My Process 5

The Toledo ghetto I was reared in was nothing like the ghettos in America today. While there was limited anarchy in the Red Light District, while adults often lived contrary to the way they wanted their children to behave, while drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sexual slavery was available to anyone who gravitated to that sort of lifestyle, those who engaged in it tended to stir children away from it. In other words, the practitioners of vice were not only seen as authority figures, they were, in most cases, respected as authority figures. They obviously believed in protecting the children in the neighborhood even though they themselves were profligates. Of course there were reprobates who didn’t adhere to normal standards of decency, people who crossed every line, when it came to legal tender no matter how old the customer was. But they were the exception, not the rule.

Not so today. Respect and selflessness is virtually extinct. The strange thing is that those who want and in many cases demand respect are the very ones who respect nothing and no one, not even themselves. I’ve often heard young people say, “I respect those who respect me.” Really? Respect is not an innate trait indigenous to human beings. In other words, it isn’t natural, just as obedience isn’t natural. Both have to be taught to young minds and reinforced on a daily basis to curb the desire to let selfishness dictate actions, resulting in total anarchy, leading to oblivion, which, by the way, is rapidly approaching.

We clearly see the approach of anarchy every time someone walks into a school or a place of business with a gun to annihilate as many people as they can before the police stop them. What I find interesting is that the very indoctrination centers that fostered whatever belief system they have is often the target of their wrath whether they attack elementary schools, high schools, or universities. Sadly, attacks on schools are so common place that most don’t make the nightly news anymore. Consider the number of shootings in 2013 alone


My Process 4

Punishment was an integral and invaluable part of My Process. The belt was a consistent reminder that wrongful actions and pain were synonyms. Corporal punishment was used to keep me and other children in line when our innate desire to sin and rebel against the powers that be threatened to get out of control. To get the seriousness of this, you must understand that the powers that be were just about anyone that was five years older than you. We were expected to obey authority. And authority was given to teenagers that could be fifteen or sixteen-years-old. They could tell children under their care what to do and they had better do it. But understand this: those teenagers with authority were once in the position I found myself in. They had to first submit to authority before they were given authority. In other words, they were taught to respect authority in all of its forms, which often involved a belt and quite a bit of yelling to get their attention.

Nevertheless, the desire to rebel remained with me and led me astray too many times to remember. The desire to rebel against the powers that be deceived me into believing that if I was smart enough, I could rebel and get away with it. One such deception occurred at the local indoctrination center, better known as a public school (perhaps I’ll opine on this in a future edition). A few of us boys decided to skip school and being the future brains surgeons that we were, we decided to not only skip the indoctrination of the day, but do this in plain sight on the indoctrination center’s playground. If I’m not mistaken, there were something like three bells before class began. It was a long time ago people, a very long time ago. My memory may be faulty on this. Anyway the final bell rang and we continued playing as if we didn’t hear it.

Five or ten minutes later, a large number of teachers came out of their classrooms, chased us, caught us, and took us to the principal’s office, where we would be chastened for committing truancy, a felony in those days. At least they treated the offense that way from my perspective. Even then, those in authority offered criminals plea bargains. In this particular case, I brokered a deal that favored me. I would take three licks with a wooden paddle on my backside, and they wouldn’t call the powers that be at my home. I think most of us took that deal. I remember being in this long line, waiting for my licks, listening to the sound of wood colliding with flesh, and then hearing the sentenced convict crying. Sometimes, there was crying and begging before the first lick, which I found hilarious.

Finally, it was my turn. I was scared to death after hearing licks being delivered and subsequent crying. All of sudden nothing was funny about a well-deserved paddling. I walked into the principal’s office, who were men in those days. He looked like a giant compared to me. So did the female teacher, who was there to protect us children from the misogynist, who didn’t care one bit about us boys (I’m being facetious, because that’s how people think today. Not back then). Those who worked in the indoctrination centers actually loved and cared about the futures they were entrusted with. Especially the “cops” that didn’t wear uniforms, which were the mothers that patrols the halls daily, keeping everyone in check.

Anyway, I bent over and took the first lick. It stung like you wouldn’t believe, but I didn’t cry. I kinda jumped, grabbed my backside, rubbed it to lessen the pain, and took the next and then the next. Then I walked out the principal’s office in triumph, knowing I wouldn’t get a second spanking when I got home. What a coup! Corporal punishment at home, at school, and at church was an invaluable part of My Process. Unfortunately, all three of these institutions have been severely corrupted, which may explain why some of the children at the pool party in Mckinney, Texas rebelled against the authority of the police officers on the scene

My Process 3

Add to the contradictions of a Holiness Church being right down the street from a thriving whorehouse, cops on the take and procuring sex slaves from their black slave masters, the proliferation of drugs, namely heroin, speed, and marijuana that were readily available, there were churches on nearly every other block in the community. You couldn’t walk a single block in any direction and not find a thriving church, full of members praising the name of the Lord as you walked by. In those days, liquor stores had to closed on Sunday whether they wanted to or not. It was the law of the city, even in the ghetto.

Yet another contradiction was that my grandmother, who was very spiritual, and went to church faithfully whenever the doors opened, wouldn’t let us play Spades on Sunday. She said cards had a spirit on them. As a child I didn’t question the logic of this kind of thinking, but as a man, I’m wondering why the cards had a spirit on them on Sunday’s and not Monday thru Saturday? Seems to me that the spirits would want to flourish everyday, not just Sundays. My grandmother was from Tupelo, Mississippi. She told us that she knew the king, Elvis Presley. He lived right around the corner from her. She told us that certain people “worked the roots” down there. I later came to know that “working the roots” was a black magic term, which was where she got the idea that cards had a spirit on them.

My grandmother wanted to save us children from ourselves and the wiles of the Devil, which meant we had to go to church four times a week including four services on Sunday. In those days, Sunday was the Lord’s day, all day. That meant we had to go to Sunday school, morning worship, afternoon worship, and evening worship every Sunday without fail. Throughout the week, there was prayer service, midweek bible study, and on Friday, choir rehearsal. Being able to sing was not a prerequisite. If you could talk, you were in the choir, period. Today, that kind of thing would be considered child abuse of some sort. But, it kept us away from the temptations the ghetto offered, at least for a while. The other thing that kept us out of trouble was a belt on our backsides.

My Process 2

The Red Light District could be easily found on a small portion of Dorr Street that extended from Hoag Street to Detroit Avenue. Some diehard Toledo Historians might argue that it extended to the corner of Smead and Dorr, where Station C Post Office still resides. Directly across the street, going east, was a catholic school, where the Nuns still wore the habit. Across the street from the school, going north, was a hot dog stand. I’m a bit frustrated right now because I don’t recall the names of either establishment, though I walk past them nearly everyday.

This part of the ghetto was vibrant. As best as I can remember, Dorr Street was lively all the time, due in part to the unchecked vice that took place on nearly every corner; particularly at Dorr and Junction streets, which was where prostitutes plied their lucrative trade, selling themselves to white men, who were on a mission, relentlessly in search of well-put-together Soul Sisters, who were turned out by black slave masters profiting off their precious flesh. But there was a Holiness Church about a block away.

My Process

A few moments ago, I was thinking about what this blog would be about. I have many interests, many things I’d like to share with anyone who’ll listen, about a great many things. But, it occurred to me that most of the people who’ll read this blog will be fans I’ve acquired over the past decade or so. It then occurred to me that most of my fans asked the same questions, so I’ve told my story, My Process, of becoming a published author over and over again.

My plan is to share that story with everyone, little by little–hopefully day by day.

However, as I’ve stated, I have many things to say. And so, from time to time, I will deviate from My Process, to discuss what’s on my mind; the issues of the day if you will. I hope you all don’t mind, but that is My Process. And My ProcessĀ  is revealed in every book I’ve written.

Sometimes My Process is subtle. For example, in Sugar & Spice, the main character, Phoenix Perry, says to her partner, Kelly McPherson, “What’s happened to American women?” I know I just poked the PC crowd in the eye by even typing that, but hey, it’s My Process. Being Politically Correct isn’t something I adhere to.

Anyway, when I look over my shoulder to see how My Process began, I’d have to say it began in a Toledo, Ohio, ghetto, in the heart of the Red Light District.