Skeeter’s Story

  • February 6th, 2023
  • By Pathway Caring for Children

From the words of Pathway Founder, Jim Bridges. A somber story of the enduring hurt of abuse and neglect that Jim’s own father experienced as a child. Jim Bridges wrote the following:

This story is about a little boy growing up in the early years of the last century. 

One by one the little boy carefully collected the eggs, placing them in his small box. Then he took them to neighbors who paid him pennies and nickels for them.  After delivering all the eggs, the boy ran home, always watchful to see if his father was there. When all was clear, he deposited his coins in his special hiding place.  

He knew he would need that money soon to buy food or a new shirt for himself.  

One day, however, his father came home with a thirst for whiskey. So he beat the little boy and beat him and beat him—until the little boy told him where he had hidden the money.  Then his father went out, leaving the little boy to cry himself to sleep, and got drunk. 

The little boy’s name was Jimmy, but he was so skinny and malnourished that his friends called him “Skeeter.” The time was just after the First World War, in eastern Kentucky.  

Skeeter’s father was a blacksmith on the C&O railroad. He was also an alcoholic. As a result, there was never much money in the house, because most of the paychecks went to buy whiskey.  

Skeeter often went hungry. He was so malnourished that as an adult during the Second World War, he was refused induction into the military.  

There was never any warmth or love from Skeeter’s father. The pain that he felt in his own life was acted out on his son, in the form of beatings and name-calling—“lazy, good for nothing,” was one of his favorites.  

In spite of the poverty, the beatings, and the name-calling, the thing that hurt Skeeter the most and what he talked about for the rest of his life, was when he came home one day to discover that his mother had taken his brother and deserted him, leaving him alone with his drunken father.  

That boy grew up and became my father, and I had a box seat for how child abuse, and neglect, and abandonment can affect a person for an entire lifetime. My father learned early that he could not trust anyone, and he never forgot that lesson.

Out of the experience of watching my father grapple with the demons of hurt, anger, and distrust bequeathed to him by years of abuse and neglect, has come a commitment in me to prevent that from happening in the lives of the children of today.