Turning points mark a significant change in the history of a nation but I think also there are turning points in an individual's life. In my case, I suppose moving from my great grandmother's to live with my aunt and uncle was a turning point in my life.
At nine years of age I was silly and rambunctious in my behavior and was too much for my sixty eight year old great grandmother to handle. She having broken a few rulers over my back was not able to reprove my recalcitrant ways. I was stupid and foolish and needed a man in my life who could bare down hard on me like a strong father should whose son was walking in the way of death.
At some point in the course of my life my social worker Mr. Francois through his communications and meetings with my great grandmother, must have suggested that my great grandmother Lois Northington put me up for adoption or move me to a foster home. In the providence of God neither of two choices was to be. Instead, my aunt and uncle decided to take me into their care which was a good thing for me because I needed some discipline and my aunt and uncle were more than willing to implement this much needed instruction. Discipline has been defined as "the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience."
When living with my great grandmother my experience with religion was minimal. I did attend a local church called Faith Baptist Church down the road from where I lived but I never remember anybody telling me how to become a Christian and telling me the story of the cross and why Jesus died on Calvary. I do remember singing "Jesus Loves Me This I know" and "I Will Make You Fishers Of men."
I guess my move from Stockton, CA to Union City, Ca took place sometime in the summer of 1967. I moved to a place called Seven Hills probably named after the Seven Hills of Rome. Facing Seven Hills you could see a large Brick building known as The Masonic Home if my memory serves me correctly. It was here that I enjoyed my years from nine to twelve until we moved to Fremont, CA during my seventh grade school year. As I mentioned earlier my experience with religion was minimal living with my great grandmother and the same could be said when I lived with my aunt and uncle. They did take me to a Methodist church I believe in a city called Newark but again I never remember hearing the gospel story of Jesus and his love and salvation from sin. I remember singing in the choir and I remember seeing bingo played among the church folks on several occasions.
Some of my first friends I recall meeting was a guy named Mike and a girl named Pamela Mays. Pamela Mays was sort of a tom boy but an attractive sort who was tall for her age. She could run as fast or faster than me and she lived just up the hill. One of her friends was a gal named Nancy Hernandez who I later visited with a high school bud named Mike Curetin who loved photography. We visited Pam and Nancy during my senior year.
A few other friends I hung out with while living in Union City were Jim Rothman, Paul Lewis, Steve Barnhart and Jerry Alatorre Jim Rothman and I did some of our homework assignments together but he associated with his next door neighbor Paul Lewis quite a bit. Paul had an older brother and an older sister or two if I recall. Paul wasn't much for sports like I was but he was really in to go carts, mini-bikes and things mechanical. While I was playing sports and dreaming about being a professional athlete Paul was learning some valuable more practical skills like how things worked. I'm sure he must have done well vocationally after high school. Paul also knew how to play his brother's drum set. Except for singing in the church choir music for me would not be something I knew much about until high school when my pastor's wife Ada Doolittle taught me to play the piano.
Regarding my friend Jerry, I learned several months ago that Jerry Alatorre passed away July 14, 2006 from complications related to diabetes. He was 49 when he left this world. I'll always remember Jerry as one of my closest friends when I lived in Seven Hills. Jerry lived in the court above me but he usually came down to my house to play in my court. We would always play touch football or basketball around the house and Jerry was an outstanding athlete. I remember once his father came over with Jerry and met my uncle Ron and we stood around the basketball court that my uncle made next to our house. Jerry made more shots than he missed when we played "around the world" and he followed professional sports like I did which was one of my consuming passions.
I was guilty of idolatry at an early age and didn't even know it. I've posted many of my letters to my great grandmother which were written when I lived with my aunt Jerina and uncle Ronnie (also known as Jeri and Ron) and if you could see the original copies of these letters you would see a vast improvement in my handwriting and spelling.
It took time and years of development before my grades were pretty much A's and B's. Actually, now that I think of it during my first year living at my new home in Union City, Ca my grades went from C's and D's to C's and B's. This was in fourth grade when I attended an elementary school in Union City by the name of Decoto. I think my teacher's name was Monte Rey or something close to that.
On at least a few occasions I remember having to write out on paper I will not talk in class or some such misbehavior. Back in those days this was how you supposedly learned not to do an unwanted action. After writing 50 or 100 sentences "I will not talk in class or disturb others" your hand/arm might start feeling the pain of this action and this told your brain to shape up or you could expect to write out more sentences again in the future. However, nothing worked like a good swat or two or three on my butt. It seems my aunt on a few occasions took a belt to my bare derriere and gave me something I would never forget including a red bottom. It hurt so much I must have let out a loud cry. Today most parents don't spank their children and that is unfortunate because we see the results of non-corporal discipline. I'm thankful to God for the few spankings I did receive because they did me more good than harm. My butt may have been sore for a while but I did learn discipline even if it was the hard way. I remember bringing home my first report cards and hearing something to the effect that my grades had better improve or else. I wasn't sure I wanted to experience the "or else". It seems after that little talk about my grades that my grades did improve. This was my aunt and uncle's expectation and this is what happened.
In fifth grade I attended a school called El Rancho Verde and my teacher's name was Miss Dawson. She had thick red hair and wore these black rimmed glasses. I remember one of my best report cards was from fifth grade and it was all A's except one B+. To get such grades wasn't easy. I put in many hours of homework and study but with the help of my aunt and uncle I learned how to study and get good grades and there's nothing wrong with that in itself. Some of the changes I experienced seemed dramatic to me and this included not just in academics and homework but in house work as in household chores.
I suppose my aunt made a list for me that she expected me to do but as I recall here is a run down on most of the chores I did around the house. Bedroom- Made my bed, dusted the dressers and desk and vacuumed the floor. Bathroom- Cleaned the sinks, toilet and bathtub using comet or ajax. Livingroom- Vauumed rug and dusted furniture Kitchen- set table for meals, cleared the table and washed the dishes. Swept and mopped the floor. Garbage- Emptied trash in garbage and lined garbage can with newspapers. (Today we have large plastic bags instead) Yards- Picked up dog manure from back yard, mowed and clipped grass around perimeters. Mowed front yard and edged around the yard. Swept up grass along the sidewalk. Hillside-Every so often when the iceplant grew onto the sidewalk I would use the hand clippers to cut the iceplant back off the sidewalk. The yards were done on Saturdays when I wasn't in school and same with the livingroom and bathroom and bedroom but the kitchen chores and making my bed was a daily thing. All of this work was some thing good the Lord was preparing for me that I didn't even see because in 1988 I launched a junk removal service that required a lot of physically hard work and that is the business I started called Paul's Ez Haul but was later changed when I moved to Hollywood, CA in 1996.
Living with my aunt and uncle wasn't all work to be honest. We traveled to some fun and exciting places during the summer months since they were both school teachers and had the summer off. In 1968 we visited Carl's Bad Caverns in New Mexico and I recall one time seeing thousands of bats flying outside the cave at about sundown. We also visited at least once The Grand Canyon located in Arizona. Another place we visited several times was Yosemite National Park in California. I'll never forget seeing the fire falls around 1967. In the evening when it was dark you could see at the top of Glacier Point what looked like a red and yellow waterfall coming down the mountain. I'm guessing you can perhaps buy postcards with photos of this historical event but I'm not certain. I do recall hiking and camping out during the summer months at Yosemite as well as other national parks.
My uncle Ron was a high school coach and so he taught me how to play several sports including baseball, football and basketball. I was familiar with baseball growing up with my great grandmother but I think football and basketball was something new to me. I loved sports and did pretty well at it. We played flag football in sixth grade. I wasn't the fastest runner but I knew how to dash quickly in and out of the opposing players so I could gain some yardage.
I also learned how to swim for the first time while living with my aunt and uncle. My aunt Jeri took me to the Hayward Plunge several times. I also remember entering a library perhaps for my first time and discovering the wonderful world of books. It was later on that I would develop an interest in reading.
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching. See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at [email protected]