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RULER   :  Archive   :  1997   :  US Reformatory Jul 1997


Reformatory CP - July 1997

Corpun file 1283 at

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas, 26 July 1997

Boys Ranch prepares to lose last links to Farley

By Mark Babineck
Associated Press

CAL FARLEY'S BOYS RANCH - It seems as if they've been hanging onto Lamont Waldrip's shirttail forever.

"He's been out here 42 years, so you've got to be a strong person to stick it out that long through all kinds of different changes," said Daniel Hays, 17, one of the current crop of changed lives at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch.

Waldrip and his wife, Frances, will leave the place they've spent their entire married life on Friday when he retires as campus superintendent. With them go one of the last links to Farley, who founded this renowned outpost for wayward boys in 1939.

For ranchers willing to work hard, study and live by Christian values, Farley and his staff promised in return "a shirttail to hang onto."

"It would be hard to describe or put into words what he actually thought, saw and wanted," said Waldrip of Farley, who died during a Boys Ranch church service in 1967, 12 years into Waldrip's tenure. "I have a pretty good feel we're headed where we're headed and what he wanted to do."

To be sure, this desolate Oldham County tract an hour northwest of Amarillo barely resembles the ranch Farley established at the abandoned courthouse in what once was the lawless Old West cattle town of Tascosa.

Landowner Julian Bivins donated 120 acres along the Canadian River to fuel the dreams of Farley, an Amarillo businessman and former wrestler. The old film "Boys Ranch" immortalized the place for moviegoers nationwide.

Other than some funding for the public school on campus, the ranch receives no government money. Neither is it tied to a religious denomination, a choice Farley made to keep his ranch free to choose its own paths.

A foundation fueled by private philanthropy keeps Boys Ranch running; there is no fee to send children to the ranch.

The campus has expanded continuously over the years. In 1961, the last boys were moved out of the courthouse, now the Julian Bivins Museum. The facility's best-known product would graduate six years later.

"Mr. Waldrip was one of the first people to give me a spanking when I was there," said former U.S. Rep. Bill Sarpalius, who escaped poverty and homelessness on the streets of Houston when he was 10. "He's a godsend. He was somebody that had the same type of vision Cal Farley had. He dedicated his life to helping boys, he and his wife and his brother (Roger)."

Corporal punishment faded from the ranchers' disciplined lifestyle last year. It wasn't uncommon for misdeeds to be remedied with sore bottoms until then.

"That proves to me he remembered it (the spanking)," said Waldrip, who added that he doesn't regret the elimination of swats. "I never gave a lot of spankings, but when I did I gave pretty good ones. I wanted them to be remembered."

Spanking continues in the Paul Thorade home, though only for his two natural children. For Thorade, who with his wife cares for 14 ranchers, the elimination of corporal punishment was only one sign that things might be changing too fast here.

He opposes the unilateral use of a prescription parenting technique being installed by ranch president Wes Taylor. Used rigidly, Thorade said STEP, or Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, flies in the face of Farley's ideals of "affectionate discipline."

"According to Mr. Taylor, we've been told to work within the STEP program, but also to use common sense when you get in a situation where a child is totally disrespectful and disobedient," said Thorade, who arrived here last summer. "STEP is not the problem. It's when you say it strictly has to be STEP, that's the problem."

The basic idea of STEP, a method originally laid out in the early 1970s, is that discipline is best accomplished through natural consequences. For instance, a child who refuses to eat should go hungry, or a child who breaks another's bicycle should have it fixed.

Taylor said the program is an advancement of Farley's ideals, not a deviation from them.

"We're teaching people how to employ STEP in accordance with what we want to preserve and accomplish through the Cal Farley model of care," said Taylor.

Taylor, speaking from his office at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch and Affiliates headquarters in Amarillo, also oversees the all-female Girlstown U.S.A. near Whiteface and Cal Farley's Family Program, for pre-adolescent children, near Borger.

Thorade, a career military man and prison guard in North Carolina, said God inspired him to write a lengthy column in the Amarillo Globe-News criticizing STEP. He was asked to resign but has chosen to stay, he said.

A 300-member alumni group yanked its support for Taylor's administration over the squabble, though the board of directors has given him a vote of confidence.

Despite coming from Farley's "old school," Waldrip said he hasn't hindered Taylor's new ideas.

"We've gone through changes since day one," said Waldrip, the ranch superintendent since 1976. "Mr. Farley's philosophy was, 'Let's try it, let's make it work.' He wanted to stay out of the government business so as not to get tied in where he couldn't make changes, because change is good."

Waldrip refuses to dwell on the controversy in the days before he and Frances move 75 miles down the road to Canyon. Besides, he said, the STEP brouhaha is nothing compared to going coed in 1991.

"Girls didn't create much of a difference," said Waldrip, who leaves a campus with 22 boys' homes and three for girls. "If anything, it helped by making (Boys Ranch) a more normal situation."

The difference between the times can best be expressed by comparing current rancher Hays to Sarpalius, who came in the 1960s, Waldrip said.

While Hays saw examples of substance abuse and violence all around him - his best friend is on Death Row - Sarpalius came from a far more impoverished background. He and two younger brothers essentially were homeless when their grandfather made a phone call on Christmas Day, 1960.

On the other end was an old wrestling acquaintance, Cal Farley.

Corpun file 1287 at

Shawnee News-Star, Oklahoma, 30 July 1997

Chief: Future looks good for juvenile center

STROUD, Okla. (AP) -- It's a new beginning for the Sac and Fox juvenile detention center.

The $11 million center will house six more children in August and a new director has been hired to keep the center on track.

"We've worked out all our problems with the state Office of Juvenile Affairs. We've been reissued our license," Principal Chief Merle Boyd said Friday.

Boyd said Cathy Olberding will take over the center Aug. 12. Ms. Olberding is program director at Therapeutic Interpretation Inc. of Tulsa, a group home for male adolescent delinquents.

"She is very knowledgeable, very aggressive, very bright. She can take on this project and make sure we don't run into problems," Boyd said.

A new contract was worked out earlier this month between the tribe and the state agency to house juveniles at the center. Negotiations are ongoing for another contract with the state for 12 more children possibly arriving Aug. 15, said Boyd.

Thirteen males housed at the center were removed in May because of concerns about the center, including corporal punishment, insufficient staffing and training and lack of a policy and procedures manual. Boyd denies those allegations.

"Some accusations were leveled by a juvenile toward the staff that were determined to be unfounded," he said.

The juvenile detention center, built on tribal land south of Stroud, can hold up to 68 children but now holds just eight.

"We hope to have 52 children by the end of the year," Boyd said.

Staffing has recently been increased to 23 security officers -- four more than when the state removed children from the facility, he said.

The 50,000-square-foot center is the first juvenile center in the state designed for American Indians, but has been holding mostly non-Indians, Boyd said.

"We're looking to help tribes get federal subsidies to put their children here," he said.

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