Dedicated to Stephanie,
I love the fucking Corps, everything about it; but it wasn't always so. Just recently after a long talk with my wife, I learned to say "I love the fucking Corps" all over again.
For long time I wrestled with my own demons, and regrets; you know the bullshit that keeps us chasing 1:00 AM beers, cheap women and cheaper drugs.
Here's my story, I've told it a time or two, not much though as I'm already starting to cry. My son used to ask me questions a lot, about my childhood, growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s. I changed my name a few years ago in a vain attempt to leave behind what's ultimately attached to my very soul, what makes me ; well... me. I've had a perpetual monkey on my back, an itch that can not be scratched, for 25 plus years, matter of fact my whole fucking life.
Therapy, and more therapy, rehabs , prisons and county jails, drugs and alcohol, none of this could redirect my depression and emotional mood swings. I've never been balanced, always extremes, sadness to joy, extreme depression to uncontrollable anxiety.
I know Vocal doesn't allow certain things in stories so I'm going to try my best to keep government names out of this , simply because it is 100% true and any names that are mentioned, rest assured my aunts, uncles, cousins, and fellow gang members are deceased, mostly from natural causes.
I will refer to individuals by their childhood street names, yeah....gang monikers for you blue line supporters....lol. I wasn't always a Marine, or a Union Pipe Fitter which you're about to find out.
This story is dedicated to my beautiful wife Stephanie, she's the one that got me to tell this on paper for the first time. To the many, many friends I had as a child that never mad it out the hood. Who never exchanged one war zone for another, who never drove a car, never played "hide the pickle" with a cute chick in the backseat, who never graduated high school, or went to college, who never owned a home or three, who never left the house without a gun or looking over their shoulders and finally; the ones who never really got a chance to experience life and all the beauty it has to offer, their children.
There's Nothing Like Family
My sister was born right after the Watts Riots of 1965, Vietnam was in full swing, and civil rights for blacks was the flavor of the month. My sister who I'll call sissy for the point of this story was a beautiful girl, brown skinned, tall and had unusually long and thick natural hair, uncommon in black women, even to this day. She gives credit to never perming her hair , she said it destroyed her hair.(MESSAGE)
Well I don't know too much about what the deal was in the family household, I wasn't born yet, at least not until 1971. Pay close attention to this part of the story, I hate repeating it but it is a necessary evil. My mom couldn't have anymore children after sissy was born, something got fucked up with her lady parts. My dad, being a traditional man wanted a son however. Ok people here we go, I'm adopted, my birth mom and dad were very young, and runaways.
My biological dad, lets call him V for all practical purposes. My birth mom, lets call her Anne, I've always liked that name. Well V , as the story goes was my adopted moms half brother. Making my adopted mom; my blood aunt, people usually say "Damn, man could have been worse right? at least you were raised by your aunt and uncle." I always respond "Just listen bro...., I don't tell this story too often, but tonight I feel like talking a little bit."
So the story goes, or at least what I was told; Anne, my birth mom was from New York somewhere, her parents came from Sicily, Italy.
Grandma Maggie, and adopted mom, along with 7 other children (Travis, Randal, Joe Nathan, Richard, Belle, Maxine, and Cloeteel, my aunts and uncles) came from Shreveport, Louisiana shortly after their father died, I shouldn't fail to mention my grandmother shot and killed a white man in Louisiana in 1935, and stabbed another white man in the stomach area with a pitchfork, I never heard what happened to that man afterwards, so that may have expedited her decision to get the fuck out of town, so my grandmother " Mean" Maggie Q went on the lamb. She packed up and hauled ass from the Gulf to the Pacific, and ended up in beautiful San Francisco, California in 1936, she remarried and gave birth to another set of children. She outlived the warrant for her arrest for murder of a white man and died in 1970 in her home, just mere months before I was born.
Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Gayle, Aunt Geneva, Uncle " Slade" Sylvester , Uncle William Fay " One Eyed Willie Fay ", my birth father V and Uncle LaVelle. They all came from grandma Maggies' second marriage. Together my grandmother birthed 15 children, by two men, 13 lived to adulthood, all are deceased at the time of this publication.
Hopefully you guys stayed abreast with that part of the story, all that to explain how my parents got to California; both, biological and adopted; and how eventually I would be adopted by my Uncle and Aunt.
So my birth mom Anne , remember her? Well, she wanted to go see Woodstock or something like that, hippie shit, you just had to be there I guess. She ran away from New York at 15, ended up in San Francisco, in 1970. V my birth dad was 19, Anne was only 15.
She got caught shoplifting or something along those lines, a petty crime by todays standards. Being she was a minor, she was placed in a State Home for runaways until her parents could be notified, but old Anne wasn't spilling the beans. She gave authorities no name, address, phone number or next of kin contact information. So she sat and she sat. Until another young man came in for pill call, they kept male and female detainees in separate housing units but on the same compound...big mistake, which the State of California remedied long ago.
One day they met and decided to sneak out, and there you have it, I was conceived in a runaway / detention center in early 1970. Few weeks later Anne comes up pregnant, and now she's scared. She's been missing about 4 months, and hadn't spoken to any of her family back in New York. She had to call her father, the pure bred Roman and break the news to daddy.
Now this part of the story is under review, the jury is deliberating on this one so to speak, some swear by it and others say they know of no such conversation ever taking place. I believe the first version, that's just me and knowing now at 50 how hateful whites can be, even to their own children and grandchildren, when it comes to the dark side of the force. (Black People / Interracial Relationships)
The story goes like this so I'm told. Anne called her dad, the Roman and told him the whole story, about her boyfriend V, and the baby she was expecting. She wanted to come home, back to New York to her father, and mother damn bruh her own dad did this shit.
The Roman expressed his love for his only daughter, told her to come home when she was ready, he would send for her, her brothers (Salvatore, and John ) would come and get her and escort her home, on one condition...."Leave the half breed [email protected]@er with his own kind."
Now if that ain't a kick in the nuts, I look back and think about it sometimes and say to myself "I got two more fucking uncles, Roman ones, fuck me bruh, I wonder if they hate me too, like their dad, my Roman grandfather?"
My granddad people, The fucking Roman; didn't want me. He was a die hard true Italian which means NO BLACKS, ever! Needless to say, I have never seen my birth mother with eyes that remember her. I got a picture my adopted mom gave me, I'm like 3 months old and I'm sitting on Annes' lap, my dad V is sitting on the sofa next to her, they're holding hands and smiling. My uncles Johnnie and Slade are in the picture too. I cherish that picture, funny how it's been over 15 years since I've looked at, yet remember every detail of it.
One day while scrolling on Facebook about a year ago, I saw a woman that looked like a spitting image of Anne, she had her real name too, only aged a bit, she would've been 59 at that time. Long wavy jet black hair, fair "olive" skin, rather brown for a white girl, lol. She was very pretty my mom, I can see why V was attracted to her those many years ago. I imagine talking to her sometimes and she's got that real thick New York accent, like Cardi B, but without the Spanish flavor, kind of like Carmella from the Sopranos, you know Eddie Falco the actress?
She tells me she's sorry and she has always loved me, it just had to be that way son. She calls me son in my mind, sometimes. She tells me stories about my dad, the black man, the revolutionary, the criminal...the Black Panther, how he was gonna be the next Stokely Carmicheal, or Dr. Huey P. Newton, you guys did know the founder of the Black Panther Party was a doctor, he earned a Ph.D in Social Philosophy from U.C. Santa Cruz's History of Consciousness Department in 1980, he was assassinated by Tyrone Robinson of the Notorious Prison Gang, The Black Guerilla Family in Oakland , California in 1989.(MESSAGE)
My dad V; here we go again people, August of 1972, I'm about 8 or 9 months old, and Anne is long gone, never to be seen again; or so we thought, but that's for later. My dad evidently couldn't or wouldn't find a job, he wouldn't help feed me or none of that responsible shit, I don't hold him accountable for it now though, I get it; I guess. His older sister Geneva, remember that name? She was all grown up now and married to my uncle Harold, living in a two bedroom apartment, with her 4 children. So that was 8 of us in a 920 square foot two bedroom, 1 bath apartment, that wasn't working out well for anyone, least of all my uncle Harold.
Harold started putting the squeeze on V to do something for himself, and his son; me. So one night my dad, V went out and broke into a mans house, long story short, my dad is in prison now as I write this. He was convicted of Home Invasion, Residential Burglary, Kidnapping, and 2nd Degree Murder. He was sentenced to Life Without Parole, that was in August of 1972, he was 19 then, he's 68 now if my math serves me right.
So now V is in prison and out the picture, Anne has gone back to New York and my Aunt Geneva has just inherited a son by default. So now my aunt and uncle have 5 kids in that small apartment, still that wasn't going to cut it.
Geneva called her younger half sister one day knowing her lady parts were fucked up after she just gave birth to a little girl a few years earlier (my sissy) and her husband wanted a son to call his own. My adopted mom , J we'll call her set up for Harold, Geneva, and myself to come down to Los Angeles and visit for the weekend, Harold and Geneva went back to Frisco, I stayed in Los Angeles with my new soon to be mom and dad, J and Moose.
Paperwork for the legal adoption and name change, was filed in Torrance, California. By the time I was two, we were in court and guess who was sitting there in the back row? Anne, my birth mom and she was 3 months pregnant again, with a little girl ladies and gentleman, can you believe it, I'm fucking 50 years old and got a mom, a dad, and sister I have never seen, goddamn talking about some Steve Wilkos shit....smh.
J said to me one day while recalling the story; " Son, your mother was there, she was just starting to show her pregnancy. She tried to hold you and you wouldn't go to her, you'd cry to stay in my arms." she paused a minute and started to cry a bit, and she said, "Baby that man came in, he sat down in that chair looking all mean and shit, you know how white folks look at you, when you're bothering them?"
I laughed and said " Yes momma , I've seen it before."
She said "He had heard both sides and didn't know how to decide, cause both parties seemed to have a vested interest in the overall well being of the child, which was you. About the time the judge indicated to us all that he would render a decision and notify both parties by mail , baby you yelled out, at 2 years old, " I wanna go home, I want my momma and reaching out to me, and Moose."
"Baby that judge said , I award sole and legal custody of said minor child, to the rightful parents, J and Moose, adoption is granted as petitioned and name change is to be carried out as requested by the parents. You came home with us that day, and been here with us, and your sister every day since then."
"I know momma, I know..." I said.
"She loved you son, don't ever think she didn't. Your mother was just young and wild a teenager."
I kissed her forehead gently and replied, "You were always my mother, I don't know any other woman that has done for me what you have, that's a mother. No other man has done what Moose has for me, He is my father, always was, and always will be."
"You're going to be alright Fuzzy, you'll see, you're gonna look back one day and really remember it all, tell your children about your story, it's a good one son. Just make it till the final act, that's the hard part."
I was about 11 then, and didn't realize how right my mother was that day, making it till the closing act on the streets of South Central, it was 1982, and the war on drugs had just kicked in to high gear, crack was the new thing in the neighborhoods, the streets erupted in gun fire. The war between The Crips and The Bloods represented by blue and red, now turned their eye to the color that trumps them all and that was green, the color of money.
My adopted dad, lets call him Moose, his family came from South Georgia, his mom and dad were simple and uneducated, not having a 10th grade education between them, but they were hard working and wise with money, as it was very hard to come by in those days, especially for blacks.
Moose was a guy that knew he wanted better, he wanted to go to Los Angeles were black folks was doing things, working, buying homes, and new cars. The Hollywood life, at least that's what he called it in his South Georgia mind.
He played football, fullback to be exact, he's got a record at his high school that still stands to this day, a record set in 1947. I'm not a football fan so I can't recall what it's for off the top of my head, but every year we would come visit his mom and dad from California, we would go by his old high school and he would show me the trophy and plaque. " See boy, your old man could run,"
"I know pop, you set the record and blah , blah, blah..."
"I was running them over, they couldn't stop me, I was too big." My dad at 15, was 6' foot 3" inches tall, and weighed 225 pounds. A good size blocking fullback, that could actually run on certain downs.
"Did I ever tell you boy when they let us play the white school?" (Schools were still segregated at this time in history) "Yeah dad, how the white guys were throwing bottles and rocks at you guys, saying [email protected]@ers go home. I remember dad."
After Moose graduated high school, which only took him 6 years to accomplish, he walked the stage in 1949, and volunteered the same day for the United States Navy, at 20 years old he had no problem enlisting.
I asked him "Why the Navy dad?" He smiled and said "The food is better than the Army and Marines, and I'm scared of airplanes." After 14 years of honorable service, my adopted father was discharged in San, Diego California in December of 1963.
The Opening Act : Decision Time
The year was 1982, I'm 11 years old and in 5th grade. I was an awkward kid I guess, growing up in the 70s as a biracial kid, it was a little traumatic at times. I was too light to be truly accepted by black kids, and whites didn't live in South Central in mid 1980s, I never met one in person at least till I was about 16.
Moose was a Union truck driver, a Teamster. J was a registered nurse at the largest hospital in West Los Angeles at the time, the one off of LaCienaga Blvd.
Sissy was 6 years older than me, and was about 17 and senior in high school, Inglewood High in Inglewood, California, across the street from the Inglewood Library.
She was a senior and was getting in to boys and parties and what not, she was a good girl though. She didn't sneak out the house and all that jazz, dad didn't play that shit, plus she wanted to enlist in the Navy, be like our father Moose.
Sissy joined the Navy at 18, we laugh sometimes when we talk on the phone, " she says to me " Little brother, (never my name, always little brother) you know momma, you know dad, how they were? I just wanted to get away from there." She served honorably for 22 years, my sister did. Sissy lives in California still, with my niece, and her 2 grandchildren, I love you baby girl.
So, sissy was gone , I'm an only child now at 12. I missed my sister already and she wasn't gone but maybe a week. I didn't see my sissy again until I was 15 years old.
Dad prided himself in doing things he thought only white people could do, or afford. My dad insisted I attend private school, I didn't know why then, trust me as a father of 3 with an 11 year old daughter, in private school, I get it now dad, I understand. Dad drove a 1977 Cadillac El Dorado, he had a 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 that he bought as a discharge present for himself for $3,200.00 cash, remember it had 8 lug nuts on the wheels....lol, beautiful car.
Mom drove a brand new 1983 Cadillac ElDorado Baritz, burgandy with white leather interior. She loved that car, made me wash and wax it every weekend. Dad also had a RV, a big motor coach, he called "The Gypsy Queen." She was white with green accent trim, room to sleep 8 comfortably and it had a kitchen, and a bathroom in it. Guess he got his sense of pride from his father, his dad was the first black man to buy a brand new 1939 Chevy Fleetline Convertible, in his town in South Georgia. His dad was also the first black man in that town to own a television, years later he was the first black man in that town with a color television, not a bad accomplishment for a man who couldn't read, and who possessed a 3rd grade education, he always told me your grandma was the smart one, she went to the 6th grade. So Moose like to be first at things, like the first black man in our neighborhood to own a RV, I get it now pop, for real.
To Be Continued