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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Raised on a farm, city girl just wanted some adventure
She married her husband two weeks after meeting him. They traveled the world.
By STEPHANIE HAYES
Published July 13, 2007
PORT RICHEY - Hurricane Katrina unleashed a squall on Nancy Murphy.
She always hated water.
As a child in Missouri, she never learned to swim - wouldn't go near a pool without water wings.
Decades later, the phobia stood sharp. Murphy was in her 80s and living with one of her daughters in Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans. The monster hurricane roared ashore and water came into the house.
Murphy made it out safe, but not sound.
She didn't talk about what she witnessed, said her daughter, Pam Roberts. But she became distressed at images of water on television, and her condition worsened from there.
Murphy died at 89 Tuesday after a battle with Alzheimer's.
Growing up, she was a city girl living on a farm with six brothers. She wore slacks before it was chic for girls. She raised pigs, planted potatoes, laid concrete and carved wood.
While waiting tables at restaurant, she met James Murphy, a comptroller passing through Missouri en route to New York City. Two weeks later, she married him. They traveled the world, eventually landing in Pasco's Port Richey.
"I think my mother just looked at an opportunity to get out of a small town and better herself," Roberts said.
Murphy was dominating and opinionated. She wouldn't be pushed around.
"She could be quite mean," Roberts said. "She had a short temper. She didn't forgive real easy."
But her dogs - including a Yorkie, Pekingese, schnauzer and chow - had her heart. "She loved the dogs more than some people love their children," Roberts said.
Murphy had a keen fashion sense and couldn't have enough shoes. Her collection of flashy sandals numbered in the forties.
She reveled in bright colors, painting the walls in her home red and yellow. Her children teased that she lived in a McDonalds.
After her husband died, Murphy lost the will to travel. But sometimes, she would let herself run free. She would crawl into Roberts' old Volkswagen, and they'd drive off down U.S. 19, pretending it was a great adventure.
Turn right, Murphy would command, no destination in mind.
Roberts would listen to her mother. And they'd just go.