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The Lonely Ones

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | c. 1962

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  •  POLICEMAN: Let's go. [sirens] 
  •  DRIVER: Help! Help! 
  •  DR. RICHARD EVANS: In a few minutes we'll turn to our story. First, I would like to tell you something about this film, "The Lonely Ones." You will see three stories based on real delinquencies in greater Houston. Names and situations are disguised in order to protect the children involved. If professional ethics could allow us to document true cases, they would be even more dramatic. Let me make clear that it is not our intent to suggest any simple cause for delinquency or to illustrate the entire scope for delinquency in this one film; certainly delinquency is far more complex than any single film could portray. These cases upon which our stories are compiled are from the files of social and law enforcement agencies right here in Houston. 
  •  Let me now introduce you to the Chairman of the Executive Council, The Citizens Board and The Greater Houston Action Youth Project, General Robert M. Ives. 
  •  GENERAL ROBERT IVES: Thank you, Dr. Evans. I am pleased to join you in viewing this film. Juvenile delinquency is a social problem that has seriously sapped the energy of our fine, young Houstonians. Early in 1962, Houston and Harris County were chosen to receive 265 thousand dollars through the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act of 1961. The University of Houston and the community council were appointed to work with the Citizens Council of Houston in using this grant to plan the prevention and control of delinquency here. In Harris County, three percent only of our total youth population are delinquent, but these 8,000 children cost you and me thousands of dollars every year through burglary, auto theft, shoplifting, and the maintenance of correctional institutions. We as the Citizens Advisory Committee will guide the drawing of blueprints to spin the furious tide of delinquency. As volunteers, we must have the interest, the enthusiasm, and the support of every citizen in Houston and Harris County, the purpose of the Greater Houston Action for Youth Project is a noble one, and thank God we have such a project in Greater Houston. 
  •  Now let us return to the film. We find Paul Brooks, twelve years a Harris County Juvenile Probation Officer, talking with the police at Jefferson Davis Hospital. 
  •  PAUL BROOKS: Yes, I have been working with Jeff quite a few years, but what happened tonight?  
  •  OFFICER WHITE: They passed us out on the Moore doing seventy to eighty tonight just past Woodway. He either missed the curve or lost control. We heard reports that this car was stolen around ten o'clock tonight. Justin Boyd admits he was driving this car. We have reason to believe that he was intoxicated at the time. We're going to try to obtain permission for a blood test as soon as possible.  
  •  BROOKS: Yeah, well, okay, thanks Officer White, Officer Cohn.  
  •  OFFICERS: Thank you, sir. Good night.
    BROOKS: Good night. 
  •  NARRATOR (BROOKS): Two children are dead. There is nothing that even the most skillful medical hands can do for them. One was just sixteen years old. She would have been in the eleventh grade next year, but she is dead now. His life is snuffed out, too. But why, why should two such fountains of vitality be dried out in a few seconds' time? Liquor is not the complete answer, just the immediate catalyst for the accident. 
  •  BROOKS: Jim, the police told me about the accident. 
  •  JIM: Well, they won't tell you anything about Carol, is she okay? have you seen her? 
  •  BROOKS: It's pretty bad Jim, I'm sorry.  
  •  JIM: You're sorry? What good does that do? I want to see Carol. I want to see her now! 
  •  BROOKS: Now, take it easy. 
  •  JIM: It just doesn't seem real. How could this happen? Why to me? Why me? 
  •  NARRATOR: Why Jimmy? Your course was set a long time ago. I have known Jimmy for many years now, I met him through the request of the Houston Police Department, Juvenile Division. Jim had been picked up on a charge of shoplifting. He was lectured and released to the custody of his mother. My first impression of Jimmy was that he looked not unlike any other clean-cut kid, certainly Jim seemed to be a likable youngster. I began to wonder what sort of home life he had. I know his mother had been deserted by her fourth husband, leaving her with five children. All too often, a child's troubles begin behind the doors of his home.  
  •  Mrs. Johnson's entertainment of a man whom she called Jimmy's uncle was interrupted by our entrance.  
  •  Mrs. Lilly Johnson seemed tired, worn, and defeated. Her surprise at a report of Jimmy being in trouble seemed genuine but her frantic defense of Jim was false. I tried to convince her that we needed to help Jimmy now before he got into bigger trouble. With such a home life, I knew I would be seeing Jimmy Johnson in the future.  
  •  Jim's first serious offense came shortly after our initial visit. Keys carelessly left behind proved too great a temptation for a kid like Jim. And then, even before we could bring Jimmy to juvenile court, I received a report of malicious mischief, and a second report of Jim wandering the streets drunk and resisting arrest.  
  •  We placed Jim in the probation department's Juvenile Detention Ward--a temporary measure until  Juvenile Court could rule as to the best plan for Jimmy's future. 
  •  The honorable J. W. Mills, Judge of the Court of Domestic Relations and sitting as Juvenile Judge in and for Harris County, heard the evidence. Jimmy's mother made an impassioned defense. Judge Mills decided that Jimmy should be committed to the Texas Youth Council Correctional Institution in Gatesville, Texas. Jimmy heard the decision with bitterness and a feeling of injustice. 
  •  When Jimmy returned from Gatesville, I met him. His mother had never written to Jim and finally, she had disappeared from Houston. Jimmy was little help by his year away. He was despondent, sullen, and defiant. I tried to encourage him with the idea of a foster home that we had arranged for him on a ranch in Harris County. 
  •  For a few months, Jim seemed happy and content. His foster father was a kind and understanding man who thought of Jim as a son of his own and Jim seemed to want to be that son. His foster father and I hoped that having a home with love, away from the influences of his friends in Houston, would give Jim a useful life. But all too often, distance makes no difference in our modern society. Old friends, a stolen car, a bottle of booze, and trouble was back in Jim's life.  
  •  Under the influence of his friends from the city, his contentment with the straight and narrow soon exploded into resentment against imaginary restrictions, and so Jim ran away back to Houston. Jimmy soon located his friends and the police soon located Jimmy.  
  •  The by-now familiar pattern started afresh. I tried to council with him. We arranged for Jimmy to live at the YMCA under strict regulations with weekly interviews.  But Jimmy's rebellion against the lonely position of which his lifetime of deprivation had placed him was too strong. Jimmy would not break his ties with his crowd, meeting all too often with the police for misdemeanor acts. Finally, a date was set for Jimmy to appear in court for revocation of parole. By this time, Jimmy had run once more. We found Jimmy here, ready for a new charge, murder by auto.  
  •  NARRATOR: This is Susie's home. You see, not all of our lonely kids come from economically deprived homes. Some, like Susie's, are emotionally bare. Difficult to believe that this woman is a graduate of one of our finer eastern schools, isn't it? This woman's family is a very substantial one. Susie's grandfather had one time made a small fortune in the oilfield supply business. What he didn't drink up is still intact. Indeed, some of that money is represented in this room, for Susie's stepfather has never made enough money to furnish a room like this. 
  •  To even begin to understand Susie, we have to go back in time, to the time when Mrs. Jameson was pregnant with Susie and Lieutenant Jameson had just came home from overseas. He returned to find his wife pregnant but not with his child. Susie has never known this. She thinks her father was killed in battle. 
  •  I first met Susie when she was fifteen. She had been arrested of a drive-in with an older group during a disturbance. Because of her home situation, our United Fund Agency, the Family Service Bureau, was called to help her. 
  •  Mr. Alan at family Service then took over the case. Susie's mother seemed to straighten up at first, she promised to help in every way with Susie. With her encouragement, Susie began to engage in activities at the YWCA near her home. But even there, Susie's behavior began to reflect the marked change. She slowly turned into a wonton little creature, haunted by memories, frightened by the lack of security in her home, wildly turning to any source of affection and warmth. A hidden antagonism towards her own sex surfaced, too. Considering Susie's previous experiences, we can be little surprised by her seemingly sudden twist in attitude. She cannot bring herself to tell anyone, even Mr. Alan, of her home life. She cannot reveal that her mother was home hitting the tempest. Mother was hitting the bottle again, harder than ever. 
  •  Mr. Alan told me that the YWCA was deeply concerned about Susie's behavior. She needed help now as never before. Mr. Alan called a conference of the Y director, Susie's minister, and the probation case worker. We noticed immediately the wretched and tragic condition of Susie's mother. It was evident that if Susie was to be helped, we would have to do it. And then calamity struck: a report from a motel manager led to Susie's arrest with another youngster. A rigid schedule of counseling began, but her attitude was even more markedly bitter. 
  •  BROOKS: Come in, Susie. Have a seat. Mr. Alan. 
  •  ALAN: Mr. Brooks. 
  •  BROOKS: You see the police report?
    ALAN: Yes, Mrs. Rogers showed it to me.  
  •  BROOKS: Well, Susie, you know you can't go on like this. 
  •  SUSIE: Look Mr. Brooks, if my own mother doesn't care, why should you or Mr. Alan. Why don't you just leave me alone? 
  •  BROOKS: Because we want to help you. Now, we certainly realize you've had your share of tough breaks, but we still think you can make something of your life. The question is, can you make anything worthwhile of your life in a motel room throwing yourself away? Now I'm not trying to... moralize at you Susie, we just want you to stop and take a look at yourself, and your life, and your future.  
  •  I just want to go home to my mother. She's not much, but she's all I've got. I faced up to that years ago. Why don't you guys spend your time with some little square kid who wants to fit like a glove with society and God. I'm no poor slob from the slums looking for a handout from you social workers. We've got plenty of money. And if you think I'm so crazy and no good, Mother can hire a psychiatrist for me. Now, just leave me alone. 
  •  NARRATOR: Mother didn't choose to hire a psychiatrist and Susie continued her inevitable pell-mell rush down the hill of destruction. Susie made the acquaintance of narcotics: an innocent, indeed comforting and common drug, paregoric. Kurt Venable, Susie's new friend, had made the proper introductions of this drug to Susie, and the results were just as devastating as Kurt Venable knew from long, first-hand experience they would be. 
  •  Kurt Venable had the habit but little else. His relationship with Susie served a dual role: a constant companion and a source of money. The seemingly limitless attractions of Kurt and drugs purged the last vestiges of self-respect from Susie. The whirlpool of destruction had dragged Susie to its dizzying depths. 
  •  There remained only the discovery. Oddly enough, it was Susie's own mother who turned her in to the police. Upon finding narcotics paraphernalia hidden in Susie's room, the mother had suddenly and abruptly realized the dimensions of her daughter's plight. The emotional shock of this discovery sobered her, for once, totally and completely. 
  •  A warrant was issued for her arrest. Shortly thereafter, Susie was spotted. Susie first tried to lie to the police, but strongly suspicious, the police insisted on taking her in for complete questioning. Susie was now almost seventeen. 
  •  In the County Juvenile Detention Ward, Susie paid the beginning of the heavy price to be extracted from her. First, the withdrawal pains. Later, a sentence from a federal court on narcotics Charges. The future? I wish I could answer that one, and not just in Susie's case. 
  •  NARRATOR: Of all the "Lonely Ones," there is no lonelier child than a deprived child with no money in a toy department. Temptation runs as ragged and rampant as a hurricane for such a child. And many times--all too many times--the child can no more resist that temptation than he could stand to face the fury of a hurricane. He fondles the toy. He wants the toy so badly, and suddenly the toy is his.  
  •  But even in this moment of pleasure and exalting, the boy knows fear: the fear of having the toy taken from him. As if by animal instinct, the lad knows that he is being watched, and like a small animal, he runs as only a scared kid can run. And small animal that he is, he's caught. But he's only eight, this little Johnny Garcia. In Texas, eight years of age does not even constitute the legal age of juvenile. Therefore, Johnny is not booked. 
  •  After the police reported this case to me at the probation department, I met Johnny at school the next day and took him home. I met his father and family. Johnny's mother had died of tuberculosis several years ago when John was but three. His father was deeply hurt by John's attempt at shoplifting. He is a good man, struggling with the near-impossible job of being mother as well as father for his family. He makes descent living wage even with his large family, but under pressures from his kids, he has yielded to luxuries he can ill afford.  
  •  Two United Fund Agencies, Catholic charities, and Neighborhood Centers Association have been of immeasurable help to Johnny's family, helping the father to try to budget better, helping the older sisters to manage the home more efficiently.  
  •  This was my first Latin-American case. As I visited with the Garcia family that evening, I realized that I had much to learn about the plight of the lacking who finds the cultural background and patterns of the Anglo-American quite varied and different from his home.  
  •  In the ensuing years, I did learn about the Latin's problems, and in particular about Johnny's trials and tribulations. Not only did Johnny had cultural differences to fight, he had physical size to fight. There were times when I thought that I would never cross the barrier of cultures that lay always between Johnny and me, and perhaps I never really did. I suppose I'll never know for sure. 
  •  Through the years, Johnny grew, but more in violence of temper than physical stature. He was always a small boy with a giant-sized temper. And then Johnny found the grand, new equalizer: the knife. This time, Johnny was old enough for booking at the police station. The boy didn't die and Johnny didn't learn much on controlling his temper. John was now placed on unofficial probation.  
  •  For a while, he seemed to do much better. I took him to the Red Shield Boys Club. The influence of this boy's club was strong and good on Johnny. For two years, John appeared to keep to the straight and narrow and to be building real self-esteem. Just as about the probation department was about to close the case on Johnny, Johnny was at it again. Somehow, somewhere, Johnny met a bunch of kids as angry with society as he had ever been. All the fear and rage of being born underprivileged, of being denied the love of his mother, of being smaller than all the rest of the boys, closed in on Johnny, only this time his size seemed to pay off.  
  •  Few boys in Johnny's new gang were as small or as smart, with John soon proved to be the brains of the gang, and so it went. But neither John nor his fellow juvenile gangsters were caught. The inevitable end crept into sight. One night after making the real find of some wine in a grocery store the boys had broken and entered, Johnny and his pals were having a party.  
  •  As the heady spirits began to have their effect, fears and inhibitions dropped away like chaff in the wind. Johnny's best friend became rather merry and rather witty he thought, unfortunately, in his inebriated state, he found Johnny and Johnny's size a good butt for jokes. 
  •  John's reaction was swift and savage as it has always been. Any lessons John might have learned in the past in integrated in the face of his distorted fury. He stabbed and his best friend was dead.  
  •  Then Johnny heard an old, familiar sound: the police siren. This time, Johnny was not caught by the police but by his own conscience. 
  •  GENERAL ROBERT IVES: This time, Johnny Garcia did not run. I know that many of you viewers, as you watch this program, have some questions that this program certainly elicits, so let me try to very briefly answer a couple of them at least. The first question I'm sure you're probably asking is: all delinquency as extreme and violent as these three cases are? As a matter of fact, we are happy to say that in most cases, delinquency is not as extreme and violent, but it is no less unfortunate for the youngsters involved. You may watch for our future program in our series in which we're going to look very carefully at the more typical cases of delinquency in Houston and Harris County, and I think that you will begin to see that although they may not be as violent, they do take a toll on human life, and it is very important for us to be just as concerned about these as we are about the more extreme ones.  
  •  Another question I'm sure you viewers have is: is it always so hopeless? Can our social and law enforcement agencies have so little influence on a problem of this sort? And again, we are happy to say that in most cases, they are far more successful. However, in our Greater Houston Action for Youth Project, we believe that we do have the knowledge of  human development and behavior to really come up with a plan in which the whole community cooperating, we hope that as Houston and Harris County, we can move a long way toward preventing problems not in only of the sort that you saw in this film but the kinds of problems that are more routinely found in juvenile delinquency. So there is very much hope. Watch for our next twelve programs of this series, and we're going to try to show you how this plan of ours begins  to unfold. Thank you very much. 
  •  Opening Credits 
  •  Dr. Richard Evans introduces film alongside General Robert M. Ives 
  •  Introduction of the character of Jimmy, one of three cases of "delinquency" portrayed in the film.  
  •  Introduction of Susie, the second case of "delinquency" 
  •  Introduction of Johnny Garcia, the third case of "delinquency" 
  •  Concluding remarks 
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Juvenile delinquency is a problem that affects not just individuals and families but the entire community. The Lonely Ones, presented by The Greater Houston Action for Youth Project, tells the stories of three troubled youths whose initial flirtations with petty crime turn disastrous despite the well intentioned intervention by social workers and city employees. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.