I am an American,,from a long line of Americans.My family goes back many generations here in America on both my
mothers and fathers side.I have Dutch,, Native American,German,Irish and English ancestors on both sides.To the best of my
knowledge they were all legal under the then existing immigration laws.
Grade school was good to me,,I enjoyed it.Don't most kids?I remember there being students of many diverse ethnic
backgrounds,,among which was european, hispanic and asian.That is of course to the best of my recollection.That may be a little
faulty since I don't seem to recall those kids,,my friends,,in those terms unless you asked me to describe how they looked.
As a matter of fact,the only real stupid stuff that happened in a way that could possibly be considered
racially oriented in any way was a five way battle royal on the first graders playground sometime in the first few months
of first grade that involved me,,a white kid,,short, fat,freckled,pale,blonde and blue eyed and four 'american of african
descent kids' of various shades of brown.At that point in time,,it was acceptable to say Negro.
No,,I wasn't raised with the understanding that the currently notorious 'n' word,, nigger,,as being assosciated
with anyones skin color at all in any way.If my parents heard me or my siblings use it as merely an indicater of race,,it
quite likely a backhand punishable crime if they were within arms reach.It was a word used to indicate a persons particular
life style that tended to include nasty,unneeded mess,clutter or perhaps such as ones attitudes toward other people.
In my house,,Archie B. was often called a nigger himself in response to his characters proclivities.And
there was never a need to make a 'color' distinction if one called someone that since the color of the 'nigger' was self evident.
As to the cause of the battle royal,,I don't know.As to the victor,,I don't know.The only memory I can drudge
up frooom right before or right after something regarding me showing someone how to tie their shoe laces.As to the resulting
dynamics between us five.I remember those four as pretty much my best friends during those early years.Me and one of them
shared a desk for several graded.In first grade we established ourselves as 'recalitrant desk drawers'.
Personally,,that was the first and only time I ever received a paddling in school.The next time it came
up,,I opted for detention or suspension,Principals pick.But that's another story.
The other three and him and I and a few others,were a little 'clique' during those school years.And as far
a I can tell,,we all actually liked to learn.School was cool back then.I actually have a lot of fond memories of back then
still vibrant in my minds eye today.
But anyway,,we all seemed to urge and encourage each other to excell.Sure,,we were only grade schoolers
but I like to think that there are a lot of similar folks who started and stayed non division oriented according to the colors
but by attitudes and behaviour.One was even of a religious faith that forbid him from Pledging Allegience to the flag and
participating in any Bible related 'a.m.
readings' that was common there and then.It wasn't a big deal,,he just stepped
We all knew how he felt even though he did as his family told him to.It made him sad that he couldn't do
it because he wanted to do it.He didn't talk about it much but I knew him for a while and it was allways the same as long
as I did.And he knew all the words anyway and I seen him with a KJV New and an Old T many times.
And yes,,other than Cub,Webelos and Boy Scout activities I rarely saw them aside from school stuff.
After that good start in grade school that culminated with me being selected to be male student body prez in 5th grade,I began
being truant,,,right around the time my family split up.
I wound up starting my 'encarceration records' at about 13 or so with a trip to what was called a 'half
way house' for jueveniles in Palm Beach.I was on my way out of town to go see my sister in Louisianna that had been hospitalized
by her husband attempting to murder her.Of course the cop found me in the drivers seat of a vehicle which I had no right to
That did nothing at the time,,I continued being a delinquent.I dropped out of school when I hit
17,not that I went to school very often before that.I had repeated the 8th grade more than once by that time due to not enough
time spent in school.
My actual grades were fine,but they were negated due to a lack of attendence.It was during the first year
in 8th grade that I found out that the public school system cares squat about educating children,,they need students butts
the seats to get paid.
And,as I was informed,,I couldnt have half the money.At the time,,since I obviously did not need
classes to learn,as proven by my actual grades with out the minuses for lack of attendence,I determined that school attendence
was irrelevent to learning,was a waste of time for me and was a way of providing funds to incompetent,self serving individuals
masquerading as caring educators who,as a whole,in my opinion,didn't deserve to be in such a position over young minds.
numerous run-ins with the law on various not so terrible for back then charges,spending quite a few county funded vacations
in Florida and even visiting a West Virginia detention facility once,I eventually became a convicted felon in the state of
After the death of my father I began a down ward spiral that wound up with me as an
overly active alcoholic with no respect for much of anything at the time.Even though there was no 'official record' of it,,I
was also a crack head.A big part of my psychological problems at the time was aggravated by me cyclically jumping back and
forth from the liquor bottle to the crack pipe trying to get away from both.Essentially,,I knew I was in a 'pickle' but had
no way of seperating myself from the influences to enable a break in the cycle.
When I was 21 I
was sentenced to a few years in state prison for violation of probation on a grand theft charge.The violation was 38 alchohol
related misdemeanors committed in about 6 months.
Luckily,, I was deemed a good candidate for an
institution that had a good reputation at the time for non-recidivism.About 60 to 70%.It was called a 'behaviour modification-drug
rehabilitation' facility located in Lantana.
Of course,,even though I was dealt with under what
was known as a 'youthful offender provision' I still went through the 'real penal institutional system' on the way to that
facility.This began by being sent to Lake Butler and eventually,,after being part of transient populations in a few different
places,,I got to that Institution.
During my stay I was,examined,tested,placed under pressure,pushed,given
verbal haircuts and had several different sets of psychological tools used on my psyche till they eventually deemed me highly
intelligent,reasonably sane and suitable for reintegration into society.I also obtained my high school diploma,straight from
the State of Florida Department of Education,not a
G.E.D.,,while there.I gave two incorrect answers.They were algebra problems.
After I 'E.o.S'ed,,that's an acronym for End of Sentence,,I began the life of an ex-felon in Florida.
At first,,based on previous experiences as a 'local miscreant' with a county record,,it seemed like it wasn't gonna be a big
deal.I was hardly ever with out work before my prison stint since I could do many things in many fields.I was very conversant
in carpentry of all stages,painting,auto body work,landscaping,light heavy equipment operation,septic tank and drain field
installation,remodeling, concrete,and as usual art and custom item work among many other genres
like the ever present
restaurant skills.I even worked in groves,sod farms and other ag related jobs.And right before my father passed away I had
become a trained optical lab technition.
As I look back,,there were allways folks of other nationalities
around.It was in no way uncommon to see them nor work with them on various sites and jobs.Even during my periods of imprisonment
I never had much 'race' oriented trouble with them,,nor blacks,back then.While I can say I ran into blatant,'I hate whitey'
minded folks before,,on the streets and while incarcerated,,it wasn't a 'common problem' that I encountered.I can say that
there weren't any situations where a
cerain type of job was filled by 'only or just' a certain racial type.I least not
that I recall.And yes,,there were allways many of the 'I hate other than whitey' minded folks around me,,realtives for
When I filled out applications I made sure I included the facts of those events just like I had previously
with the assorted misdemeanors.I didn't notice any actual disparity in the frequency of rejections for quite some time.
Quite often it was me that turned jobs down because they didn't pay reasonably for talent nor skill.Since
this wound up with me filling 'payroll' jobs that were allmost worth the little bit of money they paid,,like kitchen work,,I
began trying to try the tactics others tout so much.
That's when things began being noticable.I hooked up with a state agency that participated in a program
with various local companies to provide entry level training to 'unskilled laborers'.The state paid half the slightly higher
than minimum wage the company paid me while I got trained as a 'sawyer'.
My job was to run a 'gang saw'.This was a large multiple bladed machine that one used to cut various
angles on many boards with a single setting.
During this job,,I became acquainted with a slew of migrant
Mexicans and other South American nationals that also worked for this company.My employer tried to get them to let me teach
them how to run the machine I had been trained on.The common reaction was,,fear of the machine.
After some did begin working with me,,regardless of my patience or encouragement in them learning to communicate
well enough to absorb the material,,they invariably begged off using the 'no spekka dinglish good' mantra.The occasional black
man that was thrown over to the saw monster either straight up said they were too scared of it or showed themselves to be
unable to handle the process.Whether by design or actually incapable I don't know.I do know that there wound up being no one
willing to 'feed the beast' but me after the guy they had break me in on it before he retired at like 70.
He said he was tickled that I was a quick study since that meant he could
go ahead a leave sooner than
they anticipated.Yeah,,according to him,,I became competent in record time.And according to their architect,,in private,,if
I hadn't of helped him out with his designs on a couple of occasions by pointing out flaws he missed he might not have kept
his first 'fresh out of colledge' job very long.
Unbeknownst to me when it began,,the job was only
good for the duration of the state subsidised training period anyway.This was for a longer time than I wound up needing to
learn how to turn out consistant production grade results.When the subsidy ended,,instead of paying the going wage for a 'trained
sawyer' they decided to lay me off.
As that became a known element I did notice that all those immigrants and others were were using circular
saws quite fine to cut angles that they somehow managed to 'now' understand how to cut.
Fortunately for the company,yet not for me,,my learning curve had put their production schedule ahead substantially.Therefore
I was un-needed for the current project.
I heard that they didn't get rid of the saw monster for years.They never used after I left.It sat and rusted
away into irrelevancy since many individual hand saws could do the job of it and one man.Personally,,I feel it's a pity,,I
came to like it.And the consistant quality of the company product suffered drastically due to that.They did go out of business
about a year after they sold the beast.
Due to this turn of events that resulted in a sudden and drastic collapse of income I and my wife then moved
back to a very small town that I had partially grown up in after my parents divorced.Cheaper rent.
This wound up being a mixed blessing as many things in life are eventually found to be.She did get a good
state job and I began to turn a reasonable amount of business doing sign work in the surrounding area.After I worked myself
out of business,,and learned a trick of the sign trade that I didn't know that gave me a good rep but no repaint biz.
That is,,,Don't use good long lasting high quality pain to do signs,,because they last too long to need
repainting frequently enough to garner repeat biz from customers.
After that,,I did notice that there were a lot more forign speaking folks in the fields,ranches,groves,packing
houses and restaurants.
Ah,,the packing house,,there is a quirked story.Me and a couple of guys I knew,,yeah,white cracker
types with the local southern accent and attitudes landed forklift and maintenence positions at a packing house about 30 miles
away.They drew on a local population of immigrants.
Oddly enough,,they were mainly all female and worked the packing lines.As nd as I came to realise,the
males didn't even apply for the house work,,they invariably went to the fields.The ones that weren't too proud and could put
up with their amigos razzing on them for doing such non-macho work,that is.The fields were predominatly female filled as well.
That meant no one was currently applied for the jobs when we showed up.They were desperate for three
guys to fill the three spots.We were hired on the spot.
While the job wasn't all that great pay wise,,we did enjoy it well enough to comment on that amongst
ourselves rather often.We ran the forklifts,various machinery and cleaned up.The packing house did many types od produce.While
it was mainly produce from local farms and groves, they also did nonlocal biz,,this included simple drop and pickups to complete
packaging of radishes, broccoli, carrots and citrus.Lots of citrus,,but even more radishes and broccoli.Oh,and cabbage,,a
hand load,,product,,lump work,,cabbage.Lots of cabbage.
This not having been my first time
in a packing house,,I rose a little in the esteem of my employers.Being as I knew how to fabricate as well,,when they decided
to purchase and install a commercial ice machine on the property and the engineer picked me as the one he would like to have
play laborer for him,,I was advanced in position and pay.
As there were simply two guys,,him and I to do this,it was projected to last through the season and be done
before the start of the next season.We were to build this huge machine that could produce tons of ice per day.And we did.Piece
by piece.Many shaped to fit as needed by us.It was great,,I loved it.
Naturally,,it broke up the gang of three.I no longer could simply car pool with them as I was no longer
working matching shifts.Even though we swapped up before,we had it worked out to share rides whenever possible.And of course,,I
wsn't working the house very much after that,,just fill in on occasion.I stayed on the same pay rate when I did,,so that was
gravy time money to me.
I did notice something though.They did hire some immigrant men to work some line positions and a couple
were clean up help.This was no big thing as this was while season was in full gear.The need for workers was great.And they
weren't rejected by the company when they applied.
But they did not want to run the equipment.When they did eventually get on the lifts,,they were literally
dangerous on them.Although the site of seeing a forklift back into a concrete wall and busting a whole through it was a sight
I won't forget,,I could have done without the resulting chaos and panic reactions to such a drastic event.And I won't go into
a few of the more drastic ones,,there isn't any real point.
Yet,,after one of the guys I knew got fired for getting into a fight with one over such a scary event,I
noticed there were a lot of fellas that weren't on the payroll hanging around and helping the ones that were on the payroll
do their work.
At the time,,I thought it was funny but good for the company since they were getting more workers for the
price of one.Then I started hearing about a lot of missing product.Not spoilage or waste,,which runs a rather high percent
sometimes,,but missing boxed product.
Nothing that I know of was connected nor discussed nor resolved.But I wasn't in any real position to know
anything that I didn't pick up in conversation.
As that season came to a close,,for the house,,I
kept right on building.Since my other friend was a reasonable minded man and did a good job without complaining and got along
well with virtually everyone his 'lay-off' was a surprise.Since this house wasn't specialised for the common citrus market
it works literally year round.And since the guy was well experienced at this house and the most qualified,valuable worker
to work during any slack times the layoff
wasn't warranted.Especially when considering that there were many less 'valuable'
workers behind him on the hired list that should be laid off first.Last in first out,,right?Better qualified retained,,right?
Well,they did it anyway.And afterwards the house and truck yard became something one dreaded to have to
walk through.As well as the place seemed to become crowded with extraneous workers.
There were so many new faces that I did make it a point of asking management how many new hires did
they have to make to replace my friend.The response was,,none.
I was still thouroughly enjoying working on the ice machine so I simply became less interested and involved
in the house situation and ignored it as none of my business.I was not surprised when the engineer told me that they were
going to cut my involvement short by several months.His official statement was that he no longer needed skilled labor for
the remainder of the project.I could be replaced by unskilled temporary workers.I was dissapointed and angry at the suddeness
but not surprised.I had figured I would at least get to be in on the official finishing of the thing.I was proud of what I
had helped with.
A few months later,,I drove by and could see from the road that there was a crowd of what appeared to be
'immigrants' surrounding the machine while the engineer was on top working all alone.As I drove by,,he motinoned to one that
then turned and spoke to the group,,several then began moving towards the equipment.I lost sight then,,but it made me feel
good and bad at the same time.
Good that it took so many to replace me,,good that it would be a bigger headache to work that way that with
folks who don't need translation or supervision and that they may miss me due to that.Yet,,bad that I had lost a good job
that I enjoyed,,again.And that those folks are probally all working for less pay between them than I was getting paid per
hour.That's just wrong.
After that I wound up driving a wrecker on the turnpike.The only thing I
noticed at that time working that job,was the actual amount of foriegners I seen come down and up the 'pike.And out of the
many different countries of origin,,there did seem to be a much larger percentage from Mexico and other South American countries.
end part one