When I returned home to Sunbury I found out that my brother and his friends were involved in the drug culture. My brother and a black friend that I remember as “Huck” tried their best to lure me into taking drugs. I firmly told them that I would never touch that stuff but I would go out drinking with them. I remember that Huck and I became good friends and we would go to all black bars and I would be the only white person. Huck told me that if anyone ever messed with me he would take care of them. Within a short time I made friends there and was welcome from then on. There were a few people who had strong prejudice and didn't associate with me, but not many.
I remember one time that my brother and I were in a bar in Shamokin which was about 25 miles from Sunbury, and we decided to run down to Sunbury to get a drink. My brother bet me that I could not make it in ten minutes. At that time I had a Ford Galaxy 500 with a 390 engine under the hood, so I accepted his bet. I came to a dead stop outside Shamokin and then hit the gas pedal and didn't let up until we hit a bar we were going to outside the town. That trip took about seven minutes and forty-five seconds. My brother was sweating it all the way, and I know he was glad it was over. That wasn't the only time I drove drunk and foolish like that. One another occasion I was driving about 75 miles and hour and my drivers side front tire went flat and threw the vehicle I was driving over into the oncoming lane. By the grace and mercy of God no cars were close enough to hit me and I was able to pull the vehicle to a stop on the berm without overturning. On several occasions I would decide to run from our home town to Williamsport for the last drink of the evening before they closed up. That was thirty-three miles and I drove it at 120 miles per hour stone drunk. I don't remember how I ever made it alive. I felt that sometimes I didn't even see the road; I was that drunk. Another time my drive shaft fell off while I was
was taking a curve. It was good that I had slowed down a lot for the curve
because if I hadn't the drive shaft could have possibly lifted the car off the road and overturned it. Once more God had his hand on me protecting me.
So I stayed with alcohol initially and would not have anything to do with my brother and his friends drug parties. That all changed when two women moved to Sunbury to be close to their husbands who were in the Lewisburg Penitentiary. Somehow I was in the right place at the right time to help them move their stuff. I remember one of them was named Laura, and she was very attractive to me, and that was the main reason that I helped them. I didn't know they were both married and thought I could get close to Laura.
After we moved their stuff they broke out a few joints of marijuana and offered me to join them in smoking it. The devil knew my weakness was women, and he was right because I just could not resist that offer from Laura. It didn't take long for us to finish off the few joints they had so I took them over to my brother's house to see if we could get some more. What I had smoked didn't affect me at all. When we got to my brother's house I had to identify myself before he would open the door. Inside were people sitting or laying all over the place and the smoke was hanging from the ceiling about two inches thick. Some people were alert, but a few of them were passed out. I told my brother that I tried dope for the first time that day and he yelled, “Hey everybody, let's party! My brother tried dope for the first time today!” He was overjoyed, and we smoked pot and drank beer until one o'clock the next morning before I got off on it. When it all hit me, I was in la la land instantly, and from that time on I decided that I would get in on this good thing. That lasted through six years, as I went from marijuana and keif and hashish to uppers and downers and acid to finally snorting crystal. I stayed high all day and every day that I could. We partied seven days a week in my brother's house. I moved in and we ran the streets and partied together, so to make
money we unloaded trucks at the Weis Markets warehouse. We made from $40 to $50 a load and occasionally made more unloading one truck. We made enough to pay rent, eat and party, and after a while we needed more cash so my brother and I dealt drugs on the streets that we would purchase through a contact who came to us from Philadelphia.
We had a friend who owned a local “head shop” (a store that sold pipes and paraphernalia to do drugs with as well as black lights, posters,hippie clothing and hippie comics among other things). We would go there and go into the back room of his store and get high with him and his wife and other people. He is still in business selling those things today, but I don't know if he is into the drugs anymore since he is 75 years old and will be 76 on the same day that I turn 75. We had parties, were joined by narcs (police informants), took the narcs into alleys and beat them up when we caught them, an experience I never got into, we drank plenty of beer and liquor, ran the streets totally “wiped out,”and near the end I was a 31 year old hippie going with a beautiful 16 year old girl. We would get high and trip though the fields and get off on nature and we thought we were in love. I built my whole life around her, and every hippie in town wanted to have her but she wanted to be with me at that time. Her name was Sherry, and she was physically mature for her age and could easily have passed for a Playboy centerfold. I was so in love with her that I wanted to be around her as much as possible and would never betray her. She didn't believe me one time because some girl tried to seduce me at a party and I was honest enough to tell her about it. She left me, and in a very dramatic scene that would have made a great movie scene we walked to the river and I told her I would walk out into the river until the current took me because I didn't want to live without her. As I started out into the river she ran away. I don't know if she was going for help or not, but it didn't matter. As I went out into the river, I remembered how horrible it was when I nearly drowned at the orphanage, and it scared me so bad that I turned back to the shore and quickly went back to our house.
When I entered the living room, one of our friends was preparing to shoot something into his arm. I don't recall if he was a heroin or cocaine user, but whatever the case, he looked up and saw me and immediately stopped what he was doing. “What's the matter with you” he said. "You look terrible." I broke down and cried like a baby, and told him what had happened. He made me get out of my wet things and take a bath, and then he stayed with me and would not leave until he was sure I was going to be alright. Once again God was merciful to me because the Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” I can hardly write this without tears flowing because I knew beyond all doubt that I was not ready to die, but God delivered me again and again from my ignorance and foolishness. Praise His holy name!
This was the second time that I had wrapped my whole life around someone other than the Lord, and I still was too blind to see that at the time and just kept on going in the party life drinking and getting high on speed and whatever else was available. The weirdest thing that I remember was taking “window pane.” Window pane is clear like a window and square like a window and could easily fit under a postage stamp. As a matter of fact, four or more of them would fit under a stamp. I put that on my tongue, and soon felt the results. The effect that it had on me was to produce uncontrollable laughter no matter what anyone said. A person in the room could say any word and I would immediately go into fits of laughter. By the time I was through with that trip my sides were aching with pain from laughing so much. That was the last time I ever took window pane.
One of the things about the hippie culture was tripping out on nature. The drugs heightened the experience so that everything seemed much more beautiful to the person doing the drug. It was what we might call surreal. In a room with black lights and colors and everything else seemed deeper and more luminous and pretty.
One night a friend of our whose name was Fred came over and he was drinking Jack Daniel's Whiskey and doing Cocaine because he was a fan of Janis Joplin and that was what he believed she was doing. Fred came into the room and went over to the boom box that was playing and turned it up loud. We were doing dope, and I told him that we needed to keep the music down so we didn't have the cops coming up to see what we were doing. I got up and went to turn the music down, and as soon as I had it turned down Fred came behind me, and for some reason I thought he was going to attack me so I turned and punched him in the side of the head. His head swelled out like a mini volcano and he stopped breathing. I was terrified and thought I had killed him, and in my mind a vision was passing of life in prison. While I was going through this nightmare, the girl I was with went to the refrigerator and she put some ice in a towel and came in and patted his head with it. Suddenly he groaned, and when he did I heaved a sigh of relief and went to help her.
Later in the evening I was in an upstairs room above the living room with the girl and we were making out when I heard Fred on the steps saying he was going to kill me. I went to the top of the steps and saw a red blade in his hand and an outline of him as he began to come up the steps. He had heated a butter knife over the stove and intended to stab me with it. I stood at the top of the steps and waited until he was near the top and then I stepped out and hit him hard and he went tumbling back down the stairs. I yelled after him that if he tried that again I would kill him. I don't remember the rest of that night but when we went down he was gone. Later, after I was saved, I went to one of my brother's parties to witness to my faith in Christ, and Fred was there. He was trying to agitate one of the people in the room, and I told him he should remember what happened when he messed with me that day. He became worried, and said, “Don't hit me man. I'll stop.” I told him that Jesus changed me so that I no longer used violence against anyone. It was so good to be able to do that! God even blessed me later after being saved and left me go to Sherry and minister the gospel to her as well. I was also able to minister to a lot of my old friends, and some of them would see me coming and go to the other side of the street to get away from the “preacher.”
Somewhere between a joint and a glass of rum I met Kay. We partied together and had one of those relationships where we hit it off instantly. By the way, those were relatively common in the hippie lifestyle, at least for me. Fourteen days after meeting Kay we got married. What a surprise it was later for me to find out that Kay was schizophrenic with suicidal tendencies. We moved to Middleburg, I got a job as a real estate appraiser, she attended bar, and life was full of roses and moonbeams for a short while.
I found out after a while that Kay was having sexual affairs with some of the people who came to the bar while I was out doing appraisals. One night she came into our room holding a sharp letter opener and told me she thought she wanted to kill me. I told her that if she didn't put the letter opener down I would put her through the wall behind her. That ended her threat. Another time
she came into the room and was talking to someone even though there was nobody in the room. I asked her who she was talking to and she asked me if I could see them. I had no idea who them was, and I walked into another room and saw a bottle with the cap off lying on the table and realized she had taken an overdose of her medications. I quickly got her in the car and took her to the hospital where they pumped her stomach and I walked her up and and down the halls for 17 hours to keep her from going to sleep. Later she was admitted to a mental institution not far from Sunbury. I would go and visit her, and she would be glad to see me at first and then
would change and want to kill me. I could only take that for a little while before I stopped going.
About that time two of my friends were also having problems with their wives and we decided that Pennsylvania was our real problem and agreed that we needed to leave Pennsylvania. So we decided that Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was the place because we could find lots of dope, booze and chicks and fun in the sun. We took a pound of marijuana and some other drugs and got in the van one of my friends owned and left for Florida. We drove the entire way down the highway that was closest to the ocean so we could get high and enjoy the view. When we arrived in Florida and got to Ft. Lauderdale we were in for an eye-opening surprise.
The beaches were filled with beautiful chicks as we expected, dope was plentiful, and there was a party atmosphere there, but we could not find a job. So there we were, far from home, with no prospects of further income and living out of a van. At night the police would come and knock on the side of the van trying to get us to come out,and we would get quiet and wait them out. The next day we would go to the beach hoping for a miracle and there was no job available so the next thing was to call Pennsylvania collect and try to get some money to get back home. The two guys I was with went to make the call, and while they were away I was toking on my"party bowl" (a big pipe I favored) and reading hippie comics. Sometime during their absence a police car came around the corner and then went past without stopping, and I went back to smoking and reading again. Suddenly I looked into the mirror and saw their car backing up. I threw the pipe under the seat I was sitting on and tried to look calm. The two police officers came up to the van and one of them told me that they wanted to search the van for weapons, and I would have to get out. I got out without an argument because I had seen them searching a car for guns the day before and they took that car apart from end to end. The officer reached under the seat immediately as if he had radar and knew where the pipe was, and he turned to me and said, “Do you have any more of this?” I told him about the dope in the box in the back of the van hidden beneath our clothing, and he got the marijuana and then went into the glove compartment and removed all the paraphernalia that was there. While he was doing that the other officer handcuffed me and told me to sit on the ground.
People were all over the place looking at me and I
felt like I imagined Al Capone might feel if he was arrested.