Thursday, September 17, 2009
My Cousins - Joey, David, and Joan (Joey's sister) - are in the foreground with Pa, our Grandfather Sullivan. I'm the one in the suit.
Before he died from the drug overdose (see HERE, if need be) my Cousin Joey started writing the story of his life. He wrote it when he was allowed access to a computer while in jail. What follows is the largest chunk of it I have available to reproduce.
Joan, Joey, Me - Christmas, 1967
Joey appears to have made three different starts at writing his story. I have three manuscripts, the largest being eight pages. Some of the same thoughts and stories show up in each manuscript. What I've done here is to combine all of the manuscripts, leaving out the duplicated parts. Other than that, I have not edited it in any way. All I've done is scan the pages I have in my possession, delete the duplications, and insert the pieces left in a somewhat logical order. All of the misspellings, grammatical errors, and other blemishes are intact. My intention in doing so isn't to make Joey look stupid. I think the mistakes actually add some power to the story. They show Joey as he was - a man with demons, grown from an abused boy; not tremendously well-educated, but still with an apt turn of phrase. The story itself is compelling, putting aside any stylistic complaints.
Joey's Mom (my Auntie Ba, known to some as Retzie, others as Loretta), Joan, and Joey - Easter 1968. I'm not certain who the man is. I believe he may be my aunt's boyfriend of the time, someone who was between Joan and Joey's father and their stepfather.
I know he didn't consider these pages finished, by any means. He might not have put this version out in public, had he lived longer, but this is all he left behind. I think he deserves to have his story told, in his own words, after three years in the grave. I hope I've put the pieces together in a way that would have pleased him.
Cousins David, Joey, Joan, Me
Final note: Some of his surviving relatives may dispute the facts as he gives them. I wasn't there; some of those folks were. I am in no position to vouch for the absolute truthfulness of what follows. It is as Joey remembered it. If anyone else from his life has something to add, please feel free to leave a comment. Or, if you feel it's something very important that needs correction, e-mail me and I'll consider the possibility of running the comments as a separate follow-up piece.
Thank you for your patience with this introduction. Here are Joey's own words.
Joey, age 7
THE CHICKEN COOP
By Joe Bucci
MAYBE SIX FEET AIN’T SO FAR DOWN - CREED
The cellar window was easy to push open, I was small enough to squeeze my way through it. The warmth hit my body immediately as I slithered my way quietly onto the dust layered cement floor. Running away from home during the winter months turned out not to be a good idea after all. Twelve years old and on the run, breaking into a cellar to find heat, was better to me than the abuse and insane living I had to deal with in my home. I curled up next to the boiler in a fetal position, as the warmth that was so welcome began to melt the snow that covered my cold body, as I just wanted to sleep, knowing in that state I could be whoever, or wherever, I wanted to be. As I watched the snow drifting silently outside the grimy window I had just snuck through, I could not rest due to the fear of being discovered. Visions of my life flashed by me as I question my own sanity, but I was beginning to feel the warmth and knew I wouldn’t be getting a beating that night.
This is the beginning of my story; It’s been so long in the making due to my own fear of telling such a tale of hardship, pain and failure. I’ve lived a life that needs to be told, there are to many of us still suffering from the abuses of the past and we are misunderstood as well as trapped in a vicious cycle of self destructive behavior that will not allow us to break free of those old beliefs that were once our only guide into adult hood. There is a peace as well as a wonderful life to be lived for those that never really had the chance from the beginning and I will take you there because I have found the way.
My Biological father left the scene when I was two years old, my sister Joan was four and my mom twenty. He had a drinking problem, which caused him to be irresponsible. Mom made him out to be a real loser over the years but when I found him thirty-four years later he would tell me his side of the story. It’s not important to me at this time in my life.
The Chicken Coop was a place where most of the hurt at such an early age affected my life. It was a two family house located in Hyde Park, Mass. It was called the Chicken Coop by my Great grandfather who I was named after, Joe Budvits. Grandpa Joe has long sense passed away, but the love and spirituality that he taught me with has managed to help me survive the crazed years. At around the age of five or six, Grampa Joe would come rescue me from the Coop. He would call on the phone and say, "I’m coming to get you out of that chicken Coop!"
It would be some years later until I came to understand what he meant by that statement. Gramps knew what was going on at 15 Mt. Pleasant because the Father I didn’t know as well as my unknown uncles and aunts already having their dose of the Coop in the early years before my grim sentence.
We ended up living with my fathers' father and his second wife who was my step grandmother. I guess my mom tried to make a go of it before we financially were forced to seek help from my fathers' family. My father was not paying child support and my mom was in and out of court with him. He would end up in the old Deer Island Jail more than once within a few short years due to his none support. His father, my grandfather would take us in. Which gave my mom a chance to get on her feet. During these times the mental abuse would begun by my step grandmother. For some reason to took to my sister really well. Over the years my sister would be pampered and loved as I would be tormented and abused by this women. She was very sneaky and careful not to let it be known or seen for the most part. They say that we get our self-image of ourselves at an early age. I believe that to be true in my case as my step grandmother called me a jackass and a fool as well as stupid ass through all of my childhood. I was constantly left in her care as my Mom was, as I remember, not around. However, when my mom was around I would be the perfect little gentleman. That was my way of hoping she would stick around.
That’s when things became very difficult for me. I was the whipping boy for my step grandmother for many years. My earliest memory was her jamming a peanut butter and jelly sandwich down my throat with her two fingers when I was about four years old. Boo Boo, was on his way to pick me up as I would spend most of my weekends with him and Gram. He happen to come through the apartment door just as she was finished forcing the sandwich down my throat. I was crying and I remember him telling her if she ever laid a hand on me he would kill her.
Step Grandmother just hated it when the Gate to the Coop would open up for me. Getting away from that place was all of what heaven could have been. The weekends were so grand as my Great grandparents would shower me with all the love and attention in the world while they had me.
Boo would pick me up on a Friday afternoon while Great Grandmother, (Grammy) would wait patiently at there apartment waiting for us. Boo and I would make a few stops along the way before getting back to Gram. There were three bars that Boo frequented in Hyde Park. I loved tagging along with him, as he would travel from one to the other each weekend. I’d get a coke and some quarters to play pool. The smell of a bar would become such a home smell to me over the years. The sawdust on the floors and the clinging of bottle to shot glass would trap and secure a place in my mind for the years to come.
Boo would catch a good buzz before we would get back to the house so when Gram would give him hell, it wouldn’t faze him in the least. We would come through the door, I would run to hug & kiss Gram, as Boo would walk past in a hurry heading for the back bedroom for a nap. Every once in awhile they would yell obscenities at each other but it never would go any further then that. During the summer months we would spend our Saturdays going to the amusement parks. Paragon Park, Cannibe Lake, Lincon Park, Jolly Jollies. Gram an Boo would bring their own chairs, setting them up somewhere within my favorite travel areas while I ran wild going from ride to ride. Boo always had his flask full of J&B (liquor) to make the time fun for him to. I knew each one of those parks like the back of my hand before the age eight.
Sundays were very serious days with Boo. We would wake up early an get ready for church. Gram never went but Boo and I would always have the same routine. We would get to the Catholic Church in our home town of Hyde Park at eight forty five, for the nine ‘O’clock mass. Boo would pay or receive a payment from his bookie, as we would go up the Church steps. It took me years to figure it out but Boos’ bookie was the church usher, the same man who would collect the donations, as the people attending the service would put there money into the basket, he would send into the crowds during mass. Boo would constantly direct me to what page and place we would be at in the missal reading. He would sing so loud and proud during the mass always jabbing his finger in my missal booklet keeping me in sink with what was being sung or read.
After mass we would make our regular stop at the cemetery in Reedvile the next town over where Boos’ mother and my biological fathers ancestors had been laid to rest. We would pray over his moms’ grave as well as tend to the grass or plants. In the years to follow we would take care of Grams as well as my grandfathers and, my step grandmother. I know now that Boo Boo, made our Sundays into a routine in hopes that when he passed on I would take over the responsibility of tending to the graves which I have failed miserably at doing as of lately but will do it just as soon as I’m able to.
There was one time that I visited the grave of grams and tried to dig up her grave. At age twenty-six in a drunken stupor with the idea that my life was not worth living, I wanted to go to sleep with Gram. So I passed out on the top of her plot and was woke up by the grave keeper later on that day. I was homeless, Jobless, friendless, as well as addicted to the daily use of cocaine and alcohol. The years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuses had finally caught up with me. For many years I escaped having to face the demons that controlled my moves through life, but now I could run no longer. The gig was up I had reached my first of many bottoms.
My first solo trip out into the world was short lived, at the time my Mom, Sis, and I were living in Brockton, Mass, in a three family house. We lived on the top floor in a seasoned three bedroom apartment. For one reason or another I realized I didn’t like what was going there, so at six years old I packed a suitcase and down the stairs I went into the world all on my own, without anyone telling me what to do. Under my mom and sisters watchful eyes I walked about three houses down the street. I can only imagine that I was getting scared as I ventured out, therefore ten minutes into my journey I decided to head back home. I snuck up into our apartment thinking that I had returned un-noticed so I slipped my suitcase and myself under the bed. Within two minutes or so my mom and sis came into my room. They sat on my bed (as I tried to be as quite as I could) and began to cry, "0" "My little boy has left me and I miss and love him so much." "What will I do without my little brother?" I couldn’t bear to hear them cry anymore so I slipped out from under the bed with a feeling of importance, love, and belonging. They hugged me, made me feel as if I was wanted which is most likely the reaction I was looking for.
So this was not the first time I had run away and it would not be the last. Before age 13, I was known as a full-fledged runner and one of the best. I was unhappy with the home life I had, which consisted of complete and constant fear, misunderstanding, as well as abuse, in all forms. At first my short blast of freedom usually, only would last a week or two but as time went on I found ways to stay away for months at a time. In the beginning I would usually end up coming home on my own after a few days. I would hide over my friend’s houses as they would hide me under their beds or in their cellars. It was really cool those first few times. My friends knew things were so messed up for me at home.
When I finally did get back home there was no beaten or punishment given to me as my mom was just happy to have me off the streets. That happiness would never last long so before long it was back out on another adventure.
Soon after this mom would bring home a boyfriend who would turn out to be my step dad as well as my punisher, spirit killer, and physical abuser.
Joey with his sister, his mom, and his stepfather
Of course he was really great in the beginning of it all but as time would continue on he would become the fear of my life, for my life. I had been with out a father for seven years so it was not an easy adjustment for me. My mom loved this man so much she would give him total control of me. He came from a very strict Italian home where his father believed in physical punishment. Throughout my child hood as well as my teenage years I would receive some of the most brutal beatings that would affect me all through my life right up to this very day. I would also witness the brutal beatings of other men by him also. My step dad convinced my mom that I needed some toughing up due to the fact that I had been without a male from the start of my life.
On one particular summer night Stepfather had been out on the search for me due to the fact that I was late getting in. I remember the night like it was yesterday because it would be the first time I would get an eye witness account of his violence. He found me wrestling with one of my friends and his brother. I was a nine-year-old kid having fun as the time flew by me. As I was getting ready to drop a Chief Jay Strongbow tomahawk chop on my friend Jeff’s neck as we were imitating the most popular wrestling moves of that time and age. I felt a sudden pull on my shirt as I found my self flying backwards through the air. There was step dad with all the anger of the world dragging me to the car yelling obscenities at me.
He tossed me in the car and started punching me in the side along with some slaps to the face. We happen to be parked next to a Dairy Queen ice cream shop in Brockton. This guy was walking by the car while holding two ice cream cones when he noticed step Dad beating the shit out of me. He looked into the caddy an said," Hey, buddy why don’t you lay off the kid?" I’ll never forget the thrashing stepfather put on that beautiful person that had compassion for a little kid getting a man size beating. I can still picture the pints of blood that sprayed out of his nose. That would not be the only nose I would witness broken by stepfather.
Someone was able to get the license plate number of our car as we burned some rubber out of there. Stepfather ended up in the courts, which in the end had him pay the guys’ hospital bill, as well as some court cost with a restitution fee. I blamed myself for what happen that night. If I hadn’t been late getting home, that poor guy wouldn’t have been hurt. That’s what a little kid thinks when stuff like that happens.
Then there was the time I played Doctor with the girl my age in the shed in her back yard. I remember us piling up stones on each other’s privates for whatever reason. Two little kids with a little curiosity about our different parts. Her brother who was a year or two older walked in on us so I asked him to swear on his Boy Scout honor that he wouldn’t tell. Come to find out he wasn’t a boy scout because when I got home mother was really pissed.
She sent in to my room to wait for step dad to come home from work. He called me down to the kitchen later that evening. When I got there he told me to stand up on the kitchen chair, which I did. Then he told me to pull my pants down which I also did, unwillingly of course. "Hold your pecker out as far as it will go," he told me. I stretched the little bugger out, as he took out the butcher knife he had been sitting on the whole time and placed it about an inch from my little pecker. He said, "I’m going to cut it off so you will never be able to do what you did with that girl." To be totally honest I really don’t know what happen after that but I still have the pecker thank God! I imagine that I went into shock after that for a while and that’s why I don’t remember.
Funny thing is word got out about what that girl and I did so two days later I was walking down the street I lived on an these two girls a couple years older then me started teasing me. They wanted me to do to them what I had done to the girl I messed with. They chased me into some woods and started pulling my pants down. I was yelling because all I could think of was step father cutting the pecker off; that bastard ruined me in so many ways.
I once became lost in that neighborhood shortly after we moved there while riding my bike. I had been exploring the new turf, as little boys will do. I started to panic because I could not find my way home and it was getting late. All I kept thinking was I was going to be beaten for being late. The next thing I know he pulls up beside me in his car with a big smile on his face while I’m crying my eyes out thinking I was going to get it, instead he ask me "what’s wrong?" So I tell him "I couldn’t find my way home." He laughed at me and told me to stop crying like a little girl and follow him home.
The fear he would cause in my life would cause me to collapse into my inner self where no one would be welcome for many years to come. There seemed to be no answer to the problems that were constantly surrounding me. Why, I asked myself; why me? I felt so alone. I wondered how I was going to survive this life any longer? Wasn’t there anyone who could be trusted to help me? I wanted desperately, not to be me, as I would close my eyes on many occasions hoping to wake up somewhere different, someone different. I hated me and in the years to come I would prove that in more ways then one. I would soon learn that stepfather was a very unpredictable man, most addicts are. I could never figure out the right thing to say in any given situation. He would use this as a weapon against me as the years would go by.
The beatings at home were coming more often, as well as the feeling of not being wanted. I had a strong belief that I was not loved by those God choose me to be born to. I would spend most of my young life closing my eyes and praying that I would wake up in the home I was really meant to be in with the family he had really meant me to be with. I chalked my life up to being this great holy punishment passed on down through the generations due to some evil thing one of my ancestors had committed against God at some distant past time, which automatically gave me the impression that I was also a evil being.
It seemed like I was always in trouble; no matter what the cause, they would always say it was that Richard blood, left in me by the drunken Father that left mom, sis, and me, too fend for ourselves.
I believe my behavior was for the most part due to the fact that I had been sexually abused while age six, by a male adult friend of the family. On multiple occasions while he and his wife happen to be sleeping in the bedroom next to mine. I had no clue as to what he was doing, but it sure felt nice while he was down there doing that with his mouth. I was just a kid, so I had no clue as to what he was doing to me, but he was an adult so it must have been o.k. Besides I was getting some attention that wasn’t in the form of physical pain or verbal abuse, this was some kind of love, so I thought! He told me that what we did would get us both in a lot of trouble if anyone was to find out so it was to be our secret. He would
And that's where the manuscripts ended.
Rest In Peace, Cuz.
Joan, Joey - Easter, 1967