Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

The Ranch Changed My Life

Tom Moon Eng Linn

I am Tom Moon Eng Linn, known to many as “Tommy”. I share this background with you as an expression of appreciation to those who have made a positive contribution to my life.

In 1952 or 1953, my mother left me and my two sisters with our grandmother. We had been living with our mother, who was divorced from our father.

In 1954, my grandmother attempted to place us in several child care facilities. I remember living in facilities, similar to the present day-care centers, that provided limited care, supervision and nourishment. My grandmother was not affectionate towards me. It was my impression that my strong resemblance to my Oriental father was a barrier to acceptance by my grandmother. I believed my Oriental features and age were the reasons I was rejected by several child care agencies.

I remember having mixed feelings when I was accepted by the Boys Ranch Town (BRT) in Edmond. I was enthusiastic over my acceptance, but I was depressed over the apparent rejection by my grandmother and the other child care agencies.

I readily adjusted to living at BRT. The environment was superior to my past living conditions. My sisters and I had lived in day-care centers which were far below the standards of day-care centers today. For approximately one year I lived with my father in Texas. I enjoyed living with my father. We resided together in a water pump building which was an eight-square-foot room. We referred to our residence as the Pump House.

The building was located behind the restaurant where my father was employed as a cook. There was a water pump and a water-storage tank in the building. I slept on the top of the water tank and my father slept on a cot. I recall there was plenty for us to eat, unlike earlier experiences.

Although I was happy living with my father, authorities in Texas removed me from the Pump House and forced my father to return me to my grandmother in Oklahoma.

I was the 13th boy accepted by BRT, which the boys called the Ranch.

Mr. & Mrs. Russell were managers of the Ranch. I have fond memories of the Russells, who were referred to by the boys at the Ranch as Mom and Pop.

The Russells were replaced by Charles T. and Ellen Boldin. The boys and I were apprehensive about the management change, and we feared the possibility of the Ranch changing from a home to an institution. Later the boys and I understood the change. The Baptist Child Care Department had assumed the responsibility for the financially troubled Ranch. Improvements were made and the Ranch was expanded to accommodate a large number of boys who were in need of a home environment, discipline, love and other elements necessary for young men to grow emotionally and intellectually.

The Ranch provided for the physical needs of the boys. Living inside a well-maintained building, sleeping on a bed, practicing personal hygiene, having plentiful, well-balanced meals, having duties and responsibilities and having people genuinely concerned about me, were welcomed new experiences for me.

The Ranch boys attended the First Baptist Church in Edmond. The pastor, Dr. M. E. Ramey, and the congregation accepted the boys and became involved in our lives. I have strong, positive memories of this, my first experience with a church and the Christian life.

The experiences from the physical and emotional care provided by BRT changed my life from a struggle to make it through each day to a life with hope.

I am aware there are numerous accounts of the positive effect BRT had on the boys. My story is just one more testimony to the people at the Ranch who were dedicated to improving the lives of the children.

The divorce of my parents started me towards a hard and apparently hopeless life. I was placed in several inadequate care centers. I had a very low opinion of myself and of life in general. I wandered unsupervised on the streets in Oklahoma City, in an area occupied by alcoholics who where frequently passed out and the sidewalks littered with their excrement and vomit.

The Ranch changed my life and provided me with a future.

  • Continued...

    I left the Ranch to live with a Chinese family. The high expectations of this experience were ill-placed. As I turned 16 years of age, I was working in a restaurant owned by the family who took me into their home. It became evident to me, I was obtained by the family as chattel. I worked prior to and after school. I had only one and a half hours in the evenings to eat and study. This created another barrier to my succeeding academically.

    I left this family and sought assistance with the Catholic Charities Department, which had legal custody of me.

    After additional unsuccessful placements, I set out to make it on my own in life.

    I, a high-school dropout, having completed the ninth grade, joined the United States Navy. While in the Navy, I completed the General Educational Development program and obtained certification that I passed the high-school equivalency examination. I had found a home and success in the Navy.

    I attempted to convince my natural father to move to California. I wanted to continue my career in the Navy and provide care for my father, who was partially blind. My father feared moving to California, so I left the Navy and moved to Oklahoma to take care of my father.

    I realized my father was not responsible for my misfortunes. My father spoke very limited English, but he contributed as much as possible to the financial support of me and my two sisters, and visited us whenever possible.

    My father and I lived together until my father died of cancer.

    Although I had long been legally severed from the Ranch, interest in me continued. It was amazing how the Boldins, who were houseparents, could positively affect so many lives and raise two children of their own. Charles Boldin became the Ranch Superintendent upon his arrival.

    While I was caring for my father, the Boldins encouraged me to attend college. Mrs. Boldin spent an abundant amount of time with me assisting me in my studies. It was the tutoring of Mrs. Boldin which enable me to complete a 10-year crusade resulting in my obtaining a degree from Central State College, which became a university while I was a student. During this academic decade, I worked at a Texaco Service Station, a Chinese Restaurant, at the Oklahoma County libraries and at J. C. Penney Company as a management trainee.

    I entered law enforcement as an auxiliary police officer in a small community. I developed a passion for law enforcement work.

    I was blessed when I fell in love with Teresa Harris, a loving, unselfish woman who became my wife. Ironically, Teresa’s father, O.L. Harris, lived at the Baptist Children’s Home when he was a child.

    Teresa realized my interest was in law enforcement even though being a department store manager was financially more lucrative. Teresa encouraged me to pursue my new dream.

    I obtained employment with the Norman Police Department, where I obtained the rank of Sergeant and was in charge of Personnel and Training.

    I made the acquaintance of an FBI Agent who assisted me in being accepted to the FBI Academy. I realize the love, experience and the assistance I received from the Ranch, its staff, and especially the Boldins, enabled me to graduate from the FBI Academy and receive an appointment as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This achievement gave me a feeling of accomplishment and success.

    I have served 21 years as an FBI Agent. My assignments included serving in the Omaha Division, the Los Angeles Division, the FBI Academy as a staff member, and I am presently in the Oklahoma City Division, which supervises FBI activity within the State of Oklahoma.

    While serving in the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, I played a key role in an investigation leading to the arrest of a foreign intelligence officer and the U. S. Citizen who sold highly classified material.

    I developed an intense interest in firearms. I have won numerous state and national shooting titles. I became a Firearms Instructor for the Police, then later the FBI. As an Agent, I have taught firearms to police officers and FBI Agents. I am presently the Principal Firearms Instructor for the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI.

    The Baptist Child Care, the Boldins, and my wife, Teresa, are acknowledged by me as the source of the successes in my life.

    Although my father was not an American citizen, he loved the United States and frequently expressed his gratitude for Baptist Child Care, the U.S. Navy and the veteran care provided after I was discharged from the Navy. I know my father would be proud that I became an FBI Agent.

    Mr. Boldin was an Air Force officer. I assumed many of the value exemplified by Mr. Boldin, which, combined with my naval experience and the feeling expressed by my father, served as the driving forces which directed me to serve God and country.

    The story of my life flourishing is believed by me to be based on the opportunities and support I received from God, country, my father, Baptist Child Care, my wife, Teresa, and the Boldins. To the above, I am forever grateful and indebted.

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