“Learning to Live With The Gift”
A Memoir of David August
As told to Ron Hardy
My elementary school years were mostly spent in Fresno, CA. During the summers San Francisco was my home away from home. My 2 oldest sisters moved there shortly after our family arrived in Fresno from Louisiana. Eula my oldest was 13 years my senior. Janice had 10 years on me and my youngest sister Judy was 2 years my over me. Throughout my life these 3 sisters were like icing on the cake for me. Each one had a special place and time in my life that seemed to be scripted just for her to fulfill. Each one had their own personality but our family fit together like pieces of a puzzle and ran like a well oiled machine. Everyone had their individual role in the family in order for the family to succeed. This mentality was taught and instilled in us by our mother.
As I grew older learning to read, write and comprehend the ways of life. I began to understand what she was teaching as it related to the life that I was born into being Black in America. I gained maximum respect for the wisdom of my mother’s words. She was a great philosopher and her actions definitely matched her words. She could see what was coming next and going to happen next based on the circumstances that led up to the occurrence happening now. She called it common sense applied along with the basic rules and principles
of living a upright life. She was not a holier than thou type person. We weren’t members of any church nor attended any church in Fresno. I didn’t learn about God or righteousness from a church or any preacher preaching. I learned about God and righteousness from my mother at home. Her words and actions were my teacher in regards to overstanding my gift acquiring my knowledge of God. I went to church serveral times with friends. She taught me wisdom and righteous living at home.
She was full of parables. I used to ask her where did she acquired all this knowledge and understanding. She would always reflect back to her mother.
My mother certainly mastered the art of living a cheerful content life in her skin as a Black woman. She played the role that she was put here on earth to fulfill. She was very wise and knew everybody’s angle whether she played along with it or not. I love the way she stayed in her lane as a woman. I saw all the blessings God bestowed upon her for being a true virtuous woman. Although she grew up on a plantation poor and Black in the racist South, she was as classy as they come. Class was in her nature. She especially knew how to handle all the many material and spiritual blessings that came to her. She knew how to make anything work. My mother was very industrious and creative. I learned the art of making it work from her. It seemed her mission was to expose me yo everything which could benefit me becoming a well rounded man and person. She exhibited class inside our home and outside the house as well. She displayed the type of class that money can’t buy.
After we arrived in Fresno, my youngest sister Judy moved to San Francisco and lived with my 2 older sisters a few years later. She had problems in school there at McKinley Elementary. She wasn’t as out going and fast as I am. The teachers wanted to put her in a class for slower learners. My mother didn’t want to stigmatize her in that way so Judy got to move to San Francisco and go to school there. She stayed with our older 2 sisters and did just fine there in school. Over the
years I studied Judy’s personality. She is a very stubborn person. She takes her time and refuses to be
pushed quickly into doing anything. Patience is the key to getting anything out of her. I cracked that code and learned how to get anything and everything I wanted from her. Judy graduated from high school in San Francisco and went to college. She became a nurse. She now is retired from the California State Corrections Bureau where she
worked as a psychiatric nurse at a prison facility.
In Fresno, we lived in a house that sat directly on the McKinley School campus inside the gates of the school. My step father worked at the school as a janitor. What a way to grow up living on a school campus! I had full access to everything at the school. I became a staple in the community as I grew older. We lived there for 7 great years. It was shocking to me to say the least on my first day of school there. I was 7 years old. I never had seen nor
been in the presence of so many white people. We just had moved from Shreveport , LA where
it was segregated . The only people I remember seeing there Black and looked similar to me. All these white kids with different color hair, eyes and some even with freckles. It blew my mind. I felt like a
gold fish being dropped in an aquarium with a bunch of strange new creatures. I was enthusiastic and ready for this new adventure. I started in the second grade. I was able to fit in and adjust without any
major problems. There was one minor problem when my mother and my teacher Ms. Willis had the first 9 week parent-teacher conference. I was present at the meeting. Ms. Willis stated that it might be wise to put me back in the first grade because I might fail. At the moment I heard her make that statement something clicked in my mind. It said, “ My name is David August and I don’t fail at
anything.” That thought just clicked I my mind. From that moment onward I was never in jeopardy of failing any subjects in school or anywhere else. Throughout those years in school there, I excelled in
academics, sports and extra curricular activities such as the 4-H Club, Boy Scouts, Music and organized sports. I was always on honor roll each quarter throughout my studies at McKinley. I became the student body president when I reached the 8th grade along with being Co-Captain of the basketball team. McKinley Elementary was my little slice of Heaven in my own little paradise. I literally and figuratively had the keys to the school. As I grew older, I would open the gates and let people in for various community extracurricular activities held there at the school.
My Christmas and summers breaks were mostly spent in San Francisco. I learned my way around San Francisco very well. Along with the ends and outs of being in the hood. I developed long lasting life time friendships and alliances with many people there. I was
always at home in San Fracisco and earned a reputation as a sportsman along with being a good fighter. I competed
and played sports in the San Francisco with the best of them in the Fillmore. My older sisters initially lived across the street from the West Side Projects on Sutter Street. I made my mark in that hood. Many kids thought that I actually lived in San Francisco. I remember once we were playing basketball at Booker T Washington Center at the corner of Presidio and Sutter Streets. I had to stand up to the neighborhood bully in my age group. He tried to bully and beat up a younger guy that
was on my basketball team. It was a just a pick up game but he got mad because our team won against his team. This bully Johnny Jacobs had a a bunch of older brothers and all of them were highly regarded in athletics around the hood and city wide. After the game on our way down the hill to the projects where they lived, he started picking on Rico my little teammate. I jumped in and whipped his butt all the way down the Sutter Street hill to the projects. I never lost a fight in my life when I was standing up for the right thing. In those days we played football and baseball in a grass square located in the center of the West Side projects. There was a statue in the middle of the square. This was the sports playing area in the West Side Projects. We all had fun for the most part. My oldest sister Eula had 2 boys, Nick and Barry. Barry was the oldest and he was
5 years younger than me. Nick was a year younger than him. They were always proud of me as their uncle. I was closer to their age like a brother,but they respected me as their uncle. I had pretty good
action with the girls there there in San Francisco as well. When I was about 12, a girl named Kim and I had a real romance going that summer. She was 16 and I was in love. I had a few love letters arriving
through the mail to me at home in Fresno. The romance ended kind of like the lyrics of a popular song at that time. “I found love on a 2 way street and lost it on a lonely highway.” which was by a group named The Moments. The song was named “Love On A Two Way Street.” My mother always stayed on me about getting too involved with girls at a young age. She always encouraged me to take care of my life and fulfill my purpose here on earth first. Then everything else would fall in place. She wanted me to do something useful with my life. She had a cute way of saying “ David, them little pissy tailed girls
gonna always be there. Take care of what you need to do with your life first before you get caught up.”
She also always had an enlightening story to go along with her wise teachings.
At the end of the summer in 1971 as I was about to enter the 10th grade right before school was to about to begin my step father Herman Jones and I had a altercation. My sisters and I called him Mr.Herman out of respect because he was not our father. That day my life changed along with everything
in it. My half brother Darren who was Mr. Herman’s son and 7 years younger than me told a lie on me. He said that I hit him. Darren liked to play little games and try to get me in trouble. Mr. Herman scolded me. It was a lie and I wasn’t going for it. I didn’t attack
my step father physically but I did lash out verbally cussing him out. I never disrespected him like that before. My mother instilled in me to be respectful to my elders and everyone else. Mr. Herman
was basically a good man. No better or worse than the next man. I respected him as a man and my mother’s husband. He wanted so much for Darren to be like me academically, socially and athletically but Darren was completely the opposite . Although I liked and respected Mr. Herman, I always held a
bit of resentment in me towards him. I heard that he and my father had an altercation. He attacked my father from behind hitting him in the back of his head with a brick. That’s how we ended up in Fresno in the first place. A judge had ordered him to leave the state of Louisiana and never return. My father was a 33rd degree Mason. In those days Mason’s could make a lot of things happen. I don’t think my father figured that my mother would leave with him and take us with her. I grew up knowing about
that situation. One time while intoxicated when I was about 9 years old Mr. Herman gave me a gun to shoot him if I chose to. Something in my young mind chose not to do it, although the instincts of a boy
concerning the honor of his father almost kicked in,but I let it pass. I didn’t take revenge on him at that time. Part if the reason when George W. Bush announced the US was going to war with Iraq, I knew he was really going after Saddam Hussein. They still haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction to this date. I believe it’s ingrained in a
man’s DNA to seek retaliation for a vicious act against his father or mother. Saddam Hussein attempted to assassinate George H Bush while Barbara Bush was with him. That act was a double no no. Somebody had to pay if the opportunity ever presented itself.
Herman wanted to adopt me so I could have his last name,but I didn’t want to change my last name. I always could feel my father, David, Sr.’s presence, love and telepathic energy.
On that day in 1971 when everything changed after I lashed out at Mr. Herman. I jumped over the fence and went over to my friends house.
From there I called my oldest sister Eula in San Francisco. She said I could come and live with her. This was just what the doctor ordered for me. I was 14 years old. I felt my mother and stepfather were
over protective and old fashioned. The area of Fresno where we lived was on the out skirts of town. It was exact opposite of where my sister’s lived in San Francisco. I was ready to spread my wings. I felt and knew that I had learned enough from continuing
High School at that point anyway. When we took the California Scholastic Achievement Test, my test
scores as were the majority of my class mates scores above the 12th grade level or better. Those test results were when we were in the 8th grade. School was not what I wanted or needed is the way I felt. I wanted to learn what really makes the world go around. I wanted to learn what was really going on out in the big world for my self. Thanks to Mama I knew all the pit falls but I now had to experience them for my self. I was very socially conscientious. Although a lot of the issues that plagued America at the time did not directly affect my reality from where I grew up. I was aware that they were there. I won second place in a speech contest while in the 8th grade. The topic of my speech was about freedom and did it really exist. I had references to Angela Davis and the black
panther party as well as the situation of Lt. Kelly and the charges he and the troops under him faced for following a direct order which resulted in many innocent civilians being killed in Vietnam.. I think
that’s why I only won second place because of the nature of the content in my speech. It was shockingly real. Too real for the nice little paradise that we lived in our part of Fresno,CA.
My mother always reiterated to me that I was a poor Black child living in a White man’s world. I was not privy to make foolish mistakes or fall into the mindset that this world was fair for Black people. Yes, I could be accepted in the white world, but the fact remained that I was a Black male which would never change. She knew
her job was to prepare me to live, survive and prosper in the world as it really is. She kept me balanced and grounded. I took heed to her words which still stand to this day. She was from South but whether
you’re in the West, East or North the end of the story still reads the same.
Everyone everywhere that I encountered always seemed to sense that something was a bit different about me than the norm. This bothered me at times. I wondered was I really that different, gifted or
special? I wondered if all the opportunities that were given to me was because I was black living in a white community? I always tried to convince my self anybody could do and accomplish the things I did if they were presented the opportunity. I felt privileged not blessed a lot of the time.
I learned first hand to be my self, trust my instincts and not to fear people. Especially people whom come against me to harm me for just being myself. In other words not to worry about the haters because there is a power greater than me that would handle them for me.
This first lesson came strongly when I was ten years old in the 5th grade. It was on a Friday. The week before Easter break from school. A kid named Billy who was a year older than me. He was in the 6th grade. Billy angrily looked at me. His eyes were piecing and taunting with a evil glare in them as if he hated me. This look was unwarranted. It sent shock waves through me. I could tell he wanted to do something harmful to me. I felt the jealousy, disdain and hate that he held towards me raging through his eyes. My mind clicked to the previous year when we were swimming together and it seemed like he tried to hold me under water a few times. My mind quickly zoomed to this upcoming spring and summer. We would be swimming and he might try to hurt or drown me. I was alarmed and concerned but went on and enjoyed my Easter break from school. When school let back in after the Easter, the first thing I heard everybody
talking about was that Billy’s house had caught on fire and he was the only one that died in the fire. Wow that tripped me out. In my heart and spirit I felt a sense of relief. It unlocked the spirit of “ Fear
no evil and no weapon formed against me shall prosper.”I felt strongly that Billy was gonna try to hurt or drown me. We swam in canals and
irrigation ditches with no lifeguards or supervision. I was only a good little guy in this big bad world. I
knew from then on I was protected and blessed by a power greater than me. My mother always said, “
God will take care of all the things that we can’t.” She instilled in my mind that if I did the right thing
and stood for right nothing would or could harm me. She reinforced the fact that people in this world are are jealous, vindictive and hateful without a cause to be. I often wondered why Billy wanted to harm me. Was it because I was Black and getting all the attention or was he just a hater period?
I took that life lesson with me throughout my life. I lived fearlessly but knowing I have a responsibility to warrant the protection of that which is greater than me. I learned to be myself and always try to do
the right thing. As well I also learned that if I don’t do the right thing there’s a price I’ll have to pay. Life
gives you back what you put into it.
As I my journey began in San Francisco after leaving from Fresno, I sought to understand why the world was such a mixed up divided place. I saw the hypocrisy of the words written in the US Constitution in relation to the reality of what was really happening. I sought to understand why we as
Black people were so feared, hated and despised by other races of people. Why were we at the bottom of the totem pole in America and why were our rights as men left out of the US Constitution?
I realized early in life that I needed to know more about the
typical black experience in America in order to be an effective advocate and spokes person concerning the state of the Black man in America. I knew I didn’t want to be in politics or any position where I couldn’t speak the truth. I knew I had been groomed to be a social and political leader while in Fresno. My spirit would not let me be a Black puppet who didn’t truly know the truth and the reality of what it meant to be a
Black person in America. Amidst all the uproar, riots and social unrest coming from the Black Community. I didn’t want to be a White Folks Nigger without the true knowledge of what blackness in America was truly about.
In Fresno I was
privy to anything and everything in the Whitr community . I was never made to feel less than anyone else. I love that community for the love I was given. I was welcome everywhere I went. As a kid
growing up there. I never felt racism directed towards me. I knew that was not the case for other blacks in America. Why should I care? I often ask my self that question, but that’s the way that I am. I care not
only for myself but others as well. I was taught to whom much is given much is expected back.
Without asking there had been much given to me in my life.
After leaving Fresno going to the 10th grade, I stopped attending classes at school. I was enrolled in 5 High Schools in 4 different Cities in 2 States. Every year during that 3 year period. I would still be in the 10th grade.
I had many adventures that where full of excitement and intrigue. At that age between 14 and 17 running wild in the streets the only thing can do is get into trouble. That’s exactly what happened.
I was on my own. My mother didn’t understand, nor did my
father, sisters or anyone else but me. I was on a mission.
My eldest sister Eula enrolled me in Galileo High in San Francisco. At that time repairs were going on to half the school buildings so classes were mixed up and we had half day schedules. The condemned
half of the school was a gambling casino. It was the hangout spot. 21 Black Jack was what they loved to play there as well as shooting dice. There were dice and card games everywhere on the condemned
side of the school. My mother had warned me about gambling. She knew that the winners usually had a system of cheating. My father was a gambler and she didn’t like it at all. I gambled a little but didn’t take it too serious. I didn’t like to lose but loved to win.
I hooked up with Paul Johnson and Marcus Dodson. Marcus was from New York and Paul was a San Francisco native. Both Paul and Marcus were in the 11th grade. We all cut classes and run after girls. We hustled with marijuana a little. At that time in San Francisco selling marijuana joints was the big thing going for
youngsters. We would hustle up a few dollars and get a bag of weed, roll it up and sell joints for 50 cents. We used to ride the Muni ( The SF city bus system) and sell joints all over San Francisco. You
could make a profit for the next bag and also have some weed to smoke. Paul lived in the projects on Turk Street with his mother and father. Marcus was a bit like me. He was in San Francisco living with his aunt. We all developed good friendships and had some good times together. We went to a lot of house parties. During that time in the San Francisco, house parties were the thing. Many adult aged young people gave house parties and charged to get in. They were really rent parties. Everybody had a
hustle going on.
As every good thing comes to a end so did my fun. My sister was concerned about me no going to school. My parents had moved to Oakland from Fresno since the time that I had moved to San Francisco. I convinced them to let me go back to Fresno and live with a black friend of mine whom used to be a arch sports enemy during our Elementary and Jr. High years. He went to a different
schools but were in the same High School District. His name was Donnie Glenn. His parents agreed to let me come live with them so I could continue playing basketball at Central High. They had a large
family of about 6 0r 7 boys and one younger sister. When I arrived there I was able to suit up and played in a junior varsity game against Fresno High. I scored 12 points and won the game for the team.
There was a blurb in the Fresno Bee newspaper about it. I soon got San Francisco sick and made it my way back to the bay area.
It was time for me to go and stay with my father in Shreveport. This was in 1971. I remember when I arrived to the bus terminal in Shreveport, my father was there waiting. We knew each other off the top.
It had been about 7 years since we had last seen each other. I’ve always called him Manuel by his first name, as did all of his children.
Shreveport was the biggest culture shock of my life to date at that point and time. My father lived in a section of town called Cross Town. It was formerly referred to as the Blue Goose District. He lived with a lady by the name of Susie James. Susie had 2 children by my father. A girl
name Mary and a boy named Johnny. Mary was about 3 at that time and Johnny was about 2. I am so glad I went there at that time because shortly after I left Johnny died from cancer. I almost died at that same age from pneumonia. I’m happy to have seen and met him. I loved
seeing my little brother from my father’s genes His birthday was May 15, and mine is May 16. Susie had 4 other children as well. Two girls and two boys. They all liked me and we got along pretty well. My father didn’t treat me any different than he did the rest of them. Matter of fact I think it
bothered Susie that he was so hard on me. I know now that he considered me a man at 14. He
knew I was at that age where you have to learn it on your own. He couldn’t make up for the years lost.
Living in the Cross Town neighborhood was eye opening to the real plight of being Black living in America. David, Sr. was well liked and much respected in Shreveport, especially in the Bottom and the Cross Town areas. Those where his stomping grounds. I was taken around and introduced as David’s son by my new found
stepbrothers and sisters. There was much respect and honor given to me as his son. I had found my roots. My fathers mother lived on the Cooper Road nowadays known as the Martin Luther King area of
town. I bonded with her and always kept in touch with her until her death in 1989. She was 96 when
she died. I would always call her on the phone. My favorite conversation with her came years later
when I was living in Finland. I called her and said, “Grand Mama I met a girl from the moon and moved to the moon” Without shock or hesitation she replied, “That nice and don’t forget to send me some Moon money.” That coversation always makes me laugh. I don’t know if Grand Mama thought I
was crazy or just believed anything was possible with me or my Father.
Billy Ray Stewart was one of the first guys I met. He about 4 or 5 years older than me. He took me
under his wing and tried to look out for me. Billy Ray was as good as they come. He was a great
sportsman and loved baseball. He was and is a real stand up person. He always tried to warn me about
the wrong direction that I would be heading. I listened but always headed where the action was at. His
good friend Sidney Horsey nick named me the Cisco Kid. A name which stuck. They liked my style
My father enrolled me in Byrd High School. I don’t think I ever went to one class at all. I learned how
to live and hustle cross town style. My father soon sent me back to California, but before that I had a
lot of memorable times in the hood. Shreveport life style was completely different than my life in
California. This was a community of people whom went back many generations. Everybody knew
everybody along with their mother and father too. I really enjoyed the sense of family that I felt there. I
learned that they didn’t fight California style. Everybody here liked to box as if they were in a ing. I got in to it with a guy from another neighborhood. I grabbed him ,threw him on a car and
commenced to attack him with the mentality of win by any means necessary. It tripped them out. They
believe in a boxing match type fight. I just knew how to win. Most of the guys had been to reform
school and had a certain way about them that seemed to be institutionalized even when it came to
fighting. They called me a wild man, but that was the way of the west. It was kinda like Kool Moe D’s
song “The Wild Wild West”which came out much later after that time period.
You know coming from California to Louisiana I had my pick of the girls. There was much curiosity
about me. I knew how to work it. I knew how to befriend a girl that liked me even if I didn’t like her. I
knew how to let them down easy and still be friends. I don’t like to hurt peoples feeling. It’s a art.
My experience living in the Cross Town neighborhood in Shreveport gave me the sense where home
was at. My little village that I would always remember. I did return to live here in 1976 after I
discharged from the army. I was so sad when I returned in 1984 to visit Shreveport and this
neighborhood was completely destroyed . People had been relocated to other parts of town to
accommodate a freeway project which till this day still hasn’t been constructed yet.
Back home to California, I had to move back with my mother, step father and baby brother, Barry .
This time I was in enrolled into Castlemont High in East Oakland. I had learned a valuable lesson in
life. My real father was as strict as my stepfather and mother. None of them were going to let me just
fall through the cracks in life. My farther wasn’t there to monitor like my mother and stepfather. He
just expected you to handle your business. I rarely went to class at Castlemont High. There was one art
class I would occasionally attend. The teacher’s name was Mr. Fox.. There was nothing special about
him, I just liked art and could go there without any expectations or home work plus there was a little cutie pie in that class that I liked. Her name was Veronica. I eventually caught her and she was my
official Oakland girl friend fr many years after that.
East Oakland was something else all together. I got in the mix with the Jungle Boys, a notorious gang
from the section of Oakland called Brookfield. We didn’t even live in Brookfield but by chance they
chose me. One day I was standing in our yard on 89th and Plymouth. A young girl walked by . She
turned around and asked me to come go over her friends house with her. Of course, I went with her.
Her name was Monica. She was a year younger than me. We went down the street to her friends house
and she tripped me out, She took me in her friends room and got naked. We had sex and I didn’t even have to ask or work for it. Usually during those days you had to work to try and get sex from a girl.
She just laid it on me. Her friends name was Sherry. Sherry was biracial mixed with black and white.
Her mother was a very nice lady and Sherry’s house was the hang out spot. I was walking one day
shortly after that around the neighborhood and ran into 2 guys. They tried to jack me up for my money.
I threw it on the ground and then kicked one as he was trying to pick it up. I grabbed my money off the
ground and commenced to fighting both of them. I went around to Sherry’s house as I was telling them
about what happened. In comes a guy by the name of Don Black aka The Frenchman. The Frenchman
said, “I know who they are and I don’t like them. Let’s ride.” He had a gray Camaro. The Frechman
was with a click he called the Suburban boys. They ran the 104th ave to 108th ave. There wasn’t much
going on in the section where he lived. It was quiet. He was kind of a rich spoiled kid that wanted to be
a gangster. He had paid his dues to the streets though. He had respect. My little altercation had
occurred on 91st
Ave and Cherry Street. . He’s the one that took me down in the Jungle aka
Brookfield which was down on 98th ave and gathered support for me and the cause to ride on these
guys. The two guys and I became good friends, running and hustling buddies later in the game. Joe
Jones and Eric Hobbs were their names. I lived by the code that if I the first time I meet somebody and we don’t click then we have a altercation. I can build a friendship with that person, but if your
already my so-called friend then we end up having an altercation. We can’t ever be friends or close
associates again. From that encounter with Joe and Eric. I gained a little prominence and the reputation
that I wasn’t aybody to be playing with.. My mother had a nice 38 detective special that she kept hidden
away. I was always a rambler and knew where everything was at in the house. I had the knack of
finding anything that was hidden. I could just find it ,, anything. You could never hide anything from
me. I would find it. I got the gun and went up to Caslemont the next day with my crew. We waited on
Duane and I jumped out and we commenced to fight. At the end of the fight I shot at him. I’m glad I
missed but my show of willingness to do the fool went along way in the streets. I was down with the
Jungle Boys. As I said Duane , I and Claude became good friends and hustling buddies after that. I
learned from that experience that it’s OK to have a fight with someone that you just met and become
their friend later, but if you have a fight with your already friend . He was never your friend. He didn’t
like you from the start and was just waiting on the time to try and hurt you. I never fought with my
friends and if I did, they were no longer my friend after that.
We used to terrorize East Oakland. I knew everything I was doing was wrong. I knew better but I also
knew there was a greater purpose for my actions. God was so much with me during those days and
protected me with a tight hand. Selling drugs was not the big hustle in those days. Our hustle was to get
money by any means necessary. That was the way we lived. My closest friend on the streets of Oakland
was Gary Davis. I mentioned him earlier in my memoirs. He was the guy whose older brother shot him
in the head while I was in basic training. Gary had just got out of (CYA) California Youth Authority
when I met him. He had spent most of his life incarcerated. We just kind of clicked. We kicked it all
over Oakland together. There was no where in Oakland were Gary couldn’t go or should I say wouldn’t
go. We had a master plan that he had devised to get us over the hump. We almost made it but got side swiped in the game. The next to last phase of our quest to was to get a arsenal of weapons. We planned
to rob a jewelry store in San Jose, CA. He had it all cased it out. All we needed was the weapons. We
would cut a driver in once we got the weapons that we needed. He used to talk about buying that 69
Caddy that he wanted.
By this time I was living with my uncle Robert. My mothers oldest brother who had retired from the
Navy. He had been stationed at the Alameda Naval Station and bought a house on 105th Ave in
Oakland. It’s funny that he had retired from the navy because he was the brother that almost drowned
when he was younger because he couldn’t swim and his so called friends turned the boat over while
they were out on the Red River.
I had set up a burglary of one of our neighbors house. I had met a kid named Ed Washington. He lived
around the corner from my Uncle Robert’s house. We had become friends. One day he showed me his
fathers gun collection. He constantly talked about how he despised and hated his father. I didn’t think
that he would mind if I confiscated it. He really did have a lot of contempt for his dad. I don’t know
why but he did. I set it up for Gary and I to hit the house and we did. Our usual scenario make our
hustle in the morning so we make to Castlemont High by noon. Then we’d hang out at lunch. I had a
couple of special girls at school, but Veronica was my girl friend. I always try to make up to school so
I could kick it with her at lunch . Well this day we pulled off the heist and stashed the guns in the
basement at my uncles house where I was living. On my way up to school the police stopped me and
questioned me about the burglary. We only targeted the guns but I had seen a ring that I grabbed to
take to Veronica. I had the ring in my pocket. I told them I had no idea of what they were talking
about. They took me to the house we had burglarized. Ed’s sister identified the ring as hers. The police
took me to my uncles house and searched the house for the guns. They didn’t find them but took the ring and let me go. Shortly after that my uncle came home and he found the guns. He called the police
and turned them in to them. I couldn’t believe that he had sold me out like that. His son Roscoe was the
biggest criminal that I knew. Roscoe had even been busted for counterfeiting money. He had always
been on heroin and other drugs most of his life. I soon later realized that my uncle didn’t want to
support me going down the same path as his son. I know what I had done was dead wrong and
especially to someone that I knew. I saw Ed around a few times after that and I felt like shit. I wasn’t a
crosser of my friends. I always treasured friendships of any magnitude. I was a true person and always
wanted to be a guy that you could trust. I honestly didn’t think he would mind met ripping off his dad
whom he despised so much. I was later arrested by the the police and put in juvenile hall. I sat there
until my trial. During this time in Oakland civil disobedience was at a all time high. Illegal Possession
of hand guns and rifles was a serious offense and added to social climate in Oakland. At the trail the
judge gave me 2 options.1 option was to leave the state of California until I was 21. The second option
was to be incarcerated until I was 21. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Where would I go?
I had already burned my bridge down in Louisiana with my father. Again Eula came to my rescue and
accepted responsibility of me until I go into the army after my 17th Birthday which was coming soon.
Across the bay in San Francisco I kind of just hung around until I could take the Army test. Eula was
living in the Haight Ashbury area at the corner of Cole and Page streets. She always would have a
place for me. She owned her own beauty shop and was always resourceful and independent. During
that time period I hung out my friend Roy Johnson. Roy had a job as a janitor at a candy factory. I
would always roll to work with him. I would try to help,him but he’d always say” Just chill and enjoy
the candy. I got this.” He had a 64 Continental with suicide doors. It wasn’t pimped out or anything but
it kept us rolling over the City. Roy was extremely short but built very solid and muscular. He was
about 5’1 inches played basketball like he 6′ 5”. His nick name was Cash Tino on the streets. We used
to hit a lot of parties in the Fillmore. His coping mechanism was snorting cocaine or heroin and sometimes mixing them together. I was always game to challenge something. I got high with Roy. My
mindset at that time was there’s nothing on earth that I can’t handle. It’s a mind over matter thing. Roy
would always look out for me and make sure I was straight. Roy and I took the Army test together. The
plan was go into the Army together on the buddy system. He failed the test and I passed it. I had no
option but to go. I was court ordered out of the State of California until I turn 21. Years later Roy later
became a full fledged heroin junkie. The ironic thing is when I returned back to San Francisco 4 years
later from Louisiana. I went down on the set at Haight and Fillmore where everything used to happen.
Roy was the first person I saw. He was as they say shot to the curb and not even 25 years old. He later
shuck back with the help of a Drug Program. My girlfriend Carlita and I used to visit Roy every Sunday while he was in the rehab facility.
Throughout life I met many special, blessed and gifted people who literary took me under their wing and protected me. Sometimes trying to protect me from myself. We all must learn to live with the gift that we individually possess.
The individual gift that one processes can give one life or death. It can be a blessing or a curse. Learning to live righteously with your gift brings life and light to the world around you.
Published by Utopia West Creations