Biagio Cacciatore describes his life at the Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children
Note: This is an expanded version of the feature story that appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Rosecrance’s Reach magazine.
Of the three children’s homes I was in, the Rosecrance home was the most like living with a large family. Downstairs, there was a huge recreational room where we played, a large dining room and kitchen. The lady who took care of us had her side of the house downstairs, and all the children’s bedrooms were upstairs.
Every Sunday morning we would all dress up and go to church. I had an itchy wool suit I hated to wear. Our clothes were donated — I’d like to have the name of the person who donated that suit. We went to school just down the block. The lady would pack us lunch; many times it was a fried egg sandwich — not very good cold.
Like any other family, the children had their homework. We played together and ate together. We all had our chores. We had to keep our rooms clean. It was our responsibility to mow the lawn, sweep the sidewalks, keep the bathrooms clean.
I would help with the laundry. I handed her the clothes and she put them on the line, but I would always leave her underwear in the bottom of the basket. She would say: ‘Hand me those. They won’t bite you!’
The children had to have haircuts, and there was no barber around. The lady who managed the children’s home knew an elderly woman who cut hair. We would walk across the field to this lady’s house and she would put a bowl on our head and cut around it. That’s how we got those bad haircuts.
Camp Grant was just a couple miles away, and I remember them inviting the Rosecrance children for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. We were told the German prisoners cooked it. Some Army soldier gave me my first Jeep ride showing me the grounds at Camp Grant. What a thrill for a young boy! We ate with the soldiers. Also, I remember seeing American soldiers with tanks and jeeps with German prisoners marching past the Rosecrance home.
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In 2016, Rosecrance will celebrate its 100th anniversary — and we want your help. If you have stories, photos or memories related to Rosecrance that you’d like to share, please contact Communications Director Judy Emerson at 815.387.5605 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.