About my education, well it is anything but, I hated school. I didn’t do the school work, I never did any home work at all, my step dad Bob used to beat my ass because I always failed in school. I do have a mild form of dyslexia mixed with a bit of hypertension attention deficit disorder. I was a very hyper child, I couldn’t sit still for long periods of time, and that got me into lots of trouble at home and at school as well. I recall while I was Coop elementary off of Parker Rd and Aldine Westfield, my teachers would littarly pick my desk up and set it outside of the class room door, there I was free to really run around and do nothing all day, and this was even at my last year of the second grade. My teacher was Ms. Hardy, a big heavy set woman, who just didn’t know how to deal with anyone like me, after a few times of calling on me to read out loud, she gave up when I couldn’t even do it.
This was around the time during the summer of about 1980 that my mom left my stepdad and we, her, my sister and I moved over off Beamon and Rebecca right behind the Northline Mall area. It is here that I started handing out with a guy named Steven Abernathy and his friends. They were in their late teens, 18 and older. What is odd about Steven, Bob, my ex stepdad, used to be his stepdad at one time years before. So he kind of knew all about what I went through living there. Bob was a very strict man, he was in his 50’s when my mom married him, she in her mid 20’s.
So Steven and I somewhat bonded over that, he would introduce me as his little brother. But I took to hanging with him and he was 19 at this time and back then he could legally buy beer, so he is the one that really got me into drinking, while it was my uncle Junebug who got me started smoking pot.
Well, after a while the guy who own the store got used to seeing me with Steven all the time and soon started allowing me, a 11 year old kid to buy beer. So that is what I would do. Any time I got any money, I would go to the store and buy beer, while most kids my age would be buying candy or playing video games, I was drinking. I started drinking really young, smoking pot too. Well my mom pretty much let me do whatever I wanted as long as I made sure my sister Wanda stayed home. She didn’t know about the drinking every day. Wanda was a stay at home type of girl anyway, and she never left the house. So I was free to run the streets, and I did. I would stay out all night long and even stay gone for days at a time, drinking, smoking and getting into all kinds of trouble.
It was during this time I also learned how to fight, and I was always fighting older guys. They would see me, drinking and start to mess with me. I had had enough of people putting their hands on me from my step dad Bob, so I made it a point:”You touch me, I touch you.” And being smaller and much younger than the guys I fought, I learned real fast to do what I had to to win, or show them I am just crazy enough that they don’t want to mess with me anymore. When Steven was around, no one messed with me, but when he wasn’t, they would.
So I learned, everything around me is a weapon, from the stick on the ground, to the rock, to the ash tray, trash can, picture frame, anything I could wrap my hand around I would use it to even the fight.
And when you are young and drunk, you do not think about your actions at all. I would get on someone in a blink of an eye for messing with me. I was like that all the way until we came here to this Polunsky Unit, form the old Ellis Unit back in 1999. So yeah, it took moving over here and placing me in this segregation type of environment to cause me to really learn to control myself.
But I can honestly say, damn near every fight I have been in, I did not start. There were a few I did, but for the most part, I just wanted to be left alone, still do. I would like to think now that I have grown mentally and aged a bit, I would think before I react, I am sure I could avoid things now, but I don’t know if I can ever just allow someone to touch me in a harmful way and not react accordingly. I really don’t think I am the ‘turn the other cheek’ kind of guy and if I am truthful with you…or myself, I know I ain’t. But I think now, I will go out of my way to avoid something, unlike back then when I would just stand there and tell myself: “as long he doesn’t come at me, we’re cool”. I just didn’t have any back up in me then. Stupid I know, but that is the way I was. I ain’t no bad ass, I have been jumped on by a few guys at once, I have been beat on, and had my ass handed to me. I know defeat.
But as I was saying about my school years, my mom checked me and my sister into this school Janowski on Beamon by Crosstimbers, I would go there and just leave, I would walk my sister there and just split, go hang with Steven or just run the streets by myself, I think I went to this school where I was in the 3rd grade for 2-3 weeks at the most.
I failed the 1st grade, and back then they would just socially promote you.
I failed the 2nd grade and the same thing happen, socially promoted me to the 3rd grade. From there I went to the ‘school of the streets’….I thrived there, I loved it, I didn’t have to read, I didn’t have to spell, I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to. I could drink and smoke weed as much as I liked and no one told me anything..
From there I went to some other school I don’t know the name of it but it was as in some home placement. My mom and Bob were going to try and work things out so they put my sister and I there, but still more of the same. I went to school, but hated and did no school work whatsoever. How could I when I didn’t understand it?
From there I was placed in this other CPS home in Willis Texas. I went to some public school there. But again, nothing, I did zero amount of school work. The teachers all thought I was retarded or just stupid as could be. Looking back I think they knew I was in this CPS placement and just felt: “Let them deal with my stupid ass”.
From there I ran away with these two older dudes, right back to my mom. Any time I ran way from somewhere, no matter how far I was, I went right back to mama’s. So I was pretty easy to find.
Then I think from there I went to this other CPS placement in Austin TX, called Woodside Trails, it was a boy scout type of placement, and we actually lived in the damn woods in make shift tents but I loved that, I love the woods, so I would get to run around and everything. We washed clothes in the lake, Lake Travis, we bathe in the lake, we cooked on a open fire, but we had to go to school… there too. It wasn’t a ‘public’ school, it was just this dude who thought he was a teacher… maybe he was, but he didn’t teach us anything, he would let us do whatever we wanted, as long as we kept it down and didn’t disturbe his phone conversations.
Well I ran away from there… twice, each time I made it all the way back to Houston to my mom. I’d just walk in and she would cook me something to eat while I showered.
From there I went to this place in Richmond TX, called Youth Home. .I split from there to, I didn’t go to school.
Then I went to this other placement called New Horizons in Goldwight TX. I am sure I spelt that wrong. I did no school work here either, although this is the first place that someone actually took an interest in my not being able to read and write. I think her name was Helen, she would get me and this other kid Jack and got us to try and read. I think we damn near drove her into retirement. I liked Jack, but he was by far the better reader out of the two of us. I would let him do most of it, and she would ask me if I understood what he read, I said yes. She had us reading this book by Jack London ‘Call of the wild’, but when it came my turn to read, hell even Jack would get mad at me and helped me or finished reading.
From there I got sent back to Houston. I kept trying to run away, so from they just sent me back to this place on Chimmeny Rock, and I stayed there for about a week before I hit the fence, went right home to my mom.
Well, by this time my CSP worker Jeff Page realized: “He keeps running back home to his mom, so screw it, let him stay there.” Now my mom enroled me into a public school for the first time since I stop going my 2nd week of the 3rd grade at Janowski elementary. So really, the last grade I actually completed would be the 2nd grade.
She enroles me into Patrick Henry off of Little York and Hardy Toll road. I went from the 3rd …or rather the 2nd to the 6th grade, and that was due to my age and size. So I guess some could agree I dropped out in the 6th grade but I count the last grade I completed 2nd I read at a 2nd grade level. I was there in regular class for a bit, but then they placed me in ‘special education’….what everyone referred to as the ‘retarded’ class. I hated it!
But I can say there were no ‘retarded’ kids there, they were all like me, but some better…Hell I would bet that every one of them were smarter than me. It would be interesting to find out. I wouldn’t have a clue as how to do that. But let’s just take it as fact, I was the dumbest kid in the dumbest kid class, I hated it but by this time I had already started smoking pot again. I wasn’t drinking yet, but smoking pot every day, all day if I could and started skipping school.
From there I quit, then ended up at another school on Little York and Nordline called Fondville jr High. Same thing, nothing, not one bit of work. But I wasn’t in the retarded class anymore.
This is where I met my best friend James Jorden, we just clicked from the moment we bumped into one another until the last time I saw him, he and I just clicked. We became brothers. He introduced me to his step uncle Paul Wayne Taylor, who I clicked with as well. Paul was way older than James and I, so he could buy the beer. So here is where I started drinking again, and drinking a lot. We drank every day, all day, smoked weed and just drove around in Paul’s old Grand Prix. Drinking and driving.
I ended up getting in some trouble and going to TYC for joy riding with this guy I didn’t even know, James Crow. Well, he and I had met a few times, but we didn’t know one another, but one day I am walking toward Paul’s and here he comes in this truck, ask me if I needed a ride. I said: ‘Yeah’. So it turned into us riding all over, then he gets stuck in a ditch and we take off. The moment I got in the truck I knew it was hot stolen, I could see he pulled the ignition out and was using a screwdriver to start it.
Well this cop comes and stopped us and tells us to put our hands on the car, I take off running. James told them where I lived, so they arrested me at my grandma’s house, and I go to TYC. While there I did no schoolwork. They would do these IQ test with a bunch of us kids and everyone would help each other…..I needed the help. I am there in the Brownwood state school for 90 days and then I am sent to this half way house in Waxihatchie TX. Here I am enrolled in a public school, I don’t know the name of it, but here again, zero amount of work, and I mean nothing.
While I am there I am in this one class and again I could not read and write, so the teacher had this bright idea, she is going to make the rows of chairs first row second row ect, according to the grade.
So the first row had all the A+ and A kids, the second’s B ect. I am in the last row last desk. I once again was the dumbest kid in class.
But you know what gets me, this teacher didn’t even ask me if I could hear, see, understand, if I was retarded or anything. She just placed me at the last desk in the last row at the very back of the class room. She did it intentionally, she made a comment about doing it a few days before, but was looking at me while she spoke.
I think here too, she knew I was in a halfway house and this time it was a half way house full of little criminals. so maybe she just didn’t give a damn.
But back then, it wasn’t like it is today, teachers gust didn’t know how to deal with kids like me. They just felt we were retarded and would socially promote us making us the next teachers problem. It was like that for me throughout my whole school years. They just passed me foreword and made me the next teacher’s problem.
Would you believe I have a G.E.D. (General Equivaiency Diploma) What?! Well I do. Interesting story. But there I am, back in Brownwood State School on a different case this time. A case to this day I feel shame for. But anyway, I am 15 years old, I have to stay there 6 months…I have been locked up over half my life. Sad but true, …Lets add it up real quick:
3 months TYC
6 months TYC
6 months Harris County jail
2.5 years TDCJ
And I have been locked up on this case since october 18, 1992, now 23 years! How much is that? You add it, I will just get it wrong.
But when I turned 16 in Brownwood, this female teacher, I don’t recall her name, called me to her office and asked me if I wanted to take the G.E.D. now that I am 16…I had never heard of it so she explained what it was, I thought about it and thought sure anything to get out of class…I didn’t know I would have to take actual test! But she gave me this big ass book. I flipped through it and there wasn’t one picture in there…I knew I was screwed then!
But I told her I would take it and if I ain’t nothing, I am a person who will keep his word and give it a shot. So the big day comes, my Mexican bubby from San Antoino Ruben, kept telling me: “You fucked up, you dummy you ain’t gonna pass this.” But I went for it. I failed. No surprise there right? I failed every test she put before me.
I hated doing them. I was just marking answers down as fast as I could, when I told her I was done she seemed really impressed at how quickly I did them…..then she graded them right there in front of me. Talk about feeling small….
Well she tells me I failed and asks me if I want to try again. She told me: “You have to wait 6 months to retake it, but I think you can do it”. She then comes over to the desk I am at. It is just her an me in the office. “Look Charles, look” and I hear tapping her finger on the pages. I look down and she said: “look, at the book”, and she is slowly dragging her long nailed finger down each question stopping at each answer that is clearly marked, and just said: “look at the book, understand?” So I did it and once again I flew through it and I passed. That is the story of how I got my G.E.D.
Back then you didn’t have to write an essay…and tell me, those of you reading me, from reading the way I write…do you think I could pass a essay now???? Hell no, I have no sentence or paragraph structure, I don’t put everything in it’s right order. If I had to take that test today, there is absolutely no way I would pass it. I suck at spelling I can do math, but it takes a while, I ain’t stupid. But I am still a bit slow at doing it, but everything is on a timer, I know how I got it. But I strongly doubt my DA would believe it. But I know my attorney does. She knows from all the many letters I have written to her, I struggle at times and it seems the more excited or frustrated. I get, the more my dyslexia kicks in….I leave words out, I jumble my words together, I put some words before another word. Like ‘day happy birth’ when I mend ‘happy birthday’. I hate it, but nothing I can do about it.
Why did the teacher do this for me? Well I think she saw I was very uneducated and maybe in her mind, I don’t know, but maybe she was thinking at least I will have a fighting chance in the job world. And true enough that ‘G.E.D.’ has been the only reason I got a couple of jobs.
A few years ago they had some problems in TYC going on. They did this when I was there as well with a fight club type thing going on. So this is nothing new. But what they uncovered during this investigation was that TYC were giving kids with clear learning disabilities high school diplomas and G.E.D.’s. Actual retarded kids, were getting high school diplomas. So it is clear that this is something that has been going on for years and years. I know why they were doing it, to give kids like me a fighting chance. Because with those G.E.D.’s and high school diplomas we clearing could not had earned, and in my case not even today, really helped many of us in the job market. I forget the dates of when all this went down, but I read about it all in the Dallas Morning News. They had at least 10 different in-depth articles covering it.
What is funny…well to me, I told my attorney about this G.E.D. story a few years before this story broke. I don’t know if she believed me at the time but I think she does now. She know I have writing skill problems and there are times I will have to read something many times before I fully grasp it. I ain’t stupid…I just read at a different pace then you. I wonder what the rate of kids in TYC getting diploma’s and G.E.D.’s is now, now that they cracked down on this. I bet it has dropped dramatically.
One thing I am thrilled about is my kid didn’t inherit my brain! She is smart! Really smart from my understanding I am glad about that. From what I know she has a good job, finish school, went to college and is doing well for herself and kids.
Any letters I needed to write back then when I was in the state school or jail or prison, I would have people write down what I said and either rewrite it myself or just mail it as is.
My ex Merry Alice commented on it one time that I have different handwriting styles. But if people I write to think my handwriting is bad now, they should had seen it back then, there are times I still handwrite friends and they can’t read my writing. I have to really focus on writing, to make it half ass neat and readable.
I know I say I dropped out of school in the 3rd grade, but really if we go by the last grade I actually completed which was my second year of the 2nd grade. And even though I technically was placed in the 7th grade … no matter how anyone wants to cut it, I had a second grade education and a bad one at that. So when I say I quit school in the 3rd grade, I guess what I really mean is, that is when I made up my mind I was not going to school anymore. And it isn’t because I didn’t want to go, it was I just hated that I was always made to feel so stupid. I sure my DA will read this and say: ‘No, he just didn’t want to go because he was a little bad ass, or just didn’t want to be part of something’… whatever, but the truth is, I just hated school, I hated it because I couldn’t do the work, I couldn’t read, no one would take the time to help me, no one-on one action, so they thought I was retarded…I hated that.
With me back then, if I didn’t stay on it, I soon forgot it. So from going from the 2th to the 7th, missing all those years…that was a big thing. Yet now? now I love to learn. Anything that interest me, nature, space, planets life, the human mind and body, history, things of the future etc. I think it just took a while for my brain to grow or catch up…I don’t know what to call it. But now I love to learn. But don’t ask me to spell something or do any math for you unless you aren’t in a hurry. ..I’ll get there…but at the top of my head? I can guess for you. …but don’t get mad at me if someone asks you: “what the hell is wrong with you? Are you stupid?” You don’t want me to help you cheat on a math or spell test. I will if you really want me to…but you would be better off making something up yourself.
I am studying the Choctaw language, have been for some years now. I am Choctaw. I am a proud member of the great Choctaw nation. I love my family history. Well here I am 46 years old and I am just learning about verbs, adverbs, adjectives ect. So I am actually learning two languages at once, Choctaw/Chahta and English.
My writing has really improved. My dear friend Bill whom is a retired math teacher is teaching me. I think I drive him half crazy…but I am getting there. I know many words and can write many things. I always remembered a noun is a person, place or thing. I didn’t know what a pro noun was, sad but true. I thought it was like Mr, Ms, Miss or Mrs. But now I know…things children in the first grade are learning I am learning at 46. Back then if you would had asked me what you, you’re, your, you are all ment, I would had gotten(you)…it is embarrassing to admit this stuff. But it is true. Ol’Bill has taught me a lot. But sometimes I can feel his frustration. He is a good friend and teacher.