KENSINGTON BLUES

Tag: Audio Recording

Follow Up: Debbie McConnell

Debbie McConnell, at her mother’s home in Staunton, Virginia, 2017.

Edited Audio Transcript

Debbie McConnell: So, this is from my first Christmas home.

Jeffrey Stockbridge: So this is a wall of photos here of your family?

DM: Yeah, this is my brothers and sisters. And as you’ll notice, I’m not in any of them because I wasn’t here. 2014 I got out. I’ve been out since 2014. June 16th I got out.

My name is Debbie McConnell, and I am living in Staunton, Virginia now and I have 7 years clean.

I don’t remember exactly what I clicked on online to find, you know, the Kensington Blues page, but I saw something and I said let me click on this. I remembered a guy taking pictures down there.

I remember writing in a journal, but I don’t see my journal entry. But I remember writing something. So, I was like let me look through this and see what it’s about. So, I watched a little short video of the documentary and then I was like, you know, I know all the people on it. And so I went clicking down all the things and I found the archives. So, I just started going through every single person and when I clicked on Justine I was like, that’s me, haha. But my name is not Justine, I guess I said it was, but I was just like wow, that is so crazy.

I didn’t email you right away, I guess it had been like a month before and then I figured well, let me see if there is a way to get in contact with him because I thought well, there is not a lot of the good stories coming out of some of the people, because I know a lot of them have passed away and um, so I said I thought it would be neat to at least have some good, you know, following that… Um… You know, the one girl Corrine had just passed away in a terrible way, I don’t know if you had heard about that but she’s in there and her journal is and um she was a good friend of mine for many, many years. We were in jail together, we were on the street together. We fought each other, I mean it was- we, we had been through hell and back, so that was sad to see.

JS: It must be pretty crazy um, you know having been there on the avenue been close with a lot of people on the avenue who didn’t make it, but you made it. Why do you think you made it?

DM: Only because I’m not there no more, because I feel like if I ever went back I am sure it would be the death of me. I remember just sitting there thinking I can’t do this anymore. I can’t, I just can’t do it. I’ve been raped like four or five times, I only got beat up once, thank God. I don’t think you have Marlo in the book. Is she in the book? Do you know who Marlo is? Ok, I didn’t see her on there. But I remember when she got beat bad, by I think it was the Kensington Strangler, and like they found her, with her face out to here, just in a bra walking down the street. And she didn’t get clean and, you know, you always think, whats the bad thing that’s going to happen to make you do this?

Debbie McConnell, Kensington Ave, 2009.Journal Entry by Debbie McConnell, 2009.

Well, anyway, I got locked back up. The cops came there for an unrelated thing, they ran my name- I had been wanted here, in Virginia, since 2006. So, this was December 1, 2010, they extradited me out here. I did three and a half years and in that time I just, uh, my sister passed away. Um, she’s on the wall over there. She’s up there with graduation thing. She, she passed away and I hadn’t talked to her in like five or six years. And, um, I hadn’t talked to my family, none of them, except my littlest sister, and they showed up at the jail to tell me that my sister had died.

Then they never stopped coming, my mom kept coming, and kept coming and said like life’s too short, and I just realized… that it is and I don’t want to ever go that much time without my family or die that way. And not have talked to them and… then I have nieces and nephews now I have kids, I have six kids, but I have my one daughter that I talk to all the time. And you know my dad use to come up there and be like, ‘I am going to drop her off up here with you if that will get you straight… and, um, but I love my, I love my, my family you know… That’s the biggest thing. I don’t want to lose my family again. It’s just so important, um, it’s just me and my mom. I feel that my mom needs me. And I need her. And so, I just said I wasn’t gonna go back. And I did go back, to visit, I took the train two years ago for my birthday because I wanted to see my daughter. And I got down there, and I got in a fight with my dad, and he hit me. And he put me out on the street and I wasn’t Philly, we were in a suburb, in Montgomery County. And he was like ‘Oh your just picking a fight, you want your friends to come pick you up because you want to go back down to the Ave.’ I had no such intention, I wasn’t even thinking about the Ave. But I didn’t, I just caught the next train home and just came home.

It was just something in jail. While I was just sitting there, I just thought to myself that it was it for me, like you know, just, nothing great happened, you know, it wasn’t a grand realization or anything, I just thought about it and thought about it and just, it just kinda went away for me, the desire to live that life because I, I just, just, it just went away. Thankfully, because I never thought it would.

Debbie McConnell, Kensington Ave, 2009

Debbie McConnell, shooting up in an abandoned house, 2009.

And you know, it’s funny because when I first started getting high, the girls would say, all the girls in Bucks County jail were always like, ‘you’re a wannabe addict. You, you want, you know- you’re not really an addict’. Like, I don’t know why, they thought I just wanted to be that person for some reason. I just was. But, I came from a good family, and a good neighborhood. I didn’t live in Kensington, I lived in Bucks County. And it was just a boyfriend and his sister, and um, that’s just how I got started. And just ended up down there, because that’s what she did. So, I was just, like, I’m just going to go down there, and I just went down there one day and I just never left, I got stuck. And that was from 2001 to basically 2010. Now, I’ve been in the jail more than I been on the street. I have 95 charges on my record. So, that’s my biggest struggle now, is, you don’t realize what you’re doing to your life. Whenever the day comes that you decide you don’t want to do that anymore. You create a lot of hardship for when you are trying to get right. Like, as far as jobs, and gettin’, gettin’ somewhere in life, you know. I’ve had jobs, you know, I’ve been out three years and I’ve been working. But I haven’t been able to get into a decent job that pays decent because of my record, and Virginia can go back your whole record, so it looks really bad, I have 95 charges.

It was a struggle getting out, but I didn’t think about getting high. I mean, I have days now, today, where I think about it but the good outweighs the bad. You know I can’t, I never want… I can’t even picture being on Kensington Ave. That weekend, when I was there, after I had been locked up for a year, when I went out there, and I am pretty sure that picture is from that weekend, and I remember saying I can’t do this, I just cant. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I can’t even imagine what it would be like today to be out there.

And I had a picture of myself… I had sold my hair. My hair was down to here. I had sold it and it was up to here, and I looked horrible. I was skinny, and just, I didn’t look right. The days that I had bad days, I would look at that picture. I showed it to mom, she starts crying. She’s like, ‘Oh my God’, because she had been down to Kensington a million times looking for me and trying to get me to come home. And I would never go.

JS: You say the good outweighs the bad… What’s the good?

DM: Just my family. Just I know that if I ever got high again I would never be able to see my niece and nephew again. I don’t think my mom would stand by me again through another, you know, prison sentence, or whatever. I’ve never, I’ve been on probation since 2001. I still have two more years, I’ve never given a dirty urine, I’ve held a job, and I mean that’s, that’s something to me- Thats a big accomplishment for me because I haven’t accomplished anything… So… And so I’ve been a cab driver for a year, so I’ve talked to a lot of people, and there are drugs here too. And most of the people that I know are on drugs, the big drug out here is Meth. I’ve tried it before, years ago and I don’t like it. Um, and I try to help them, like I try to tell them, they have no clue though, it’s not the same here, they’re…they don’t have… they have no idea. When I tell them some stories, they think I am talking about a movie or something, they can’t even comprehend that that was real life.

My mom tells me I am too open with people, but I feel like, if I go and apply for a job or something, and if I tell them about who I am or who I was, and how far I’ve come along, changed to be who I am now, that you know… some people can look past the record part of it and, and give me a chance because, I’m a hard worker, I don’t miss work, I can’t afford to, I need money. You know, you need money to live, so.

JS: So you think that like physically removing yourself from Kensington was an absolute necessity?

DS: It’s a big part of it. It doesn’t matter where you go, there is heroin here, people are dropping like flies here because of the fentanyl in the heroin, which I know it’s bigger in Philly, but it’s just, it’s just not worth it. It’s just not worth it to me. To just loose… I mean, I’ve come so far- Everything I have in my room I, I worked for. All the clothes I wear, my perfumes, my jewelry, I bought that stuff. You know, so to own things that you actually pay for, you know, I can’t imagine how much money I made in Kensington, but I had nothing to show for it. And I got lucky- I have no tracks, if I don’t tell somebody that I was a drug addict they would never know. But… I looked like hell, haha, you know, I looked like hell and when I show people pictures they’re like ‘that’s not you.’ I’m like, that was me.

JS: I think it’s awesome that you… You’re not trying to hide from your past and that you offer that information to people, as well. That you tell them about your past to try to you know let them know who you are, and that you, in spite of your past, you’re still a good person. Can you talk a little bit about that?

DM: Well yeah, even like when it comes to dating, like I’ve been single forever. But like, I try to date, but every time… I never meet, or I’ll meet a nice guy, but I have, I have too much for him. You know, they, they don’t, they’re like, they’re running because they’re like, holy shit, you know, hahah. But….You know, that’s not me anymore. I don’t live that life, you know, but when you tell people sometimes, they’re like, if you say you were a prostitute or you shot up drugs you know, automatically they assume you have diseases and all kinds of things, and so, um, I think I sometimes, I’m maybe too forthcoming with information. But that was my life, for a really… ten years. You know, ten years is a long time, So I don’t, I still, to this day, don’t know what I like to do for fun without being high, because I was always high.

But I feel like I’m a better person because of what I lived through and, like, I know a lot of things that I can teach others. Like, that’s what I initially asked probation, if I could go to like the juvenile detention center and talk to those people that are just thinking about getting involved in drugs. I mean, I know they’ll never  be as bad as what that is down there in Kensington, but, you know, if it could help them just a little bit, to deter them, like, oh my God, I would never want to go through things like that, you know, …. (Phone rings) Let me just get that real quick.

DM: Hello. Hey, what’s up? What are you doing? Ok. Ok. Love you. Love you, bye.

JS: Was that your mom?

DM: Yeah. She just got finished getting her hair done. I need to go buy a shirt, cause I do start a waitressing job tomorrow, which I’ve never done, and the manager knows me from eating there and complaining about, haha, the drinks. So, he said, ‘You have to be nice to people Debbie.’ That’s another thing, it is very different here, people don’t get me here. I am very obnoxious to them because I’m just blunt, say it, whatever. They don’t do that here. So, they look at me like I’m kinda mean or rude, but I don’t mean it to be that’s just what I’m used to, that’s just how people are in the city, they’re not like that here. So, I kinda stick out.

Laura Talbert, Debbie’s mom, at home in Staunton, Virginia, 2017.

Edited Audio Transcript

Laura Talbert: My name is Laura, I am Debbie’s mom. Um, Debbie and I have had some issues, um, since she was young, quite young. Um, you know, it started out with a little bit of legal trouble here and there, um sadly it turned in to her addiction. Um, as a mom, it’s very hard, very hard, to watch your child go through this. Um, I have been to Kensington, I have walked the streets, I have begged her to come with me, back home. Um, made sure she had shoes on her feet, um there are times I went down there and she wouldn’t, she just wouldn’t leave, and you know she was of age, I couldn’t make her do it but made sure she had food and clothes or shoes, whatever she might need. And you know, my heart breaks. My heart now, even thinking about, um, those days because for her not to come home, and there were a couple times you know, I’m gonna be totally straight up and honest, that I have gave her money for drugs to get her in my car, to get her to my home, and out of Kensington. And, she did that and that very next day- If she was in jail I knew she was safe. Three meals a day, she wasn’t on drugs. So, as a mom, I had to make that decision. What do you do? She’s not gonna come with you and it’s only gonna get worse, and how long can you watch your child go through this, and I made the conscious decision as a mom, to buy the drugs for her, to get her… Trick her, actually is what I did, and made sure that she ate and what have you, and slept and… but the next day I called the police and you know turned her in, and I knew, I knew she was safe then. And she hated me, she hated me, there were years went by- we didn’t talk. Um… the death of her sister- She was in prison, I had to go there and tell her, you know, her sister had passed away.

This last time in jail I told her this is it. You know. I made sure she had what she needed while she was in there, um, she at least had food, could make phone calls, what have you, but the day she got out of jail I told her, ‘The next time you go back to jail, we are back on that tough love train, because if you are helping yourself, I’m your mom and I will help you.’ But I’ve seen so much heartache and so much tragedy, and she has seen it now herself, because so many of the people that you have interviewed or even talked to, have died, or when the strangler was down there, that was like, to be the mom of… and you know…and I will tell you one thing that I asked her to do- Please tattoo my phone number on your body. That is how, how worried I was, how concerned, because if I thought I was going to burry a child I really thought it was going to be her. And I didn’t want her to be one of those people, in Kensington that they found and couldn’t get a hold of family or what have you. So I did, I begged her.

Now, I couldn’t be prouder of her. Um, she’s worked very hard, very, very hard these past two years.

That’s where we’re at, we’re just, you know, buddies at this point. We’re just two fish in a fish bowl but you know… We lean on each other and we yell at each other, and we laugh with each other, um, but she looks great. She’s doing great. Um, I just, I’m really, very proud of her. Even though I figure she’s my one child that’s never gonna leave home… So, everything I do is, my thoughts are in twos, which is fine. She’ll find her way at some point, but you know it doesn’t matter how old you get, um, your mom’s your mom.

Debbie and Laura, 2017.

Pat & Rachel

Jeffrey_Stockbridge_Pat_and_RachelPat & Rachel, Front and N Lee Street, 2012.


Edited Audio Transcript:

JS: How long have you been married?

Pat: Eleven years

JS: Can you tell me a little bit about how you guys met? And just a recent history.

Pat: We met by a mutual friend. And uh, that was, that was like uh, there was a lot of drug use there, like with friends and stuff but uh, like it was weird because its was like me and her had the same group of friends but never knew each other for like a couple years and then we met and uh, but…

Rachel: I wasn’t into drugs at all. I hated it.

Pat: Yeah

Rachel: I couldn’t stand it. I liked the drinking and stuff and uh… he was dipping and dabbing. After I got really close with him, I got serious with him, I was a little bit curious. And I started then also and uh, I don’t know, we fell in love, we got married, our drug use had slowed down, we had um, children. And then um, I got sick and got put on pain killers. It all rolled out from there again. You know and our addiction started back up and, with the heroin till at one point where we couldn’t even take care of ourselves, losing houses, I was dancing at the time, trying to uh… get us from job to job, I was dancing trying to keep a roof over our heads, and then we couldn’t even do that. We had these children to take care of too, it got to the point where you know, we called uh, Children and Youth on ourselves and gave our kids over. You know, like still to this day like we don’t know where they are and it kills me as a mother but I felt I was doing the best thing I could do for them at that time, give them a better life. But um… We’re just, it was the most selfless thing I could do, people say it’s selfish, but I thought I was doing the best I could. But, you, you know, like I was telling him, you get so involved in here that like with the drugs it’s such a, it’s like a dark cloud over your head and you don’t know how to get out or how to climb out sometimes. It’s like you try and get half way and you get pulled back down. You know.

Pat: Nothing else mattered.

Rachel: Nothing. Our kids didn’t even matter… You know um, sure you think about it and then you really start thinking about it, but not to think about it, then you get high, cause you don’t want to think about that stuff, you don’t want to think about the things, you don’t want to deal with them. You know, why I think the way I think, I don’t know. I don’t even have an answer for that. You know, we moved down here to Kensington and it’s like we’re stuck. We don’t know where to turn to… We know how to eat cause there’s free meals everyday but like where do we start out from to keep moving up? You know, we know what to do, but to do it, do we do it? No. Why? I don’t know. I have no clue why.

Pat: Well, I thought about, you know I think sometimes to myself, like just cause we’re addicts and we’re on the street and stuff doesn’t mean that we don’t know what’s going on like in the world and like with the way the economy’s going and everything else and like your regular everyday people that work day-to-day and have jobs and all that kinda stuff, how many of them you see out here that have lost their jobs, now their homeless, they’re on the streets and drugs got them, but it’s like… I listen to a lot of these people that are sober now or people that have never experienced drug use and their lives are hell. And lot of times I think to myself like, do I want to get clean so I can just live in a sober reality world of living hell? Like, because of like of my past and everything it’s not like I’m gonna go right to the top of the ladder. So, sometimes it’s like, wow, like why do I want to do, why go through all that crap sober? That, that’s going on you know. There’s no jobs, there’s you know, it’s like I don’t, I don’t, I don’t want to do it sober. It’s just reality, I don’t, I’d rather to just… deal with it this way, you know…

 

Bobby

131030- 003Bobby, 2013.


Edited Audio Transcript

Bobby: Okay, so we can just start now.

JS: Yeah.

Bobby: I was born and raised here in 1965. First generation uh, coming from Ireland, my parents came from Ireland. When I grew up around here in the 60’s it was, it was all Irish. Uh, all the elderly ladies used to talk to you in Galick and all, it was uh, very uh, tight nit community where you could, you know always get something to eat, always get help, you know, the neighbors looked out for each other, there was no uh, robbery, burgulary, none of that stuff you know. We, we got in trouble as kids and all but that was just about it.

You know I grew up as uh, you know a normal kid, no uh family or physical, or medical uh abuse, uh, mental abuse uh. My mom raised four of us, uh, I have two sisters, one brother. Two sisters that have been doing very, very good. Uh, one brother, he’s in prison again, my brother Danny uh. I have four children, I had my first child when I was fourteen and graduated highschool. I went to uh a trade school. I went to the penitentary when I was a young age, uh I spent close to twenty years straight in the penitentary. I got a degree in psychology in the penitnetairy, plus I got a degree in uh street knowledge in there. I came home, decided that I didn’t really want that life because uh many a nights in prison that when I thought I was a man I cried in my cell you know. You know, knowing and thinking that this was not the life I wanted and that the ripple efffect that it caused destroyed my family and my children.

But I came home and uh, when I seen my children they were all like of age, adults, I didn’t even really like know them. They were my kids and all and I can say it but I didn’t know them. You know and it hurt me real bad, you know. And uh still to this day as being out of jail 6 and a half years uh, prison has truly uh, uh did a number on my mind mentally you know I’m still I’m mentally you know messed up from that you know. But uh, growing up through here I had uh do what I had a do to survive you know which was uh, get involved, become a product of the environment. I got into selling drugs and all that fast life. I wound up getting shot. You know, broken back, I was blinded by, beaten up by the Philadelphia Police Department uh, I was shot by the Philadelphia Police Department, uh. I, but a lot of good things came out of it and a lot of bad things came out of it. Uh, I’m, uh, I guess I can say I’m one of the, the very few that uh, you can say made it and you know and well I didn’t fully make it, I’m still here you know but uh I made it, I, I learned right from wrong, wrong from right, always kept a regular job, I always kept a legal job growing up even doing what I did. I kept everything undercover, you know and dressed nice and uh went to school, you know tried to listen to my parents, just to cover up the things that I, I did on the side.


Edited Audio Transcript

You know my daughter’s uh, boyfriend, he’s uh in the law enforcement you know he’s a warrant unit cop, he’s a cop. My brother-in-law is uh, he owns his own construction business, he worked for Gem Refridgeration for like 19 years till they laid him off. But they, they make it you know. My sister is uh, she’s one of the top nurses at University Pennsylvania Cancer Center, she’s uh, the boss of like 152 nurses. My other sister is uh you know, she works there too, my daughter, who my sister raised she has followed in my sisters footsteps…

JS: So what do you think happened to you and Danny then?

Bobby: Uh…

JS: You know, I mean you’re talking about your family, how they’re, how they were able to maintain these jobs and stay off the streets… You know… Whats?

Bobby: Liking to get high. Wanting to get high.

JS: Why? What was it? Where did that start? Where did getting high start?

Bobby: Uhhh, through uh, tradgedies that happened throughout the, throughout my life and uh, trying to suppress the pain because I didn’t uh, wanna show people that, that I was, that I hurt, you know like everybody else, so I would suppress it you know. I didn’t want people to know that I could hurt because growing up back then, showing that you can hurt, or a weakness was uh, was uh, it was a reason to pounce and pray you know and you suppressed all that. And growing up around here you either became uh, uh a burgurlar, uh a pool shooter, uh an alcholic or a gambler you know and I became a professional pool shooter uh, I gambled, I uh played cards you know to make my own money and uh, my mom raised four of us on her own you know, so it was hard, you know, I had to do what I had to try to do to help her. And uh my grandmom and them was strict, strict Irish coming off the boat and you know and the generation right before them came with the famine you know so it was, it was like uh, it was rough man. We, we, we uh, we had to do what we had to do you know and uh even though if you didn’t like what you had on the table to eat you ate it just to be proud and always said that, wow it was good thank you it was a vey good dinner you know.


Edited Audio Transcript

Yeah I started using uh, heavey drugs when I was twelve. Like my real father died when I was ten. I uh, I started getting in, smoking weed, you know and all in school and started getting in trouble then but by the time I was twelve I was uh doing Heroin and all. And uh, selling drugs to support my habit and you know and stuff like that… But uh…

JS: So when I saw you back in, it was 2010 in the summer up on the tracks with Danny and your other buddy, I mean you guys didn’t seem like you were really having a hard time addiction back then, you were talking about the D-Street Boyz, you were talking about…

Bobby: Well, we, we didn’t, we didn’t because we uh, we, we talk about that to try to you know bring back some good times because there is no good times out here no more, we try to talk about when, back when, because we spent so much time in prison that we think of like back when we had so much fun, that was our youth, we lost our youths in the penitentiary so, you know and when you’re away that long you tend to loose time you like get caught in a time warp, because nothing changes, you know, everything’s the same exact thing every single day. You wake up you go to breakfast, you go to breakfast you go to work you come back from work you go to lunch you come back from lunch you count, you take a long nap, you go back to work, you come back from work, you go get medication, you go to dinner, you go uh out to the yard, when it’s night time you come in, you go to medication you go back in, you go to sleep and by a quarter to nine you’re in your cell ready to go to work for the next day you know. Same shit everyday, nothing changes., so you, you tend to get caught in a time warp. And uh… It’s the same, same shit every day.

JS: When did you um first go to jail and when did you get out?

Bobby:  I went to jail in 1989 and came home in 2007.

JS: Why were you in jail? What was the crime?

Bobby: Uh, I sold a lot of drugs and was involved with a lot of like, stuff that had to do with shooting guns and all. Most of it was uh selling drugs and collecting money that was owed to me and it caused me getting into a lot of trouble.

JS: So when people didn’t pay you money that they owed you you had to get violent with them?

Bobby:  You do what you had to do to get your money, you know, just like everybody else, you do what you got to do to survive. That’s why it’s called being a product of your environment. If you ever really look it up in the dictionary it’s, it’s, and even if you look at uh, addiction up in the dictionary it, it means to be enslaved. You’re enslaved to something you know. And then again some people do it because that’s what they like and that was Me, I, I liked it that. You know and, and part of it was that like, I was uh… When I was growing up I was so hurt and, and uh on the inside and I suppressed so much of it because I seen it in my mom and them and you know being hurt and growing up and struggling that I didn’t care about it, how other people felt, I wanted people to feel the way that I felt, but it just didn’t turn out that way. You know you can’t make a person feel the pain that’s going through your heart, you know everybody has different feelings.

See also: https://kensingtonblues.com/2016/03/17/d-street-boyz
https://kensingtonblues.com/2012/09/28/bobby

D Street Boyz

131031- 022D Street Boyz, 2010.


Danny, Tor & Bobby (pictured left to right) pose on the tracks.

Edited Audio Transcript

Danny: Straight Irish Boys, we’re from D Street.

Tor: They’re only a few left.

Danny: We, we, we was the hardest white boys that ever walked through Kensington. Period.

Bobby: And we was born and raised here.

Danny: From days when Kensington was Kensington, when the blacks couldn’t come through here until the fucking beginning of the 2000’s the white boys from D street ran this whole fucking area.

Bobby: Back in the 60’s and all when I was growing up there was nothing but pool halls, bars and boxing rings on every block.

Danny: And the white boys from D Street, D and Cambria ran this whole area.  We were the hardest things that ran this thing. We were the white boys that were hard.

Bobby: You put that, you put that on TV, and, and then, ask, ask, and ask for uh, you put that on, do something about that and then ask for feedback from it and see what you get…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bobby: This is for those who are gone, we miss you, we love you’s and we hope to see you soon. Back when we were there, Irish Boys dead all the way.

Danny: Yo, you see this here. You see how I got it right here, Irish Boys, um. It say’s D Street. That’s who we are. We’re D Street Irish Mob.

Tor: Original, ORL.

Danny: That’s who we are, all the way.

Bobby: See, you should, you should call the documentary Hard Times.

Danny: This, this is for real, we were some real hard killers up here homie.

Danny: Lot of our homies are doing life.

Bobby: It was hard growing up here.

Danny: Lot of our homies are doing life and shit up here man.

Bobby: Lot of our homies died.

Danny: Died, lot of homies got shot. Lot of homies got shot… We was already on 20/20, 48 hours. You name it we was on it holmes. We was, we was on some real hard… I just did 15 years. My brother did 17.  (inaudible) just left did 15. All for being the Irish crew.

Paul and Anthony

Paul_and_Anthony 001Paul (left) and Anthony (right), in the courtyard at The Last Stop Recovery House, 2013.


Edited Audio Transcript

Anthony:
I was thinking I coulda got a good picture of this when it first happened.

Paul:
That’s your trophy.

Anthony:
It’s God’s way of sayin’ look at your arm, you ever think you can do that again look down at your arm?

Jeffrey Stockbridge:
Say that again for me.

Anthony:
It’s God’s way of telling me if I, if I think I can do these drugs again, shoot Herion in my arm, its like, he gives me a little sign, like look down at your arm you idiot.

Paul:
That’s like me with these tattoos. When I got sober, I put them on my arms so if I ever decide to get it in again, my children, I’d have to look them in the eye before I actually brought it up to my face. I got them right after I stopped drinking in 05.

Anthony:
That’s awesome.

JS:
Can I photograph your arms?

Paul:
Yeah, na. Hello? Mike, you’re gonna loose the call but I’ll call you back when I get out to the car all right? All right man, bye.

You wanna shoot, you wanna take a shot? I don’t mind.

JS:
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s really powerful what you just said.

Paul:
That’s the truth.

JS:
Can you tell me a little about what it’s been like for you to be a sponsor?

Paul:
I’ll tell you this much, um, 2 weeks before New Years, uh I had eight guys, I had two women in the process and um, in a very short time, all of them fell to the wayside. I’ve got one sponsee left here in Philly, and I got one sponsee left in New Jersey, both male, uh, don’t know what happened to the females, I don’t know what happened to the other men. They took their will back. It’s a pretty powerful disease. It can come at you any time through many things, a hundred forms of fear. If I remain in the moment I can help anybody, but if I don’t I can’t even help myself. Um, if I remain conscience of my higher power throughout the day and when I become uh, self-conscience of my own will returning, it removes these things from me. Uh, when I do that I become responsible. I become aware of the sickness, the demonic things that are uh, at work, the unseen war that has been revealed to me through this process, for I was unaware of these things prior and uh, its madness out here, it’s a lawless game. I have a mental defense provided to me from Christ. Without that I am nothing. I help no matter who is put in my path. For that I am grateful. I stay focussed. My mind and my soul, they’ve become centered. Uh, that’s all I really got. I’m Paul and I’m an addict.

Paul:
Beautiful day out.

JS:
Yes, it’s so nice isn’t it.

Anthony:
It’s fucking great man. Days like today make me happy.

Paul:
I was glad I came down here this morning. I had no purpose this morning when I woke up. No, no nothing really to do. Something said go to The Stop, somebody always needs help over there. And uh…

Anthony:
You gave me some hope today man.

Paul:
Came through, met some people, not even by like choice, just came through and it starts with a cup of coffee. You know, 50 cent. Best show in the world. The last stop man. That’s no shit. Hahahaha.

This place is like… This place is better than Club Med man, for real for real. Hahahaha. You know there’s certain demons I’m still dealing with like cigarettes and coffee but the greatest thing I ever achieved from this goal, cause like I’ve had sober time before and was, I was still lost and pray on helpless women and this is the longest I’ve been without hurting anybody and uh that’s great, that’s great man, not even hurting myself or hurting anybody else, that’s the best feeling in the world. You know, not worrying about money, not worrying about my next meal, everything’s been provide like they promised, you know, all I had to do was be willing cause I can tell you for the first 6 months, 8 months of my recovery I hated my sponsor cause he always told me the fucking truth and every time the phone rang and I seen it was his number man and I’d get all pissed off cause I don’t wanna here what he’s got to say cause it’s gonna make me look at my shit, and then, I started changing something, it just started happening and I ran with it, like uh, like I tried to tell you earlier, just ran with it and um my mind started to change and then my body started to change like they said it would. Cause I couldn’t do nothing on my own man. My best thinking got me a hot cup of coffee and a seat in an AA meeting. You know what I mean.

Paul 001Paul, The Last Stop Recovery House, 2013.

Paul:
This my babies. Carly’s the oldest, Buckey’s the youngest, I got him first.

JS:
And look up at me. (Click) Got it.

Paul:
Good?

JS:
Good

Paul:
Thanks man.

JS:
That was a really good story. I appreciate you taking the time.

Paul:
Well, I always said the worst story I ever heard was my own cause I lived that shit. Truth.

JS:
How long have you been clean?

Paul:
Long enough. All I really got is the moment. That’s what we all got. I can’t change five minuets ago and I don’t know what the hell is gonna happen, so I ripped the rearview out of my car, just steady moving forward man cause you can either move forward or you’re stopped. And when you stop in life, you’re just existing man, no purpose, that’s the loneliest feeling I ever felt. Just praying on others like my sponsor told me man it was like, I was a caterpillar, and he said, what does a caterpillar do and I said you know, it basically just eats all day, he said yeah it takes life, takes plants that make oxygen, just a taker of life and then he said, then you go into a cocoon which is like the 12 steps and um what happens in the cocoon? He said you become liquefied and Christ builds you back up into this beautiful butterfly and then you’re a giver of life just going around pollinating and making more trees and shit and I was like man I could, I could, that has depth and weight, I can believe that at first you know what I mean. So I just ran with that. Simple things like you know. You say in every one of us there’s a white wolf and a black wolf and uh whatever one I feed that day is gonna get stronger and what happens when you’re feeding one and not the other, the other will diminish, so it can no longer go against the one, it can’t even fight it has no energy, no strength. So if I’m constantly feeding the white wolf, and sometimes you feed the black one you know, but if you’re feeding it more white than the black, white’s gonna get stronger and stronger and stronger and the black never fully goes away but he has no attack. Cannot harm you anymore. I was like, that’s awesome! And that’s an old Cherokee teaching you know, and like he (Paul’s Sponsor) would paint pictures like that for me and like um, one of my favorites was like, I’m in a hole when I first came around in 05, uh, I’m in a hole and I can’t get out and I can’t see, I can see the top lip but I can’t reach it and you get all these people throwing you rope. So what you do, you grab the rope and you start pulling yourself up. But your human strength can’t, isn’t suffice, and they let go of the rope and you’re back in the hole again. And he said well, I’m here to tell you I’m getting down in the hole wit ya, I’m a get you out first, and then I’ll worry about myself. I was like, that’s awesome. Yup, I’ve been with him since man, he led me to the promised land.

I gotta charge my phone bro. Nice meeting you.

JS:
Nice to meet you too.

Paul:
Good luck with everything. I’ll be talking to you.

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