30 Paulina Street
It was twelve people choking on each other’s proximity. On a second floor.
It was cacophony, bedlam, violence and confusion. It was a mix of terror, disappointment and loose stool.
It was calls from the nuns, the library and the truant officer. It was hairy eyeballs from neighbors.
It was losing Ronnie Bohannon’s bike, causing me to lose consciousness at the hands of another human being….my father.
It was having no money.
It was the horror of hearing that extra goose on the gas pedal that would bring my father’s car onto our makeshift driveway at 6:00 pm.
It was waking up…drenched.
It was schoolyard beatings, police collars, paddy wagons, week-long runaways, Catholic school expulsions and a 200 dollar bill for breaking windows in the junior high school behind my house.
It was having to attend that very same school after St. Clements kicked me out.
It was sleeping in junk cars while on the run and waking just before it entered the crusher. After my father got a hold of me, the crusher would have been a better choice.
It was my father trying to beat the shit out me on a hospital bed at the Somerville Hospital because I got hit by a bus the day before Christmas. $80.00. My fault…. all of it.
It was changing the names on all the Christmas gifts before everyone woke up. To this day, Christmas still gives me a pain in the head. (I’m still an early riser.)
Then it was alcohol, more beatings, more arrests, more confusion.
It was the Division of Youth Services for almost a year. It was 10 months of Marvin Pratt, a state cop who thought I was a sexual work perk. I watched Kennedy leave and the Beatles enter.
Then it was the draft of 1966. Head shavings, line-ups, cavity searches, long train rides and wet ponchos. It was more beatings, drills, bayonet lunges, harassment, torture, swamp ass and hookers.
After a month long boat ride, Vietnam. Finally, some relief.
As they say, whatever doesn’t kill you.
My rocky start gave me everything to I need to survive whatever is going on in my life right now.
For that, I am eternally grateful.