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Gate outside of orphanage in Liverpool, England


When John Lennon wrote the song "Strawberry Fields for Ever" he was inspired by nostalgic memories of his days as a young boy when he climbed the trees surrounding the 'Nest', the fond name given to the orphanages run by the Salvation Army in Liverpool, England. These orphanages were located around the world.


Are they coming back today?

I would wake up with the question and fall asleep with tears of disappointment as day after day went by and my family did not come back for me.

In the early years of my separation from my brother Freddie and my mother I simply had no clue, because they were gone from me with no explanation why.

I started to wander away from every place I was, searching for them.

I never stopped looking for them.

Love had not let go of my heart.

Grief had not let go.

Testing was done by the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital, and it was determined I needed help to adjust to my loss prior to being adopted.

At five years of age, I entered an orphanage in Toronto.

The Nest in Toronto was founded on January 14, 1941, after The Salvation Army purchased a large estate from a relative of John Taylor; it was located on Broadview Avenue.

The seventy-five-year-old home had twenty-one rooms and was large enough for 35 girls.

It was surrounded by beautiful trees.

The day I arrived; a young woman named Miss Julie welcomed me and showed me around.

As Miss Julie walked with me giving me a tour I took in the beauty of the old estate.

The wide winding stairs with railings wide enough for a girl to slide down. Girls giggling and having fun. Their voices bounced off the walls and high ceilings. Happy sounds.

The delicious smells of cooking food swirled around us as we walked.

The sounds of a piano playing, and the singing of voices came from somewhere in the distance.

The love I was shown in the orphanage and the faith I was introduced to were written in my heart

With indelible ink.

In the orphanage I was introduced to my forever father.

He remained with me in all the dark years to come.

Faded and worn, that faith that I turned my back on.

Never turned its back on me.

One day Miss Julie and I would say our tear-filled goodbyes.

I was eight years old.

Filled with sadness, anxiety and fear.

I remember looking back at the beautiful old estate where my memories would always remain.

They would carry me through abuse, imprisonment and isolation.

The figure of Miss Julie standing and waving as the car drove me away faded.

I never saw Miss Julie again.

Her shadow in the distance got smaller and my heart was once again filled with grief.

Miss Julie had told me "You are a big girl now," as she hugged me.

I did not feel like a big girl.

I was leaving the nest.

(Excerpt from Outside the Gate/J.Smith)


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