You Want To Smoke With The Old Boy Rick James Rescued Not Arrested!

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Rescued Not Arrested!

How do you get from growing up in a middle class family living in the suburbs of Los Angeles in 1966 to the back of a Police Patrol car on April 27, 1980? Choices and decisions! No! It was not my Father or Mother’s fault, it was not society, and it was decisions. The events you are about to read are true to the very best of my recollection, the names have been changed to protect the identity of those who have not given their permission to be a part of the story.

We moved from West 52nd Street in Los Angeles in 1966 right after the Watts riots; Mother Dear wanted a better life for us kids, I am the youngest of 4; 2 boys 2 girls, the last child my Mother could have, so, to her I was special. Right before we moved, Mother Dear called me in to our rented house and said, “baby, Mother Dear has something to tell you, she went on to say, Mother Dear wants you to know that you are not better than anybody, but you are just as good as everybody.” My 11 year old mind did not understand why she told me that; even though I have lived like that ever since. It wasn’t until I was in prison at San Quentin at the age of 28 that I understood why my Mother Dear had given me that life lesson.

It was my 12th birthday and we were living in our new house in Valinda, CA that I was introduced to marijuana, our next door neighbor and a group of his friends were getting high in his garage, being curious, I wandered over and asked what they were doing. The neighbor boy was 18 or 19 and had his own car and was, what I thought pretty cool; he told me and I said can I have some, to which Tommy the neighbor up the street replied, sure if you can roll it. I then made my first attempt to roll a joint, it fell apart when I tried to light it, so they handed me one and I got high. My Mother and Father both smoked and to my knowledge had never even smelled marijuana didn’t know a thing when I went home, high and paranoid. In all my short life in South Central Los Angeles, I had never seen or heard of marijuana, this was the suburbs.

My grades in school were always above average, even though I only worked to be average, and once I started sneaking around getting high and starting to hang out with like minded kids, my grades remained average, and no better. I had been molested by one of my Father’s friends at the age of 5, the guy did it right when my 3 siblings were there, and then sent them to the store to continue his perversion; that incident was followed by that same neighbor kid that lived next door molesting me on 3 occasions before turning his sites on some other kid. No! I never told my Mother or Father, I don’t know why, and I have not told my Father to this day, and won’t, as it won’t bless him to learn that.

I started committing petty crimes, in the 1oth grade, a kid called Snake, (who knows that most people called snake do not do the right thing?) introduced me to a guy about 37 years old that was a criminal and bought stolen goods. I burglarized my first house that year, got a gun and some more stuff and thought I was cool; my friend and I split the stuff up and I kept the gun. Snake and I burglarized a house 4 doors form the house we lived in and almost got caught when we tried to enter the house next to it and saw a young man that was a paraplegic sitting in the house and he saw us too. I didn’t get caught for that. My junior year of High School, I vowed to smoke weed everyday that year and did, the entire year (what a waste). During that year me and my best friend were driving in his 1956 canary yellow Chevy Bel air; we had the color bar flashing and the music blasting, smoking weed like it was legal, when the Police pulled in behind us and we panicked, he drove around the corner and I was supposed to pour the weed out of the plastic bag, but did not, and threw it next to the car when we finally stopped. The Officers found the weed and took the two of us to the Sheriff’s station. I had been doing some stupid stuff and my Father wanted to discipline me severely, but Mother Dear would intervene and rescue me. At the Sheriff Station neither he nor I would cop to owning the weed, our parents were called to pick us up and I just knew I was in for a good whipping from my Father, but no, he was very, very disappointed and I was grounded.

I moved into my Senior year of high school with my dubious weed smoking record intact and was curious to learn from my High School Guidance Counselor that I had 200 credits and only needed 150 to graduate, so in February of 1972, I graduated mid-term. I could make up a story about me being some kind of big jock, ladies man, but that would be a lie. I was a confused, insecure kid that had not had much life experience and who had never had sexual intercourse with a female. My girl friend was the then, love of my life, Anja, and did she love me, Anja was much, much more mature than I was, I could barely hold a conversation, and had a fear of reading out loud. I was the type that adapted to whatever group I was with, a young man with no real identity. I was an American African, who had grown up in my formative years, with very few American Africans around me, so I had seen ethnic hatred, having been born in Kilgore Texas in 1954, moving to California at the age of 1 year. We went back to visit the Grand Parents every summer until I was 16, and my Father’s Dad, Papa Son, died. I was teased by the black kids in Texas as that proper talking California “ninja” so I would dumb down my words to fit in, and when back in Valinda, spoke like the group I was with.

In February, 1972 my Father asked me one Saturday, “Son what are you doing”, I was getting ready to play pinochle with my brother-in-law Charles and some of his friends, I said, something like I don’t know. my Father went on to say, “Son, ain’t no grown man going to be sleeping when I’m working and living in my house, so you have 3 choices, you can get a job, go to school or get out!” I determined at that I was going to the US Navy; my brother-in-law had been filling my head with stories about the West Pac and the Philippines. So, on March 30, 1972 (my birthday) I was at the armed forces induction center in Los Angeles taking the oath of service, and then on my way to basic training in San Diego. The night before a bunch of my friends were having a party and learned that I was going into the service so they had given me a big ounce+ bag of weed, which I proceeded to smoke on the ride to San Diego, the other recruits were looking at the back of the bus and talking as I was blatantly smoking weed like it was a cigarette. I kept smoking on the parade grounds until I was approached by one of the recruits who said the guys over there are talking about turning you in, so I gave the weed to someone else and when we got assigned to our temporary barracks that night, reluctantly flushed it down the toilet.

I ended up being the RCP 3, Recruit Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class, and skated my way through boot camp, I had the Guide on Bearer making my bed and folding my clothes. I was a REAL under achiever. There was an incident were one of the guys in our squad was rumored to be gay. One night Perez comes to my bunk and says, I like you, so I get up and go to the bathroom, Perez follows and we go to Chief Simon’s office and I proceed to do to him what the neighbor had done to me at an early age. When Perez says; OK Jordan my turn, I became irate and said some un-quotable things to him. My thinking was, I’m not gay, even though I had just had sex with a man, the old if your pitching you’re not gay rule was in effect. I made it through boot camp at my graduation my Father was surprised to see me finally finish something. To my surprise I was ordered to go to Lemoore Naval Air Station in Lemoore CA. I was, irate thinking I did not join the Navy to go back to school, I joined to get to the Philippines, so I requested to be sent to the West Pac, and while back home on leave from boot camp my new orders came for me to report to the USS Hancock at Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines.

When I arrived at the airport never having been in a plane before I had my carryon bag which contained, yep you guessed it 2 $10 bags of marijuana. I had no idea that anyone would want to check my bag so the weed was right on top, when the Security guard asked me to open my bag, I just knew that I was going to jail. To my surprise when I opened the bag I quickly place my hand on top of the bags of weed and I know he saw it, but said nothing; so my first plane ride was from Los Angeles International airport to Treasure Island near San Francisco CA. The next day we boarded a Military hop heading for Alaska then Japan then Clark Air Force Base and a bus ride to Subic Bay. I had two of my unit mates with me on the flight and we were smoking weed at 30.000 feet until one of the Stewardesses said the other passengers were complaining.

When we arrived to Clark Air Force Base it was the most humid I had ever experienced and I was ready to sow some wild oats, I had no idea that in 2.5 short months I would be heading back to the States awaiting, to my surprise, an Honorable Discharge, but I could not re-enlist. The Philippines had been to much for an undisciplined young fool, I never reported to the USS Hancock and had it not been by grace, and the base Captain wanting me to play on the Base football team, I would have received time in the Brig and/or a Dishonorable Discharge. It seems that the Captain had his clerk cut the orders for me to be transferred from the USS Hancock and to Subic Bay, and because of some glitch, the USS Hancock thought I was in Subic Bay and Subic Bay thought I was on the Hancock, my Mother had contacted the Base and the Ship looking to speak with me. I got caught up with a Black Militant group called the Mau-Mau, I was using drugs, cough syrup and heroine, smoking heroine mainly, and I did mainline on a few occasions. I got caught up in a test of egos, with King, the son of “Papa Jack” an American African ex-Navy man, who owned a restaurant in Olongapo City; King and I got into a fight and the repercussions were felt throughout the entire West Pac. I had been sleeping at the Cooks barracks getting high daily, got my left ear pierced, and was involved in committing crimes on other Soldiers, until we were raided by the Provost Marshall’s one morning, where they found lots of weed and other stuff. By-the-way, the Mau-Mau Chapter President stole lots of stuff from the rest of us prior to leaving for home. While at the Provost Marshall’s Office the Clerk who was processing me asked, “do you want to get out of the Navy?” I said yes, my Mother is sick and my girls is pregnant, both lies. That is how I received my Honorable Discharge.

I was escorted from Subic Bay to Clark Air Force Base under armed guard, there had been a riot on the ships in the 7th Fleet and they suspected that I was involved in planning it. Nothing could have been further from the truth, I could not even plan getting to breakfast on time, and the only things I was taking from my experience in the Philippines was, a stomach jones for heroine and memories of a wild 2.5 months. I went back to Treasure Island for discharge and while there, went with a couple of more guys to Oakland to cop some heroine, while out I saw the movie Super Fly and thought that’s what I’m cut out for. When I arrived back at LAX I finally saw myself in the mirror and said, boy your Mother won’t recognize you, I was 6′ 2″ and weighing about 165 down from about 205 when I left 3 months ago.

I came home a big disappointment to my Father, was back using anything I could to get high, You know, I did not consider myself a dope addict, because I was not using heroine, I did a couple of times once I got home, with Tommy, the kid from the neighbor’s garage next door when I was 12, and his buddy Curtis. I got my first real high from mainlining heroine with Curtis, and was so pleased with the high, I refused to do it again, I knew I would be hooked. I tired Jr. College, Mt. Sac in Walnut, CA, did not have the discipline to excel, and found myself back committing petty crimes, one such burglary, an inside job, cost my Mother Dear and Father their first experience with the Police coming to their home for me. I was allowed to plea bargain to a trip to the California Youth Authority, the very place I wanted to go to prove I was tough enough, considering I had been a Mamma’s boy all my life, and had been molested, I needed to prove myself to myself. In 1973 I ended up at the California Youth Authority in Norwalk, CA reception Center, where, I was told to Crip or trip by big Bunch, I had NO IDEA what he was talking about, Harvey stepped in and diffused the situation, telling me, the next time someone got in my face I had better get off on them. I eventually went to Dewitt Nelson to train for fire camp. I seemed to thrive in the correctional setting, where there was structure and consequences both from Staff and from the Prisoners. I met a young man named Noble there, he was one of the most polite well mannered people that I had ever met, especially in a jail; he said yes thank you, no thank you, please, and was not one to be messed with as he was a very good fighter as well. Noble and I became friends and I picked up the good manners, things that I had been taught at home and surprising for years, I could now feel good doing and saying. I finished 2nd the Fire Camp training class and was able to pick what Fire Camp I would go to. I went to Oak Glenn in the San Bernardino Mountains.

While at Oak Glenn I was named the lead hook on the fire crew and I used to have the crew run back up the 2 mile road upon returning from our work, I was getting into really good shape and was considering college upon my release, I wanted to go to the University of Alabama and play for Coach Bear Bryant, the CYA counselor told me, “do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond. My Mother, Dad and Sisters visited me while their, my Parents never did or have turned their backs on me, in spite of what I put them through. I paroled in 1974 and ended up at Cal State Fullerton, and as a walk on I made the football team, but my lack of discipline was always my downfall, I ended up robbing local restaurants with plans of robbing a small casino in Nevada (an inside job) in the mean time me and Buddy robbed a criminals brothel in Orange County and got caught. I plead to a re-commitment to the CYA and no additional time, I ended up at the Ventura School for Girls a CYA facility that had gone co-ed. I excelled both academically and physically, and was offered by Ventura Jr. College to play for their football team as we were in the off grounds College program coach James wanted to give me a shot. The Superintendent at CYA facility, told me “NO WAY Mr., you had your chance and decided to be a criminal”; which was true and I never held it against her, I chose my life.

I got out of CYA on January 10, 1976 and got involved with Laura who had 3 sisters and her dad did not want to be with an American African, I moved back to Valinda with my Father he and my Mother had divorced after 30 years, my Father was a functional alcoholic all my life, who worked every day, sometimes 2 jobs, full and part-time to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. He wanted his own time to relax and unwind on the weekends, he was 19 my Mother was 16 when they married and my Mother had me when she was 22 making her fourth child. I had the opportunity to see my high school love, Anja that year and she wanted to get back together, my heart wanted to, but I knew that I was not what Anja needed, so I chose Laura. We had a tumultuous 3+ years, where she had 2 abortions of our children that I know of, and while I stayed with her I vowed in my heart to make her life a living hell, which only served to ruin me further. I was on the verge of becoming what I had feared, a drug addict with no conscious. I was one decision from going into the black hole that would appear on a wall when I would stare into it for several minutes. But, praise GOD, he never let me, I know it was GOD, because I DID NOT CARE.

I met Cowboy 17 and Frank 16 and I was 25 going on 26, at my brother Ron’s apartment in February of 1980, I was pulling off robberies and getting high and was involved in sexual perversions that were beginning to consume me. I was smoking Sherm; Angel Dust, Lovely using speed balls, cocaine & heroine mixed. Cowboy and Frank were robbing gas stations, so I asked, if you are taking penitentiary chances shouldn’t you been making more money. We agreed to do a job together, we robbed a hardware store and got away and decided to rip-off a drug dealer, we intended to kill the guy, the dealer was an associate of Ralph who would later be involved with us as a crime partner. Cowboy, Frank and I ripped off the cocaine dealer, who escaped with his life because he refused to be bound and gagged. I went to Nevada, Frank to Florida and Cowboy stayed home. Cowboy got into some trouble so we all came back and that’s when we plotted to rob Myrvyn’s Department Store in Upland California. We hatched a plan that we launched on Thursday the 24th of April 1980, that plan went wrong but Joey, Frank’s little brother and I were able to talk our way into everyone thinking we were from the West Covina Sister store, Cowboy had worked there Christmas of 1979 so he was supplying all of the details. I was determined not to be out done so the following Friday night armed with information gained during the bungled robbery attempt, Frank, Ralph and I went on to one of the Mangers houses and lied our way inside.

Everything seemed to be going great until the store was surrounded by the local Law Enforcement, we actually got away, and good Police work led back to me as a witness and a hunch set the trap for our arrest. That Saturday evening would be the last time I was ever anywhere not in custody for the next 22+ years. I fought my case and it looked good, my Mother wanted to pay the $10K that was being asked by a high powered Attorney that my Step Dad Jesse had used in the past. I refused the offer from my Mother, even though I was declaring my innocence to anyone that would listen. In the end I was bound over for trial and eventually found guilty, Cowboy took a 5 year deal, Frank to an 11 year deal, Ralph was granted immunity from prosecution, after 17 months in the county jail I was sentenced to Life+ 2 Years; Life+ 1 year and 11 years 4 months to be served consecutively. While in the San Bernardino County Jail, I got to meet some very interesting characters, while there, I stooped to a very low place, and for a while preyed on the weak. I was a tank boss on B-South and met a fellow on the Bus going to court one day, this guy was a member of a prison gang and was of a different ethnicity, I had never allowed ethnicity to determine how I treated people, after all, my then girl friend was a Mexican American, two of my crime partners where Anglo Americans and I came from a ethnically mixed neighborhood. This guy we will call him Rick Toughguy, a member of a White Prison Gang told me that I would not have any problems in prison because everybody respected me and he gave me a bit of advice, “don’t tip up” that is to say, join a prison gang. The very thing I vowed not to do, in fact, I told myself, there were three things I would not do, 1. Allow someone to order me to do something that I could get the death penalty for. 2. PC up, that is to say, go into protective custody. 3. Die while in prison.

I arrived at CDC guidance center in Chino CA in September of 1981 I was asked by the Correctional Counselor handling intake for my alphabet group where I wanted to go, to which I replied, Tehachapi, where I knew there was a college program, the Counselor said that’s not happening you have over 104 points, so I thought lets get the hardest part over and said Folsom State Prison the end of the line along with San Quentin. I arrived at San Quentin State Prison in late October 1981. I quickly found out three things, 1. Prison had as much dope as there was on the streets. 2. Be a man of few words. 3. Come to the Pen hard, stay hard. I quickly started to use manipulation to gain an advantage and was observing everyone and everything. An older convict by the moniker of “Slow Joe” was the 2nd watch 1st floor lead tier tender in A-Section, Vicious Mike was the 2nd floor tier tender and those were the two guys I spoke with most. I stayed on the 3rd tier after getting off Orientation I stayed on a little longer because the Counselor thought I was related to a convict with the name Jordin who had recently stabbed a Board of Prison Terms member at Jordin’s parole hearing.

It was during the 20 months at San Quentin that I had a real epiphany and realized that NO ONE but ME was to blame for me being in prison, it was not because my Mother had refused to allow me to accept a scholarship at Bishop Amat High School in1969 when I was coming out of the 9th grade; it wasn’t because my Dad didn’t intervene and override her; it WAS because I had dropped the ball, I had DECIDED to under achieve, I had DECIDED that I would not do my best and be my best, and NOW it WAS up to me to Do better, BE better, accept responsibility, accountability, and seek to somehow turn my life around. NO! I still had not out grown getting high or the criminal mindset. That is when Jimmy introduced me to an older convict serving his second life sentence (having been paroled), for the crime of murder. That older convict would have an impact on the remainder of my time in prison and would help to shape my story even today. I was recently told that that older convict Big Steve died while in prison, well, Big Steve was instrumental in the LORD enabling me to kill the old Michael.

I paroled on May 9, 2002 and discharged off parole on June 15, 2005, yep, I gave back that c-39094 number that is a part of my past. I am a better man having gone through it. Of course, I would have done things a whole lot differently in hindsight, but then I would be someone else and not the man I am today. Husband, married the very first time on July 16, 2002, have 2 daughters form my beloveds previous marriage. I have had failing health since 1995 and have had 2 total knee replacements in 2000; and am scheduled for a total right hip replacement in May. I have had financial success since my parole and financial disaster, coupled with failing health; I still have faith in GOD and in the ability to reacquire stuff.

To dialog with me contact me on my blog Michael “Ground” Jordan, we can interact and you can share your opinions, ask questions and get to know each other. So, keep my story in mind, if you are up against it, or if you have a child or loved one going through it, you know someone who has been in the muck and the mire, and who, by the grace of GOD has come through on the winning side.

I was not arrested on April 27, 1980 I WAS RESCUED from myself!

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