BarrHello to my eight loyal readers! I know it’s been a while since I posted a new chapter in my life I call BLACKSHEEP. I think I should jump ahead and let you all in on something about my time with George. It’s the horrible thing I did that was the final straw for him… enough to disown me and apparently talked most of the rest of his family into doing the same.
This was in 1986. It was right after my first year in public school. For the first time since I started going to school, I actually had some friends. Of course, I didn’t get an allowance. I guess I was expected to fund finally having friends on my own. George was cheap. He was also stingy and nasty about money. If you didn’t “earn” it, you didn’t get it. Earning it for me was usually wheel barrowing tires from the marsh. Someone had dumped all these tires into the marsh years ago before anything was on the property. I’d pull them up by hand, mud and crabs and all! I’d get twenty-five cents a tire.
Thats 75 cents!
I would own that truck later.
earning money for roller skating. Didnt everyone do this?
Real funny, George.
So here it is. What I did that cost me my family. To turn me into the family Blacksheep.
I stole three hundred dollars from George when I was seventeen. Three different times I took the keys and went downstairs to the office where the days take from George’s laundromats was kept until it was counted. Each time I did it, I took around a hundred in ones. George had always insisted it was more like seven hundred total – Sorry, I’ll take the blame for the admiringly horrible thing I did, but not someone else’s. You see, I don’t think I was the only one else who dipped into the till those few weeks – Phyllis and Rad lived there too and I know for a fact Rad had gotten in trouble for stealing. Phyllis has always complained George wouldn’t give her clothes money for herself. We all had reasons – not to justify it, but to explain. I am in no way trying to make stealing a good thing, its abhorrent to take something that isn’t yours. A horrible act, especially when there are victims. Innocent victims I didn’t think about like Georges business partner and friend James Rowell. That was his money too. He was never vindictive and was always kind to me. Before and after the big theft. I’m sorry, Mr. Rowell.
Anyway, now well go back to little Barrett and his adventures. I hope that by the time I’m done telling my tale, it will make a little more sense why I did what I did. I hope that you’ll see I am not a horrible master mind thief with a thirst for dollar bills that I’ve been made out to be by some family members. I was just a naïve, scared kid who needed direction and real parenting. George was not only an ignorant racist and misogynist, but he was also anti-sematic. My own father figure racially stereotyped me on the fact that Jay, my real father, was Jewish. George was so dumb, he thought I was out for HIS gold or something equally ridiculous…I don’t know. He was a redneck, looking into facts wasn’t part of his way. He once said he was surprised I didn’t get a new social security card – what the fuck, George! I was just a kid in a small southern, religious town who wanted to be an actor when he grew up. I feel that George was never fully there for me. I don’t think he had any intention of being a good father to me. He was never my daddy, for sure. I was tolerated like a school pet hamster is tolerated. In his mind, I was always wanting something, to buy something – like a stereotypical “Jew” in his mind, I was greedy and if I didn’t “earn” whatever it was I wanted, I didn’t get it. Usually I wanted money to go roller skating, you know, horrible entitled child that I was.
As you can see I could go on forever…and I will! But back to 1975
Savannah Club Apartments to a wee one like myself, seemed like where id be living forever. I had my neighbors to visit, ice cream trucks to chase and lawns to poop on! Mama and Wanda were closer than ever, George was still nice to me and there was Grandma and Granddaddy!
We would visit Big George and Gloria Davis on a pretty weekly basis. Their youngest, Steve lived with them for what seemed like forever. Years later he would seemingly move in with us on and off periodically. Going over there was so much fun for me. There were always tons of sweets to eat and lots of toys just for the grandkids. Basically, going to Grandma and Granddaddy’s meant you’d be spoiled! There was a park directly across the street with a slide and swings and a merry go round. A little further down the street was Anderson’s Market. We Davis grandchildren walked to this neighborhood market/butcher shop what must a been a thousand times. Grandma or Granddaddy would make sure we had money for candy, ice cream and soda. We’d often take coke bottles with us to get the deposits back or exchanged for a new coke! They had an old-fashioned coke machine that you pull the ice cold bottles out of. In the south, you didn’t ask someone what kind of soda you wanted, you’d ask them what kind of coke they want.
“what kind of coke you want?”
“Sprite” “Grape” or even “Pepsi” was an acceptable answer.
George and Mama pick me up one evening after I had spent the day there. Everything goes as usual with Granddaddy insisting I spend the night, me hoping I can, and George saying no. He didn’t always say no, but tonight there was a good reason. We start driving in a different direction than usual. We go over a few bridges and end up on Whitemarsh Island. We turn down a long driveway and end up at a house in a wire fence yard.
“It’s our new house, Barrett!” says Mama, she is visibly excited, and this immediately puts me at ease.
“Come look, Son.” George said. He called me “Son” a lot. In hindsight, it always seemed like he said it in a way to try and make it true, but it came off as more condescending. He used it most when trying to teach me some hick life lesson.
The property was beautiful! A huge yard with a huge Oak tree. It was covered in Spanish Moss and had a tire swing on a rope from one of its sturdy branches, and another tree just the right size for a four-year-old to climb and. George once told me it was an apple tree. It wasn’t. On either side of the gated yard, there was nothing but trees and a few houses for a far as the eye could see. The house itself was a cute one story with a big recessed front patio area that was bricked in including the ground…wait, what’s that?
…There was a stair case to the right of the house, it went down for about 20 feet and connected with a wooden deck. The wooden deck had a dock attached to it accessible by a wooden walkway. To the left of the deck was a door…the DOWNSTAIRS door into the house. The house was actually two stories and the entire house was on STILTS actually OVER the water that is Richardson’s Creek! You could navigate this creek to the Savannah River and then to the open Atlantic Ocean. It took me quite a while before I could walk up and down those steep stairs by myself – I was only four.
When you first walk in the house, you are in the kitchen/hallway area. The hallway leads to two bedrooms and there was a small area to the right that could have been a small living room, but we used it for a bookcase except Christmastime when the space is where our Christmas tree went. There was one bathroom for both bedrooms and it only had a shower. The bathroom with a tub was downstairs. There was a tile missing from the ceiling right above the back of that tub, and George told me how they found a snake skin in there that was freshly shed. Big mistake. I was terrified the entire time we lived there that a snake would come out of that huge hole in the ceiling when I took a bath. Either that or the whole house would fall in the river.
There are two sets of neighbors I remember. The first was an older couple who lived on the property directly south of us. I remember them as Archie and Edith Bunker 2, taking over from the couple back at SCA. To the south of them were the Kenuckles. There was the dad who’s name I forget. The mom, Rose, or as George called her, “Rose the Nose”. The daughter, Vicki Lee, was a year or younger than me. Then there was Ken who was my age. I thought Ken was the best, he was like a hero to me. I wanted to be just like him. For my fourth birthday present, he gave me a shirt with a “6” on it that was just like one he had. I was so happy! Later the next year in kindergarten, I would make a huge Valentine for Ken. I’m sure George didn’t care for that, and I’m sure Ken never got it, but Mama did save it.
Once I got used to the horror house on stilts, I loved being out on the dock. We could fish and crab right off of it. George eventually got a boat and we’d go for boat rides all the time. I always wore a life preserver an I loved to ride on the boats bow, especially when George would go fast and make the boat bounce. Years later I would traverse these waters all by myself from a different dock. I was also already very influenced by music and would sing and repeat songs never knowing what they meant. Enter Jeanie C Reilly’s classic “Harper Valley PTA”. I loved it and sang it all the time. So much that once while we were all out on the dock having a nice Saturday, I said to George for fun,
“George, you’re just a Harper Valley hypocrite!”it was from the climax of the song.
What happened next is when I realized George wasn’t always a fair man. He not only scared me, but disappointed me. He did what would become his “You think you’re funny? You don’t make me look foolish” chuckle. He often made this noise before declaring you’d done some injustice to his manhood or something equally ridiculous. He couldn’t take a joke, but everyone else was expected to.
“What’d you say”
“Harper valley hypocrite from the song. What’s a hypocrite?” I replied, immediately frightened by the tone in his voice.
He laughed and smiled – “oh that’s not a nice thing to say, even if it is in a song. It means someone isn’t nice or honest”. Make sure you ask me or your Mama next time if you aren’t sure. Okay?”
Only this isn’t what the asshole did. His foreheads veins started pulsing, you know, because he’d been done wrong, and he popped open a fresh Budweiser of many.
“Well why don’t you go inside and go to bed now. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
I was dumbfounded. Hurt. Confused. I had started to respect this man and he wouldn’t even let me talk to explain myself. I didn’t even know what the word meant.
“Inside! And watch what you say, boy” he might as well have said “climb into your shell, boy. I’m the boss”.
I cried myself to sleep while the daytime sun shown bright for everyone else in the world. This wouldn’t be the last time George broke me.
There is one moment that was rather humorously life altering. One night just George and I are in the kitchen. George is a six pack in and onto something stronger. I was starving and asked George for one of the apples behind him.
“Those aren’t apples” he said. They weren’t. “You won’t like it”. I didn’t.
“I’m hungry. I like them!” I insisted. “Bite?”
“Sure,” George grinned, “knock yourself out.” And he handed me one.
I took a huge bit out of this apple only to be met with the taste of raw onion.
“Argh!” I spit it out into the sink. “Something to drink!”
“We don’t have anything but water.” George said, looking very amused.
“No, something else, please.” Like most children, I hated water when the possibility of coke was around.
“Here,” he said “drink out of here” he put a glass bottle out and held it so I could get a sip.
The fire that met my tongue was unbearable, especially with the raw onion minced in my teeth. George had had me drink a swig of his Jim Beam, right from the bottle.
I threw up and started crying. Mama came around and took me to brush, gargle and tucked me in to bed.
To this day, I despise onions. Cooked, cut up small, powdered, minced and especially raw onions. Nasty! However, strangely enough, in my drinking days, I never had any problem with Jim Beam.
Another weird tid-bit, is I remember always getting up in the middle of the night, strategically getting past the hippie beads that divided the hall doorway, and helping myself to some delicious butter, some lemon juice, and if I was lucky, some Pepto Bismal, out of the fridge. I didn’t need the Pepto, I just loved the taste of it. While it never made me sick, I did once say I was sick when George wanted me to eat my dinner of a bologna sandwich. We would be going to the drive in later, and I wanted a burger and fries from there. I said my stomach hurt, my plan being not to eat the bologna. Well George called me on that and said he’d guess I wouldn’t need anything from the drive in then. I was so disappointed. No soda, no popcorn, no candy and no delicious hamburger. Mama did give me one fry, although she did kind of show off that she had a burger and I didn’t.
We went to the drive in many times. I remember it was always R rated action or drama movies. Whatever George wanted to see, regardless that there was a four-year-old with him. We saw “Death Wish” there and I remember getting a feeling when I saw some naked men on the screen. Maybe that was my first tingling of sexuality.
We also watched a lot of television as a family. We started watching Little House on the Prairie in 1974 when the show started. As much as George was a bastard, he also had a rare soft side. Like with Christmas, Little House was special. He be crying at the end of episodes and just say,
‘That damn, Michael Landon.”
I agree, George. I agree.
In 2010 I wrote a fan letter to Katherine MacGregor, the actress who played Mrs. Oleson on Little House. About a year later in April of 2011 I received a response. There may be some spoilers for upcoming Blacksheep posts in my letter to her, but I’m posting this here for ya’ll anyway.
Around September of 74, George came home with a puppy and a kitten! Not on the same day, but close. I guess he figured the step-father guidebook would say pets are the next step to winning over the child. The puppy was a mutt who was mostly black lab. I wanted to name him Bat-man, but George said I couldn’t, so I went with the next logical choice, Robin. For the cat, I went old school and she was christened Susan. In addition to them, I also had a pet chicken!
George had built a chicken coop under the house between the bluff and where the second story started. It looked like a cave to me. They did lay eggs and it was fun to find the eggs in the nests. I loved my chicken, Henrietta, so much that I brought her with me when I went on Romper Room! My first television appearance ever!
I know, everyone says they were on Romper Room, but I really was. Here’s the pictures to prove it!
Barrett holding the flag for Pledge of Alligiance.
Placing the flag back in its place
Marching with Ms Kay
Halloween ! Im Mickey Mouse
Doo Bee ..doobie? hmmmm
Ms Kay doing a Britney Spears dance
Mama, Clarice, was intro fitness and worked out a gym called Jerry’s Gym. It was on Victory Drive and was behind a Burger King. It was comprised of two gyms, one for women and one for men. This was the 70s after all. Well my mom met a nice lady there named Kay Winslette. Turns out that Kay is THE Ms. Kay from Savannah’s version of Romper Room. Ms. Kay pulled some strings and I got to spend two weeks on Romper Room! I would be on during Halloween, so I’d get to wear my costume on air on one of the days. I would wear my latest Mickey Mouse costume, as the Mickey Mouse costume I wore last year was passé now! This year’s model had Mickey in a sorcerer’s hat. I also got to hold the flag for the pledge one day. Henrietta made her appearance near the end of my stint on RR. She was a huge hit in the chicken wire cage George made for her. I loved being on RR. I felt like a real television star, like Bobby Brady!
Christmas was a wonderful time, as Evil George goes into hiding and Fun George comes out. It was the first year I got my picture with Santa, I wonder who he was? Also, this was the first New Year’s Eve where I understood what was going on. This year would be at home, but most years after would be as big affair as Christmas Eve was. The Davis’ knew how to celebrate holidays!
Happy New Years! Party hat on!
Ready for 1975
And just as soon as 1974 started, it was 1975 –
And OMG, I’ll tell you about the Forbidden Secret Pot Growing Room!
Granddaddy Bill was my hero at the time. When he was around, I felt safe and at home as much as a 2-year-old could. Every afternoon meant more candy from granddaddy! The green and red peppermints and also wrapped sour balls. Seeing a bowl of sour balls brings back memories to this day. In the mind of an infant everything must seem so permanent. Like if we could remember back in more detail, we would feel as thought time went by really slow. I was enjoying my slow life of milk bottles and sour balls. Mama, Phyllis and Barney along with Granddaddy were the only life I knew.
Then along comes George Davis. I don’t remember the exact first time I met him, but the day Mama and me left Nana Avenue with him sticks with me.
“It’s okay. We’re going to go live with George in Savannah” Mama assured me with a smile. I looked up at him, a menacing form towering over me with his arms crossed in defiance of only he knows what. Smiling, at least.
I was scared, but didn’t cry. I was worried about how our stuff was going to get to Save Anna. Did George know about spaghettios? When did I get to come back here? To Orlando and Barney and Sissy (I called Phyllis ‘Sissy’ for years). To Grandaddy and daily sour balls.
Jump ahead a few weeks – George, Clarice and Barrett (Now Barrett Steven Davis) as George had adopted me legally) moved into Savannah Club Apartments (SCA) – The Cabrini Green of Savannah. Candyman. Candyman. Can…
… I had my own room! There was a fish tank, and lots of candles. Also in the living room was a giant black and white chair that spun around and around! It was very hippie! There was a nice stereo with a turntable and a nice selection of vinyl records! Savannah Club Apartments was actually a housing development and the apartments were actually small homes. The kitchen was old school with basic sink and fridge and a gas stove and oven. I do remember Mama cooking in the broiler. I think the gas might have been leaking a little bit, because whenever I smell an unlit pilot light, it reminds me of Mama cooking.
George was a pretty cool guy to me at this point. He would take me riding on his motorcycle, and even got me my own helmet! He and Mama were quite the hippie couple! Mama had long, straight brown hair and big, beautiful, hazel brown eyes. She wore lots of halter tops and bell bottoms and things with fringe. George had a longer haircut than most non-hippie men of the time and had a nice JC Penny wardrobe of hippie shirts and slacks. Paisley and colorful and actually pretty stylish. Unfortunately, the cool clothes and the peace and love attitude was temporary.
I got to be quite the wanderer on that street in Savannah Club Apartments. I must have watched Mr Rogers because I decided to go meet my neighbors. I went door to door and said hello to everyone that answered. I’d even go “visit” certain neighbors who were receptive. There was a house with about half a dozen middle age hippies living together, and a house with a couple I was convinced was Archie and Edith Bunker from “All In the Family”. I was given candy, lunches, Kool-aid and once a Hershey Bar of my own from the house hippies, which must have clued in Mama. She explained that we couldn’t visit people we didn’t know and how some people aren’t nice to little boys. She and I walked house to house to apologize and meet the neighbors for herself. My street bestie, Wanda was one of them. Wanda and Clarice became instant best friends and their relationship lasted up until 1981. George didn’t like her.
Chasing the ice cream truck was the highlight of my days on that street. As soon as you heard those musical chimes playing “Pop Goes the Weasel”, you knew it was time to roll! No worse feeling than missing the ice cream truck. A chase that ended in failure also ended in tears.
I got my first eye scar around this time. I was playing with the two kids who were siblings, Michelle and Chris. For some stupid reason we decided to play catch with a coffee can. Now coffee cans in 1973 were heavy tin cans sealed close with lead. You had to use a can opener to get the top off resulting in jagged edges. Well, I missed and the can hit me in the face, it just barely missed poking or slicing my eye open. Blood poured from the cut and my nose. George and Mama came running and took me to the emergency room. I got some stitches which I was terrified of, but they actually didn’t hurt much. I have a scar by each of my eyes, but I don’t remember which one was scarred when.
One particularly embarrassing event happened when I got back from one of my walks to greet the neighbors. I believe I had just visited Edith and Archie and I really had to poop. Well I got home to find all the doors locked – front and back. I knocked and got no answer. Oh shit! I’m gonna poop! If I’d know the phrase then I’d have said I was crowning. I knocked again. Banged as hard as a 3-year-old could, actually.
“Mama, I have to poo poo!” I tried yelling through the door. No answer. I wondered if she went somewhere or if she was taking a nap.
I’d seen dogs pooping around the neighborhood and they didn’t have to go inside to do it. So, I copped a squat and started doing my business. Unfortunately, a woman who I didn’t know was walking by and called me an animal. I remember trying to explain myself, but she probably only heard baby talk. She walked away mumbling to herself and soon after that one sided conversation, Mama opened the door. I went running up to her, crying and told her what happened. She comforted me and apologized. She said she would never lock me out again and I could tell she felt bad. But soon enough, everything was forgotten and the day went on. Once I was a little older I realized that the reason the door was locked was because Mama was smoking pot. After the yard poop incident, they smoked in the bedroom. I always smelled it, but I never got a contact high that I can recall…Dude. Mama and George smoked weed daily/nightly to borrow from a Monkees song title. When I smell certain strain of pot, I am often reminded of certain events or things I can trace back to the parents smoking – smelling for research of course. Marijuana was a staple for most of the adults in my life, but alcohol was the real problem. Both the Davis and the Brinson families have alcoholism in their blood. I have no idea about the Kaminsky’s, but I’d assume there was a problem from what little I know.
I met Georges mother and brother at this apartment. For some reason, George had kept me and Clarice away from his family. Gloria, his mother, pretty much insisted, so George let her come over for my third birthday party. Steve, George’s younger brother, drove Gloria over. She and Big George, George’s dad, lived nearby with Steve. Mary and Ivy, George’s sisters, had already married and moved out of the house. Ivy had a daughter already named Summer. Gloria, or Grandma, as I would come to call her, smelled nice and was super friendly and grandmotherly. She brought me a gift, but I can’t remember what it was, but she always gave thoughtful gifts and I’m sure this was no exception. I never questioned why these people weren’t around before and it didn’t dawn on me to call George “Dad”. Ever.
My first Halloween with Trick or Treating was amazing! I couldn’t believe the concept of free candy! My first costume was Mickey Mouse! Talk about foreshadowing. I still have the same costume (same type of costume, not the actual one I wore) as part of my Halloween decorations. I always took picking out my costume as a big deal, in fact I still do to this day.
Christmas 1973 at SCA was the first one in memory that I really understood what occurred. Santa sounded too good to be true, but George was actually a huge fan of Christmas-time. He loved everything from the decorations to the carols to the food. Traditionally we would go over to the Davis’ home on Christmas Eve and exchange gifts to each other. Then Santa would come that night to our individual homes. That would start next year, but this year was just at the apartment with Mama, George and me. While 99% of the time he was a cheap tightwad worthy of the name Scrooge, at Christmas, he was very generous. I can’t remember a year we didn’t get what we wanted. If only he behaved a fraction of this way the other times of the year.
Needless to say, I loved Christmas, Still do – I remember being fascinated at the wrapping paper and the ornaments on the tree. The lights and the smells, mixed with the taste of chocolate and peppermint. The music! I absolutely loved the record “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers. I’ve owned a copy of some sort my entire life including to this day! Record, cassette, cd and back to record. Also for some reason the song “Crocodile Rock” is a Christmas song. I think it must have played on a heavy rotation while were out driving at night looking at Christmas lights. Apparently, I drove George nuts by Exclaiming “CHRISTMAS TREE” every time I’d see bright colorful lights, and it didn’t matter what time of year it was.
George was always complaining I talked to much. Sorry, but I was a curious kid. He would always remind me later in life how I was always talking as a wee toddler, as if it was some sort of birth defect. He didn’t like kids around when he was partying with his friends, and would use any excuse to send me to bed early so the weed and beer could commence. I’ve wondered many times why he even got with Clarice knowing she had a kid, if he didn’t like kids so much. He had to know that having a kid would harsh his party-mellow. He was easily irritated by the slightest silliness or tom foolery and many times he seemed jealous about how happy I could be. How happy anyone could be.
I digress. As my alter ego, Tangent-man, I do that sometimes. George was a pretty decent guy while were living at Savannah Club Apartments. I met my Savannah family (some of them anyway) and I learned to joys of Halloween and Christmas here. I made my first friend, Michelle, here. I also got my first set of stiches here. I chased my first and last ice cream truck here. I barely thought about Nana Avenue or granddaddy or Phyllis, Marsha and Barney. I was in Savannah now with George Davis as The Dad. Everything was comfortable here, until…
One night I’m told we are moving! George was also selling his motorcycle. Mama seems excited so I was too. It’s not too far from where we lived now, he told us, just across the bridge in Wilmington Island and on Richardson’s Creek (called that even though it was a river). There were kids nearby and a tree with a swing. We would have a dock and eventually a boat. It sounded great and the house itself…
Was horrifying! Okay not really horrifying, but the house was on stilts and jutted out into the river itself! I was convinced it would fall into the water, killing us all, but George assured me it wouldn’t. It didn’t.
I remember living at the house in Orlando. The house was on Nana avenue. Id later return to visit and create some very nice memories, but not until a few years later.
Everything was fine here for a while. I remember mostly being in the kitchen – flashes of bottles being filled, memories of being fascinated by water flowing from one plastic cup to another. I remember tasting water and milk from those plastic cups. I supposed these are fairly normal first memories for anyone – getting to know all my aunts and uncle and my grandad and grandmom for the first time! Eating meals together…
Next thing I know, I’m being put in the kitchen by a friend of the family, as I was being carried away I saw two men pulling a table on wheels into the house. The lady who was the family friend was Rosie. She made me Spaghettios (I think), gave me milk and basically comforted me. I don’t recall how good my talking was yet, but I remember communicating.
“What was scary sound? Who those men?”
Rosie poured me some cold milk in one of those plastic cups. “Nothing sweetie, Its all okay”
My grandfather came into the kitchen. He was trying his best to smile, but he was crying. He came up and hugged me.
“Don’t cry granddaddy. Let’s all be happy. Okay?”
He tweaked my nose like he always did and attempted to smile. I’d never seen anyone cry like this and it scared me. What could have happened? Where was everyone? Mama, Phyllis and Barney came home and were already crying and screaming what happened. Obviously, someone had called them. Marsha was living with Carter in Augusta but showed up the next day. I was luckily taken out of that situation and stayed with Rosie that night.
I’d find out as soon as I could understand such things, that my grandmom had killed herself while I was in the house alone with her.
Faye Raulerson Brinson put the muzzle of a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
Mental illness wasn’t accepted for what it is now. If she had the meds and therapy we have now, this wouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately, I find that I can say that statement about quite a few people in my life.
I barely remember Faye Brinson, but I miss and love her almost as if she was a mythical creature.My mama was given her name “Faye Clarice” which makes her special to me. Based on some of her early pictures, I think grandmom wanted to be an actress… That makes me feel good!
The happy Brinson family – Barney, Phyllis, Clarice, Marsha, Faye, Bill and of course little Barrett were traveling the world! Of course, I remember nothing of this except what I was told. Apparently, we were in Maryland for a while. Yawn! Actually, the most interesting story comes from our time in Taiwan. Apparently while we were there, they had a horrible typhoon! Worse than that, there was also an earthquake! Apparently, those happen there all the time because I was told we ran down the stairs scared only to be told “not to worry, don’t worry, happens all the time” by the locals. I don’t know if we were stationed on a military base in Taiwan or private housing. I wish remembered more about that actually, as no one in my family seems to remember anything.
One of the earliest memories I do have is of the house we lived in Augusta Georgia. I remember that it was a weird house built on a hill. You would go in one story and then go downstairs and go out and you’re still on the ground! I was too young to understand the hill concept, but thought it was magic. I remember drinking from a bottle in that house – I remember the basic layout. I also remember being around the table eating and that we had a puppy named Shay-Shay. Another memory to stick out about Augusta then would, after a yearly snowfall that Augusta gets, I was out playing in the snow and every once in a while, I would be bombarded with snowballs from every direction! I remember being terrified and that I couldn’t make it back to the house because snow was in my eyes. Turns out it was just Barney and Phyllis and some of their friends throwing snowballs. I ended up laughing and they came and got me made sure I was all right. At least I think they did. Hmmmm…
My next memory comes after we moved from Augusta to Savannah. We lived in a barrack on Hunter Army Air Force Base. I remember loving this place. It had a smell to it that if I smelled it today would probably make me cry. The doors were big green doors, and I remember just loved seeing that door knowing I was almost home. Inside, I remember walking around in only my grandma’s wig, my grandfather’s boots and a diaper! In fact, a picture exists of that somewhere, that should’ve been everyone’s first clue about my gayness. It was also around this time that Marsha left. She was getting married to a man named Carter Gwynn. She had already put her baby Preston up for adoption even before Clarice was pregnant. I would later live with Marsha and Carter in my senior year of high school but we’ll get to that later.
My grandfather Bill adored me. Every day he would bring candy home for me. They were little wrapped peppermints, green and red ones. Sometimes it would be red hot cinnamon. He had this thing of grabbing my nose and twitching it as a sign of affection in fact he did that up until the last time I saw him. I miss it. He probably would have been thrilled with Clarice and me living with him forever and we did for a while. Then Granddaddy retired and we all moved to Orlando Florida, leaving Savannah behind. But unbeknownst to my grandfather and grandmother, Clarice had met someone in Savannah who would follow her to Orlando to woo and marry her!
Clarice around the time right after Barrett born.
Clarice age 13
The only picture of George I have.
George and Clarice had gone out a few times while in savannah. He was the son of a laundromat/drycleaners owner and a stay-at-home mom. He was the second oldest out of four children. At the time, George was more of a hippie – longhair, bellbottoms, paisley shirts, the typical Papa George look. He also had a motorcycle which Clarice found very attractive. She had told him about Barrett and he did not seem to have a problem with it. I sure as hell wish he had given it a second thought! It would have saved us both from a lot of heartache and bullshit!
To be continued!So Clarice was preggers with a nineteen year old’s baby. It was really not all that surprising to the family after Marsha’s secret baby. Plus it was well known to the popular boys, the Brinson girls put out! Rumor had it that you had really made it if you did all three Brinson girls. Clarice kept it a secret until she couldn’t hide the belly and the throwing up in the morning.
CLICK OVER PHOTOS FOR CAPTIONS
William “Bill” Brinson
Faye Brinson Hollywood vixen?
Faye Brinson, Grandma?
Grandmom looks tired! W/ Baby Barrett
The father of the baby, Jay was Jewish and also quite well known and popular. She had liked him because he was very handsome, and also a sweet guy. Bill, being the bigot he was, didn’t like Jay, most likely because he was Jewish. Clarice didn’t mind and it was never an issue until George… but that’s for later.
CLICK PHOTOS FOR CAPTIONS
Clarice. The portaits behind her will play a part in this story.
Phyllis and Clarice. Portaits in back!
Phyllis and Clarice
Clarice age 13
Jay Kaminsky – 1969
Jay Kamisky in 2007. Second from left.
Well it was decided that Clarice was going to a home for girls in Charleston South Carolina to give birth. Bill got together with Jay’s father, who was a very wealthy car dealership owner in Savannah. So for some reason it was decided that Bill would be getting a nice payday to keep it a secret that the Kaminsky boy got a nice Lutheran girl knocked up. Jay would also agree to have no contact with the child. Of course no one bothered to ask the baby if he was okay about all this. If they had I assure you, dear reader, he would have not let Jay get away this easy.
Clarice didn’t know how much change her dad made off this agreement, she just knew that even though she didn’t get any, she wasn’t in as much trouble as she thought. At the home she went to she made some nice friends. One girl she met, Wanda, was also there to give birth in secret. She had a little girl named Kay not long after Clarice gave birth.
Wanda and Kay would be close allies to Clarice and Barrett a few years later. Wanda would also become Clarice’s best friend and pot dealer.
The big day was a non-descript Monday in May. Unknown to anyone present, while Clarice was pushing and breathing and bringing a life into the world, some 700 miles away, four
students at Kent State in Ohio lost their lives. It’s very possible Barrett could be one of those poor souls reincarnated. Conceived during the moon landing, born during the Kent State shootings. Talk about being born under a bad sign! The baby finally popped out at 1:16 in the afternoon. Healthy as can be! Apparently Clarice really did give up smoking and drinking while with-genius.
CLICK PHOTOS FOR CAPTIONS
Baby Barrett in Brady Bunch attire!
Mama clipping Barrett’s nails!
Clarice around the time right after Barrett born.
It was soon that Barrett’s smiling baby face won over the entire family. Even crusty ole Bill and arrogant, sometimes cold Faye fell in love with the little guy. How could you not, look at that adorable face! Bill was military, Army Colonel actually, so they traveled a lot. Now Barrett would be joining them. First stop, Taiwan!