Nearly 105 Years after Geronimo’s Death, Rudy Ramos Gives a Voice to the Great Apache Warrior


Geronimo has been the subject of movies before; Chuck Conners played Geronimo in Geronimo 1962, and in 1993 Wes Studi took on the legend in Geronimo: An American Legend.  In the 1950’s  Desilu western television show,  The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Earp befriends Geronimo.  But no one has ever resurrected the Spirit of Geronimo, and allowed himself to become the embodiment of the Great Apache Warrior turned prisoner of war… until now.

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Rudy Ramos, a Lawton, Oklahoma native, returned home to perform his one man stage production of Geronimo, Life on the Reservation, written by Janelle Meraz Hooper on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  Ramos has been on the road touring with his live production of Geronimo, Life on the Reservation since March 22, 2014 when the show premiered in Tucson at the annual 2014 High Chaparral Reunion.

Ramos’s performance before a hometown crowd at The Lawton Community Theater did not disappoint.  A full house eagerly welcomed the actor home.  While waiting for the show to begin, the local audience chattered amongst themselves about “how they knew Rudy.” Image

The chattered died down when Ramos took his place on stage for act one.  The play begins in 1886 Arizona as Geronimo prepares to surrender to the US government, and Ramos’s audience travels back in time and becomes Geronimo’s audience.  As the play progresses, it becomes apparent that Geronimo takes great pleasure in entertaining an audience.  An enraptured crowd who thought they came to see Rudy Ramos play Geronimo is instead taken on a journey through time, hosted by Geronimo, that begins at the warrior’s surrender in Arizona, and ends in Lawton, Oklahoma, 1909, shortly before his death.

Through Ramos, Geronimo is allowed to share his innermost thoughts with his audience.  We see more than just another side to Geronimo.  We are given access to his mind and his spirit so that we are able to understand who Geronimo really was and how he made the decision to surrender, not to give up, but to preserve the future of the Apache tribe.

Ramos’s brilliant performance was unquestionably worthy of the approval of Geronimo, himself.  To no one’s surprise, Ramos received a standing ovation, and afterwards was mobbed by audience members who wanted the chance to get autographs, pictures, and meet the man who took us all on a riveting journey that left every single person spellbound in the end.

To find out more about Geronimo, Life on the Reservation click hereTo learn more about the author, Janelle Meraz Hooper click here. To find out about the next High Chaparral Reunion click here.

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Exclusive for High Chaparral, Rudy Ramos, aka “Wind” Fans


“Geronimo, Life on the Reservation” is set to premiere in Tucson during the High Chaparral Reunion at the casino del Sol March 22, 2014.

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Rudy Ramos attended the 2013 High Chaparral Reunion last March at the Old Tucson Studios (where High Chaparral was filmed), in Tucson, Arizona.  While at the reunion, Rudy gave his very first reading of his one man performance of his own production of “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation.”

Rudy Ramos fans will be excited to know that his reading was recorded, and is available for viewing.  Rudy will be taking “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation,” on a nation wide tour that will premiere on March 22, 2014, during the High Chaparral Reunion at the casino del Sol. Tour dates are scheduled for Tombstone, Arizona, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, with more on the way, giving us all the opportunity to see the best adaptation of “Geronimo” ever!  Visit to get all of the most up-to-date information!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I give you Rudy Ramos reading from his very own “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation!”

A play by Janelle Meraz Hooper

Enjoy!

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Courtesy of the High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Rudy Ramas with fans, Sisters, JJ and Liz at a recent High Chaparral Reunion. Courtesy of The High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

Rudy Ramas with fans, Sisters, JJ and Liz at a recent High Chaparral Reunion. Courtesy of The High Chaparral Reunion page on Facebook

High Chaparral Fans please visit the High Chaparral Reunion website!  Be sure to register for the 2014 reunion!  The reunion is held in Tucson, Arizona at ‘Old Tucson Studios’ where High Chaparral was filmed in March or April.  Fans will enjoy private luncheons with cast members, a cocktail meet and greet, a trail ride, and many other fun and memorable activities.  This event will be a vacation of a life time for High Chaparral fans! Visit the website and register for the reunion here.

If you are on Facebook, please visit and “like” the High Chaparral Reunion page.   Penny is there every day, posting memories, old and new, and keeping fans up to speed on all of the latest HC  “must know” news!  High Chaparral Reunion Page on Facebook.

. . .but I can’t keep from losin our tickets to the Rolling Stones. . .


I think it was 1996.  Jerry and I were supervisors together at a local business. I guess we were both still young enough to hang out with folks from work. . . something that I stopped doing years ago.

The Rolling Stones were coming to Owen Field at the University of Oklahoma and several of us decided to go as a group.  Jerry opted for a party bus so that we could drink and not be concerned with driving.  Thinking about all of this puts me in mind of how much I have aged just since the nineties, because we went to see the Stones on a party bus — on a work night!!  We were older, true, but in retrospect, not yet wiser!

Jerry entrusted the security of the tickets to me. And I in turn, promptly had them stolen! I can’t remember how many of us had tickets, but I do remember that I had them all! Jerry was a long time local business man who was taking a brief break from operating the family business when we met.  Jerry had the good sense to purchase the tickets with his credit card, so he was able to have the stolen Stones tickets replaced and waiting for us at will call when the party bus dropped us off at the stadium.

The stadium was packed and all concert goers were herded beneath the bleachers like cattle both coming and going.  Our original tickets were on the 50 yard line a few rows back from the tickets that replaced the stolen ones. The new ones were much better because there was a second stage in the middle of the stadium and our seats were on the same row as that second stage. So we got to see Mick Jagger perform so close to us that we could see the groupies toss their undergarments to him as he sweated, danced, and sang to the crowd.

I was not going to let the people who stole the original tickets off the hook so easily. So on the way to our seats, I stopped at the original seats and approached the one who was seated in mine. She was someone I knew from Oklahoma City and she had the audacity to tell me that she had those tickets for over a month. I could see the guilt well up in her face when I was able to name the precise time and place when she got those tickets only a few days earlier.

As far as I was concerned, the group of people who stole the tickets should be escorted in shame out of the venue. But Jerry intervened. He just wanted to have a good time and let the issue of the original tickets go.  I didn’t like it, but I was a women in my early thirties who had two kids, at a Rolling Stones Concert with a bunch of coworkers on a party bus! I had a mid-life coming of age moment and I dropped the issue, thus most likely preventing my own homicide!

Cheryl Crow opened and then she and Mick sang a song or two together, and then the Stones performed.

A good time was had by all. . .

Our Own Private Amusement Park (Eagle Park, Cache, Oklahoma)


Mountain Park 1997 - Back side of tunnel

Mountain Park 1997 – Back side of tunnel (Photo credit: Spatch)

Park Theatre Neon Sign - McMinnville, TN

Park Theatre Neon Sign – McMinnville, TN (Photo credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent))

Asbury Park & Clowns

Asbury Park & Clowns (Photo credit: pam’s pics-)

eagle park(We Made a Memory)

In the mid-eighties my best friend and I were young single moms with a total of four kids; I one, her three, and we had a few years left before either of us knew that our mix was going to welcome three new members to usher in the next generation.  Our families blended nicely — so nicely, that we are convinced that our kids probably grew up believing that they were cousins.

Our best times were mostly spur of the moment ideas, like the time when we found ourselves at  the annual “Lions Club” Carnival that had set up in the parking lot at the mall on a gloriously sunny afternoon in May, when we spontaneously piled into her 84 Delta 88 and set out to have some fun.   The two of us were standing at the carousel watching as the ride went  round and round; as our kids went up and down on their painted pony of choice.  The moment was as magical as the music, and thoughts of holding on to a fleeting moment in time didn’t occur.

The idea came to me that this place was costing us too much money, so we decided to leave, and in about a half an hour we were pulling into an empty parking lot at the virtually forgotten Eagle Park in Cache, Oklahoma.  Eagle Park was once the epicenter of fun for those living in southwest Oklahoma. Now, in the eighties, the momentum was already fading — so for this old amusement park to revive itself for what may have been its very last time ( for all I  know), was truly spectacular. Our kids were full of enthusiasm and excitement because we were an adventurous bunch, so while they never knew what to expect from “us moms,” they did know that whatever we were going to do was going to be packed with treasured moments that would linger in their memories for a life time.

The five of them were curious and I, self-assured, as we seemed to cross an invisible bridge,  into a place that was made just for us to enjoy on that day, in that moment.  We were in the midst of shut down old wooden food stands with faded red and blue paint, that offered food for our spirits and not for our bodies.  There were rides standing still and the children gazed. So did we.

An older man (perhaps in his fifties or sixties) with gray hair, and wearing blue jeans,a western shirt, and cowboy boots came out of the office of the old place. He seemed to be expecting us.  The park came alive, one ride at a time. The kids were overjoyed as they ran from the swings, to the twist-a-whirl as one lone operator and six park guests chattered and laughed in a truly golden moment that must have always been planned for us to be there — on that day, in that time,  when a treasure simply presented itself to us and we took it.

Eagle Park is an Oklahoma Ghost town now.  The first bunch of kids, and the second are all grown and making their own memories with their own families and best friends.  One left us early, when he was twenty. Until today, in this moment, I hadn’t thought a lot about that moment.  The time when we had our own private amusement park; and we made a memory.

Our Perfect Summer


Summer 2009Image

(Our perfect summer)

I’ll always remember the long balmy evenings in our backyard,

When daylight lingered past nine o’clock.

Me, on the lawn chair, sitting cross legged in the shade,

drinking plain iced tea from a wide mouth mason jar.

 

I’ll always remember you, cooking burgers on our favorite old charcoal grill

And how good they tasted, making us all rave;

The sweet watermelon juice dripping from my chin…and you laughing cause I walked around with a seed stuck to my leg!

I’ll always remember knowing that this is the taste of harmony on

Our slow, easy summer nights winding down from busy, hectic summer days.

Drowsy song birds rested quietly, amongst the rustling leaves,

While the soft, cool, night breezes gently rocked us to sleep.

Little Hostage Girl


When I was nine years old a prisoner escaped from the reformatory on the outskirts of town. My little brother Hooby, who was six at the time, thought we should thread a wire across the bottom of the threshold.

“That way when he tries to get in the house he’ll trip and fall and we can club him with the baseball bat, tie him up, and haul him off to jail!” Hooby said.

“Hooby, that’s stupid!” I said.

“He probably won’t even come to our house anyway cause our dad’s the deputy sheriff. And if he does come to our house none of us are strong enough to take him!”

“I am!” said Hooby. “And Daddy is too! And Daddy can shoot him with his policeman gun! Pow pow!!”

“Daddy’s not here dummy.” I said. “And I know how brave you are. You ran home screamin and cryin when Mrs. Delaney’s Chihuahua chased you home from school.”

“Awe, you don’t know nuthin,” said Hooby.

Then he just plopped himself down in the big arm chair and pulled his knees to his chest, placed his chin on his fists, and sat with a scowl on his face.

Just then I heard the back door creak open and the screen door slam. Hooby and I were home by ourselves since Daddy was working. We didn’t know where our mom was. She left us a long time ago.

“What was that?” Hooby asked.

“A noise. Duh.” I said.

Then we heard footsteps. They sounded like big feet to me. Like the heavy sound a boot makes when it’s being worn by a grown man and being walked across a wood floor. The footsteps got louder and closer and Hooby ran and hid behind a curtain while I stood frozen; I was like a deer in the headlights if ever there was one. When the predator at last made his appearance he didn’t look anything like I’d imagined. He was a tall, man, with a slender build. He had salt and pepper hair with more pepper than salt and the oddest style I have ever seen. His hair was cut short and parted on the side and careful styled with hairspray (obviously), so that the front sticks out like a cliff about four or five inches from the forehead. He was wearing a tanned uniform with freshly polished cowboy boots, a gun in a holster and a badge.

“Daddy.” I said.

“Well yeah. You look like you thought it might be somebody else.” He said.

Hooby came out from behind the curtains.

“We thought you were the man who escaped from the reformatory, Daddy.”

“I’m sorry I scared you kids. I just wanted to come home and see if everything was all right here at the house. Now I don’t want you to worry about anything. Just keep the doors locked. I’ve got somebody watchin the house at all times. I wish I could stay home with ya’ll, but I can’t. I have to work. I have to help catch this guy and put him back where he belongs.”

“Daddy” I said. “What did he do?”

“He killed a man who walked in on a 7-11 he was robbing in Angleton.” Dad said.

“I thought they gave you death row for that, daddy” Hooby said.

Hooby and I were more familiar with some aspects of the criminal justice system because dad kept up with everything that was going on with it, so we were always exposed to it.

“Hoob” This escapee, Bobby Plant (that’s his name), did get the death penalty for his crime. But last year the death penalty was declared to be against the law. So all the people on death row got commuted to life.” Dad said.

“There’s a life row?” Hooby asked.

“Not exactly.” Dad said.” It’s called life because it means that’s how long a person will probably be in prison.”

“How did he escape?” I asked.

“It appears he made some kind of false bottom in a laundry basket. He worked in the prison laundry. I just know he couldn’t have escaped if he was still on death row. All prisoners are worthless if you ask me. A bullet only costs twenty-five cents. I think they should all be lined up and shot right in the head. Problem solved.” Dad said.

Dad never had a problem saying exactly what he thought. His unique take on freedom of speech got him in trouble on more than one occasion in his life. Dad carefully walked around the house checking to make sure all the windows and doors were secure. Then he went outside and walked all around the house with his really really bright policeman flashlight that is not only good for seeing in the dark, but also for busting windows, heads, or whatever needs busted.

I was trying to watch Dad from the backdoor of the laundry room, but it was too dark. Then I saw the door to the shed open and sure enough someone peaked out as if to see if the coast was clear. I knew they couldn’t see me from where I was watching. The shed door closed again and I knew I needed to act quickly.

“First, I need to tell Dad.” I said to myself as I put my plan into action. “Then I need to call the police. And Hooby. He needs to hide some place safe. But where?” My mind was all over the place. “Oh I know. I’ll send him over to Mrs. Delaney’s.”

Hooby had fallen asleep in the big arm chair while he was watching “The Carol Burnett Show.”

“I may have to pour water on him to wake him up.” I thought.” “Hooby. Wake up! Do you understand me. Wake up now!!”

I shook him and he started to stir. Whew.

“What’s wrong?” Hooby asked.

“You need to get your shoes on and run out the front door and run to Mrs. Delaney’s house as fast as you can. Tell her I sent you and I’ll explain later. Can you do that?”

“Yeah” Hooby said.

He was sleepy, but he understood the urgency and he got out the door fast and ran down the street.

“I should call the police now.” I thought. “Then I’ll find dad. That way if anything goes wrong the police will be on their way.”

After I called the police, I quietly crept around back to see where dad was. It was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I figured I’d see his flashlight and find him easy enough. When I spotted Dad, he was just about to open the door to the shed where I saw Bobby Plant hiding a few minutes earlier. I knew dad was careful, but I figured if he knew the guy was in there it would eliminate the element of surprise.

“Daddy” I said quietly.

I didn’t want to startle him.

“Katy!” What are you doing out here? Get back in the house. I’ll talk to you inside.”

“No!” I said with a sense of urgency that at least made him pay attention to me.

Dad walked a little closer to me and I whispered to him what I saw. I didn’t want there to be any chance that Bobby Plant would know we were on to him or that his hideout was a deputy sheriff’s shed.

“You did good, Katy. Now run on in the house and call down to Mrs. Delaney’s and make sure Hooby made it down there okay.”

I went back inside through the laundry room and as quick as I stepped inside I was captured like a Venus fly trap catches a fly. I never saw it coming. Suddenly my short small body was being held against a larger body and his big hand easily covered my mouth and nose and it smelled like salt and dirt. About the same time I saw the flashing lights of the police cars outside. It was starting to look like Dad and the other cops were going to open the shed and find the same thing Geraldo Rivera found years later when he opened Al Capone’s vault.

“You need to keep quiet kid, if you like breathin. You dig what I’m sayin.” Bobby said. “I’m gonna let you go and when I do you don’t run away and you don’t scream.”

I nodded that I understood.

“What are ya doin in here?” I asked.

“I’m hungry. I came in to get somethin to eat.” Bobby said.

I cautiously walked over to the bread warmer on the stove with Bobby sticking very close and I took out a plate that my grandma had put in there to keep warm for my dad.

“It’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.” I said. “Me and my grandma snapped the beans ourselves. She taught me how. You better eat it quick though.

“Oh yeah. Why’s that?” Bobby said.

He asked the question with his mouth full while he was stuffing his face with the dinner that was meant for my dad. Dad was not going to be happy that a prisoner ate his supper.

“Cause you know you are gonna get caught soon and have to go back to the reformatory. You can’t stay out here anymore no matter how much you wish for it.”

“Is that so little darlin? And what makes you think you know so much about what I can and can’t do?” Bobby said.

He was finishing up his plate of food and I rinsed it off in the sink. Neither Bobby nor I realized it, but the police spotted us in the house and were surrounding the entire house with men. The phone rang.

“Don’t answer that.” Bobby said.”

“I have too.” I said. “Otherwise if it’s my dad he’ll get worried and come inside. “Hello?”

“Katy. It’s your daddy. Try not to be scared. We’re gonna catch Plant. We see him. Does he have any weapons that you can see, honey?”

“No, daddy.” I said.

“That’s good.” Dad said. “You just sit tight. This won’t take long. I love you.”

“I love you too, Daddy. Bye.” I said.

Bobby and I sat down at the dining room table. Sitting there at the table with Bobby Plant made me feel the dichotomy of the situation although at the time I wouldn’t have explained it just that way. Our dining room with its round oak table and white linen napkins and tassels on the curtains was the safest and warmest place I knew. Now I was sitting here with a deadly criminal and I was his hostage. I was in the most danger I had ever been in as long as I’d been alive. Some how I managed to keep Bobby engaged in conversation which distracted him from worrying about getting captured. He didn’t even notice when two officers came in from behind and grabbed him before he ever knew they were there. I’m glad they didn’t have to shoot him.

That was a long night for me and for dad. Until now, I don’t suppose I have ever told anyone about that night. I just hadn’t thought about it. Dad still thinks we oughta just shoot prisoners in the head and be done with them. Some people just refuse to change I guess.

Haze of Glory


This is a story that I like, but I have never revised.  This is nothing more than an old rough draft that is still in need of much revision.  Feedback is welcome —  I thought that if I  posted my sstory in its rough  form,  that perhaps I  might be inspired to resume my work on it, and give it a good polishing.

Haze of Glory

Piggly Wiggly

 I saw the sunlight through my eyelids so I knew it was morning. I slept in the alley behind the Piggly Wiggly with my back propped up against the wall. My long hair and mustache were matted with drool and vomit. I looked around my and saw the two empty pints of vodka I drank the night before. I realized I was tightly gripping another and was relieved to find a good corner left to give me a little relief from the shakes. I took the last swig and tossed the bottle. I always hate the overwhelming feeling of guilt I get when I start to sober up a little bit. My ex-wife is driving our daughter down to Florida this weekend where she’s goin to grad school. They shouldn’t have to be makin the trip alone. I pulled a picture of my daughter out of my wallet. In it she’s about six or seven and the way she’s posed she looks like she’s getting ready to report the news.

“This is Nicole Hawkins reporting for Kid News.”

That picture always makes me smile, ya know? But Nicole just graduated from college a couple of weeks ago. She’s a pretty girl with honey blond hair and big brown cow-eyes like mine. My sister Donna used to tell me I had cow-eyes. Nicole is athletic like me too. I played football all through school. Nicole is a figure skater.

“Shit,” I thought. “I gotta get a drink. Damn. It’s Sunday.”

Liquor stores are closed on Sunday in Oklahoma. As usual, I bought a pint to save for Sunday, but I drank it. I felt around in the pockets of my wranglers to see if I had enough money for a six pack of beer. I knew I desperately needed to eat, but I needed a drink a lot worse. Eating was futile anyway. The longer I chewed the bigger food got in my mouth. Swallowing food is next to impossible. And no way could I keep it down. I was so sick that even my eyelashes hurt.

I decided not to waste my change on piss water. Beer didn’t even have enough alcohol to make me mad. I had just enough change for a 64 ounce bottle of Dollar Store listo. I paid the cashier for the mouthwash and went back to my spot and lit a cigarette. I must’ve puked a gallon. My gut convulsed and I heaved uncontrollably—partly from the alcohol poisoning and partly from the thought of drinking the listo. I started gagging wildly from the pit of my stomach all the way up through my esophagus and the puke shot out of my mouth and nose like a polluted water fountain at the thought what I was about to do. Stomach acid burned my nostrils and tears poured from my red, swollen eyes. After a few minutes I composed myself enough to crack open the listo and I swallowed about half the bottle in a single chug. That shit is so god awful I had to swig as much as I could in one gulp just to get it over with. The terrible concoction I just deliberately ingested hit my stomach like a sledge hammer. My stomach started convulsing violently again. My body rejected the listo, but I had to force myself to keep it down. The wretched sensation in my body made me want to shit, puke or die, but I didn’t know which. I had to keep it down. Easiness came over me after several agonizing moments, and I knew relief was at hand. A toxic liquid current flowed through my veins and eased the nagging demon that tortured my soul until I gave my body what it demanded.

Sweet Leaf

 I was 45 years old by the time I ended up drinking listo behind the Piggly Wiggly in Tulsa. I tried to stand up, but I just kept falling back down, so  finally just gave up and lay there face down, taking up six feet and four inches of alley space from my size 12 hiking boots to my Dallas Cowboy cap that waited beside me like a loyal friend to go back on my head. In a stupor I had visions and thoughts of my life.

“Hawk!”

I heard my sister Donna’s best friend Laurie calling me. I was fourteen years old and in the ninth grade during the fall of 1976. Donna and Laurie pulled Donna’s 69 Cougar up beside me as I walked down Melrose Lane in Oklahoma City. I was coming home from football practice. “Hey Bubba! Hop in! Let’s go for a ride!.” Donna said. She opened her door and pulled her seat forward and motioned for me to get in the backseat. Laurie was rolling a joint. Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath was blasting over the speakers. Donna was two years older than me and I thought she was so cool. She was tall and pretty with long blond hair. All the boys in school wanted to go out with her and the girls all wanted to be friends with her. I didn’t know where I fit in yet, but I sure did look up to my sister back then. I crawled into the backseat of Donna’s Cougar and I smoked my first joint. It was also Donna who gave me my first hit of acid and my first shot of heroin. Donna went to prison when she was in her thirties for forging checks to get money for drugs. Oh, and her friend Laurie died of a drug overdose back in high school.

Getting high gave me a sense of confidence I hadn’t had before. I felt cool. I was making friends and I finally felt like I fit in somewhere. I was having fun too. When I was high I felt like there was an amusement park in my head.

Popeye and Popov

 Dad was an alcoholic. He quit drinking on his own when he was in his late forties and never touched another drop. I always thought that’s the way it would be for me too. That one day I would just quit like Dad did. I always looked up to dad. He was kind of like my hero I guess. Dad never did take shit off of nobody. One time at his work he got pissed off at his boss and he reared back and thrust his hands forward and shoved his boss’s desk over! I was home alone one afternoon and didn’t have any pot so I decided to improvise. I started lookin around for Dad’s stash and I found a fifth of Popov vodka hidden way back in the coat closet behind some Christmas paper and my sister’s old Mystery Date game. I poured myself a good glassful and replaced what I took from the bottle with water. If Dad noticed, he never said anything about it. I sat on the couch in the living room and drank vodka while I watched Brutus and Popeye duke it out over Olive Oyl on our family’s old 19 inch color portable. My first taste of alcohol gave me the sweetest sense of peace I had ever known. Smoking pot was great, but for me alcohol was exactly what I had been looking for all along. I know people say alcohol and drugs are different, but they’re not. Alcohol is the king of drugs. “

My Wife and Daughter

 I was married once. Carly and I met in high school. But the first time I ever saw her was when we were both about nine or ten years old at her dad’s filling station. I was with my mom when she pulled in there to get gas. A pretty barefoot girl in cut-off jeans and dirty feet pumped the gas and she must have made an impression because I never did forget her. When Carly and I did start dating I noticed that she bit her fingernails and I said something about it. A couple of weeks later her nails were growing out and polished and she keeps them nice to this day. That’s when I knew she loved me. I called her my Cinnamon girl cause she had the most gorgeous soft long cinnamon brown hair and these hypnotic emerald green eyes. We got married after graduation. Carly straightened up when she found out she was pregnant. She quit everything. Cigarettes, drugs, drinking—and after that her life was all about the baby. I didn’t change though. But I fell in love with my baby girl the day she was born. It was a frozen December that year and Carly and I lived in Medicine Park, Oklahoma. The roads and everything were iced over. Wouldn’t you know that would be the night Carly would go into labor? Her water broke and she woke me cause she thought she peed the bed.

“David! Wake up! I think I peed the bed!”

I didn’t even have gas in the car. The whole village was frozen over and I knocked on every door until I finally found someone who would give us a ride to the hospital. Yeah, in those days I believed I had a good life ahead of me. No one noticed that I slipped out of the hospital and made a quick dash to the liquor store for a pint of vodka. This damned addiction had such a hold on me that I chose it over my own daughter.

Behind Bars

 “David Hawkins.”

The jailer said.

I pried my eyes open and looked around, realizing I was in jail. Sick as hell I raised up from the bunk. “Yeah.” “Get up. You have to go before the judge.” I managed to crawl off of my bunk and follow the jailer to the booking room to see the judge. I didn’t remember getting arrested, but whatever I was charged with, I’m sure I did it. I’d been in jail hundreds of times and I knew the drill. Somehow, I had always managed to avoid being charged with a felony, but I have been in city and county jails from Lawton to Claremore. Judge Parrish presided. “Hawkins, when are you gonna cut out all of this nonsense? I’m getting kind of tired of seeing you in my courtroom.” “I plan to quit sir. I’m getting too old for this.” “Yes you are. I don’t think I have ever seen the same person come through my courtroom as many times as you have. I don’t want to see you anymore.” “Yes sir.” “You’re charged with public intoxication. How do you plead?” “No contest.” “$750 fine. You can pay the cashier at the court clerk’s office or sit the fine out in jail at five dollars a day. Send in Ronnie Johnson.” He told the jailer as I was dismissed back to my cell. I crawled back into my bunk and went to sleep. I knew I’d make trustee in a day or two and that would earn me $80 a day toward my fine. I’d be out in less than two weeks.

Most Likely To Succeed

 I was voted most likely to succeed in high school. I’ve always been an over achiever to compensate for my shortcomings. It’s the typical behavior of an alcoholic to be exceptional in whatever we do in hopes that no one will notice our faults. Fooling counselors and the otherpatients in treatment was easy for me. I’d been to treatment so many times I could run the program myself. I always knew I was going to drink as soon as I got out, but I still fooled everyone. I remember a time in group when one of the younger patients had something to say. “When I first got here, all I wanted to do was leave. But Hawk saw me sitting in a corner by myself and he reached out to me. He encouraged me not to give up. He told me I could make it if I would give it a chance. I just wanted to say Thanks Hawk. You’re all right, man.”

Guilt and Shame

 Guilt and Shame raged inside of me like cancer. Hate and alienation from loved ones happens as a result of the disease of alcoholism. If I had another disease, like pancreatic cancer or something my loved ones would be surrounding me, right? But alcoholism makes me do things that makes me feel guilty and ashamed and makes my family ashamed of me. I honestly don’t mean to do such terrible things, but they just happen. I have a lot of guilt because I was not there to raise my daughter. I always loved her and planned to take care of her. But I couldn’t stop doing what I was doing and she grew up so fast. My wife is the one who had to work and she took such good care of Nicole. I remember a rare time when I was at home alone with Nicole and the police came to pick me up on a warrant. “You’re not taking me anywhere until I get someone here to take care of my daughter.” I said. The police waited until my mom could get there to take my daughter. But it was only one of the countless times my little girl suffered the shame of watching her daddy being carted off to jail in handcuffs.

Taste of Sobriety

“You have to leave Hawk. The only thing you ever do is drink. And if you’re not drinking you’re tryin to find a way to get a drink. I’m not doin this anymore.” Carly said. I was 44 years old and sick to death of the way I was living my life.

“Just give me a chance. I’ll stop. I won’t do it anymore. If I do, then I’ll leave.”

Carly looked at me with an expression of disbelief.

“You do whatever the hell you want Hawk. I don’t give a damn. Drink. Don’t drink. Whatever you want. Just leave me the hell alone.”

“Just listen to me. Please. I need a ride to treatment in Watonga. I don’t know anyone else who can take me there. Even if you don’t want anything else to do with me, please will you take me to treatment?”

“Sure.” She said. “You wanna go right now?”

“I have an appointment for April 5.”

“Stop wasting my time, Hawk! That’s a week from now. By then you’ll be working on you’re next bunch of empty promises and lies.”

“This time is different Carly. I swear. I don’t want to do this anymore. The pint I drank today really was the last one. I can’t get into Watonga any sooner or I would. But I have already made up my mind not to drink anymore and I’m not going too.”

Carly did drive me to Watonga and I stayed sober for six months. It was the best six months of my life. I started my own cleaning business and was very successful. I built a large savings account got, my driver license, bought a car, and paid off old fines. I put as much effort into being sober as I ever did into drinking and I was good at it. In fact, I had been so good I decided to reward myself, so one night six months sober; I bought a pint to drink while I watched a pre-season Dallas Cowboys football game.

The Last Drink

 I needed to get a grip. “I’m David Hawkins. It’s Sunday June 15, 2008. I’m 45 years old and I’m drunk off my ass. I’m behind the Piggly Wiggly on Admiral in Tulsa.” I was starting to sober up. I passed out. “We need an ambulance out here.” The police were called when a guy from Piggly Wiggly brought out some trash. I had drunk myself unconscious before, but this time was different. I wasn’t unconscious, but I couldn’t tell anyone that I knew what was going on.

“Hey buddy! Wake up! I need to know if you can hear me.”

The paramedic was tapping on my face, but it felt numb like it does when you go to the dentist.

“I can hear you. I’m awake.” I thought, but the words wouldn’t come out.

“I can’t get a response.” The paramedic said. “Let’s load him up.”

At the emergency room charcoal was pumped in my stomach and mouthwash was pumped out. I drifted in and out of consciousness but I pretty much knew what was going on. After a few hours I finally talked to a doctor.

“Is your name David Hawkins?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m Dr. Walker.”

“What happened?”

“You know what happened. You damn near killed yourself drinking mouthwash and vodka. Your pancreas is shot which you probably already know. Chances are if you drink again you probably won’t survive. You need to stay here in the hospital because of your pancreatitis. You can’t have anything by mouth until we can get you stabilized. I’ll get you ready to move upstairs.”

The doctor was right. I had known for years that I had pancreatitis. I just didn’t really believe it was as bad as they all made it sound. I stayed in the hospital and got myself dried out. Then I borrowed a few dollars from a nurse and I left.

The bells above the door jingled to let the clerk know he had a customer.

“I’ll have a pint of 100 proof Tvarskey.”

I ducked along the side of the liquor store and cracked open the red cap. I guzzled the whole pint in one swallow like it was Kool-aid. I sat on the ground and pulled out my favorite picture of Nicole from my wallet. I stared at it for a long time both laughing and crying.

“This is Nicole Hawkins reporting for Kid News.”