to put my life at risk.
Dying at a young age would have been a terrible tragedy for my family members,
relatives, and friends. If I did not injure others, they would have physically
harmed me. I changed my behavior to avoid going to prison and to attract
more friends.

On November 13, 1979, my sister Jocelyn left the Laconia State School
and Training Center and entered the community to live a better life. She
was 23 years old at that time. As I watched Jocelyn pack her belongings
to prepare for moving into the community, I became jealous. I stayed
at the facility for another two years and nine months. On June 22, 1981,
I left. After three or four years, I saw my sister Jocelyn again.

From the time I left the Laconia State School and Training Center to when
I next saw my sister, I lived in four different locations. A case manager from
the Lakes Region Community Services Council was responsible for finding me
housing, health care, transportation, and employment. I asked to move to
a trailer of a former Laconia State School attendant in Meredith. I met Ernie
when he worked as an attendant at the Laconia State School and Training
Center. At the institution, he and I had become friends and lovers. After
moving in, I stopped wanting to have sex with him. He insisted on performing
sex with me so I left his trailer. Before leaving, I called my case manager
at Lakes Region Community Services Council and requested other housing.

Christine set me up at the transitional apartments in Laconia. While living
at the transitional apartment complex, I worked hard to develop independent
living skills. I learned how to grocery shop, cook, budget my money, open
a bank account, and shop for new clothes. The staff at the transitional housing
taught me all of these lessons. I also participated in the adult basic education
program at the Laconia High School. In this program, I acquired more academic
skills. The teachers there taught me some basic math, reading and writing
lessons. I had a difficult time learning how to solve math problems,
but I flourished in reading and writing.

The next place I lived was a specialized-care home in Gilmanton. At this
home, I had to deal with many strict rules. I did not last long at this location.
I spent time at a group home in Center Barnstead and a foster home in Greenland
before settling at the Co-op apartments in Laconia. I hated living at this
apartment complex because many other tenants mistreated me. Some of them
threatened to call my case manager asking her to put me back at the Laconia
State School and Training Center. Some yelled and swore at me for calling
the Laconia Police Department to complain about their noises. I needed
to find another residence.

I remembered my reunion with my sister Jocelyn. I called Richardson's Taxi
for a ride to the bus depot in downtown Laconia and rode a bus to where Jocelyn
lived. She resided at the transitional housing on 88 South State Street in Concord,
New Hampshire. I stayed with her overnight. Jocelyn and I had a wonderful time
with each other. To get our exercises, we walked around outside enjoying the
spectacular weather, ate at McDonald's and chatted. At the apartment, we
watched television and listened to some oldies music together. The next day,
I rode a taxi to the bus station in Concord and caught the bus back to Laconia.
I enjoyed Concord. The city offered more activities than Laconia did.

On July 19, 1990, I moved from Laconia to Concord. Moving into my own
apartment made me feel good. A staff person at the transitional apartment
building assisted me in packing all of my belongings. My case manager
helped me move from Laconia to Concord. Making the move excited me.
I wanted to live alone.

Living alone did not make me feel lonely. I made some new
friends. Most of the people at the apartment complex are good
to me. Sometimes we chitchat among ourselves. I am so proud
of myself for my accomplishments. Life in Concord is superb!

On January 14, 2008, I started working at the New Hampshire Bureau
of Developmental Services. Now I work there every Tuesday unless
my boss needs me for additional days. At my job, I photocopy materials,
stuff envelopes, stick labels on file folders, distribute mail to people,
and shred paper, etc. I appreciate the time talking to my co-workers as
we eat lunch with one another. At work, I acquired many new friends.
Every two weeks, my boss pays me for working. I put my paychecks
in my savings account at Citizens Bank in downtown Concord where
I am saving the money for a brand-new personal computer. I cherish
working and earning a paycheck.

As I reflect on my life, I think about my family. When Joseph Richard
Gallant wedded Flore Simone Nolin, he was a slim person, but as Dad
grew older, his stomach expanded. Dad was handsome. He had natural
blonde, curly, and wavy hair. I remember the glasses on his face. Every
day, he dressed neatly. Dad always treated me respectfully. Every time
I visited my parents in Berlin; Dad gave me big bear hugs. I loved when
I sat on my father's lap, and he rocked me in his rocking chair. As a postal
clerk, Dad worked at the Berlin Post Office. Dad told me that he liked his
position there a lot. Serious health and mental problems were the reasons
why he left this job. When Dad no longer worked, Mom cared for him
at home. On August 8, 1980, my father committed suicide. I learned that
he passed away soon after I left Laconia State School. Mom did not invite
me to Dad's funeral. Mom infuriated me as she did not tell me that Dad
died.

In 1995, my brother John's life came to an end. Mom did not tell Jocelyn
and me about his demise. She might have felt that we would not understand
because she still saw us as being small children. Occasionally, I visited my
mother at her apartment in Berlin. When Jocelyn and I wanted to walk around
in downtown Berlin, Mom said, "No, you may not. You are to stay right here.
Do you understand?" Mom told me that I was unable to take care of myself.
On Wednesday, July 28, 2004, Mom died at the St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Home.
Jocelyn and I attended Mom's funeral. A friend from Region 10 - Community Support
Services in Atkinson took Jocelyn and me to Berlin for Mom's funeral. We managed
to see our sisters and brothers at her funeral.

Through email, I always keep in touch with my family members.
We communicate this way. For the holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas
- I visit Jocelyn at her trailer in Salem. While there, she feeds me well.
She cooks outstandingly well! Although I faced many challenges, I am
a happy person and enjoy my life completely.
EF_Susan - / 2,364 12  
Aug 8, 2011   #2
Serious health and mental problems were the reasons why he left this job.

I am so sorry for all you've been through, and am very happy that things are better for you now. I think you should get to work writing a book about your life, as soon as you get your computer! Good luck in all you do, you deserve all the best life can offer. Be happy!
OP lilacmay4 1 / 1  
Aug 8, 2011   #3
Thank you, Susan, for your thoughtful compliment on my writing.
I did not mean to write Laconia State School so many times.
I try not to repeat myself.

Mom and Dad should have not ever admitted my sister, Jocelyn, and me to Laconia State School
on October 27, 1956, just because of our mental disabilities. Do you agree with me?
EF_Susan - / 2,364 12  
Aug 9, 2011   #4
I do agree with you, whole heartedly, because if Jocelyn is half as intelligent and compassionate and well spoken as you are, then neither one of you should have been in a state school. I think it might have been so much better for you both if your parents tried to find some childless couple who would like to adopt, if they could not care for you and your sister themselves. But back then, society said that that was the thing to do, and told parents that if they wanted their children to have any kind of life, they should go the route of the state school...of course they encouraged parents to do this because if there were no children, they would not be getting funding from the state. Money IS the route of all evil!!

You should start a Facebook Page for former wards or students of Laconia, so you can all share your stories and also reconnect with old friends. Good luck in all you do!

Sue


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