To Be or Not to Be (Part 1 of 2)

I lost count how many jobs I’ve had between the age of sixteen till I reached my thirty-first birthday . Lets see.  I was a stock boy at Associated Drug store when I was living in the group home back in 1979 and a daycare counselor as well for Saint Lucy’s Day Camp during that same summer. I was a drivers helper for Coca-Cola, worked as a full-time dishwasher and busboy doing 12 hour shifts at The Bread Shop Café on Duane street in New York City and going to school for my G.E.D.
I worked as a delivery boy for Kramer’s Flowers on Church street, which ironically, a stone throw away from the World Trade Center. I worked as a skate guard for a roller skating rink on Staten Island. A security guard for Path Mark. Pumping gas at two gas stations and a car wash. Did I mention Burger King for just 20 minutes? Yep. My first day working there and I lasted twenty minutes. Not that I didn’t want to flip burgers or clean the bathrooms either. But get this.
Policy required that all employees wear black shoes. Well, I didn’t own black shoes. I was homeless living out of a frigging beat up grey suitcase. where was I going to get the money for black shoes? So I asked for an advancement to buy shoes across the street. He said no and I quit. While walking out the door, and spitting out every profanity I could think of, even in Spanish, I took off one of my sneakers and threw it like an angry pitcher looking to take off the batter’s head and walked out.
Now let me just say.  It gets better. I am now standing across the street wearing only one sneaker. The manager didn’t even give it back to me. What was I to do? You guessed it. After 15 minutes and with pure humiliation, I walked back to Burger King, approached the counter, and asked the manager if I can have my sneaker back. He said sure, no problem. But I had to dig into the garbage pail by the front door to retrieve it. Did I learn any lesson from this experience? Sure did. I’ve should have taken the manager’s shoes and applied at the McDonald down the street. Live and Learn.
Now you have to understand, these are just a few of the jobs I held before I even get to 1982. Throughout the 80’s, I held at least…..hummm….thinking….maybe about twelve more, not including my own lawn care business with my wife’s cousin Tony for about one season. But that’s a whole story by its self. At twenty-seven, I worked as a part-time bouncer at the biggest dance club on Staten Island called On Stage for about three years.
Just Fridays and Saturdays. I also pimped myself out to other bars and clubs as well if we were slow. During the week, I worked as a full-time truck driver for a company out in Port Reading New Jersey. FOUR YEARS STRAIGHT…A RECORD FOR ME! I couldn’t afford to keep jumping job to job anymore. It was time to be responsible for a change. Time to get my shit together. Time to show my wife I wasn’t a mistake that she married me. To prove to my father-in-law I wasn’t a loser.  It’s now 1993. A letter came in the mail…

My New YouTube Channel Mike’s Kitchen Stories will debut on January 2017.  Not only will I be sharing stories off my blog,  but from the actual locations where I grew up throughout my childhood.  That includes the projects on the Westside in New York City where I lived in poverty as a little boy, to the very orphanage home called St. Michael’s, where I was placed at the age of 5/6 years old.

I will also tell stories right from the very foster home where I became a victim of Child Abuse by the hands of my foster father that lasted over seven years.  So much has happened to me throughout my teen years that I yet to talk about, including living homeless from sixteen years old till becoming a husband and father at the young age of twenty-one.

The stories I will be talking about are all true and can never be disputed.  Although there are members of that foster family who like to believe my stories are false, had yet prove that they never happened. It isn’t my intentions to cause any more personal family conflicts within their own family, like it has when I first started my blog back in 2014, but I really don’t care anymore.

But lets put it out there once and for all.  It’s not like anyone of them gave a shit or show any concern when I left that house at sixteen nor asked how I was doing when I was gone.  I’m fine with that. I will admit, it bothered me for many years, but I got over it once I started releasing the poison that lived inside me most my adult life when I started sharing my stories three years ago through my blog.

I will not only be just reliving my shitty broken childhood all over again, but my the life I live o day and the many struggles my wife and I went through before our lives changed forever back in 1993 when I became a Police Officer. It will be a combination of my personal diary with a touch of reality show combined. 

My daughter’s and their friends all say we should place a camera of  just during our holiday dinners at the table alone, not to mention, the constant banter (not to be confused with bickering),  between my wife and I. Lets be real here. The shows that are on today are not truly reality but scripted with drama to keep its viewers glued to the boob tube. 

How many times have you watched a reality show that a moment is so ridiculous that even you  have said…”That was Planned”.  My channel will be real as real can get. Nothing will be planned when filming starts.  My family and I are Looking forward for January 2017….I hope you are as well. Happy Holiday from my Family to Yours!

My Closet

 

1969 visiting family at St. Michael's Home where I use to live.

1969 visiting family at St. Michael’s Home where I use to live.

 

I was cleaning out my closet a few days ago and found an old photo of myself lying about on the floor by my wife’s shoe rack. It was a  photo that I have searched for months, and there it was resting on top of my safe that holds all our take returns, over thirty-five years worth, all this time.

 It was one of only about five photos of me  as a little boy between the age seven or eight. I might have posted it on my blog a couple of years back, but I would have to go back to see if I even did to begin with. 

The photo is of me, wearing a brown corduroy coat standing next to a little girl, who my oldest sister told me that is was my mother’s friend’s daughter standing by trees on the grounds of St. Michael’s Orphanage home.

What I found so weird about the timing finding this particular photo in the first place, we were just visiting friends on Staten Island just last weekend, and I decided to take my wife to where St. Michael’s Home, what’s left of it, before we headed home, to take a few photos of me standing on the actual sidewalk path I once walked countless times as a little boy when I lived there.

What’s left of the broken up concrete sidewalk today, is now covered with grass and weeds. The pruned bushes that once lined the walkway are now overgrown trees hovering over the pathway just like those same trees lined up along the yellow brick road in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

What a haunting feeling I felt  looking at them.  I  shared some stories with Donna the memories   I had living there so many years ago. The memories were still fresh in my head as if I was telling stories that happened just days ago.

But those days were actually over 48 years ago. Now your probably wondering where I am going with this story. So let me tell you before I lose you. When I was standing there looking around the where St. Michael’s Home once stood, I came to realize that I never had one bad memory to share with Donna my time living in the orphanage ….not one story.

I stood there next to my Donna, thinking, that I was actually better off not being placed in a foster home to begin with. I think I was happy  little six year old boy sharing a big massive red brick building with my other brothers and sister, not to mention the many other little boys and girls who parents didn’t want either.

It was better than the projects where we lived our short time in a small apartment on the second floor apartment 2D on 17th street in Manhattan, and plenty to do as well.  For starters, there were no sounds of honking horns in the middle of the night, no cops walking around all the time telling us to go home when we wondered off. 

But most of all, no crying nor screaming coming from any of my brothers and sisters being disciplined by my mother with punishment that was so extreme that in today’s world, she be placed under arrest for Child Abuse and Neglect as well as my father.

Looking over that one photo that I found in my closet only reminded me that the place I once called St. Michael’s Home was just that…a home. It was a place where we were safe and had nuns and other people taking care of us…..more than I can say about my parents.

I’m Back

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It has been eight months since I last posted anything on my blog.  So much has been going on, I don’t even know where to start…but Ill give it a shot. I changed therapists since last year. She was helping me in the beginning, but as the  years passed, I felt I was visiting my Aunt or my Grandmother every two weeks chatting about everything else in life, but the issues that matter to me most.

My fucked up childhood, my life after retirement from law enforcement, Depression, P.T.S.D., and most of all, the nightmares that continue to wait for me as soon as I fall asleep.  The monster not only hides in my closet and from under my bed,  but there waiting for me to close my eyes…just like Freddy Kruger from the Horror movie series Nightmare on Elm Street. 

My therapist is a sweet woman, but she no longer had any impact on me  like she did the first couple of years. It was time for change…So I decided once again to find a shrink that can at least explain to me why is it,  that a 54 yr. old man like myself,  a father, husband,  grandfather and ex city cop, still having the same nightmares like I did when I left the foster home back when I was 16 years old?

Been seeing him for over a year now, and I still don’t have a fkn clue, excuse my language, why I’m still have those same dreams after being prescribe meds to keep the monster out of my dreams at least…To be honest, I don’t think he has any frigging clues  what’s going inside my head either.  But, (there’s always a but),  at least he’s  trying  to  knock on the door to that deep dark void inside my head. 

I hear the knocking, not like I’m deaf or anything…but  for some reason, either I’m too lazy to open the door, or, maybe,  just maybe,  I  don’t want to open the door fearing what might be waiting for me on the other side.  Either way,  I have many stories to tell. If you think I shared everything about myself since I started this blog, you’re in for a surprise. So put your helmets on and tighten your seatbelts boys and girls….

 

                                                                                  I’m Back,

 

 

Bullying and Teen Suicide.

This topic is so important that I needed to copy and paste on my blog.  A message to any pre-teens / teenager that are reading this. If you or anyone you know is a victim of bullying in and outside of school, please tell your parents, siblings, teachers or even your friends. You may be saving someone life…maybe your own.

There is a strong link between bullying and suicide, as suggested by recent bullying-related suicides in the US and other countries. Parents, teachers, and students learn the dangers of bullying and help students who may be at risk of committing suicide.

In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide.  Though too many adults still see bullying as “just part of being a kid,” it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide. Many people may not realize that there is also a link between being a bully and committing suicide.

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University

  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying

  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above

  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.

Some schools or regions have more serious problems with bullying and suicide related to bullying. This may be due to an excessive problem with bullying at the school. It could also be related to the tendency of students who are exposed to suicide to consider suicide themselves.

Some of the warning signs of suicide can include:

  • Showing signs of depression, like ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, or trouble sleeping or eating

  • Talking about or showing an interest in death or dying

  • Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities, including reckless behavior, substance abuse, or self injury

  • Giving away favorite possessions and saying goodbye to people

  • Saying or expressing that they can’t handle things anymore

  • Making comments that things would be better without them

If a person is displaying these symptoms, talk to them about your concerns and get them help right away, such as from a counselor, doctor, or at the emergency room.

In some cases, it may not be obvious that a teen is thinking about suicide, such as when the suicide seems to be triggered by a particularly bad episode of bullying. In several cases where bullying victims killed themselves, bullies had told the teen that he or she should kill him or herself or that the world would be better without them. Others who hear these types of statements should be quick to stop them and explain to the victim that the bully is wrong.

Other ways to help people who may be considering suicide include:

  • Take all talk or threats of suicide seriously. Don’t tell the person they are wrong or that they have a lot to live for. Instead, get them immediate medical help.

  • Keep weapons and medications away from anyone who is at risk for suicide. Get these items out of the house or at least securely locked up.

  • Parents should encourage their teens to talk about bullying that takes place. It may be embarrassing for kids to admit they are the victims of bullying, and most kids don’t want to admit they have been involved in bullying. Tell victims that it’s not their fault that they are being bullied and show them love and support. Get them professional help if the bullying is serious.

  • It is a good idea for parents to insist on being included in their children’s friends on social networking sites so they can see if someone has posted mean messages about them online. Text messages may be more difficult to know about, so parents should try to keep open communications with their children about bullying.

  • Parents who see a serious bullying problem should talk to school authorities about it, and perhaps arrange a meeting with the bully’s parents. More states are implementing laws against bullying, and recent lawsuits against schools and criminal charges against bullies show that there are legal avenues to take to deal with bullies. If school authorities don’t help with an ongoing bullying problem, local police or attorneys may be able to.

People who are thinking about suicide should talk to someone right away or go to an emergency room. They can also call a free suicide hotline, such as 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Friends and relatives of suicide victims also need to find someone to talk to as they grieve, especially if they are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts themselves.

Sources:

WebMD, Depression Guide, “Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide” [online] Nemours, KidsHealth, “Helping Kids Deal with Bullies” [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Suicide Prevention, “Youth Suicide” [online] Yale University, Office of Public Affairs, “Bullying-Suicide Link Explored in New Study by Researchers at Yale” [online] Matt Dickinson, The Independent, “Research finds bullying link to child suicides” [online] Michael Inbar, MSNBC Today, “Sexting bullying cited in teen’s suicide” [online] Susan Donaldson James, ABC News, Health, “Teen Commits Suicide Due to Bullying: Parents Sue School for Son’s Death” [online] Erik Eckholm and Katie Zezima, The New York Times, “6 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate’s Suicide” [online]

My Battle With Depression and P.T.S.D. A War That I Must Win.

I needed to touch on a topic that effects over 35 Million people at one time or another. That’s right…over 35 million.  Make that 35, million and one…I suffer from this illness for over 13 years myself. What started out as a simple topic on my Facebook page took a whole life of it’s own…Depression.

I received overwhelming response from my followers that at one time, I found myself responding personally to them for over three hours. If you are feeling Depressed, Alone, Hopeless and Suicidal…let me make this very clear…YOUR NOT ALONE. Depression is a serious medical condition that can keep you feeling sad, helpless, and uninterested in your favorite activities.

It can make you feel like you have to constantly wind yourself up just to get through the day. With all the responsibilities in your busy life, managing depression can be even more overwhelming. Depression is not your fault. It’s not a personal weakness or a condition that you can just “snap out of” and feel better. Depression is different than feeling sad or blue.

Feelings of sadness go away with time, whereas depression can last for weeks, months, or even years.  The encouraging news is that depression can be treated.

What causes depression?

Although no single cause of depression has been identified, it seems that genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors may play a role. Scientists are actively seeking new knowledge in this area.

I found this short but very informative article along side a medication advertisement that I needed to copy and paste. But what will not be copied and paste is the many stories to follow, how I battle my depression that continues even to this very day. I will share with you the first day I was diagnosed with not only sever depression, but Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  known as P.T.S.D., after the terrorist attack on 9.11.2001.

As many know, I was a member of the many Search and Rescue/ Recovery Teams for the Port Authority Police Department at the World Trade Center site in New York City. My many days at Ground Zero and the months and years following had such a traumatic effect on me that perfected hiding my depression till finally it caught up to me and cost me my childhood dream as a Police Officer.

Some of my stories will be graphic and disturbing, but I am willing to share them to all those who suffer this serious illness and want regain their lives back just as much as I do. So if your ready, sit back, tighten your seatbelts and hold on.

What Was I Thinking

Your going to amount to nothing in life…We should bring you to the hospital and drain the Spic blood out of you…Your mother and father are no good….Don’t shrug your shoulders or your going to regret it…. Say I don’t know again….I don’t like jokes, specially from people I don’t like….Your a Thief…. You be living back in the orphanage home if it wasn’t for us taking you in….You ungrateful son of a bitch….You been bad all year, that’s why there is nothing in your stocking…. You bow-legged freak…. Michelle, Michelle…Call your social worker and tell her…Did you steal that….Your mother should have been shot for what she did….Your father had a girlfriend…..You ratted on me to your father……we’ll see….I won’t hit you….you won’t be in trouble if you tell me….Your a liar and always will be a liar….(the sound of my own voice screaming and crying)…Lilianna…Lilianna…Michael and his family are Pigs…Did you do that….Did you touch that…I pay for the food on the table….I pay for your clothes…Michael…come down stairs right now…Don’t you look at me like that or I will throw this can right at your head…four eye freak…..four eyes…you look like a girl…you act like a girl…where’s the watch…did you steal it…why are you counting your gifts…put the chairs away…get the soda…feed the dogs…clean the dog shit…your friends will amount to nothing…who you talking to on the phone…get off the phone…your disgusting…your an Ashton and will always be an Ashton…you be nothing without us…you need help….you need a psychiatrist….I will kill you, you fucking son of a bitch…your punished…you will never make it through high school…you will never be a cop…I can’t be in the same room with that…you have a body like a girl…your a cry baby…Barry Manilow looks like a bottle of milk…you don’t deserve us…DADDY’S HOME!!!  All this I can hear in my head as I stood  waiting for the owners to open up the door…..What was I thinking?

The Scent Of My Past

I know it has been awhile posting new stories, and believe me, I have many more to share. But I am going to go back and visit the past once again. This time, I am going to share with you my experience this past summer visiting the homes where I grew up.

Starting from the projects on the Westside of Manhattan in Chelsea, St. Michael’s Orphanage Home on Staten Island, what’s left of it, and the very Foster Home where I lived for eight years that haunt me the most…even to this very day. 

The reason why I visited these places was because I wanted, no, I needed to go back in time and see if I can smell the past. I know that sounds kind of weird, so let me explain further.

Did you ever experience a surprised aroma, scent or a particular smell that brought you back to when you were a little boy or girl, and actually remember that day like it was yesterday?

For instance. On any sunny, hot and humid summer day, the smell of weeds in the woods baked by the sun all day where I live, brings back memories when I was living in the orphanage as a little boy.  

St. Michael’s Home was surrounded by many weeds, ponds, hills, grass and trees…lots of trees. The scent will send me back in time, and I find myself standing on top of a hill at St. Michael’s known as Donkey Hill. 

I close my eye’s and can actually see and hear the other kids roll down the hill while screaming and laughing as they work their way back up the hill just to do it again. I remember doing that countless times myself with my brothers.

Just thinking about it now has brought a pleasant smile to my face. Now, that you get the idea what I am talking about, I am going to share with you a moment I had standing on a porch that I stood and sat many times growing up.

A porch that holds good memories but unfortunately, the bad memories over shadows the good ones. This porch is attached to a house where I was supposed to feel safe, and enjoy a true family life that I never experience in my ever so young life as a little boy living in New York City…..the Foster Home.

After so many years gone by, and the family I once knew were long gone, I needed to visit this house alone, for a reason. I wanted to ask the owners now living there, permission to let me take photos of their kitchen.

I know that sound like a very strange request, I mean really. How would you react if someone rang your doorbell and said ” Hello, I was tormented growing up in this house and I would like to take pictures of your kitchen?”.

I don’t know about you, but I would have closed the door, hoping you got the hint and just leave, or pick up the phone and dial 911. But I was determine to get inside that house one way or another. Even if it meant risking getting locked up for trespassing.

I pulled up and my car parked across the street from where this house sits, going over what I was going to say. I almost backed out. I kept making excuses not to go through with this. But there was only one reason why I should…why I had to.

So I took a deep breath, open the door, got out of the car, walked over to the gate and opened it like I’ve done so many times before as a young boy and teenager. With my hands trembling, and sweat dripping off my face from more being more nervous than hot, I finally got the courage to ring the doorbell.

The Beast in my Family

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So much has been going on in my life lately that I don’t even know where to begin. But I guess the beginning would be a good start.  After over 20 years of being a Police Officer, I retired officially last June of 2014.

I miss the job, but definitely don’t miss the politics. My retirement dinner was great considering I pretty much planned it all. Why Not?  I wanted a Batman theme and it needed to be the way I envisioned it.

That was November also of 2014.  But we as a family received devastating news the same week as my retirement dinner that my 13-year-old god-daughter was diagnosed with Cancer. She had a tumor successfully removed from her front of her brain the day before my dinner and that was Great News for all of us.

To this day, she is going through chemo and follow-up MRI’s showing that the tumor never came back. She is now Cancer Free. But This Epic Battle is not over just yet. My God Daughter has no intention of ever surrendering to this Beast.

The will to live a long and healthy life is so strong in her, is truly amazing to witness. She has a loving family by her side and great friends who love her dearly.  I look at my life  differently now…all because of a 13-year-old girl’s passion to live.

 

 

My Message

Just letting everyone know that I have not stopped writing any new stories. I have put them on hold due to very emotional times for my family and I. In time I will share them with you. But for now, please visit my New Web Page Www.LiveToSucceed.net and take a peek what I have been up too till I start posting stories again. Thank you for being patient and following Mikes Kitchen Stories.11024278_613857332080082_7174255922808709458_n

Dead and Gone

 

I would like to  believe that the Old Me is Dead and Gone, but my past always seems to creep up  just to remind me that it’s never to far no matter where I am in life. At 52 years old, one would think that I have everything under control and that I am where I should be in life…but I don’t feel I am.

When I look in the mirror I find myself asking a question that I thought was already answered years ago…Am I Happy?  Sometimes I feel I am, and other times I don’t.  I do know one thing…when my grandchildren are around, I am the most Happiest. I forget about everything that ever makes me or made me sad in Life.

The Love they have for me is so powerful it overwhelms me…almost intoxicating to say the least.  But my life is at a stand still for the moment. I feel like Bill Murray’s Character from the movie Groundhog Day. Outside caring for my grandsons, which I look forward too when they do come over, I feel like my life just repeats itself over and over again.

I can’t help feeling that no matter how hard I am try, I just can’t seem to shake off the ghost of my past. The monster still waits for me in my dreams even to this day, and I am reminded that I am still the scared little boy who feared the words Wait till you Father gets Home……I guess the old me isn’t dead after all.

Imagine

When my three  young grandson Christopher, Mikey and Brody comes over my house, I brace myself for another round of smiles and amazement. Mikey, the two-year old, loves to sing. My other grandson Christopher who’s four,  loves to dance… I mean he can really shake his  little tail feather…and Brody, well he’s the new edition to the family, he’s only 9 months, but his talent is SMILING.

Christopher loves to dance to a song called Gangnam Style, and you can find him  all over the living room floor dancing up a storm while the song plays in the background on the iPad. His cousin Mikey tries to imitate him, but he can’t catch up with the moves Christopher displays. I even have it on video, and all I can say is you really have to see it to believe it.

I even thought about putting it on YouTube, but I guess some things are left for just my eyes only…considering he was dancing for me. Mikey loves to walk around throughout the house singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Now, he doesn’t say all the words but he sure can hold a note unlike his grandmother…shhhh, I will deny it if anyone reading rats me out 🙂

Now Brody, the baby of the three, has his own special talent. He will just stare and BURST into a BIG SMILES when being held, besides pooping his brains out now that he’s eating baby food and slowly coming off the bottle. But that smile is priceless. He will sometimes grab at my face gently as if he is telling me how much he loves me and then that smile just comes alive.

When I am watching them, well more like caring for them because I do have them a few days a week to help out now that I am retired after serving twenty and a half years in law enforcement, so I figure that no way in hell was I going to let my daughter’s have strangers looking out for my grandsons when I am home.

So, I put my new business adventure on hold as an Inspirational Speaker to do my Poppi duties…and help my girls out. I do a few speaking engagements but not on full-time basis for now….Family First! My daughters grew up hearing be countless times tell them that Family Always Comes First no matter what…and that includes me as well. I will do anything to for daughters.

They are both professionals and everything they have in life they both worked hard for it on their own. My youngest girl married a Police Officer and her older sister married a Federal Correction officer who was once a Police Officer and decided a career change…some change… from locking up the bad guys to now living with them….go figure.

I am sharing this little short story for one reason. Imagine had I given up in life over 35 years ago, I wouldn’t be sharing this story with anyone because I would have denied myself the life I am living now…just something to think about. If anyone contemplates ending their lives thinking it will ease the pain, just pause a moment and think about the pain you will leave to those who love you the most… for their rest of their lives.

There is only one person who can save your life……that person is you.

Color Blind (Part 2)

When I received a second call from the Police Desk to return back to the Grey Hound Bus waiting area to remove the same person I just told to leave the area an hour ago. Sure enough, there he is again, standing by the Hudson News Stand setting up shop.

I stood there for a minute to see what he was going to do when he looked up and spotted me standing by the stair case above the Mike and Mike’s deli across the Hudson News stand. I will say this, he had balls, because he didn’t even bother to walk away or anything.

It was like as if he just didn’t give a shit this time and even opened up his folding chair to show me that he didn’t. Maybe it was my uniform all looking new and pressed as well as my holster belt wasn’t scuffed up from wear and tear that he knew that I was a rookie, because that is a dead give away.

Maybe he even thought because I was pleasant with him as I asked him to leave was a sign of weakness on my part….either way, I put my leather gloves on and had no intention of asking him to leave this time…I was going to remove him myself…old school style.

So I walked over to him, pulled the chair from underneath him and told him to pick up his art tools. He just stood there with a look on his face that pretty much told me he wasn’t going anywhere and yanked his chair right out of my hand. I went to grab his arm, that’s when he took a swing at me and connected to the top of my head.

Shame on me because I didn’t see it coming. He didn’t hurt me nor did it knock me down, but I did return a solid punch to the side of his head and he grabbed my waist and we went right through a plexiglass window next to the Hudson News stand and the fight was on.

He was on top of me at first as I ended up on my back, but maneuvered myself on my right side where my gun is holstered and that’s when I felt his hand already on my gun. I knew at that moment I was in deep shit now. He was actually trying to pull it out.

The only reason my gun didn’t un-holstered was because my safety lock was still connected and that prevented him from pulling it out. But I couldn’t take any chances, so I  maneuvered myself to my back to free my right hand while holding him with my left arm in a slight choke hold and ejected my magazine from my gun.

I then rolled over to my right side onto my gun and switched arms and held him with my right while I started removing my other two back up magazines and my pepper spray canister and tossed them to my left. I do remember hearing people yelling and screaming for someone to help me, but no one did.

I can see from the corner of my eye a large crowd formed around us, but no one made a move to help me. But I do remember hearing a woman screaming that the officer is fighting and he needs help. At that moment, I ended up on top of him and landed a few solid punches to the face as he still tried to free himself by kicking his knee up hitting the back of my ass.

At that moment, I heard the greatest sound every cop once to hear when fighting for his life…the sound of KEYS. All cops carried keys and they jingle really loud when running. The next thing I knew they were above me attempting to pull me off when a black boot landed on top of the subjects forehead while the other back up officers grabbed me off of him and finally placed the handcuffs on him.

I had people retrieving my two-way radio, my badge, my gun magazines that holds my bullets, my pepper spray bottle, my night stick, my memo book and my hat. I later found out that the woman screaming that I needed help, picked up the direct phone line by the Hudson news stand and called the  police desk and told them what was happening.

She was the reason they came the way they did.  My back up officers were in great numbers as well as NYPD. The same call went to city-wide 911, so that explained why there were so many cops at the scene. I was exhausted from fighting with this guy for what seemed like hours but was actually just under 10 minutes.

That is a long time to be fighting with anyone, but I wasn’t going to die that day…and I made sure of that. By the way…the subject who fought me and tried to take my gun and maybe try to shoot me…was black. The woman who called the police desk…was black.

Half the crowd standing around and handing me my personal belongings were all black. I didn’t see color…I saw people who were scared, but still tried to make sure I was ok. The subject was placed under arrest and requested medical treatment for bruises to the face.

As for me, I thanked all for the officers on the scene that came to back me up as well as a friend and fellow officer who was the one who placed his boot on top of the head of the subject. I did tell him he needed to polished them considering how close I was to see that it need polishing.

He just laughed and told me all he cared about that I was alright. By the way…he was not only my classmate, but just got promoted recently to the rank of Inspector…. and he’s black. My point to this whole story…this job made me color blind.

Color Blind (Part 1 of 2)

I’ve been a city cop (Police Officer) for over 20 years and I can’t tell you how many times I pulled out my weapon on the bad guys. I lost count just during my rookie year alone working at the Port Authority Bus Terminal next to Time Square in New York City back in 1994 thru 1996.

Back then, no one was robbing anyone over camera phones, smart phones, cell phones or iPhones…but the homeless and thieves did try to break into Pay Phones as often as they can. Guess you can say they turned them into the first ATM machines, just for them of course.

The crime back then were mixed from shootings in the area, guns, drugs, car jacking’s, sidewalk hustling games, drunks, homeless, prostitution inside the men’s restrooms and the empty stair wells inside the terminal. Pimps were forever trying to pick up runaways from the Grey Hound Bus waiting area, and I can’t even tell you how many times we answered shoplifting calls from the surrounding stores.

The list is long but I want to make a point with the story. The first year alone I was attacked by hustler harassing the tourist by drawing pictures of them for free, at least that’s what he told them at first. He would do a fast sketch and then convinced them to pay whatever they thought it was worth.

Now some would pay a couple of dollars while others would just smile and walk away…and he would follow them throughout the station till they paid. This went on for a while till one day I received the call  on my radio that their was an aggressive pan handler harassing the passengers in the Grey hound bus waiting area inside the Bus Terminal.

I walked down the steps into the waiting area where I saw the person fitting the description by the news stand in the middle of the waiting room. Not to be noticed, I lowered the volume of my two-way radio not to scare him off and observed him for several minutes.

At first, he looked harmless sitting on a folding chair drawing. But then he gets up and started walking around till he found his pray and do his thing. I watched him approach a woman and started drawing while standing in front of her. I could see she was nervous and that was enough for me to approach him and escort him out of the Bus Terminal.

First there is a sign that clearly states No Trespassing and that you must have a valid bus ticket to be waiting inside or must be waiting for a passenger to get off any busses that arrives. So, I made it very clear for him not to return and to go outside and draw.

He packed up his stuff , folded up his chair, smiled and told me to have a nice day and left like a gentlemen. All was good…or at least that what I thought. Because with in the hour he returned, and this time he had no intentions of leaving …he had other plans….I just didn’t know I was going to be part of it…

 

Stop The Hate

I don’t waste my time watching cable news anymore. I believe the media is just as guilty as our politicians, contributing to the fear that is placed in the minds of the weak-minded who don’t bother to educate themselves on every day topics from Politics, Science and Religion and rely on those channels to do it for them, then we all wonder this country is so divided. They got us hating each other for ratings.

You have Fox News constantly bashing the Democrats and always have negative things to say even when there is good news. You have MSNBC constantly bashing Fox and who is just as guilty placing the same fear onto their viewers as well. CNN…well, they are still looking for that down Airliner from the summer off the coast of Australia.

If that is all that’s on everyone’s mind day in and day out, we might as well give up on the human race and it’s future. The last precious thoughts on my mind when it’s time to depart this earth will not be how in the hell did we get a black President or who is a real Christian or is there is such thing as climate change.

No…It will be how much I tried to better myself as a Husband, Father, Grand-father and Friend even at 52 years young. I will be thinking how I lived out my childhood dream as a Police Officer and how I did my part to keep my world safe. I will be thinking of happy times with family and friends over the years and how I tried to enjoy life the best I knew how.

I will be thinking how I never gave up on life when I had many reasons to do so growing up from a broken childhood. I will also be thinking how I would never regret anything I did in my life for If I did, would only mean I would want to change my life. If I done that, I would not have what I have today…My wife, my daughters and my grand children.

But my last thought as I take my last breath will not be wasted on an empty thought. It will be how much I loved and will miss my Queen should I depart this world before her. My point is this…We only live one Life and there are no do overs…Don’t waste it on hate!

Daddy’s Little Girl’s Forever

On November 21st 2014, my Queen and I just celebrated our 32nd Anniversary in a special way this year. My youngest daughter Alicia got married for the second time to the same man within three years. See…they got married on 11-11-11 Vegas Style at the Little White Chapel with our blessing with the understanding that we wanted them to also have a traditional wedding as well.

I never been to Vegas before, but my Queen and my daughter’s all have at least  five times. I figure what not? Because she married there, I got to meet one of the Greatest Heavyweight Champions of the World….Iron Mike Tyson…TWICE!!! Had a great conversation and told him how proud I was that he straighten out his life and how he came a long way from biting off Evander’s ear.

We ended our little private pow wow with a great photo of him posing with my Queen and I. Ok, Back to my original story I wanted to share. So Alicia asked if it was ok to get marry on our Anniversary because they couldn’t get married on theirs since it fell in the middle of the week….we said YES, and a Beautiful Day it was.

I got to walk my little Princess down the aisle just as I done 2 years ago with my oldest Nicole. It has always been a dream of mine to do just that….what father’s doesn’t dream for that day? I am so proud of my daughters. They are both professional woman with families of their own living in beautiful homes they made for their family.

They are so responsible and very Successful in Life, and they made it happen with positive guidance from my Queen and I. I never had that growing up and found out the hard way by the many mistakes I made along the way to get where I am today. Just because I learned the hard way didn’t mean my daughter’s should.

Sure, they made some mistakes but nothing that couldn’t be corrected, where the mistakes I made could not and I lived with the consequences and was fine with that.  They both have husbands in Law Enforcement (wonder why) and they both treat my girls like Queens that they are.

We couldn’t ask anymore from them. They both live close by us so we do see them a lot and I get to care for my grandsons while they all work. I may be battling depression but they are the best remedy for it. I never give in and curl up in the closet rocking back and forth, but when I do start feeling down I stay very busy caring for the THREE STOOGES a few days a week. Trust me, they keep my world Balanced and Happy.

I thank our creator for allowing me to make up for all the wrong things I did in my life by letting me prove myself that I am worthy to have the family that I am blessed to be given. I will always be there for my girls and their family because that’s what I taught them for so many years ever since they started talking….Family First!

So as I walked down my Princess who turned into a Queen when they exchanged their vows, I only had one thing on my mind. I just looked t my Queen of 32 years and just thanked her for keeping me after so many times I was a disappointment to her in the past. It is because of her love for me is why I got to walk  Daddy’s Little Girls down the aisle in the first place.

 

 

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Unfinshed Stories

I have been asked by many that there a  few stories that I never got to share the ending. There is a reason for that and I will explain why. I have many stories to tell, but I can’t tell them all because I am working on a book that will be from this very blog I am sharing with you. So I guess you can say that it’s a good way to sell books at the cost of leaving you all hanging with the ones I shared through my blog.

Right now, so much has been going on in my life these last 4 weeks that I have put so much on hold right now. We had my retirement dinner from the force, my daughter’s bridal shower, and now her wedding coming up on the 21st of this month and also dealing with a family crisis that hit us all unexpectedly.

My Beautiful 13 years young god-daughter (and niece) had a brain tumor removed last month, and further test revealed it was already in stage four. I had no idea what that meant when my wife told me, so I was just happy that it was removed. When I found out what stage four meant I was devastated…. I don’t need to share my emotions any further on this one.

My niece  and her twin sister are on my mind every single day, one could only imagine what her parents must be going through. She is now going through chemo and radiation to rid this unwanted guest once and for all. She is surrounded by so much love from us all that it can fill every ocean and lakes on this planet.

Her dad is truly the rock of  his family with his strong wife beside him. Her twin sister is taking this hard and she is struggling in her own way how to deal with this. But she can be sure that she is not alone and we all are dealing it together as a family. I never had a true family in my life.

The last time my brothers and sisters lived together as one was back in 1967….and look how that turned out. I am very grateful to be part of my wife’s family more than anyone knows. I spent more than half my life with them. To be accurate…it has been 32 years with them all. They truly made up for the family I never had growing up…and I love them all so very much for that.

I Made A Promise

After getting really sick in Jan of this year and it was almost lights out for me, I made a promise to my Queen that I would never sleep on the couch again just because I was too lazy to get up to go to bed in the middle of the night at times when I woke up….. I can understand why it bothered her for long.

When you been married for as long as we have, we supposed to be sharing the same bed where we sleep not because we should or it’s the right thing to do, but because we want to. Face it, that is the last place we end up in at the end of the evening after spending hours at work and after taking care of family.

Our bed should not be taken advantage of like so many do. It’s a sacred place to embrace each other and to exchange our  good nights with a whisper of I love you to each other before we turn off the light.  Also, should one of us never wake up the following morning, we have passed away in our sleep lying next to the only True Love of our Lives.

So many take advantage of going to bed like it’s a routine every night…not me anymore. I made a Promise to my Queen early this year, and this is one Promise I will not break to her……why…….Because Promises are not meant to  be broken.

Fear Or Not To Fear

What I learned throughout my life is how to control my fears, and trust me, I have a few of them. Lets start off with one that might be a common fear most of us share…Lightning! That’s right…that bright electrical freaky force of nature zipping across the sky during those hot summer thunder storms.

I was told it was God taking pictures of us when someone was doing something bad. From this storm that was brewing, I guess there was lots of people doing lots of bad things this particular summer Saturday. I was about eleven years old sitting in the kitchen eating cold cuts as we usually do on Saturdays, when I noticed looking through the window that the sun was fading and getting darker out.

I remember thinking to myself that it was too early for the sun to say his good nights but continued to eat my sandwich while still looking out the window behind my foster father from my seat. Just when I was about to take a drink from my glass, it started to rain and rain hard.

All the windows were open in the house because we didn’t have air conditioners, just fans. So my foster father got up to close the window behind him, while my other foster-brother and sisters went up stairs to close the windows in their bedrooms.

From where I was sitting, I just looked at them all  running around in a panic like chickens with their heads cut off, rushing to close all the windows throughout the house. To be honest the only thing missing was the theme song to The Benny Hill Show playing in the background.

Through the eyes and mind of a eleven year old… it was comical. It started to thunder which by the way, which I was also told that was the angels bowling with God and Jesus, followed by those bright flashes. Well, as I was watching everyone closing the windows I started approaching  the back kitchen window when a loud CRACK and BOOM blasted right outside the window.

 I jumped from the kitchen into the hallway in one leap that I landed on my ass. I got so scared I actually wet myself. Even my mother was startled and jumped back from the window. The dogs couldn’t run fast enough out of the kitchen and jumped over me while I was still laying on the floor in the hallway to run into the living room.

That was it…from that moment on I was scared of lightning. Throughout my adult life I dreaded thunderstorms, until about ten years ago. That’s right, I was about forty-two years old when I felt it was time to tackle my fear of lightning head on.

Now, all I needed was a good storm to brew so I could take my gloves off in defiance and go at it round for round…and I did just that…from the safety of my front door. Ok, so I wasn’t ready to stand in my driveway like a gladiator ready for battle.

I instead, opt to stay indoors in a safe distance from those lightning bolts that were flashing above the heavens. I guessed I wasn’t ready yet to take on my fear of lightning. But I made a promise to myself that the next thunderstorm I will be ready sooner or later…just didn’t think it was going to be sooner.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Let me ask you all a couple of questions. When life isn’t going as plan, or your dreams never came true, who did you blame… your parents… the childhood life you had or never had? Did you blame your teachers you had during your school years?

Did you find yourself blaming everyone else for all your mistakes and bad decisions you made throughout your life and decided to throw in the towel and give up on your future? Well, there is a simple answer to all these questions.

All you have to do is approach the nearest mirror in your house, stand in front of it and look at the reflection staring back at you….that person is YOU! There is no secret how to succeed in life. There is no magic wand to wave over yourselves.

There is no amount of praying or wishing that you can do to live a Successful Life. You have to Want to Succeed and not Like to Succeed. Anyone can like to do a lot of things, but wanting is another story. Because when you want something, you have to make it happen.

The only way to make it happen is work for it…it’s that simple. Anyone who’s been following my blog know how hard my  life was. How my childhood living in a foster home wasn’t much of a childhood to say the least.

Being homeless and living place to place out of an old grey suitcase from the age of sex-teen till I became a young husband and father at the age of only twenty-one to two beautiful girls. I jumped from job to job and lived a reckless life because I was making bad decisions and choices throughout my twenties.

But one thing I never did…ever…was blame anyone else for my mistakes but myself. I never used my background not to succeed in life…I LEARNED from it. I knew what I had to do something to change my life before I ended up losing my life as well as losing my young family.

Looking at my wife and children, I knew there wasn’t much of a future for any of us if I continued to be so irresponsible with my decision-making. I also came to a conclusion that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself for the childhood I never had.

I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and rid of the poison called self-pity. I needed to stop listening to the voice inside my head of my foster father who convinced me while growing up, that I was going to be a nobody in life. So one day, I looked in my mirror, I mean I really looked in the mirror and I didn’t like for one bit what was staring back at me.

I needed to get my act together and there was no time to lose. The first thing I had to do was stay out of trouble, stick with one job to support my family and work part-time at night for extra income and started taking all Police exams throughout the state of New York.

I picked up right where I left off when I’ve taken  my first written exam to be a New York City Police Officer at the age of nine-teen. At  thirty-one years old, On October 29th,1993, I was excepted in the Police Academy for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The life I lived in the past was just that…the past. I was now living for the future as well as the future for my family. I made it happened because I never gave up. I never blamed anyone for all the bad decisions and mistakes I made in the past but myself. I never used my background not to succeed in Life.

I wasn’t weak, I wasn’t a quitter and I sure as hell wasn’t going to throw in the towel in my ring of life and give up. I battled with life and lost many rounds but never the fight. My name is Michael Ashton and I made my childhood dream come true…….and so can you!

He Waits For Me

Last night I step onto my back deck to let the dogs out and I noticed the stars above me where unusually bright. Now when I say unusually, I don’t mean that some unknown scientific phenomenon was causing them to be as bright as they were, I just never saw them that bright before.

Then I remembered something. There was nothing really unusual about them after all. I just never really looked at them that close as I did last night. I also had my glasses on, so that contributed the brightness as well as other stars I could never see without wearing them. 

They were so any of them just hovering above me as if they were all there just waiting for me to look up and notice them…and did just that. As I continue to stare at them all, I found one in particular that caught my attention. It was not only bright but seem to twinkle more than the others.

Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe that star was trying to tell me something. Then it happened. So many thoughts in my head came pouring out so fast that I couldn’t think straight. So fast that I couldn’t keep up with them. So fast that I surrender them willingly.

What I did next was tried to place a memory of my past and my nightmares into each star and pretend that if I can do that, how cool it would be to have my head clear of any pain that I’ve carried for so long. A past that I wish I never had… A past so filled with anguish  it consumes me even to this day.

I perfected not showing it in my everyday life to family and friends, but it’s a battle that sometimes, just sometimes I feel I’m losing. No amount of therapy and meds will ever erase what waits for me in my dreams. I’m fifty-two and it amazes me that I still have nightmares at this age.

Not just any nightmares either. These are the same dreams I had throughout most of my life. No matter how much I try not to dream of them, there they are…waiting for me. You would think I would get use to them by now, but that’s just not the case.

I still wake up in the middle of the night at times fighting to open up my eyes because sometimes when I do open them, there he is sitting by my bedroom window with a cigarette in his hand looking out my bedroom window. He doesn’t say anything, but sits motionless staring out the window.

I walk over to stand behind him and look to see what he’s looking at, but had to squint hard for a moment because it was snowing outside really heavy and I couldn’t make out what exactly he was staring at all that time by the window.

As the snow fall started to fade away, I  finally saw for myself what he had been looking at. It was me at 16 years old walking down the street with a suitcase in my hand. I was leaving the very house with hidden dark secrets that changed the direction of my life forever.

No matter how much I try not thinking about him, or of him, there he is waiting by the window staring outside. He is my ghost of my past, he is my ghost of the present, and I’m afraid he will be my ghost waiting for me till I take my last breath in this life….for this ghost is my foster father.

I DO I DO

This November is a very special month for us. For one, my youngest daughter is getting married to a GREAT Guy for the second time within three years. They wanted to get married in Las Vegas on 11-11-11 like hundreds of others that day.

At first I was reluctant, but of cause like her Daddy, she has the talent to convince…before you know it, we were on our way to Vegas. I never been there before but my Queen and daughter’s have…numerous times. Because she got married there, I got to meet the Great Iron Mike Tyson…TWICE!!!

The reason why I am sharing this is because they are getting married thirty-two years to the date when I married my Queen, the mother of my two Beautiful girls and Grandmother to our four Grandchildren. What’s so cool about this is we too married twice.

The first time was at City Hall on Staten Island… and we went back to work the next day. That’s a whole story by itself. Now the second was on our wenty-fifth Anniversary 11-21-2008 ” and this time I wanted to this right. I don’t mean just get married in a church with a small reception here.

I’m talking about throwing the BIGGEST WEDDING every little girl dreams about and her parents. This is how I did it. First, I had to buy her a diamond ring. I’m not talking about any ring either. I took my time doing research on-line.

I wanted to learn as much as I could about diamonds…even where they came from. I also learn about Blood Diamonds. The blood diamond workers in Africa are mostly under thirty years old, including children, which just sickens my stomach.

Approximately three millions of people were dead attributed to conflict diamond mining and the average of daily cost is about $0.07 per day if they are lucky, according to the Conflict Diamond Statistics whose sources are the World Bank, the United Nations and the Kimberly Process in 2/16/2012.

Just to be clear here, I copied and paste this info from a site. So when I picked out the diamond I wanted, I demanded to see the certificate that the diamond I purchased was not in fact a Blood Diamond in any way. They produced it and I was satisfied.

So now I had this beautiful diamond in my hand and now I had to do something that I always wanted to do…ask her parents for their daughter’s hand in marriage. That’s right….old school style. So when we went to Florida back in 2007, I sat with her dad the following morning having coffee together when I asked permission to married his little girl.

We denied him of every moment a dad dreams of…walking Daddy’s first-born and little girl down the aisle. So I wanted to do this right. First, I started off by apologizing to him for denying his special moment in life, even though he had walked both his other two Beautiful daughter’s, walking your first-born has a special feeling to it….it’s your first-born!

Then I asked permission to marry his daughter as a future husband should, and said to me how proud he was for having me as a son in law and was happy for both of us how we made a good life with each other, then said yes. We hugged and I thanked him.

Now my mother in law is a different story. I show up to her house on Staten Island after working the day tour and gave her a nice beautiful speech how we denied her the same way. But when I asked her permission to marry Donna I didn’t get the same response as I did with her ex husband.

She just looked stared at me for a moment, takes a drag from her cigarette then  puts it out in the ashtray and say’s to me…Your Already Married! I love my mother in law dearly and we have history together. Face it, besides my Queen, she was the only one that believed in me that I would be a Police Officer one day when everyone else had their doubts.

She is also very beautiful for her age and Donna looks just like her. In guys world, we always look at the mother of our girlfriends and get an idea what they will look like many years down the road…Don’t be hating now…that’s what us guys do.

Many won’t admit it but most of us do. Anyway, after her smart ass response she did say yes and we hugged. Now for the big one. I had to think of something special to do when I ask Donna for her hand in marriage for the second time. But this time, it was going to be not only special but EPIC, and I thought of something so romantic and from my heart that she will never forget for the rest of her life.

We Meet Again

Back I the 70’s where I spent my childhood in the foster home, there were many vacant properties throughout the neighborhood with trees growing wild, wild berries and weeds…lots of them too, not to mention the greatest weed of them all…no….not that kind…Poison Ivory.

During the hot summer days you can smell the scent of the wild forest next door to us. Even now, when I would walk my Boston Terrier across the street where I live today, I smell that same scent just like I did as a little boy. 

My brother and I would walk through the paths that the neighbor kids made as a short cut to get to the next street so they didn’t have to walk around the block to get to their homes. We would reenact scenes from that old series back in the 70’s called Lost in Space. 

We both pretend that we were Professor John Robinson and Major Don West on a mission to find fuel for the Jupiter 2 and end we end up fighting make-believe monsters throughout our mission. But after a while we get bored and needed something else to do.

Now right at the end of our block was this big fenced in lot with lots of long steel beams laying on the top of the flatbed trailers and they were all over the place….bunch of orange ones were set on one side and the grey ones on the other and stacked.

The neighbor kids would all go there to jump on them during that summer which I believe was 71 or 72. We called it Jumping trailers. That’s all we did…just jump from one to the other till the neighbors called the police on us.

That was the best part because they show up and yell at us through their windows to go home and we go running away like little girls screaming and laughing while squeezing our way through the open part of the fence…then they just drive away.

The reason why I am sharing this story with you is because I was reminded by my friend back in 2002 that the very steel we were all jumping on was used for the Top of the Twin Towers. I climbed on those orange steel beams countless times as a little boy…and over 40 years later I was doing the same thing……on 9-11-2001.

I Small Step for Man

Over nine hours later after the towers came down, I was finally giving orders to suit up and wear the necessary gear to assist in search and rescue. We had to go through one step at a time to gather what we needed from tables that were lined up side by side.

Gloves, boots, mask, protective glasses, flash lights, construction helmets and most of all….shovels. We all worked in groups with either a Lieutenant or Sargent leading the way. We all had to sign off on two-way radios should we separate for any reason and updates from the main staging area for the Port Authority Police.

Once we were ready we all started walking  just a few city blocks south to the World Trade Center, or what would be known as Ground Zero, the ground was getting thicker and thicker with white powder that almost look like a dry snow.

I remember stopping for a couple of seconds to look closer and for some reason I had to touch it without gloves….it felt like baby powder to me with a smell to it that I couldn’t describe. Then I did something I have no reason why.

I made an imprint with my boots on an area that wasn’t disturbed by the many foot prints that have walk this path down the West Side Highway and thought of the words spoken by Neil Armstrong…I small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind.

That’s what I was thinking at that very moment as if time just stood still and only me holding the powdery substance that was left behind from the two steel giants that once stood towering over the Manhattan skyline…then I heard a distant voice that seem to get louder as my thoughts started to fade away….Ashton let’s go.

I just looked around and was bracing myself what I was about to see as we got closer to the site. The streets were silent and no one was talking. As we looked around, the building above us all look like they were breathing…I can’t describe it any other way.

It was dark for a couple of blocks till we started hearing generators for the lights that were being installed all around the perimeter where the towers fell. Then we all stopped  just yards away from where the towers once stood and all we saw was smoke from fires still burning since the morning.

Hundreds if not thousands of rescue workers  and civilians all lined up on the mountain of steel, passing to each other buckets filled with debris from the Police and Fire Fighters digging in search of anyone that might still be alive underneath all that ruble.

That night there were only two fellow officers from my department that were found alive…and that gave us all hope that there will be more. But as the hours passed and days come and gone, that wasn’t the case anymore. This Search and Rescue had now become Search and Recovery.

Ground Zero

After spending some time with my supervisor who was burden with guilt for sending  the three officers to the World Trade Center, I reassured him that no one ever thought that the towers would fall. I reminded him that what he did was what any  supervisor would have done, and he shouldn’t feel guilty.

But I guess that’s easy for me to say…I wasn’t the one who made that decision. So with that, I left him alone. I walked over to the officers standing by the heavy equipment blocking the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, and asked them to keep an eye on our patrol Sergeant until he leaves.

I then got into my truck and headed into New Jersey to my command. As I walked in I could see my friend who was also our union delegate, standing inside the Tour Commanders office and I could also see in his face of not only concern but of disbelief.

Not mind you, I still have no idea who else responded from our command besides the three officers I already knew about. So I walked in the office and asked what was going on. That’s when my friend took me aside by the arrest room next to the Tour Commander’s office and informed me that they found our friend Kenny’s hat and memo book.

At first I wasn’t sure what he meant because Kenny had transferred to another command close by and I didn’t make the connection why he was telling me about his hat and memo book being found. Then I realized that what my friend was telling me.

Kenny responded from his post where he was assigned at the 33rd street PATH train station in New York City, and commandeered a NYC taxi with his rookie partner besides him and rushed to the World Trade Center. 

That’s when it hit me… Knowing Kenny, he rushed in to aid with the evacuation with all the other police officers and firefighters when the towers fell on all of them. Everything now seem to be in slow motion inside my head.

I started to realize that not only so many civilians lives have been lost, but how many have we lost from my department? How many Police Officers did N.Y.P.D. lose? How many fire fighters did F.D.N.Y lose? I walked away in total disbelief and headed inside the locker room to get suited up.

I remember as I was putting on my uniform, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that we had three officers missing from my command, including my friend Kenny from the P.A.T.H. command where he transferred  just five months  earlier from the Holland Tunnel  after working there for over eight years.

After getting dressed I walked back to my Tour Commanders office for instruction when he told me to grab a vehicle and drive over to the staging area on the lower west side of  New York City, just blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, and see the Commanding Officer assigned there for further instructions to assist in search and rescue.

I immediately took the keys to the patrol car and headed to New York City. My stomach was all twisted and I felt my body shake as I was driving through the tunnel, but it was fear that was causing the shakes…it was my adrenaline rushing throughout my body.

I wanted to do what I was meant to do my whole life….my job. As I exited out of the tunnel into New York City, I was overwhelmed how many emergency vehicles flooded the West Side Highway. It look like a nightmare of an endless traffic jam for at least 12 city blocks.

So many  vehicles double and triple parked that it was hard trying to maneuver my patrol car between most of them as I made my way to staging area where the Port Authority Police Department was gearing up for search and rescue operations.

As I got out of my car, I looked down just a few blocks , all I could see was smoke…nothing but smoke. I walked inside the building where so many of our officers were waiting for instructions, I over heard one cop say to another that we lost a lot more officers then we thought. I also learned a new term…Ground Zero.

Off Topic

I live in the same country as everyone else and I for one don’t believe our country is heading in the wrong direction because of one President or any President for that matter. It is CABLE NEWS and HATE RADIO that’s turning us Americans against each other over politics, religion, guns, our rights and Freedom day in and day out.

Always talking negative about everything, even when things are good. We as a country are better off than 6 years ago, that’s a FACT, but you wouldn’t know it because the cable news spend more time either bashing each other or forever pissing on good news. We have Republicans constantly bashing the Democrats, and the Democrats  are just as guilty bashing back.

We can’t complain that nothing is getting done in Washington when we continue to vote in the same morons in Congress with an 8% approval rating, who by the way, are the very ones holding back our country from prospering, with Guarantee Paychecks, Great Health-Care and a HEFTY PENSION. Seems to me that those in Congress seem to be the biggest TAKERS of them all in this country and not the poor or the struggling middle class.

Getting paid to do absolutely nothing and never questioned by anyone from the 3 cable networks…Fox, MSNBC and CNN. Face it, cable news is anything but news anymore. They’ve become a political bully pulpit for the party they represent. MSNBC for Democrats and Fox for Republicans and CNN…well…CNN is still looking for that missing airliner in the Indian Ocean.

So I ask you…Are we that weak-minded and so uneducated as a nation that we rely on cable news to do all the thinking for us and then post what they say on Facebook as if it’s gospel? Remember, he who controls the media, control the minds of the people, and from reading my news feed on FB every morning over coffee, seems to be a reality.

But I have faith in the younger generation (young teens), they don’t fall for any of that nonsense. So I believe there is still HOPE for our country after all. By the way, please if you are guilty of this, stop referring to the President of The United States as a POS (Piece of Shit) on your Facebook….it’s not very Christian like for those who claim to be.

You think Jesus referred Pontius Pilate as a POS to his followers when he would preach? How would you like it if someone called you a POS as a Parent from those who never had children? Too many have an obsession over our President and need to get on with their lives. This post is not meant for any political debates of any kind, but your thoughts are welcomed.

I am just tired of cable news becoming anything but news. These are my thoughts…sorry to be off topic. I needed to post this. I am also sorry that I have not been writing any stories of 911 recently. I am planning my own retirement dinner for the 18th of October and it has taken all my spare time when my grandsons are picked up.

I will continue those stories very soon. For the moment, please share my blog to those who you feel that might be interested. I enjoy helping the silent ones who have hurt for so many year….Enjoy the weekend!!!

September 11, 2001

As I sped up The Garden State Parkway and onto the New Jersey Turnpike Northbound heading to the Holland Tunnel. There were signs stating all roadways o New York City has been closed to all motorist except emergency personnel only. We needed easy access in and out from every bridge and tunnels connected to New York City and we couldn’t have traffic building up to prevent the thousands of first responders to reach the World Trade Center.

As I was riding along the New Jersey Turnpike, to my right I could see the smoke bellowing out from where the Twin Towers use to stand from across Staten Island. I remember feeling beyond belief that those two steel giants that would rise up from behind the roadway like the Sun rising was no longer there.

I kept repeating Holy shit over and over again as I was getting closer to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn. There was no traffic on this iconic bridge either…for a moment it was just me till I noticed a few NYPD Police cruisers come up to my left doing at least 100 mph…because I was doing 80 and they made me look like I was standing still.

As I approached the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, I showed the officers standing in front of the barricades my Police I.D., they let me continue to drive through the tunnel, but not before I was asked by a patrol Sargent if he can ride with me along with two national guardsman…No problem I remember saying.

They all loaded up their gear in the back of my Expedition and we continued on into the tunnel  not knowing what was waiting for us on the other side. As we exited, my green truck has now looked like someone poured white baby powder all over it. We couldn’t see much as we exited and it has been almost three hours since the towers fell and all I remember seeing  was paper raining down on us as well white dust  floating about like fog .

We were already coughing because the air condition was on and the dust found its way through inside the vehicle. I remember the Sargent looking at me without saying a word…the expression on his face was enough. As I turned to my right onto West side Highway we only made it about 50 feet when a Battalion Chief came up to my vehicle telling me I had to turn around and cut through the Riverside Highway to get to the Holland Tunnel.

I let out the two guardsman and the patrol Sargent right there and continued up the highway along the east river and gotten off Canal Street exit. I remember seeing hundreds if not thousands of pedestrians walking across the Brooklyn Bridge heading to Brooklyn. Canal Street that use to be stand still traffic was empty and reach the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in seconds where it would easily take me 15 minutes sometimes longer any other day.

I pulled up to find one of Port Authority’s heavy equipment truck blocking the entrance to the New Jersey side while at least four of our cops standing in front of it. I got out of my vehicle and walked over to the Police Booth that stands on the corner next to the entrance of the tunnel where I worked countless times to direct traffic, and approached my patrol Sargent who just gotten off the phone and asked him where he wanted me before I put on my uniform.

He was standing by t booth while looking down as if he was in deep thought. To be honest, I don’t think he  even noticed me standing in front of him never mind heard me. But he did have this look on his face that right then and there, I knew something was terribly wrong. So I asked if he was ok, but my  Sgt. just mumbled  something being his fault. Not understanding what he meant and now concerned, I asked again if he was alright?  He then lifted his head and said …I sent them and they never came back.

On My Way Brother.

Not everyone can remember what they had for breakfast just 24 hours ago, but everyone remembers what they were doing and where they were at when our country was under attacked on 9-11-2001.  Considering it was September, it sure felt more like July…Hot and Sunny…..not a cloud in the sky. You can say it was a perfect summer day.

I was on my desktop computer when I got a phone call from my wife at work asking me if I was watching the news. She had told me that a small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that it was on fire. I went downstairs and turned on CNN and sure enough, smoke was coming from the top of one of the towers.

Just like many others watching the breaking news on all the networks, I too believed it was a small plane and that the pilot might have lost control and crashed into the North Tower. So, I just watched for a few minutes and decided to call my command and asked if they needed me to come in considering that my tour didn’t start till that afternoon.

There wasn’t any sense of urgency from my dispatcher and she informed  me that enough units were on the scene as well as F.D.N.Y and N.Y.P.D. But to be on the safe side to just keep my phone line open just incase. So I just hung up and sat in the living room and watched like everyone else was with speculations.

I didn’t really put much thought into it other than feeling bad for anyone that was in that plane and the people below that might have gotten hurt from falling debris from the plane. My brother Timmy had just called me and asked if I was watching what was being shown when something caught my attention on the left of my screen when I saw a commercial jet crash into the South Tower followed by an intense fireball.

I remember yelling “Oh Shit” at least three times asking my brother if he had he seen what just happened also. He was also yelling on the other end of the line at the same time that we were under attack. For a moment, I couldn’t think of anything other than witnessing that commercial airliner exploding inside the Twin Tower.

As I was agreeing with my brother  just as my door bell rang..it was my neighbor Ralph, and from the look in his eyes, he was shocked what he just saw just like the rest of us. Something wasn’t right, but we did agree on one thing…We were under attack, just didn’t know by who and for what reason.

That’s when all first responders from the City of New York…Police, Firemen, EMS were all ordered to report to our respected commands immediately. I remember calling my command and was told by my dispatcher to report to my Sargent on Duty for instructions as soon as I can get there.I wasted no time.

I packed up some clothes, shoved them in my duffel bag and called my wife to let her know that I was leaving and that I may be up there for a few days. I remember her telling me to be careful while telling me how much she loves me. She also reminded me to call her as much as I can to let her know that I was alright.

I then jumped in my Ford Expedition known as the Green Monster, and headed to the gas station to fill up. I also had to stop by my local police station to borrow a flame ball ( police jargon for that emergency red light we put on the roof of our vehicles) so other motorist can see that I was responding to an emergency.

As I was driving, my cell phone rang and it was a fellow officer and friend asking  had I left already knowing how far I lived. He was coming from Brooklyn which was only less than a half hour to Jersey City. I remember telling him that I was driving like 90 miles and hour and I should meet him in about an hour at our command. My last words before I hung up was …. On My Way Brother.

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

What I am about to share with you will not only be disturbing but graphic in detail. So please think this over before you choose to read. I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you all a very dark  secret only shared to my wife and my therapist.

It is a topic that is very rare discussed among family and friends and most of all our co workers….an epidemic so powerful it spreads from our service men and women returning from war, past and present, as well as our Police Officers nation wide who serve on the front line keeping their communities safe from lawlessness.

If you believe it just ends there…it doesn’t. You can also find it happening to our children who are bullied in school one too many times, or to the average person struggling through life feeling so helpless that they give up on life all together…..and they commit Suicide.

I am sure we may know someone who had killed themselves or attempted to do so, and they may seem like a happy-go-lucky guy or girl. It’s always the ones you least suspect…and I am no exception. I was separated from my family after 9-11-2001 for three years.

I will not get into the details about why, because I will have to sit down with my wife to discuss if she’s willing to let me share our painful story, but for now, I will just share this one to you all. I was living in an apartment in a nice tree-lined neighborhood about 40 minutes north where I live today, when I was going through some very dark moments of depression.

One night, my life that I once believed had control over, began to unravel faster than I could handle. Now during that time, I was going through therapy and on anti depression medication without my job knowing as well as family and friends…I was on this trip alone, well…I thought I was.

It was in the summer of 2004 when I decided to end my life. After going through deep crying spells throughout the day, I couldn’t even go to work that evening so I called out. I just laid on my couch in such a daze and mentally exhausted that I decided to end it all.

With no thought of thinking about those I was about to hurt and destroy their lives, I walked over to a picture of my daughters hanging by the T.V. set in the living room and grabbed it off the wall…grabbed my gun off the end table by the couch and went straight into the bathroom.

I then climbed into the tub and laid down clinging onto the pictures of my daughters while crying so hard, begging my girls to forgive me. I never even thought about writing a suicide note because what I did was so spontaneous the thought didn’t even cross my mind.

I remember thinking that I should put on the water faucet above my head so when I shot myself, the blood would just drain and not leave such a mess when I would be discovered. Strange that I was putting so much thought now that I was laying in the tub and not when I was on the couch looking at the picture of my girls.

Anyway, I position myself into a fetus position on my right side with the gun tightly gripped in my right hand with the picture tucked under my arm as well, and strategically put the gun in my mouth  as I reached with my left hand to turn on the water.

My hand was on it for a few seconds when I let out a scream so loud, I thought for sure my neighbors heard me and tossed the gun out of the tub. I laid there for minutes that seemed more like hours just crying.

I then climbed out of the tub and what little strength I had left from exhaustion, I reach for my cell phone and called someone to save my life. That person rushed over to my apartment and found me laying on the couch and held me all night and never left my side…It was my Queen who saved my Life.

The point I am trying to make with this story is depression does not discriminate, nor does suicide, if that makes sense at all. No matter how much we seem hopeless, there is someone out there ready to save your life. You just have to have the courage to reach out to them.

No one can force you to live…you have to want to live…and when you do that, you will be on the road to recovery. Sylvester Stallone once said in an interview with Barbara Walters back in the 80’s and said this to her…Dying is easy, but Living is hard………So true.

Hands Off He’s Mine

I wanted to share just a short one that  happened before I even liked Donna or had any interest in her. One hot Saturday afternoon in August, I was working with my younger brother Timmy down the auto wrecking yard loading transmissions onto a wooden pallet to be shipped out, when I saw Donna pull up behind the back of the main building in her Trans am with another girl in the passenger side.

As they both got out, I turned to my brother and asked him who was that girl Donna was with? He stopped for a second as he looked over my head and said that was Donna’s sister Lisa. All I could think of was how hot she was. I was 19, so I figured she looked like 15 or 16, but still very pretty and caught my attention.

Donna  was talking to one of the workers before walking over where my brother and I were working to say hello before entering  through the big open gates to the main building , I turned to my brother and told him that Donna sister was hot and asked if she had a boy friend which he had no idea if she did.

But that didn’t really matter if she did, because I always joked with all the girls I would meet and always asked if they had boy friends. If they responded that they did, I would always follow-up with that’s OK because I wasn’t the jealous type. It always got a smile or a giggle from them…but to be honest…I wasn’t joking…I really didn’t care if any of them had boy friends.

If I liked you, I would do my best to convince them why they should be with me…which didn’t always work. Now, little did I know, but  when Donna and I were seeing each other, she admitted to me that on that day, Lisa had asked about me and wanted to know who I was.

Donna grabbed Lisa by the throat and threw her against the wall knocking over a big shelf filled with car parts, and with a deep scary voice right out of the movie The Exorcist said this….HANDS OFF, HE’S MINE!!!

Ok…I do tend to get carried away and it wasn’t that dramatic, but she did tell Lisa that. So you see, without me knowing, like a wolf marking her territory, Donna must have snuck up at some time without me noticing her and urinated on my leg ….and I guess Lisa backed off. Who knew that the boss’s daughter had her eye’s set on me with pure lust, way before mine were ever set on her…..

Lady and The Tramp (Part 2)

Ok…I left you hanging long enough, so I will finish this love story I started to share with you all a while back ago. Now, I already had a girlfriend at the time when I met my future Queen and mother of my 2 Beautiful girls at the auto wrecking yard, so I decided to look through my rear view mirror to see if she was looking back at me.

I think she was, but then again, my brother was standing besides her and she could have been looking at him while chatting. But I like to believe she was looking at me and lets leave that as so. As I was driving on the Staten Island Expressway on my way home from work, I put on some Barry Manilow  in the cassette player and the song “I want to Do It”  started playing.

At that moment, I started smiling…I was thinking of Donna. Even when I got home where I was living with my childhood best friend’s family, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Honestly, she was on my mind till I went to sleep. I knew by the next morning, when I would see her by the coffee truck at 7:45, I was going to ask her in a cool way of cause, when her birthday was.

So the very next morning, I woke up in a really good mood. The next morning, I woke up with you know who on my mind. I already have a girlfriend, so why was I thinking of my boss’s daughter so much in a 24 hour period? Who cares…I was never really faithful with any of my girl friends at that time, so the guilt trip I was feeling only lasted about…well…let see.

By the time I gotten out of bed and went in the bathroom to brush my teeth…the guilt trip was gone. I couldn’t wait to get to work and hang about inside the front of the building looking like I was already on the job setting up tires, just to see her through the big front window and watch her pull up in her Trans Am or in her grand mother’s gold Dodge Dart with her dad.

She would get out of her car and walk towards the main entrance where one day, would be the very spot I would get on my knees and ask her to marry me for our 25th Anniversary. She saw me standing by the tire racks to the right of the office, and walked over to say hello. I played it up pretty good pretending I was working and exchanged small talk.

As she walked away…guess what I was doing….Damn right…I was checking her out. She was wearing a black suede blazer, a white and red strip blouse with  dark tight Sassoon jeans…Oooooohhhhh Yeaaaaah!!! She was smoking hot and Beautiful. This morning could get even better if I see her at the coffee truck

I was moving car parts onto a pallet when that familiar sound of a horn blasting away letting us all know working down the yard that the coffee truck was here. As I made my way up to it, it was already crowded with all the guys getting their breakfast when there goes Donna and her aunt making their way to the truck themselves.

I was ready to make my move as soon as she stands waiting for her tea. As I said hello again, she did ask me how was my birthday. I couldn’t have planned it any better…I told her it was just fine and asked her right out when her was. She tells me it was in two weeks, on the 17th. Now, I don’t recall my exact words, but I did say something about sharing the same zodiac sign.

 Anyway, she went back inside and I went back to our work to have my coffee and butter roll. All I could think of next was how to ask her out for her birthday. Not for nothing, but she did mention that she had a boy friend…but that was ok with me…because I wasn’t the jealous type….yet. What we been doing was talk to each other every once in a while and she would make fun of me of my height.

Because my foster-brother Barry was standing 6-4 and my brother Tim was like 6 feet and here I am just 5-8. I was fine with the teasing from her. Anyone else. I wouldn’t have it. Then one day about a week before her birthday, at the end of the day, I had left an envelope with a Birthday card inside on the driver side of her Trans Am that read…Do you know what Good Girls get on their Birthday…and on the bottom I wrote… A Candle Light Dinner for Two…if you like….from Mike (Shorty)…and drove away.

I waited till that Friday to do that because her Birthday was the following week. The next Monday, when she came in to work, she was standing by the side exit of the main office and waved me over. I stopped what I was doing, and made my way up to her as she met me half way with a big smile on my face.

She then started poking me on my chest lightly saying to me that she didn’t know that I liked her… What could I say…I did and a lot. We teased each other then went back to work. As I was walking back down the dirt  path, I looked back to see her and as she was walking back to her office, she had turned around right before she open the side door and turned back and we both just looked at each other….and smiled. Little did she know, but as we both exchanged smiles, under my breath I said…Your going to be mine one day.

My Update

It has been a few weeks since I actually wrote a story. I’ve taken a break not only clear my mind, but  needed to deal with new challenges and small crisis that needed my attention without any distractions. Now that many of them have been resolved with positive results, I am happy to say that I will be on my laptop every morning to share many new stories, thoughts and just some motivational tips to kick you all into high gear!

There are some stories that I need to leave you hanging with but not without reason. I am working on  many projects and I need to save certain stories for these projects. But make no mistakes, I will not be leaving you hanging all the time…just enough to keep you  following my life, and what a life it is. In the near future, my blog will have a fresh new look including some videos!

Recently, I have been pressured to recognized  people who were part of my teenage years when I was living homeless. But if I started doing that then I have to make an endless list of the many who were there throughout my life and I just can’t do that. In the future I will write a nice story thanking them all at once, but I will not be going to be naming them all. I just want to get on with my stories and share my life hoping to help so many overcome their own demons of their past.

So with all that being said, my next story will be about something that means the world to me. I will share with everyone how I got to live out my childhood dream of becoming a Police Officer. Not only that, but will share many stories that will keep you at the edge of your seat begging for me to write the next one faster than I would like. But that’s the name of the game…to keep you wanting more from me.

I will also share with you the day that not only changed our Country but  my Life as well… and not in a good way. I will share with you my thirty days beginning on 9-11-2001 at The World Trade Center site also known as Ground Zero. If you haven’t already, follow me on Facebook called Mike’s Kitchen Stories and put me on notification and there you will get all updates of my new stories (post) and personal interaction. Feel free to LIKE my page and share any of your thoughts and stories as well. Hope to see you there!!!!

 

Just Not Doing This

On second thought, I decided that I will not be writing about any ex girlfriends who were in my life during my teen years. While I was happy I had them, and grateful they were there and helped me in their own way…I’m not going to go through a list of them just to make any of them feel good that I mentioned them. So if any of you are reading…thank you for being in my life during those hard times, but this blog is about me and the life that I lived, and I will not feel guilty not mentioning any of them or their names. (Why, so you can sue me?). I was in and out of so many lives and that’s how I lived till I met my Queen of 31 years. So with that being said, I will not ne acknowledging anyone by name, specially any of my ex girlfriends…Just not doing this.

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The Tramp Get’s In Trouble

On my way home from a hard days work at the auto wrecking yard, I started thinking about the boss’s daughter. I know, I know…I already have a girlfriend and I did say earlier that this was the last thing I needed when I only been working at this place for less than 3 weeks, But I did find myself wondering when Donna’s birthday was, so I figure that the first thing Monday morning I would ask her, but in a cool way when I see her at the coffee truck.

That same evening, my girlfriend at the time, who I was only with for about 4 month, surprised me for my Birthday by telling me she was going to take me to her best friends brother in law’s tattoo shop in Jersey to get my first tattoo. I already had my ear pierced and my hair was growing long that I always wore a bandana, and got into so many fights in and about the neighborhood, so the tattoo will only add-on to my reputation as a bad ass.

So we went to the tattoo shop that following morning and got my tattoo. I didn’t go with any skulls or snakes…everybody had those. I didn’t get any hearts or my girlfriend’s name like she thought I would do because I wasn’t an idiot. As mean as it sounds, I knew my relationship with her wasn’t going to go to distance because I had this disease called ” Cheating” and knew it was a matter of time before it flares up again. So I had to play this one safe.

So, I told her that I wanted my first tattoo to be different and promised her that the second one I would do the heart thing with our names in them. That made her happy and I picked out a horse on top of the mountain and added wings to it instead. Why I picked a horse on top of the mountain you ask? Because it looked cool and it was different. After it was done, I looked in the mirror to see the art and was pretty excited that I got my first tattoo and hugged my girlfriend to thank her.

Now, let me tell you something I don’t even think I even told my Queen., or maybe I did. During the time that I was getting my tattoo done, I was thinking about Donna and playing out many scenarios in my head how I was going to approach her at the coffee truck the following Monday morning and ask her when her birthday was. So she was freshly in my head and just when I hugged my girlfriend  to thank her……I  accidently called her Donna.

Let me tell you…that didn’t go to well for me. She pushes me off of her and asked me who the fk was Donna? I had to think fast now…I wasn’t ready for that question  because I was still in shock myself that I called her Donna myself. I felt the blood drain out of my head and was seconds away from pretending to pass out. But, as always, I knew how to cover my ass….and cover my ass I did. I told her I was thinking about our mutual friend’s sister who loves horses and she was going to like my tattoo.

Well, that worked. She started to smile when I held her again to thank her and reassured her how much I loved her and that I would never cheat on her. Yep…I can’t tell you how many times I used that line before to all my ex girlfriends. You have to remember that I was just 19 years old and I’m not supposed to be in any serious relationships with any girl. I knew what I wanted in life at that age. I wanted to become a cop, buy my own home, have a new car and date… date… date!!!

We left the shop and headed back to Staten Island where I showed off my new Tattoo to my friends. That Saturday night I went to one of my favorite Rocks in Brooklyn called “Lamoure’s…The Rock Capital Of Brooklyn” to see a great cover band called T.T Quick. My girlfriend didn’t come with me because she wasn’t into the bands, but I was fine with that as well as my friends. That meant I could flirt with my fellow “Head Bangers” of the opposite sex by the stage and the bar as well. But that night I didn’t…I had someone else on my mind.

 

 

Lady Meets The Tramp (A Love Story Part 1)

Lets see…I shared with you many stories of my life after the foster home, but I can’t share everything because I am working on a book version of my blog and there is lot more to write about to fill in gaps between my stories, but also there some things in my life I rather keep just to myself. It’s not  that easy putting your whole life out there for all to see, but I also feel that my stories must be told to not only help myself except things in my past I can never change, but help those who feel the same as I do.

By the time I reached nine-teen years old, I pretty much was responsible, well, more than the average teen at that age. I was living with my childhood best friend’s family who by the way, lived across the street from the very foster home I grew up in which was awkward at first, but I got over it after I knew that I’ve finally had a  stable residence for the first time since I was six-teen. I wasn’t complaining and I gave money for food, and pulled my weight around by cleaning and taking care of the lawn…and I was just fine with that.

I had a real good job working in South Amboy New Jersey called K.T. Marines, cleaning Oil Tankers, and trust me when I say, it was the dirtiest job I ever done in my entire life even to this day, but never once complained, specially after getting paid nine dollars an hour. I worked with a young crew all about the same age as me and we got along fine. We all had some good laughs, but at the same time, we all worked our asses off and we became the number one crew to be called upon when the Big Boys docked.

Well, sad to say after working for K.T  marines for over six months, they lost the contract with Exxon and before I knew it, I found myself on the unemployment line. It bothered me at first because the money I have saved in the bank was drying up, as well the pockets. I was getting a check but still looking for a new job, just not aggressively. It was the summer of 82, and I ended up getting hooked on soap operas with my friend called All My Children and Young and The Restless. We could not start our day till after we watched it, which came on at one in the afternoon…it was a sickness we both shared

One day, my younger brother Tim who lived across the street always came over to visit me and we always yapped up a storm about everything. I really missed him more than anyone in my life when I was gone, so to be together again was one of the greatest feeling in the world. We just picked up where we left off  the day I left back in 79. He was working in an auto wrecking yard which was a family business and told me that the owner was looking to hire more help. He tells me the pay is pretty good and  he was sure I would get hired.

On top of that, the owner has two pretty daughters and  my brother really believed that one of them had the HOTS  for him. I told him I  would think about it, but to be honest, I never gave it thought. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. It has been only two months and Victor Newman was about to find out that he might not be the father of his child from his ex prostitute of a wife and I wasn’t about to miss any of that just to work in an auto wrecking yard as a yard monkey during the greatest drama in my life…well, not just yet.

But, my friends mother and father got sick of us playing football games on T.V. and watching soap operas all day and she didn’t take it to kindly when I reminded her that it was only one show…”Don’t you be a Wise Ass” she would bark at me. My friend’s mom, who I refer as Mrs. S, was the last person I wanted to piss off and his father, who I always called “Boss” would remind me of just that. So, I asked my brother Timmy if the job was still available at this auto wrecking yard and to hook me up, which he did just that.

My brother set up the interview for me to meet with the owner, and that August of 82, I found myself working in this auto wrecking yard and became a yard monkey like my brother, making one hundred and fifty dollars a week. I also got to see the owner’s daughter Donna, pulling up in a black Trans-Am with T-tops, you know, the one my brother believed had the “Hot’s” for him… I really never talked to her when working, but every morning she would be at the coffee truck in the morning to get tea with her aunt and they both always wore tight jeans.

Like teens in high school, the guys would describe what they would do to them if they had the chance, but mostly they wanted to see the bosses daughter and his sister, her aunt, mud wrestle in the back pit, then have their way with them…a fantasy was all they had to cling too. To be honest, I wasn’t interested. I already had a girlfriend and she was a handful as it was. The last thing on my mind was the owner’s daughter. I wasn’t about to get fired for flirting with her. I just worked and worked hard I did. 

But on September 1st, just three weeks working down the yard, Donna was standing in front of the main doorway to the office talking with my brother, when she blurted out three words to me just as I was passing them both in my car on my way home that would change the course of our lives…Happy Birthday Mike! I rolled down my window and remember telling her that it has been awhile that anyone had ever wished me a Happy Birthday and thanked her…then drove off. But that wasn’t the end of it…nope…I found myself thinking about her on my way home. I was about to do something that once I did it, there was no way turning back.

 

 

 

 

A Message to All Followers

I will be jumping around with some stories and will give a heads up when I do….like now. I will be going back and forth, but not in a way not to confuse anyone. I started writing about how I got on the Police force and will follow-up with that one in the near future. I will go back in time on a few occasions when I met my wife of 32 years and share the coolest Love Story anyone has ever read.

I have received countless messages  from so many readers who opened up to me sharing their most personal stories never told to anyone as well…some not even to their spouses. I hope to help as many as I can through my stories on my blog. Feel free to LIKE my Facebook page Mike’s Kitchen Stories where I post many pictures including some very cool Inspirational and Motivational banners as well.

Let me enter your lives and prove to you that no matter how bad our childhood may have been or our lives are today, we can conquer those monsters from our past and the ones who still hide underneath our beds, by excepting the pasts we can not change. If we all chose not to use our background, or make excuses by blaming others not to succeed in our lives…we will finally get the chance to raise our hands in our Ring of Life and become Victorious!

 

Break Out The Umbrella.

I applied to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Dept. back in Jan of 1992 when I was thirty years old. To get on this department, you had a better chance of getting hit by lightning twice in the same spot while standing on-line outside the men’s room at Yankee Stadium…trust me on this one. It was the hardest law enforcement agency to get on but that didn’t stop me from taking the test.

I had to fight for everything I did in life, so why believe becoming a Police Officer was going to be any different?  I fought for ten years  since the age of 21 to have N.Y.P.D. over turn their decision to except me because of my background and now I was going through the same thing with the Port Authority. Like I said…nothing ever came easy in my life.

Since being on my own at sixteen, I had a many addresses and jobs, so I got turned down for un-steady residence, employment and by the time I was twenty-one, my driver’s license had reached maximum points and had many suspensions and was now considered a persistent violator as well…did I mention I was arrested seven times and considered scoff law for $250 unpaid parking tickets?

After my hearing with N.Y.P.D. review board to explain my background to them, I received noticed about two weeks later that they voted to over turn their original decision and I was to be sworn in August 30th in their Police Academy and needed to update some personal information. During this time, I was told my investigator from the P.A.P.D. that it looked real good getting in the next class scheduled for November 1st so I needed to make a decision.

I contacted my investigator from N.Y.P.D. and her that I was turning down the job I fought for ten years to get on and  become a Port Authority Police Officer instead. She even asked me to think about it because once they closed my case there was no turning back. I assured her that was my  final decision and thanked her for sticking by me to the end and left her office. I should have been ready what was about to follow next…but I wasn’t. Break out the umbrella because when it rains in my life…..it pours.

 

Crying Suits

Where did we leave off….that’s right, Mr. Wall Street getting caught. Like I was saying, I would let the male prostitutes go free because to be honest, I wasn’t going to save them from the life they already chosen, and I sure wasn’t going to bring them back to the command just to write a summons and release them. They never show up in court and to be honest, they were a waste of my time. I wanted to lock up bad guys with guns and drugs.

But when it came to dealing with Mr. Wall Street, I had some real fun with them. Picture this…they get up in the morning all showered and shaved, kiss little Johnny and Suzy on the forehead, than head down stairs to make coffee or tea with their croissant that his stay at home wife made the night before, and rushes out the door to make it to the bus stop in time to head to the city for another day at the office.

He works all day inside some cubicle the size of a prison cell staring at a computer screen filled with numbers and abbreviations of business we have no idea even exist while chugging down his third cup of caffeine. After the end of his stressful day he packs up his briefcase and heads back to the bus stop where the same bus picks him up and drops him off wherever he lives. But wait…he has something else in mind. You see, Mr. Wall Street has all this tension all bottled up inside and he needs to get his fix on….

So where does he go? You guessed it….The Bus Terminal on 42nd street between 8th and 9th ave.  He heads straight to the men’s room and lingers about inside till a young male prostitute walks in. They stand by the urinals while exchanging peeks back and forth than make the move inside a stall when no one is looking and the rest is history. The biggest help we always got was the cleaners cleaning inside the bathrooms just about every hour. They would come to us and let us know what has gone on…and show time!

I would lower my two-way radio before I entered inside the Men’s room so not to give myself up and walk over to the stall the cleaners pointed out where the dirty deed is taken place…than I step back and kick the door open. I would find Mr. Wall Street sitting on the toilet while the male prostitute would be standing inside of a shopping bag. They do that because if we looked under the stall, we would only see just two legs from whoever is on the toilet, and a bag next to them to throw us off. The extent they go through not to get caught.

I tell the prostitute to get lost and detained Mr. Wall Street. The look on their faces is priceless. Their worst nightmare has come true…getting caught by the Police right in the middle of…how should I word this…giving some eight teen year old male prostitute fellatio…(a blow job for those who don’t know what fellatio is). First, they tell you that they never did that before…yeah right. Than they try to convince you that they never done this before….yawning now…than they beg you to let them go.

But what I would always do is this…I ask them for their wallets which they hand to me faster than I could finish my request. I open it up and would search for pictures of his wife and children which most did have. Than I would put a scenario inside his head hoping to scare the shit out of him. I would tell him that if I locked him up, I would have to call his wife and tell her he’s been placed under arrest for having sex with a prostitute inside the men’s bathroom at the bus terminal. That’s when silence sets in for a few seconds.

Than I tell him that there is a hidden camera inside the men’s room and point to a water sprinkler on the ceiling and so easily convince him that a camera is hidden inside. They do look up, but all they see is an object on the ceiling, they really can’t concentrate because of the shock of being caught, so they believe it’s really a camera. Than I tell him that I would have to call his wife to identify that he’s her husband. By now the shakes sets in followed by begging me not to call her as they start to cry and I don’t mean whining…real fn tears.

But that’s not even the end of it. I  tell him (them) that I have to tell his wife why he’s under arrest and that her husband was caught having sex with a young male prostitute. Than I explain to him that when he goes to court it becomes public record, so it will than be in his local newspaper. By then, they are peeing all over themselves because they all are playing this out in side their heads. What’s worst, I have to tell him that his children will find out because they will hear it from their classmates…

Now, this all may sound cruel, but you have to understand something. It is never their first time doing this. They been doing this for years…it’s just the first time getting caught. What really gets their attention more than anything is that I tell him that the prostitute that he was blowing is H.I.V. positive and he has to check he’s not effected every six months for ten years…than I give him back his wallet with a warning.

 If I see him again inside the terminal under the same condition, I will lock his ass up and the scenario I put forth will come true. They always leave thanking me a million times while gathering their personal belongings while crying of relief. I let them clean themselves up than escort them out of the building never to see them again during my time working at the Bus Terminal.

 

 

Mr. Wall Street

I can share many stories of my life after the Foster home that I can write a book covering just the four years living homeless. In a previous story, I wrote about the  places I stayed  during my years living homeless… from renting a  hotel room, staying at friends homes, living with a couple of girlfriends here and there with their families, including staying inside of a hospital room where a high school friend of mine laid in a coma from a car accident.

The sad part was I wasn’t even a close friend of his, but had no place to stay and  use his room to sleep in when his family would leave. That went on for over a week until his parents took me in and  found me  job so I can save money and find a place to live. I found myself  becoming more desperate finding a place to sleep that I even intentionally threw myself down a flight of steps inside that very hospital with a suicide note I placed inside my pants pocket.

Outside of suffering a mild concussion, I knew that I would end up being admitted, but what I didn’t plan on was being admitted in a “psych ward” on the same property where I ended up staying for over two weeks…at least I had a warm bed and a full stomach…I just played the game till I was ready to move on. This was the only way I knew how to survive out in the world at the time, and looking back, how I did wasn’t something to brag about.

I never patted myself on the back making it through life with no game plan in my late teens, and I was never proud of myself for the many things I did in the real world to survive. Now, I am not insinuating that I was so desperate that I turned  to male prostitution or anything, but between the ages of seventeen and nineteen, while riding the N.Y.C. subways, I was always getting propositioned by certain men on their way home from work.

These guys were not just the average blue-collar workers mind you. They were men in business suits carrying brief cases on their way home from Wall Street. They would almost all do the same thing to get my attention. They would either lean up against you inside the crowed train while bumping into you more than the train would be rocking back and forth, or they would be sitting down holding a folded ten or a twenty-dollar bill in the palm of their hands just enough for you to see.

Now they didn’t just do that to me, because there were actually young male prostitutes  responding to these low life in suits and would get off the station to hook up in some dirty restroom to do the filthy deeds. How do I know that’s what they did? Because I saw first hand what was going on when I did have to use the restrooms at times. What’s even more sickening was these same business men were married with families waiting at home. If only their wives knew what their ever so loving hubby was doing before he got home.

As a Police Officer working in N.Y.C. for over two years, I saw the same thing inside the men’s restrooms inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in the 90’s like I did back in the late 70’s early 80’s….nothing changed. Young prostitutes with men in suits inside the private stalls doing the nasty. But, I never locked many up. What I would do is kick open to doors to these stalls and kick the prostitutes out while detained Mr. Wall Street. What I would do next was not only un-orthodox as a Police Officer, but would do something that would make them all piss their pants.

 

 

Dick Tracy

Well…after going through the double glass doors the next thing I remember was waking up on the floor between the food court and the main entrance. I remember looking down and all I saw was red. At first I thought it was the carpet because the color was red, but as I looked closer…nope…wasn’t the carpet…it was my blood after all. I remember seeing the other employees putting paper towels under my chin and a couple of the girls I work with crying and upset. Something didn’t feel right.

I tried to feel my face but it was all numb and I couldn’t feel a thing. When I tried to touch my chin one of my friends started telling me not to touch it and that my jaw was broken. He even described it right than and there what I looked like. He leans over and tells me that my jaw is hanging down and that was the reason I couldn’t close my mouth. He also reassured me that they called the ambulance and they were on their way.

That was the last thing I heard and before you know it, I woke up inside the ambulance headed to the hospital just five minutes down the road from the roller rink. As I was being rolled inside the emergency room, a couple of nurses came over to me asking what happened to me. Really…my jaw is hanging down and  could hardly talk, and she getting all annoyed that I was responding back. I remember that, because they wheeled me inside a room that looked like they do surgery in… and get this…….left me there!!!

I was laying on a stretcher for over 45 minutes and no one bothered to check up on me. In extreme pain, I was yelling for someone to help me when that same nurse who was annoyed walks in telling me to suck it up and continued her verbal onslaught how she was sick of us kids fighting and filling up the ER on the weekends and walks out. I laid there for what seemed like hours when they wheeled me in for x rays. After that, I was taken to a room, given meds for the pain and lights out. Woke up a few hours later and they were prepping me for surgery.

His name was Dr. Sherman and he informed me that my jaw was broken in three places and he was going to wire it shut and take three months to heal. Next thing I knew I was being wheeled in a bright room with a bunch of nurses moving about. I was giving a local anesthesia and told to count from 100 backwards…I only remember 98. The next memory was laying inside the recovery room and Dr. Sherman told me that all went well and reminded me that I will be on a liquid diet for the next four months, so expect to lose a few pounds.

I was in the hospital for about five days, so my friends from the rink was always visiting me before their sessions started at the rink. I had lots of stuff bears and cards to fill my side of the room while balloons floated above the foot of my  bed. I would always covering my mouth cause I didn’t want the girls to see the way I looked. My neck was swollen and had over seventy stitches to close the gash outside and inside my mouth. I even had two large veins popping out on both sides of my neck…it was an ugly site for sure.

But I was released on the fifth day and took the bus to the hotel where I was renting a room, wondering how what was I going to do for money because I couldn’t skate till my jaw healed.I waited till the desk manager from the hotel turned his back and I snuck by him. I opened the door to my room no bigger than eight by twelve. I walked over to the mirror above the dresser and really looked at myself for the first time. My face was still swollen but not as bad as it was the first few days and the black and blue started to fade some.

But I did notice something strange about my chin, it was different then what it use to look like and friends noticed that also. I went to the rink to visit everyone when a  friend who also worked there also, takes one look at me and  shouted out…Hey, It’s Dick Tracy! That name stuck me even after the wires were removed. The manager’s at the rink  told me I could still work there, but wasn’t allowed on skates till the wires were removed. So I worked behind the counter handing out roller skates and I was fine with that, I still had a job and that meant I wasn’t getting kicked out of my hotel room…well…not just yet.

 

 

Down Goes Frazier

When I reached the front entrance and looked through the door to the parking lot, not only were there fights inside the rink, there were fights outside as well. I have no idea what started any of this but I know we didn’t have enough employees to control what was going on all around us. I did what I do best at that time…I just looked to see who were the aggressive ones and started swinging away.

I knew who the good guys were so it was pretty safe to say that anyone I was hitting were the trouble makers. The funny part to this all was we were all fighting while wearing skates. There was no time to take them off, so we were rolling towards anyone fighting the employees  and get in the middle and we started swinging away. I had the advantage because we towered over them because of our skates and some of the skate guards were pretty big boys.

If our punches didn’t stop them, a kick in the shins did the trick. They manage to clear out the inside of the rink and everything spilled out onto the parking lot. By now there were fights everywhere. The only thing missing were swords and shields. I have to admit, this could have been a lot worst had someone had a knife or gun. But this was a real fight… Old School Style.

After some of the fights seem to stop, there was still one more that was taking place right in front of the main entrance. The few private security officers we had were all N.Y.P.D. cops off duty working part-time. They were holding their own just fine till I went over and grabbed one of the guys fighting one of the cops. I ended up knowing him from high school. He was telling me that he didn’t want to hit me but I didn’t give a shit and I just grabbed him and threw him to the ground.

He wasn’t much of a fighter specially against me, and I think he knew it because he was talking more than anything. One thing I learned in the group home was this….fighters don’t talk, they fight!  He was actually trying to explain what started the fights and I knew right than and there he didn’t really want to fight at all and I was fine with that. I let him go and told him to take off  before the cops came. I went over to where the last fight was taken place right by the double glass doors by the main entrance.

I pulled one kid off of a friend of mine and I thought that was going to be the end of it. I looked around and saw the other skate guards skating around and all seem to be alright. Including one of my brothers who was working at the rink also. But before you know it, all I heard was a voice from a girl screaming LOOK OUT and I saw this kid holding what seemed to be a long piece of concrete and tossed it in my direction. It happened so fast, before I could even put my hands up to block it, it hit me right in my face and I went through the glass doors and DOWN GOES FRAZIER!

Romeo’s on Wheels.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I worked two jobs…the Hess gas station during the midnight shift and a roller rink working a couple of sessions in the morning for the moms (the original MILFS), after they dropped their rug rats off at school and worked on the weekends. The name of this rink was Skate Odyssey and I worked as a skate guard for just about a year. While my friends were going to school and goofing off, I was a commuter paying bills. I was pretty responsible for a seventeen year old.

One of the first nights working there was an all night skating session. Its started from 10 pm till 7 am in the morning. Lets see any roller rink do that in today’s world. Let me tell you, back in the early eighties everyone and their moms were roller skating back then. What was the best part being a skate guard was the girls. We all had a girlfriend just about for every session and it was all fun and games till we get busted.

The worst part was when a couple of them would show up on a Friday night at the same time and it would get crazy trying to sneak kisses by the pinball machines or we go to the back of the rink where it was dark and roped off to make out. But when we got busted by the girls, it was funny in a way to watch them argue and fight over us…and all this while on skates. They never seem to hit each other like they do now. But they had the pulling hair thing down to the science. Yep…we were Romeo on Wheels.

We had an all night session one Friday night, and it seemed that every girl from Staten Island showed up for this particular night session. It was so hard to get around that all the skate guards had to stay on the floor because it took so long to move through the crowd standing around the rink and the bathrooms. Ah yes…the bathroom. This is what I remember about the bathrooms. The girls were pigs!!! Holy shit, I couldn’t believe the mess and water all over the place. What the hell were they doing in there…having water balloon fights?

This all night session I was assigned to clean up both bathrooms by mopping and making sure their were toilet paper inside all the stalls in between my shift on the skate floor. Yep, there weren’t any cleaners back then…we had to do that ourselves. Surprisingly the guys bathroom wasn’t that bad at all, but the girls were out of their minds…but that didn’t stop me from flirting with them and I had no shame making out inside  with one of my girlfriend either…then it happened.

 I could hear lots of yelling and screaming outside the bathroom, so I rushed out into a large crowd in a panic state and a massive brawl was taking place…and all hell broke loose and this was getting bad…really bad. I had to help break this one up with the other skate guards but there were fights breaking out all over the place, so I just went towards the main entrance where the biggest fight was taken place…and I got involved.

 

 

 

Coffee, Trucks, Gas Oh My.

I might just be the first person ever to shut down a 24 hour 7 days a week famous gas station back in 1980 just to get a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts across the street. It was about 2 am on this cold brisk wintry Wednesday morning and I needed a cup of petro to keep me up. So I decided to just turn off the lights inside the lobby and the outside lights over the pumps to make it look like we were closed and walked across the street to get my caffeine fix.

As I was standing there on a short line waiting for my coffee and a donut, I looked over to the gas station just to make sure no one was there when I saw two cars pull up to the pumps. They were there for a minute or so till one driver got out and walk toward the lobby and looked through the glass. He then went for the door and that’s when I realized…I didn’t lock it.

At first I thought I saw him go to the bathroom but the second driver from the other car got out and I knew what was going to happen next. He put the pump handle in his car and started pumping his own gas. I figure I be out of double D’s before they would leave, but before you know it, the guy inside started taking the Hess trucks by the boxes. The passenger got out and he ran inside and started grabbing them.

When I saw that, I ran out yelling “YO” really loud like that was going to stop them when two more guys got out of the car. As I got closer to them they seem to get bigger in size. I was only  five feet 8 inches tall and one hundred and fifty pounds soak and wet at the time, and they looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno ready to do some serious ass kicking, and that’s when I did what any other responsible gas station attendant would do…did an about-face and ran back to Dunkin Donuts.

I wasn’t going to get my ass kicked over those toy trucks that’s for sure. So I just stood there inside the lobby of Double D’s when they not only took a bunch of trucks by the arm full, but had the balls to pump gas in their car. Then I realize something. I forgot about the second car that pulled up that pumped his own gas…and he was gone. Then it dawned on me… I was getting robbed…well I wasn’t… but Mr. Hess was!

After everybody got what they wanted they left. It was now safe to walk over and check out the damage. Over 20 trucks taken and about $30 of gas. I felt like Lucy Riccardo and had lots of explaining to do in the morning when the day shift manager shows up. You see, during the midnight shift all customers had to have the exact amount because we didn’t carry any change and there was a sign above the safe saying just that…then it hit me.

I knew I was going to get fired once the manager finds out that I single-handedly shut down a major 24 hour gas station franchise known throughout the country, and I needed money to get me by till I found another job, so I took  whatever money was inside the safe. I called the cops and told them that thieves took a bunch of trucks, gas and $160.00 from inside the safe. When they asked me how they managed to get the money from the safe, I already had an answer for that. 

There is a padlock under the safe and I always forgot to lock it…well not always but most of the time. They just got lucky when they checked to see if they could take any money…and they did. That was good enough for them and they left. But wasn’t good enough for the manager…4 hours later…I got fired. So there I was, standing at the bus stop in my Hess uniform heading back to my room I was renting out of a hotel, wondering how far will 160 dollars was going to take me…trust me…not very far at all.

 

Hess Trucks and Roller Skates

I got a job working at a Hess gas station on Staten Island once I got situated at my sister Gracie’s apartment in New York City on the upper East side. It was a hike between taking two trains, a Ferry ride to Staten Island and then a 20 minute ride on the bus and it took me almost two hours every day for my afternoon shift…and I always late.

It got to the point that the manager asked me if I wanted to work the weekday midnight shift instead… I didn’t even hesitate to say no. In between my days off at the gas station, I was also working as a skate guard for a rolling skating rink called Skate Odyssey just ten minutes down the road.

What was great working there was that I had a girlfriend for every session  I worked and ate for free at the snack counter. The guys were great and the girls working there were all prettier than the next. At seventeen with money in my pocket and a few girlfriends to hang with…who had it better than me?

It’s the Christmas season and as always Hess started their promotion for the infamous Hess trucks, so we were stocked up inside the lobby. Between pumping gas and selling the trucks, one can get distracted. What I mean by that is this…the public was ripping me off as I was pumping gas.

It’s after midnight now, so you have to remember that I was working alone. This is what they would do to me. They pull up and tell me to fill up and ask me where the bathroom was. I point to them the direction inside the lobby and continue to pump gas to at least two or three cars at a time.

I would never see them take any of them or walk out with them to pay me, but did noticed that trucks were missing when I would return inside to warm up. I had to figure out a way to make up for the missing trucks because in the morning, I had count how many were sold and the money needed to match.

So I rigged up the gas pumps. Back in the day, the old pumps were easy to do that. When I put back the nozzle I never lifted the lever and the pump was never turned off. So if you asked for 5 dollars and left, I would start from that when the next driver said to fill up. This was the coolest thing I thought of and I never got caught.

I would distract the drivers by asking if they wanted me to check their oil or wipe their windshield than walk back to the pump and actually start pumping their gas. This was my way to make up the difference if any trucks went missing and nothing ever came out of my paycheck…till one night I decided to shut down a 24 hour franchise and walk across the street to get coffee.

 

 

 

 

I Didn’t Hear No Bell

As I was standing at the back of the ferry contemplating ending my life and just jump into the frigid water as we near the NYC side, I thought about something that not only changed my mind, but made me think twice what I was about to do. I come to realized that no one was really going to miss me. Sure I may have some friends from the neighborhood that will and a couple of ex girlfriends, but nothing short of a joint would cure that  and I would then become a faded memory and life would just go on for all who knew me.

Not only that, but after all the shit I went through growing up in the projects, the orphanage home and that abusive foster home that denied me of a decent childhood, and lets not forget the group home, I soon realized that I still had some fight in me left. I didn’t want to die, at least not that way. It just never occurred to me, but that very moment defined the person that I was about to become for the rest of my life.

We all have a little Rocky Balboa in us in a way. He was lucky to have Mick in his corner throughout all his fights to guide him to his ultimate goal of becoming a Heavy Weight Champion of the World. Even when the odds stacked against him to ever hold that title against a ruthless opponent as Apollo Creed, there was Mick at his corner never giving up on The Italian Stallion, and that night there was a new reigning champion crowned named Rocky Balboa.

I was always alone throughout all my fights growing up. There were no Mick like figures in my corner. All my battles were fought alone and this one wasn’t going to be any different. I had plans, and giving up on life wasn’t one of them. As the Staten Island ferry docked on the New York City side, the passengers all got off but I stayed on and took the next trip back to Staten Island.

I fought another fight and won on my own, and on top of that, I needed to figure out a way to get my ass back on the right path in life and play it smart from then on, because I had my childhood dream waiting for me to fulfill…and I didn’t hear no bell.

 

My Long Road to Success

The stories I’m about to share will be many. Never did I believe that my childhood was actually preparing me for the life I was about to live as a teen and well into my adulthood. I lived in so many places since I left the foster home back in 1979 that I was turned down for my first civil servant interview at 20 because I had what they called “Unsteady Residence”.

At first, I moved in with my oldest sister Gloria in this tiny studio apartment  (just a couple of blocks from the Fulton Projects where we grew up) for a few months, but she was living her life and not for nothing, the studio wasn’t made for two people to live in. So I moved in with my other sister Gracie and her live in boy friend on the upper east side for another few months.

One night after an argument we had over dinner, I smacked her across her face for constantly blaming our father for the hard life she lived as a teen and was told I had to leave by her boy friend. She always seem to blame everyone else around for the kind of life she had and never once took responsibility for the bad choices she made and the consequences that followed, so I moved in with my real mother Carmen for the first time back at the Fulton projects on the Westside that evening.

Trust me, that was the last place I wanted to live considering the last time I lived there was the day we were all removed by  Child Services when I was five years old…but where else was I going to go? Well, it only took a few months before I had a fight with my younger brother who was living there also and, you guessed it was told to leave by my mother.

I was 17 years old and this was getting a bit crazy. In less than a year I lived with three members of my real family, some friends here and there, and rented a tiny room at a hotel on Staten Island till I could no longer pay the $45 a week rent. Let me tell you, before my 18th birthday I was on the Staten Island Ferry one night and thought about jumping off…..but something stopped me.

Looking Back, My Final Thoughts

 

This is my final post under the category The Foster Home.

I know many of you are wondering about the other members of the foster family and what my feelings towards them are. To be honest, I really never think of them except Sandy. Growing up with them was nothing special or memorable to say the least. We never did anything as a family other than going to Brooklyn to visit family every few weeks or travel up state New York to visit my mother’s side of the family maybe once a year. Maybe we went to New Jersey to the Mall once or twice that I remember but that was it.

We never went to any Amusement parks, Seaside park in New Jersey, Ball games, Weekend get a ways, Coney Island, Fishing, Kite flying, to the Beach, or just a god damn stroll in the park as a family. But my wife did all that when she was a little girl. Most of my friends who I grew up with all did. Our first day back from summer break, we would write essays what we did over the summer and most of my classmates would stand up in front of the class and share where they went during summer breaks…my paper said “Played with my Friends’…and that’s it. So the meaning of Family didn’t mean much of anything to me living there.

Linda always seemed to have plenty of friends. From what I remember, she came off as the leader of her group. They always came to our house, and would pull up in their cars honking the horn for her, even ones with motorcycles which I thought was the coolest. She did have a sense of humor and was always up to date in the fashion world. Like I said many stories ago, she can wear any jeans and have all the boys jaws drop in the neighborhood. Every so often she would ask for a hug from my younger brother, her sister and myself for no reason at all.

She loved watching old black and white movies on Sunday mornings. But, she did have a temper and it would break out once in a while. I only remember once she got her ass handed to her by her father because of a boy he didn’t like. It was during dinner time and she answered back to him and he let her have it. I must have been bout 14 but when he was hitting her, I wanted to take a fork and stab him in the back of his head, but my mother stopped him and she went upstairs crying…I will always remember that day.

Today, Linda has a family of her own and is a proud grandmother. She has been married for close to 40 years to her teenage sweetheart and they live in a typical middle class neighborhood in New Jersey. I just hope that she is in total denial what her father did to me, and deep down inside, her heart has been heavy over the years trying to forget what  happened inside the house we all grew up in. I just wish she gave her family a heads up when she found out that I was ready to tell my story through this blog. She could have handle this in a different way, but instead, accused me of lying. That’s ok…because I know she remembers.

Now as for my older foster-brother I say this. I remember when he was about 17, he lied to his parents that he wanted to go to the movies to see a James Bond Flick and needed to borrow his mother’s car and was taking me with him. But instead, we went about five blocks over to meet up with all his friends drinking beer and smoking the Gonja…now that was cool! But most of the time he picked on me, called me names over the years and got me in trouble. I will never forget what he has done that night at the dinner table with the library book.

We did get along, but it was always to his benefit one way or another. But that never stopped him from treating me like shit and was a cheap prick when it came to paying me for delivering his newspapers. But that’s ok…go back and read Severance Pay! Today, he still lives in that same shitty neighborhood not far from where we grew up, with his family on Staten Island and employed with the same company for many years. But, to be honest with you, I have nothing else to say much about him other than….. he can go fuck himself.

Now Sandy I really liked. She never got me in trouble other than over playing to her record albums without asking or arguing over what was on the television, little things like that. But as I said before, she never intentionally got me in trouble and never treated my like shit. She ever called me names and she always talked with me even if it was just mall talk. As far as I was concerned, she was the most beautiful girl I ever saw and I was living with her. It wasn’t till I came back from the group home that I started having other feelings for her but would never tell her or show it in any way.

I had a social worker who showed up once a month and his name was Rafael. He would ask me the same questions and wanted to make sure that everything was fine moving back in with the same foster family. At the end of our session, he would always end it by asking me if I had any sexual feelings or thoughts or experienced fantasies towards both my foster sisters. If I even gave the slightest hint that I did, within days, I would have to be removed from that family….and I think we can all safely say we all know why.

But instead, I would respond like I was insulted that he would even ask me such a question but responded back that I never did and I thought of them as my sister and loved them both as such. Let me tell you this, if I was Pinocchio, my nose would have stretched out and smashed right through the living room window and into the neighbors house across the street. But I was convincing enough and our session ended with a smile and out the door he went. But all kidding aside, I really loved Sandy and would have done anything for her. Today, she still lives on Staten Island and single. I really don’t know much about her which is sad, because I really loved her.

As for my mother I will say this. She was no saint, but she was my mother. I think of her often, specially during Mother’s Day and her on her Birthday in May. I will let you all in on another untold secret. She has never once entered my nightmares, even to this day. When I went to her husband wake, and it was time to leave, I was asked to leave by her son Barry so they can spend a moment with each other. So I walked up to where my mother was sitting,  I leaned over and whispered to her…” I never stopped Loving you Mom ” … I than gave her a kiss on the cheek and hug her lightly and walked away with my family…… and never saw her again.

 

Looking Back (part II)

I thought this was going to be in two parts, but from the direction this is going, will be in three parts instead. Let’s start from the very first day inside the parlor at St. Michael’s Orphanage Home back in 1968. When I saw that family for the first time through the windows of the French doors that separated my brother Dennis and I  from them… I was curious. When the doors opened up and they walked in the room where we were in and introduced…I was nervous.

The day my younger brother and I went with this family to their home for the first time…I was totally scared.Look, I have no idea what my life would have been like had I never left St. Michael’s Orphanage Home, or what my life would have been like growing up there or any group home for that matter. But I do know living in the foster home where I was placed from the age of 6 till 16 should have been better childhood experience than the life I knew from the projects and the orphanage combined.

It should have been a good childhood…not a perfect one, hell, wasn’t asking for a great one…just good would have been fine with me. Through those years living with that foster family I learned not trust anyone…period. I carried my trust issues all the way into my adulthood which I was fine with. As far as I was concern, anyone who entered into my life at one time or another was full of shit one way or another. I also had anger issues (thanks to my foster father), which wasn’t a surprised considering I grew up getting my ass beaten from the age of  7 till I was 15 by him.

I know there there’s a member of that family who will dispute some if not all of my stories, who I describe totally  both “delusional” and down right in “denial” what took place inside the house I grew to hate more than anyone will ever know. I don’t understand why I was treated the way I was by my foster father, but I am sure in his demented mind he justified himself.  Just because I did some bad things didn’t make me a BAD CHILD. Jesus Christ, they took in two kids from a broken home and they didn’t think that the oldest (me) wouldn’t have any issues?

Ok, so I took a couple of watches as a child and lied about it…I was fucking SEVEN and TEN YEARS OLD people!!! You damn right I deserved to be in trouble and punished, but not to be choked over it or have my head slammed into a pantry door.My foster father became my monster under the bed. He became my monster inside my closet. He became my monster waiting for me in my dreams even to this day.

That is no way to live through life, just ask my wife who has to deal with it through most of our marriage. I grew up hating the man I called dad, and what he has done to me. I hated when I would hear the dogs barked as he walked through the front door from work. I hated dinner time. I hated the sound of his voice. I hated when he would still be in his work clothes on most weekends like Ralph Kramden from the show The Honeymooners.

I grew to hate everything about him, including his existence. If anyone believes he worked hard to give me a roof over my head think again. He didn’t pay for all the food on the table and the clothes on my back or pay my tuition to go to Catholic School…you know who paid for all that…Catholic Charity Home Bureau! When Christmas arrived and my bother and I received gifts, who do you think paid for that?

I learned at the age of 17 by my social worker that my foster parents were receiving checks every month for room, board, clothing, and weekly allowance( which I never saw), for over 8 years, minus the eight months living in the group home, for both my brother and I. Wonder if they took  me back because they missed those checks. Even with all the therapy sessions, I still hold so much anger and hate towards my foster father. I have been in denial for many years and just recently excepted that I have “Daddy Issues”.

I always said that most dancers (strippers) at Go-Go bars have daddy issues, and after meeting and talking with them, they all seem to share the same type of abuse by the hands of their father or step dads one way or another. To this day, I never profile strippers (dancers) anymore. Really, who the fuck am I to ever judge them and the choices they make in life? After this chapter is over, you will read  first hand the bad choices I made after I left the foster home for good.

When I learned of my foster father’s passing over 15 years ago from my younger brother. To be honest, I felt almost a sign of relief. I was told he died alone in the living room while my mother was in the kitchen, or something like that, while sitting in his chair. As my brother was telling me this, I can only wonder what was his final thought right before his last breath? Anyway, I had to go to his wake, but not to console his children or see my mother for the very last time, but to see for myself that he was truly gone. I figure if he was gone, my nightmare’s would have died along with him……I was wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back (part 1of 3)

I will get to the point and share with you all you my thoughts and feelings about my childhood and what I went through up leading up to my final  day living in the foster home. Only my Queen of 32 years know of my many stories I  shared with you through my blog. I have recently found out that my daughters stopped reading my blog once they reached my experiences living in the foster home. I kind of thought they weren’t going to read them just the fact that they have young boys of their own, and as they both put it, couldn’t imagine the thought of  ever treating their own children the way I was treated as a little boy.

When I was about fifteen, I always said to my then girlfriend Marsha that no matter what happens to me in life, someday I will have a family of my own, and my children would never know what it would be like to be abused by my hands, because I swore I would be the opposite of what I experienced  when I was a little boy till my teens. My daughters had a happy childhood, and my wife was very much part of that also considering she came from a big loving family that I was so envy of.  I never spoiled my girls, but I was and still is guilty of loving them so much that the word NO does not exist in my vocabulary.

They have wonderful responsible husbands who are also GREAT DAD’S!! I am also PROUD to say that both my son in-laws are fine and respected Police Officers in their community and very good at what they do. To Serve and Protect…that’s what we do best!! Now, Daddy’s Little Girl’s made me a Popi (Grand father) three times….all BOYS! May I also brag that we have a Beautiful step Grand daughter as well! So I can safely say that I kept my promise as a young teen of being the best loving Dad one can be to his children…something I never experienced in my childhood.

As for my parents leaving my oldest sister Gloria to watch over a family of eight so they could be doing whatever is they were doing was way beyond my comprehension for a five-year old. I recently obtained some records of our family history of our stay at St. Michael’s Orphanage Home. After reading a report typed by a therapist at the orphanage who interviewed both my parents separately, my mother and father gave their reasoning about why they couldn’t care for their own children and left us alone countless times only to have my oldest sister watch over us and be the main disciplinary figure in the household, was not only poor excuses that they came up with, but pathetic as well. The risk they both took not caring for us as responsible parents was insane as well as dangerous.

As for living at St. Michael’s Home I can only say this. I remember my time there before being placed in the foster home with my younger brother Timmy. I also remember going to pre school and church every Sunday. I remember being with my brother Dennis who was a year younger than me a lot more than the rest of my family. I also remember the names of my counselors, Mr. John and Mr. Jack. I remember going to Palisades Amusement Park in up state New York back in 1968. I always remember my real mother visiting us every Sunday. When she didn’t show up, my oldest sister Gloria did. I remember sitting on my dad’s lap as he would let us all take turns steer his car around the parking lot at St. Michael’s.

I remember enough living in the orphanage home. As a five-year old, I didn’t understand much as to why we were placed there , but can honestly say I really never had any bad memories that stayed in my mind as I gotten older. To be honest, I was just fine living there. I got along  with the other children I shared the dormitory with and I had a roof over my head and never had to fight over bowls, spoons and dishes as I did with my brothers when we were living in the projects. Not only that, we ate three meals a day and snacks after dinner! I was very happy living at St. Michael’s home until the day back in 1968, when this family came looking to be potential foster parents and wanted a little foster child, found out that I was to be part of the package deal.

My thoughts and feelings on that as well as my eight years living with them will be posted Saturday evening.

 

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So Long

Before I begin, this will be the last story I will be sharing with you all from my childhood. Trust me, I could have added many more stories, but  if I have done that, what would be left to share when I work on a couple of projects to consider this coming fall. Many want me to write a book and one even suggested I write a screen play off my blog which I really find intriguing as well as challenging. But for now, I just want to end this chapter of my experiences living in the foster home and continue to share many stories surviving out in the real world at the very young age of sixteen.

Some thought I would be just fine while others believed I wouldn’t live to see my twenty-first birthday… including myself. So, I will tell my story of my last day in the foster home and close it with my thoughts and feeling never shared to anyone except to my Queen of thirty-two years .Moving back to the foster home started off just fine at first. I was getting along with everyone including my relationship with my foster father.

Tension at the dinner table s had diminished and conversations were civil as well as entertaining at times. Linda had been with her boyfriend Henry for a couple of years and really cool to be around. He always joked around with me when he was over at the house, and I think he took a liking to me in a way because how I was treated and was around to hear some verbal onslaughts before I left for the group home, but never was actually there for the beatings.

So, it was nice to see him again and felt good when he was around. But he did have to deal with my foster father’s nagging for auto parts time to time. You see, Henry worked at a family owned auto salvage yard and was there since his early teens till about his late twenties or early thirties, when he moved on to a much higher paying job for a major company. There might have been other  reasons why he left, but to be honest, I really don’t care what they were…it was so long ago.

But I do remember we had to listen to my foster father’s ranting and raving how Henry never got him parts that he wanted and when he wanted it. It started to become a hostile relationship, but seemed more behind each others back then in person. But Linda had to deal with that more than anything, and I remember her getting pissed off about it plenty of times. We seemed to get along better and she did confide to me about how her boy friend was getting tired of her father knocking him for stupid things, and not for nothing I was on her side.

I heard first hand some of the things her father would say, and always came off  sounding immature and childish. Always acting like a kid who was promised a toy by his parents but didn’t get it fast enough. I felt bad her Linda because she seem always upset about it…and I didn’t blame her.I noticed that my foster father slowly started acting weird sometimes. I mean, not dramatically but something wasn’t right anymore.

He would start off with comments about my hair or the light beard I was sporting at the time. I guess the smoking in the house didn’t help either. But hell, I grew up with his Pall Malls stinking up the house for so many years, and after what I went through the group home for those nine months, I could have picked up a lot worst habits than lighting up Marlboro’s that’s for sure. But, I stop smoking in the house out of respect for my mother more than anything, but I knew it bothered him I was doing it anyway no matter where I was.

But the comments became more frequent and then he started complaining that every-time the phone would ring, it was always for me. Now, I was blowing it off at first, but then as it gotten worst, I started responding back to him, and it was all down hill from than on.We began to argue just about everything that you can imagine. If it wasn’t my choice of fashion, it was my hair growing long. It seemed that he was actually looking for shit to to start in about.

Back then I liked Barry Manilow, I can thank the girls I went to elementary school for that, but sure enough, if one of his songs came on the radio, he would call him a skinny bottle of milk because Barry, yes we are on first name basis, sometimes wore a white tuxedo when he would perform or he call him some other lame ass name just to get under my skin…and it did!  He started pulling this shit at the kitchen table.

I already had enough of that in my life with him, there was no way in hell I was going to go through that bull shit again at fifteen. He really didn’t see that not only I was talking back to him, but I showed no fear in him either, and I know that bothered him more than anything because he kept it up till my mother would intervene and tell us both to shutIt is now Christmas time and I had no money for gifts, so I decided to cut out of class for a couple of days to work with my best friend’s brother who worked for Coke delivering soda throughout N.Y.C.

You guess it, I got into a big fight with my foster father during dinner. But as soon the name callings started I would just get up and leave the house with him yelling for me to come back. I became so defiant by now I would respond with a fuck you, but I am sure he never heard me or who knows what would have happened. But I remember that night I over my friend’s house I would share with his parents what was happening and told them my plans after the holidays were over.

They didn’t say much, but I knew what they were thinking. When I told them I was moving back with my foster family, they did warn me that things were eventually going to go back to the old ways…and it sure did, just minus the beatings. I knew staying longer in that house was going to get worst, and after Christmas my prediction came true.I don’t remember what caused this final battle between my foster father and I, but I believe it was over my sister Sandy and I arguing over something inside the living room over a show on T.V.

I think I  shove her or something like that, and when she went into the kitchen, her father had asked what was going on with us. I know she didn’t intentionally say anything to get me in trouble, but it did anyway. From what I remember, my foster father and I had the biggest argument and we both ended up by the back room next to the kitchen, between the bathroom and the coat closet. Then it happened.

He  grabbed me by my neck and I raised my hand back at him with a closed fist and was about to hit him just as my mother jumped in between us, and yelled at me to put my hands down. I just stared at him for what seemed like minutes with pure rage in my heart, and made it very clear and told them I will be calling my social worker and I wanted out of the house for good. Within a week , plans were made between my social worker Judy O’Brien and my oldest sister Gloria for me to move in with her because I made it very clear that I was no way going to go back to any group home or an orphanage for that matter.

Once the plans were final a date was set for my last day at the foster home. I will admit, it was very uncomfortable for those remaining days. No one talked to me, and I didn’t  bother attempting to talk to any of them as well. All I  kept telling myself that this was all going to be over soon and just to hang in there. When that day came, I can tell you  no one was more relieved than me. I couldn’t even sleep that night knowing within hours I was going to be out of that house  for good.

That snowy afternoon, I spoken to my social worker and she informed me that she will be meeting me at the house and we would leave together. When she arrived, I kissed my mother good-bye and we both gave each other a hug and I told her I loved her and that I was sorry. I than stuck my head into the kitchen from the hallway from where I was, and told my foster father I was leaving. He just sat there by the stove, looking out through the window in his work clothes smoking his Pall Malls and only said this….So Long.

 As I walked down the street with my social worker, I stopped to look for the last time at the house that not only held so many bad memories and dark secrets, but couldn’t help but to think that  the family that was supposed to save me from a life living in St. Michael’s Orphanage Home,  instead it was that very family that destroyed my childhood instead. I looked closer at the house only to find my mother standing and looking through the open glass on the front door looking back at me.

For a brief moment we just looked at each other, than I turned away and continued to walk down the street when  I heard the sound of the  glass windows on the big brown door closed for the last time. I knew right then and there, I would never set foot inside that house  ever again.

 

What Was I Thinking?

OK, where did I end off….that’s right, I was invited inside the house where I lived for over eight years and stepped inside the living room to find the whole family just sitting about with the t.v set on which I thought was kind of odd considering it was in the late afternoon on this summer day. I always remembered most of them were out of the house hanging with friends or boyfriends about this time. But, I didn’t put too much thought after that and just said my hello’s to everyone in the room.

I was most happy to see my foster-sister Sandy than her brother and sister. When we kissed each other hello, we exchanged slight hugs that lasted about three Mississippi’s. To be honest, during that moment, I told her how much I missed her… but silently to myself. She displayed that big smile I so remembered when we were both 6 years old exchanging playful waves to each other through the french door windows of  the parlor room at the orphanage home back in 1968. 

Even though we fought plenty of times, we fought as any other brother and sister would fight. Sometimes it would be over not putting back her Elton John records or playing her Bay City Roller album without asking. But she never did anything to me personally to hurt me in any way. Sure she may have told on me for little things to our mother, but she never told on me that would cause to have my ass handed to me by the hands of her father…she never did that like her brother and sister had done to me a couple of times in the past, and that is why even to this day, I never did stop loving her.

 Too bad I never had courage to ever tell her that when I had so many opportunities…I referred them as wasted moments. Anyway, my mother had asked if I wanted anything to drink as she went through the list of what she had in the refrigerator. I was happy whatever she picked for me and told her just that. With a smile she left the living room just as my foster father asked me how I been doing living in the group home. That question kind of took me by surprised for a second and I wasn’t ready to respond back other than OK.

My mother walked back in the room holding a can of…you guessed it…C & C Cola. I’m telling you, that family just love their soda. I thought it was kind of amusing but kept it to myself and thanked her. I don’t remember too much of any other questions about the group home, but that topic opened the door to another question I was no way ready for. My foster father asked me what was my thought of moving back in to be a family again.

I must have displayed a look on my face of total disbelief  even when Linda had asked the same question but in her own words. I just looked around the room confused for a moment when I felt a rush of a warm  sensation throughout my head as my heart  pounded so hard I swear  I thought I was going to pass out. I looked at my mother and saw her smiling but with tears in her eye’s. I looked over to Linda and Sandy and they were crying also. To be honest, I don’t remember looking at Barry, but I do remember the look on my foster father’s face, and he was just emotional but in his own way.  

Everything started to feel in slow motion as I looked around the room at each of them. I saw all my thoughts like a picture slide of my life living in the group home, and I didn’t like what I was seeing…or the outcome. So I gave them my answer…I took a deep breath and said yes. To be honest with you, I wanted out of the group home so bad that I was ready to move in with my best friend and his family right across the street when they had asked me if I wanted to live with them.

They wanted be out of that group home just as bad as I did. I started visiting  my friends in the neighborhood after a few months being away when I left for the group home. I always told them all some stories how my life was going, and sometimes I would make up some just to make it seem I was doing fine, but they had no idea what I was really going through. I think they knew I was full of shit, but never said anything to me. I was cool with that.

They did see the changes, between my hair and my fearless attitude, but never said anything to me. They were my friends, and they were all I had in my life back then. But regardless…I was home again.Now for everyone who has followed my blog from the beginning must be saying to themselves in disbelief…like Whaaaat? But you read right…I said yes, and with that we all stood up and exchanged hugs. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about all those years of the beatings, the verbal abuse and name calling by the man standing before me asking if I want to move back home.

I wasn’t thinking about anyone in that room that got me in trouble for one reason or another just for their enjoyment of seeing me get beaten by their father….all that was not forgotten, but for the time being I put that all to rest. The only thought in my mind as I was hugging them all was that I was no longer going to be living in that group home. The very home I felt if I stayed any longer, I wasn’t going to live to see my 17th birthday.

With in two weeks time, preparation was being made, and I was visited by my new social worker Judy O’Brien at the group home. She wanted to make sure that this was what I really wanted to do after what I went through in the past.  Now, you have to remember, it’s on record of the verbal abuse, and not getting along with the family, but the beatings I never told her or anyone else from Catholic Home for Foster Care, now called A.C.S.

I reaffirmed her that I believed this was going to be different this time around and was sure what happened to me in the past was just that…the past. She supported me 100% and I had to sign some discharge papers that I was leaving  the group home, and it was by my decision to move back with the foster family I left over eight months ago. I am sure my foster  parents had to sign papers of their own that they made the decision to have me as their foster son.

Papers signed and I was back living with the family that took my brother and I from the orphanage home back in 1968. I did explained to my friends parents why I made the decision that I did, and they supported me also. They also reminded me that they were there for me should I ever need them. They were like a second family to me, and they proved it right to the very end.

Now, things were going well living back home. We all got along just fine, but they did have to accept some changes I am sure they didn’t approve of, and that was smoking and my street attitude. What I didn’t do anymore was get soda from the basement or put out those extra metal chairs when it was dinner time. Those days were over. But, what was brewing over a  five month period  became bigger than anything we all experienced  in that house, and what I was about to do next would change the course of my life. Because this time I didn’t need my mother to shield me from the heavy hands of her husband…he needed her to shield him from me.

 

Share Your Version

To those who read my blog religiously and posting pictures of a LION with the word LIAR underneath on their Facebook page, I say this to you. If you believe all my stories I share about my experience living in the foster home for those eight years are not true, than please share with all my followers your version. I promise to APPROVE every one of your comments if you agree to my only request. Post your real name for all to see, including your relations with me and the connection you have with the foster home. If not, than I suggest you stop following my life and get on with yours. This blog was not meant for you or any of your family members. This blog was for all those who lived the life I did and never escaped the past of their childhood. My blog is to prove to all of them, no matter how bad life was or may still be, they can still overcome and triumph without using their background not to Succeed in Life…for I am living proof of that. I am a Husband, Father, Grandfather and Friend to many and lived out my Childhood Dream of becoming a Police Officer for over 20 years. I have a Beautiful  Home with  a Wonderful  Family and Friends who Love me Unconditionally regardless of my past. Not bad for someone who was told many times as a child growing up that I would amount to nothing in life.

 

Ready to Move On

I decided to do my last story into two parts only because I wanted to end the worst part of my life once and for all…my childhood. I will finally put to rest this chapter and share with you all my final moments living in the foster home that was supposed to save me from a life of a broken home, but instead, destroyed my childhood that left me nothing but bad memories and nightmares that wait for me in my dreams even to this day. I will also share my true feelings towards every member in that house including the moments when I received news of the death of  both foster parents and why I went to ones wake… and not the other. Thursday evening will be the first part of my final story living in the foster home titled “So Long”.

 

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St. Dominick’s Group Home on Colden Ave

It didn’t take more than a week to be placed in a group home after telling my social worker I wanted out of the foster home where I lived for almost 8 years…I had enough. At 15 years of age, I  wanted  to be placed either back in an orphanage home or any group home anywhere on Staten Island. I never told my social worker of the beatings I received over the years. I figure if  they place me back to the orphanage or group home, there would be no reason too. 

Unfortunately, there was no group home openings on Staten Island where I been living since 1967  when placed at St. Michael’s Home..sad to say, the only available one was located in the Bronx. I did have an opportunity too be placed in an orphanage home called St. Dominick’s Orphanage located in Ramapo, New Jersey which borders New York , but after looking at the place, reality set in that I was only going backwards after just coming out of a foster home.

I was very adamant being placed in a group home regardless where it was located. I just didn’t want to end up in a place where I started when I was five years old. I was finally placed in a home located in the Bronx called St. Dominick’s Group home for boys  which was part of the orphanage home in New Jersey. It was a two-story apartment building set between homes located on a tree line street called Colden Ave. The picture below is the actual group home where I lived back in 1978 and 79.

There were eight other boys living there and a few of them were waiting to be placed in a juvenile detention called Spofford (a real shit hole for delinquents located in Hunts Points) for crimes they committed in the neighborhood. I ended up living with some pretty hardcore teens who not only came from broken homes, but they didn’t give a shit just about anything or anyone. These boys had some real issues of their own, and some of them had far worst stories than what I have experienced.  

The sad part is, the longer I lived there, I started picking up their attitude towards life. I’m not going to get into a lot of details or stories about my experience in that the group home, but lets just say that I left a foster home a scared young 15-year-old with the looks of a young Glen Campbell holding onto what was left of my innocence. At first I had short hair pushed back looking like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and acting like I was a little tough.

But than, after living with these troubled boys with lived worst than mine, I let my hair grow long with a  trimmed beard and mustache to make myself look older than I was, and no longer was acting…Slowly, I was becoming like the rest of them. I was no longer innocent. I always smoked, but was a sneak about it before. Living in the group home, I just lit up anywhere…I didn’t give a shit anymore about anything or anyone. I was becoming like the others who I was sharing that home with. I

had one big ass chip on my shoulders and the only one I have to thank is my foster father who I learn to hate more than anything in my life. I would sit on a shitty sunken bed that smelled like puke, sharing this run down bed room with another teen who was waiting to be placed in Spofford detention, and began asking myself what the fuck was I doing here? I knew deep inside this group home wasn’t the place for me and yet I refused to ask to be placed in another foster home…I wasn’t taking any chances after what I went through.

As far as I was concern, this was my new home and I was going to suck it up and deal whatever came my way. I ended up going to one of the toughest high schools in New York City called Evander Child H.S. and I learn one thing…mind your business and just get educated. But that wasn’t going to be the case with me. Between living in that group home and now going to this high school, I was heading in the wrong direction. There was a kid in the group home who was breaking into my room all the time and stealing from me.

I was getting a reputation not only being a wimp but what they considered…a pussy. Even my counselors would bring me into their room, close the door and tell me that I needed to stand up to some of these boys or I was going to have a real tough time living here.I found out who was stealing from me, and had the courage to wait for him upstairs to confront him. But I wasn’t going to just talk to him and ask him to stop.

His bedroom was on the same floor as mine, so I was waiting for him inside the kitchen on the second floor next to the doorway with a broom stick. Just as he walked up the stairs and entered I hit him across the forehead and watch him fall backwards. As he laid there in shock, I hit him again til a gash on his head opened up. Just as he was trying to get up, I pulled him by his collar and dragged him into the kitchen where I continued to beat him with now a broken broom handle till the counselors ran up stairs to break it up.

When this was finally over, this kid apologized to me and gave back my stuff. The counselors looked at me with a smile and told me to go to my room. After they cleaned up the mess we made in the kitchen, they both came into my room to let me know that when this spreads, I shouldn’t have any trouble with anyone else….Why? Because the kid I beat up stood over 6 ft. and came off as one of the toughest ones in the group home.

He had to explain to the others boys what happened, and the counselors had no problem telling the others what they had witnessed. From that day on, no one fucked with me. But I will say this…I would sit on my bed smoking my Kool’s  wondering if I was going to end up like some of these kids I was living with here in St. Dominick’s. I wasn’t sure anymore the direction I was heading and  had doubts that I was ever going to leave this place alive. I was becoming something I never thought I be.

I was turning into a tame-less animal with no fear and not a care in the world. I was walking around with a chip on my shoulder  waiting for anyone to look at me the wrong way so I can take out my aggression’s onto them. I could only blame one person for the life that I was now living….my foster father. Not only did I hate him, but wishing one day that I would find out from my friends on Staten Island that he died from a heart attack while driving from work, or worse, fell down the stairs inside his house and broke his fucking neck right in front of his kids.

But of course that never came to be. But I will share with you all a strange moment I had. It was the summer of  1979 while I was over at my friend’s house right across the street from the foster home where I lived for eight years. For some reason I went across the street to say hello to my foster-mother. I kissed her on the cheek and gave her a hug. Following that, I was invited inside to see everyone, Sandy, Linda, Barry and my foster father all standing inside the living room…and I wasn’t ready for what was to take place.

 

My Blog My Message

I was going to end this chapter of my life living in the foster home that not only ruined my childhood, but my teens as well. But, after reading a couple of comments left by someone posing as a social worker from New York City, I decided to continue this chapter for a another couple of weeks…So I say only this to all my readers. I am going to come off  very angry and heartless at times, so if  you choose not to read my last few stories, that is just fine with me. Because what I am about to write is meant for the ones who lived in that house. But make no mistake, I am going to end this nightmare of a chapter with a bang. So put on your seat belts and crash helmets….this is going to hurt!

 

Dad No More

 Nothing was the same anymore since the last time I ran away to my father’s house out in Long Island. Spending a week in the hospital over a fake illness only strained the relationship between myself and the rest of the family I was living with. The truth be told, I can’t even remember the last time I actually felt like part of that family anymore. But I made the best of it no matter how uncomfortable it became living there. Even at the dinner table, not much was being said about anything.

I would just sit there, eat my dinner, clean up after myself and out the door I went to hang with my friends. Thanksgiving  of 1978 was no different. I decided that I wasn’t going to go to Brooklyn after dinner this year to visit family. Why should I ? Nothing was the same anymore, and I found no reason to go like I have done so many times in the past. Continuing living in this foster home was taking a toll on me and I wanted out as soon as possible.

I was done with the beatings and name calling as well as being around a family that I truly felt didn’t want me in the first place. When I was about 17, that’s when I found out that how I was picked because the system didn’t separate siblings…need I say more…but you already knew that from a previous story. Anyway, when I was asked if I was going, I made it very clear that I wasn’t. That’s right…I said I wasn’t going and had my reasons.

When asked by both my foster parents what they were, I didn’t want o get into the details, but made it clear I no longer felt part of the family and wanted to just leave it alone at that, and suggested we can talk about it the next day. At this time, everyone else was upstairs getting cleaned up and dressed, but for Linda who wasn’t going as well as her brother Barry. My mother was in the bedroom clearly upset as she was getting ready while my foster-father and I were in the kitchen just sitting there saying nothing.

Then he asked the question I was hoping he would. He asked me if I wanted to leave his family which I replied without hesitation that I did. I remember the look in his eye’s when I said that, because he looked not only surprised, but bewildered that I didn’t put any thought answering him. Not only that, but I continued to tell him exactly how I felt and that I wanted to speak with my social worker as soon as possible to be removed and placed in a group home.

He just sat there listening at first, but then started with the guilt trip how he took me in to give me a better life, which I uninterrupted by reminding him of the beatings and all the name callings I endured by him which only made matters worst. He started yelling at me how selfish I was being and ungrateful. That’s when I finally admitted that I no longer thought of him as a father or wanted to even call him Dad anymore.

There was silence for a few seconds and then he just got up from his chair and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. I was sitting there alone and upset, but one thing I wasn’t doing was crying. Through all the years of crying, I no longer had any tears left in me.I just sat there by myself  for a few minutes when his daughter Linda decided to put in her two cents and comes storming into the kitchen where I was still sitting and started yelling at me, not loud, but in my face telling me how good her family has been to me while crying hysterical but coherent enough for me to understand what she was saying.

What annoyed me the most me was that she wasn’t even looking at me during the who time yelling at me. She was looking off to my right most of the time, as if she was yelling at someone else other than me. I found that not only odd but downright strange even at this moment while I’m typing. She said what she had to say, then walked out of the kitchen still crying. To be honest with all of you, I didn’t give a rat’s ass what she said or how she felt.

For that matter, I really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought anymore…this was about me. If they only knew how many times I thought about burning their house down when I was alone, I would have been out of there when I was 13 and not 15. Only once did I think about burning it down when my foster-father and I were alone while he was in the living room watching a  Met’s game while I was upstairs in my bed room. It was a Saturday and my mother went out to the store with her other daughter Sandy and my little brother.

Linda was out with her friends as well as her brother Barry with his. That just left us two in the house…alone. I sat there on the bed thinking ways to do it without getting caught by anyone. So I went outside and to the garage where the gas can was sitting next to Barry’s mini bike. I opened up the can…only to find it empty. Disappointed, I closed the garage door and put the heavy chain through the handle as we all did when leave and squeezed the old lock together than went back inside the house….He had no idea how lucky he was that day.

It was Friday after Thanksgiving and I called my social worker Mrs. Cardwell and told her that I no longer wanted to stay in with this family any longer and wanted to be removed as soon as possible. I remember her telling me that I had to stay there till they found a place for me, but if I felt threatened in any way, they would come for me immediately to place me in a temporary foster home till they found a group home available.

I don’t know why I didn’t just do that, but told her that I would stay till she found a place for me. I then passed the phone to my mother and went up stairs to my bedroom. After a brief conversation with my social worker, she hung up the phone and I could hear her whispering to her husband that it might take a week for me to be placed in a another home. A week….might as well said a year. All I could do was lay on my bed curled up in a fetus position wondering what was going to happen next. I knew this much, it had to be better than living in this foster home……or was it?

 

 

My Queen, My Love, My Wife.

The reason for not writing any new stories on my blog was because I was hospitalized for 9 days due to a severe kidney infection and ended  up in the Critical Care Unit/Intensive Care Unit (CCU/ICU) from Septic Shock. That’s when the infection (bacteria) entered the blood stream and cause my body to react violently by shaking so hard my bones felt like they where going to break.

This lasted for almost 10 minutes straight and in front of my Queen. If not treated immediately, there was a 25 to 50 percent chance of not surviving through this infection had it enter my heart. But I was truly lucky to have a “RAPID RESPONSE TEAM” of Highly Trained Nurses as well as my Doctor giving instructions over the phone, worked effortlessly and  prevented me from getting sicker then I already was.

After being given the strongest  antibiotics to flush the bacteria out of my blood, I started feeling better within hours. I was kept under observation for the next 5 days in the CCU till I was stable enough to be removed to an isolation room for safety purposes till I was discharged this past Monday.

I will only say this. The moment I was going through this traumatic experience my second day in the hospital, through all the chaos surrounding me, I did ask a nurse if I was dying. I didn’t get a response at first, but finally told after I asked the second time that I wasn’t going to die. Even though it was a relief to hear those words, the only thought in my mind was this.

“If”‘ I was going to die, all I wanted was to see my Beautiful wife’s face for the very last time. I knew she was out in the hallway alone and scared…I needed to see her… I needed to hear her voice. I needed to tell her not only how much  I truly loved her but to let her know what she meant to me throughout our 32 years together.

If this was going to be my time to depart, then I had to look into the eye’s of the woman who loved me for the man I was and the man I turned out to be. I had to let her know that she is the very foundation that holds our family together and not me…it was never me.  I had to thank her for loving me, for she is my Queen, My Love, My Wife who I LOVE more than Life it’s self.

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Arms Wide Open

Running away for the second time didn’t have much of a price to pay after all. There were no beatings, yelling or anything else for that matter. My foster-father didn’t say very much to me since I came home, but thought that was kind of odd not asking me any questions about why I ran away to my real father’s house. Jesus, I ran away for two days to rat is ass out as he put it, to my father’s, on top of that, ended up in the hospital faking an illness just to avoid what was waiting for me at home, and he didn’t want to know why I did what I did?

It wasn’t till the following Saturday  just the two of us, sitting at the kitchen table, when he decided to talk to me. Everyone else had finished breakfast and took off in the living room to watch television or hang in their bed rooms.He must have figured that was the time to ask me if I wanted continue living with them. Now just to go back a little, it has been a about three years they were going through the process of adopting  both my brother and I. At 13 years old, I changed my mind and decided I no longer wanted to be adopted.

I couldn’t do it…to be honest, I didn’t want them to adopt me. I knew that this wasn’t the house or the family for me, and it was the last place I wanted to be spending anymore of my youth living in. I been treated like shit since I was seven years old and gotten worst as I grew older. For the life of me, I had no idea why they would even want to adopt me in the first place. But I am sure Child Services was putting pressure on them to either adopt us or they were taking us back.

It wasn’t unusual for  families who take in foster children into their homes just for that nice checks they get once a month for room, board and cloth allowance from Child Welfare, and I am on a mission to find out just how much my foster parents were getting all those years for my brother and I. Anyway, my foster-father reassure me that things would be different, then got out of his chair with arms wide open and hugged me.

What bothered me more than anything was that hug. That’s what he always did after the many beatings he gave me or his infamous verbal onslaught. He would have someone get me from my bedroom where I would be laying on the bed, to go see him in the kitchen….Daddy wants you. My stomach would get into a knot just hearing those words and thinking what he was going to do next. I would take my time going down the steps and walk slowly into the kitchen only to find him sitting in his chair at the table smoking his Pall Malls while pretending he didn’t notice me. I would walk closer to him cautiously and stand by and just look at him.

He put down his smokes, while getting up his chair with arms wide open and tell me how sorry he was…and all I could do was cry. I hated when he did that, and he did that almost after every beatings. So to be standing there telling me how sorry he was and that he really loved me  hurt more than the beatings. But, I just hugged him back and walked away. As I walked away, I knew that one day he was going to beat me or call me names one too many times, and there was going to be a heavy price to pay, and you can bet your ass it wasn’t going to be any weekend trips to my father’s house that’s for sure. The following year later, all hell broke loose on Thanksgiving Day. 

 

Jan and Dean

Let’s see, I left off from my previous story that I had only twenty- five minutes to make a decision what I was going to do once I got off the Staten Island Ferry. I knew what was waiting for me at home and the scenario in my head wasn’t playing so well. So with no planning, I decided to pull a stunt that just spiraled out of control from the moment it started to the very end. I was standing on the bus ramp just outside the Ferry terminal waiting to get on the bus, and faked an episode of hyperventilating.

The bad thing about that was I actually had to go through the symptoms to make it believable. My body started to tighten, mouth drying up, and my fingers were curling in looking like a stroke victim, I eventually passed out from lack of oxygen to my head because of breathing so fast. Before you know it, I was laying in the back of an ambulance being treated by the Paramedics. They rushed me to the emergency room where they started giving me I.V. asking me a bunch of questions like, my name, address, and my age.

I pretended that I didn’t understand what was going on and played it off pretty good. What I didn’t expect was for them to shove a tube up my nose to pump out my stomach. I learned later they had to make sure I didn’t have any drugs in my system and not overdosing on anything. I had to endure all that  just because I didn’t want to go home. On top of that, I decided to fake a speech impairment by stuttering when talking.

When I was at my father’s house I watched a movie on television about two rock and roll singers named Jan and Dean. One of then got into a car accident and if I remember right, had injuries to his head that caused him to stutter for a while. So I decided to add that to my acting debut that evening, and it seemed to go over well. The nurses at the desk called my foster parents and within a couple of hours my mother came walking in with her son Barry.

I remember her looking at me asking what happened when I got off the ferry. At first I didn’t want to answer, but tried to explained while stuttering, how I was feeling dizzy and sick while on the ferry-boat. She just leaned over to me and asked if I was faking everything just so I didn’t have to come home? Dam, I thought I had this all down packed. Hell, even the nurses seemed to fall for it including the doctor, but she figured it out faster than I thought she would.

 My mother knew something was up, and her son Barry figured that out just as fast. He asked had I seen that movie Jan and Dean which I told him no. But he didn’t buy that either. He knew I was full of shit soon I opened my mouth. She asked me if I wanted to leave the hospital and to go home with them… which I replied that I didn’t. She just looked at me with watery eye’s gave me a kiss on the forehead and left.  I knew I had to continue this charade till I came up with a better plan, I just didn’t know what I was doing anymore.

I didn’t feel guilty at all  wasting everyone’s time at the hospital with my antics. I did what I had to do to prevent myself from getting a beating from my foster-father at all cost. Who knows what would have happened had I gone straight home to face the music. Maybe he would have been nicer to me with no intentions of hurting me if only I gave him the chance. I guess no one will ever know the answer to that because I ended staying in that hospital for almost seven days till they released me, but not after visiting with a shrink that was assigned to my case.

I told him only half the truth what I did, and explained how scared I was going back home, but had to stick with this story hoping that when I got home, everyone would feel sorry for me. I had such a dear friend who visited me almost everyday. She was always upset to see me hurting the way I was. I told her some things, but she never knew about my secrets. She never knew about the beatings and I wasn’t completely honest with her that I was faking the whole thing.

I wanted too, but I felt bad doing that to her. To be honest, I think she knew all the time and didn’t want to say anything to upset me. She was my friend back then, and to this day, even though many years have passed since I last saw her, I will always remember her being there for me when it mattered the most and to this day I still  lover her for that. The day I was discharged, my mother came to pick me up and I just sat in the car quietly as she drove.

As the music played on the radio, I looked out the car window wondering  what was going to happen next. How long will I keep pretending that I couldn’t speak without stuttering? I just sat there in deep thought when a familiar song started playing I  heard a couple of days ago at my father’s house…it was from the movie Jan and Dean.

 

Twenty Five Minutes

Like I said in my last story, my foster-father called me Michelle once too many times, and I finally had the courage to not only run away, but actually met one of my brothers to meet me on the South Ferry terminal on the New York side and headed to my real father’s home out in West Hempstead Long Island.  Now my father was very happy to see me, but knew something had to be wrong for me to do what I did without the knowledge of both my foster parents.

I remember him hugging me at the side door of his house and all three of us we upstairs the second floor of the two family house he shared with his wife Pat. His wife was very friendly and gave me a warm hug but just as concerned as my father why I ran away. We all sat down in the kitchen where I started to tell him how my foster-father was treating me for years, but never told him about the beatings. I felt that had I told him, he would have contacted Social Services and I would have found myself back at the Orphanage home, or worst, another foster home.

That was my thinking back then, and I can’t explain it any other way. I remember Star Trek on in the living room and my dad made my brother and I a root beer ice cream float, where he told me that we will talk more Saturday morning over breakfast and that he was going to call my foster-father and  find out what has gone on there all these years living there. He seemed pretty upset, so I think that’s why he didn’t want to talk about it at least for that evening.

I didn’t say much after that and all three of us and watched Star Trek as Pat ordered us pizza for dinner. I remember looking around my father’s living room and  to see pictures of us on the walls. There were pictures of  our school pictures on the wall as well as some pictures of us when we were small. I  wondered at times how he must have felt knowing his children were scattered about in foster homes and at the orphanage as well living in the projects with my real mother in NYC.

I also wondered if he ever thought about if he ever wanted us back as a family now that we were a little older, so I asked him that night, and I will never forget what he said. He told my brother and I who was living with him that he dreamed of one day owning a big house and yard and having us all live with him as a family. He wanted that more than anything else in life. To this day, it no longer mattered to me anymore why he haven’t told the truth about why he left us back in 1967 to be with another woman or why he felt he needed to lie to me when I was about twenty-six  years old.

Never mention his whereabouts the day my we all were taken from the only home we ever knew by Social Services and  placed in a shelter for two weeks till they figure what to do with us. The only sad thing about this all is my father died on the side of William Floyd Highway alone a broken man with broken dreams….I guess it was his time to pay the piper. I may not believe in a God, but if there is one, my father had a lot of explaining to do as well as my real mother.

They made their choices for whatever the reasons they may be, but still had to explain one thing and one thing only… why they were failures as parents. Saturday came along and it must have been about 9 in the morning when my brother and I woke up finding our father making pancakes for us for breakfast. He sliced some apples and folded the pancakes over them then  flooded them with syrup…just the way pancakes should be made. When we all sat down, he let me know that after breakfast he was going to call my foster-father and  have him a few words for him that he may not like, and that’s exactly what he did.  

Within a couple of minutes on the phone with my foster-father, my father let him have it, and from what I could remember, my father started raising his voice and telling him to knock it off calling me names, specially making fun of my legs. He went on to explain to my foster-father how he and my mother couldn’t afford braces for me, as well as the medical conditions with my other brothers and sisters. Yep, even the day we were born, just about every one of us had some kind of birth defects, with my oldest sister and brother having the most serious conditions.  After a few more colorful choice of words my father had for him, my foster-father asked if he can speak with me which my father agreed, and he gave me the phone.                                                                                                                                  

I got on the phone only to have my foster-father call me a rat for running away and telling on him. I could hear his wife talking in the background to give her the phone. She got on being a lot more rational than her husband and asked when I was planning to come home. I told her that I would be back sometime after that evening and take the bus home. With that she told me she loved me and we both hung up. I saw my father upset, and he promised me that if my foster-father started with the name calling again, he was going to come to the house with my social worker and have me removed but never said to live with him.

Where did he think I was going to go if that was to happen? Either way, I never told my father anything after that. For some reason, as much as he said how much he loved me, I  didn’t think he was going to let me live with him. The only place I saw myself was back at  St. Michael’s Home or another orphanage called Mount Loretto that was on Staten Island also, and no way was I ever going back to either one of them that’s for sure. 

That evening my brother and I headed back to New York City and he stayed with me till the ferry came to take me back to Staten Island. We both said goodbye and he walked away going down the escalator while I got on the ferry. I looked back to see if I could see him, but he was already gone. I found a seat in the front and waited for the boat to pull out of the dock. I had  twenty-five minutes to think what I was going to do before I got to the other side.

I was thinking of different scenarios what was going to happen when I got home, and none of it turned out good. Maybe I was thinking to hard and it wasn’t going to be as bad as I when I got there. But, I wasn’t going to take any chances. I had to think of something much more daring than just running away to my fathers out in Long Island. I needed to get everyone’s  attention and so scared that they would have to feel sorry for me and forget that I ever ran away to begin with. What I did next not only got their attention…… but made things only worst.                                                                                                                                                                                

        

My Bedroom Window

 I’ve had many nightmare’s over the years, more than my share, but I always believed that sleeping should be peaceful and  free of any demons or monsters from ever entering our dreams, but that has never been the case for me. Since I was a little boy, they always seems to find a way to hide inside my dreams and when ready, make their presence known.

Now it’s not like they are actually monsters and creatures of any kind chasing me down long endless hallways, but instead,  would be in the form of  moments in my childhood that haunts me even to this day. From reliving the beatings I received as a little boy to watching the death of people very close to me, always seemed to take place in the house that I grew to despise growing up.

For the life of me, I can not imagine what I did that was so bad as a child to deserve these nightmares. One of my recurring dreams that I’ve had for many years seemed to be multiple TORNADOES  forming outside my bedroom window where I slept as a young boy. There’s’ always this one big tornado, surrounded by small ones, and would tear right through the garage and head straight towards my window with such loud force, the house would shake from its powerful breath.

Just as cracks would form on my window beside my bed, I wake up. To this day, I still have this dream. The creepy part of this dream is the color of the tornado. It’s always a dark navy blue…like the color of my foster-father’s work uniform he wore every day to work. He sometimes wore them even on his day off. I did go  on-line a few times to interpret the meanings of some of my dreams.

What I learned about this one is only one thing…I feared my foster-father growing up….and I fear tornado’s just as much. This other dream  I get once in a while started about 25 years ago. I am sharing a bedroom  up in the attic with my foster-sister Sandy with a see through curtain dividing us. Her side had a bed and a dresser with a lamp on top of it with no shade, but couldn’t look directly at it because it was so bright.

I would be standing by the curtain talking with Sandy when she would than say to me she’s going to sleep and she would turn off the light. I would walk over to my side of the room in the dark and reach over to turn on the lamp on my end table only to find  my bed looked like it was rotting away right before my eyes. I can see that I was no longer in the attic but inside my bedroom instead.

The radiator in front of the window felt very cold as the walls started to crumble apart landing on my bed,  followed by a smell  forming inside the bedroom as if something was rotting close by. I would look out the window only to see a distorted face looking back up at me. As I would turn away from it, I see a little boy laying in my bed under the covers rocking back and forth, but can never make out his face….I think the little boy is me.

 

 

Bow Legged Freak

This story has no beatings in it but has something just as painful and hurt a lot longer, and that was Verbal Abuse. Trust me, I had my share of being called many hurtful names by my foster-father throughout my years living in that foster home, but there were two names that not only did I hate, but one name had a major effect on my life well into my adulthood. Now I can’t remember all the times he called me names, because there were so many, a lot more than the beatings that’s for sure, but I remember the first time he called me ” Bow Legged Freak”. 

I was about 12 years old, and at times liked to play with my foster-brother’s Hess trucks he had up in the attic. The attic was pretty cool because most of our toys were stored in piles along the wall on top by the steps, so my little brother and I  would explore around to see what was in the boxes that were piled about. All the way in the back there was this little room to the left that stored some really cool stuff in boxes of all sizes that belonged to my foster-brother Barry.

He had lots of baseball cards and Lionel Train sets…old ones, not those fake plastic ones we have today. But he also had some Hess trucks scattered about and I would play with. But of cause if Barry found any of his toys of his broken, yours truly would get the blame even if I never touched anything of his, I was getting the blame regardless… according to that family I was not only marked as a thief but a liar as well.

So this one Saturday afternoon, Barry had come down stairs with one of the Hess truck in his hand and walked into the kitchen where I was sitting and asked me if I was playing with the truck. At first I said no because I didn’t remember the last time I played with it, but it didn’t matter, because I was guilty already regardless whatever my answer was. What I do know was I didn’t break anything of his. If I had, I would have hidden that truck so deep inside that attic, his children’s children would not have found it.

But it was sitting where it always were by the top of then steps in the attic by all the other piles of toys, and the smoke stack was found broken off. Now, you think that would have been the end of it, but I couldn’t be that lucky. My foster-father decided to ask me the same question as his son. Not only that, but now it became more like an interrogation instead. The only thing missing was a swinging light above my head, and him telling me how he had ways of getting people to talk while lighting up a smoke.

Every time he asked me a question, I just looked at him and said that I didn’t know. It was a matter of time before my head became a target for his soda can, but I would just stick to the truth on this one. I didn’t break anything, specially his son’s Hess truck. But, of cause that wasn’t enough. I said I didn’t know one too many times with a couple of shoulder shrugs to follow before he threw the salt shaker at me  yelling that he didn’t want me to touch anything unless I asked….Message received.

That could have been the end of this, but as always, he would go on about it as well as other topics that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. What started over a broken toy escalated how I needed to have my Puerto Rican (Spic) blood drained from my body and have it replaced with his blood. If that wasn’t enough, he would then go on about how my parents were both good for nothing and should have been in jail. Not for nothing, but I had no idea what he was talking about, but I guess maybe he knew something that I didn’t.

What he was doing was trying to bait me to say something back, but I never bit. I may have been only 12, but I was learning something after those years of beatings and name callings, and one day, would learn to prefect it…and that was Patience. Right after his ranting as my mother once again told him to just shut up, he says this…” I don’t have to shut up while this Bow Legged Freak lies”. Right after he said that…I just looked up at him envisioning stabbing him in his chest with the very fork I was holding right in front of everyone. Instead, I just sat there saying nothing and continued to eat my dinner.

But from that day on, I use to grab toilet paper and rolled them into a ball and  place them strategically  inside my white knee highs, than have rubber bands hold them in place than put  my pants on so I wouldn’t look like I was bow-legged. I did this every single day til I was about 16 years old. I was so conscious over my legs that I would never wear shorts in public til I was about 30 years old. The other name he called me was Michelle. I always knew that he was going to call me that one to many times without paying a price…and sure enough, he did.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Five Miles (part II)

There I am, walking along the busy roadway by Clove Lake Park freezing my ass standing on the corner waiting to cross the intersection, when I notice a car slowing down  pulling to the side of the road where I was standing. The person rolls down the passenger side window calling my  name. I looked down to see the girl I liked from my class brother  looking up at me from the front seat while her dad was asking where I was going.

I remember saying hello but told him that I was going to a friend’s house just down the street from where they lived. He told me he was on his way home and that he would drop me off. But as soon as I got in, he told me something different instead.  My foster parents had called and informed him that I had run away and if he could ask his daughter Arlene if she had seen me anytime today. Sure enough she told him that I was with them and had left when the skating session was over.

She also told him that the last time she saw me, I was walking from the rink towards the main intersection. Well, the rest was history. We pulled up in his driveway, with his wife standing on the porch with a big brown sweater over her shoulder and gave me a slight hug. We all walked in, and sat in the kitchen while Arlene’s mom made me a something to eat while her dad asked what happened at home. I told him some stories, but never told him about the beatings.

I think he knew I wanted to say more, but I for some reason I didn’t want to say anymore. I was crying but not like water falls or anything, more like holding it in, but the tears said enough. He told me that he had to call my foster parents because they were upset and concern. Yeah right…maybe my mother was, but as for my foster-father, that’s another story. I’m sure he had something else on his mind when I got home. I think I was there for about an hour before Arlene’s dad said it was time to take me home.

We both got in the car and he drove me home.We did talk a bit about school and all, but he seemed more concern about how I was doing at home. I think he was trying to get more out of me, but I knew what he was trying to do, but no way could I have told him the truth what my life was really like living in that foster home.  I remember telling him that I lived about ten miles from the house, but he said I lived closer than that.

It was quiet in the car for the last five minutes of the ride back to my house and as he made the turn onto my street, I felt my heart beating fast once again. All I can think of was not only was I in trouble, but for sure there was a beating waiting for me inside the house.  As he pulled up, my mother and Sandy were by the front door looking out the open glass vent waiting for me. He turn to me and said that if I ever wanted to talk about anything that I could talk to him.

Her also said I was a good boy and needed to tell my foster parents why I ran away. He then gave me a hug and I got out of the car. I saw him roll down his window and  said to words to me…Five Miles. I just smiled back at him as I opened up the front gate and made my way up the porch steps and took one more look at Arlene’s dad as he drove away as I watched the tail lights fade away. My mother opened the door and hugged me asking why I did what I did.

I just looked at her and started crying. Sandy just gave stood there with a look on her face I just couldn’t figure out. I wasn’t sure if she was happy to see me, or just confused that I ran away and maybe, just maybe knew why. I just wanted to go up stairs and get into my bed, and just wanted the night to end…but that wasn’t going to happen. I heard my foster-father clear his throat, and I knew that was just a sign letting me know he was in the kitchen….waiting.

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Five Miles (part 1)

This is just a story when I ran away for the first time when I was thirteen. One night I got in trouble for forgetting to remind my foster-father that we were running low so he could bring home a couple of cases after work. Now, I didn’t receive a  beating on this occasion, verbally assaulted instead. As always, it was during dinner as everyone sat there listening to him call me just about every name in the book. If  I anger him enough that didn’t call for a beating, he had no problem calling me a Spic ( I am half Puerto Rican), Bow legged Freak (cause I’m bow-legged), Retard, Numb Skull and any other derogatory names you can come up with.

But he did have one favorite name that I believe he actually enjoyed calling me in front of the family and that was being called “Michelle”.  He started calling me that when I was about thirteen. I have no idea why, but I kind of figure he was calling me a sissy in his own way and came up with Michelle for Michael. I hated that, and to be honest, I couldn’t give a shit being called those other names…but Michelle….that really got to me and I would show it by the expression on my face when he call me that at the table.  I would look up at him squinting as I tighten my lips a little. He knew right then and there I was getting mad, but he didn’t care one way or another.

He knew I feared him, and I showed that when he would stare back at me, and as always, would take my eye’s off of him like a beaten dog being challenged by the alpha male. He went on with his rant till my mother would tell him to just shut up and as always, he get in the last word and just like that it was over. But going through this stress and anxiety what seemed like every night, was taking its toll on me and I needed to do something to slow it down if not end it. So what do I do? One snowy Wednesday afternoon, I went to an ice skating rink where my friends from school all went, without permission from my foster-mother.

I just told her that I was hanging out with my friends in the neighborhood but instead, hopped on the city bus to Clove Lakes Ice Skating Rink to meet up with my friends from school including a girl I liked from my class name Arlene.  As they all skated around having a great time, I just hung about on the side drinking hot chocolate watching. When the session was over by five,I told them I was going home, but I never did. I just walked around along the park and trying to figure out what I was going to do next. It was all ready dark and getting colder out, so I needed to  think of a place to go to get warmed up.

At first I walked over to a gas station that was down the road from the skating rink to go to the bathroom, then continued walking along a park called Clove Lakes. A couple of hours had passed and I knew by then, my foster parents were looking for me. I imagine them calling up my friends from the neighborhood asking my whereabouts, and knew that if I went home now, I was definitely going to get my ass whipped big time by my foster-father. Here I am, walking around in the cold with just a couple of dollars in my pocket, and I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do. I didn’t think this one through that’s for sure. But I knew one thing…going home wasn’t an option anymore.             

tree-of-life-Jack                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

AM I NOT MERCIFUL?

I put a lot of thought doing this blog…maybe too much thought. I went through many sleepless nights thinking of  every possible scenarios in my head of the consequences should I decided to share my most darkest secrets growing up as a foster child as well as my life there after, for the world to see.

I thought about my younger brother Timmy and how he would feel. I always wondered if he ever sat down with his two children, and shared with them his experience growing up in a foster home and what he had seen as a young child  inside the very home that was supposed to save us from a life living in an orphanage.

I wondered if he would keep the secrets to himself, and spare his children the painful memories of the abuse he had witnessed upon his brother, by the hands of the man we called Dad. I also thought about the members of that foster family who have families of their own, and wondered had they ever told their children about the foster-brother they once had. 

Well, I didn’t have to beat myself over the head on that one, because I know they had no choice as their children gotten older and saw me a few times  at functions that could never have been avoided. I was not only considered the black sheep of that family, but I knew of the lies that were told about me to their friends for many years, and to be honest, I never gave a shit either way.

So, it was pretty obvious that I was going to be doing this blog and not really care much of what they would think or if they ever told their children about me and what their grand  father had done…because if they didn’t, they do now. Shame on them for not telling their adult children in their late twenties, the TRUTH what happened my years living with them as their foster-brother.

I know they got a heads up from either a very close friend or a family member that I posted a blog sharing not only my time living with her family, but my life before and after them as well. This is not an easy thing to do I can tell you that. To lay it all out there for all to see makes you feel not only vulnerable but naked as well.

I posted a story recently about how I was punished and forced to stand in the corner of the kitchen naked with just a towel to look like a diaper when everyone else was eating breakfast…..that’s exactly how I feel doing this blog. But, I am not going to hold back from telling my stories or to submit to anyone’s feelings just because the overwhelming guilt they now feel.

I am sure they never had a second thought about me and the life I lived the day I walked out of that house for the last time back on that snowy day in December of 78. So, there is no reason on earth why I should give a damn what they feel now. I lived a life that most teens my age would have committed suicide before the reached their 18th Birthday.

I actually attempted in a pathetic way by throwing myself down a long flight of stairs…get this…in a hospital. After visiting a friend who was in a coma from a car accident I was sick of my life and as well as homeless with no place to go, and decided to do a Peter Pan right off the top of the steps as I was coming down from the second floor.

I was totally air-borne hoping that I would have broken my neck on the way down when I hit the pavement. Instead, I was just banged up and ended up in a Psychiatric  Ward when they found a suicide note in my jacket pocket…I was 17. Well, the only good thing that came out of that embarrassing attempt is that I had a place to stay before I decided to just walk out of that nut house two weeks later.

My point is this. I never lived a perfect life. I never had a good life. I never had anyone in my life for guidance. I never had anyone to turn too when I was spiraling out of control. I was alone and damaged goods….I was a broken. Nothing I did was going to change the fact that I didn’t have a place called home, and no one to love or care for…I was alone at 17 years old.

So alone that I made a desperate phone call  from my girl friend’s house and begged my mother to take me back and  promised  if they did they wouldn’t regret it. I don’t think I ever cried so hard the way I did, but I could her husband in the background whispering, and I knew he had his head against the phone listening to my plea.

By the sound of her voice, I could hear her crying herself, then silence. What seemed like maybe she was going to say yes, instead she said this….”I’m sorry Michael but we can’t”,  with that being said she hung up. So I end this story with one last thing.

I was considerate enough to wait till after Christmas to share my stories of the beatings and abuse I received by my foster-father. I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday…including the very ones who lived in that house. I made it very clear back in early December of 2013, that those stories would not be told till after this New Year…….Am I not Merciful?

lionmouse

 

My Message

The picture you see represents how I feel when my INTEGRITY has been challenged by a member of that foster family behind closed doors and on Facebook. I guessed they thought the secrets inside that house died when I left at the age of 16….they thought wrong! If living in denial makes them sleep better at night…then sleep well, for I have many more stories to share before this over. But let me be very clear here. I will not let anyone stop me from telling my stories regardless who they are and how they feel. Not like any of them ever asked me  how was I doing when I was out in the world on my own. They saw me many times  in the neighborhood and I was lucky I even got a wave, and now I am supposed to give a shit how any of them supposed to feel? Maybe they should have given their GROWN CHILDREN a heads up when I warned back in November of 2013 that starting Jan of 2014 I was going to share my stories…so shame on them when they decided not too. I was Merciful to them all for many years hiding the family secret. Well, as far as I’m concern, that’s their problem and not mine. This is  My Life and My Past, and I chosen to share them through my blog for one purpose, and one purpose only. To help those overcome the very FEAR I once experienced growing up in that foster home. I lived a hard life and never complained about it even to this day, regardless of my past. I never used my background not to “Succeed in Life”,  for I am living proof that anyone can overcome ADVERSITY if  they choose not to “Surrender to Fear”. I am a HUSBAND, a FATHER, and GRANDFATHER of  four and lived out my ”CHILDHOOD DREAM” of  becoming a POLICE OFFICER  for twenty years. My name is Michael Ashton, and I was a victim of Child  Abuse by the hands of my foster-father for seven years till the age of sixteen…. and ALL my stories are TRUE!

 

Lesson Learned

 I walked in the kitchen to see my foster-father holding my dirty underwear in one hand and a towel in the other. He than asked if I needed one of them to wipe me, considering that I was having a hard time doing it myself.  I of course responded with a simple no, but it didn’t matter what my answer was, from the sound of his voice and that towel in his hand, I can safely say I wasn’t ready for what he was about to do.

They had me take all my clothes off right there in the kitchen BUTT ASS NAKED while he made a diaper out of that towel that he was holding while his wife took safety pins to secured it on me. Then he had me stand in the corner right next to the doorway of their bedroom and the kitchen and said this…” You want to act like a little baby, than you will be treated like a little baby.” and had me stand there not just for a while but the WHOLE DAY!!!

The only time I was allowed to move was when I had to go to the bathroom. Other than that, I stood there looking like Tarzan’s son Boy wearing nothing but a towel that was meant to look  like a diaper, as their children sat down eating breakfast. Now you have to picture this in your minds, everyone is eating breakfast, and there I am standing in the corner wearing nothing but a towel made into a diaper, and no one said anything!

I have to be honest here, and this may sound a little weird, but there was only one person who I didn’t want to look at me standing there in the corner was my foster-sister Sandy who by the way, was the same age as me. I liked Sandy ever since that first day we met at St. Michael’s home playing through the parlor window.

I always remembered her big smile and how friendly she was to me. To be honest, I can’t think of anything she ever did to  hurt me in any way during my years living there. She never made fun of me, and never said anything to hurt me in any way, and NEVER told on me to get me in trouble. I guess what I am trying to say here is that I really loved her like a sister back then.

But as I gotten older into my teens, my feelings for her started changing, and I was liking her in another way, but kept that to myself. Trust me, had I told my social worker the truth and admit I started having feelings towards my foster-sister Sandy when he asked me when I was about 14, I was out of the house faster than a greyhound chasing a rabbit.

But that’s another story I will share  for another time. Anyway, everyone finished  breakfast and did whatever they did that day, while I just stood there by myself in the kitchen when the door bell rang. It was my Linda’s friend Beth who lived across the street from us. I remember hearing her voice as she was walking in as my foster-father rushes me out of the kitchen and inside their bedroom but never closed the door.

Beth walked in the kitchen to say her hello’s to my foster parents and for some reason, I started coughing intentionally. I knew that if she heard me, she would have easily see me standing inside the bedroom. So what do I do? I kept moving closer to the bedroom door so she could see me. I was thinking if she saw me, maybe she would tell her parents and they would come over to help me. That was my thinking anyway.

My foster-father saw how close I was to the door, and gotten up while Beth was talking and closed the door just enough that she couldn’t see me. She was only there to return something that her mom borrowed and chatted a bit and then left.  Then the bedroom door opened and he told me to step back to the corner where I originally stood.

They had me stand there for at least a couple more hours when my foster-mother handed me my clothes and told me to go up stairs and change. It was 4:15 in the afternoon….I stood there for over 7 1/2 hours! Lesson learned the hard way that’s for sure. From then on, there was never an issue cleaning myself anymore. I changed my underwear at least twice a day, because I wanted to make sure they were always clean. You want to know something………I still do.  

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Potty Mouth

I made it very clear that after the holidays I was going to be posting stories that will not only be disturbing but violent as well. So I will ask my followers to stop reading my blog if you are getting too emotionally attached or just having a hard time reading the stories of my childhood. 

Remember, this blog has a purpose and a goal,  I don’t want to lose what I am trying to do here with my stories. This blog is meant to Inspire and Motivate, and to send a message that no matter how bad life may be, past and present, surrendering your Dream to Succeed in Life should never be an option.

You must be able to pick yourself up even when no one is there to help you or to guide you, and continue on your Journey. In order to ACHIEVE this goal, you must NEVER use your background not to SUCCEED!

You have to recognize your strength and your weaknesses and decide if you are going to ignore it and let it slip away, or SEIZE the moment and become VICTORIOUS. Remember that it’s impossible to learn and  grow and become Successful in Life without the inevitable adversities and difficulties you must contend with and rise above to become a better person…I read that somewhere recently, and I couldn’t have said it any better. 

This next story has nothing to do with me cursing or changing any babies diapers regardless of the title, but it does have to do with something that was done to me when I was about 11 years old that was not only embarrassing but humiliating as well.My wife and younger brother are the only ones who knew until now.

For awhile I had this issue of not wiping myself good after going to the bathroom…I know, sounds embarrassing, but to be honest and blunt, at 51, I really don’t give a damn who knows anymore. Anyway, when I went to the bathroom I always seemed to be rushing myself either to go outside and play, or just being lazy to do the perfect job.

But when it came for my foster-mother to wash our clothes, she would call me by the hamper upstairs near our bedroom door, with my underwear in her hand and start asking me silly questions how come they were soiled inside. Now I knew it was safe to shrug my shoulders to her or just say I don’t know, but what she would do was pretty out of left field.

She would  yell at me that I was disgusting and how much of a pig I was not to wipe myself good, and she do that right in front of her kids, who by the way, would just stand there as one of them would repeat the same thing, then she would take the underwear and shove them into my mouth.

I don’t mean wiping it across my lips, or my face, I mean shoving them inside my mouth while smacking the living shit out of me at the same time. I can’t even tell you how many times this happened. You can bet your ass, either Barry or Linda had something to say when we sat at the dinner table.

One of them would make a sly comment for a chuckle, but Sandy, their younger sister never did. As for my grandfather, he didn’t say much, because it always seemed like he was in his bedroom watching  TV when this was taking place. I have to admit he really didn’t know much of what was going on.

But that never stopped those two nit wits from busting my balls every chance they got. They thought it was funny to tease me the way they did. They had no idea what it felt like of the Humiliation and the Embarrassment they as well as my foster mother, inflicted on me that followed me for many years.

I’m not sure why my foster-father didn’t get involved in this. It was as if he wanted nothing to do with it….I don’t know, maybe he felt it was his wife’s problem and thought she had it under control…to be honest, I didn’t put much thought into it. One Saturday morning my foster-father called me to come down stairs and into the kitchen.

My heart started pounding as I was trying to figure out what I did wrong, but either way, I was preparing myself for the inevitable. I cautiously walked into the kitchen, and there he was standing by the doorway between the backroom and the kitchen holding one of my dirty underwear in one hand and a towel in the other. I had no idea what was about to happen next, but saying I was scared was putting it lightly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                      

Under the Covers

Throughout those eight years living in the foster home where all my beatings and the verbal onslaught took place, there was only one spot in the house where I would hide and pretend I was anywhere else but the one place that was destroying not only my childhood, was in my bed under the covers. I would  close my eyes and  hum the theme to the show the Partridge Family while rocking back and forth. I would close them so hard and wish that someone, anyone, would take me out of this foster home. But that was never going to happen unless I told on them to my social worker Mrs. Caldwell who was assigned to my brother and I.

Once a month, she would visit us and always ask if I liked it there. I would  lie and say yes and then tell her that everything was fine. I never told her about the beatings, I never told her about the names he would call me, I never told her about the humiliating things he would do to me in front of the family, I never told her that I ran away three times, and I never once said how much I hated them all and didn’t want to live there anymore. I put on such an act I was believable. If they were giving out trophies for ” Best Young Bull Shit Artist on Earth”  I would have won it hands down!

After our visit, she would talk with my foster parents for a few minutes, then gather her belongings  and walk out the door. I would stand by the kitchen window looking out hoping she would notice me before she would get inside her car and see that I wanted her to take me with her…but she never did and would drive away.  It  always seemed that no sooner did Mrs. Caldwell leave that I would get the third degree for a couple of minutes. Questions like…What did she ask me, what did I say, do I like living here…those kinds of questions.

I would just tell them what they wanted to hear, and then it was over.  I would either go up stairs or outside. For days after the visit I would be mad at myself for not telling Mrs. Caldwell the truth, but I think I was more concerned that if I did, they would not only take me out of that house, but my little brother as well. I don’t know why he wasn’t treated the way I was, but I was happy that he wasn’t. They really loved my little brother, just too bad I never felt that kind of love the way he did. I started believing that I was just there because  it was a policy for the Orphanage home not to separate siblings.

I starting thinking that the day we all first met in the parlor back in 1968, they had chosen me like a  puppy at a pet shop. You know, when you look through the window searching though the litter, to pick the one that is the most shy and submissive, the one you can house break faster than the wild ones barking and jumping around like little head cases on caffeine. To this day, that’s exactly what I believe. I don’t care what anyone says, but I was a second income for years in that house.

They received a check from New York City Catholic Charities once a month for childcare expenses as well as room and board including paying tuition for the catholic school we both went too. Not a dime came out of my foster parent’s pockets to care for us and that’s a fact! I am on a mission to this day to find out how much they were getting for those eight years I was living there. I do know one thing…those checks stopped when the adoption went through for my brother when he was in his early teens.  

After years living there as foster children, I think Catholic Charities, who ran the orphanage and group homes in NYC, put pressure on my foster parent’s to adopt us. It was all about the money. If you weren’t going to adopt, then we would have to be removed and go back to the orphanage home. It was a financial burden on the system, and I learned that when I was living in a group home when I was fifteen. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t be there to long.

At the age of 14, I had run away many times from that house, and I guess you can say, I ran away one too many times because I ended up at my real fathers house out in West Hempstead Long Island, and the  world I once knew  was about to come to an end, but not the way I hoped it would. You want to know another secret that only my wife knows? To this day, I still rock back and forth right before I go to sleep. This is something I never even told my therapist……..well, not yet.

                                                                                                      

White Ruff

This next story is about a library book that sat in my bedroom for at least three months and totally forgot I even had it. I guess that saying Out of Site Out of Mind applies here. I was in 3rd grade at the time and we had a library inside our school, so once in a while, I would take out a book and bring it home to read and forget that I even had them half the time. But, eventually, I read the books and returned them before the due date….sometimes. But this one particular book titled ” White Ruff  ” sat on my dresser for three months. I remember signing for it, just didn’t remember returning it back to the school library.

One night at the dinner table, just as we were in the middle eating dinner, my foster-brother Barry asked if I had a taken a book from the school library. I had no idea what he was talking about, because it had been awhile that I did, so I just shrugged him off and said no. Thought that was the end of that, but you guessed it, it wasn’t. He asked again like he knew something, but still, I had no idea what he was talking about, but now I was wondering why was he even asking me in the first place. I mean, since when he was so concern what books I take from school? Not for nothing, it wasn’t even his business in the first place, unless he was up to something.    

But this is what they would do to me at the dinner table. They didn’t do this at any other time, but if something was wrong, sure enough it came up at dinner time, as if they all couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. My stomach would turn half the time, because I never knew when someone would bring something up what I’ve done wrong so they can watch how I get my ass handed to me by a deranged school yard bully, only this bully was their father. Can’t believe I just used the Bully terminology.Lets face it, each one of them sitting at that table all knew what would happen to me if I done something wrong.

Was this family that sick themselves, that they enjoyed seeing me get beaten and choked by this animal they called a husband and father? For that reason, I never talked at the dinner table. I just kept my mouth shut and huddled over my dinner and ate fast just to get through it without ant incidents.      Anyway, I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, when his sister Linda had now jumped in and ask if I had taken a book out a few weeks ago. The only thing I was thinking was how long before the old man starts asking. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there playing with my soup trying to figure out if I even taken a book out. in the first place.

Well, it didn’t take long before Barry pulls out the book like he was one of the Hardy boy’s solving a mystery with the help of  Nancy Drew sitting next to me. Maybe they thought they caught me in a lie and believed that I stole this book and tried to hide it. Who knows, either way, I was feeling  light-headed and could hear that familiar sound of my heart pounding hard inside my head again. Sure enough, my foster-father asked me if I have taken the book? Looking up at him, I was kind of confused for a moment….was he asking if I had taken the book or stolen the book?

It does make a big difference, because I could just say I forgot I had it and just return it with the late fee and that would be the end of this story…but I couldn’t be that lucky. So what do I go and do? I tell him that I didn’t remember. Of course that wasn’t going to cut it, so he asked me when did I take the book? At that second I could not think fast enough, when he raised his voice in such a way, I knew what was next. So in a panic, I just shrugged my shoulders. He had just warned me that when he asks me again,  I better not say I don’t know or shrug my shoulder or he was going throw the can of soda at my God Damn Head! 

Trying not to cry, all I could do was shrug my shoulders and with  fear in my voice said I didn’t know. That can was tossed right at my head just as he threatened, and got up towards me with the book in his hand and grabs me as I was sitting, and squeezes the back of my neck so hard I thought his fingers were going to tear into my skin. My mother yells for him to let go, but he still managed to get one of his infamous karate chops to the back of my neck before she jumped in to shield me from  anymore harm. Everyone just sat there in silence. I guess they got what they wanted. To see me get beaten up by their own father.

As my mother was holding me tight, I remember looking at my brother Timmy sitting there with his hands over his ears as he had done so many times before. What was he thinking through his little mind witnessing the beatings through his eye’s? He was three years younger than me…Will he remember them or will those memories fade away as he grows older…I always wondered. I never did get to eat my soup, just as well, I hated her soup anyway. To me it was  just a bowl of hot water and small shells.I may have loved her, but my foster-mother couldn’t cook to save her life.I just went upstairs like I always did after all my beatings, and gone to bed.

But, not without standing on the top of the steps and hearing my foster-father instruct Barry to return the book to my teacher, and tell her that I stole it and I lied about it. Sure enough, in the morning right in the middle of a reading class, there’s Barry knocking on the door to my classroom and walks in with the book in his hand, approaches my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Baldassano  while he looked right at me and said the following, ” My Foster brother Michael stole this book, and had no attention of returning it”,  then looked at me with a grin on his face and walked out of the classroom.

My teacher just stared at me with disappointment and asked to see me when class was over.  My classmates all sat there in total silence as I just wanted to crawl inside my desk feeling humiliated and embarrassed what just took place. Here is my foster-brother walking into my class, and tells everyone that I was a thief. From that moment on, I knew that no matter what, he was going to pay for doing that.  He had no idea what I was planning to do, and either did I , but I knew one day I was going to make him pay…and pay he did, just read the story “MY SEVERANCE PAY.”   🙂

 

Cotton balls and Pancake

I am sure most of you are wondering how did the Social Services fail me and not know what was happening all those years living in that foster home, and not have one person intervene on my behalf. Simply put it…no one  knew. I never said anything to anyone until I was 17  and already out on my own to my than social worker Judy O’Brien.

You also have to understand that this was the late 60’s and 70’s. Child Abuse was not even an issue or talked about back then, and it wasn’t till the 80’s when it finally was getting the attention and the recognition it deserved. I will tell you how my beatings were hidden from the outside world that not even my teachers picked up on any signs that were clearly there staring in their faces.

For starters, no one saw the bruises on my neck because most of my beatings that took place always seemed to be on the weekends. So that gave a couple of days for the marks to fade away. But, when I was beaten on a week night, my mother had something she would use in the morning before I went to school…and that was Cotton Balls and Pancake.

Now anyone from the 70’s know what I am talking about. The women back then used that as make up from a small tan liquid bottle on their faces to cover any blemishes or break outs. So when I would come down stairs to have breakfast, my mother would notices some bruises on my neck and  go into the medicine cabinet and return with cotton balls and her magic bottle of that brown makeup.

She would lightly dab away as she blew on the cover up to dry faster before carefully buttoning up my white school shirt but leave the top open and clipped on my school tie. From what I heard, there was doubt that this was even done to me. But let me make this very clear. Everyone was upstairs getting dressed for school because they were always dragging their ass’s getting ready for school and that is why no one ever saw this take place.

What’s crazy about this story is, I just remembered this not too long ago. I was flipping through the cable channels one night, when I came across a scene of a woman who had been robbed and beaten by a mugger and was too afraid to tell anyone including her husband. Turns out  that she was cheating and didn’t belong in that undesirable neighborhood  across town in the first place.

The next morning, she looked in the mirror and saw bruises on her neck and arm. Nervously she took out some cotton balls and make up and started dabbing away where the marks were…than just stared at herself in the mirror. That’s when it hit me. That was exactly what my foster-mother did to cover up the art work her husband left on my neck countless times. Amazing, after all these years, it took a scene from a movie to remind me this forgotten secret…… Cotton Balls and Pancake.

 

I Am My Brother’s Keeper

My brother was about three years old when we were going back and forth to this foster home back in 1968 before being placed there permanently. He had no idea what was going on, and I am sure his memory of anything that young was very limited at best. But I will share with you all something  what both our foster parents would do to him that would get him to cry.

No, they didn’t touch him or beat him in any way.They didn’t punish him or anything like that. It was six words they would torture  him with…I Don’t Love You No More! They both would say that to him just to see his mouth shake, what they referred as the “Birdie Mouth” followed by pressing his head against my mother’s side and cry. 

What was wrong with them. At that age we both were traumatized coming from a life of a broken home, and being placed in an orphanage home before being placed here, and for your enjoyment, you tell a five-year old that you don’t love him anymore?I’m not kidding. I can’t remember how many times they would do that to him…even at the dinner table they would pull that shit with him in front of everyone.

What bothered me even  more, after teasing him, you know what they would do next…..HUG HIM! After my baby brother cried his eye’s out so many times, they had the audacity to HUG HIM after repeatedly telling him how they didn’t love him anymore?  What were they thinking of? Did they really believe that was funny to them?

To them and everyone else at the table thought it was cute to see him get upset the way he did, but for the life of me, could never understand why they would do such a thing to a little boy, who by the way…WAS MY BROTHER! I hated all of them for doing that to him for a long time. Just the thought of it now is upsetting that I can’t think straight.

I had to stop doing this story for ten minutes just to clear my head before I continue. Maybe he doesn’t remember any of this…I don’t know, not like we talked about it…but I remembered, and that’s all that  matters.  I love my brother so much, that I would go back in time right now, this very second, and let my foster-father give me his best beatings, if it stopped my brother from ever hearing those words.

Just because he was adopted and holds another last name, never changed the fact, that he is my brother to this day, and I will always look out for him till the day I die……for I am My Brother’s Keeper!

Just a Thought

You can cry, scream, complain, point fingers, get all depressed, feel sorry for yourself and blame others for all the bad choices you made in life. But the reflection of the person you see in the mirror, is the only person who can CHANGE all that…..just a thought.

catlion

 

Pass The Salt Please

It was a hot summer Saturday afternoon back in 1976, and my mother put out cold cuts for dinner like she usually did when she didn’t feel like cooking, and that was just fine with me. I loved the ham sandwiches with potato and macaroni salad on the side. That was a treat considering that we ate the same food every week.

The week started off with starting soup on Monday, Hamburgers (burnt) on Tuesday, Steak (burnt) on Wednesday, Prince Spaghetti day on Thursday, and Fri was either Fish sticks (burnt) or Pizza from Master’s Pizzeria. So when it came to eating sandwiches I was having seconds. But this particular day, when I went down in the basement to get soda from the refrigerator, there were only four cans left.

Shit…I forgot to tell my foster-father that we were running low on soda a few days ago, so that after work he would have brought home a couple of cases like he always did. If you remember a few stories back, I had many chores  and counting soda was one of them. I stood there for about a minute thinking of an excuse why I forgot to tell him we were running low. 

I knew he was going to be pissed when I came back up with only four cans instead of six. I mean, this guy loved his soda. I had already experienced his wrath when I had forgotten a few other times over the years. So once again, I had to think of an excuse, but I couldn’t. I figured I was due for a berating session anyway, so what the fuck right?

 I mean, it had been awhile, so I am sure for him this would be justification to start calling me names like bow-legged freak, spic, good for nothing, or his favorite name he had for me…Michelle!  Hell, maybe he might sneak up behind me as he always did, and give me one of his favorite ” Karate Chops” to the neck. Either way, this was not going to end well for me.

So there I am, unloading the sodas from my arms, and that one can of beer for my grand father, when sure enough he asked where were the other cans? I didn’t even bother trying to make up a story, I just told him that I forgot to remind him that we were running low. He didn’t say anything at first.

He just sat there looking around the table as if he was waiting for someone else to bitch, but no one said anything. My mother, with a soft voice said it was fine and made a jug of iced tea for anyone who wasn’t drinking soda. She saved the day and I wasn’t going to get in trouble after all. We just started eating our sandwiches when my foster-father decided to ask me out of the blue, what were we going to drink on Sunday?

In my head, I responded with a fuck you, followed by how I didn’t give a shit what they drank, and they all could drink dog piss for all I care, or maybe get off his ass and go to the fucking store himself  if he needed to drink that shit so bad with dinner. I Swear that’s exactly what I said… in my head of course. But, in reality I just looked at him and said I didn’t know.  

That was not going to fly well, because nothing he hated more was hearing those words “I Don’t Know” coming from my mouth when I didn’t have an answer for something. If that didn’t crush his balls, the ” Shrugging of my Shoulders ” would drive him over the edge for sure. Now, I took many beatings over the years for doing just that, but the shrugging of the shoulders was all I could do when I was too scared to say “I don’t know” when asked a question.

His face would get all distorted with just those three words. But today it was different. He just sat there calm for a moment than he takes his can and throws it at me and hits me on the right side of my head. His daughter Sally, who sat to my left, ducked on that one. My mother yelled at him for a few seconds, and the table got quiet.

My grand father could only shake his head with disgust, leave his half eaten sandwich, and head back to his bedroom upset. This old man had seen enough. He was in his 80’s and couldn’t do anything to stop the abuse he had witnessed over the years, and I knew that bothered him.

My foster-father continued complaining how there wasn’t going to be any soda for Sunday’s dinner while my mother tired of his mouth, tells him to just shut up. I just leaned over like a convict protecting his chow, and started eating my potato salad when he explodes out of his chair, lunges over the table and “Stabs” me in my right arm with his FORK! 

I’m telling you, that fork not only broke skin, but stood in an up right position when he let go for a couple of seconds before my mother jumps out from her chair and runs over screaming at him as she pulled it from my arm. She then hurries into the bathroom and gets out that bottle of red liquid called Mercurochrome and dabbed it on my arm…..You know what I did?

I asked Barry to pass the salt as I took my fork from my right hand and switched to my left and defiantly continued eating saying absolutely nothing. I then got up to throw away my paper plate and went straight to my room. As I cried silently on my bed, right then and there, I decided I wasn’t going to give this ” PRICK ” any more satisfaction seeing my pain any longer.

I was going to fight back from now on. I didn’t know how just yet. It was not like I was planning to do it anytime soon, but you can bet your ass, the next time he even thinks of beating me……..will be his last.

 

The TRUTH Shall Set You Free

If you thought for one moment this GI Joe watch was over…think again. That was round one of the ass kicking I took that Friday night, and I never admitted anything or told the true story how I even obtained the watch in the first place. I guess I should have, then the punishment would have fitted the crime… well in his mind at least.

You see, the next morning I took my time to go down stairs for breakfast, I was waiting for my foster-father to go outside or do something, just as long as he wasn’t in the kitchen. But when I walked in, there he was sitting at the table smoking his Pall Malls reading the newspaper as always. Every morning, he wake up coughing and spitting up all that shit in his throat for like five minutes straight, from many years abusing his lungs since he was a teen.

There were many times he would have a choking fit right in the bathroom by the kitchen. I would lay in bed listening, and be waiting for my mother’s scream for someone to dial 911. To be honest, I was hoping that he would have choked to death. I fantasized that the paramedics came and couldn’t do anything to save him and pronounced him dead right there on the floor of the kitchen, right where I sat having my Cheerios.

When everyone was screaming and crying…I was smiling. May sound sick, but that’s the truth! Anyway, as I sat down to eat my Cheerios, he was sitting at his spot pretending to read his newspaper while puffing away on his Pall Malls, but I am sure what was on his mind wasn’t in the papers, but the vicious beating he had given me the night before.

My mother was wiping down the table when he decided to ask me again about that watch. I guess he thought that I would just  get down on my hands and knees and blurt out a confession that I stole that watch from his son. Let’s get this straight. I stole the watch and lied where I got it from.

I gave it to his son like an idiot, then took it back and returned it to my classmate without him ever knowing it, and this poor excuse for a parent, continued questioning me like he bought the watch for his son and I actually stole it from him. That wasn’t going to happened. So I stuck with the original story, and denied everything.

Then suddenly, he started talking nice and asked if I was playing with it, and just forgot where I left it. Seemed like an opening to me, so I went with it and said maybe and that I just didn’t remember. So he asked me where was the last place I was and we both can look for it. Well, I thought about the back yard and the empty lot next to us and said that I was there playing.

He decided that after I finished eating, we both will go outside and search for it. Fine with me but right there, even for a ten-year old, I knew it was going to be a long day, and a long day it was. Every time we couldn’t find it, I would tell him it might be somewhere else… in the back yard, the side of the house, the empty lot next door to us, my bedroom, even the basement and attic.

By now, seven hours had passed looking for this frigging watch that didn’t exist, I still refused to tell the truth.By where the sun was, I knew it was past dinner time and everyone had finished eating and was out of the house. I went back in the woods, and continued to search until my mother called me in to wash up and eat dinner.

After cleaning up, I sat down alone at the table with my dinner on a paper plate with another one covering it. There was no microwave to reheat, so I sat there eating a cold dry burnt hamburger with French fries and corn on the side. A can of Hoffman cola sat there warm. I had just put the fork in my mouth to begin eating when I felt that familiar force to the back of my neck with the flash of bright white light that followed in my head.

I was already on the floor, when he grabbed me again by the throat and threw me into the china closet. I could hear my mother yelling once again for him to stop, but all I heard was his voice for her to mind her own business. No one was in the kitchen but us three. Just as I got up, I was lifted off the ground and rammed into the pantry closet just like the night before.

I was screaming by then and begging for him to stop, but that wasn’t the end of it. He grabbed me in a bear hug, and I must have taken about three blows to the back of my neck while my mother was trying to pull him off.  As much as she was shielding me, he still managed to get one more hard smack to the side of my head that my ear felt like it was on fire.

It was so numb I didn’t feel it for hours. While this was going on, he kept asking if I stole the watch while my mother pushed him  away from me. By now, I would have admitted that I caused the Great Black out of 1977 to stop him from beating me. Between catching my breath from crying so much, I told him that I did take it and lost it.

My mother, in a soft sympathetic voice, asked me why didn’t I just tell them the truth? I just looked at her and told her that I was scared. She then sent me to my room where I stayed for the rest of the evening till I fell asleep. When I woke up, it was Sunday morning and I could hear everyone downstairs in the kitchen eating breakfast.

I could smell bacon and my mother’s pancakes all the way upstairs to my bedroom. She went to the bottom of the steps calling me to come down and eat. As I walked in the kitchen, my mother had already made me a plate. I sat down, not saying a word to anyone and started eating.

I had to apologize to their son for taking the watch and lying about it. The funny thing is…to this day, I never told any of them the TRUE STORY about that GI Joe watch. But, I do know one thing….whoever said the TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE….was an ASSHOLE!

 

Just A Thought…

I couldn’t live two life times to tell all my stories on this blog, and I am trying to save most of them for the book that I am planning to write sometime this year. Besides my nightmare of a childhood for those eight plus years in that foster home, I have many other stories after that life. Like living in a group home for about eight months before being asked if I wanted to return back to the original foster home.

I also have many stories to share my experiences being homeless for four years till twenty-one, the age when I became a husband in 1983 and a father the following year. During the eighties, I became so irresponsible, it’s almost humiliating to even think about them. I can’t count how many jobs I held, and how many times I left my young wife home alone caring for our two little girls, while I went out to bars and clubs with my friends.

We may have been in our early twenties, but I was not ready to be, not only a husband, but a father as well. I had no business being married at such a young age. There should be a law that no one can get married til the age of  twenty-five, and I would have been the poster child for that.

But my life totally changed at the age of thirty-one, after ten years fighting to become a New York City Police Officer, turned out another Police dept. hired me instead…The Port Authority of  New York and New Jersey. But as always, that wasn’t going to be easy either, and I have one hell of a story how that all came to be.

I also have stories to share of my experiences on 9-11, where not only we lost the most Police Officers in law enforcement history, but how I lost a dear friend and partner when the North Tower fell on him and all those trying to save as many lived as they can. Back in the spring of 2002, I been diagnosed with P T S D { Post Dramatic Stress Syndrome} and suffering through Survivors Guilt even to this day.

So I will just cut to the chase here…I been battling Depression for the last thirteen years and continue therapy every other week…yep…this head is definitely broken, but at least I’m aware and not in denial anymore. I truly believe had I not turn down the over time to work, the count of our “Brave Police Officers” who died that day would have 38 and not 37.

One day, I will share my pain with you my days at ground zero that changed not only my life, but I will share how I almost destroyed my marriage, and broke the hearts of the three most important people in my life…my wife and two daughters. In time, I will share my three years being separated following 9-11, and will tell how someone saved my life from ending it all.

The reason that I am doing this blog and sharing my life to all of you is not for sympathy towards me, but hoping something  good comes out of this when this blog has run its course. If I can just reach out to the ones who are too scared or ashamed of their painful childhood, maybe, just maybe, I can change their lives for the better and help them over come their childhood demons and take back control of their Destiny and still become Successful in Life….I am living proof of that!!!!

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G.I. Joe Watch (Part 3)

Well, I heard lots of moving around upstairs in my bedroom for a good twenty minutes and then silence. Other then my baby brother whining about how he didn’t want to eat any more of his fish sticks it was pretty much the same at the dinner table…it’s amazing I can remember that. I don’t know what was going through my mind at that very moment, but he was about to come back down empty-handed and I was bracing myself for the inevitable.

When I glanced to my left, I could see him walking back through the hallway and he was moving in slow motion. Even the sound of my brother’s voice whining sounded slow. As I looked around the table, everybody was in slow motion. My mother was cutting up my little brother’s fish sticks, and it seems like seconds just to make one cut. All of a sudden, I felt this pressure on the back of my neck, and a bright flash of white light flooded throughout the inside of my head.

Than everything started moving normal again, and as if someone turned up the volume from inside my head. Then it happened. Linda had moved away from her seat, because I found myself bending over toward her side of the chair, and she was standing between the doorway of the kitchen and the backroom.

That when I  was lifted off the ground and thrown against the pantry door behind me where I was sitting. I looked right at his eyes, and what I saw wasn’t the man I once saw playing the banjo with a lampshade on his head all happy and singing…this was a monster with a red face and his eyes just as red, had his hands around my throat, lifting me off the ground, slamming my head as hard as he could into the pantry door.

His fingers were so tight around my little neck, I no longer could scream or cry because he had cut off my air way…I was going to die right there in the kitchen. Through my tears, I looked over to my mother, and I think she was scarred herself, because I finally saw her get up from her chair making her way to me, yelling for him to stop.

As he still held on to me, I could see him biting his tongue as he always did, before and during all my beatings, then he opened his hand and released me. I dropped hard onto the floor trying to catch my breath, with my pants all wet from peeing myself, I looked up to see my mother above, shielding me from the hands of a monster.

He continued to scream in a deep voice, calling me a Spic (slang for Puerto Rican) and a Thief, as he tried to reach over my mother’s shoulder, attempting to grab the back of my neck. As she lifted me, I thought I was going to pass out in her arms. He walked over to his chair, still calling me a fucking spic and a thief, and went on about how his kids never stole anything, and how he has a spic in the house who’s a thief.

I don’t know what else he was saying, because I was trying to stop crying so I could catch my breath. She called him a “Fucking Animal” for doing what he did, as she held me tight in her arms. My mother when upset or angry, had no problem using every cuss word in the book. She used all of them on him.

I looked over through her arms and could see him almost choking on his own dentures that were falling out of his mouth from yelling so much, trying to fix them, as he still continue the verbal assault. As she was wiping my tears and my face with her apron, my mother told me to go upstairs and change my clothes and to lay down on the bed to calm down.

I remember asking her if he was going to go upstairs also, which she assure me that he wasn’t. I left the kitchen and through the hallway covering my mouth, so he wouldn’t hear me crying, and went straight upstairs to the bathroom to wash up. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was red marks all over my neck, and my eyeballs looked like they were bleeding.

I looked down at my pants and they were soaking wet from peeing all over myself. I took them off, and the smell got stronger.  You know when you change little babies diapers, as soon as you take off the clothes, you get that first whiff after they pee on themselves….that was me…except I was ten and not ten months old.

I could still hear him yelling at his wife, just couldn’t hear what he was saying. I guess I didn’t want to. My neck was starting to hurt, and my body began to ache. I just cleaned myself up and went to bed. You know what I was doing when I was laying there all alone in the room? I tried to hold my breath as long as I could…..Ten years old, and I had my first thoughts of suicide.

 

G.I. Joe Watch (part 2)

I would have had a great plan had Barry not walked in the bedroom when he did, but now I had to figure out a way to get Tony’s watch back without him knowing that I had taken it in the first place. Not to drift here, but I hated spelling bee’s when we had them in class, because the easiest words gave me the most headaches, like the word Stressful…S…T…R…E…S…S…F…U…l…Stressful, and that was exactly how my day was.

I looked up at our classroom clock, with my left leg shaking under my desk from anxiety, waiting for this day to end. The clock shows 2:43…two more minutes, I got this under control, I’m saying to myself with my eyes closed. I open them up and it was only 2:44. I thought for sure my eyes were closed for two minutes.

I looked around the classroom to see that all my other classmates are waiting patiently, and here I am ready to pull a hammer out from my ass and run up to the bell above the classroom door and bang it myself.  Finally went off….Thank God! I ran to the head of the line to be the first to dart out of the building to my waiting mother in the parking lot.

But of course, we had to wait for the rest of the Partridge family to get out of class. So we sat there for at least another five minutes till everyone got in the car so we can head on home. My mother seems to be taking her time exiting the parking lot, and here I am wishing I was Fred Flintstones so I can blast both my feet through the car floor and help her move this blue dragon on wheels faster.

On our way, I looked over at Barry’s wrist, and sure enough he’s wearing the watch. He had no idea that he will not be wearing that for long once I get my hands on it…again. After stopping at the grocery store on our way home, as we always did for bread, milk and snacks, we finally pulled in the driveway.

As always, I would go upstairs first to change, while both my foster sisters seemed to linger in their school uniform for a while, when Barry walks in and started to change also. I noticed he took the watch off and placed it inside the night table draw and closed it. He put on his sneakers and out the bedroom door he went.

That night, when everyone was in bed, I looked over to see if he was sleeping, and then opened the draw slowly to peek if the watch was inside…and it was. I closed it, and laid there waiting to hear my foster-father cough his ass off downstairs as he always did. That’s when I knew it was almost time for all of us to get up.

So I got up first, took the watch, and placed it inside my school bag and jumped back into bed till I heard my foster-father leave the house and my mother ironing all our uniforms as she did every single morning. I could still hear the sounds of the steam coming from that old iron as I am typing. She then would stand at the bottom of the stairs and scream out every one of our names to get out of bed.

 She would do that a couple of times till she blew a gasket and started using profanity and her yells became piercing screams. I was already downstairs by then, eating my cereal when she would switch from Mrs. Brady to Linda Blare from the Exorcist. My younger brother was right next to me at the kitchen table as always.

We were never a problem getting up, it was her kids that would give her the nervous break down every single morning. Anyway, as we jumped inside the car, I noticed Barry wasn’t wearing the GI Joe watch and didn’t say anything either…good…because he was never going to see that watch again as long as he lived that’s for sure.

When we got to the school, everyone was already inside because we were late…as always. So I had to get a late pass from the principal’s office and headed to my classroom. My classmates were already settled in, waiting to start daily prayer. I noticed that Tony was not in that day…talk about luck…so I took the watch and placed it inside his desk all the way back with his school books and the dirty deed was done.

The watch was returned to its rightful owner, now I would have to go to confession and spill my guts to Father Sandie’s what I had done, and receive my penance…and that would be 4 Our Father’s, 3 Hail Mary’s and my sin would be forgiven. Well, that may be true for most, but it wasn’t God who I feared in my young life.

 

As it turned out, my classmate Tony had the Chicken pox and was out for that whole week. So I felt pretty good that when he returns, he will find his watch and all would be just fine. Barry never brought up the watch either, so I guess you can say all went well. But that would not be the case. That Friday night, we were all at the dinner table eating fish sticks and fries, Barry decided at that moment, to ask me if I had seen the G.I. Joe watch I had given him.

I knew something was up, but I continued eating pretending that I didn’t hear him. That gave me enough time to think fast how to respond. So, he asked again, but this time he wasn’t he only one. Linda had asked me also. I can understand why Barry did, but not for nothing, why was she asking me?  

I just looked up and said I didn’t know, and reminded him that he had it last, and had no idea what he did with it. My mother just sat there with a look on her face, and that was enough for me to figure this topic was not about to end. I continued eating when his father asked him where he put it last.

Barry responded that it was in his night table and when he went to put it on today it was gone. With that, my heart started beating fast, followed by my head feeling all warm once again, and on top of that, I now lost my appetite. I knew that I couldn’t very well tell the truth, that I originally stole the watch and returned it to its owner, so I just played it cool, to see where this was heading.

But I do know this, they all knew about this missing watch way before I even sat at the dinner table, as if this was planned from the beginning when the questioning would come up. My foster-father turned to me and asked when did I see the watch last. All I did was shrug my shoulder and said I didn’t know, when without warning, he flung his can of soda just missing me and landed on the floor behind me.

He then stood up and asked me if I had stolen it from his son. The last time I heard the word “Stole” was when I was about eight years old when I took my friends Scott’s watch from his toy box. Before I got to answer him, he went over to where I was sitting, grabbed the back of my neck and said the following… You Son of a Bitch, you better hope I find it before I come back down! 

He then let go, stormed out of the kitchen and up the stairs he went to find the watch. It was silent for a moment at the table, I looked over to my mother and I know I gave her the look hoping that she will protect me for what was about to happen next when her husband comes back down stairs empty-handed….

 

The G.I. Joe Watch (Part 1)

To all who are following my blog up to this point, as I have warned before, this story and the many more to follow, will not only be disturbing, but violent as well. Back in 1969, I was supposed to be saved from a life in an orphanage by being placed in a Foster Home, where I should have been protected, loved and sheltered, from the ugliness I once knew growing up in the projects back on the west side of NYC.

Instead, it was that very foster home where I needed to be saved from. As I think back remembering every single beating by the hands of the man I would one day call “Dad”, I can only think of two things that I feared most growing up in that house for those 8 years….my foster-father’s temper, and when he would silently stand behind me.

It was the beginning of June in 1972, and we had a couple more weeks before the school year ended. Did I ever mention that I went to Catholic school? Mt. Carmel St. Benedict was the name. The last time I drove by the old building was about 10 years ago…surprised that it still looks the same just with fewer children then when I went.

Back in the day, we had nuns and priest for teachers, mixed in also were Leigh teachers. When we horsed around in class, or got caught doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing, we paid the price by the back hands of those very nuns who were our teachers. Nowadays, two things happen to any teachers that even touch a student for disciplinary action…LAWSUITS and JAIL TIME.                                                                                                                                

 That’s a shame in my opinion. Because to this day, I wish I could thank some of those very nuns that cracked me across the face for the antics I pulled when I was a little boy. I spent enough days having to stay after school mopping the convent floors, or cleaning the nun’s chapel dusting all the statues and replacing candles that needed to be…well….replaced.

Trust me, even back then, getting punished by the nuns, because I chose to be one of the class clown for attention, (wonder why), but my punishments continued at home as well…talk about double jeopardy. Growing up in a Catholic school with the teachers we had, Democracy did not exist no matter what our history books taught us.

If you acted up even just once, and you paid the ultimate price in front of the class….Humiliation!But, I had that wrapped up and sealed in my young life. I was used to being humiliated and having my share of Discipline by my foster-father back home. Guess you can say I was a pro receiving  more than just his back hand when I got in trouble at home…even when I actually did nothing wrong but shrug my shoulders when asked a simple question like…Did you do that?

Anyway, one day I was sitting in class when I noticed my classmate Tony was wearing a cool green watch. When I asked to see it, he turned around and showed me all the cool things it had…like a compass, guess if you got lost in the school yard, a mini telescope, to spy on the girls when they were playing jump rope in the school yard, and a cool time design in the shape of GI Joe laying down with a rifle in his hand.                                                            

So, what do I do? I asked him if I can wear it. He had no trouble taking it off  and handing it to me just like that. Even helped me strap it on. What a nice kid right? Well, after the bell rang for lunch, we all put our books away, when I nonchalant  took the watch off and placed it inside my school bag in the back of the classroom.

We all got on-line and headed to the cafeteria for lunch. I guess Tony forgot that he came to school with it on, because he never once said anything to me for the rest of the day. The last bell rang on this warm Friday afternoon, letting us know it was 2:15 and the end of the school day.

We all got up, rushed to the back of the room to retrieve our school bags, then jumped on-line to stand next to our school buddies to be marched out of the classroom and out of the school building to be released to our waiting parents either in the front lobby or outside in the parking lot. It was the weekend, our two days off  from school with no homework.

When I got home, the first thing we all did was to get out of our school uniforms and put on our play clothes, then back down stairs in the kitchen to do our homework if we had any that day. But the only ones who really did was just me. Everyone else did theirs anywhere but the kitchen.

After torturing my mother as she helped me do my math homework, which I never had enough fingers and toes to count with, I put my books back in my school bag and then rushed outside to play with my friends till I heard my mother’s voice yelling through the front door. As practiced by all the moms in the neighborhood, that it was time for dinner.

I would then stop whatever I was doing and run back home and through the kitchen to wash my hands in the bathroom. But for some reason, before I sat down at my spot, I remembered that I placed the GI Joe watch on the night table that was between my foster-brother’s bed and mine. When I went to retrieve the stolen goods to hide it, it was too late.

My foster-brother was in the room getting changed when he had the watch in his hand and asked me where I got it from. Thinking fast, I told him that I found it up the street at the old school yard where we always played baseball. He then asked me if he could have it as he was trying it on. Without hesitation I said yes. What was I thinking?

I’m the one that lifted the goods and took the risk of getting caught, and here I am letting him have my watch. So, we both went down stairs to eat our dinner. We had a big round dark wooden table in our kitchen, so the seating chart was at follows…My foster sister Linda sat to my right, her sister Sandy sat to my left.

To her left was my Grandfather, to his left was the baby of the family my brother, and then my mother, then her son Barry, then last but not least…my foster-father. The table may have been round, but he made it very clear he was sitting at the head of the table…and you knew it!

As we were eating, my foster father, in the middle of dinner, noticed the green watch on his son’s wrist and asked him if that was his best friends watch because he never saw it before. Barry told him that I found it outside and gave it to him. So far so good. No one made a big issue out of this, so I was feeling pretty good.

I mean, yes, I took this watch from a school friend, who didn’t know it was missing. Barry is now wearing it, and I didn’t get the third degree about exactly how I found it. After dinner, I cleaned up a bit and went back outside to play. It was the weekend now, and not once did I never say Barry wear the watch.

But I did see it sitting there at the end of the night table, so I just looked at it for a second and I started to feel guilty that I have taken it in the first place. It was Monday morning and we were all getting ready for school. I took one more look at the watch just for a brief moment and thought about hiding it in my school bag and just return it back to Tony.

I could have said I forgot even had it and wanted to return it…and honest Abe move at best. But, before I finished that thought, Barry came back inside the room, put his uniform on and wouldn’t you believe he put the frigging watch on? You got to be kidding me. He doesn’t wear it all weekend, and now he decides to wear it…to school…where I stole I from? 

I could see that this was going to be a long day that’s for sure. I could hear my mother yelling at all of us that it was time to leave, and all I could do was stared at that watch on Barry’s wrist as we left the house, and inside the car on our way to school. Even when we got out of the car to kiss our mother good-bye, I still couldn’t take my eye’s off that damn watch.

Just as we started walking, our principal would ring the hand hell gold-plated bell for us to stop what we were doing. The second ring was for us to get in line. The third was to enter the school building and  march in line right into our classroom. As we were taking our books out of our bags, Tony, the boy who I took the watch from, turned around and asked me had I seen his watch he let me wear that past Friday.

My heart pounded so fast and felt my head getting all hot as I was trying to think fast what to say back. What seemed like minutes was actually just seconds when I responded that I gave it back to him and maybe he lost it. Great, not only am I a thief, now I’m a liar as well. I even helped him look for it inside his desk.

I could see that it was on his mind throughout the day, because he kept looking for it any chance he got. I had to do something, I had to get that watch back to him one way or another…So I had a plan to do just that.                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Banjo and Lampshades

The only good quality that I saw in my foster-father was his humor. I have to admit, when he was in the mood to clown around, he put it all out there to get a laugh, even if it was a lame joke. This one time, I remember playing catch with my younger brother when our mother called us inside for dinner.

We tossed our gloves off and raced, as always, to the back door to see who made it to the bathroom to wash up first.  It was usually me, but sometimes I let him win so that I can throw it in his face when I needed too. Brotherly love at it’s best! Anyway, I was sitting at the kitchen table while my mother was putting the food on the table, when my left arm started to hurt. 

As I started to rub it, I caught my foster-father’s attention and he asked me if my arm hurt when I moved it, which I responded back that it did. He snapped back with a smile on his face, and told me not to move it then. He went on about it for a few more seconds, but it always got a chuckle from me, because it was the faces he made when he asked me different questions about moving my arms.

At times, he just would sit at his spot at the table with his legs crossed, smoking a Pall Mall, and would make smoke rings come out of his mouth as he rolled his eye’s back blinking them fast. Maybe he didn’t always get the laughs from his own kids, but he always got them from me. He would take spoons and play them as if they were drum sticks and hit anything in front of him, and that would annoy the shit out of my foster-sister Linda at times and she let him know it too.

Besides Linda being tall and very pretty, she sometimes came off a bit tough with her mouth, and I kind of liked that in her. She was the kind of girl who not only stood up for herself, but with that big smile and personality, you knew she was in the room no matter where we went. She also just might be the reason I love curvy women in jeans to this day.

She wore them tight like it was second skin back when she was in her teens. To me, it was almost as if jeans were invented with her in mind. If anyone had a perfect body to wear them…it was Linda hands down. OK, I’m drifting away here…let’s get back to my original story. My foster-father also had a hidden talent that I for one never knew.

I must have been about thirteen years old when we all went to Williamsburg Brooklyn for a New Years Eve party, held in my Uncle’s basement where we had been plenty of times for family functions over the years.My brother and I were in the living room playing when all we could hear were the women  laughing and screaming, as music played in the background.

Our Aunts, Cousins and Uncles were downstairs, but the ones we heard the most, were the Aunts doing all the hollering and screaming. So we got up, walked over to the basement door to listen to someone singing with music. I opened the door, with my brother behind me, and went halfway down the steps and knelt between the banisters to see someone wearing what seem to be a big hat, playing a banjo singing in a silly voice. You guessed it, it was my foster-father.

Whatever the words were to the song he was singing had everyone laughing and screaming, trying to sing along with him. All I could do was stare at him and everything he was doing from where we were on the steps. I don’t know what came over me, but I went down those steps and walked closer to him to see his face. I remember just staring at him as if I was hypnotized or something.

What I thought was a big hat turned out to be a lampshade over his head while he played this banjo just singing away. The family surrounded him as if he was a performer surrounded by his fans on stage.  For some reason, when he stopped in the middle of this song to take a sip from his drink or say something, god only knows what, they all burst out laughing, followed by claps and laughs.  

I wish I knew what the hell the song was, or if it was a song he made up. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever it was, sure got everyone all excited and worked up almost in a frenzy. He was the star of the family that night, and everyone loved him. Then one of our cousins yelled that it was almost New Years and then the count started…5…4…3…2…1….then everyone yelled Happy New Year!!!

As the hugs and kisses spread throughout the basement, I looked over to where my foster-father was standing with his drink in his hand and that silly lampshade still on his head, and for a moment…just for a moment, I wanted to be like him. Too bad when we went home that News Years evening, the banjo wasn’t in the car to come home with us….

 

My Grandpa

The only man I have ever known to call my grandfather, was my foster mother’s dad Terry. He was from Italy the town of Naples, the old country as he would say. I remember one day  he showed me pictures of himself as a young man, he was not only handsome, but built like a bull as well.  I would ask him many times to make a muscle just so I can see him flex and be amazed of the size of his arms that looked like they were ready to explode.

Almost every night, I would go upstairs and sit down on the floor beside his bed as he sat on his rocking chair by the window watching either Gun Smoke or Bonanza on his TV set. That man loved all western movies and series. But nothing excited him more than watching a John ‘The Duke” Wayne movie. 

I would be sitting down on the floor, watching one of his favorite shows, and he’d ask me to get him a beer from the basement, which was pretty much almost every night. I would look at him with a smile and as I left his room like the happy obedient littler servant that I was. I would get him his favorite beer Schaffer from the fridge, run back upstairs to his room, and stand directly in front of him with the can in my hand anticipating his next move, the nodding of his head.

That’s right. I’d stare at him like a faithful dog giving his master the ball so he can throw it. But the ball was that very can of beer I was holding and the nod he gave was the sign to open it up and take a sip, and boy did I take big sips. When I  finished, I handed him back the beer and sat back down wiping  the excess off my lips as we continued watching whatever program was on the TV set.

 Come to think of it, I even remember my first sip of beer with him. I was sitting on the floor in his bedroom as I usually did, watching Ten Commandments with Charleston Heston. Just after the scene when Moses’ mother told him who he was, while she was holding his blanket that he was wrapped in as a little baby inside the basket, my grand father asked me to get him a beer.

I must have been about eleven years old at that time, but I did just that for him and came back in his room with the beer in my hand. He looked at me and asked if I wanted a sip. There were only two people besides my grandfather who I ever saw drinking beer… my childhood best friend’s dad and my uncle who lived in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

So I figured if they drank it,  it must taste good. So, I took  one sip, followed by another small one when he encouraged me to take a man’s sip. So I took a big gulp and started coughing it up because it went straight down my throat. My eyes watered up and I felt my belly get all cold. The only thing I remember thinking  following that episode was, how good it taste!

The rest was history. That was our moment together when men were men drinking beer and sharing tales together. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but still, that was always my highlight sharing a few sips of beer with my grandfather after a long day at the office.

I have many other nice memories of him besides our beer moments. I used to help him in the garden and water the vegetables. I helped him make his wine one year with my brother and foster-sister. I would hand him his cane and walk with him around the block just to stretch his legs. I loved being around that man.

When I used to get in trouble, he would come out of his bedroom, and walk down the stairs with heavy steps that everyone would hear, walk into the kitchen, rub the top of my head and pull out his chair and sit next to me. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I came to realize why he would do that the few times that he did….he was protecting me.

One of the last memories I have of him before he passed away was the day my foster-father made him cry during the biggest verbal fight I ever saw  between two grown men. I was right there at that kitchen when that happened. It started over feeding his dog from the dinner table and then escalated  to other things.

Now, I may not remember word for word what came out of both of their mouth’s, but I do remember the last words that came from my grand father’s mouth before he left the kitchen in tears. He yelled at my foster-father that he had no right treating me the way he did, and with that, he slid his chair out from underneath of him, stormed out of the kitchen, went upstairs to his bedroom and slammed his door shut.

That day, all I could think of was how much  more I hated my foster-father for what he had done to the only man I called Grandpa. It took me a long time to get over my grandfather’s death. I remember thinking days after my grandfather passed way, I will no longer hear his heavy steps coming down the stairs….. to protect me anymore.

 

Daddy’s Home (Part 2)

Now, where did we leave off? That’s right, we were on the back porch when Scott’s dad opened the door and invited us in. Not like this was a social visit or anything, but I think he knew why we were there in the first place, because  of  the look he gave me as I walked in, like a I know what you did  kind of look, if you know what I mean.

I was standing  between both my foster parents when my foster-father asked me if I had anything to say to Scott’s dad. Just before I said anything, Scott’s mom walked inside the playroom with a smile on her face saying hello to all of us as she asked if we wanted anything to drink. But my foster-father made it very clear that we weren’t there to visit at the moment but to return something that didn’t belong to me.

He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the silver watch that I have taken a few days ago from inside the very room we all were standing in. He continued to tell what I’ve  done and wanted their son to know  I stole something that didn’t belong to me. I remember being embarrassed more than anything when he used the word stole.

I didn’t think I did. Not like I saw it and waited for Scott to walk away and intentionally put it in my pocket. I just put it on my wrist and we continued playing, but to my foster-father…I stole it. I had to apologize and promised that I will never do anything like that again. Scott’s father just told me that if I ever wanted to take anything home in the future, to let them know and it would be just fine.

They were very understanding, and that made me feel better. After that, we said our good byes and walked out  and went back home. I thought that was the end of that, but that wasn’t the case.  I walked into our house and went straight  up stairs to my bedroom to play with my brother when I hear my Sandy outside my bedroom door telling me that her father wanted to see me.

Thinking that the watch thing was over and forgotten, I thought nothing of it when I went back down stairs into the kitchen and walked over to where he was sitting. My foster-father  asked me a question that caught me by surprised. He wanted to know if I stole the watch. Confused I responded no. He asked me again if I had stolen the watch, but this time his faced changed like he was getting mad.  

I looked around to see blank stares from Linda and Sandy when suddenly, I felt my neck being grabbed and my pants and underwear  being pulled down. I  felt my body be lifted off the kitchen floor and placed over my foster fathers knees. He pulled his black belt off from his pants, and the next thing I  remember was being whipped on my naked bottom as I was screaming as loud as I can for him to stop.

It’s amazing what you remember when you’re getting your ass handed to you but, I looked  through my tears  and no one did anything to stop him, including my foster-mother. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. The only sounds I remember hearing was the sound of the belt being whipped on my ass and my screams….then he stopped. 

He took me off his knees and had me stand there with my pants to my ankles with everyone in the kitchen looking at me. I remember my foster-mother with paper towels in her hand, or maybe it was a towel, I ‘m not sure, but she told me to pull my pants up and she began wiping the floor. I thought that was strange considering that I  just got ass whipped by her husband, and there she is cleaning the floor.

I  don’t remember much after that, but do remember going up stairs and laying on my bed crying for a while. But then I noticed that my legs were wet and realized that I wet myself during the beating. So, I got up and  pulled out clean pants and underwear from my dresser and changed my clothes. As I was putting my pants on, now I knew why my mother was wiping the floor.

From then on, as I gotten older, no matter where I was in that house, as soon as I heard anyone yell Daddy’s Home….I felt sick to my stomach, even when I knew I never did anything wrong. This went on for all those years living in that house until I finally had the courage to leave when I was fifteen. Sometimes, when I think back…..I wish I had left sooner.

 

Daddy’s Home (Part 1)

There are a plenty of words you like to hear as a child growing up, like for instance… Milk shakes, Cotton candy, Amusement parks, Swimming pools, Play ground and of course everyone’s favorite, Ice Cream! Then there are words you never wanted to hear like Bath time, Homework, Test scores, Your punish, make your bed and clean your room.

Mine weren’t any of those. The only two words I hated to hear and feared more than anything else in the world growing up in the foster home was ”Daddy’s Home”.  When I heard those words coming from anyone’s mouth, no matter where I was in the house, I would go over the day starting from the beginning, and wonder if I did anything wrong that I might get in trouble for.

Now, I have to explain what I mean by that when I say trouble, because it always seem I did something wrong even if I didn’t do anything at all. That was my mind-set growing up in that home for eight years. It all started one summer day when I was playing with my new friend Scott, that  lived across the street whose dad was a Police Officer for the City of  New York  and his  mom was what we call to today a stay at home mom.

They always seemed to have all kinds of  animals in their yard from rabbits, ducks, two big dogs that looked like miniature pony’s, a few chickens and a rooster. It was like a little petting  zoo over there and I looked forward playing in his yard as we agitate the chickens so they can chase us. One day while playing inside his house, we were going through the toy chest like all little boys do.

We were pulling out everything inside to play with, when I noticed a silver little wrist watch. I picked it up looked at it and put it on my wrist and continued playing with my  friend. I actually didn’t put much thought doing that and continued to play with the toys we scattered about the playroom. When it was time to leave, I said my good byes and went back home with the watch still on my wrist.

Now, before I continue, let me be clear here. I took the watch to play with never thinking for one moment that I did anything wrong. But that wasn’t the case.

That very night as while sleeping, I was woken up by my foster – father asking me about something that was in his hands. I was half asleep, and had no idea what he was even talking about. He showed me a silver little wrist watch that he was holding in his hand and asked me where I got it from? My mother was standing next to him, while Linda, my oldest foster-sister, was standing outside my bedroom in the hallway.

I remember rubbing my eye’s and trying to think fast what to say. I don’t know why, but I told him that I found it in the milk box outside near the front gate. Back in the day, we had a silver metal box like a cooler, next to the front gate for the milk man to take the empty bottles of and replaced with fresh cold bottles of milk. I don’t know why I said I found it there, but that was the first thing I thought of.  

Not satisfied with the answer I gave him, he asked again where the watch came from, but this time his voice seemed like he was getting aggravated as his eye’s open wider standing over me as he was looking down at me.  I remember him telling me I wasn’t going to be in trouble if I told the truth so I can go back to sleep.

Again, I made up another story that a friend gave it to me at school, but  for some reason, my foster – father  wasn’t buying that one either and started to raise his voice just when my mother interrupted him in mid sentence and asked me in her soft voice where I got the watch from. Nervous and scared I told her that Scott across the street gave it to me.

With that she told me to go to sleep and the next day, all three of us will go to his house to return the watch back.  They turned off the light to my room and I fell back to sleep. The next morning after I made my bed, I went down stairs to have breakfast when  I saw my foster-father sitting there in his seat at the kitchen table reading his newspaper, smoking his Pall Malls as my mother was cooking bacon and eggs for all of us.

I remember my younger brother eating his alphabet cereal watching cartoons on the little TV set while the rest of the family was scattered about the house. My foster-father then asked if I was ready to go across the street to return the watch. For that moment I forgot about the interrogation I received from him the night before over that watch.

I had to think  a second before I answer, but before I did, he just came out and said that I better hope that my friend Scott had given me the watch and not have stolen it from him. That very moment, I felt my head getting warm and my heart vibrating inside my head like a drum. My legs felt weak , and I started feeling nauseous.

When my mother put the plate of bacon and eggs in front of me, I didn’t feel like eating anymore. I was feeling scared now because I didn’t know what was going to happen when we go to return the watch. Immediately after eating breakfast, the last thing I remember was my foster father again repeated that I better hope I didn’t steal that watch as  we walked out the door.

The only thought on my mind as we crossed the street, was hoping that Scott and his parents weren’t home….but it was Saturday afternoon and of course they were all home. We walked up their driveway, stepped on to their back porch and my  foster – father rang the door bell. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but rest assure, I was going to learn my first lesson by days end, and it was going to hurt.

 

Hot Wheels and Stockings

The year was 1971 and I’m just 9 years old living the life as a foster child. Rod Stewart came out with Maggie May and Three Dog Night with Joy to the World which seemed to be always playing when you turned on the radio. We had All in the Family, The Sonny and Cher show and let’s not forget Soooooooul Traaaaaaaaain on Saturday mornings.

Believe it or not, some very cool actors we enjoy today were born that year also, like Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Knoxville, Christina Applegate and  I have to add one of the coolest rappers we have today… Snoop Dogg! Now, I don’t remember much of that year, other than I was still visiting my real mother once a month at St. Michael’s Home and I had made some new friends in the neighborhood where I was living.

One of those friends not to long ago had committed suicide for reasons I will never understand. The last time I talked with him was about two months before he took his life. It was through Facebook we started catching up on old times and sharing whats been happening in our lives. Then one night my brother called me to tell me the sad news that our friend was gone.

Thanksgiving is over and now we’re waiting for the biggest Holiday of them all. Christmas Tradition in this foster home was pretty strange but I never looked that much into it. First of all, the house lights and tree were not put up until Christmas eve. Since we didn’t have a real fireplace in our living room, we had the traditional Yule Log playing on the TV with Christmas music in the background  as we decorated the tree.

By 10 pm we had to be in bed, but I remember going to bed earlier than that because of the excitement knowing that Santa Clause will be at our house soon, I figure the sooner I fell asleep, the sooner morning would come. Sure enough, as fast as I fell asleep it was Christmas Morning!  I remember my younger brother, who was about 6 years old, tugging my shoulder to wake me up.

I opened my eyes to find his face so close to mine,  I could smell his morning breath as he kept saying that Santa was here. I rubbed my eyes and looked over to my foster-brother Benny’s side of the room to see that he was still sleeping. I could hear my foster sisters Linda and  Sandy talking. I looked over at the clock on the night stand between Benny and Timmy’s bed and it was 6:30 am.

I could hear my foster parents down stairs moving about the hallway and living room getting ready for us. We all had to stand on the top of the steps in size order when my foster-father started filming us, he would turn on the lights that was attached above the camera. Let me tell you, those lights were so bright it was as if the sun came blasting through the front door.

My foster sisters and brother started complaining as we all walked down the stairs covering our eyes from that blinding light. Then they wanted us to smile and wave. ….are you kidding me? How in the hell can we smile when we couldn’t even see in front of us because of those lights that looked like they belonged in Shea Stadium? As we marched into the living room with the camera still on us, my foster-mother would show us where our piles of gifts were so we would be sitting in the right spot to open them.

Finally the lights were turned off and it took us about twenty minutes to gain our eye sight back….Ok, maybe it was a minute or two. After recovering from temporary blindness, we started opening up our gifts. I don’t remember what I got, but I am sure it was mostly what I asked for when we all sat down at the kitchen table weeks ago, and wrote letters to Santa telling him what we wanted for Christmas.

But now, it was time to walk over to the fake  fireplace and see what was in our stockings. Every took turns opening their stockings.When it came for me to open mine, I reached in and pulled out tissue paper. A little confused, I reached in again and pulled out a Match Box car. Something wasn’t right, my head started to feel hot and my heart was beating fast. Everybody else had small toys and candy in theirs, but me, I’m pulling out tissues.

I put my hand back inside and pulled out more tissue…nothing but tissues…one actually had my name written on it. I looked over to my younger brother and he had few Hot Wheels cars, small toys and candy. I looked at my foster-brother and sisters and they had all kinds of stuff in theirs. I looked back inside mine and it was just empty. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I felt like crying, but I held it in.

What did I do wrong for me not to get anything  but a lousy stupid  Hot Wheels car in my stocking? I looked over to my foster parents and they weren’t there with us in the living room. I looked over to my foster-sister Linda and she was saying something to me. But, I was in such a daze all  I saw was her mouth moving but I didn’t hear words coming out.

Then it was like someone turned up the volume and I heard the last few words that came out of her mouth….YOU WERE BAD!  Now I am going to end this story with this and my thoughts of what happened to me that Christmas day. How sadistic can 0ne family be to do something like this to a nine-year old child? I know some of the things I did were bad that year, but to traumatized me on Christmas Day was plain sick.

There’s  only three words I will describe what they did to me…HEARTLESS, SADISTIC and FUCKED UP…make that four words…Sorry for the profanity.  Because of what they did to me that Christmas, my children’s stockings have always been filled and over flowing with goodies even to this day, and now my grandchildren’s will be also. No child should ever wake up to an empty stocking on Christmas day……NO CHILD!

 

Where do they go?

I was a about eight years old when this story took place, so I hope it puts a smile on your faces as you read it. My mother was standing by the sink washing the dishes and my foster-father was sitting at the kitchen table smoking his Pall Malls reading his New York Daily Newspaper that he always brought home after work, when I walked in and stood between him and the small black and white TV sitting on a stand behind me and blurted out a question that caught them both by surprised.

My mother turned off the faucet, looked over her shoulder and asked me to repeat the question again..So I did. I asked where did all the people go when the radio and television sets were turned off? At first she just stood with a strange look on her face as if I asked where do baby’s come from, but that look immediately turned into a warm smile a mother could give, while my foster-father took off his reading glasses and placed them on his newspaper and told me to step closer to him so he could explain to me exactly what happens when we all go to sleep.

He tells me when all the lights are out in the house and everyone is in bed, one person peeks out from the back of the TV set to make sure the close was clear and they all climb out, including the people inside the radio, and they go home. He wasn’t finished yet with his explanation. He also told me every night before going to bed, he would open up the kitchen window just a crack, place the radio there so that they to would climb out and go home and return  in the morning before we woke up. 

I remember standing there all quiet for a moment looking at both the TV set on the stand and radio sitting on top of the big cabinet against the wall, then looked at my mother and asked if that story was true. I remember her smiling back at me and responded…What do you think? Well, that was enough for me and left the room. That evening when everyone was going to bed, I ran over to the kitchen table, moved the chair close to the TV set and just sat there.

When my mother turned off the light inside the kitchen she noticed me sitting there and asked what was I doing? All excited, I told her I was waiting for the people to come out from the TV set. With that same warm smile she had given to me earlier, leaned over and kissed me on the top of my head and with a slight whisper tells me to go to bed. I remember asking her if I can stay up a few more minutes to see them come out, and she said it was fine.  

So, I sat there for what seemed like hours when in reality was just about five minutes, but no one came out to peek to see if the close was clear, so I gave up and went to bed. The next morning while having breakfast, my foster-father asked me if I saw all the little people come out of the TV and radio the night before. With disappointment in my voice I told him no. He looked at me as he lit his Pall Malls, took a puff and just said to me…..maybe next time.

This was one of many things I believed growing up in that house including that Macaroni grew on trees, Santa and the Easter Bunny had the keys to our house, If you lay down outside and put your ear to the ground, you can hear people talking Chinese, the faster the clouds were moving the faster the earth was spinning, and this classic…Jesus middle name was Howard.  🙂

 

My Severance Pay

I decided that I will be mixing my stories as I share my seven years living is this Foster Home, because it gives me the opportunity to be able to share the good ones as well. I don’t want to pressure myself constantly writing in a chronicle order. As you can see, I also like to keep my vocabulary very simple as possible.

After extensive research learning how to blog , one rule stood out from all the rest. That is to talk to my readers and not talk at them. I am trying to tell my stories in a way as if you are actually inside my kitchen hanging  with me over coffee and tea. To be honest, my vocabulary pretty much has its limitation considering that I dropped out my freshman year, so I’m not going to be using any words that doesn’t normally come out of my mouth or use in my everyday life as I continue to post new stories every couple of days.

Last night I was channel surfing when I paused on a channel for a moment to watch a  boy about thirteen years old, wearing a headset, delivering newspapers from his bicycle. As he reached inside his paper bag wrapped on the handlebars holding his papers, I watched as he tossed them clear across the lawns missing his targets, which would be the porches.

Some landed in the bushes, a few went right through the front windows while the others were just scattered about the lawn. I thought it was funny, because he was totally oblivious where the newspapers were landing. As I was watching that scene, it brought back some cool memories when I delivered newspapers called The Staten Island Advance back in 1976 to 78.

The route belong to my foster-brother Benny, and if I recall, had the largest route on Staten Island. This paper route was so big, he had well over 250 customers covering about 13 blocks in our neighborhood. He realized after  a few weeks  delivering that many newspapers was too much for one person , so he asked me if I would be  interested in helping him by splitting the route and that he would pay me five dollars a week.

I thought about it for a few seconds as I was doing the math in my head that was going to be twenty dollars a month. Hell, what did I know, I thought that was a lot of money just to deliver newspapers, so I agreed to help him. I was only about thirteen then, so he gave me the closet streets to our home and he took the streets that were a lot further. 

Immediately after school, we had to rush home and wait for the delivery truck to drop off the bundles in front of out house every single day. There was no time to do your homework, because people wanted their newspaper by 5 pm and they had no trouble calling our house asking my foster-mother if we are out delivering them…can you believe that?

They had no patience when it came to  their newspapers. Now, for a short time, I was guilty tossing my papers like that kid did on TV, but my customers were the laziest people I ever met. Some complained that they had to get out of the house to retrieve them  from their mail boxes out by the sidewalk.

Some had the audacity to complain I didn’t close the lid to the top of their mail boxes attached to their homes. They wanted me to either open the storm doors if they had one, drop the paper inside, ring the doorbell and wait for someone to open the door so I can hand it to them personally or placed them at the foot of the door if it was locked…..year right! 

Why  didn’t they just give me the keys to their homes so I could make a fresh pot of coffee waiting for them and just placed the newspaper on their kitchen table ready for them to read when they got home from work too?  I had over 150 customers, and I wasn’t about to cater to each one of them except for the ones who tipped me well.

But, as the complaints piled up, the tips were dwindling and my brother noticed that. Now, the average tip I would receive from my customers was about 50 cents. Some gave me 15 cents, while so few actually gave me one dollar. I had this little collection book that I had to carry with me every Friday which was collection day. I had to mark off who paid, who didn’t.

Some customers would owe me for three weeks at times. My foster-brother didn’t  go for that, so a few times, we both would do the route together on Fridays just so he can collect from the ones who owed more than two weeks…and they paid. My foster-brother was slim and stood over six feet  with a hair style he borrowed from country singer Glenn Campbell.  

If you are under 30,  just Google that name and check out the hair Du. I on the other hand stood just 5-4  and about 115 soak and wet and my hair style was  like……sad to say, like Glen Campbell’s also. Now, the point I am getting to is this. I was getting paid five dollars a week and NO TIPS! You read that right.

All my tips for the week, every week, went straight to my foster-brother and I didn’t see one extra dime……talk about Extortion! I remember one Christmas, as he was rolling in the dough with his Christmas tips, I could hear my  mother asking him in the hallway if  he had giving me anything extra for Christmas.

I guess he said no, because the next thing I heard her say was ” Give the poor kid something.” Guess he felt guilty and walked over to where I was sitting and hands me….$10.00 as a Christmas bonus. Can you believe that? He must have made over $400.00 from 250 customers maybe more, and all I got was a Merry Christmas and wrinkled $10.00 bill.

But, that was fine with me. I saw where he hid his tip money as well as the extra money he made working part-time in an auto wrecking yard on Saturdays. So, when he would go out with his friends, I go straight to our bedroom where we both shared including with my little brother Timmy, open up the top draw of his dresser, lifted up a couple of  shirts folded oh so neatly and would helped myself to extra $20 bill.

I did that every week for about a year and he didn’t notice a dollar missing. To tell you the truth, I might have been doing that longer than I  think…But I never gave a shit. When I needed cash to hang out with, I used his dresser as my own ATM and  I always did it with a BIG GRIN on my face…….I just pretended it was My Severance Pay!  🙂

 

 

Metal Chairs and Soda Cans

When I was living at St.Michael’s , we were taught how to make our own beds, fold our clothes and clean up after ourselves immediately after breakfast, lunch and dinner. So it was safe to say living in this foster home, I just continued to do what I knew best, and that was cleaning!  My Foster Mother witnessed first hand how independent I truly was for a boy my age to be making his own bed before breakfast was definitely a shock to her to say the least.

She never once had to tell me to do anything because I either have done it, or in the middle of doing it. When it was time for dinner, I would go in the back room  known as the little room, to grab a few metal folding chairs to place at the dinner table. I saw her do it once so I decided to get them to help out.

It was enough having to watch her do just about everything in the house from cooking, ironing clothes, making breakfast to sweeping and mopping  the floors, food shopping for a family of seven every Friday afternoon was truly amazing to watch. She did it all, even when sick, this woman didn’t miss a beat.

But, she didn’t just have five kids to take care of, but if you included her husband, there were six kids living in that house. I never saw a grown man be catered like this one. It was like watching The Honeymooners and All in the Family Live in our kitchen and not on television. When he would get sick, she turned into Alice and baby him. When he come home from work, she turn into Edith Bunker. After looking back, I can only say this…This woman was a Saint!

I remember not only those metal chairs that soon became a chore of mine to do every evening, but I would soon have few more as I gotten older. By the age of  fourteen I felt like the male version of Cinderella. I was not only doing those damn folding chairs every night, but I had to  feed the dogs and  go outside everyday with a brown shopping bag in one hand and a spaded shovel with the handle broken off in the other and pick up their poop in the back yard.

I would also have to keep up with the soda count in the refrigerator downstairs in the basement. This family was one happy soda drinking guzzlers at dinner time. My Foster Father would always bring home a few cases of that liquid sugar after work every couple of weeks, and appointed yours truly not only get them every night so this family can get their sugar intake at dinner, but when stock was low, I had to keep count so he would know when to bring more home.

Yep, now I was a store clerk. There was a price to pay if I  forgot to tell him that we were running low and their wasn’t enough cans for everyone at the table, specially if we had to go a whole weekend with no soda with dinner. That’s  a story by itself that I will share in time. But for now, let me continue with this one. My foster brother’s chore was to cut the grass but I did have to rake the yard after he finished.

If his allergies kicked in, guess who was his back up? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for teaching our children responsibility and discipline, but there was one thing, I didn’t need to be taught anything, I was bred to be Responsible and Independent from the age of  five living in St. Michael’s, so maybe that lesson should have been focused more on their own children then on me.

To this day, the sound of metal chairs opening up and soda cans on anyone’s kitchen table only brings me back to that very kitchen I grew up to despise. The hatred I carried during my years living  in that house was so powerful that at the age of 14 , following one of the countless vicious beatings I’ve received from the hands of my foster-father, I almost made a choice that would  have had serious consequences. It was either run away from that home or one day……Burn it Down!

 

Mission Accomplished!

Through out this weekend, I been debating what stories should I begin with  my time living in this foster home. I shared my first day so far with my last post, and nothing really comes to mind after that, other than going back and forth on weekends for the transitional period. See, when you are placed in a foster home, they just don’t pack your bags and off you go with potential foster families…it’s nothing like that at all.

The plan is to have you to go for short stays and then return back to the orphanage.After awhile they reverse it. You go to the foster homes during the weekday then back to the orphanage on the weekends til you pretty much don’t want to leave the home that you are placed in, including those weekends….Mission Accomplished!  

Guess it worked, because not long after, I found myself being enrolled in a Catholic school called Mt. Carmel, which was only about twenty minutes from the house I would soon call my home.But, I did had to return on Sunday’s for visitation to see my real parent’s, and that’s if  they showed, and spend time with my brothers and sisters as well.

But, those visits became once a month, then every other Sunday, till one day it all stopped. No more visits unless my real  mother or father wanted us for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Even after a few years as we gotten older, that all ended too. That’s what the system does to us. They slowly strip away just about everything you were, and in time, get us to forget where we even came from and the life we once knew. 

Now, maybe that was all good for my little brother Timmy who was only three years old and totally clueless what was going on, but for me, I never forgot my young life living in the projects and time at St. Michael’s home with my brothers and sister, and because of that, as I will eventuality pay a price for not forgetting. It’s 1968 and here I am with my little brother, living in this foster home with other children that I would soon refer them as my brother and sisters, and  soon would be calling their parents….mom and dad.

 

Hot Rolls and King

I remember looking out the rear window looking back at St. Michael’s home before we made the right turn on the main road. It slowly faded away the further we drove until I could no longer see Father Kenny’s house anymore. As we continued to drive away from the orphanage home nothing seemed familiar for the rest of the trip.

The ride to this family’s home seemed long, but I think that was because I wasn’t talking much during the ride. Then I felt the car slow down to a complete stop in front of a store. Mr. G asked me if I wanted to go inside this store with him. I don’t remember saying yes, but found myself getting out of the car with Linda as we both followed him as he held the top of my shoulder.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was this strong scent rushing into my nose. What ever it was it smelled really good. I had no idea where I was, but there was bread every where. I had never been in a store like this ever. The only place I ever remembered being in a few times was Val’s Pizzeria down the road from St. Michael’s where our counselors would treat us to pizza once in awhile, but I had never been inside of a bakery, specially that made fresh hot rolls.

Mr.G handed me  a warm roll that just came out of the oven and told me to try it. I refused at first, but it did look good and I do remember that it was warm and the dough melted in your mouth like ice cream. After Mr. W paid, we walked out with this big brown bag filled with hot fresh-baked rolls and drove off to a house that one day will be called home.          

The ride from the bakery to their house wasn’t that far because I remember Linda telling me that we were just five minutes away from their home. Before I knew it, we pulled up in front of this wooden white house with an old green picket fence. It reminded me of the little house where this old woman lived right in front of St. Michael’s Home by the bus stop.

Mrs. G was holding my three-year old brother by the hand while Mr. G took out his keys to open the front brown wooden door. Now I could hear a dog barking from the other side of it, and he had a deep bark that was not only loud but scary. When Mr. G unlocked the front door and opened it, there was this big black and tan dog jumping around all excited as his tail was slamming into the hallway wall causing this loud banging noise.

As Mr. G told this four-legged beast to sit, he instead pounced on my chest and started licking my face, I became frightened and started crying. I was reassured by Mrs. G that he wasn’t going to bite me, and that he was just saying hello. He was what they called a Black and Tan German Sheppard with a beautiful black marking on his far-head that’s called a crown.

He was licking my hand and pushing his head under my arm as if he wanted me to pet him which I found myself doing after all. This was my first day in this house and the only thing I liked about it so far was the hot rolls and this dog named King.

Sounds of Silence

I was wondering what happened to my brother when I left him back there in the parlor with that family. I had thought that maybe they did take him instead, but that never happened. From what Sister Lockhart told me, after a brief conversation the family had left, but were coming back the following weekend to meet me again. I remember her saying how happy she was for me and that I should be too that another family wanted to take me into their home for a visit.

I had asked her if my brother was coming with me and I remember her saying he wasn’t but my youngest brother was. Well, I was kind of relieved that someone was, but why him? He’s just three years old. I would rather have my brother who was with me. He’s a year younger and we saw each other practically every day. But the next weekend was days away, so I didn’t put any more thought into that family for the rest of the week.

As each day passed, I realized that life at St. Michael’s wasn’t so bad after all. I just got used to it I guess. I didn’t think much of my home on 17th St anymore. If I did, it was when my mother or my sister would visit us on Sundays. But that soon faded by the time they got on the city bus and headed back to New York City. My brothers and sister were all here with me, and I got to see them as much as time allowed, so I was just fine living at the orphanage.

It was our home, and we made the best of it. A week went by, and here I was once again putting on my Sunday clothes on a Saturday. My Sunday clothes consisted of dress pants, a shirt, a clip on tie and my black shoes. This is what we wore on Sundays going to church, which was the next building over from our dorm. When mass was over, we would go back and change into our play clothes and hang around inside the visiting hall or play outside by the big gazebo we called the “Summer House”  until our parents arrived.

There were times we would be swinging on the swings and see our mother walk up the driveway with bags in her hand and we would run up to her all excited hugging and kissing her, then go through the bags looking for our orange juice. We would sit inside the Summer House and share with my mother what we had done since the last visit. Well, that wasn’t happening this weekend.

I was getting ready to see this family again. I didn’t want to go downstairs at first, but my counselor Mr. Jack had a way of talking to me that changed my mind. So there I was walking down the steps and through the hallway as I did just days before. I entered through the door that lead to the parlor where I met the girl with the big smile. There they were, all five of them sitting there on the couch waiting to meet me with two nuns and my youngest brother with them.

Mr. Jack went over to talk with the family as I just stood there looking out the window. Then suddenly, I saw a nun with a suitcase walk over to me. She said she had packed some extra clothes for me and my brother and our tooth brushes. I was confused. They told me that I was only going to their home to visit and then come back, but here I am holding a suitcase with our clothes inside them.

NO WAY!  I was not going now. I started crying and screaming that I didn’t want to go. I remember those words. “I don’t want to go now, I don’t want to go now!” I was begging Mr. Jack for him not to let them take me.I grabbed his leg and cried so hard and so loud my head was vibrating. He took me in the hallway, and calmed me down as he explained to me that it was just for the weekend, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go with them again.

He promised me that everything would be just fine once I gave them a chance. Now, Mr. Jack was about in his early thirties. He was tall with short black hair and always played with us when we asked him to. He had a deep voice but it wasn’t too deep to be scared of. I trusted Mr. Jack, so there was no reason to think he would start lying to me now. I stopped crying as he made his silly faces to get me to laugh, which I did.

He gave me a hug and patted me on the top of my head and told me to have fun and that he would be waiting for me Sunday when I came back. We walked back to the parlor where he told them that everything was just fine and I was going with them. He leaned over to me and said ” This is the Garrison family and they are very nice people, so you be good and I will see you back here on Sunday”.

So there I was, walking out of the main building with the brown suitcase in my hand and my little brother walking ahead of me totally clueless about what was happening. We all walked  down the sidewalk  that led to the parking lot. Mr. Garrison opened up the trunk to put my suitcase in and walked over to open the passenger side door and pulled the seat forward so I could get inside.

I sat in the middle with the tall boy to my left and his sister Linda with the long hair to my right. My brother sat in the front with their younger sister Sandy as we drove out of the parking lot and on our way to their home. I didn’t want to look at anyone, so I just kept my head leaning to my left facing the back seat and said nothing. Linda then asked her father to turn on the radio so we all could hear music.

The song that was playing was very familiar, and I remember hearing it a few times on the radio in our kitchen at St. Michael’s where we had our lunches, or just playing in the playroom in the background. I heard it enough times growing up… but to this day, I still don’t know the words to this song but it was playing on the radio…The Sounds of Silence.

 

 

                                                     

Window Smiles

Just as I thought, that family on the other side of the window talking with the nuns wanted to meet my brother and me. Why else would we be wearing our Sunday clothes and told not to run around? But as soon as Sr. Lockart left us alone, we did exactly what she told us not to do. We started running around and wrestling on the floor and we were going at it in full force. We were laughing and pulling at each other like two playful puppies you see through those windows at a pet store.

As I let go of my brother, he would try to pin me down while I was tugging him by his shirt attempting to bring him back down.We were laughing loud enough to catch the attention of the people with the kids on the other side of the curtain window. I continued to straddle my brother sitting on his stomach and happened to look up and see two girls looking back at me smiling.

So I got up and walked over toward the window with my brother trailing behind me to get a better look at them and see if they wanted to play with us. It started out with something like waving back and forth with the younger girl and myself. She seemed to want to play, but we were separated by the windows, and just waved and played peek-a-boo through the curtains.

The other girl was bigger and seemed older, maybe around twelve like my oldest sister Gloria. She was smiling as she continued to tease my brother through the glass by making hand gestures like she was holding a gun shooting at him, and my brother was doing the same back to her. I remember that so clearly as if I’m back in that room as I am telling this story.

Then it happened. The two glass doors suddenly opened up and startled me for a moment because I didn’t expect anyone to be walking in. I remember just standing there not moving, as if my feet were glued to the floor. I don’t even remember what my brother was doing because I was so focused on the face of the man who was looking back at me. He was tall with big hands and his hair was pushed back like my father’s.

I remember his voice was deep as he looked down at me and said hello. I didn’t say anything back. I looked up to the woman next to him and all she did was smile, and when she did, her eyes twinkled like stars. She had wavy dark hair. I remember her skin was a little dark like my real mother’s. But I still refused to say hello and that annoyed Sister Lockhart.

She reminded me that it was impolite not to say hello back. My brother on the other hand was more than happy to say hello. But what did he know? He talked to anyone he met and got in trouble for doing just that when we used to live on 17th street. My mother always yelled at him for talking to strangers by the front lobby where we played with my other brothers. So it wasn’t unusual for him to start yapping away to these people. But I wasn’t having any part of this.

I wanted to leave, and that’s exactly what I told Sister Lockart. But the young girl with the big smile came over to me and asked me my name. I was hesitant to say but told her that it was Michael and she said her name was Sandy. Before I continue, I will not be using anyone’s real name through my stories about this family. All names will be fictitious from here on out.

I have not been in touch with any of them for many years and I am sure we all will continue this practice for the near future. Besides that, I did received legal advice that it would be for my best interest not to use any names, including my family members unless I  receive written permission to do so. Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s go back to the story.

As she introduced herself to me, the bigger girl walked over and told me her name was Linda and the tall big boy standing next to their father was Benny. He seemed quiet and didn’t say much. But the two sisters were more than happy to talk with my brother and me. The next words that came out of Sister Lockart’s mouth was something I didn’t want to hear.

She told  me that this family wanted to take me back home with them for a couple of days. When she said that, my stomach felt funny, and my body felt like my brother was sitting on me and I couldn’t breath. I did not want to go anywhere with them and you can bet your ass I wasn’t, so I took off out of the room and ran back to my dormitory leaving  my brother behind with that family.

I guess it was every man for himself at that point.  Take him; he’s the chatty one. He would go with anyone who handed him a box of cracker jacks, but not me. I ran so fast down that hallway and up those steps. I ran through St. Peter’s Dorm and opened up the door that led to my dorm and went right to my bed. I was getting out of my Sunday clothes before Sister Lockart arrived.

As nice of a nun as she was, I knew she was going to be mad, but I didn’t want to leave St. Michael’s home. So, I got undressed and put on my day clothes and laid on my bed pressing my hands over my ears, rocking back and forth like I usually did to calm myself down when I was scared. The next thing I heard was a voice calling my name while tugging at my shoulders.  I looked up to see Sister Lockhart.

She wasn’t mad at me like I thought she would be. She sat by my side as she held me telling me with almost a whisper that it would be fine. I just laid there crying. The last thing I remember asking her was…what was going to happen to me now?

Sunday Visits, Sunday Clothes

You may be wondering if my parents ever came to visit us while we were in the orphanage home, and the answer is yes. We had visiting day every Sunday. I would be with my brother and some other boys playing in the playroom when Sister Lockhart, our group sister, would come over and tell us that our mother was here. I would remember the feelings of excitement and anticipation as we headed down the stairs and through this long hallway that led to the visiting hall.

Now, the visiting hall was this big blue and grey room with benches along all the walls. I don’t remember if their were any chairs and tables, but who cares, my mother was here!As my brother and I got closer to the hall we could hear laughing and talking that grew louder and louder as we approached the entrance. When we opened the door you could see all the other children running around playing with their brothers and sisters as their parents looked on.

I would see my mother sitting down on the bench to my right by the window with a cigarette in her hand and brown shopping bags by her feet waiting for us. When she saw us coming towards her, I could see her  face change from looking serious to the biggest smile a mother can give to her children with her arms wide open for us to run into. We would scream her name as we hugged her and she would shower us with kisses all over our faces.

Then in seconds I could hear my other brothers yelling her name as they ran up to her and received the same hugs and kisses. We were a family once again.  The only one who might be missing most of the time was my sister Gracie. As of now, she is the only sibling whose real name I will show because she is no longer with us. She passed away from breast cancer over seven years ago and we will just leave it at that for the time being.

I am sure she had her reasons not wanting to see my mother and to be honest, I never put too much thought into it either. When she did show up to see my mother, it always seemed that they would start arguing and my mother would get upset and kiss all of us and leave early. My older brother would yell at Gracie sometimes and then we would find ourselves going back to our dorms before visiting time was over.

But this day, Gracie wasn’t there and I don’t even think anyone noticed, except for my mother. Anyway, my mother would take put her hand inside the bag and pull out those skinny long containers of Tropicana Orange Juice and boxes of Crack Jacks and hand them to us. Sometimes there would be extra ones,but we all knew why. We would open the Cracker Jacks first and if we didn’t like the prizes we would swap them among ourselves.

But we took our time drinking the orange juice. If it was nice outside, my mother would take us to these big wooden gazebos next to the visiting hall we called the Summer House. I don’t know where that name came from, but that’s where my mother would go for shade while we played on the swings. Our visits were mostly happy times. When my mother didn’t come for whatever reasons, she would send my oldest sister G instead.

I remember a few of those visits but not many. I do remember my father visiting us a few times, but don’t remember them as much as I remember the time my mother spent with us. I do remember him putting us on his lap as he drove his car in the parking lot and let us all take turns to steering. I remember kite flying in the field with him, but it always seemed that he was the one doing the kite flying as we all watched.

I remember sleigh riding down this hill we had behind the gym called Donkey Hill. That’s where we all would go sleigh riding or just throw ourselves down to the ground and race each as we rolled all the way to the bottom. He brought his new girlfriend with him once, but that’s it — I don’t remember after that. There are some memories I have during my stay at St. Michael’s, but as time passed those memories faded, as well.

But there is one memory I wish to this very day I didn’t remember. I was playing in the playroom when Sister Lockart had called out my name. As I looked up, I saw my brother, who’s a year younger than me standing next to her smiling. I had no idea what this was about, but it looked to me that we were going somewhere. So, I ran over to her and my brother and asked where we were going. All she said was that we had visitors and we needed to wash up and change into our Sunday clothes.

Now wait a minute, I thought. Today is Saturday. My mother and father never visited us on a Saturday, not even my sister G. I remember asking Sister Lockhart why we had to wash up and wear our Sunday clothes when it was Saturday? I wanted to know who was visiting us. She told me was to stop asking so many questions and just follow her. So we did just that.

We passed through St. Peters Dorm which was connected to our dorm, and walked down three flights of stairs that led us through the long hallway towards the visiting hall. But we made a right into the main building.She then opened a door to a room we had never been before and told us to wait inside until she came back for us. I thought we had visitors?

There was no one in the room but just me and my brother. But we could hear people talking in the next room with just two big doors with curtains separating us from the voices. So we walked over and peeked through the window and saw other kids with their mother and father talking with Sister Lockhart and another nun. My brother asked me who they were and all I could respond back was that I didn’t know.

I was trying to listen to what the man was saying to the nuns, but my brother was being annoying and kept  asking me a bunch of questions. I told him to be quiet so I could listen and find out who they were. I felt that something wasn’t t right and felt the urge to want to leave and go back to my dorm. The family standing on the other side of the door talking to the nuns were here for us.

 

This Is My Bed Now

Inside the dormitory where we lived in, there was one giant room but filled with furniture and beds… lots of beds. You could stand in one corner of the room and see straight across the other side with no obstruction. If you’ve ever seen a loft or lived in one, then you have an idea of what I am trying to describe. After playing outside, we all had to go straight to the bathroom to wash up, and not just our hands, but our face, neck and of course behind the ears.

Yep, all that just to eat. We would have to raise our little hands and show that they were clean. If our hands weren’t clean enough, we had to run all the way back to the bathroom to wash them again. Believe me, when you have little legs, that bathroom seemed a lot further away than it looked. So you can bet on it that we made sure our hands were clean enough to pass inspection.

After our dinner, we all had to take our trays and put them by the sink and throw out plastic utensils, then rush to the living room to watch T.V. I don’t remember what we used to watch, but I do remember watching The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night. Following our group shower, we all changed into our pajamas and rushed to the couch to claim our spot before 7:30.

If there wasn’t any room, we sat on the floor as Mr. Jack, our counselor,  handed out small containers of milk and chocolate chip cookies. I don’t think anyone ever turned down snacks when it was Disney time. One Sunday night while we were watching Dr. Doolittle, we heard this loud scream coming from the bedroom area. We all got up to see where it was coming from and found one of the boys from our group standing on the stool beside his bed pointing.

There was a big brown turtle on top of his covers. A turtle was on his bed! The only thing that I wondered was how did this turtle climb up three flights of stairs and get inside our dormitory and end up on someone’s bed? Mr. Jack picked up the turtle by its shell and told us all to calm down. We followed him to the back door where he went downstairs to let the turtle out of the building.

We all were standing  by the back door on the top landing looking down between the stairs when we heard  Mr. Jack open the door and then shut it just as fast. He was yelling for all of us to get back inside before he reached the top steps. We did just that. Before we knew it, it was time to go to bed. After all that excitement that just went on, we were all worked up and started acting up while in our beds.

Mr. Jack yelled at us to calm down or he would turn off the lights before 9 pm. Well, we calmed down alright, but when 9:00 came, he said goodnight to all of us in his nice voice, flipped the switch and the lights were out. There we were in the dark acting up and getting out of our beds to jump on other beds when the lights came on. It was the night lady. That’s what we called her.                                                       

She would yell and threatened to tell our head nun Sister Lockhart in the morning if we didn’t listen. I could hear her mumbling, as she turned off the lights. As I lied in my bed, I thought how my brothers and I used to play around when we were in our own bedroom on 17th street, and could hear my mother yelling from the living room for us to knock it off and go to sleep as she cursed in Spanish.

My older brother would mimic her and pretend he spoke Spanish and we’d all laugh until we heard her yelling once again for us to go to sleep. My last thought before I fell asleep that night, wasn’t how the turtle get on the bed, but how I missed sleeping in my bunk bed with my brothers. I guess this is my bed now.

Light’s Out!

Learning how to make a bed, folding clothes, organizing lockers (that were at the foot of the beds), and cleaning up after oneself would be a challenge for most children under the age of 6 at home, but not for us. The counselors had a way to get our attention, and they had it down to a science. They would have us stand next to our beds as they stood in the middle of the room and with a loud voice say…” This is your bed, and when lights are out, you sleep, and when lights come on in the morning, you will get out of it and make it before breakfast…then show us how.

We would do this until we all knew how to make our own beds, and we pretty much did by the third try…well, most of us anyway. I got it right after the first try, and I was feeling happy that I did. When the counselor came over and asked me if I used to make my bed at home, I looked up at him and responded no. He just smiled and  rubbed the top of my head then walked over to the boy next to me who seemed to be having trouble making his bed no matter how many times he was shown.

I thought something was wrong with him because he couldn’t even put the pillow inside the pillow case. I mean, how hard was that? The next thing I remember is they had us stand next to our lockers showing us how to fold our clothes and tuck our socks into a ball, and lay them in a particular order — pants, shirt, T-shirt, underwear, and socks on top. We placed our sneakers and shoes under our lockers and that’s how it was done. Again, we did that until we all got it right, except for that boy again next to me.

I remember he just couldn’t get the hang of it, no matter how many times he tried. He was having a really hard time remembering anything the counselors were trying to teach us. Now, some of you may be asking yourselves how do I remember all of this at such a young age? Well, remember in the beginning when I wrote about Impact Memory? The reason why I remember this particular story was because of that boy next to me, who seemed to have trouble doing anything right…I believe his name was Matthew.

He might have been older than me…not sure. He was a little chubby with dark hair and spoke in soft voice. I remember asking him one night when we were lying in our beds, why he didn’t want to learn to do anything? He said something that I will never forget as long as I live. He told me if he didn’t do anything the counselors were telling us to do, that they would just get mad and send him back home.

Thinking back at that moment, I thought that was a pretty good idea for him to think that, even though they never did send him back home. In time, he was making his bed and folding his clothes like the rest of us. Just two days ago, as I walked on the property where the Orphanage home once stood, I closed my eyes and let my memory take over just for a moment. I could hear the voices of the children playing in the playground not far from where I was standing.

I could see the big wrap around porch of the main building where we used it as a short cut to our dormitory. I could still see the smile on the face of Father Kenny as he would reach out his arms to hug us when we went to visit him down the driveway from the main building. I would remember Matthew. The little chubby boy who believed he was going to be sent home for not listening. For that one moment, it was 1967 for me again. I opened my eyes, and there I was, back  inside my dorm St. Aloysius, laying in my bed talking with Matthew next to me while the other kids were goofing around on their beds until we heard those two familiar words……Lights Out!

The Big House

I don’t remember the actual day when we arrived at St.Michael’s home, but I do remember it was sunny out. I was looking out the window of the van we were in and saw what seemed to be a Big House. I remember asking my older brother if this was our new home. I noticed the look on his face started changing, like the look he would get when my mother would yell at him countless times. His eyes started watering up and I knew this wasn’t good…so I began to cry.

Now, I wasn’t crying because we were at this place called an orphanage home, and I wasn’t crying because I had no idea what was going on. I started crying because my brother cried, and that meant only one thing. He was scared, and if he was scared, so was I. The next memory I  was in an office with a nun. She was big and had a loud voice. It also looked like the top of her head was missing. I remember thinking she looked funny because we couldn’t see much of her face.

We were taught that all nuns were married to God, and that they always wore their wedding dress and a veil that covered their whole head right up to their eyes. They said it, we believed it. I remember this nun asking our names and if we were hungry. Before we knew it, we were in a big kitchen with lots of tables and chairs. There were other kids there, too. Big ones like my older brothers, and small ones like me. There were even girls there. I remember feeling like I did when I would see other kids playing in the courtyard where I used to live, and would start playing with them.

But not this time. I stayed close to my brothers because the kids in the courtyard were familiar, but I didn’t know any of the children here. I stood right next to my other brothers and just ate whatever they fed us. Not long after that, I found myself in a room that looked like the one in the shelter where we were before we came to the orphanage, but nicer. There were lots of beds and wooden lockers at the foot of them and nice pictures on the wall. I remember a long table in the kitchen area with a white refrigerator filled with juice, little milk containers,  jello, and pudding.

We never had any of that in our refrigerator at home. Right across from that was a TV set with chairs, a big couch, end tables with lamps, and a big thick rug in the middle.There was even a white cat lying on top of the TV. I remember the walls were blue and the ceiling white. There were two doors in this large room. One in the front that had a sign that read St. Aloysius and one in the back that connected to a bigger room with more beds read St. Peter’s. This big house where we were living now made me feel different from I remembered feeling when I first got there.

I didn’t feel that scared anymore. The last memory I have from that day was thinking my brothers and I had lot more room to run around in than where we used to live. After each day passed by, everything started to change. There were rules we had to follow, and the nuns weren’t messing around either. No one, and I mean no one, was going to wipe our asses, blow our noses for us, dress us, give us a bath, brush our teeth, make our beds, or fold our clothes. They were our counselors, not our parents, and they made that very clear to all of us. They taught us a new word we never heard before… Discipline. 

Apartment 2D

Today, I took a ride to New York City where I spent the midafternoon taking pictures of the apartment building where I grew up until the age of 5. The only way I could describe my experience is nothing short of total disappointment. I thought they would have cleaned up the place by now.

Everything is still the same as remember — other than the updated courtyard with the now missing sliding pond, the blue whale and a grey turtle that we used to sit on, and a sprinkler that would keep us cool from those hot summers in the city. What was the worst was the inside the building.

The front door to the main lobby was unlocked and that elevator still opens and closes on its own for no clear reason… that freaked me out. I walked up the stairwell to the second floor and noticed that there was no graffiti on the walls. And I guess they no longer have issues with the homeless sleeping in the stairwells because it didn’t smell of urine, but the stairs were still the color of Battle Ship grey.

As I entered the second floor and looked at the actual door of our apartment with the original slightly rusted metal door knocker still attached that read “2D”, my body started to feel warm. I felt this rush through my body and could hear the pounding of my heart inside my head. It was almost as if my I was lifted off the ground.

I didn’t even feel the floor where I was standing because I was so overwhelmed by the experience and the reality that I was actually standing just a few feet from that door I knew all to well. Then it dawned on me that I was standing on the very spot where those police officers once all stood by the elevator waiting to enter our apartment where they would carry us all out.

I felt like I was a ghost  floating above as I watched them take us away. For a moment, but what felt like eternity, it was 1967 all over again. I didn’t expect that to happen. I didn’t think I was going to get so lost in the moment the way I did. So, I took my pictures and left. I thought about taking the elevator but who knows what ghosts were waiting for me inside, so I just took the stairs like I’ve done so many times as a little boy….what was I even thinking of…..                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Purpose in Life

Before I continue, I just wanted to share my thoughts and explain why I am laying it all out there for the world to see. I could just go on with my life and continue to share it with my therapist until I run out of stories. I could also write a book which my wife has told me to do for years and really put it all out there.

But I choose to do it through a blog, hoping to reach out to the many orphans and foster children out there who share similar stories and let them know that we don’t ever have to use our backgrounds, no matter how bad and tragic they may be, not to Succeed in Life. 

I am also hoping my stories reach those who were abused and neglected, and let them know they don’t have to  surrender to the Demons of their Childhood  that wait for them in their dreams any more, even as an adult. We don’t have to submit to our fears of becoming failures in our lives any longer.

We can make a difference by sharing our stories to those who feel abandoned  forgotten, and to let them know they are not alone. There are many out there who feel hopeless no matter what they do in life, and excepted that hopelessness because that’s all they know.

I also know that many had giving up and committed suicide because they couldn’t cope with their demons from their past. I could have giving up plenty of times myself, but chosen not to. I knew, I wasn’t meant to just live a life and then fade away with no legacy to leave behind.

I believe we all have a purpose, and we need to recognize what it is and then act on it. It’s never to late to learn from our past and become something much more meaningful than we ever dreamed of. I believe what my Purpose in Life is, and I am not going to waste one moment of it either…because I am doing it now.

 

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Dazed and Confused

I was on the phone today with my sister comparing stories of our childhood. Let it be told, I am truly relieved that what I been sharing seems to be right on the money. But something is still disturbing to me. I  believe that someone who had enough saw us alone with no parental supervision one too many times called the police and Social Services on us.

As a police officer, I am going to have to go with that scenario. My sister Gloria believes that my mother, who had been admitted to the hospital with kidney stones, informed someone there that her children were left alone and needed to be looked after. I don’t buy that story one bit. Think about it.

If that was the case, why didn’t my mother contact my aunt who only lived a few blocks away to stop over at the apartment to look after us until she was released from the hospital? Why didn’t she call my sister and have her ask our neighbors to watch us? Where was my father? With no doubt in my mind, someone dropped a dime on my parents.

I believe it was definitely one of our neighbors who had not only seen enough but heard enough of what went on behind the door inside apartment 2D. I am mad at my father now because I truly believe he wasn’t honest with me when he told me his side of the story a few months before he passed away 20 years ago.

This afternoon, I decided to go through some old pictures, and guess what I recovered? I found an old black and white photo of my dad with his girlfriend dated 1968. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that maybe, just maybe, my dad was in the arms of his girlfriend that very same day we were in the arms of police officers carrying us out of our home.

I don’t know what to believe anymore. I’m totally dazed and confused now. What I do know is my therapist will need a therapist of her own when she is through with me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the type to curl up in a fetus position rocking back and forth in a closet reliving my childhood and wishing it was just a bad dream, but have to be honest here, it does bother me that I don’t know the true story of where anybody was that day.

My father had his story and my mother had hers. What I realized today while looking through the old pictures of my family is that my parents had no business having children. They should have just bought a dog instead. I can honestly say that I don’t remember seeing my father much at all beside those times he would stop by with his truck on his break.

I can see him in his bed sometimes sleeping, and in the living room watching television, but that’s it. Hell, I don’t even remember him picking me up at the local police station when I wandered off from the court-yard playing with my other brothers and sisters. I was found by a stranger three blocks away from my home in Manhattan on West Street… I was THREE YEARS OLD! 

Could you imagine if the person who found me had been a pedophile and put me inside his car and just drove away? I can go on how irresponsible my parents were back then with stories that will make you sick to your stomach, but I think you all have an idea by now what my life was like growing up at 400 West 17th street apartment 2D. I wish I could say it ends here, but unfortunately what is waiting for me on Staten Island only gets worst….

Our Mommy Dearest

This whole weekend I tried so hard to remember something while we were living in the shelter for those two weeks, but I couldn’t come up with anything. So, once again I had to use a life line and call my sister to ask her what she could remember that may jolt my memory. What she said to me made me feel bad for my mother for a moment, but then it was quickly followed by anger, not at my sister, but at both my parents.

I wanted to try so hard to feel bad for my mother considering my father broke her heart and just skipped out on us. But being reminded of how mean she was to us when we were little brought back memories of the pain she inflicted on all of us, especially on my older brothers and sisters. What sickens me even more was that my father was no angel either, as seen through the eyes of my sister.

I can remember the punishments we received from my mother, but I also remember the weapons of choice she used against us, as well. If it wasn’t a belt it was the bottle of Hot Tabasco sauce she kept in the top cabinet next to the stove. When any of my brothers or sister did something my mother believed to be bad, out came the strap and the screaming would begin.

If the punishment didn’t need a beating, she would have us kneel against the wall either in the living room or the hallway with our hands up behind our heads, our fingers locked, and the tip of our noses  just barely touching the wall. We would stay like that for what seemed like hours. When my mother wasn’t looking, we would put our arms down and shake them until the pain from holding them up for so long would go away.

As soon as we could hear her come out from her bedroom, we would put our arms back up so fast in fear that she would catch us. Now, I want anyone who is reading this to stop, and go to the nearest wall and give it a shot. Let’s see how long you last. By the way, hope you don’t have an itch to scratch.

Now, my mother wasn’t finished just yet. She would take that bottle of Tabasco sauce from the cabinet and pour some on her fingers and put it around the mouth of my older brothers and sisters, and when she did that, the screams would get louder until all of a sudden, silence would set in. I remember looking over to my older brother and seeing what looked like ketchup on his lips, and I can hear him crying, but so low you could hardly hear him.

There we were just in our underwear and a T-shirts kneeling against the wall with our hands above our heads with our fingers locked, and all I could hear in the background was my mother yelling at my other sister in the kitchen. Now, don’t forget I’m just 5 years old, but for some reason I stood up shaking and scared and slowly walked over to where my sister was screaming.

I peeked from the living room and looked across to the kitchen and I could see my mother putting her hand over the open flame and yelling at my sister in Spanish.These are a few of the memories that I’ve seen with my own eyes, and I will live with them for the rest of my life. So, the last time my mother came to visit us in the shelter, she was with my oldest sister Gloria. This visit would be the last my mother ever made.

My sister told me that my mother was hugging each and every one of us telling us how much she loved us as my oldest brother was crying and begging her not to leave us. The last memory Gloria has is leaving from one door with my mother, as we were led out to another door to a waiting van. My sister remembers looking back one more time and crying so hard, knowing that our family was no more.

The sad part for me is not remembering that moment as my sister does or the two weeks in that shelter. Hell, I don’t even remember the long ride to Staten Island. As I sit here in my living room typing this story, with the Giant game in the background, my eyes are watering up, so I am going to stop because my Queen is inside the kitchen, and I don’t want her to see that my heart is hurting…. yet again.

Kitchen Whispers

What I am about to tell you will not be from my memories but from those of my oldest sister. A couple of nights ago, we started talking about the day we were removed by Social Services over 45 years ago and placed in that shelter for two weeks. It turns out, my mother was in the hospital with kidney stones and my father had walked out on us.

Now, trust me, this was hard to accept considering my father had told me something totally different when I was about 27. Why would he lie to me? It wasn’t like I was going to go all crazy on him had he told me the truth. Who was he protecting? Me? My brothers and sisters? My mother? Or was he just protecting himself from embarrassment and humiliation?

Was my father cheating on my mom, and if so, for how long? Was having eight children too much for him to handle? Then why did he have us in the first place? It’s no wonder most children with broken homes grow up with mommy and daddy issues as an adult. We go through life spending most of our time in a therapist’s office asking questions that only our parents can really answer.

Then, when we get the courage to finally ask them, we have to wonder who is really telling the truth. Now, my father told me he was the one in the hospital when we were taken and not my mother. He told me he had a nervous breakdown because he couldn’t cope with the death of my sister, who laid lifeless in his arms.

He also explained to me that a counselor from Social Services met him as he laid in his hospital bed and that it was he who requested we all be placed in a Catholic orphanage home for a better life than he and my mother could offer. Jesus, he looked right into my eyes and told me that story with a straight and convincing face like it was yesterday.

I really felt bad as he was telling me his story… he seemed very upset. Here was a man telling me how his baby daughter died and how he tried saving her, couldn’t cope with her death, ended up in the hospital where no one knew where he was, and it was my mother who was nowhere to be found… period. That’s it, nothing else. That was the story I believed up until two days ago.

Now, my sister was 12 years old back then, so I am pretty sure she knew and remembered a lot more than a five-year-old. After my conversation with her, it was as if someone took a sledge hammer to my head and then poured salt into the wound while laughing. Only, she wasn’t laughing, and it was about to get worse.

My mother knew we had been removed from our home while she was still in the hospital. When she was discharged, she went straight to the shelter to visit us. I have no recollection of any of this, so I am still relying on my sister’s memory. My mother had picked up both my sisters from the women’s shelter and taken them home, but left the rest of us at the shelter where we were for at least two weeks.

During that time, my Aunt Dolly, my father’s sister, would stop over at my mother’s and try to convince her to place us in an orphanage so we could be looked after and have a better chance of a future than living in the projects in a poor broken home. My sister remembers the countless meetings they would have whispering in the kitchen over our future as a family.

Why was my aunt involved? Why was she so persistent in having us placed in an orphanage? Did she know something my mother didn’t? I mean, my mother knew my father had walked out for reasons unknown to her, but she really believed that he was coming back.

Apparently my mother didn’t want to make any quick decisions until my father came to his senses and returned home to save our family, but that never happened. Two weeks had gone by and my father wasn’t coming back like she had hoped for. What was she to do? She had no job and food stamps weren’t around back then, she had to make a decision and time was running out…  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Where Are We?

After being taken from the only place we called home, I remember looking out the window of the van and seeing cars and trucks. To be honest, I have no idea where we were going, but I do remember my brother, who’s a year younger than me, sitting in the middle between my other brothers with his head back and eye’s closed…almost like he was sleeping.

I don’t remember much else from the car ride. Why that image stayed in my mind is beyond me. The next memory I have is being in this big room with a lot of beds. It was pretty bright inside and the walls were white. I remember this blond-headed boy in a bed next to mine. I guess he was about my age, maybe younger.

Our beds seemed pretty close to each other because when he threw his covers over his head a few times, I could feel the wind in my face… that’s how close we were. My other brothers were also in the room. We were all pretty close to each other, so we would play on our beds and make faces at one another.

We would hide under the covers and play hide-and-go- seek, but while in our beds. I don’t get it, not too long ago we were taken from our home by cops and the woman with the mean face, and here we were making faces and laughing in a strange place with all these beds like nothing happened.

I remember putting the covers over my head and staying like that for what seemed like hours humming a song I had heard many times in my sister’s room as she sat on her bed staring at pictures of  Mr. Spock from Star Trek and the singers from The Monkee’s posted all over the walls of her bedroom that she shared with my other sister.

I pretended that I was in her room again listening to her sing. About the age of 17, I learned from my social worker, Judy O’Brien, that we were all placed in a shelter for two weeks not far from the apartment building we once called home. I do remember asking my brother who was two years older than me just one question…if Mommy and Daddy going to pick us up.

To be honest, I don’t even remember what he said. I pretty much don’t remember much at all while staying in that shelter for that long. Two weeks, two days, two hours. It didn’t matter to me… I was just a 5-year-old and something wasn’t right once again.

Something’s Not Right.

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, this story that I am about to share is still coming from the eyes and memory of a 5-year-old. What was about to take place in our home seemed to be in slow motion, at least for me. Now, my birthday is in September, so it was either the winter of 1967 or early 1968.

Remember when I talked about impact memory in my first post? Well, I am about to share one with you how I remember the day that changed my family forever. I remember playing with two of my brothers when we heard voices coming from outside our bedrooms. The voices did not sound familiar at all.

It wasn’t our dad’s because he worked during the day driving a truck, and I know it wasn’t our mom because she was out and my oldest sister was watching us again. So I opened the door just a crack and called out my sister’s name, but she didn’t answer me. That’s when I started to hear her crying and a strange voice that didn’t sound like my mother’s telling her that it’s ok. 

When I stepped all the way out I could see police officers inside our apartment standing by the door that was open and some were standing by the living room and hallway. One cop walked towards me with a smile on his face as he squatted down to my height and asked me my name. I remember him out of all the cops there because he was the biggest one and he was laughing with another cop right before he saw me.

 He gave me short little waves with his hand while making funny faces. He  took off his hat and put it on my head and gave that big smile again. Do you know what I remember next? The feeling of my face pulling back… I was smiling… isn’t that crazy? I can still feel my face stretching as I type this.

The next thing I heard was my sister crying from inside the living room again, so I walked toward her and saw a strange woman with light hair wearing a long tan coat asking if she knew where my parents were. Why would anybody be asking that? The woman then turned her head to me, walked over to where I was standing and asked me the same question.

I didn’t like her at all. She wasn’t smiling like the cop that gave me his hat. She just looked like she was mad at me or something. I don’t remember what I said. All I wanted to do was go to my sister, but couldn’t see her because there were so many people standing around in the living room blocking my view.

 I could hear the big cop telling others by the door to go downstairs. I remember that so clearly in my mind even now as I tell it. The woman then asked me where the rest of my brothers and sisters were. I just looked up at her and didn’t say anything. In my mind, I thought if I told her, she was going to have the cops lock them up.

She asked again, this time bending down touching my face and telling me that everything was going to be fine. All of a sudden, I hear the cries of my brothers screaming so loud I wet myself… now I was scared.  I was afraid they were taking us away and my parents weren’t there to stop them. I will never forget the look on my sister’s face as she stood in the living room by the window, wearing her yellow pajama dress she always wore.

Both our eyes met, and the look on her face will stay with me forever. Her eyes widened like a cat, and she wasn’t looking at me at all. She was looking over me, and that’s when it happened. My brothers started screaming like someone was hitting them, but no one was. I saw the cops pick up my younger brothers in their arms and held them as they walked out of our apartment.

I was being lifted up also, but I don’t remember crying, and I ‘m not going to make it up and say that I did because I really don’t remember. The last memory I had that day was looking at our apartment building as we were being driven away in a green van with my other brothers and sisters wondering where we were going….

Thank you Jerry

Before I continue, I need to talk about my oldest sister for a moment and share a story that I remember from when I was 5 years old. I remember one evening, we were all sleeping when I felt this tug on my shoulder. It was my oldest sister telling me to get up. Half asleep, I hear her rambling on about a mouse she heard coming from the living room, and she needed me to find it. She got me out of the bed that I shared with one of my brothers and led me into the living room where she told me to find Jerry and kill him.

Yes, as inTom and Jerry. My sister already named the mouse. How did she think I was going to kill it? I was just 5 years old and with what was I supposed to kill it with? So I asked her, she paused for a second and then ran into the kitchen and came back with a small pot. She handed it to me and told me to use it… Was she kidding me? That was the same pot that I ate my rice puffs out of for breakfast every morning because I was too slow to beat my brothers and grab one of the few bowls that we had.

But, there I am, with the pot that holds my rice puffs in my hand searching for Jerry throughout the living room to no avail. Since I was woken up to help my sister, she let me stay up and watch The Green Hornet with her and let me have cereal as a reward, get this, in a REAL BOWL!  I actually ate out of a real bowl, and with a spoon no less. So, as we sat watching The Green Hornet, we both heard the elevator outside our apartment door open and could hear my mother talking loudly to somebody in spanish and the sound of her key making its way into the door knob.

My sister took the bowl from my hands and told me to go back to bed before mommy came in. I did just that and jumped back into bed, threw the covers over my head, smiling. I was smiling not because I got to stay up to watch The Green Hornet while my other brothers and sister were asleep, and not because I didn’t have to end the life of a mouse we never did find. I was smiling  because I finally got to eat my rice puffs cereal out of a bowl… I guess I had Jerry to thank for that. 🙂

Through The Eyes of a 5 Year Old

1968

1968

Before I begin, I want to make it very clear that the story I am about to tell is from the memory of a 5-year-old. Now, some may ask what I could possibly remember at such a young age? All I can respond is simple… enough. I may not remember everything, nor will I be able to tell you exact dates and times. 

Hell, I won’t even remember most of the names, but I can tell you what I saw and experienced that stayed in my mind like it was yesterday. I can even describe what kind of day it was. It’s what I refer to as IMPACT Memories, moments in time that affected me one way or another, good and bad.

For starters, I remember living in the projects in Manhattan on 17th Street and 9th Avenue. We lived on the second floor with graffiti sprayed on the walls and in the hallways, and boy, did it smell of pee all the time. I remember the lobby with the metal mailboxes on the wall and the blue elevator that we used countless times.

I remember my brothers and I jumping up and down inside just to make it shake and scare our sisters as my mother, the female version of Ricky Ricardo, would yell at us in Spanish. Yes, we were an army of eight, six boys including myself, and two girls.

There would have been nine of us, but my sister, Mildred, at the age of three or four, died in my father’s arms before I was born. I remember my dad telling me the story when I was about 30. I’m not sure if I am ready to tell that one. To be honest, I don’t know if I ever will. I really have to put more thought into that before I make that final decision.

Anyway, when there are eight hungry kids ready to have breakfast in the mornings, it was survival of the fittest. Whoever got up first were the lucky ones because there were only a few cereal bowls, and if you weren’t fast enough to get a bowl, you had to use what was left… metal pots.

The same ones we used to boil water and heat soup with and also to go mouse hunting with. I’ll explain that one in the next story. We didn’t have much silverware either for a family of 10, so we had to wait until someone else finished eating before we started fighting for the spoons.

I remember eating my rice puffs with a fork once and just drank the milk from the pot… at the age of 5, I learned to improvise! Now, back to my real mother, Carmen. Lets see, she was Puerto Rican, short, heavy and only cursed at us in Spanish. My dad, Edward was an average-size Irish and English truck driver with a receding hair line.

He had deep roots in Ark-low Ireland, County of Wick-low and Liverpool, England. (I learned all that from Ancestry.com. It’s a pretty cool site and I highly recommend it for anyone who really wants to learn their family history.)I talk in past tense about my real parents because they are no longer alive.

My dad passed away on Oct. 3rd, 1993 at the age of 56 from a massive heart attack while driving his truck. My mother died just last year right before Christmas of 2012 at the age of 76 from all kinds of health issues. I wasn’t close to her at all, and to be honest, I didn’t even go to her wake or funeral.

I have my reasons and let’s leave it at that. The last time I saw her was at my niece’s sweet 16 birthday party in Yonkers about nine years ago. Before that, it was around 1996 on a New York City street for about 10 minutes. The only thing we had in common was that she gave birth to me.

I did get really close to my dad during the last few years of his life and I tried to make up for lost time, which you really can’t, but we managed to get to know each other again as father and son. Better late than never, right? My dad died alone, and that really bothers me even to this day.

No one should die alone… no one. Had he only taken his heart medications like he was prescribed, maybe he would be alive today to see and love his great grand children. OK, let’s get back to where I lived because I tend to drift from time to time. Oh, did I tell you that we had a family of future stars living right across from us in the next building on the sixth floor?  

The Wayans Family from the 80’s hit show In Living Color!!! Keenan, Damon, Kim, Marlon and Shawn… I don’t remember the younger ones, but I think my oldest sister and brothers played with them in the courtyard that was between our two buildings. I might have also, but I don’t remember.

Now I do remember hearing the sound of my dad’s truck as he would pull up in front of our building. My brothers and I would run down the stairwell to be the first to see him so he could pick us up and put us behind the wheel and let us honk the horn… I remember that like it was yesterday.

I remember my mother having parties in the apartment with her friends, and she had lots of them… lots of male friends. I would sneak down the hallway and see them playing cards and dominoes in the smoke-filled kitchen with beer cans on the table.

I didn’t see my dad anywhere, but  would watch my mother dance to Spanish music as she would move around shaking her wide hips with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. When she would spot me, she’d yell at me in Spanish and I would run back laughing to my bedroom where my other brothers were watching TV.

I would tell them what had happened, and one by one they would sneak out themselves and would do the same thing. And yes, my mother yelled at them  the same way she yelled at me… I’m actually smiling now just thinking about it. But soon, the smiles and laughter we shared with each other would fade from our faces… something was not right.

Let’s Start With My Kitchen.

Notice how all families members and friends seem to be drawn to the kitchens  to converse and drink when visiting? We all have living rooms, dining rooms and even family rooms, but they all seem to gravitate around the kitchen counter…why is that?  🙂

The kitchen you see above is actually my kitchen. I did look through the internet to download some cool pictures…I even went through some of my wife’s (of 30 years) Better Homes and Garden magazines for the right one. Not happy with that idea, I decided to see how it would look if I used my own kitchen.

So, I got my camera phone in hand and snapped away. Now, we are slowly upgrading our kitchen, so say hello to our new  granite counter top! For all you kitchen hawks, the floor is next. 

I am sure you have many questions right now, like what happened to my parents, how did I end up in an orphanage, do I have any brothers or sisters, why was I placed in a foster home, and many more.

By the time I am finished with this blog, there are two things I’m sure will happen. For starters, I am going to be in therapy for a lot longer than I planned. The other is having to explain to my Queen why I never told her some of the things I’m about to share with total strangers.

I am prepared for the first… still up in the air with the second. Maybe this is the time to get her that new stove and refrigerator.