Forgotten Flight Oral History Transcript

(3/18/2016)

KG: Kelsey Glander

TB: Thomas Brooks

Transcribed by: Jackie Salg

 

KG: And here we go. Okay, so first off, what is your name and can you tell me about yourself, where you grew up and a little bit about your family life growing up?

 

TB: Okay. My name is Thomas Wade Brooks; middle name, Wade. For all practical purposes, I had a pretty good upbringing even though I didn’t – my mom set up some, well she set up some secrets that were designed to down me, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Excuse my French. But and then when she had a bout with skin cancer she decided to spill the beans and by then I was twenty-seven years old.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And she picked the worst time in my life to drop that bomb, a couple of bombshells on me. And it’s an ongoing scenario with me right now to try and bridge the gap to that side of the fence that with which has been kept away from me.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: Okay and on a good note pertaining to that situation is, I finally got a picture of my real father.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I was fifty years old when that happened. And [pause] I’ve been trying to bridge the gap to that side of the fence.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And running into obstacles left and right pertaining to that. People have died and moved on or whatever the case may be. But I have attempted to bridge that gap, okay. And like I said, many, many walls have popped up in front of it and I think it’s because of the huge time lapse scenarios.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: But at the back of mind, I know that if I take- or get on my feet here, get back into the driving more, then I will be taking trips to be able to present myself to that side of the fence.

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And on an interesting note, that side of the fence, my father had two sisters that is confirmed; novel writers. But the bad news about all that is those two sisters have died also.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got a lot of mixed emotions about that and I’m not going to go into too much details about that.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Because right now everything is on an investigative level with me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But, excuse me.

 

KG: [Laughs]

 

TB: I ate something a while ago and I don’t know why my stomach is growling. Maybe it’s this hot chocolate.

 

KG: [Laughs]

 

TB: But like I said, it makes me more determined, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: To connect with that side.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah and hopefully God and myself is talking about all that and I’ve been incarcerated for twenty-six years, four months in this state. And I’m on paper cleared up until I turn sixty, which is two years away. And I regret not having obtained my MOS while I was in the military.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I was not a happy camper with the fact that I had been declined my MOS: Military Occupational Specialty. And I became what they called, as mom would put it, a tumbling weed gathers no moss, okay? And I think it was all that at, the time that I had done, that really played the key role on her to get around to accepting the fact that she had in fact lost her son.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay? If she would’ve lived another six months on the tail end of me getting ready to make parole, she would have seen her son coming out of prison after serving seventeen years.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But it was meant to be. I lost her on the verge of making parole.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got a lot of mixed emotions about that. But at the same time, when she dropped those bombshells on me twenty-four years earlier, I was in the mode of rejecting it simply because I was looking to spend the rest of my life in prison.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And so I told her that I wished to God she would have never told me about that.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: But she had an opportunity when I was like eight years old to actually spill the beans when she saw me going through the family important papers.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But the excuse she threw at me back then was, “Well, you take after my dad.” And having no pictures of him, I assumed that – I was contented with that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay? And then she waited x many years later to go on and spill the beans.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah. Oh.

 

KG: So when did you join the military and what lead your decision to join?

 

TB: I was striving for something, okay? And my cousin, Allen, myself, and Ronnie [undistinguishable], all three of us went on what they called the buddy-buddy system.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I was seventeen years old. Allen was seventeen years old. And mom knew that I was – I was a young man back then, okay? And she knew yeah that I was a drifter, okay? And all the more reasons for her back then, to let me know. But no, she waited ten years later to drop the bombshell on me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: The two bombshells. But…

 

KG: Was your mom proud when you joined the military?

 

TB: Yes, she was. I got pictures. And boot camp, there was one picture in particular, inside my boot camp album; San Diego, California. I didn’t know it at the time, but they had these photographers going around but we were more or less concentrated on our activitiy inside of boot camp.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And one of our camped out areas they showed me a picture of me reading one of my mom’s older sister’s last letter to me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: My favorite aunt, Rose and every time I see that picture too, it comes to my eyes because she died subsequently after that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: She was my favorite, favorite aunt. Thought the world of that woman. And little shadows of the past, it just threatens to engulf me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: What was your training like and what are some of your most memorable moments from training?

 

TB: Graduation day.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah. Dressed in uniform, yeah, the medals, yeah. But subsequently after that, I found out that I was [undistinguishable] marked for reserves and I wasn’t a happy camper with that.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: I wanted to be in the regular Marine Corps, back then.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And now, subsequently after that, actively involved in the Reserves in Tulsa, outside of Tulse, Oklahoma; the panhandle of Oklahoma.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: [Undistinguishable], back out that way.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: [Undistinguishable] Ranch, Reserves Unit.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Which was like, a hundred fifty miles from where my home was at.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: I had problems with my pickup truck so I had my thumb out and I was hitchhiking to my post and a bunch of hippies came over riding in a gray van, threw a broken beer bottle at me.

 

KG: Oh, man.

 

TB: And after that, I got out of the Corps.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: How long were you in?

 

TB: I wasn’t in there long, nineteen months.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: What was it like to leave? What was it like to leave the military?

 

TB: Well, it was a thing – let me back up one second, okay?

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: There, outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, my parents – and this is on the tail end of me graduating out of boot camp.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And setting up shop inside of the Reserves and everything and at one point I walked back up to my house and my dad had his knees on my mom’s chest on the floor and I broke that up, real quick.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah and yanked my dad up against – well, I didn’t hit him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I let him know I do not appreciate what he was doing, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: That was the first time I had ever seen him do that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And subsequently after that, they came into agreement that I needed to be put out and I was homeless from that point on.

 

KG: How old were you?

 

TB:   Seventeen. Yeah. My parents had signed for me to go in at the age of seventeen.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: If I had have been there like a couple months later, I would’ve been eighteen years old.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: But dad decided to come in and put the brakes on the fact that he controlled my mom, his wife, without me interfering, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: So I became, what they called, a tumbleweed that gathered no moss.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I let him know before I left that place I was going to check in on my mom, you know?

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: And I asked him point blank, “Don’t do anything. I won’t stand for it.” That’s what I let him know.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And for all practical purposes, he was my dad, okay? Yeah, because three months pregnant, my mom decided to hook up with him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he came in to rescue her, thus rescuing me in the process. And so he knew I loved him, okay?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And I have my ifs and buts about that. I wasn’t going to be rough with him, just going to try to shake some sense into him.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: But he knew I loved him. Loved him and my mom as well and my sister and my brother as well. And just before I went into the Marine Corps, like two summers before, I was instrumental in saving my brother and sister’s lives out there on the Arkansas River out there in Oklahoma. God intervened big time on that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And my brother and sister went into a dare, who could wade out in the deepest side of the water, quicker. And not knowing about underwater currents, they grabbed them up and started transferring them out to deeper waters, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And my dad had a cast on his leg and he took that off. He fell out of the chair, the lawn chair and crept to the water’s edge.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I just kept screaming at them to hold on, okay?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And at that point in time, I looked up at God and said, “God, please I don’t want to go through this life without my brother and my sister around.” And he heard my prayers and I was able to get a huge driftwood out of a sandbar.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he gave me the strength to do that, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And mom ran up to the top of the bridge and she was screaming bloody murder trying to get a pedestrian on the other side of the bridge to stop.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And God heard my prayers that day, okay? And he gave me the strength to do all that and I was a hundred fifteen pounds sopping wet, back then. And they came down, [undistinguishable] to me and [undistinguishable] went out, as soon as I used that wood to get to my brother and my sister, and thus saved their lives. And it was a beautiful day.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Because God heard my prayers.

 

KG: Mhm.
TB: Yeah.

 

KG: [Coughs] Sorry. What were your relationships with other members of the military like and do you still keep in contact with them?

 

TB: I was pretty much a loner, yeah, very much a loner. And what I had accomplished and I put my nose to the ground and [undistinguishable]. Yeah, that’s what I did.

 

KG: Do you keep in contact with any of them, with any people you knew back then?

 

TB: No.

 

KG: No?

 

TB: No.

 

KG: What brought you to Richmond?

 

TB: What brought me to Richmond?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: The fact that my mom and my dad had their roots out here.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: My mom from [undistinguishable] and my dad from [undistinguishable] County.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And my biological dad, from with his [undistinguishable], his [undistinguishable], before I came into the world. But that’s an ongoing issue with me.

 

KG: Mhm. How did you become homeless?

 

TB: I think it stemmed from the fact I knew something was missing, okay? And I was halfway through my teenage years and mom you know, she had more than enough opportunities to let me know. I became a drifter after the Corps, okay? And that’s what I did. I mean I crisscrossed the continental U.S. numerous times, seeking myself out.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Sleeping under bridges, barns, what have you and I always had military gear.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Such as a sleeping bag and a duffel bag with me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And that’s what I did and she had opportunities then, you know?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: To spill the beans but she waited until I saw her [undistinguishable] out for being real, real stupid and real colorful and real stupid back in the middle part of the nineteen-eighties. And then she decided to spill the beans because she knew that I was on a path of destruction. Yeah I was on it and…but she said all of those secrets, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I love her and she knew I love her and I just wished to God that she had come clean with me ten, fifteen years earlier.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But no, she waited and waited, waited, waited, waited.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And she came to terms with the fact that waiting was not working.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: You know because I was getting away from it all even to getting to the point of becoming a damn hermit.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Literally and that’s what I did.

 

KG: Mhm. Can you tell me about the different places you’ve stayed during that time as a drifter?

 

TB: I stayed in Oregon, I stayed in New Orleans, I stayed in San Francisco, I stayed in Montana, picking up jobs as I went along, getting enough pocket money and it was temporary work.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And rolling out of town with just a few bucks in my pocket, and just wandering, seeking and I was on the verge of becoming a full-fledged criminal.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: That’s what I was doing.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I regret that but God saw me through all of that for some reason.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And it’s just, it’s issues that I’ve become,  trying to come to terms with okay, because me and God is talking about it, right?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And that’s a good thing, without that, if I ever got a notion in my head, “He does not really exist.” But I can’t say that because I’ve seen miracles occur.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I know he’s there, I know he’s listening to me, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he bestows miracles upon me not on my timescale, but rather on his when I’m more suitable to receive them.

 

KG: Right, mhm.

 

TB: And that’s my take on the matter.

 

KG: What is the hardest part about not having a home?

 

TB:  Well, considering all my drifting, okay, I could easily lapse back into that mode of thing.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because being Indian, Cherokee, my mom’s side of the family. I don’t know what the percentages are, but I knew how to get away from it all.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: Yeah even to the point of swimming out to an island and living on the island or whatever, okay? I know how to build things; I know how to live off the land and everything else. What do you mean?

 

KG: Is there anything [coughs] that you feel that you would like about having a permanent place of residence? Or did you just not decide or?

 

TB: I would feel that way if I could connect to that side of the fence, you know?

 

KG: Mhm, okay.

 

TB: And I feel that way, okay and it’s given me aspirations to eventually own my own place, okay?

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: Even to the point of, I got introduced to product and that’s something that’s ongoing with me as well. And they’re giving me great reviews on a product that only that, when I’m not messing around with that I’m writing off drafts, okay?

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: And that comes from, like I said, the side of the fence that’s been kept away from me.

 

KG: Tell me a little bit more about your writing.

 

TB: I write all fictional, I breathe life into a character and I run with them, I can put them, place them in a given situation because they are in fact, an extension of me.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: Yeah. This is my first rough draft, that’s what I did.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I proposed a lot of characters in my book and getting caught up in the politics of that, they find in the book writing world, that less is more, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And they might come through and stipulate, so okay “This segment needs to leave this segment. That segment has to leave.” And I got a lot of mixed emotions about that because those characters are an extension of me.

 

KG: Right.
TB: Yeah but at the same time, when they put [undistinguishable], they’ve got to entertain the notion that I want [undistinguishable] and that’s the author’s option, okay?

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: So I feel real comfortable with that. But on a time scale, they’ve got to like, okay this is more feasible at this point in time, you know?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But you do have the option, and they pointed out to me that I do have the option to propose the uncut version.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got all the ideas for other books, as well.

 

KG: When did you start writing?

 

TB: In prison.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Fifty years old.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: Hold on, I’m thinking here. What’s your daily life like now? What do you do from day to day?

 

TB: I’ve taken, doing a lot of follow up on jobs,  [undistinguishable] the computer as facts, is what I do.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah, just as a follow up scenarios, is what I do. And I begin my new job on the twenty-second, a couple days from now.

 

KG: Where are you working?

 

TB: [undistinguishable] came through, you know handles – you know [undistinguishable], right?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: We took him – he knew that I was looking for work and everything. He set up this one situation where they came and did workshop programs in here, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And they came through on flag waving jobs, okay?

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: So I signed up to for that because I had experiences with that last year at another temp agency with that.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: But listening to [undistinguishable] talk about it, this new one that’s coming up on the twenty-second, is going to be full time.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay, so I’m putting the other one on the back burner even though that boss is trying to contact me as we’re sitting in right now, he’s left a couple notes on my computer.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: He wants to see me for some reason, you know because  that’s where I got my original license as a certified flag waver. But the only draw back with all of that is that it’s on a temporary scale.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: So I’m keeping that as an option on the back burner.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: That’s what I’m doing.

 

KG: What brought you here, to [LFS?]?

 

TB: What brought me here was the fact that the  administration at [undistinguishable].

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: On my point of entry, decided to disrupt my beneficial work for the Salvation Army.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And that’s what I was doing.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I did that for a total of three years.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And they knew that I was right across the street and [undistinguishable] rehab at the Salvation all together because I was [undistinguishable] comfortable, I liked what I was doing there.

 

KG: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

 

TB: Meeting interesting people.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah and they give you a heads up on certain situations. There was one situation where the work supervisor put a note up on my work area, on a two by four, take the number, and they wanted me to be on the look out for this one pocketbook, okay? Ladies turn in their pocketbooks, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I was in charge of pocketbooks, men’s bill holders, women’s bill holders, scarves, socks, and belts, men’s ties.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah. I had six items that I had to pick through and designate to said thrift stores, three of them.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And that’s what I did. And I was real, real comfortable with that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Which required a little bit of cleaning of this, that, and everything else in between.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because women for the most part, they got hard rock candy and bubblegum sticking back out one end of a pocketbook and what have you, you know? But anyway, he came through, found me and came through, the work supervisor and he said, “Tom,” he said, “Man, I’m looking for this one pocketbook.” And so what’s up? He says, “Well, this woman’s misplaced her two certified checks.” I said, “Okay, as soon as I process out of…” the huge roll bins that they go there?

 

KG: Mhm, yeah.

 

TB: “It’ll eventually show up.” And it did and it was like three weeks later.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Okay? And I’m sitting at my desk and I was processing that pocketbook. At one point I said, “Look at the sign.” I looked over at the sign, looked down at the pocketbook, “Oh my god, this is it.” I had a few seconds earlier, dumped the contents in the trashcan, right? [Laughs]

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: So I took and set the purse down, put my little, little bit bigger than that trashcan, and I took those envelopes out and lo and behold, it was two certified checks. And I took the pocketbook, took the envelopes with the [undistinguishable] checks in them.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And walked it right into Don’s office and an hour later then, they asked for the lady that had been the original owner of the pocketbook.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah she was in [undistinguishable], she said, “God bless you son. And now I can pay my rent.” And I felt real good about that.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah and it was…yeah.

 

KG: How’d you get involved there?

 

TB: How did I get involved there?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: A slow transition back into the streets from the penitentiary level.

 

KG: Okay. What was that, through a program?

 

TB: Yeah, they wanted me to have a slow transition back into the street.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And the best available place was the rehab of the Salvation Army.

 

KG: Mhm. Is that a live in place, or where were you living at the time? There?

 

TB: Yeah, mhm.

 

KG: Yeah. What was it like coming back into regular society? What was that transition like?

 

TB: Well administration, like I said, they came through because they knew that I was ready up for where I most comfortable with.

 

KG: Mhm, right.

 

TB: And decided to [undistinguishable] from this place. And they said, “Tom, you’ve had enough rehab. It’s time for you to move on.” You know?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: “You’ve done everything in rehab and you’ve done it really well, it’s time for you to move on.”

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And so they came in and designated me for this place.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And so here I am.

 

KG: Yeah. Do you have friends here, people you talk to everyday?

 

TB: Mhm.

 

KG: What are your relationships like here?

 

TB: Helping them out whenever I can.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Even the staff down here.

 

KG: Yeah, why?

 

TB: What do you mean?

 

KG: Well, why do you feel the need to help out?

 

TB: I know which side of my bread’s being buttered on.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And where my blessings are.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: What do you think civilians particularly don’t know about the experience of veterans?

 

TB: [Pause] That might be open and vulnerable to PTSD [undistinguishable] okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But for the most, to give you the heads up on certain situations. Five days before Christmas, I lost an uncle.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: My last remaining uncle down there in [undistinguishable] Richmond. He was ninety-three years old. What was weird about that was he was a marine himself.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he never did talk to me about that.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: You’d think he would’ve but he never did.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I was shocked when I walked up inside, [undistinguishable] funeral home in [undistinguishable] area?

 

KG: Mhm, yeah.

 

TB: A lo and behold, on the memorial table was his DD214, all folded, tattered, and everything else. And it was inside of a picture frame with glass in front of it, and I was shocked to see that, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Now I looked up behind me and they had three dressed up blue marines back there. One of them with a bugle to play taps, send it, send out taps.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And so they came in and did that presentation simply because my uncle had been in World War Two. He had been in the Korean conflict.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he lived until he was ninety-three years old.

 

KG: Yup.

 

TB: And like I said, I was shocked. I had no idea, you know? You’d think – and I think that stems from the fact that when people that have been subjected to war, okay? They really don’t want to talk about it, simply because in the Marine Corps, it’s a favorite saying in there that you got associates but you do not have friends, okay?

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: Simply because of PTSD issues.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: You get real close with anybody out there, next thing you know, they’re gone.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And that blood is on you.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah. It could be anything. It could be stepping across a land mine. It could be somebody opening up on my buddy with a machine gun.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: All that, okay? And it creates PTSD issues if you get really close with somebody.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because one minute they’re there, the next minute they’re gone.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Scattered to the wind. Yeah, body parts flying everywhere.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And that’s really the reason why the Marine Corps drilled that into us.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay? Not to – you got associates, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: You got comrades but you don’t have friends, okay? And that, for the most part that’s hard to accept.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Especially the one who stands out and you got – you don’t like the guy, okay? You think his purpose is demeaning you like, “To whom he is,” and everything.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: So in a way, it goes against the grain.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: You know? When you lose that friend, that comrade, that associate, then it become a living hell.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: One minute there and the next minute gone.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And [pause] and then they call them in for what they call, debriefing.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Simply because you lost your friend.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: You know but with all the debriefing in the world,  it’s not – back in [undistinguishable] the living soldiers are still alive. “How did this happen God?” You know what I’m saying?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But it was his time and that’s a hard thing to accept.

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: Where were you stationed?

 

TB: San Diego.

 

KG: San Diego. The whole time?

 

TB: Yeah. Well no, no, not the whole time. I was air marked for Air Reserves in Oklahoma state.

 

KG: Oh, right, right, okay, got it. What types of barriers do you feel like homeless veterans face?

 

TB: I try not to get caught up in the politics of that.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: If I see a down and out soldier, I lead him to water, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: That’s the aquarian inside of me and tell him, “Miracles happen here.”

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And they came in, I got one ready to come in now.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And me and him go back a long ways.

 

KG: Yeah?

 

TB: Yeah. So what else do you need to know about that?

 

KG: Why do you think veterans become homeless?

 

TB: It can stem from a lot of things, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: In my case, it stemmed from not knowing the other side of the fence.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah. Or it can be something very, very horrific that occurred during their one up years.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: It can be anything.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Deny this. Deny that and secrets kept and secrets that are designed, like I said, to down that soldier.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah. It’s like Timothy McVeigh, that situation, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: They really don’t want to talk about that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But he was executed and rightfully so, okay? Simply because of what happened to the children out there, you know?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But what they don’t want to talk about is how they created that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah and it came in the form of them, while he was defending his country, the IRS was busy taking his roots away from him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah, causing his parents to give up the farm.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: A farm where that boy grew up and did everything in the world to be a great American kid.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay? A farmer kid. But they swept that under the rug, you know? He came back home, homeless, yeah.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: His heritage, wiped out because of some overdue tax situation, with the economy sucking and everything else, excuse my French, but you would think they would’ve given him an alternative, you know?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Perhaps put him in a farm of his own choosing.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But no, his roots and his stomping grounds had been taken away from him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And he was not a happy camper with that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Even to the point of waging a war against the U.S. government.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And that’s what he did. He paid the ultimate price for it. But it’s, like I said it’s situations that just become overbearing, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: When hope is lost, a solider’s going to react. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And some of us feel that it was rightfully so, some of us feel that they were wrong.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: You know, because you’ve got [undistinguishable] for which to get on your feet and become a member back into the world, you know? A contributor to the economy and pillar back into the community, you know a lot of people do that?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Certain situations man just drives people to the edge. And that’s when they get real stupid.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And it’s sad that it’s that way, but that’s what they’re doing they’re trying to take down that wall that’s been placed in front of them.

 

KG: Mhm. How do you feel about charity?

 

TB: I got a giving heart and I have no problem with availability only. I’ve helped out animals as well as people, okay? Blessings come my way through doing that, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I feel really good about that.

 

KG: Why do you feel the need to give back?

 

TB: [Pause] Because I’ve been down that block before.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I’ve lived that life before and [Pause] it’s instilled in one’s idiosyncrasies.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Okay? Yeah.

 

KG: Is there anything you regret in life?

 

TB: Yeah, yeah, well yeah.

 

KG: Anything you’re willing to talk about?

 

TB: [Pause]

 

KG: You can say no.

 

TB: No, I regret not being informed.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: About my mom’s secrets when she had an opportunity to do that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: When I was much younger.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But she decided to sit on the secrets way too damn long.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got a lot of regrets in turn, from that. But I still love her, that will never change. I miss her, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I regret not being more of a nephew to my aunt.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I regret that to this day, okay? And her kids and I argue about that.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And her youngest and oldest live down there [undistinguishable]. She’s a book publish – she’s had a couple of books published at [undistinguishable], okay? So we’re comparing notes on that. Stacy Morris, is her name.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got her card in my bill holder and I’m real proud of her, okay? But we get into arguments over the fact that her mom, she was the love of my heart, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because here was a woman – Aunt Rose, she had six floors, okay? And she wanted a son but [undistinguishable] she was quick to come get me, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And with all these daughters around, okay?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And she would literally yank me back up in her truck and I was like knee-high to a bar of soap back then, okay?

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And I loved that woman. [Laughs] Good God I loved that woman because the way I look back on it now was she wanted a son around, okay? [Laughs]

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And it was all good and everything and I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions about the fact of who she was married to, my Uncle Bill, because he was a regular piece of shit in my book. He mistreated his kids, he mistreated my favorite, Aunt Rose and that – to give you a heads up on a certain situation, when I was like twelve years old, Bill caught one of his daughters, okay, so it was Donna, and his second oldest daughter asking my mom for a cold biscuit, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And mom was taking a plate of cold biscuits out of the refrigerator in our house. And she handed the biscuit to Donna, okay? The cold biscuit, hard, cold, biscuit.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And Bill came out of the backroom, took his belt off and started whipping Donna all over the kitchen and if I had found shells for my shotgun that day, I would’ve taken his legs from underneath him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because I read him like a book. His idea of groceries for his family was beer and cigarettes, okay?

 

KG: Right.

 

TB: And that did not sit too well with me. Him whipping his daughter or something because she was hungry and she wanted a cold biscuit.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: My mom saw me go get my shotgun. I could not find my shotgun shells; they were hiding them from me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: But I had intended [undistinguishable] coming out of me at that age, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Yeah, I would’ve taken his legs from underneath him.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I was prepared to do that. My mom came back in seen me with a shotgun, looking for my shotgun shells, she got the shotgun away from me.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: “Don’t do this son.”

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Yeah, subsequently after that, they moved down to [undistinguishable]. That whole family got scattered.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I got a lot of mixed emotions about that as well.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: All because my uncle was a drinker. Bill was a drinker and those kids suffered it, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: I did not – I was not a happy camper with that.

 

KG: Yeah. What are you most proud of?

 

TB: What am I most proud of?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: What I’m doing now.

 

KG: Yeah, what is that?

 

TB: All my rough drafts.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: Yeah and I’m very, very, very optimistic about all that and my product as you know.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: And I got a firm getting ready to go represent me on my said product.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And that’s an ongoing issue with me right now. And I’m proud of my art accomplishments, okay?

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: Because it gives me an opportunity to beat the [undistinguishable] into my maker, God behind Him giving me those talents.

 

KG: Mhm.

 

TB: And I do a lot of decorative handkerchiefs and posters and drawings as well.

 

KG: Cool.

 

TB: And it’s almost, [undistinguishable] very, very, prolific on woodwork.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: Uh-huh.

 

KG: That’s awesome. What are your goals for the future?

 

TB: Get my books into the old [undistinguishable].

 

KG: Yeah?

 

TB: Yeah.

 

KG: Anything else?

 

TB: Facilitating more times with my daughter and my granddaughter.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: And those are ongoing things with me.

 

KG: Cool. And lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

 

TB: No ma’am.

 

KG: Okay.

 

TB: I pretty much covered everything I wanted to cover.

 

KG: Sounds good. Thank you.

 

TB: I’ll take this.

 

KG: Yeah.

 

TB: I’ll take this and you said you’re