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Lil Pa's Cabin

FROM HORROR TO HAPPINESS CHAPTER1 THE ILLNESS: IT ALL STARTED WITH THE RANKIN FAMILY AS EARLY AS THE 1820S. WE DONT KNOW WHO ACTUALLY WAS THE FIRST TO HAVE THE DREADED NON CURABLE STRAIN OF TUBERCULOSIS, BUT AS THE YEARS AND GENERATIONS PASSED IT SEEMS THAT ALL THESE COUPLES HAD TWO DAUGHTERS, ONE WOULD DIE EITHER IN HER EARLY 20S OR HER TEENS. THE OTHER ALWAYS LIVED TO BE OVER 90 YEARS OLD. IN 1905 PAULINE CAME ALONG. SHE WAS MY GRANDMOTHER-MATERNAL, TWO YEARS LATER A SISTER WAS BORN-INEZ, PAULINE HAD 2 DAUGHTERS, OLIVE AND RUTH. INEZ HAD NO CHILDREN OF HER OWN, BUT RAISED SEVERAL, SINCE SHE WAS THE ONE WHO LIVED TO BE 90, AND PAULINE DIED AT THE AGE OF 19. PAULINES DAUGHTERS WERE OLIVE AND RUTH. RUTH WAS MY MOTHER. OLIVE BEING THE OLDER OF THE TWO HAD 2 SONS, WHICH YOU WOULD THINK WOULD HAVE BROKE THE CHAIN. RUTH WAS A FREE SPIRIT AND GRADUATED VALEDICTORIAN AT ONE OF THE TOUGHEST HIGH SCHOOLS OF THE TIME. IT WAS TAMMASSEE DAR SCHOOL IN SALEM SOUTH CAROLINA. RUTH WAS BRILLIANT, BUT HAD THE COMMON SENSE OF, WELL, WE WILL JUST SAY SHE DIDNT HAVE ANY AND HER JUDGMENT WAS A LITTLE WEAK. ONE DAY IN 1941 SHE WAS HITCH-HIKING IN FRONT OF ANDERSON COLLEGE IN ANDERSON, SC. SHE WAS PICKED UP BY A YANKEE, WHO WAS A SOLDIER STATIONED AT NEARBY DONALDSON AIR FORCE BASE. HE WAS PRETTY INTELLIGENT ALSO, BUT HIS JUDGMENT AND COMMON SENSE WERE WORSE THAN HERS. BY THE WAY THE SOLDIER WAS CRAIG DAVENPORT, FROM MICHIGAN. RUTH AND CRAIG WERE MARRIED IN NOVEMBER 1942. HE HAD TO GO BACK TO DO HIS PART IN THE AIRFORCE OVERSEAS, AND RUTH GOT A JOB AT THE JANTZEN CLOTHING CO. IN SENECA, SC. ON NOV. 24, 1943 LITTLE JOHNNY WAS BORN, SINCE CRAIG WAS ON LEAVE AND HAD TO GET BACK TO HIS DUTY AS A SOLDIER. HE DEMANDED THAT THE DR. FORCE LABOR ON RUTH SO HE COULD SEE HIS CHILD BEFORE DEPARTING BACK TO FRANCE. WHEN LITTLE JOHNNY WAS BORN HE WEIGHED 9LBS. 6OZ, HAD A BIG HEAD AND THE DR. PUNCHED A HOLE IN HIS HEAD WITH THE FORCEPS. BY THE WAY IT DIDNT LEAVE A SCAR, I JUST LOOKED IN THE MIRROR. WELL CRAIG LEFT, BUT WHAT THEY HADNT DISCOVERED YET WAS THAT RUTH HAD CONTRACTED THE DREADED TB WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT. WHILE WORKING AT THE PLANT AND PREGNANT SHE HAD DEVELOPED, NOT ONLY TB , BUT A RELATIONSHIP WITH A MARRIED MAN. THAT HAPPENED QUITE A BIT DURING THE WARS, ESPECIALLY WWII. SINCE FINDING THE TB RUTH HAD TO BE SENT RIGHT AWAY TO THE TB HOSPITAL IN COLUMBIA, SC. SOMEONE HAD TO TAKE CARE OF LITTLE JOHNNY. I AM LITTLE JOHNNY, AND HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I SPENT THE FIRST 14 MONTHS OF MY LIFE. NOT THAT IT MATTERS! ALL THAT I KNOW ABOUT MY MOTHERS BOYFRIEND IS HIS NAME WAS WADE. EVIDENTLY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE TAKING CARE OF ME AT THE TIME CONTACTED MY MOTHER AND ADVISED HER THAT I HAD TO GO. Chap.2 IT JUST SO HAPPENED THAT MY MOTHER HAD GOTTEN ACQUAINTED WITH A MRS. CROOKS AT THE HOSPITAL. SHE TOLD MRS. CROOKS ABOUT HER DILEMNA WITH HER BABY AND IT WAS BAZAAR, MRS CROOKS WAS A NEIGHBOR TO INEZ MAULDIN, WHO WAS MY MOTHERS AUNT, MY GREAT AUNT, AND SHE AND HER HUSBAND, TURNER MAULDIN DESPERATELY WANTED CHILDREN, BUT COULDNT HAVE ANY OF THEIR OWN. THE REASON THEY COULDNT HAVE CHILDREN IS A BIG SECRET, BUT ITS TIME TO LET IT OUT . TURNER RAN AROUND ON HIS WIFE WHEN THEY WERE VERY YOUNG AND CONTRACTED GONORHEA AND PASSED IT ON TO HIS WIFE. INEZ, BEING SUCH A RELIGIOUS PERSON AND THE DAUGHTER OF A FUNDAMENTALIST WESLEYAN PREACHER THE DOCTORS NEVER CHECKED HER FOR THIS DISEASE. IT ALMOST KILLED HER, PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY. THEY DID RECONCILE, BUT NEW THAT INEZ WOULD NEVER BEAR CHILDREN. WHEN THEY FOUND OUT ABOUT ME, THEY IMMEDIATELY FOUND ME AND HAD A FRIEND TAKE THEM TO GET ME. THEY LIVED IN ANDERSON-NOT TOO FAR AWAY. REMEMBER THESE WERE OLDER PEOPLE THAN NORMAL TO HAVE A 14 MONTH OLD BABY. HE WAS ABOUT 40 AND INEZ WAS 38. TURNER MAULDIN, NO MATTER WHAT I SAY IN THE REMAINDER OF THIS BOOK, WAS THE FINEST MAN I EVER MET AND THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER FATHER, NOT PERFECT, MIND YOU BUT A GREAT MAN! INEZ AND TURNER WERE VERY CONSERVATIVE AND DIDNT HAVE A CAR, OR A PHONE. REMEMBER MY MOTHER WAS WASTING AWAY IN THE SANITORIUM IN COLUMBIA. WHEN MY MOTHER WAS RELEASED FROM THE SANITORIUM SHE CAME TO MAMMY AND DADDYS HOUSE WHERE I WAS LIVING. FROM HERE ON OUT THEY WILL BE REFERRED TO AS MY MAMMY AND DADDY. BY THE TIME MY MOTHER ARRIVED I WAS THREE YEARS OLD. I KNEW THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPY, EVEN AT THREE, BUT I WAS SO HAPPY AND SETTLED WITH MAMMY AND DADDY, I WASNT SURE AND WAS REALLY TERRIFIED THAT I MIGHT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM. I LATER REALIZED THAT MY MAMMY AND DADDY HAD THE SAME FEELINGS. I LOOKED JUST LIKE A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE GIRL, BLONDE HAIR, WHICH HAD NEVER BEEN CUT, BLUE EYES, ETC. NOW WE WILL CALL MAMMY AND DADDY MY PARENTS SINCE IN MY MIND THEY WERE! SINCE DADDY WAS A REAL MAN AND WASNT SCARED OF ANYONE OR ANYTHING, HE WARNED MAMMY THAT IF MY FATHER SHOWED UP THERE TO COME TO THE COTTON MILL WHERE HE WORKED AND TELL HIM, SINCE HE KNEW MY MOTHER AND FATHER INTENDED TO TAKE ME AWAY. SURE ENOUGH ONE MORNING MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER SHOWED UP AND I KNEW IMMEDIATELY THAT I DIDNT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIM. MAMMY WENT TO THE MILL AND TOLD DADDY SO HE RAN HOME TO FIND THAT MY MOTHER AND FATHER WANTED TO STAY THERE WITH THEM, AND OF COURSE WITH ME. ONLY BEING 3 I SMELLED A RAT. I WAS A VERY INTELLIGENT CHILD, AS MY INTELLECT CAME GENETICALLY FROM MY BIOLOGICAL MOTHER AND FATHER. ONE DAY RIGHT AFTER DADDY WENT TO WORK AT THE MILL, IT HAPPENED. MY MOTHER AND FATHER PACKED UP OR HAD EVERYTHING PACKED WHILE MAMMY WAS VISITING A NEIGHBOR OF HERS. I GOT UNDER A BIG IRON BED, BUT MY FATHER DRAGGED ME OUT AND WE WERE GONE WITHIN MINUTES. WE ENDED UP AT MY GREAT GRANDFATHERS PARSONAGE, SINCE HE WAS A WESLEYAN MINISTER AND FANATICALLY RELIGIOUS. HE WAS THE FATHER OF PAULINE, MY MOTHERS MOTHER. THEY THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE SAFE THERE, BUT THEY DIDNT KNOW DADDY WAS PLANNING TO GET A FRIEND TO BRING HIM THERE TO GET ME. I WANTED TO STAY IN MY STABLE ENVIRONMENT WITH MAMMY AND DADDY. THREE DAYS LATER DADDY HAD A FRIEND DRIVE HIM TO PIEDMONT, WHERE WE WERE. WHEN I SAW HIM I KNEW HE WOULD BE MY SAVIOR. HE HUGGED ME FIRST, AND THEN HE PULLED OUT HIS KNIFE, WITH PAPA PRESSLEY AND HIS FAMILY THERE. DADDY GRABBED CRAIG [MY FATHER] AND PUT THE KNIFE AT HIS THROAT AND TOLD ME TO GET IN THE CAR. I DIDNT GO ANYWHERE. I STOOD THERE SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS KILL HIM DADDY OVER AND OVER. I WANTED TO GO HOME WITH HIM AND AT THAT POINT I DIDNT CARE IF HE KILLED ALL OF THEM, SINCE THEY WERE BEGGING AND PRAYING FOR DADDY NOT TO KILL MY FATHER. I HAD NO IDEA IF HE HAD DONE IT HE WOULD HAVE GONE TO JAIL AND GOD KNOWS WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO MAMMY AND I. AT THIS POINT I THANK GOD HE DIDNT DO IT. SO DADDY LEFT AND I WAS STUCK THERE WITH A BUNCH OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS WHOM I NEVER LIKED AND NEVER WILL. I CRIED FOR MONTHS UNTIL MAMMY CAME TO SEE ME. SHE HAD TO RIDE THE GREYHOUND BUS TO GET THERE. REMEMBER THIS WAS HER FAMILY. I DIDNT CRY AT ALL WHILE SHE WAS THERE, BUT WHEN SHE HAD TO LEAVE, I STARTED AGAIN. I HAD NIGHTMARES EVERY NIGHT MISSING MAMMY AND DADDY. DADDY COULDNT COME BACK TO GREENVILLE COUNTY AFTER THE INCIDENT AT PAPAS PARSONAGE. BY THE WAY YOU HAVENT FIGURED IT OUT-PAPA WAS MY GREAT GRANDFATHER. MY FLAKY FATHER LEFT MY DYING MOTHER THERE AND WENT BACK TO MICHIGAN, WHERE HE WAS ALREADY MARRIED TO ANOTHER WOMAN THAT NOONE DOWN HERE KNEW ABOUT. MY PAPA [GREAT GRANDFATHER] HAD ALREADY OUTLIVED TWO WIVES, OF WHICH THE FIRST WAS MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, BESSIE RANKIN, WHO DIED WHEN SHE WAS AROUND TWENTY YEARS OLD. BEFORE DYING BESSIE HAD TWO DAUGHTERS-ONE WAS PAULINE, MY GRANDMOTHER, WHO DIED AT EIGHTEEN, AND THE OTHER WAS MAMMY, OR INEZ MAULDIN. AT THIS POINT PAPAS FAMILY DECIDED MY MOTHER AND I HAD TO GO. MY MOTHER KNEW HER SISTER OLIVE WAS MARRIED TO A WILD MAN AND HAD TWO BOYS OF HER OWN, BUT WE WENT TO LIVE WITH THEM. THIS WAS THE LONGEST YEAR OF MY LIFE. AUNT OLIVE WAS VERY SWEET AND LOVED ME. ON THE OTHER HAND HER HUSBAND, UNCLE JUNIOR WAS ONE OF THE MEANEST HUMAN BEINGS I HAVE EVER MET AND IM 64 YEARS OLD. THEIR SONS, WHO WERE MY FIRST COUSINS HAD BEEN ABUSED ALONG WITH AUNT OLIVE EVERY DAY. WHEN I SAY ABUSED I MEAN ABUSED. WHEN WE GOT THERE BOBBY THE OLDER ONE WAS LOCKED UP IN A FOOD PANTRY WITH NO LIGHT. HE WAS TREATED WORSE THAN ANY ANIMAL IVE EVER SEEN AND THIS WILL EXPLAIN SOME OF HIS ACTIONS LATER. THE YOUNGER BOY WAS JERRY, WHO WAS TWO YEARS OLDER THAN ME. EVERY DAY JERRY WOULD PUNCH ME IN THE STOMACH AS HARD AS HE COULD, BUT ONLY ONCE. WHEN JUNIOR CAME HOME FROM WORK HE WOULD COME UP WITH AN EXCUSE TO BEAT EACH OF US UNTIL WE BLED. LATER IN THE EVENING HE WOULD BEAT AUNT OLIVE NEARLY TO DEATH. HOW IS THAT FOR HOME LIFE WHEN YOU ARENT QUITE FIVE YEARS OLD? HE THREATENED US EVERY DAY THAT IF THE POLICE EVER CAME TO THE HOUSE THEY WOULD PUT US IN JAIL. MY MOTHER HAD A ROOM AS FAR AWAY FROM ALL THIS ACTION AS HE COULD PUT HER. AT THIS POINT SHE COULDNT EVEN GO TO THE BATHROOM ALONE. JUNIOR WAS A CHARMER TO MY MOTHER AND CONVINCED HER THAT I WAS LYING ON MY SHORT VISITS TO HER ROOM EVERY DAY. WE WERE THERE JUST SHORT OF A YEAR, WHEN MY MOTHER LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW AFTER HEARING A COMOTION AND SAW HIM BEATING ME. WELL, WHEN HE CAME INTO THE HOUSE SHE INVITED HIM INTO HER ROOM. AFTER TELLING HIM THAT SHE WOULD ABSOLUTELY MURDER HIM IF HE EVER TOUCHED ME AGAIN. AFTER THAT ENCOUNTER, WE HAD TO GO, BUT WHERE? [LITTLE PAS CABIN] ch.3 I HAD ANOTHER GREAT GRANDFATHER NAMED JOHN MEDLIN. HE WAS MY MOTHERS FATHERS FATHER. HE WAS A BIT ECCENTRIC, BESIDES BEING A RELIGIOUS FANATIC. HE WAS FIVE FOOT THREE, WEIGHED ABOUT 150 AND A MUSCULAR FELLOW. HE LIVED IN SALEM, SC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS IN A LOG CABIN THAT HE SOLELY BUILT BY HIMSELF AND LIVED ALONE. THERE WAS NO INSIDE PLUMBING, A DIRT FLOOR, ONE BEDROOM, AND IT WAS HEATED BY A WOOD STOVE THAT HE COOKED ON TOO. MY MOTHER AND I MOVED IN WITH HIM. THERE WAS NOTHING AROUND BUT COTTON FIELDS AND A SMALL GARDEN. MY GREAT UNCLE ELBRY LIVED CLOSE BY BACK IN THE WOODS. HE WOULD STOP BY AND CHECK ON US ABOUT TWICE A WEEK. HE TAUGHT ME TO COOK A SWEET POTATO IN THE OVEN OF THE WOOD STOVE, BY WETTING IT, PUTTING IT IN THE OVEN AND COOKING IT TIL I THOUGHT IT WAS DONE. LITTLE PA WOULD ALWAYS HAVE COFFEE ON THE STOVE, AND A CAN OF GREASE SETTING BEHIND THE STOVE. I LEARNED THAT IF I WANTED BREAKFAST TO POUR SOME GREASE IN BOILING COFFEE AND EAT IT BY DIPPING LOAF BREAD IN THIS SOCALLED RED EYE GRAVY. LITTLE PA HAD A BUGGY AND A BIG BLACK MULE TO PULL IT AND PULL THE ROAD. OTHER THAN MISSING MAMMY AND DADDY VERY MUCH THIS WAS LIKE HEAVEN COMPARED TO THE PLACE WE CAME FROM. I REMEMBER ENJOYING RUNNING THROUGH THE FIELDS, THROWING ROCKS, AND CHASING THE CAT, SUSIE. I HAD NOTHING TO WEAR BUT A PAIR OF PINK SLEEPER PAJAMAS, WHICH I WET EVERY NIGHT ALONG WITH LITTLE PA, SINCE I HAD TO SLEEP WITH HIM. THESE SLEEPERS WERE NEVER WASHED BY ANYONE AND I DEVELOPED THE MANGE-YES LIKE A DOG. MEANWHILE MY MOTHER WAS GETTING WEAKER AND WEAKER AND STARTING TO HEMMORAGE FROM THE MOUTH. I REMEMBER SEEING IT ON THE BED. MY MOTHER WAS VERY SWEET TO ME AND EVIDENTLY LOVED ME VERY MUCH, BUT HER SELFISHNESS WAS TAKING ITS TOLL ON SHE AND I. MAMMY FINALLY GOT WORD TO MY PA THAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO COME AND GET ME FOR THE WEEKEND. IT WAS TO BE EASTER WEEKEND, 1949. LIL PA ASKED MY MOTHER AND SHE SAID OK. I WAS SO ELATED, AND COULD HARDLY WAIT FOR GOOD FRIDAY. THATS WHEN THEY CAME TO GET ME. MY MOTHER WAS ALWAYS ASKING ME IF I LOVED HER MORE THAN MAMMY, AND EVEN THOUGH I DIDNT LIE, I DID THEN. EVERY TIME SHE WOULD ASK I SAID I LOVED HER MORE, KNOWING THAT I LOVED MAMMY AND DADDY MORE THAN ANYONE. THEY WOULD SACRIFICE ANYTHING FOR ME, EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDNT HAVE MUCH THEMSELVES. BEFORE GOOD FRIDAY CAME WE HAD A VISITOR AT THE CABIN. IT WAS MY MOTHERS FATHER, WALTER. HE WAS LIL PAS OLDEST SON. HE WAS OVER 6 FEET TALL AND DRANK LIKE A FISH. I HAD NEVER SEEN HIM BEFORE, BUT HAD HEARD STORIES ABOUT HIM. THAT NIGHT HE DIDNT QUITE MAKE IT TO THE DOOR OF THE CABIN. LITTLE PA INTERCEPTED HIM AT THE EDGE OF THE ROAD. THEY HAD A FEW WORDS, MOSTLY BY WALTER, WHEN LIL PA HIT HIM SO HARD HE KNOCKED HIM ACROSS THE ROAD, AND OUT COLD. I FOUND OUT LATER FROM UNCLE JUNIOR, REMEMBER THE BEATINGS WE TOOK FROM HIM? JUNIOR TOLD ME OUT OF HIS OWN MOUTH THAT LIL PA WAS THE ONLY MAN HE HAD EVER MET THAT HE WAS AFRAID OF. ILL NEVER FORGET RIDING WITH HIM IN HIS BUGGY AND MULE, HE ALWAYS HAD HIS BIBLE AND PREACHED TO EVERYONE HE MET ON THE ROAD. I NEVER COULD FIGURE OUT HOW HE COULD READ THE BIBLE SO WELL, BUT WAS TOTALLY UNEDUCATED. I MEAN TOTALLY! I WAS VERY INQUISITIVE, ALWAYS AND CONSTANTLY QUIZZING LIL PA WHY HE DID THIS. I WAS FROM THE TIME I CAN REMEMBER SURROUNDED BY WESLEYANS, WHICH WAS A FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TIME WE SPENT WITH UNCLE JUNIOR, AUNT OLIVE AND THEIR SONS. NO CHURCH THERE. MY MOTHER HAD BECOME SUPER RELIGIOUS, BUT I COULD TELL AS EASTER APPROACHED THAT SHE COULD HARDLY READ THE BIBLE, WHICH SHE DID CONSTANTLY. CHAPTER 4 MAMMY AND DADDY SHOW UP I WAS THE HAPPIEST LITTLE BOY ON EARTH WHEN THEY CAME. THE FIRST THING DADDY SAID AFTER THE GOODBYS AND WE GOT IN THE CAR WAS JOHNNY, YOU WONT EVER HAVE TO COME TO LIVE HERE EVER AGAIN. YOU WILL BE WITH MAMMY AND I FROM NOW ON. HE WAS RIGHT SINCE MY MOTHER PASSED AWAY EASTER SUNDAY MORNING. I HAD VERY MIXED EMOTIONS, SINCE I REALLY LOVED MY MOTHER, BUT I KNEW MY DREAMS HAD COME TRUE. I WAS FINALLY HOME. I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD, AND THE LAST TIME I EVER SAW LIL PA ALIVE WAS AT MY MOTHERS FUNERAL. PA DIED ABOUT A YEAR AFTER MY MOTHER DIED. AFTER MY MOTHERS FUNERAL MAMMY TOOK ME TO TOWN ON THE BUS AND BOUGHT CLOTHES, SHOES, ETC. FOR ME AT JC PENNEYS. BY THE WAY WHEN WE CAME HOME, WHICH WAS MAMMY AND DADDYS HOUSE, THEY HAD BOUGHT ME A BICYCLE. I WAS THRILLED BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS. THERE WAS A PROBLEM. THAT WAS THAT I COULD NEVER LEARN TO RIDE IT, AND I MEAN NEVER. DADDY FINALLY SOLD IT OR GAVE IT AWAY. DONT FORGET, I HAD THE MANGE WHEN WE CAME HOME FROM LIL PAS . MAMMY ALMOST SCRUBBED THE HIDE OFF ME. BUT I LIVED AND MY SKIN BECAME FINE. WE STILL DIDNT OWN A CAR OR HAVE A TELEPHONE, BUT IT DIDNT MATTER TO ME. I WAS HAPPY. SINCE I WAS BORN IN NOVEMBER I COULDNT START TO SCHOOL UNTIL I WAS NEARLY SEVEN YEARS OLD. DADDY DIDNT LIKE THAT SINCE EVEN THOUGH HE WASNT EDUCATED, HE BELIEVED IN EDUCATION AND THOUGHT A YEAR WAS JUST WASTED. WHEN I DID START IN THE FIRST GRADE, SINCE THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS KINDERGARTEN THEN, I STARTED DOING WELL IMMEDIATELY. THERE WERE AROUND THIRTY KIDS IN EACH CLASS. THEY SAT US ACCORDING TO OUR GRADES. I SAT IN THE SECOND SEAT OF THE FIRST ROW RIGHT BEHIND BILLY ALLEN. IN GRADE SCHOOL HE WAS MY NEMESIS INTELLECTUALLY. HE DIDNT TALK VERY MUCH, BUT HE DID LOTS OF STUDYING, WHILE I WAS OUT PLAYING. WE DID HAVE A LIBRARY AT THE END OF THE STREET I LIVED ON AND I DID GO THERE MORE THAN MY FRIENDS. MOST OF US [MY FRIENDS AND I] SPENT OUR TIME HUNTING BIRDS WITH BB GUNS. WHEN WE WERENT DOING THAT WE PLAYED BASEBALL, FOOTBALL, ETC. WHEN I WAS IN THE FIFTH GRADE MY FRIEND RAY HAD A NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR THAT WORKED OUT WITH WEIGHTS[BARBELLS] . I WAS A SMALL KID, BUT BY THIS TIME I REALIZED I WANTED TO BE BIGGER AND STRONGER, SO I BECAME PASSIONATE ABOUT WORKING OUT WITH WEIGHTS AND EVEN TOOK UP BOXING. BY THE TIME I WAS IN THE SEVENTH GRADE AND MY FIRST YEAR IN JUNIOR HIGH OR MIDDLE SCHOOL AS THEY CALL IT NOW, I COULD LIFT MY WEIGHT OVER MY HEAD WITH ONE ARM. I DID THAT TO SHOW OFF. I STILL WASNT GETTING MUCH HEAVIER, BUT I WAS MUCH STRONGER THAN MY CLASSMATES. THE MIDDLE SCHOOL I ATTENDED HAD OVER TWO THOUSAND STUDENTS. IT INCLUDED SEVENTH, EIGHTH, AND NINTH GRADES. I MET JIMMY DAVIS MY FIRST DAY OF MIDDLE SCHOOL, AND TO SHORTEN THE STORY, WE BECAME BEST FRIENDS. HE INVITED ME TO COME TO HIS HOUSE ONE DAY AFTER SCHOOL, AND HIS MOTHER BROUGHT ME HOME THAT EVENING. I HAD LEARNED TO RIDE A BICYCLE BY THEN. CHAPTER 5 EVEN THOUGH JIMMY LIVED IN THE CITY, HE LIVED OUT IN THE COUNTRY. IT WAS VERY WOODSY THERE. JIMMY LIVED IN A PLACE WE REFERRED TO AS NORTH ANDERSON AND I LIVED ON A MILL VILLAGE ON THE SOUTH END. THAT MEANT THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED AROUND THE MILL ALL WORKED THERE AND MOST WERE CALLED LINT HEADS. LINT HEADS REFERRED TO THE FLYING LINT OFF THE COTTON AND THREAD MADE FROM THE COTTON. AS TIME WENT BY I TALKED JIMMY INTO LIFTING WEIGHTS AND WORKING OUT. HE SEEMED TO ENJOY IT, SINCE HE WAS LIKE I WAS EARLIER. HE DIDNT LIKE BEING SMALL IT BECAME A REGULAR THING THAT I WENT HOME WITH HIM REGULARLY. NOONE WOULD HAVE PUT US TOGETHER AS FRIENDS, SINCE JIMMY WAS VERY MUCH OF AN OUTDOORSMAN, LIKED HUNTING, FISHING ETC. I DIDNT CARE FOR ANY OF THAT STUFF. THE TWO THINGS WE LIKED MORE THAN ANYTHING WERE HOT ROD CARS AND WORKING OUT. AS WE GOT A LITTLE OLDER WE STARTED BUILDING STRIP DOWNS-CUTTING THE BODIES OFF CARS AND SHORTENING THE FRAMES. WE SAT ON A PIECE OF PLYWOOD AND NEVER HEARD OF A SEATBELT. I DID HAVE TO TAKE OFF FOR MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU KNOW DATING, MOVIES, ETC. MOST OF MY DATES WERE IN JIMMYS MOTHERS CAR. IF I DIDNT USE HER CAR MY GIRLFRIENDS DAD WOULD LOAN US HIS FORTY NINE PLYMOUTH. IN SOUTH CAROLINA BACK IN THE FIFTIES YOU COULD GET A DRIVERS LICENSE AT FOURTEEN. VERY SELDOM WOULD DADDY LOAN HIS CAR TO ME, HE FINALLY BOUGHT ONE OF MY UNCLES OLD CARS. I REALLY THINK HE DIDNT LIKE THE GIRL I WAS DATING. SHE WAS MY FIRST SERIOUS GIRLFRIEND. WE WERE DEEP INTO PUPPY LOVE. UP UNTIL THEN I MADE VERY GOOD GRADES. I THINK MY GIRLFRIEND, JIMMY AND THE HOT RODS, AND DAYDREAMING BROUGHT THEM DOWN, ESPECIALLY IN HIGH SCHOOL. I LOST INTEREST IN SCHOOL AND BECAME OBSESSED WITH HOT RODS. I EVEN DESIGNED AN ENGINE AND SENT THE DESIGN TO GENERAL MOTORS AND MERCEDES. I NEVER RECEIVED A RESPONSE FROM GM BUT I DID FROM MERCEDES. BASICALLY IT WAS THE CAMSHAFT THAT WAS DIFFERENT FROM ANY THAT HAD EVER BEEN BUILT. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO ALLOW AN ENGINE TO REV OVER FOURTEEN THOUSAND REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE. MERCEDES SAID THEY HAD ALREADY TRIED IT AND IT DIDNT ALLOW ENOUGH TOLERANCE AND THAT THEY HAD ALREADY TRIED IT, BASICALLY IT DIDNT WORK. EVEN THOUGH I LOST INTEREST IN SCHOOL I STILL WANTED TO BECOME AN AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEER. MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER, CRAIG HAD PROMISED TO SEND ME TO FERRIS INSTITUTE, WHICH IS NOW FERRIS UNIVERSITY IN BIG RAPIDS MICHIGAN, ONLY TWELVE MILES FROM REED CITY, WHERE HE LIVED. THEY HAD A HUGE AUTOMOTIVE DEPT. WHEN GRADUATION DAY CAME, MY FATHER SHOWED UP. I WAS HAPPY, SINCE I WAS GOING TO GO TO FERRIS IN THE FALL-I THOUGHT! MY FATHER INFORMED ME HE COULDNT AFFORD TO HELP ME WITH COLLEGE AND NOONE ELSE COULD. I WAS DESTROYED! I DIDNT KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO. CRAIG GAVE ME A WATCH FOR GRADUATION AND VERY UNPOLITELY I GAVE IT BACK AND TOLD HIM TO STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DIDNT SHINE. THREE OF MY FRIENDS WERE JOINING THE AIRFORCE, SO AFTER NOT MUCH THOUGHT I DECIDED TO JOIN ALSO. ONE THING I WASNT GOING TO DO WAS WORK IN THE COTTON MILL. I WOULD RATHER HAVE NEEDLES STUCK IN MY EYES! THE FOUR STOOGES JOINING THE AIRFORCE WERE RAY, MIKE, VICTOR, AND I. WELL, WHEN WE WERE TESTED I WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT QUALIFIED FOR THE ELECTRONICS FIELD. BEING AN EGO MANIAC, THATS WHAT I CHOSE TO DO. RAY FAILED THE SECOND TEST WHEN WE GOT TO CHARLOTTE, N.C. , SO HE HAD TO GO BACK HOME. I WISH I HAD GONE WITH HIM. MIKE, VICTOR, AND I , FOR THE FIRST TIME ON AN AIRPLANE, TOOK OFF THE NEXT DAY FOR LACKLAND AFB IN SAN ANTONIO. I HADNT EVEN GOT OFF THE BUS FROM THE AIRPORT BEFORE I REALIZED THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE. I DIDNT MENTION THIS YET , BUT I NEVER LIKED AUTHORITY FIGURES, UNLESS I WAS IN CHARGE. I WENT THROUGH BASIC TRAINING LIKE A CHAMP, SINCE I WAS DETERMINED NOONE WAS GOING TO OUT DO ME. WHEN BASIC WAS OVER I WAS ASSIGNED TO SHEPPARD AFB IN WICHITA FALLS TEXAS. I WAS IN A VERY NICE BARRACKS IN THE SIXTY SEVENTH MISSILE SQUADRON. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THERE IN TECH SCHOOL FOR EIGHT MONTHS. THE FIRST THREE MONTHS WERE IN A CLASSROOM, WHERE I DID REALLY WELL. AFTER THAT WE WENT TO A PLACE RIGHT OFF THE FLIGHT LINE CALLED KIRBY HALL. CHAPTER 6 I ALWAYS HAD A FEAR OF ELECTRICITY. WHEN, ONE DAY I WAS SHOCKED BY A MISSILE INVERTER. I REFUSED TO GO BACK TO KIRBY HALL. WHILE IN SCHOOL I HAD MET A FELLOW NAMED RONNIE HOGAN, AND WE BECAME VERY GOOD FRIENDS. HE WAS FROM DALLAS, WHICH WASNT FAR AWAY. HE ALSO HAD A BEAUTIFUL NEW 1962 FORD CONVERTIBLE. WE BECAME ROOMMATES AND WENT TO DALLAS EVERY WEEKEND. SINCE I WOULDNT GO BACK TO KIRBY HALL I HAD TO CHANGE AFSCs , WHICH REFERS TO YOUR JOB IN THE AIRFORCE. I HAD IT MADE FOR AWHILE. I WAS WAITING FOR ORDERS SO I WAS THE CQ RUNNER AT NIGHT, BUT STILL HAD THE WEEKENDS OFF. WE HAD TWO NCOs IN CHARGE OF THE SQUADRON. SGT. WITT AND AIRMAN POWELL. THESE GUYS BECAME JEALOUS OF MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HOGAN WHEN THEY FOUND OUT ABOUT HIS CAR, BEING FROM DALLAS, AND COMING FROM A WEALTHY FAMILY. AT THIS POINT THEY NEEDED TO GET ME OUT OF THE PICTURE SO THEY COULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HOGAN,S GENEROSITY. I DONT THINK EITHER OF THEM HAD A CAR. SINCE I WAS JUST WAITING FOR ORDERS AND SOMEONE TO DETERMINE WHERE I WAS GOING AND WHEN I WAS GOING, WITT AND POWELL WENT TO WORK TRYING TO GET ME OUT OF THERE. WHEN I RECEIVED MY ORDERS TO WORK IN FOOD SERVICE IN RAPID CITY SOUTH DAKOTA, I WAS LIVID. I CURSED BOTH OF THEM OUT BECAUSE I KNEW THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE, AND I WARNED HOGAN TO STAY AWAY FROM THEM. I KNEW WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND. HOGAN DROVE ME TO THE BUS STATION SINCE I HAD A TWO WEEK LEAVE BEFORE GOING TO ELLSWORTH IN SOUTH DAKOTA, I CAME BACK HOME TO SC. IT WAS CHRISTMAS TIME AND I HAD A GREAT TIME WHILE I WAS HOME. I FLEW TO RAPID CITY ON JAN. FIRST 1963 AND ARRIVED THERE AT 1:00 PM NEW YEARS DAY. IT WAS 70 DEGREES THERE WHEN I ARRIVED. I WAITED TO PROCESS IN, SO SOME OF THE GUYS IN MY BARRACKS INVITED ME TO GO INTO TOWN AND PARTY THAT NIGHT. I IMMEDIATELY BECAME GOOD FRIENDS WITH BILL PAGE, FROM IDAHO. HE CLAIMED TO BE FROM LOS ANGELES, BUT I KNEW BETTER. I HAD TO CHECK IN WITH MY SQUADRON COMMANDER THE NEXT DAY, AND HE SEEMED TO BE READY FOR ME. HE IMMEDIATELY TOLD ME THAT I HAD BEEN SCREWED, AND I DIDNT BELONG IN THE FOOD SERVICE SQUADRON. HE SAID YOU HAVE EXCELLED AT EVERYTHING IN THE SERVICE, AND NEVER FAILED A TEST OF ANY KIND. HE SAID HE SMELLED A RAT. SO I SHARED THE STORY OF SGT WITT AND AIRMAN POWELL IN TEXAS. HE SAID THAT I WOULD NOT BE STAYING IN FOOD SERVICE, AND IF I WANTED OUT OF THE SERVICE HE COULD HANDLE THAT. I THOUGHT I DIED AND WENT TO HEAVEN. I SAID SIR, NOTHING WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIER. ALL HE ASKED OF ME WAS THAT I KEEP THE SNOW SHOVELED OFF THE SQUADRON SIDEWALKS. OTHER THAN THAT MY TIME WAS FREE. NATURALLY I HAD TO GO TO THE PSYCHIATRIST TO BE EVALUATED. HIS NAME WAS SATIN, BUT I CALLED HIM SATAN. I REALLY HAD A GREAT TIME WITH THE COOKS I BUNKED WITH. THEY WERE A BLAST. WE PARTIED EVERY NIGHT AND ATE LIKE KINGS. I NEVER WORKED ONE DAY OR NIGHT IN A CHOW HALL. AFTER ID WAITED ABOUT THREE MONTHS TO GET MY NEW ORDERS, WHATEVER THEY MIGHT BE I HEARD FROM HOGAN. GUESS WHAT? WITT AND POWELL HAD SCAMMED HOGAN OUT OF TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. TO SHORTEN THE STORY, WITT WAS DISCHARGED ON BAD CONDUCT, AND POWELL ENDED UP IN GUAM AS AN AIRMAN BASIC. I SHARED THAT WITH CAPTAIN FUGATE, HE LAUGHED AND HANDED ME MY HONORABLE DISCHARGE. HE EVEN DROVE ME TO THE BUS STATION. NOW I HAD A BIG DECISION TO MAKE. I DIDNT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY A BUS TICKET TO SOUTH CAROLINA, BUT I DID HAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE THE BUS TO MICHIGAN, WHERE MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER LIVED WITH HIS FAMILY. CHAPTER 7 MY TIME IN MICHIGAN WHEN I ARRIVED IN MICHIGAN FEB. 27, 1963 I DIDNT GET A VERY WARM WELCOME FROM MY FATHER AND HIS WIFE. MY HALF BROTHER AND SISTERS, ON THE OTHER HAND SEEMED TO BE VERY GLAD TO SEE ME. I WAS NINETEEN AT THE TIME SO I REALLY DIDNT CARE WHAT MY DAD THOUGHT, SINCE HE HAD NEVER DONE ANYTHING FOR ME. I SETTLED IN AND ROOMED WITH MY BROTHER, MIKE. THE FIRST BUSINESS I TOOK CARE OF WAS FILING FOR MY UNEMPLOYMENT, WHICH I RECEIVED. MY BROTHER WAS ABOUT FOUR YEARS YOUNGER THAN I WAS, AND HE WAS PICKED ON BY ALL THE BOYS IN TOWN. IT WAS A SMALL TOWN, REED CITY, BUT THEY HAD MORE THAN THEIR SHARE OF BEAUTIFUL GIRLS. I IMMEDIATELY TOOK CARE OF THE BOYS PICKING ON MIKE, SO THAT WAS OUT OF THE WAY. I STARTED DATING CHERYL KAVERMAN, ONE OF SIXTEEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. SHE WAS ONLY SIXTEEN AT THE TIME SO I REALLY WAS LOOKING FOR SOMEONE CLOSER TO MY AGE. UP THE STREET WE LIVED ON WAS A FAMILY OF ANDRESENS. THEY WERE SWEDISH, NEEDLESS TO SAY. THE OLD MAN WAS THE RICHEST GUY IN TOWN. HE HAD FIVE KIDS. THEY WERE NOT ALL KIDS, SINCE THE OLDEST WAS ABOUT THIRTY. THAT WAS BILL JR. THEN CAME PAULA, THE PRETTIEST GIRL IN TOWN, AND A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL, GETTING READY TO GRADUATE. PAULA HAD A NEW IMPALA CONVERTIBLE AND ACCESS TO HER DADS NEW CADDY. WE STARTED DATING. SINCE I DIDNT HAVE A CAR SHE WOULD PICK ME UP IN ONE OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED CARS. WE PARTIED AND HAD A BLAST WHILE I WAS IN MICHIGAN. I WENT TO WORK IN THE ONLY FACTORY IN TOWN. IT WAS AN ALUMINUM EXTRUSION PLANT CALLED MILLER INDUSTRIES. MY DAD WAS A DRAFTSMAN THERE. PAULA HAD A SISTER ONE YEAR YOUNGER THAN SHE WAS, KIRSTEN, WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEEPLY IN LOVE WITH RON MIS, THE LOCAL BAD ASS. HIS DAD OWNED THE ONLY REAL BAR IN TOWN. RON AND I BECAME FRIENDS AFTER I GAVE HIM A GOOD WHIPPING WITH BOXING GLOVES. RON AND I BECAME GOOD FRIENDS AND DOUBLE DATED WITH THE ANDRESEN SISTERS QUITE A BIT. THE WEATHER WAS WARMING UP BY THEN AND IT WAS GRADUATION TIME FOR PAULA. ONE SUNDAY I DECIDED TO GET A LITTLE SUN, SO I GOT A BEER AND WENT OUT IN MY FATHERS BACK YARD. ABOUT THIRTY MINUTES LATER UP DROVE KIRSTEN ANDRESEN. SHE JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE HER SWIM SUIT WITH HER. AFTER A LITTLE SMALL TALK SHE CHANGED INTO HER SWIM SUIT AND JOINED ME IN THE SUN. WELL, ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER AND WE WERE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MAKING OUT AND UP CAME PAULA! INSTEAD OF PAULA GETTING MAD AT KIRSTEN, SHE WAS REALLY PISSED AT ME. NEEDLESS TO SAY OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS OVER. CHAPTER 8 I HAD ALWAYS WANTED TO LIVE IN MIAMI. JUST A FEW DAYS LATER I WENT TO THE BUS STATION AND MADE MY EXIT ON A GREYHOUND BUS ON MY WAY TO MIAMI FLORIDA. I DID STOP IN SOUTH CAROLINA TO SEE MAMMY AND DADDY. WHEN I ARRIVED IN MIAMI I CALLED AUNT OLIVE, MY MOTHERS SISTER AND SHE INVITED ME TO STAY WITH THEM FOR A WHILE. REMEMBER UNCLE JUNIOR, THE ABUSER? HE HAD CALMED DOWN QUITE A BIT BY THEN, AFTER ALL HE HAD TWO GROWN SONS AND FIVE GRANDCHILDREN. BOBBY, THE OLDEST SON HAD ALREADY CONTRACTED TUBERCULOSIS, AND NEEDLESS TO SAY HE WAS DOOMED FOR AN EARLY DEATH. BOBBY AND I WENT TO THE BEACH ABOUT EVERY DAY, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS SICK. I STARTED MEETING THE GIRLS AND BELIEVE ME THERE WERE PLENTY OF THEM. I DEVELOPED A PHILOSOPHY ABOUT THE GIRLS WHO GREW UP IN MIAMI. AS I STARTED DATING, THE NATIVES ACTED LIKE THEY WORSHIPPED THE GENITALS OF A MAN. IN MY OPINION THEY HAD BEEN SUBJECTED TO THE COCONUT PALM TREES, WHICH HAD BECOME PHALLUS SYMBOLS. YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THERE IS A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN A MALES GENITALS AND A COCONUT PALM. THESE GIRLS WOULD DO ANYTHING I WANTED THEM TO DO EXCEPT MAKE LOVE NORMALLY! THE TRANSIENT GIRLS, ON THE OTHER HAND, LOVED TO DO EVERYTHING. THERE WERE TOO MANY GIRLS TO MENTION BUT I WILL MENTION A FEW MEMORABLE ONES. FIRST THERE WAS PATRICIA, A BEAUTIFUL CUBAN GIRL. WE ONLY DATED A SHORT TIME UNTIL HER FATHER WAS TRANSFERRED TO NORTH CAROLINA, AS HE WAS A MASTER FURNITURE DESIGNER AND THATS WHERE THE GOOD JOBS WERE DESIGNING FURNITURE. THEN I MET JOY, AN EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD DOLL THAT BOUGHT A CAR FROM ME, SINCE I HAD GONE TO WORK SELLING SPORTS CARS. SHE SEEMED TO THINK A PART OF MY ANATOMY WAS A LOLLIPOP. I ONLY REGRET ONE THING ABOUT JOY. THAT IS THE FACT THAT SHE HAD INVITED ME TO HER SENIOR PROM. I AGREED TO GO AND DIDNT SHOW UP. THE DEALERSHIP WHERE I WAS WORKING CLOSED DOWN ABOUT THAT TIME SO SHE DIDNT KNOW HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. I IMMEDIATELY WENT TO WORK AT A NEW SPORTS CAR DEALERSHIP WHICH HAD JUST OPENED. THE DEALERSHIP WAS HOWARD AYARES IMPORTS. I HAD BECOME FRIENDS WITH DENNIS WILSON, THE BODY SHOP MANAGER AT THE PREVIOUS DEALERSHIP WHERE I WORKED. I WAS TWENTY AND DENNIS WAS TWENTY EIGHT. HE INTRODUCED ME TO HIS BEST FRIEND, DAVE DELONES, WHO WAS TWENTY SEVEN. WE DECIDED TO BECOME ROOMMATES, SO WE RENTED A BEAUTIFUL PLACE RIGHT ON THE MIAMI RIVER. ACTUALLY THE HOUSE BELONGED TO DAVES PARENTS SO WE GOT A GOOD DEAL ON THE RENT. DAVE WAS THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF CITY NATIONAL BANK. WE SPENT MOST OF OUR TIME AT AN APARTMENT BUILDING CALLED THE RIVER HOUSE. I DONT THINK ANYONE LIVED THERE BUT AIRLINE STEWARDESSES. BACK THEN YOU HAD TO BE BEAUTIFUL TO BE A STEWARDESS, AND YOUNG TOO. WE HAD WALL TO WALL GIRLS AT OUR HOUSE EVERY NIGHT. DENNIS AND DAVE HAD GOOD JOBS, BUT THEY HAD TOO MUCH MONEY FOR WHAT I KNEW THEY DID FOR A LIVING. NEXT THEY BOUGHT A SUPER THIRTY FOOT SPEED BOAT, AND PARKED IT RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR BACK DOOR ON THE RIVER. DENNIS DROVE A NEW JAGUAR AND DAVE A NEW CADILLAC. I NATURALLY DROVE WHATEVER I WANTED FROM THE DEALERSHIP WHERE I WORKED. AT TIMES I EVEN DROVE A ROLLS ROYCE, BUT ONLY ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS, LIKE IF I HAD A HOT DATE I WANTED TO IMPRESS. I HAD SO MANY WOMEN I ONLY REMEMBER A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THEM. SOME OF THEM WOULD BE SO WELL KNOWN AND MARRIED I CANT SAY WHO THEY WERE. ONE NIGHT DAVE BROUGHT HOME A REAL KNOCKOUT. SHE WAS THE FEBRUARY CENTERFOLD IN PLAYBOY MAGAZINE IN NINETEEN SIXTY THREE. IT DIDNT TAKE LONG FOR HER TO START COMING TO VISIT ME AT WORK, AND THEN SHE DROPPED DAVE AND SPENT JUST ABOUT EVERY NIGHT WITH ME. CHAPTER 9 ONE NIGHT ABOUT THREE OCLOCK IN THE MORNING ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. WE WERE ALL TUCKED AWAY WITH OUR LADIES, I THOUGHT, WHEN I HEARD DENNIS AND DAVE FIGHTING LIKE HELL. TO THIS DAY I DONT KNOW WHAT THEY WERE FIGHTING ABOUT. DENNIS KICKED THE SHIT OUT OF DAVE, I MEAN REALLY BADLY. DAVE STAYED IN THE BED FOR OVER A WEEK IN A DRIED UP POOL OF BLOOD. NOBODY WANTED THE POLICE THERE, SO HE JUST LAY THERE, AS WE WERE HOPING HE LIVED. AFTER DAVE FINALLY STARTED TO RETURN TO HIS JOB THINGS SEEM TO LEVEL OUT AND NOONE MENTIONED THE INCIDENT. THEY BOTH STARTED TO TAKE THESE TWO DAY TRIPS TO THE BAHAMAS, ALTERNATING ONE THEN THE OTHER. THEY THEN TOLD ME IF I GOT INVOLVED WITH THEM IN THEIR LITTLE ENDEAVOR I COULD MAKE LOTS OF MONEY. THEIR LITTLE ENDEAVOR TURNED OUT TO BE SMUGGLING ILLEGAL LIQUOR FROM THE BAHAMAS, WHERE THERE WAS NO TAX ON IT. THEY WERE SELLING IT DIRECTLY TO A FELLOW WHO OWNED SEVERAL LARGE NIGHT CLUBS IN MIAMI. THAT EXPLAINED WHY THEY HAD ABOUT FIFTY ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS, ALL HANGING FROM THE BOTTOM OF FANCY DECANTERS ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I WAS NEVER INVOLVED IN THIS, BUT I DID KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. ABOUT EVERY TWO DAYS A LARGE VAN WOULD PULL UP TO THE BOAT AND LOAD THE CONTENTS ON THE BOAT INTO THE VAN. SEVERAL WEEKS LATER I ARRIVED HOME FROM WORK TO BE GREETED BY A LARGE GROUP OF STATE AND FEDERAL AGENTS, WITH DENNIS AND DAVE IN HANDCUFFS. SINCE THEY DIDNT BOTHER ME, I DIDNT ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS. THEY CONFISCATED THE BOAT AND ATTACHED DENNIS AND DAVES BANK ACCOUNTS. I THOUGHT IT WAS ODD THAT THEY ONLY SPENT ONE NIGHT IN JAIL, AND WENT BACK TO THEIR JOBS THE FOLLOWING DAY. NEEDLESS TO SAY THEY AGREED TO SET THE BUYER UP TO SAVE THEIR OWN ASSES. THAT WAS ALMOST A BIG MISTAKE. ABOUT THREE WEEKS LATER, AROUND THREE IN THE MORNING I WAS AWAKENED BY GUNFIRE AND BULLETS COMING THROUGH THE HOUSE. I KNEW IMMEDIATELY WHAT WAS GOING ON. THE BUYER OF THE LIQUOR DIDNT TAKE KINDLY TO DENNIS AND DAVE SETTING HIM UP, SO HE HAD SOME THUGS TRY TO SCARE, OR KILL MY ROOMMATES. IM NOT SURE WHICH HE HAD IN MIND, SINCE HE ENDED UP IN JAIL AND WE WERENT BOTHERED ANYMORE. CHAPTER 10 I FIGURED I HAD ENOUGH EXCITEMENT WITH DENNIS AND DAVE SO I MOVED IN WITH LARRY ALBRIGHT, A FELLOW FROM TEXAS WHO HAD GONE TO WORK AT THE DEALERSHIP THE SAME DAY I DID. BY THIS TIME WE BOTH HAD BEEN BECOME DEPT. MANAGERS AT THE DEALERSHIP. I RAN THE SPORTS CAR STORE AND LARRY RAN THE CHRYSLER STORE. OUR NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS WERE A COUPLE OF OUR COWORKERS. ONE WAS TAYLOR ANDREWS, AN EX UNION BOSS IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY, THE OTHERS NAME ELUDES ME. THEY BOTH SOLD CARS IN THE CHRYSLER STORE. TAYLORS GIRL FRIEND WAS THE PERSONAL SECRETARY TO MR. RYDER OF THE RYDER TRUCKING CO. ONE MORNING LARRY AND I WERE HAVING BREAKFAST AT OUR USUAL SPOT AND READING THE NEWSPAPER. THE NIGHT BEFORE A TRUCK HAD BEEN BOMBED IN TAMPA. WE DIDNT THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT IT, EVEN THOUGH WE DID KNOW THERE WAS A TRUCKERS STRIKE GOING ON. WITHIN ABOUT TWO WEEKS THE FEDS WERE ALL OVER THE APARTMENT COMPLEX WHERE WE LIVED. TAYLOR AND HIS ROOMMATE HAD ABOUT THREE HUNDRED POUNDS OF DYNAMITE HIDDEN IN THEIR CLOSET. YOU CAN FIGURE OUT NOW WHO DID THE TRUCK BOMBING IN TAMPA, PLUS A FEW MORE. TAYLORS ROOMMATE TURNED ON HIM SO TAYLOR WENT TO PRISON FOR A FEW YEARS. HE DID COME BACK TO WORK WITH US WHEN HE WAS RELEASED. MEANWHILE, LARRY AND I CONTINUED TO PARTY AND WORK. IN THAT ORDER! AT THE TIME I WAS DATING A GIRL NAMED CANDY WHO LIVED IN NORTH MIAMI AND HAD JUST GRADUATED FROM NORTH MIAMI HIGH SCHOOL. I HAD ATTENDED HER SENIOR PROM WITH HER. SHE WAS A SUPER FINE GIRL, AND I HAD MET HER BY SELLING HER A NEW SPORTS CAR. THAT RELATIONSHIP LASTED ABOUT A YEAR. HER MOTHER, FOR SOME REASON, DIDNT LIKE THE IDEA OF CANDY DATING ME, SO I MOVED ON. LARRY, MY ROOMMATE WAS DETERMINED THAT I ASK A WAITRESS OUT WHO WORKED AT OUR NORMAL BREAKFAST HANGOUT. SHE WAS VERY PRETTY AT THE TIME, BUT JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING SHE TOLD ME ABOUT HERSELF WAS A LIE. SHE HAD ME CONVINCED THAT SHE WAS THIRTY YEARS OLD. SHE WAS ONLY NINETEEN! WHEN WE STARTED DATING HER MOTHER STRAIGHTENED ME OUT ABOUT THE LIES SHE HAD TOLD. I FIGURED OUT WHY SHE WAS RELUCTANT TO DATE ME. SHE WAS ASHAMED OF WHERE SHE LIVED. I COULDNT BLAME HER FOR THAT. WE DATED FOR AWHILE AND DECIDED TO GET MARRIED. AT HER AGE WE COULDNT GET MARRIED WITHOUT HER PARENTS PERMISSION, WHICH WAS OUT OF THE QUESTION SINCE HER BIOLOGICAL FATHER WAS ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTH CAROLINA, AND HER MOTHER WAS IRISH, HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO HER IN KETTERING ENGLAND, AND HAVING GOTTEN PREGNANT BY JACK YOUNG, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER. HE CAME BACK TO THE STATES AND LATER JOAN, HER MOTHER FOLLOWED, ONLY TO FIND JACK WAS MARRIED TO ANOTHER WOMAN. HE WAS A REAL GEM! WE DECIDED TO GO TO GEORGIA TO GET MARRIED. WHEN WE GOT THERE WE FOUND OUT WE COULDNT GET MARRIED IN GEORGIA EITHER. WE FOUND A FELLOW WHO SOLD ME BOGUS MARRIAGE PAPERS AND WE FILLED THEM OUT. WHEN WE ARRIVED BACK IN MIAMI HER MOTHER WAS LIVID ABOUT OUR MARRIAGE. SHE GOT OVER IT AND CAROL AND I GOT AN APARTMENT IN LITTLE HAVANA, RIGHT OFF SW EIGHTH ST. EVERYONE THOUGHT WE WERE MARRIED. IN ABOUT THREE WEEKS SHE STARTED WITH THE MORNING SICKNESS, SO I KNEW WHAT I HAD TO DO. SINCE EVERYONE THOUGHT WE WERE MARRIED WE PLANNED A TRIP TO SEE MAMMY AND DADDY IN SOUTH CAROLINA, WITH A STOP OVER TO GET MARRIED IN HARTWELL, GA. THE REASON WE HADNT GOTTEN MARRIED THE FIRST TIME WAS THE THREE DAY WAITING PERIOD. THAT WASNT A PROBLEM THIS TIME SINCE WE STOPPED IN GEORGIA ON THE WAY TO MY PARENTS HOUSE, GOT THE PROPER PAPER WORK, AND STOPPED BACK THERE WHEN WE LEFT SOUTH CAROLINA FOUR DAYS LATER AND TIED THE KNOT OFFICIALLY. BEING THE MANAGER OF THE SPORTS CAR DEALERSHIP, I WAS DOING WELL FINANCIALLY, SO WE BOUGHT A NEW HOME. IN A FEW MONTHS ALONG CAME SEAN, MY FAVORITE SON. HE IS MY ONLY SON, BUT THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING DAYS OF MY LIFE. CHAPTER 11 MY REAL TROUBLES STARTED BY THIS TIME I HAD DECIDED THAT WE NEEDED A LARGER, MORE LUXURIOUS HOUSE. I SOLD THE HOUSE THAT I HAD BOUGHT NEW AND PURCHASED A VERY NICE HOME FROM A DOCTOR IN WHISPERING PINES ESTATES JUST NORTH OF PERRINE. THIS HOME HAD A NICE POOL ENCLOSED BY THE SHAPE OF THE HOUSE. IT HAD IT ALL. I FOUND OUT THAT MY PARENTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA HAD A NEIGHBOR WHO HAD A ONE OWNER 1932 FORD B MODEL TWO DOOR FOR SALE. I HAD HIRED A SALESMAN NAMED BRYAN FLYNN AT THE DEALERSHIP, AND HE AND I HAD BECOME GOOD FRIENDS. I ALSO HAD NEVER SMOKED MARIJUANA, EVEN THOUGH I DRANK MY SHARE OF BEER, AND OCCASIONALLY TOOK SOME OF THE SPEED I HAD LEFT OVER FROM THE DENNIS AND DAVE DAYS. I KNOW IT SOUNDS LIKE RAMBLING, BUT I AM GETTING TO THE IMPORTANT THING THAT HAPPENED. SINCE I HAD ALREADY SENT THE MONEY TO BUY THE ANTIQUE FORD, I HAD TO GO FROM MIAMI TO SOUTH CAROLINA TO TOW IT BACK, AND NEEDED SOMEONE TO GO WITH ME AND HELP ME DRIVE, SINCE I WAS LEAVING AFTER WORK ONE NIGHT AND ONLY HAD ONE DAY OFF. FLYNN AGREED TO GO, SO WE LEFT ON FRIDAY NIGHT. I KNEW BRYAN SMOKED DOPE, BUT I DIDNT KNOW TO WHAT EXTENT. HE STARTED SMOKING BEFORE WE WERE OUT OF THE COUNTY AND CONTINUED UNTIL DAYLIGHT WHILE WE WERE ALREADY DEEP INTO GEORGIA. I WAS HIGH ON SPEED, BLACK BIRDS, YELLOW JACKETS, BUT I WAS CURIOUS ABOUT MARIJUANA! I ASKED FLYNN IF MIXING THE SPEED AND THE DOPE WOULD BE A BAD MIX, BUT HE WAS SO MESSED UP, HE SAID NO. I TOOK ABOUT THREE HITS OF THE SO-CALLED MARIJUANA, WHICH I FOUND OUT LATER WAS VERY STRONG HASHISH, A VERY STRONG AND CONCENTRATED MARIJUANA AND I SUSPECT IT WAS LACED WITH OTHER AMPHETIMINES. WITHIN ABOUT THREE MINUTES I THOUGHT I WAS DYING. MY HEART RATE HAD TO BE OVER THREE HUNDRED, AND MY HEAD FELT LIKE IT WOULD BURST OPEN, LITERALLY. I REMEMBER SCREAMING TO BRYAN TAKE ME TO A HOSPITAL. I THINK HE HAD SO MUCH PRACTICE THAT HE CAME BACK TO HIS SENSES. HE TOOK OVER THE DRIVING AND TALKED ME OUT OF THE HOSPITAL. IF WE HAD GONE TO THE HOSPITAL, WE BOTH WOULD HAVE BEEN IN JAIL. THIS INCIDENT CAUSED ME TO BECOME AN ADDICT OF PRESCRIPTION BARBITURATES, BETTER KNOWN AS TRANQUILIZERS. WHEN WE GOT BACK TO MIAMI WITH MY NEW PRIZE, THE THIRTY TWO FORD, I WENT TO THE DOCTOR THE NEXT MORNING. I TOLD HIM EXACTLY WHAT HAD HAPPENED. HE RAN ALL THE NECESSARY TESTS AND SAID I WOULD BE FINE, BUT SUGGESTED I TAKE LIBRIUM, A MILD TRANQUILIZER. SINCE THAT DAY I HAVE TAKEN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR MY NERVES. I WAS TWENTY FOUR THEN, NOW IM SIXTY FOUR. I STARTED CHECKING AND FOUND OUT THAT OUT OF THE EIGHT SALES PEOPLE THAT WORKED DIRECTLY UNDER ME, SIX WERE DRUG DEALERS, FLYNN BEING THE BIGGEST SELLER. THEY ALL WOULD GET PISSED AT ONE ANOTHER AT TIMES, COME TO ME TO RAT THE OTHER ONE OUT, AND SHOW ME WHERE THEY WERE HIDING THEIR DOPE. ONE DAY I WAS PASSING BY THE DOOR TO OUR CLEANUP SHOP AND HEARD A BIG COMOTION GOING ON. I HEARD CURSING AND SCREAMING. I RAN IN AND ISRAEL LAMBERT, OUR CLEAN UP MAN, HAD FLYNN LIFTED UP AGAINST THE WALL AND WAS ABOUT TO BEAT THE HELL OUT OF FLYNN. ISRAEL WAS A BLACK FELLOW, ABOUT SIX FEET TALL AND WEIGHED ABOUT TWO HUNDRED FIFTY POUNDS. HE WAS A MAN! FLYNN WAS ABOUT FIVE FEET SIX INCHES TALL AND WEIGHED ABOUT ONE FORTY, BUT HE WAS MOUTHY AND PRETTY SCRAPPY FOR SUCH A SMALL FELLOW. I JERKED ISRAEL BACK AND TRIED TO REASON WITH HIM, BUT FLYNN HAD PISSED HIM OFF SO BADLY, ISRAEL DIDNT WANT TO DO ANYTHING BUT KILL FLYNN. I TOLD FLYNN TO GET OUT OF THE BUILDING, WHILE TRYING TO RESTRAIN LAMBERT. MEANWHILE ISRAEL PULLED OUT A HAWKBILL KNIFE AND CAME AFTER ME. I WAS A MAN, BUT NOT THAT MUCH OF A MAN. I RAN OUT FRONT TO FLAGLER STREET WITH ISRAEL FOLLOWING ME. A WHOLESALER OF USED CARS, WHO KNEW ME WAS PASSING AND STOPPED RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. HE IMMEDIATELY HANDED ME A PISTOL. I DONT KNOW IF ISRAEL SAW THE GUN OR NOT, BUT HE STOPPED, TURNED AROUND AND WENT BACK IN THE SHOP. THANK GOD! I DID FIND OUT FLYNN STARTED THE FIGHT, BUT ALMOST GOT ME KILLED. ISRAEL, EVEN THOUGH BEING A CLEANUP MAN WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL. HE BOOKED BETS, WAS IN THE NUMBERS RACKET, AND OWNED A STORE IN LIBERTY CITY, BUT MOST OF ALL HE DIDNT LIKE TO BE TALKED DOWN TO. BY THE WAY, I IMMEDIATELY HANDED THE GUN BACK TO THE GUY WHO STOPPED. I WASNT GOING TO SHOOT ISRAEL NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED. I NEVER POINTED THE GUN AT HIM. HE AND I TALKED, APOLOGIZED TO ONE ANOTHER AND EVERYTHING WAS ALLRIGHT WITH US. NOT THE SAME RESULT WITH FLYNN. CHAPTER 12 MIAMI, THE WILD CITY I THINK I RETAINED MORE INTERESTING INFORMATION THAN ALL THE OTHER PLACES I LIVED PUT TOGETHER. WE HAD A SALES PERSON COME TO WORK NAMED JACK HOGAN. HE WAS LITERALLY CRAZY. I DONT KNOW THAT HE HAD EVER HAD A REAL JOB, SINCE ALL I EVER SAW HIM DO WAS DRINK LIQUOR, BUT HIS FAVORITE THING WAS TO BUTT HEADS WITH ANYONE HE MET. SOUNDS ODD, DOESNT IT? HE KEPT FROM WORKING BECAUSE HIS WIFE WAS AN EXECUTIVE AT SEARS IN NORTH MIAMI, TWENTY SEVENTH AVE. I THINK. SHE WAS A FINE AND CLASSY LADY, BUT I DONT HAVE ANY IDEA WHY SHE LIVED WITH THAT GOOFBALL. WE CLOSED THE DEALERSHIP AROUND NINE PM NORMALLY IN THE WINTER. ONE NIGHT JACK SAID HE WAS GOING UP TO SEARS TO BLOW HIS WIFES HEAD OFF. HE WAS SO CRAZY, WE DIDNT PAY ANY ATTENTION TO HIM. WELL, HE DROVE TO HER WORKPLACE, KNOWING WHICH DOOR SHE LEFT THE STORE FROM. HE LEVELED THE TWELVE GAUGE SHOTGUN ON THE CAR DOOR AND DID EXACTLY WHAT HE HAD SAID. SHE WAS KILLED INSTANTLY. HE WAS ARRESTED RIGHT THERE AND CHARGED WITH FIRST DEGREE MURDER, AND CONVICTED. WE HAD A HANDYMAN WHO DID ALL OUR ELECTRICAL WORK AT THE DEALERSHIPS NAMED DAVID SHAW. THIS WAS A VERY INTERESTING FELLOW. HE WAS INTELLIGENT, AND CONSTANTLY TALKING, WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS BS, ABOUT FLYING HIS PLANE OVER CUBA AND BOMBING CASTROS HOME, OR COMPOUND. HE ALSO BRAGGED ABOUT DROPPING MOLOTOV COCKTAILS ON THE HOMES OF WEALTHY JEWISH PEOPLE ON HIBISCUS ISLAND. WE HAD HEARD VERY LITTLE ABOUT THESE THINGS ON THE NEWS OR THE NEWSPAPER. ONE DAY SHAW WAS SCHEDULED TO CHECK OUT OUR LIGHTS AT THE DEALERSHIP. ABOUT TWO HOURS BEFORE HE ARRIVED THESE TWO GUYS IN PINSTRIPE SUITS SHOWED UP AND TOLD US WHAT WAS GOING ON. SHAW WAS TELLING THE TRUTH! THE TWO FBI AGENTS SAID SHAW HAD AN IQ OF ABOUT ONE EIGHTY, AND WAS A RIGHT WING EXTREMIST WITH EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS. WHEN SHAW SHOWED UP THAT DAY, HE HAD BEEN THERE ABOUT TEN MINUTES WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. THERE MUST HAVE BEEN AT LEAST TWENTY CARLOADS OF AGENTS DRIVE UP AND SURROUNDED THE CHRYSLER STORE, WHERE SHAW WAS WORKING. HE GAVE NO RESISTANCE AND WAS ARRESTED ON THE SPOT. THE ODD THING ABOUT THIS INCIDENT WAS THAT INSTEAD OF HAVING A TRIAL AND SENDING HIM TO JAIL. SHAW SEEMED TO DISAPPEAR. WE ALL THOUGHT THEY TOOK HIM, AS BAZAAR AS IT SOUNDS, TO WORK FOR THE CIA OR FBI, SINCE WE KNEW HE WAS A GENIUS AND HE WAS AN ELECTRONICS EXPERT. HIS PLANE WAS STILL PARKED AT OPA LOCKA AIRPORT WHEN I LEFT MIAMI FIVE YEARS LATER. DURING THIS PERIOD A CUBAN, WHO WAS CASTROS CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE MILITARY, WHOS NAME IS PEDRO DIAZ LANZ, CAME TO WORK AT OUR DEALERSHIP. HE PERSONALLY TOLD ME THE STORY OF PLANNING HIS ESCAPE FROM CUBA AFTER REALIZING THAT CASTRO WAS A FULL BLOWN COMMUNIST. PEOPLE SIXTY AND ABOVE WILL REMEMBER IT BEING IN AND ON THE NEWS. PEDRO STOLE A MIG FROM THE CUBAN AIRFORCE, WHICH WAS EASY FOR HIM, BEING TOTALLY IN CHARGE, NOONE QUESTIONED HIM IN CUBA. HE FLEW UNDER OUR RADAR ALL THE WAY TO WASHINGTON D.C. HE EASILY GOT INTO THE WHITEHOUSE TO SHARE WITH PRESIDENT KENNEDY EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON IN CUBA AND THEIR ASSOCIATION WITH RUSSIA. HE WAS A VERY INTERESTING PERSON, BUT TOO INVOLVED WITH POLITICS TO BE INTERESTED IN SELLING CARS. SHORTLY AFTER HE ARRIVED IN THE US WE WERE PUT ON ALERT AND SOUTH FLORIDA WAS COVERED WITH HAWK MISSILES AND B52s. I WAS NOT IN MIAMI WHEN THAT HAPPENED. I WAS STILL IN THE AIRFORCE. HE HAD BEEN IN MIAMI ABOUT A YEAR BEFORE I ARRIVED IN 1963. CHAPTER 13 1968 WAS THE YEAR MY WIFE AND I HAD OUR SECOND CHILD IN SEPTEMBER. WE NAMED HER SIOBAIN, WHICH WE WERE TOLD BY MY WIFES MOTHER WAS AN IRISH GAELIC NAME. SHE ACTUALLY MISSPELLED THE NAME, BUT THATS WHAT WE NAMED HER ANYWAY. ALL BABIES ARE SAID TO BE CUTE AND PRETTY, BUT AS WE ALL KNOW MOST OF THEM ARE NOT PRETTY AT ALL. SIOBAIN WAS THE EXCEPTION. SHE WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BABY IVE EVER SEEN AND BECAME THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHILD ALSO. ONE NIGHT WE WERE HAVING DINNER AT THE SWISS HOUSE ON SOUTH DIXIE HWY. AND THE MAYOR OF DADE COUNTY CAME OVER TO OUR TABLE AND WAS RAVING OVER SIOBAIN. THERE WERE PLENTY OF KIDS IN THE RESTAURANT, SO HE MEANT WHAT HE SAID. HE DIDNT EVEN APPROACH ANOTHER KID. I CANT REMEMBER HIS NAME AT THE MOMENT, BUT HE RODE IN A NEW ROLLS ROYCE WITH A CHAUFFEUR. AT THIS POINT THE TRUTH IN LENDING LAW WAS GOING INTO EFFECT WITHIN A FEW MONTHS. IT SCARED THE LENDERS TO DEATH, NOT TO MENTION THE AUTOMOBILE DEALERS. BASICALLY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SAID WHEN WE FINANCED A CAR AND WERE CHARGING SIX PERCENT INTEREST, SINCE THE CUSTOMER WAS DECLINING THE BALANCE EVERY MONTH, THE INTEREST RATE SHOULD BE CALLED TWELVE PERCENT BECAUSE OF AVERAGE USE OF FUNDS. WE, AT THAT TIME CALLED IT ADD ON INTEREST. THE GOVERNMENT PASSED THE LAW DEMANDING WE CALL IT APR, OR ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE. BACK TO THE REAL STORY. HOWARD, THE OWNER OF THE DEALERSHIPS WHERE WE WERE EMPLOYED HAD ME SELL OFF ALL THE IMPORTED INVENTORY. HE DID THIS BECAUSE THE LENDERS HAD INFORMED US WE WOULD HAVE TO GUARANTEE ALL LOANS ON THE SPORTS CARS THEY FINANCED. HE HAD STARTED BUILDING A NEW DEALERSHIP FOR CHRYSLER, PLYMOUTH DOWN ON DIXIE HIGHWAY. WE WERE ON THE CORNER OF FLAGLER STREET AND RED ROAD. OUR FACILITY WAS HUGE AND COVERED THREE BLOCKS. HE WANTED RUSS MCKINNEY AND I TO RUN A LARGE USED VEHICLE OPERATION THERE, WHERE WE WERE. I HAD KNOWN RUSS SINCE I WENT TO WORK THERE, AND HE IS THE ONLY ONE OF THE GUYS FROM THOSE DAYS THAT IM STILL EVER IN TOUCH WITH. HE AND HIS WIFE, DOROTHY OWN A SWIMMING POOL COMPANY IN MIAMI NOW. WE ALTERNATED LEAVING EARLY EVERY OTHER NIGHT AND OFF EVERY OTHER WEEKEND. THIS WENT REAL WELL FOR QUITE A WHILE, AND I WAS MAKING VERY GOOD MONEY FOR THOSE DAYS. RUSS WAS A VERY CONSERVATIVE, DAPPER INDIVIDUAL. HE DID HIS SHARE OF BINGE DRINKING WHICH WAS VERY COMMON IN THOSE DAYS AMONG AUTOMOBILE PEOPLE, INCLUDING ME. RUSS AND I WORKED TOGETHER REAL WELL, BESIDES BEING FRIENDS. ONE DAY WHEN HE WENT TO LUNCH, HE DIDNT COME BACK. ABOUT NINE THIRTY PM THAT EVENING HE ATTEMPTED TO MAKE A LEFT TURN INTO THE DEALERSHIP. HE MADE THE TURN IN HIS YELLOW SPORT FURY, BUT HAD TURNED IN FRONT OF A POLICE CAR WHICH CAUSED A MASSIVE COLLISION AND SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE SEVERELY INJURED. THE POLICE KNEW WHO CAUSED THE INCIDENT, BUT HE DIDNT ACTUALLY HIT ANY CAR SO THEY COULDNT DO ANYTHING TO HIM. WHEN HE LEFT THAT NIGHT, HE DROVE MRS. AYARES DEMO, WHICH WAS A VERY FANCY PLYMOUTH SATTELITE, ALSO YELLOW. THE NEXT DAY HE DID WRECK THIS ONE. IT WAS TOTALLED, BUT HE WASNT HURT AND THE GIRL HE PULLED IN FRONT OF WASNT EITHER. HE CALLED ME, DRUNK AS HE WAS THE DAY BEFORE. HE NEEDED ANOTHER CAR TO DRIVE, AND SINCE HE HADNT BEEN HOME IN THREE DAYS I SENT HIM A NEW XKE JAGUAR, WHICH HE DEMANDED I SEND HIM. I FIGURED HE WOULD GET STRAIGHT AND COME BACK TO WORK AND RELIEVE ME. NO, HE SOBERED UP A BIT. HE WAS A CLEAN FREAK, BUT AFTER FRESHENING UP CONTINUED HIS BINGE. ABOUT THREE DAYS LATER HE TOTALLED THE JAGUAR. WELL, THE POLICE WERE REALLY READY FOR HIM, BUT FOR SOME REASON HE WASNT ARRESTED FOR DUI. I MAY BE WRONG BUT I DONT THINK SO. HE WAS DRIVING ANOTHER COMPANY CAR AND WAS PARKED IN FRONT OF A BAR ON SW EIGHTH ST. WHEN HE EXITED THE BAR AND WAS WALKING TOWARD THE CAR HE WAS ARRESTED FOR DUI, EVEN THOUGH HE ACTUALLY WAS OVER ONE HUNDRED FEET FROM THE CAR. THE THING I MAY BE WRONG ABOUT IS THAT IM NINETY PERCENT SURE HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON EVER ARRESTED FOR DUI WHEN NOT ACTUALLY IN A CAR, BUT HE HAD THE KEYS IN HIS POCKET! DOROTHY, RUSS WIFE WAS JEWISH AND RUSS IRISH. HE CONSTANTLY CALLED HER JEW BITCH, CHRIST KILLER, ETC. SHE WOULD CALL ME AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK AT AROUND TWO AM AND BEG ME TO COME OVER AND STOP RUSS FROM BEATING HER. SHE HAD TO WORSHIP HIM, SINCE SHE DIDNT LEAVE OR RUN HIM OFF. I ALWAYS WENT AND PUT HIM TO BED. CHAPTER 14 THE CUBAN MAFIA ONE AFTERNOON WE WERENT VERY BUSY AND WE HEARD VERY RAPID GUNFIRE OUT IN THE STREET. WE ALL RAN OUT TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON. IT WAS LIKE WATCHING A MOVIE. THERE WERE FOUR CARS AT THE INTERSECTION, ONE BEHIND THE OTHER. THE FRONT ONE WAS A NEW CADDY, THEN AN ELECTRA BUICK, A FORD FAIRLANE, AND A VW. EACH CAR HAD BEEN FULL OF MEN, WHO ALL WERE LOADED FOR BEAR WITH WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION. THE GUNS, AMMUNITION, SHELL CASINGS, AND BODIES WERE LYING ALL OVER THE STREET. ILL NEVER FORGET THE FELLOW LAYING RIGHT OUTSIDE THE BUICK, WHO HAD BEEN SHOT SEVERAL TIMES, AND HAD LEFT THE CAR IN GEAR AND THE DRIVERS DOOR OPEN, REACHED IN WITH HIS HAND AND PUSHED THE ACCELERATOR, AND RAN OVER THE GUYS HEAD LAYING IN FRONT OF THE BUICK. IT WAS A GRUESOME SIGHT. ODDLY ENOUGH A NINETEEN YEAR OLD CUBAN KID, WHO WAS IN THE VW WAS THE ONLY ONE NOT SHOT AND GOT AWAY. HE TURNED HIMSELF IN TO THE AUTHORITIES THE NEXT DAY AND ACCORDING TO THE MIAMI HERALD WAS NOT CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. THIS ALL HAPPENED RIGHT OUT FRONT OF THE DEALERSHIP. THESE WERE VERY WELL DRESSED PEOPLE AND OBVIOUSLY HAD MONEY, BUT MOST MET THEIR WATERLOO THAT DAY. AS I UNDERSTOOD THE REASON FOR WHAT HAPPENED HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH DRUGS OR THE LIKE. IT WAS MEMBERS OF TWO GROUPS THAT HAD DIFFERENT POLITICAL VIEWS. AFTER THE BAY OF PIGS INVASION, IN WHICH PRESIDENT KENNEDY HAD SUPPORTED VERBALLY, AND THEN BACKED OUT WHEN IT WAS TOO LATE TO SEND MILITARY SUPPORT SOME OF THE CUBANS IMMEDIATELY TURNED FROM DEMOCRATS TO REPUBLICANS AND HATED KENNEDY. THIS CREATED A SEPARATION OF THE CUBAN COMMUNITY. RUSS MCKINNEY HAD HIS PROBLEMS WITH SOME OF OUR CUBAN SALESMEN AND CUSTOMERS. IF ONE OF THEM SAID ANYTHING TO HIM OUT OF THE WAY, HE RETALIATED WITH HIS FISTS. RUSS WAS AN EX PROFESSIONAL FIGHTER, SO WHEN THE FIGHTS STARTED I WOULD RESTRAIN RUSS FROM THE BACK, WHICH REALLY PISS HIM OFF. HE THOUGHT I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN BETWEEN THEM LIKE A REFEREE. I WASNT BORN YESTERDAY, SO I DIDNT WANT TO GET HIT BY EITHER OF THEM IN THE ALTERCATION. USUALLY, BY THE TIME I GRABBED RUSS HE HAD ALREADY DISABLED THE OTHER GUY SO HE WASNT GOING TO GET HIT. BACK TO THE DILEMNA RUSS HAD GOTTEN HIMSELF INTO WITH THE ACCIDENTS. WE HAD A SALESMAN NAMED DICK, WHO WAS A COP ON THE METRO DADE COUNTY POLICE FORCE. SOMEONE HAD RUN THEIR MOUTH DOWNTOWN ABOUT RUSS SAYING IN SO MANY WORDS THAT HE HAD DICK GERSTEIN, THE PROSECUTOR, IN HIS POCKET . THE SHIT HIT THE FAN THEN. RUSS WAS INVITED DOWNDOWN FOR A DAY OF INTERROGATION. WE ALL SUSPECTED THE RAT WAS DICK R. THE COP, BUT WE COULDNT PROVE IT. CHAPTER 15 HORSE RACING WE HAD A JOCKEY NAMED RAMOS WHO STOPPED BY THE DEALERSHIP FREQUENTLY. AT THE TIME TROPICAL PARK WAS RUNNING. ONE DAY HE CAME BY AND GAVE US A TIP IN THAT DAYS DAILY DOUBLE. ILL NEVER FORGET THE NUMBERS. HE WAS RIDING NUMBER TWO IN THE FIRST RACE, SO IT WAS GOING TO BE A TWO EIGHT DAILY DOUBLE. WE POOLED OUR MONEY AND I WENT TO TROPICAL PARK, PLACED THE BETS, AND WATCHED. RAMOS WAS RIGHT! WE DID WELL THAT DAY BUT BEING THERE AND WATCHING THE RACES, THERE WAS NO QUESTION IN MY MIND ABOUT THE TWO RACES BEING FIXED. IN ONE OF THE RACES THE OTHER JOCKEYS HAD TO HOLD UP THEIR HORSES TO ALLOW THE EIGHT TO WIN. IT WAS VERY OBVIOUS. I THINK MAYBE THE TWO HORSE WOULD HAVE WON ANYWAY, SINCE HE RAN AWAY FROM THE FIELD. SINCE THEN I HAVE BECOME SOMEWHAT OF AN EXPERT ON THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN THOROUGHBRED HORSE RACING! I AM NOT AT ALL INSINUATING THAT ALL RACES ARE FIXED, SINCE IVE WATCHED SEATTLE SLEW, SECRETARIAT, AFFIRMED, AND MANY, MANY OTHERS. I THINK THE THREE GREATEST HORSES TO EVER RUN IN THE U.S. WERE SECRETARIAT, MAN O WAR, AND RUFFIAN. I AM A COLLECTOR OF RACING PARAPHENALIA, AND HAVE SOLD MANY OF MY PAINTINGS OF GREAT HORSES THAT I PAINTED. SINCE HOWARD WAS FINISHED WITH THE NEW DEALERSHIP WHAT WAS REMAINING OF OUR CREW ON FLAGLER STREET WENT TO WORK AT THE NEW STORE DOWN ON SOUTH DIXIE HWY. I WAS THE USED CAR MANAGER, AND RUSS WAS THE NEW CAR MANAGER AND ACTING GENERAL MGR. AT THAT TIME IN THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES ALL USED CAR MANAGERS WOULD WHOLESALE THE CARS WE DIDNT WANT TO RETAIL TO THE PUBLIC. I GOT PAID ON FRIDAY BY THE COMPANY, BUT MY REAL PAYDAY WAS TUESDAY. THATS WHEN I WHOLESALED THESE CARS. WITHOUT INCRIMINATING MYSELF AND ALL OTHER USED CAR MANAGERS ILL JUST SAY NONE OF THESE CARS LEFT WITHOUT ME HAVING MORE THAN I DID BEFORE THEY WERE WHOLESALED. OVER HALF THE SALESPEOPLE WOULD DISAPPEAR AROUND LUNCH TIME AND SHOW BACK UP AFTER THE LAST HORSE RACE RAN AT TROPICAL PARK. WE WERE OPEN TIL TEN PM AND EVERYONE MADE A MAD DASH TO JAI ALAI TO GAMBLE SOME MORE. SOME OF THE SALESMEN WERE GETTING IN TO THE SHILOCKS PRETTY HEAVILY. THAT MEANS THEY WERE BORROWING MONEY FROM AN ILLEGAL SOURCE AT AN INCREDIBLY HIGH INTEREST RATE. THEY WERE PAYING BACK SIX FOR FIVE WEEKLY. THESE SALESMEN HAPPENED TO BE THE BEST OF THE BEST, BUT WHEN THEY GOT SO DEEP IN DEBT TO THE LOAN SHARKS, THERE WAS NO WAY THEY COULD EVER HAVE PAID THEM OFF. WELL CALL THE TWO BIGGEST BORROWERS SW AND BW. I HAVE SEEN THESE TWO WALK OUTSIDE ON COMMISSION DAY. ONES CHECK WAS THIRTY NINE HUNDRED, AND THE OTHERS WAS THIRTY SEVEN FIFTY. THEY PITCHED QUARTERS TO A WHITE LINE OUTSIDE THE SIDE DOOR. THE ONE CLOSEST TO THE LINE WON THE OTHER GUYS CHECK. BW LOST, SO HE JUST CALLED THE LENDERS. THIS WENT ON FOR QUITE AWHILE UNTIL THEY WERE HEAVILY IN DEBT TO THE SHARKS, AND WERE BEING THREATENED BY THESE GUYS. SW AND BW WOULD ACTUALLY LAY ON THEIR ROOFS WITH SHOTGUNS WAITING FOR BODAK AND CHICCINI, THE SHARKS, TO COME TO THEIR HOMES TO COLLECT. BODAK CALLED ANOTHER CAR SALESMAN TO MEET HIM ON THIRTY SIXTH ST. BEHIND THE PIZZA JOINT. WHEN JIM, THE SALESMAN GOT INTO THE PASSENGER SEAT, BODAK SHOT HIM IN THE HEAD WITH A 357 MAG. JIM JUMPED OUT AND RAN TO A HOUSE AND THE PEOPLE CALLED THE POLICE AND AMBULANCE. AFTER THIS INCIDENT BODAK AND CHIC STARTED LAYING LOW AND DIDNT BOTHER SW AND BW MUCH ANYMORE. THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY HAD THE MONEY TO LEND WAS JC. HE WAS AN OLD MAN THEN. IM SURE HES DEAD NOW. ANYWAY IRONICALLY BODAK KILLED HIS PARTNER CHIC, AND WAS CONVICTED OF MURDER, EVEN THOUGH THEY NEVER FOUND THE REMAINS. BODAK WAS FOUND LATER TO BE A BIG TIME ARSONIST, AND WAS RELEASED ON THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM. HES ABOUT MY AGE, BUT I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE HE IS. WHEN THE FBI WAS INVESTIGATING THE LOAN SHARKS, THEY CAME TO SEE ME AND SAID THAT ONE OF OUR SALESMEN, JOE LEAL, HAD INSISTED THAT I WAS INVOLVED WITH THE LOAN SHARKING AND BORROWING, BUT THE AGENT KNEW HE WAS LYING. I GATHERED UP MY LITTLE FAMILY AND LEFT MIAMI THAT NIGHT! CHAPTER 16 TO CHARLOTTE, NC I HAD BEEN OFFERED MANY JOBS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, SINCE MIAMI WAS QUITE A TRANSIENT TOWN, I HAD MADE MANY FRIENDS AND THEY CONSTANTLY CALLED ME ABOUT JOBS AS GENERAL MANAGER, SALES MANAGER, OR IN FINANCE. I DECIDED TO TAKE THE JOB AS GM OF PERFORMANCE CARS LTD IN CHARLOTTE NC. THE OWNER WAS A VERY WEALTHY HEIR TO SEVERAL COKE BOTTLING COMPANIES. HE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE CAR BUSINESS, BUT HAD BOUGHT A NEW BMW FROM THIS PARTICULAR STORE ON INDEPENDENCE BLVD. HE LIKED THE CAR SO WELL, HE WENT IN AND BOUGHT THE DEALERSHIP. IT WAS A BMW, FIAT, LOTUS, SUBARU, AND BRITISH LEYLAND STORE. I THOUGHT I HAD FOUND A HOME. AFTER WORKING THERE A SHORT TIME I REALIZED THE OWNER AND I HAD ONE THING IN COMMON. WE BOTH DRANK TOO MUCH. I DIDNT LET THIS BOTHER ME TOO MUCH, SINCE I WAS IN TOTAL CONTROL, WITH ONE EXCEPTION. THAT EXCEPTION WAS THE OFFICE MANAGER. HER NAME I WONT MENTION, BUT HER HUSBAND WAS NAMED BENNY. HE HAD A REPUTATION FOR BEING ARROGANT AND TOUGH. THE OFFICE MANAGER HAD PICTURES OF NAKED MEN ALL OVER THE WALLS OF THE OFFICE AND SHE WAS PREGNANT. SHE ALSO HAD A BAD ATTITUDE. SHE THOUGHT WHEN THE OWNER WASNT THERE, SHE WAS IN CHARGE. I WAS A POWER WEIGHTLIFTER AND HAD GONE FROM ONE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE LBS TO WELL OVER TWO HUNDRED, WHICH WAS MUSCLE. IM ONLY FIVE EIGHT AND WAS BUILT LIKE A FIRE PLUG. NOONE THERE KNEW MUCH ABOUT MY PRIVATE LIFE EXCEPT THE OWNER, RUFUS. HE KNEW I WAS A POWERFUL MAN, AND HAD SEEN ME IN ACTION IN SOME OF THE BARS IN CHARLOTTE. THE SUMMER OF 1973 TOOK RUFUS AND HIS FAMILY ON VACATION TO BOONE, NC. HE LEFT ME IN CHARGE. NEEDLESS TO SAY THE OFFICE MGR. DIDNT LIKE THAT. I HONESTLY THINK THEY HAD PLANNED THE INCIDENT IM ABOUT TO TELL YOU ABOUT. RUFUS HADNT BEEN GONE BUT ABOUT THREE DAYS, WHEN ONE DAY I WALKED IN THE OFFICE TO ASK THE OFFICE MGR A QUESTION. I DONT REMEMBER THE QUESTION. WHAT I DO REMEMBER IS HER CURSING ME AND SCREAMING. WELL, I JUST CALLED HER A BITCH, WHICH WAS MILD AS TO WHAT SHE HAD ALREADY CALLED ME. ABOUT TEN MINUTES AFTER I LEFT THE OFFICE I HAD A PHONE CALL FROM BENNY, HER HUSBAND. HE JUST STARTED CURSING AND THREATENING ME. I QUIETLY APOLOGIZED TO HIM FOR ANYTHING HE THOUGHT I HAD SAID TO HIS WIFE. I NEVER LIKED THREATS OR ANYONE CALLING ME AN SOB. HE HAD SAID HE WOULD BE THERE AT SIX PM TO WHIP MY ASS. HE WAS ABOUT SIX TWO AND WEIGHED AROUND TWO TEN AND A PRETTY FORMIDABLE LOOKING FELLOW. IF HE DID SHOW UP, I HAD JUST PLANNED TO DISCREETLY GET OUT OF A FIGHT OR WHIP HIS ASS. THAT WOULD BE DETERMINED BY HOW HE ACTED. WELL, THE OFFICE MGR RAN OUT OF THE DEALERSHIP AT FIVE, SO I THOUGHT IT WAS OVER. I HAD ALERTED MY SALESMEN TO VACATE THE SHOWROOM IF HE SHOWED UP AROUND SIX. AT SIX OCLOCK IN COMES BENNY WITH HIS WIFE STANDING OUTSIDE LOOKING THROUGH THE SHOWROOM WINDOW, THINKING HER HUSBAND WAS GOING TO KICK MY ASS. I THINK SHE THOUGHT TOO MUCH OF HIS FIGHTING ABILITY! THE REAL DEAL WAS SHE DIDNT KNOW ME. NOONE WAS IN THE SHOWROOM BUT BENNY AND I. HE STARTED HURLING INSULTS AND THREATENING ME, SO I TRIED AGAIN APOLOGIZING, TO NO AVAIL. HE CALLED ME A SOB AND STUCK HIS FINGER IN MY FACE. I SIMPLY RESPONDED BY HITTING HIM WITH THREE LEFT HOOKS. HE DIDNT GO TO THE FLOOR, BUT HE WAS OUT ON HIS FEET. HE TRIED WRESTLING WITH ME BUT I WAS TWICE AS STRONG AS HE WAS. TO SHORTEN THE STORY, AS HE AND HIS WIFE WERE LEAVING HE THREATENED TO SHOOT ME THE NEXT TIME HE SAW ME. I WENT HOME WITH MY SHIRT TORN COMPLETELY OFF AND BLOOD ALL OVER ME, NONE OF IT MINE! MY WIFE ASKED ME WHAT HAD HAPPENED. I TOLD HER AND SHE LAUGHED. THE NEXT DAY RUFUS, THE OWNER OF THE STORE CALLED ME FROM BOONE, LAUGHING, AND ASKED ME WHAT HAPPENED. I TOLD HIM SO HE STARTED TELLING ME THAT THE OFFICE MGR. HAD CALLED HIM AND TOLD HIM THAT I HAD BEATEN BENNY WITH A LARGE PAIR OF PLIERS? RUFUS SAID IMMEDIATELY THAT HIS RESPONSE TO HER WAS JOHN DAVENPORT DOESNT NEED PLIERS OR ANYTHING TO WHIP YOUR HUSBANDS ASS. SHE WAS DETERMINED TO GET ME OUT OF THERE SOME WAY, BUT SHE DIDNT. WE HAD OUR THIRD CHILD, SHANNON. SHE HAD BREATHING PROBLEMS AT THE TIME WHICH DEVELOPED INTO PNEUMONIA AND STAYED IN THE HOSPITAL FOR OVER A WEEK. THANK GOD SHE GOT OVER IT AND GREW UP TO BE HEALTHY. ABOUT THIS TIME I GOT A CALL FROM LARRY ALBRIGHT, WHO, IF YOU REMEMBER WAS MY ROOMMATE IN MIAMI AT ONE TIME. HE WAS IN BEAUMONT TEXAS RUNNING A DODGE DEALERSHIP. HE WANTED TO GET ME OUT THERE TO HELP HIM RUN THE RUNDOWN STORE. CHAPTER 17 I WENT. I LEFT MY FAMILY THERE IN CHARLOTTE, FLEW OUT TO BEAUMONT AND WENT TO WORK. LARRY AND I WERE ROOMMATES AGAIN. THE MONEY WAS GOOD AND THAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. I MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO RENT A HOUSE AND HAD EVERYTHING READY TO GO BACK, GET MY FAMILY, AND MOVE TO BEAUMONT. LARRY, MY FAMILY AND I DIDNT STAY IN BEAUMONT VERY LONG. LARRY HAD AN OFFER TO BE THE VICE PRESIDENT OF WHAT I THINK WAS THE FIRST AUTO MALL EVER IN 1973. IT WAS ON WADSWORTH BLVD. IN LAKEWOOD, CO. A SUBURB OF DENVER. I WAS THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE IMPORT DEALERSHIP, WHICH HANDLED VOLVO, SUBARU, AND A LARGE USED CAR OPERATION. RELATIVELY SPEAKING,THAT WAS THE MOST MONEY I EVER MADE CONSIDERING INFLATION, ETC. I BROUGHT, LATER, MY NEW FRIEND AND SALESMAN, WITH ME TO DENVER. I HAD TRAINED HIM TO SELL IN BEAUMONT. HIS NAME WAS BENNY LISENBY. BENNY WAS SMALL, BUT VERY WIRY AND TOUGH! HE HAD BEEN A PROFESSIONAL MOTOCROSSER. BENNY AND I PARTIED IN THE BIG CITY AND UP IN THE MOUNTAINS AT A LITTLE TOWN CALLED CENTRAL CITY. I WAS DRINKING TOO MUCH ALL THE TIME. I STILL WORKED OUT EVERY DAY. LARRY, HAVING THE NEW POSITION HE HAD WAS BUSY WITH LEO, THE OWNER OF THE DEALERSHIPS. I HAD NINE SALESPEOPLE THERE, AND BENNY AND I BECAME FRIENDS WITH ONE, NAMED RON JORDAN. RON WAS A DEVOUT JEHOVAHS WITNESS. HE DIDNT DRINK OR SMOKE. I HAD NEVER RIDDEN A MOTORCYCLE, BUT BENNY HAD HIS RACING DIRT BIKE, AND JORDAN HAD ONE TOO. THEY TALKED ME INTO BUYING ONE. WE RODE EVERY SUNDAY UP IN THE MOUNTAINS AT A PLACE CUT OUT FOR THAT PURPOSE. THE TRAILS WERE EVEN NUMBERED. IT WAS CALLED RAMPART RANGE. WITHIN A FEW MONTHS, JORDAN HAD STARTED DRINKING, SMOKING, AND CHASING WOMEN. HE WAS MARRIED, BUT HAD NO CHILDREN. HE WENT ALL OUT WITH THE DRINKING. VERY SELDOM DID HE MAKE IT HOME AT NIGHT. HE WOULD JUST PARK IN A TACO PLACE AND SLEEP IT OFF, STOPPING AT BENNYS HOUSE TO TAKE A SHOWER BEFORE WORK. ONE SUNDAY WE WENT TO BIKE RIDE IN ARVADA, ANOTHER SUBURB OF DENVER, WHERE I LIVED. BENNY AND JORDAN DECIDED TO CROSS THE INTERSTATE AND CHECK OUT THE OTHER TRAILS. I SAID I WOULD STAY THERE AND PRACTICE MY CLIMBING BIKE SKILLS. WE HAD ALL BEEN DRINKING TOO MUCH AND THEY WERENT FAMILIAR WITH THE NEW TRAILS WHERE THEY WENT. SIX HOURS LATER THEY HADNT RETURNED. I HAD JORDANS WIFE CALL THE POLICE,ALL HOSPITALS, AND I RODE OVER WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE, BUT NOONE THERE AT THAT TIME KNEW ANYTHING. FINALLY I LOADED UP MY BIKE AND WENT HOME, TO FIND OUT THEY WERE IN THE HOSPITAL. THEY HAD WANDERED INTO STRANGE TERRITORY, WERE RACING EACH OTHER, AND RAN OFF A CLIFF DOING ABOUT FIFTY MILES PER HOUR. LUCKILY THEY RAN INTO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAVINE HEAD ON, INSTEAD OF DROPPING STRAIGHT DOWN TO THE DEEP BOTTOM, EVEN THOUGH THATS WHERE THEY ROLLED DOWN TO. RONS ARM WAS BROKEN AND CRUSHED, AND NEVER HAD MUCH USE OF IT AFTERWARDS. BENNYS JAWS WERE BROKEN, SO MY WIFE FED HIM THROUGH A STRAW FOR ABOUT THREE MONTHS. THEY BOTH RECOVERED AND WE CONTINUED TO PARTY. NEEDLESS TO SAY RON ENDED UP DIVORCED AND MOVED IN WITH BENNY AND HIS ROOMMATE. THEY LIVED IN A VERY LARGE ATTRACTIVE HOME NORTH OF LAKEWOOD. I WAS DRINKING EVERY DAY AND INTO THE NIGHT AND TAKING PRESCRIPTION TRANQUILIZERS TO GET OVER THE HANGOVERS. THE THIRD PERSON IN THE HOME BENNY LIVED IN WAS A GEOLOGIST. EVERY TIME I SAW HIM HE WAS SMELTING SOMETHING IN A BUILDING BEHIND THE HOUSE. HE WAS, IN ALL HIS TRAVELS, BRINGING BACK ROCK. WELL, THIS ROCK WAS FULL OF GOLD, SILVER, AND COPPER. BEING A GEOLOGIST HE KNEW WHICH ONES HAD THE MOST GOLD. HE USED CHEMICALS TO SEPARATE THE GOLD FROM THE ROCK, AND OTHER CHEMICALS TO DESTROY THE OTHER ELEMENTS TO GET THE SILVER. THIS GUY HAD MANAGED TO HAVE LARGE INGOTS OF GOLD AND SILVER, ALL HIDDEN. I WONT SAY HOW MUCH. LEO, THE OWNER OF THE STORE WHERE I WORKED HAD GOTTEN WORD OF MY DRINKING HABITS, HE LIVED IN SAN DIEGO AND ONLY VISITED THE DEALERSHIPS ABOUT ONCE A MONTH. OH! BEFORE I TELL YOU ABOUT GETTING FIRED I MUST SAY THIS. ALBRIGHT LIVED ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN WEST OF DENVER. HE AND LEO SET UP A PARTY FOR ALL MANAGERS AND THEIR WIVES. LEO HAD QUITE A FEW KIDS AND A FINE WIFE. THAT NIGHT AT THE PARTY WE WERE ALL LOOKING OVER THE METRO DENVER AREA, A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT, WHEN SOMEONE SAID: I WONDER WHAT THE POOR PEOPLE ARE DOING TONIGHT. RIGHT AFTER THAT STATEMENT LEO ANNOUNCED TO HIS WIFE AND EVERYONE ELSE THAT HE WAS DIVORCING HIS WIFE. HE HAD NOT TWO HOURS BEFORE THAT GIVEN HER ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DIAMOND, PLATINUM RINGS IVE EVER SEEN. WELL, NOW THE THIRD DAY OF JANUARY, 1975, LEO CALLED ME TO HIS OFFICE AND FIRED ME. I ASKED HIM WHY. HE JUST SAID I SHOULD DO SOME SOUL SEARCHING. LARRY HAD ALREADY BEEN FIRED AND WAS GONE BACK TO TEXAS. CHAPTER 18 THE START TO MY TEMPORARY DEMISE WE SOLD THE HOME WE HAD AND TOOK OFF TO ROCKFORD, IL WHERE I WENT TO WORK AT WIGGLESWAY VOLVO. THIS WAS A JOKE! I HAD TAKEN LEOS VOLVO STORE FROM TWELFTH IN THE NATION TO # 1 IN THE COUNTRY. IF THERE WAS ANYTHING I KNEW IT WAS HOW TO GET CARS SOLD BY HIRING THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND TRAINING THEM PROPERLY. I FORGOT IN THE LAST CHAPTER THAT BENNY LISENBY WAS THE TOP VOLVO SALESMAN IN THE WORLD. HE WAS TRAINED SOLELY BY ME AND LEARNED QUICKLY. HE EVEN WON A TRIP TO SWEDEN AND MET THE KING. NOW, BACK TO ROCKFORD AND THIS SO CALLED DEALERSHIP I WENT TO. THE OWNER DRANK MORE THAN I DID, AND HE HAD A GENERAL MANAGER WHO KNEW ABOUT AS MUCH ABOUT THE AUTO BUSINESS AS MY FOUR YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. THEY MET WHEN THEY WERE IN VIETNAM. I LEFT THERE PRETTY QUICKLY. I HAD DEVELOPED BY THEN INTO A FULL BLOWN ALCOHOLIC AND PRESCRIPTION DRUG ADDICT. I DID MANAGE TO GET INTO THE TRAINING PROGRAM WITH CHICAGO MOTOR CLUB. THE TRAINING WAS TO BE ABLE TO PASS THE STATE TEST TO BECOME AN INSURANCE BROKER. YOU HAD TO KNOW ALL INSURANCE PROGRAMS, AUTO, HOME, LIFE, DISABILITY, ETC. I STUDIED FOR THREE MONTHS AND HAD TO GO TO SOME HIGH SCHOOL IN DES PLAINS, OUTSIDE CHICAGO TO TAKE THE TEST. THERE WERE ABOUT SIX HUNDRED OF US TAKING THE TEST THAT DAY AND IT LASTED ELEVEN HOURS. RICHARD DALEY WAS ONE. TO PUT IT BLUNTLY, HE FAILED, ACCORDING TO MY BOSS BACK IN ROCKFORD. ABOUT NINETY PERCENT FAILED THE TEST. I PASSED IT, BUT COULDNT BELIEVE IT. THAT COMPANY DIDNT CARE IF YOU SOLD A MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF INSURANCE A MONTH, AS LONG AS YOU SOLD THOSE, AT THAT TIME, $25.00 AAA MEMBERSHIPS. IF YOU DIDNT SELL TWENTY FIVE OF THOSE MEMBERSHIPS EVERY MONTH YOU WERE GONE. I DIDNT LIKE THE PROGRAM AND DEFINITELY NOT THE MEMBERSHIPS, SO I WENT BACK TO WHERE I STARTED. I WENT BACK TO ANDERSON, SC. MY WIFE WAS TIRED OF THE WHOLE PROGRAM, CHANGING JOBS, DRINKING, THE DRUGS, MY PARTYING AND EVERYTHING. SHE LEFT ME IN ANDERSON AND WENT TO HER MOTHERS IN BELVIDERE, IL. I HAD JUST BEEN RELEASED FROM A REHAB CENTER TWO MONTHS BEFORE SHE LEFT. THE REHAB DIDNT HELP. I WAS DRINKING BEER BEFORE WE LEFT THE TOWN THE REHAB TOOK PLACE IN. KNOWING HOW SHE WAS I CALLED HER EVERY NIGHT BEGGING HER BACK. I REALLY MISSED MY THREE CHILDREN. I THOUGHT IS MISSED HER TOO. I HAD VISITED MANY PSYCHIATRISTS WHILE WE WERE TOGETHER. THEY ALL SAID I NEEDED TO GET RID OF HER AT ALL COSTS. I WILL NOT GO INTO HER QUALITIES, SINCE MY CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN WILL BE READING THIS, AND PROBABLY HER TOO, AND I DONT WANT TO EMBARRASS HER OR MY CHILDREN. I REALLY DONT BLAME HER FOR LEAVING, BUT WE HAD MANAGED TO PISS AWAY EVERY DIME I HAD EVER MADE, WHICH WAS PLENTY! CLEANING HOUSE TO HER MEANT EMPTYING IT TO MOVE! ANYWAY, WE DIDNT BELONG TOGETHER. CHAPTER 19 LIFE AT MAMMYS I MOVED BACK IN WITH MAMMY AFTER BRIEF VISITS TO DENVER AND MIAMI. THE THING THAT WOKE ME UP WAS ON THE WAY BACK TO HER HOUSE FROM MIAMI, I HAD ALL MY POCKETS FULL OF LIQUOR AND PILLS. IN THE ATLANTA BUS STATION I WAS IN THE MENS ROOM, DRUNK AS A SKUNK, VOMITING, AND STAGGERING, AND A BUM SAID TO ME THAT I WAS GOING TO GET LOCKED UP IF I DIDNT STRAIGHTEN UP. THIS GUY HADNT HAD A BATH IN MONTHS, BUT WAS STRAIGHTER THAN I WAS AND USING BETTER JUDGMENT AT THE TIME. I REALIZED THAT HE WAS RIGHT, AND ON MY WAY FROM ATLANTA TO ANDERSON I DRANK NOTHING, AND WAS SOBER. MAMMY WAS GLAD TO SEE ME, AS SHE ALWAYS WAS. SHE LIVED ALONE AND HAD NO HELP WITH ANYTHING. SHE WAS ABOUT EIGHTY AT THE TIME. I KNEW I HAD TO GET A JOB, LOSE ABOUT SIXTY POUNDS, AND STRAIGHTEN UP MY LIFE, WHICH SEEMED TO BE AT THE BOTTOM. I WENT TO THE LOCAL DODGE DEALERSHIP, WHERE I KNEW THE OWNER, PEE WEE HAYNES. I TALKED TO HIM FOR A FEW MINUTES AND REALIZED HE WASNT GOING TO HIRE ME. MY APPEARANCE HAD GONE FROM HANDSOME GOLDEN BOY TO A FAT SLOB. A FEW DAYS LATER I WENT BACK TO HAYNES DODGE, ASKED PEE WEE WHICH OFFICE WAS EMPTY. HE TOLD ME AND I MOVED IN. I GOT THE NECESSARY PAPER WORK I NEEDED TO SELL A CAR AND A CALENDER. I WROTE ON THE 1979 CALENDER MAY 30-JOHN WEIGHS 248LBS. ON THE AUGUST 31 DATE I WROTE-GOAL 190 LBS. REMEMBER HE HADNT HIRED ME BUT I WENT TO MRS. HAYNES, WHO RAN THE OFFICE AND ASKED HER FOR THE NEW HIRE PAPERWORK. I FILLED IT OUT, TURNED IT IN TO HER AND BORROWED THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS TO KEEP ME UNTIL PAYDAY. I WAS PRAYING A LOT AND STARTED SELLING CARS, THE THING IVE ALWAYS KNOWN HOW TO DO. I EVEN TOOK ONE OF HIS CARS ON VACATION. MAMMY AND I WENT TO ILLINOIS TO SEE MY CHILDREN DURING THE SUMMER. I WAS STILL BEGGING THEIR MOTHER TO COME BACK TO ME, BUT THANK GOD SHE DIDNT. I HAD NO IDEA THAT MY LIFE WAS ABOUT TO MAKE A DRASTIC CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. CHAPTER 20 BARBARA ON NOVEMBER 24, 1979 [MY BIRTHDAY] I WENT TO THE LOCAL BAR TO CELEBRATE, MY NORMAL HANGOUT. I WAS ONLY DRINKING BEER, HAD BOUGHT NEW CLOTHES, WEIGHED 180 AND LOOKED DAMNED GOOD, IF I MUST SAY SO MYSELF. THIS WOULD BE THE BIGGEST CHANGE OF MY LIFE, OR THE START ANYWAY. I WAS DANCING WITH A FRIEND OF MINE WE CALLED SARGE, A CONTROLLING WOMAN, THATS WHERE SHE GOT THE NICKNAME. IN WALKS THESE TWO WOMEN. ONE WAS OLDER AND THE OTHER WAS A KNOCKOUT. SHE HAD DARK HAIR, BEAUTIFUL OLIVE COMPLEXION, AND THE BIGGEST MOST GEORGEOUS BROWN EYES I HAD EVER SEEN. THEY SAT DOWN AT A BOOTH TOGETHER AND IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT THEY WERENT FAMILIAR WITH THE PLACE. I SAT ON A STOOL AT THE BAR SO I COULD GET A GOOD LOOK AT HER. AFTER ALL IN DARK BARS SOMETIMES THEY LOOK A LOT BETTER THAN THEY REALLY LOOK IN THE LIGHT. WE WERE FLIRTING A BIT WITH OUR EYES, AND I NOTICED THE OLDER LADY LOOKING AT ME AND COMMENTING TO HER FRIEND. I LOVE OLDIES MUSIC. I PLAYED THE JUKEBOX CONSTANTLY. I WENT UP, PICKED SOME SLOW SONGS AND PLAYED THEM. I LATER FELT LIKE A FOOL FOR WHAT I DID NEXT. A NICE SLOW TUNE CAME ON, I THINK BY THE PLATTERS. I WALKED OVER, INTRODUCED MYSELF, AND ASKED THIS DOLL HOW OLD SHE WAS! I GUESS BECAUSE IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY. I TURNED THIRTY SIX. SHE RESPONDED IMMEDIATELY AND SAID SHE WAS THIRTY EIGHT. SHE DIDNT SEEM TO BE OFFENDED. HER NAME IS BARBARA. WE DANCED TO A COUPLE OF TUNES. SHE WAS A FANTASTIC DANCER. SHE SAID THEY HAD TO GO SINCE THEY HAD A RESERVATION AT CAPRIS, A NICE ITALIAN RESTAURANT DOWN THE STREET. THATS WHY THEY WERE IN THE BAR. SHE PROMISED TO RETURN TO THE BAR AFTER THEY ATE. I FIGURED THIS WAS JUST A BRUSHOFF, BUT I WAS HOPING SHE RETURNED. I WAITED ABOUT THIRTY MINUTES AND DROVE DOWN TO CAPRIS TO SEE IF THEY WERE THERE. THEY WERE! SO I RETURNED TO THE BAR ANXIOUSLY AWAITING HER RETURN. I WAITED, WHAT SEEMED LIKE FOREVER. ABOUT AN HOUR LATER THERE SHE CAME. HER FRIEND, EILEEN HAD TALKED HER INTO COMING BACK. I LATCHED ONTO HER IMMEDIATELY. WE DANCED AND TALKED FOR AWHILE. BEFORE SHE LEFT, SHE INVITED ME TO COME OVER TO HER HOUSE THE NEXT DAY, WHICH WAS SUNDAY, TO WATCH THE FOOTBALL GAME. SHE WANTED TO EXPLAIN TO ME HOW TO GET TO HER HOUSE. I INSISTED THAT I WOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE FINDING IT, BUT THANK GOD, I HAD HER PHONE NUMBER. I HAD DRIVEN AROUND AND AROUND AND NEVER WAS EVEN ON THE RIGHT ROAD OUT OF TOWN TOWARDS THE LAKE. WHEN I CALLED HER I LISTENED VERY CAREFULLY, THIS TIME. I GOT TO HER HOME AND WAS VERY IMPRESSED. SHE LIVED RIGHT ON HARTWELL LAKE, HAD A BOAT, A NICE CORVETTE, AND A NEW BOBCAT THAT SHE DROVE BACK AND FORTH TO AND FROM HER BUSINESS IN BELTON, SC. BY THE WAY THE NIGHT I MET HER, I WENT HOME, CALLED MY EX WIFE AND TOLD HER I WOULDNT BE CALLING HER ANYMORE, AND I DIDNT WANT HER BACK. I HAD MET THE GIRL I WANTED. WELL, THIS WAS SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND GETTING ABOUT TIME TO EAT. BARBARA WAS COOKING DINNER BY NOW. WE HAD BEEN TALKING AND WATCHING A LITTLE FOOTBALL AND I NOTICED SHE WAS POURING SALT IN THE GREEN BEANS. I HAD QUIT EATING SALT WHILE I WAS DIETING. I SAID, WITHOUT THINKING, DONT PUT TOO MUCH SALT IN THE BEANS. SHE TURNED AROUND, LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, IF YOU DONT LIKE THEM DONT EAT THEM. IT SOUNDED KIND OF RUDE TO ME, BUT I WAS FINDING OUT THAT SHE DIDNT GIVE A DAMNED IF ANYONE LIKED WHAT SHE SAID OR DID ANYWAY. SHE WAS AND STILL IS A VERY CLASSY LADY. AT THAT TIME I DONT THINK SHE HAD EVER SAID IM SORRY TO ANYONE FOR ANY REASON, EVER. I HAD NEVER MET ANYONE QUITE LIKE HER. WITH ME IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, BUT SHE WAS VERY INDEPENDENT AND I THINK THE ONLY PERSON, AT THAT TIME THAT SHE LOVED WAS HER ONLY SON, WAYNE. HE HAD JUST GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL. SHE HAD NO PROBLEM TELLING ME HER REASONS FOR DIVORCE FROM WAYNES FATHER. SHE TOLD ME OF HER AFFAIRS AND THAT SHE WASNT IN LOVE WITH HIM. SO IN TURN I TOLD HER OF MY HAVING BEEN IN REHAB AND HAVING SUBSTANCE PROBLEMS. I DID WONDER WHY SHE HAD NEVER REMARRIED OR AT LEAST HAD A STEADY BOYFRIEND LOCALLY. SHE TRAVELED A LOT, SO I ASSUMED SHE HAD RELATIONSHIPS OUT OF TOWN. SHE OWNED HER OWN BUSINESS, SO IT WAS VERY CONVENIENT TO LEAVE AT ANYTIME. IT DIDNT TAKE LONG TO REALIZE WHY HER BOYFRIENDS NEVER CAME TO HER HOME. HER SON TOTALLY DOMINATED HER PERSONAL LIFE. EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT I WANTED TO TAKE HER OUT TO DINNER. EVERY FRIDAY AFTERNOON SHE WOULD CALL ME AND ASK IF IT WAS ALRIGHT IF WE STAYED HOME, SINCE WAYNE WAS COMING OVER WITH SOME FRIENDS TO PARTY. ONE NIGHT WE WERE OUT TO DINNER AND IN WALKED MY COUSIN, JERRY. I ASKED HER IF SHE KNEW HIM. SHE SAID NO! A FEW NIGHTS LATER JERRY AND I WERE IN A LOCAL HANGOUT AND HE ASKED ME ABOUT BARBARA. HOW WELL I KNEW HER, ETC. AFTER TELLING HIM I WAS DATING HER AND THERE WAS SOME SMALL TALK, HE DISAPPEARED. WHEN I GOT HOME TO MAMMYS I GOT A PHONE CALL FROM BARBARA. IT WASNT PLEASANT. SHE CURSED ME OUT AND BASICALLY SAID SHE DIDNT WANT TO SEE EITHER OF US AGAIN. I HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS DATING HIM ALSO. HE HAD LEFT THE BAR THAT NIGHT AND CALLED HER, BUT TO THIS DAY I DONT KNOW WHAT WAS SAID. IT DOESNT MATTER, SINCE YOU KNOW BY NOW WE EVENTUALLY GOT BACK TOGETHER AND JERRY WAS OUT OF THE PICTURE. WAYNE AT THAT TIME THOUGHT HIS MOTHERS PROPERTY WAS ALL HIS. HE HAD MANAGED TO GET RID OF ANY GUY WHO SHOWED HIS MOTHER ANY ATTENTION. EVERY TIME I CAME TO BARBARAS HOUSE I WOULD ALWAYS BRING A FEW EXTRA CLOTHES, AND LEAVE THEM. AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF BASICALLY STAYING THERE EVERY NIGHT SHE STARTED TALKING ABOUT US LIVING TOGETHER IN A NEGATIVE WAY. THE NEXT MORNING I GOT UP AND STARTED PACKING. SHE WAS ASLEEP, AND I WAS AN EARLY RISER. I WOKE HER UP TO SAY GOODBY. SHE WANTED TO KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING, AND I SAID I WAS MOVING MY STUFF OUT SINCE I ASSUMED THATS WHAT SHE WANTED. SHE ROLLED OVER AND JUST SAID DONT TAKE ALL YOUR CLOTHES. I JUST STUCK EVERYTHING BACK WHERE IT WAS, WENT TO WORK AND ACTED LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. THAT EVENING SHE GAVE ME A KEY TO THE HOUSE AND WE OFFICIALLY STARTED COHABITATING. ONE EVENING I WAS DOWNSTAIRS WASHING CLOTHES AND WAYNE CAME IN. HE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON AND DIDNT LIKE IT, SINCE HIS CONTROL WAS BEGINNING TO DISSIPATE. I JUST TOLD HIM, STRAIGHT UP, YOU RAN ALL THE OTHER GUYS OFF, BUT IM NOT GOING ANYWHERE. WE HAVE BEEN CLOSE EVER SINCE THAT CONVERSATION. THE ONLY DIFFERENCES WE HAD WERE OVER THE MUSIC WE LISTENED TO. I WAS INTO OLDIES, AND HE LIKED THE NEW STUFF. SO, WE MADE A DEAL-HALF HIS MUSIC AND HALF MINE, SPLIT EQUALLY. WE WOULD EVEN TIME EACH OTHER. IT WAS VERY INTERESTING. THE NEXT THING BARBARA DID WAS TO TELL ME TO GET A REAL JOB. SHE TOLD ME TO GO TO THE BIG FORD DEALERSHIP HERE IN TOWN AND GET A JOB. I DID EXACTLY THAT, THANK GOD. I STARTED SELLING CARS LIKE CRAZY AND MADE GREAT MONEY, WHICH MADE HER VERY HAPPY. CHAPTER 21 THE PARTY GOES ON BARBARA AND I SEEMED TO MAKE A GREAT COUPLE, WHICH WE WERE, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE TOTALLY DIFFERENT. SHE WAS OBSESSED WITH WORK AND SAVING MONEY. THE CAR BUSINESS TO ME WASNT WORK AND MONEY WAS JUST A WAY TO GET THE THINGS I WANTED. WE TRAVELED ALL OVER, TOOK CRUISES, AND DID WHATEVER WE WANTED TO DO. WE REALLY ENJOYED LIFE, AND AS MAMMY GOT OLDER SHE HAD TO BE TAKEN CARE OF. BARBARA DID A GREAT JOB OF THIS. THE ONLY SLIGHT PROBLEM WE HAD WAS THAT IT IS HARD TO HAVE TWO CONTROLLING WOMEN LIVING IN THE SAME HOUSE. BARBARA AND I BOUGHT A BEAUTIFUL HOME, WITH A MOTHER-IN-LAW APARTMENT DOWNSTAIRS, AND THE LARGEST PRIVATE HOME SWIMMING POOL IN THE COUNTY. ONE NIGHT I CAME HOME FROM WORK AND WENT DOWN TO CHECK ON MAMMY. AS I STARTED DOWN THE STAIRS I HEARD MAMMY SCREAMING. SHE HAD FALLEN AND BROKEN HER HIP. MAMMY ONLY WENT DOWNHILL FROM THERE. SHE HAD TO BE PUT IN A FULL CARE HOME, SINCE BARBARA AND I BOTH WORKED EVERY DAY. I ALWAYS KNEW BARBARA HAD A TALENT FOR SELLING. AFTER ALL I HAD BEEN HIRING AND TRAINING SALESPEOPLE ALL OF MY ADULT LIFE. SHE FIRST WENT TO WORK FOR ME FOR A SHORT TIME AND EASILY OUTSOLD ALL THE OTHER SALESMEN, WHO WERE VERY EXPERIENCED. BARBARA, BEING A CONTROL FREAK, AND ME BEING THE GENERAL MANAGER, THIS COULDNT WORK OUT. SHE QUIT WORKING FOR ME AND LATER ON SHE WENT TO WORK SELLING APPLIANCES AT ELECTRIC AVENUE. IT WAS A SUBSIDIARY OF ONE OF THE OLDEST CHAINS AROUND. SHE ALSO BLEW EVERYONE AWAY THERE. SHE WAS A NATURAL AT SELLING, BUT I KNEW SHE WOULD MAKE A BETTER MANAGER. ELECTRIC AVE CLOSED ALL THEIR STORES AND BARBARA STAYED TIL THE END. AT THIS TIME WE WERE BOTH DOING WELL AND WORKING HARD. WHEN THE STORE FINALLY CLOSED I TALKED HER INTO STICKING WITH RETAIL, SINCE I HAD ALL THE CONFIDENCE IN THE WORLD IN HER ABILITIES. SHE WENT TO WORK SELLING JEWELRY IN THE LOCAL BELKS STORE. THE FINE JEWELRY DEPARTMENTS IN THESE AND MOST OTHER STORES ARE LEASED BY BIG JEWELRY COMPANIES, LIKE FINLAY JEWELRY CO. THIS IS WHO SHE WENT TO WORK FOR. SHE BECAME A STAR IMMEDIATELY OUTSELLING EVERYONE. IT DIDNT TAKE LONG FOR FINLAY TO OFFER THE MANAGERS POSITION TO HER. AFTER MUCH THOUGHT SHE TOOK IT. THE SALES QUICKLY DOUBLED AT THE STORE. THE STORE IN GREENVILLE, WHICH WAS MUCH BIGGER AND SUPPOSED TO BE A MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR STORE WAS LAGGING. THE UPPER MANAGEMENT OF THE COMPANY INSISTED THAT BARBARA TAKE THE JOB THERE AS MANAGER. IT WAS ABOUT AN EIGHTY MILE DRIVE DAILY IN BUSY TRAFFIC. AFTER MUCH THOUGHT AND NEGOTIATING SHE WENT TO WORK THERE. WHEN SHE TOOK OVER THE STORE HAD NEVER SOLD OVER SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND IN ONE YEAR. THE FIRST CALENDER YEAR SHE WAS THERE IT WENT WELL OVER A MILLION. MEANWHILE I HAD TAKEN A JOB WITH AN AUTO DEALERSHIP HERE IN ANDERSON, JUST SELLING AT FIRST, THEN SALES MANAGER, THEN FINANCE MANAGER. IT WAS A PRETTY LOOSELY RUN STORE AND DRINKING WAS RAMPANT. I HAD ALWAYS DRANK, BUT WITH BARBARA WORKING IN GREENVILLE AND ME BEING AROUND THESE FOLKS, WHO I REALLY LIKED AND BECAME FRIENDS WITH, MY DRINKING GOT CARRIED AWAY. I WENT FROM BEER TO BEER AND VODKA. INSTEAD OF OCCASIONAL DRINKING IT WAS GETTING DRUNK EVERY NIGHT. BARBARA WAS WORKING HER ASS OFF AND SUSPECTED I WAS DRINKING MORE THAN SHE ACTUALLY SAW. I STARTED GETTING DEFENSIVE WHEN SHE WOULD CONFRONT ME ABOUT THE DRINKING. ONE JULY FOURTH WE HAD IT OUT. SHE THREATENED TO KILL ME AND PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE, SO I CALLED THE POLICE, NOT KNOWING WHEN YOU DO THAT SOMEONE GOES TO JAIL. IT WAS ME! THEY LOCKED ME UP FOR THREE DAYS TIL I MADE BOND. I FIRST NEEDED A PLACE TO STAY SINCE THE JUDGE SAID WE SHOULDNT BE TOGETHER AT THE TIME. AFTER MOVING INTO A SOCALLED FRIENDS HOUSE, HE TOLD ME TO LEAVE AFTER THREE DAYS. MY ONLY HOPE WAS JIMMY DAVIS, WHO I GREW UP WITH AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TRUE FRIEND. BARBARA WOULDNT GIVE ME MY CAR, SO I WAS TAKING CABS EVERYWHERE, EVEN TO THE LAWYERS OFFICE. MY LAWYER BLEW SMOKE UP MY ASS AND GOT ALL OF THE DIVORCE PAPERS READY TO BE SERVED ON BARBARA. MEANWHILE EVERY NIGHT BARBARA AND I WERE ON THE PHONE CURSING ONE ANOTHER OUT. I ENDED UP IN REHAB AGAIN FOR TWO WEEKS. THE ONLY WAY TO QUIT A BAD ADDICTION IS TO LOVE SOMETHING MORE THAN THE STUFF YOURE ADDICTED TO, AND THAT WAS BARBARA. I KNOW SHE WENT THROUGH HELL, WORKING LIKE HELL AND ME BROWBEATING THE HELL OUT OF HER. I CALLED HER AFTER THINKING I WAS DYING, AND WASNT GOING TO BE ABLE TO SAY IM SORRY. THANK GOD I DIDNT DIE. WE FINALLY WENT OUT TO DINNER ONE NIGHT AND THINGS STARTED TO GET RIGHT BETWEEN US AGAIN. IF IT HADNT I WOULD BE DEAD. SHE HAS BEEN MY SAVIOR SINCE WE MET NEARLY TWENTY NINE YEARS AGO. WE ARE OLD NOW,BUT WE GET ALONG REALLY WELL. WE BOTH REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD THAT WOULD PUT UP WITH EITHER OF US. I DO NOT DRINK ANYMORE! PERIOD. WE TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF EACH OTHER. I JUST DREAD THE THOUGHT OF ONE OF US DYING AND LEAVING THE OTHER. OUR HAPPY DAYS WERE UNSURPASSED BY ANY TWO PEOPLE ON EARTH. OF THAT IM SURE. WE LIVED THE HIGH LIFE! WE WILL BE TOGETHER IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH TIL DEATH DO US PART. THE END! THTHTHSTTH

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This is my Autobiography, full of violence, no profanity.

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kathyalindsey
7/15/2009 10:09 PM Premium
I've read a few pages, very interesting... I'll have to come back and read more later... ;o)

 



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samson1441


Votes: 2
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Date: 7/15/09
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