Archive for October, 2006

living life through my sons…

October 29, 2006

I was’nt exactly what you’d call father material back then. I was’nt even an adult acting person myself-and Lynne was just a kid who after we married I had to write her notes to her teachers to get her excused from school to see her doctor or such. You can sum it up that niether of us had any business being a parent-but there we were. If you read these things through from the beginning you will learn that my wedding was by invitation of Mr.Uhl’s old Western-Auto shotgun…but again,the rest of that story is hidden in these stories.

I ended up being a single dad. That was not expected and was ruining my life in one way but in truth transformed all of our lives for the better as I see it now. People always remark on how good a job I did raising my sons-and I always respond with “we raised each other”…and that is more the way it was.

During my drug nights…the good daddy sucking up money he did not have…packing his nostrils with junk and feeding his kids with hotdogs and spanish rice that comes in those little 40 cent packs….they cooked it while I kept myself high. Although there were other serious problems with my lifestyle…drinking being another rail to lean on,the coke was the demon that was really something to behold. It only lasted a year-perhaps a little more like a month or so longer. But in that year I managed to go through nearly 30k dollars in wasted money-money I did not have one dime of but somehow managed to get it with out sticking a gun in someones face. Stolen anyway…no matter how you got it-stolen from my sons.

They stuck by me-Gods grace for certain and the urges of those angels I know exist. And through my lamentations night after night pleading with them to NOT do drugs like me and do all they can to get through school-and to join the Navy and make a future and not a failure like I was. And they did. And through thier high school I became sober from hard drugs although did’nt know what a drunk I was….but they went through high school with me following them. I encouraged them to get into band and relived what I would have loved to have done if I had the chance differently in my days of high school. I became a ‘band parent’ and got involved in the booster things parents did. It was brave for my sons-I was so fucked up all the time and did’nt see how badly it was….thier friends parents all had nice cars and a pick up truck for the fathers and the Volvo for the moms and we always had a car that sounded like the engine was clunking and going to blow and tires that always were a risk. But those boys persisted right through and we never ended a day with out saying we loved each other.

My oldest son joined the Navy in high school and the day after he graduated he entered boot camp-and fifteen years later I had the honor of pinning my son ‘Chief’ in the United States Navy. His brother graduates this coming week from law enforcement acadamy and has been working with the sheriffs department for several years…so the angels did deter them from the way of life I was dragging them through. Of course-I am very proud and gracious that my boys stuck with me and saw me through so many times of trying to walk on my knees.


October 29, 2006


Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Micanopy in the summer of 1970 was a magical place. I awoke my first day to the sounds of logging trucks gearing up as they went to Franklin Crates whose whistle blared every morning at 7a.m. to indicate the start of the day.
I was sleeping in a room af an old boarding house -travelers hotel that was on the second floor above an old pharmacy and doctors office but right on the busy street as every building on the downtown was. The entire downtown could be walked in a minute from the Weavers store to the end of the street where it curves out of town…there was the only gas station in the town itself…yet I also woke to the rantings of Buster -who was the towns mechanic and had a garage that was attached to the boarding house building and also to Weavers store on the other side.
The building you can see in the photograph is the old art center…as I knew it,but in the earlier days when the town was bigger than Miami the building was a department store , but by the time I arrived in Micanopy it was the residence’s of several jip artists….Tom Petty was one and lived on the top floor of this building in the apartment with the windows closest to your view. But primarily the building in 1970 housed several established artist studios and the ground floor served as a gallery.
It was quite a change from the day before the day before when I was at a party in Washington ,District of Columbia and all of a sudden awake to a new life in a town whos Main street is about as long as a block in the capital city. The building I lived in for nearly a year-the old boarding house…is hidden by the trees at the right of the photo-was haunted and an experience to live in…but I loved every moment of life in that little place and around its wonderful people.
They filmed ‘Doc Hollywood’ there in the 1980’s and somehow the arrival of film brought on a change and the town as I knew it then is now a tourist stop-nearly every house and building on Main street turned into antique shops and no one walking up and down the street now even knows each other-just tourists.
(the film ‘Cross Creek’ used Micanopy for its town scenes and another film called ‘ Miricle Child’ was made ther too….and ‘Lands End’ used it as a backdrop for thier catalogs…all sucks! Money drug it down…) !! so it has a personal dear spot in my memory and from time to time I go to walk the main street and some of the side streets to recall those great days. My two sons are directly from Micanopy-and the place as it was once upon a time forever lives as it was inside of my heart.
I always credit angels for being my guides and I believe the influences I earned in this place changed how I chose paths…although it took me a long time to catch on.
I ended up getting my arm turned around behind my back and ended up with the wrong person….AGAIN,and through this ‘friendship’ became introduced to more types of drugs and met personalities adverse to the way of life in general among the artists that befriended me and eventually drifted into the land of peer pressure…really,just pressure period. So my year in Micanopy went to other places before I saw the place the road could take me that I was following and I walked away from it and returned to Micanopy for a second year-got myself into a shot gun wedding and fathered my two sons-although then I was not much to define as a father.
My marriage was a troubled one-we were both kids…she was really a kid-about 16 to my 19…and I was disturbed-very troubled,yet did not realize it then.

places of peace…

October 28, 2006

florida scene

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

I think back in 1970 when I got into that old Ford station wagon belonging to someone I did not know-I think in some ways the door was opened by angels.
I had met the driver of the Ford at a going away party-a party for him…and learning he was leaving that night for Florida I quickly asked if I could ride along.
Earlier that day I had been interviewed by some police officers and the security officer at the department store I was working at in the maintainence division. A man I was working with was strong arming me into stealing for him-and sometimes with him….but always ‘for him’ as I never got anything out of it but scared. The police wanted to offer me something in exchange for offering up this guy and I denied everything and went home scared to death. These men were talkng about jail and I was’nt going to go through life in hell again knowing I was unable to defend myself and the weakness in me would make me crumble-and there I’d be like in barracks D.
Angels opened that door and got me a ride in that Ford. We drove all night and got to Jacksonville in the middle of the morning the following day. There a snag hit my personal plan…a plan I did not have. This guy was going to stay with family and I had no where to go. Somehow Gainesville Forida stuck in my head-I think because of the university and remebered talking to the education officer on the USS Vulcan about it as a college to choose ( the education officer had suggested I try for one of these schools that would offer an education in nuclear-which the navy was getting men learned in the field and I was offered a program that would have given me junior officer status and an education-the U of F had been mentioned as a school for this…)
So….I ended up in Gainesville and was dropped off on the corner of University Avenue and Waldo Road and never saw the fellow in the Ford again.
I spent my first day in the Jewish Cemetery on the corner there. It remains to this day one of my peaceful places. It was my first place of tranquility in Florida….and alone! Alone in a place of peace for the first time in my life right there in that grave yard. It was a very secluded spot even though it was on a busy corner…yet in there under the oaks it was as if nothing existed. It helps to understand…I also had taken a hit of LSD given as a going away gift from my driver….”we are leaving you here…so here’s a hit of acid”,and I took it and spent the most wonderful day with the privacy of this special place of rest.
Later in the evening after the LSD quit its charms I made a call to a man I knew from a church in DC who by another angels doing had a brother in a town shortly south of Gainesville-a town called Micanopy. It became my first home in Florida-the land of conception for my sons and a place where I bought my own place of rest…the historic Micanopy Cemetery , another great place of peace.
When I asked to be buried there the commitee had to vote on it and I had a mayor of the town speak up for me and was accepted so when the old ladies of the commitee met me to show me the availble spots I said I wanted to lay down on a few to see if I enjoyed the view…they laughed-but I was serious,so under a huge live oak and between two huge azealea’s I set my stone….on it it says that “they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles and renew thier strength” which is taken from Isaiah in the old testiment of the Bible.
It seems fitting some how to be buried alone and seperated from the rest of my family…just like in life-but more final and to the point.


October 28, 2006

self portrait of myself and ‘self portrait’

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

I’ve tried to write the following about five times and each time I submitted it the words got lost…it is frustrating because my computer skills are lacking and I think the problem might be something I do unaware…computers?
What I was trying to express last week -the night the problem began and all my posting attempts went void…..was-
I began going to group therapy the day after I see Charlotte-the therapist I’ve been seeing almost two years now. I don’t like the group…don’t care much about the other guys or the doctor but I think alot of it is because of tension about being shut into a closed office that has nothing for light but lamps-too reminding of barracks D and the closet upstairs.
I have found that it is interesting only because this one other guy says things that sound like things I could be saying-his emotions are just tuned in the same way mine are-he says things that are so ironic and unusual for me to hear because they are statements based on feelings that he has that are feelings I understand and always thought they were confined in me alone. That-I admit,makes this group idea a bit more appealing.
I was trying to say the other night that I am weak and afraid and sometimes I fall. Oftener than I like…I fall. Most usually it is the Wednesday night after the two days in a row of therapy -therapy days are very strange for me through out most of the rest of the day…I feel like I am trying to wade through mud that is chin deep and everything seems in slow motion. I am very tired from each day-both days begin by walking through both hospitals ( they are connected by a tunnel) and working to get mysrelf accustomed to being there and avoiding the deja vu feelings that make my skin crawl at times when I am inside a large place-the breathing sounds of the people and the mechanical sounds of the buildings reach in me and bring on fear-the fear expressed in my painting.
No one ever wanted to know what happened to me in the Navy-the Navy certainly had no interest so far as the naval intelligence officers reaction indicated. The shame and humiliation of what I did in the weeks afterward were shameful enough and made me look like I was enjoying myself….who can understand this?
My mother once asked-wanting to know how to admit my brother had something to do with the demise in my life…and wanting not to know also. When I started to tell her the story could only go so far…she would’nt allow me to go the length to say how those days in barracks D ruined me. I’d get so close and my mother would change the subject….yet on the other end of it-she would tell me the filthiest jokes that truckers might tell truckers but mothers don’t tell thier sons. I repeatedly tell her not to when she readys to share one of her ribald tales. She persists anyway .
To carry all of these effects from the pains endured during those days at barracks D all of these years-alone…and working around them to try to find a life regardless has been work. Therapy is both exciting because my therapist-Charlotte-is not binders and paper….she is real and it is uncanny how she recalls anything I’ve said in the past two years and has such accuracy in my details-never has that happened,but going through it in my head…we may not always talk about the rapes but they are always in my head,is work too. There are things in my memory from those days in barracks D that I don’t want anyone to know-even her , and she knows bunches and bunches of things that makes her the sole listener of my life…there are things that sicken me in my stomach even as I’m thinking about them as I write. I am so ashamed of the things I ended up doing willingly because of fear of my captor-nazel voice hello mister guy….you have to read all of these entrys’ to understand.
I wish they had killed me back then. I died any way but my carcass kept living and moveing on through the muck of it and eventually parts of me came back to fill in some of the places in my body that were void. But never have I lost the sound of the nazel voice guy calling me mister and never does the scent of urine and toilet cakes leave my nose-recalled at any time I enter a restroom somewhere. Never do I go to the toilet and wipe myself-needing to spend time being sure all is clean….never do I pass a day with out that memory-ever!

It has beaten me up over the years that the reminants of this has been so lasting. I tried to drink it away day after day and that never worked-worsened things really-so did the hard drugs….the worse thing. I wanted to die and yet could’nt find the strength to kill myself-the one time I did and was seconds away from it someone discovered me…almost an impossable thing because I live so far out in the woods. I had a rope tied around my neck and it was slung over a branch and tied to the bumper of the car and I had the car in ‘drive’ and my foot was ready to stomp the gas…and someone drives up into my yard-and I was caught. I’ve since over come that urge but still think it would have been better if theyy had taken the rest of my life back there at barracks D instead of leaving the thinking feeling part to remember forever and forever have it s effect on me.


October 27, 2006

cool tug

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

I want very much to continue with my story and to finish telling the things that have happened and what I hope happens. But the things I’ve been writing the last few days have been dissapearing and all gets lost-so this test paragraph is of an idea to see if I can blog this way-thru flickr?? Any how-theres a glitch and it’ll get fixed…

sometimes I fall…

October 26, 2006

the Cabin…

October 24, 2006

The structure that became our house for several years when we first came out here in the woods was origanally a green house frame. I paid 200 dollars for it with out realizeing that for that much money I could have built the same thing and more…but I was not anything near being a carpenter and must say my nail bending skills far exceded the ability to saw a straight line or measure a board correctly-the builders square quickly set aside for an ‘eyeball’ square. The roof was an old canvess tarp. The place was 12 feet wide and 16 feet long. I managed to salvage enough 2×8’s to frame in the floor-dragging that stuff home from the water tank company’s landfill. I had to take apart the green house twice and rebuild it twice-once when I bought it and got it moved out here and the second time to put it up on the frame-now sitting level on pillars and pads. But the place began to take shape. One of the guys at the water tank company sold me this Ford station wagon that had no brakes but the back of it was filled with wood frame windows. I used the windows and they still are in the same hole I put them in nearly thirty years ago-the car long gone…but I did drive it with out brakes for a while but it scared the day- lights out of me and I sold it to another guy and he put brakes on it and the car lasted him for a long long time. Like that old Dodge-I did’nt have a clue about how easily fixed some automotive things were only learning later as a truck driver that mechanic’s was’nt much of thing at all except for busting your knuckles and getting sand in your eyes.

I had a 1954 Chevy that had a bad master cylinder for the brakes-but because the plug to access the master cylinder was under neath the brake pedal inside the car I could keep several bottles of brake fluid inside the car with me and usually at a stop light could replenish the fluids and keep brakes. That did’nt always work like you wanted to and sometimes the ride got pretty hairy and sometimes questionable as to where you would be going to get to where you had to go because if a light turned red and the brakes were down you had to make a right or a left with out much planning ahead-and sometimes I had to jump across lawns and go through corner business lots. It was crazy but it was the 1970’s and there was’nt as much traffic as there is now…I could’ve never pulled that off today. But it was training because one who has to drive automobiles that have after factory extras like bailing wire to secure a muffler and duct tape to keep in a tail light never knows the condition the brakes or radiator really is in- and brakeless driving training is a must.

Its sort of an amazing thing the way all of this has come along all of these years. Its funny how people don’t realize that when you hit the pit and you found rock bottom that it is a place where as you try to climb out the gravel and loose dirt under your feet keep busting loose and rolling out from under you and you keep trying to climb out but your footing keeps spinning and spinning. I have learned how to swallow spit and meditate on something other than food to keep from being hungry and found out that a dollar can make you feel rich-if at least until you swap it for a bag of Buglar’s or a quart of beer. It was what I had to do every day when I walked out of this place to get to work -swallow spit and pride with it and do what I had to do to take care of my two kids.

Eventually the Cabin became a comfortable little arrangement with a wood stove for heat and if you could stand the wait-to cook. The water tank company uses some kind of sheet metal to core line the tanks before they gunite them-and they gave me all the scraps I needed and I used them to form a roof-and used old form material for the sides and covered that with several layers of tar paper to keep the place dry and with the windows from the station wagon the place became fairly liveable.

About a half mile from where I built it the corner property came up for sale and it had a well and electric pole and I was able to get that five acres and sold the land I was on to work out that…and payed a house mover to come pull this little Cabin down the hill-it held up on the ride down which meant as a wood butcher I was’nt too awful bad. The place still stands-I use it now as a wood shop. I bought this mobile home I’m in 16 years ago for a thousand bucks…it was shot then , ain’t much better now-but its better than what I had when I first set foot out here and I’ve seen folks in places that make me feel ashamed sometimes that I have it so good.

Those mornings having to walk out of here did something for me. A few weeks ago I thought I needed to borrow some money and do some things-finish fixing up the end of the house….was going to borrow against this place. I got this back when Florida land could be gotten cheap…now it has a nice value-I guess I’m pretty well off on paper,though cash poor. I’m starting to see houses go up around here nearby that dwell over what my little gathering of buildings are. But I could’nt bring myself to do it-borrow the money and ‘sell’ this place out into a mortgage like that. I came here homeless-literally homeless…and it grew me and molded me and did something for me-strengthend me and it made me say that this situation was never going to happen to me again no matter what-if the house burnt down…it would not matter. This place was mine-is mine…and the lessons from having to gety up every morning and walking all those miles to work my ass of to pay for this to assure I’d never be homeless again…well , it sunk itself into my head-and I got scared and I am NOT going to put my place on hock…I’m going to do what it says in the Bible to not give worry no matter what the situation…be content. Theres this picture on my kitchen wall by the micro wave that I got out of a national geographic of a russian guy in a soup kitchen somewhere in Russia. Its hard to tell-he looks my age-but he’s so haggerd its hard to tell…and he’s looking across to something and he’s holding this piece of a roll and a spoon and theres this bowl of soup. It is his hands that catch my eye-they look like my hands…he looks old,but he’s not-you can see by his hands. I just am glad to have that picture because it keeps me in touch with where I came from to be here today…gripeing about how cold it is on the very first ‘cool’ day of fall and I need that guys picture to keep me in line and in focus…I can do this again (winter) and forgive me if I ain’t smiling about it but hear me that it is good that I still have drive to be able to grit my teeth and do it. Can’t get soft now !

money…therapy…and PTSD

October 24, 2006

It is the first cold morning of a Florida fall. I don’t know what the temp was when I got up this morning before daylight-but trust me…I was huddled beneath a quilt and a large furnuture pad with two small dogs sucked in around my knees and a cat on top of us all and all of us warm from each other. But I had no choice but to get up…its my first of two days in a row for the trip into the city for the VA. My therapy.

I have to get there early-usually way over an hour early. I have to self hypnotize myself to feel comfortable in the building and the veterans hospital is connected by tunnel to the medical college across the highway-that place is 11 stories tall,so my morings both begin by walking through the veterans hospital and through that tunnel and at the end is a flight of stairs that goes all the way to the top so I climb them and once there I turn around and walk back down to the first floor and then hike myself across the hospital to the huge atrium and sit there on a bench and watch people. By then I have become acustomed to the sounds and the people and the breathing the building does-that wierd murmering hum. The 11th floor has a restroom right as soon as I come out of the stair well and it has never had a person in it any time I’ve gotten there…so I feel safe in it and am usually able to pee with out being afraid.

It was nice getting in there this morning-into the buildings and the warmth and it opened my mind as to what is about to come ahead in the next few months. My house is more less a roof with some walls. The back…it is a mobile home-an old old mobile home-the back is wide open and the mosquitos got in thru the summer and now it is going to be mighty testy during the winter. Usually it is that end of the house I stay in during winters but this summer I thought I was going to get some money…which I did not get , but counted my chickens too quick and demo’d the room for a ‘makeover’??if theres any such thing here.

I live on social security because of my stroke-otherwise I’d probrebly be spending another winter in a truck somewhere trying to earn a few bucks and keep to myself but that ended nearly ten years ago after my stroke. I was 46. Oddest craziest thing…my life was’nt too bad living and working in trucks. It was warm in the winter cool in the summer-there was always groceries at the end of the haul and I was always where I needed to be-with a truck that was the way it is,you are always there.

My check comes tomorrow-I call it being rich for six minutes which is all it takes to get from the bank to the post office and buy the money orders to pay the bills. Hopefully I can squeeze out a few bucks to buy a couple of quarts of beer and build myself a nice fire and relax and feel good about it all. I called the power company yesterday and said it’d be another day before I could square the late bill away and so I bought myself a few more days of relief-its going to get cold.

life with out electricity…or,life around the campfire

October 23, 2006

Things ain’t been going real well lately cash wise and I’m seating off the days that I can get a money order off to the power company before they disconnect me-worried now they could come today. I can get used to it-lived like a champ through the hurricanes last year..9 days with out power but it was easy for me to do. I’ve done it before. The longest time was over two years from somewhere in 1990 to 1993….not solar no, pure poor.

When we had moved out in these woods back in the 1970’s there literally was nothing period-just you and what you had on for clothes , and that was it. We had bought a pup tent to try to sleep four-two grown ups and two babes…it was not the arrangement and usually I’d sleep against a tree or just sit there smokeing cigerettes to fight off the mosquito’s and waiting for the energy to begin the walk into town.

I had built this rack out of 4×4 posts and attached a 55 gallon drum to it and painted it black-the was any attemts to do something solar. It heated the water from the Florida sun bearing down on it all day and the water usually stayed warm enough to use in the morning…but in winter it became testy-the water would warm but not much. I have no such deal now so water’d be the hassle as always when they come and cut me off…if I don’t beat them by pay day day after tomorrow.

Living around a campfire is fun when everyone wants to go out to the springs and pitch camp and swim…but as a lifestyle of a continual chore to keep twigs handy and some fat lighter and the oak to burn. And when you don’t have water the pitch from the fire soils you quickly and because you only smell the smoke in your nostrels you don’t realize completely how dirty you become from living around the campfire.

My old coffee perculator and the fire itself make it tolerable and gives you the feeling of living a life because it inspires some thought as you daze into its glow and work the flames with small sticks and additional logs. But you sit there in the dark and the orange glow lights up your skin and you see the dirt on your hands and dispair because eventually someone is going to see you and judge you and not even know who you are or why it is you are so filthy and smell. And that shit taste of being dirty goes through the day into the night to another campfire.

I hope they don’t come and unplug me. I confess I have become spoiled by what my electricity does for me. Cooler nights are coming and my only heat through any winter is an electric blanket…its going into the forty’s tonight. I am although able to accept the challenge despite that it was money failure and not weather related-you adapt to being poor but damned if it don’t get harder.

I’m sorry-I cannot say to much more about this because I’m getting too old to do it any more…live another winter in an open house that never could shut out the cold (…and trust this-it gets very cold in Florida during the winter-I am not in Miami) my body is getting too old to try to sleep tied in a knot huddled around two dogs to stay warm but I’ve done it every year since I’ve been here. It helps me respect where I came from and how I got here and why I am here…and hate it too!

more poor..

October 23, 2006

Right around 1980 things kind of steered into a more eratic direction. I had to leave really early one morning-around three , and I forgot something remembering it a short way into my journey-so I had no choice to turn back and get it ( it was keys to a vehicle I had to drive that day at work) . As I cut through the woods to get up to my trailer I saw a fellows pick up truck in the yard…?? and going into the dark travel trailer I heard the voices starting out in shock that the door had flown open….and there at about four in the morning I learn that every morning I’m walking out of the woods to work and my wifes boy friend shows up minutes after I begin walking up the road. Glitch one.

I end up finding a place to stay in the city-but in two weeks time the owner of the steel outfit took me for a stroll parking lot and told me how thier son in law had gone to truck drivers school and they did’nt have room for two drivers. Glitch two.

So I find myself literally homeless-my wife and her boyfriend at my travel trailer and my job is someone elses. No transportation…and truthfully-in the 1980’s people were’nt as easy about picking up hitch hikers as they were in the earlier years and I found myself having to walk further all the time. The Dodge my boss gave me the money for parked itself like every clunker does and eventually I sold it to the junk guy for 20 bucks as scrap…and saw it running and driving around the area for a long time after that. I had no mechanical ability then.

Eventually Lynne did move in to her boyfriends place and I returned to the trailer here in the woods-but no electric or water…no job or money. I did have-and still have after nearly thirty years an old coffee percultar that is designed for use over a camp fire. So most of the time I sat out there with a fire going and some coffee brewing,it was about all I had-except the roof of the trailer to get in out of the weather. That old perculater is there on my stove right now- its coffee in my mug.

There was no phone-and cell phones were not yet around…so again the job situation was out of reach except working in the yard at the water tank company so thats where I ended up-painting scaffolding frames…hundreds and hundreds of scaffolding frames and day after day of the fumes from the paint and the stickey mess all over your body…all in a dust bowl of a work area. It sucked….and nobody wanted to give a stickey mess a lift. Like I said-hitching was as depressed as I was.