("Hang 'em! Hang 'em!" the supervisor would shout.) Henry's was exploiting them to the very limit of the law. As the years passed, too, conditions got worse. He, like all the brothers, was getting older, not so fast or so alert at wrestling with big birds. Increasingly he was yelled at, called lazy, and told that he should get off his black butt and lift weights. Punishments came thick and fast: stand in the corner, go to your room, no tv, walk round the gym till supper time.
The schoolhouse fell into disrepair and was overrun with mice and roaches, which fell from the ceiling as he ate. Mould grew on his clothes. He broke his kneecap, but had to work on. Two men ran away, and one of them was found frozen dead in a ditch; for a time the building was padlocked. Eleven men had already been retired and returned to Texas, but he was not sent, so he stayed and went on with the work. It was a long way back home, and possibly no one would know him any more.
When he walked into town he still smiled, as uncomplaining as ever. No one could tell the horrors from his face. But some had had suspicions for a while. In 1979 a reporter from the Des Moines Register had made inquiries. Nothing changed. The federal Labour Department noted in 1998 that Henry's was underpaying its workers, but did not impose a fine. The Iowa Department of Human Services was alerted, but concluded that the men were Texans and therefore not theirs.