This chapter is an overview of the world of the Catholic orphanage system into which Ed Rohs was placed. It opens with a comparison between the fantasies of Hollywood's orphans and the reality of life in an orphanage. The chapter describes how, until the 1960s, the Catholic orphanage system operated a silo system of childcare, separating boys and girls by age and gender. Children lived in an institution until they aged out and were sent on to the next home. Although in some ways their experiences were similar to the experiences of so-called “army brats” who endured frequent dislocations with their families, the important difference between the population of orphans who were moved and those of children born and raised by army personnel lay in the absence of consistent parent figures. With each move, institutionalized children were assigned to be supervised by different individuals—strangers to whom they had to adjust. After being discharged from the system at 18 (Ed Rohs remained until 19) some succumbed to a life of drugs and drug-related crimes but others, like Ed, overcame adversities.
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