A Rainbow Over

the Ghetto

by Robert A. Pauley. From "A Circle of Blood".

"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs,
and if no man objected and no man rebelled,
those wrongs would last forever
Clarence Darrow, Attorney for the Damned

A rainbow appeared over the skies of the ghetto on May 9, 1956. On this day a beautiful baby boy was born - George Curtis Cook, Jr. - and they came to call him Beau. "Bo" for short. Like a rose in a junkyard, God had a very special destiny planned for this child.

But was he to "escape" the poverty and the hardship of a typical ghetto youth. No, nothing quite so simple as that. The story of Bo Cook begins with a rainbow and it ends with th story of Death Row Inmate Paul William Scott.

Just how did this transformation take place?

The only home Paul William Scott has ever known, outside of the courtrooms and the jails cells, is the ghetto. "I suffered a nervous breakdown at age 9," Bo - the child - told me, "Doctors, psychiatrists, thorazine..." That was the day his Dad drove away with the only future Bo might ever have known.

Bo's Dad was a career Navy man so he was growing up here, there and everywhere until 1960 when his world began to fall apart. That was when his Dad left his Mom, and she was forced to move into a all-black (almost) housing project in Alameda, California, for the poor.

"I was seven then", Bo recalls. "That was the beginning of the end for me." With his Mom stuggling with two menial jobs there was nowhere near the income necessary to raise Bo and his two older sisters, Glenda and Valerie. Bo had been sexually and physically abused during this early childhood which left him withdrawn to the point of "borderline retardation".

"Guess I was sort of a "Forrest Gump" kind of guy", says Bo, recalling his childhood. "If you don't know where you're goin', you probably ain't never gonna get there." "My parents both smoked and drank heavily so I probably entered into this world in a haze. I suffered from learning disabilities at school, and I wasn't exactly a model kid."

"My Mom's Mom had disowned her because she married my Dad, and now he had left us."

Alameda - the housing pruject from Hell - had cardboard-thin walls, with no glass in any of the windows. It was poverty, wall to wall. There was no such thing as welfare or food stamps back then (1963). After Bo's Dad left he never was much help to the family. We tried so hard to make ends meet, but they never did.

We spent weeks eating oatmeal for breakfast, beans and potatoes for dinner," Bo remembers,...So when Mom would send me to the stores I would stuff fruit pies down into my pants." This was the beginning of Bo's life of crime. "Everybody in the projects did it, course that don't make it right."

None of the neighbor kids would play with Bo, as he was "white trash", and they were all black. And then came Al Carl, Bo's Stepfather. "He got me a basset hound namned "Caesar" and we bacame 100% close. He walked me to school and waited for me to come out and walk me back home." "When it rained we made swimming pools out of the mudholes. Mom would hose us off, calling us her little mudpies. She tried not to spank us, but it didn't always work out."

"Caesar slept in the same bed as me." By now a baby brother - Junior - had arrived as Al Carl departed, thrown out from his womanizing and gambling. "He was 6`3", 240 pounds and looked like Elvis - very handsome but very rotten."

In 1965, when Bo was nine, his Dad showed up - about ready to retire from the Navy. "Shiny new car, sleek uniform, my heart jumped for joy - he was going to "rescue" me. And sister Valerie, maybe her too," thought Bo. Back to his farm near Pensacola, Florida would have been a dream come true for young Bo. "For a short while we lived on a Texas ranch and I came to love the animals. I became so excited."

Mom had agreed to let me go, then not without Valerie, and then again, maybe not. They argued all week long - secretly Mom thought he'd come back to her if she made it hard to take me."

"Poor people don't have suitcases so Mom helped me to pack a paper bag of my shabby belongings, as the day arrived for me to begin a new life in Florida. Then it happened. From our broken out window, I looked to see that road outa here I'd soon be rinding on. To my surprise I saw my Dad riding out, taking my dog Caesar with him. Caesar was in the back seat going nuts - jumping all around."

"I ran outside screaming hysterically, he left me, that's my dog, please come back". Into a rage of pain and panic I exploded and had to be taken to the base hospital where I was sedated with a tranquilizer." If it wasn't the end of the world for little Bo, it surely should have been.

"Mom met a man at the hospital named Indian George and he told her about welfare and, better yet, he agreed to help her. He even drove us all 500 miles south in his green DeSoto to Long Beach, California, where his sister lived. It was a housing project as before but this one was much nicer."

"Welfare! RN classes for Mom! And I became a runaway pain-in-the-ass problem kid. My life really ended for me that day when Dan drove away with Caesar."

"Mom took me to Dr. Kagan who gave me 1.50 dollars for a Taco Bell lunch - that was big time bucks for me back then. They couldn't control me, Hell, i couldn't control myself. So they put me on Thorazine - behavior medicine. All it did was make me sleep. I broke the taillights out of one teacher's car for waking me and got kicked out of the whole district."

"My first real friend here was Paul Bernard - a cool kid and part Indian like me. And he was also on this same strange medicine that puts a mean streak in you. He called it "bug juice" for crazy people and so we soon stopped taking it. I had taken it for a full 2 years and one doctor said later that it might have been responsible for my low IQ and borderline retardation."

"Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is"! was all over the television back then, with Alka-Selzer, Anacin, Bayer, Bufferin - you name it - touting the benfits of all these drugs. The message it was sending to me was "Wow, drugs cure!" Alcohol too. Betty Ford was on pills and alcohol and Liz Taylor and all these real cool people. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison - my kind of people - were all dropping like flies. We didn't know why, Paul and me, but we needed a fix from all our hurting deep down inside - a little something for the pain."

"We began experimenting with everything we could get our hands on, pills of every kind. They only made us more violent and we knew they were not the answer for us. The flower children across the Bay from Alameda - San Fransisco - were preaching love and peace...and lsd. Hmmm, we thought, will this cure our misery? We decided to "trip" but one at a time to protect each other from any strange reactions. Paul took 6 hits of "Orange Sunshine" which was enough for 12 people and he was gone. That was 2 a.m. Come sunrise he was bare-butt naked running up and down the nightborhood and I couldn't catch him or calm him. he thinks he's Jesus Christ and that this is the second coming. It was funny, funny to watch, but oh, so sad, our little wasted lives."

"With Paul in jail another kid, Eugene, gives me my first hit of lsd in the daytime for safety. I can handle it, I'm a tough kid. We spent 2 to 3 months on pot and lsd then I flipped out bad. My sis Glenda had her own apartment by now and I stayed there mostly. On the bad trip they had to tie me up to keep me from jumping out the window. God, how I wished they would have just let me go." "I spent a year after that a complete basket case - paranoid, screwed up."

"Then I met Reggie - a Puerto Rican. He introduced me to heroin. By now I had tried every drug out there but heroin - hey, that was me, Bro! It was really me. On it I felt the coolest nothingless - physically and emotionally - that I had been searching for. I could lay my head down into my chest and be totally aware - but not there. I could see but not feel. I could hear but without knowing what was said."

"This wasn't psychological like pot or lsd but pure. Heroin gave me the "escape" I had been looking for - though I hdidn't know why or from what, and I was to find out too late. There ain't no good drugs, I know now, but how do you tell a poor lost and lonely kid in the ghetto "This is as good as it's ever gonna get?"

"In 1970 I went to visit my father in Pensacola. I was 13 years old. The first night here he attempted to sexually assault me. I ran down the stairs screaming. My aunts and uncle all came over and Aunt Kitty said "I knew it - I knew he would do this." Years later I learned Mom divorced him "cause he was molesting me and Glenda. I went to Pensacola cause I was a "screw-up" but I returned home even worse!"

"Sometimes the ugliness
of humankind is too painful to bear,"

Paul William Scott, A Circle of Blood

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