This story was inspired by the Orphan Train Program, as it became known, that operated in the United States from 1854 to 1929. You can read a little more about it below the story, or click the link for a more complete understanding of this controversial program.
As usual, the aim of Friday Fictioneers is produce a story in not more than 100 words with a beginning, a middle and an end. You can click on the little blue frog for many more stories from this amazing community. 🙂
The Orphan Train (100 words)
“Olivia I’m scared,” he said, clutching his sister’s hand.
“Go on Stanley,” she encouraged, “now’s your chance to get a new family. Don’t forget your poem, and no crying!”
The little boy tramped timidly up on to the stage and stood as if frozen, blinking at the eager faces that studied him from below. He recited Jack and Jill to guffaws from the baying crowd and blinked back the tears while a rancid smelling farmer squeezed his muscles.
The huge man nodded and led him off the stage. With a last glance at his teary sister, Stanley’s new life began.
Many of the immigrant children who lost there parents on the great adventure to start a new life in America passed through Ellis Island and became almost feral on the streets of New York City.
A huge welfare program was started aimed at rehousing these children into foster families across the country and they were transported by train across the country, stopping at towns along the way where the children could be viewed and chosen by prospective parents, while paraded on a makeshift stage.
Some went on to have wonderful lives as a result of this program while other less fortunate children were abused or used as slaves. It is estimated that in the 75 years the program ran for, around 200,000 children were transported.