Thursday, August 11, 2005


COPYRIGHT 2005 Leslie Jones McCloud

During the middle of the Great Depression, the Chicago Defender and the
Black Press found
itself in trouble with the United States government for it‘s stance on
World War II and the
outcome of an editor's conference called by government officials in 1918.
Specifically, Chicago Defender founder Robert S. Abbott was called on the
carpet for his
news coverage of lynching in the South and North and his effort that
brought more than
50,000 Black Southerners to Chicago during the Great Migration.
Near the end of the 1930s, the Chicago Defender, needed new leadership.
Before his death
February 29, 1940, Abbott called on his nephew, John Sengstacke to run
the newspaper.
And he did so, although, reluctant.
"I wasn't too keen on it," he told John Taylor, a Chicago Defender
reporter in 1975.
Graduating in 1933 from Hampton University with a degree in Business
Sengstacke went home to Savannah, Georgia instead of coming to Chicago
like Abbott had
wanted. Three months later he was in Chicago.
Upon arrival, he said he did everything from writing editorials to
running the presses.
In six month's time he asked Abbott for stock in the company because he
didn't' want a "long
legal hassle," he said.
But there were bigger concerns that needed his attention besides the
newspaper's growing
wealth and legacy.
Sengstacke had become alarmed by the growing threat of censorship.
by the United States government, who in turn, was serious about their
allegations of
treason against the newspaper.
Along with other African American newspapers, the Defender protested the
treatment of
African American servicemen fighting in World War II and urged the
integration of the armed
In 1942, J Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
provided Attorney
General Francis Biddle with lengthy reports on what he saw as seditious
activity by the
African American press.
It started innocently enough. A cafeteria worker named James Thompson,
wrote a letter to
the Pittsburgh Courier, troubled by the fact that he might be called upon
to defend a
nation in which he was treated like a second-class citizen.
He suggested that African Americans espouse a 'double V' campaign. The
symbol stood for
victory at war over enemies 'from without,' and victory at home against
the enemy of
prejudice 'from within.' When other readers wrote to congratulate
Thompson on his idea, the
Courier launched a huge publicity campaign, complete with lapel pins and
stickers, 'double
V' hair styles and songs.
The Chicago Defender picked up on the campaign.
It kept awareness of the injustices of segregation alive during the war.
It also brought
attention to Jim Crow-style segregation in the armed forces. The troops
themselves were
segregated, but black outfits were assigned white commanding officers.
Even the military's blood supply for the wounded was segregated by race.
White soldiers
brutalized black soldiers, and race riots took place in camps where
troops of both races
resided. The military tried to suppress word of these events, with
partial success; only
the black press reported discrimination and discord within the troops and
thusly, their
newspapers were banned from military grounds.
J. Edgar Hoover saw the double V campaign as an act of sedition. The
Chicago Defender had
once again, become the subject of a government investigation.
With President Franklin D. Roosevelt's approval, Hoover sought to indict
black publishers
for treason and shut down the Black Press.
May of 1942, Franklin Roosevelt told his Attorney General, Frances
Biddle, to instead, talk
to some of the black publishers and ask them to tone down what they were

Comments on this situation were discussed by Sengstacke, before his death
in 1997, with
Patrick Washburn. The film, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, by
Stanley Nelson is
based the interview.

"June, mid-June, 1942, John Sengstacke, the publisher of The Chicago
Defender and -- and
the top publisher, if you want to call him that, of the black press,
walked in the room at
the Justice Department and Biddle was there to meet him. There were all
these papers, like
The Cleveland Call and Post laid out on the table, included his own. And,
he looks at these
newspapers. They're all playing up the fact the blacks and whites are
killing each other
off at these Army camps in the South. And, ah, Biddle says, "See these
newspapers? These
are hurting the war effort and if you don't stop writing this stuff,
we're gonna take some
black publishers to court under the Espionage Act," Washburn said.

"Well, Sengstacke, who is incredibly tough and was also a college
graduate, like Biddle,
although he didn't go to Harvard and Harvard Law School, says to, Biddle,
"Look, we've been
writing' this stuff since the 1820s, since black newspapers started in
this country, and we
don't intend to stop now. And if you don't like it, just take us to court
under the
Espionage Act." And you -- you've got to realize what an incredible thing
that is for
Sengstacke to say to Biddle because Biddle's the Attorney General of the
United States, the
top law officer. He clearly has the right to take 'em to court if he
wants to," Washburn

"Ah, well,, over the next 45 minutes or an hour, the two men calmed down.
At the end of
that time, Biddle tells, Sengstacke, he says, "Look, we're not gonna take
you to court
under the Espionage Act, you or the other black publishers, if you don't
write anything
that's more critical than what you're writing right now on the federal
government. However,
I hope that you and the other black publishers will tone down what you're
writing." And he
also promised that he would get black reporters into these press
conferences of white
officials. That was another little kind of thing that happened," Washburn
Sengstacke spread the word within the Black press about what happened at
the meeting.
Two years after assuming the role of publisher of the Defender,
Sengstacke, negotiated a
compromise with the Justice Department that protected the First Amendment
rights of the
African American press.
It was the first of many firsts for Sengstacke, according to Thomas
Picou, chairman of Real
Times, Inc., parent company of the Chicago Defender.
"John Sengstacke's was my uncle by marriage but also my guardian until
age 21," Picou said.
"He was chairman of a committee that desegregated the U.S Military as
part of the Committee
on Equality Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces.
"Through that, he developed a relationship with President Harry S.
Truman," he said.
He also founded the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association in 1940 and
helped Harry McAlpin
became the first African-American correspondent at the White House,
through the agreement
with the U.S. Justice Department. He arranged a meeting with the Brooklyn
Dodgers that
helped Jackie Robinson become the first MLB player, Picou said.

The Bud Billiken parade started in the 1920s by Abbott but
Sengstacke incorporated Defender Charities in 1945 to help support it,
along with
By 1956 the Chicago Defender began daily production, in time to chronicle
the events of the
Little Rock Nine, the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education school
desegregation case,
according to his son Robert "Bobby" Sengstacke, former photographer for
the Chicago
Defender. His photographs, many posted inside the newspaper, chronicled
Black Chicago
through to the Civil Rights Movement and the fruits of its success.
"He used the newspaper to go around the country helping to improve the
race, bit by bit.
He sent a team of reporters out of the Tri-State Defender in Memphis,
Tennessee to cover
the Little Rock Nine," he said.
Later, his father brought them to Chicago to make appearances.
"I don't know if they were here to raise funds or not. He put them up in
a downtown hotel
for several days. They were like any other kids. They didn't talk a lot
about it but they
all had to be gutsy to do what they did," Bobby Sengstacke said.

The 1960s found Sengstacke back to business as usual, serving the
community through
relevant news.
It also mean a more demanding schedule.
"There was so much responsibility with the paper but he found time to
come home. Sometimes
the press would break down and they would have problems getting the paper
out. My father
did a lot of great things but he wasn't easy to get along with because he
was very
headstrong," Bobby Sengstacke said.
But he always came out a winner, said Sengstacke, who is now the only
surviving son.” When
you are in charge, you want to make it successful so if people thought he
was a
dictator--we got paid and we made money," he said.
"You had to be persistent with him though. It was always about business,"
he said.
He was great friends with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said
Joslyn DiPasalegne,
Sengstacke family historian, granddaughter of John Sengstacke and Vice
President of Event
Marketing. He was heavily involved in the Civil Rights marches and
"Whenever Martin Luther King was in Chicago, he saw John," she said.
Sengstacke mostly focused on improving the Defender during the 1970s.
He expanded it's circulation as far as O'Hare International Airport. It
had a daily
circulation of about 25,000, according to newspaper records. He
criticized area merchants
for not wanting to handle his product.
"Some distributors just don’t want us The same goes for some hotels but
there are a lot of
Blacks patronizing their places," he told one of his reporters during an
He hoped for improved race relations.
"It provably won't come during my lifetime but I hope some day we will
graduate from
tokenism to become full fledged members of the American scene," he said.
He said African-
Americans as a race had to "keep the pressure on."
He reflected that his father never really got to chose his career path.
He said his uncle
Abbott was sick and there was no one else at the time, qualified to run
the newspaper.
"I never got to ask him what he wanted to do with his life. Nobody knew.
After he started
the daily, he slowed down," Bobby Sengstacke said.
John Sengstacke started Amalgamated Publishing, an advertising company
but when he turned
the company over to new leadership, the business went down hill, Bobby
Sengstacke said.
In the 1990s, the Defender rolled along on its own strength. Back in the
1950s and 1960s 90
percent of the youth had a Defender. You could always find a party going
on. All of that
dropped off," he said.
Near the end of his father's life, he began raising money for Provident
Provident had been closed. He opened it so that poor Blacks didn't have
to go all of the
way to Cook County Hospital. He wanted to make sure people on the South
Side had health
care. He raised $55 million but it absorbed all of his time for 10
years," Bobby Sengstacke

The paper ran into serious financial problems and John Sengstacke
returned his attention to
the newspaper. He was also fighting a lifelong battle with emphysema.
He was in his 80s. He went back to chain smoking and in about a year or
so after returning
to the newspaper. Soon after, he died," Bobby Sengstacke said.
John Sengstacke also owned the Courier newspapers of Pittsburgh and Miami
and the Chronicle
of Detroit.
Chicago Defender publication grew to become the largest African-American
daily in the
Besides being directly involved in the desegregation of the U. S. armed
force, he also
worked closely with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs in the
United States
Postal Service for African-Americans, according to the African American
Registry Web site.
He died May 28, 1997 of emphysema.
His brother Fred Sengstacke, who started out at the Defender in 1935 as a
janitor, took
over as publisher.


Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005

African-American lawyer and publisher, Robert Sengstacke Abbott

(1868-1940) founded the Chicago Defender on May 6, 1905.
He was born to former slaves Thomas and Flora Abbott in a cabin,

in Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia according to a

Philadelphia-based Mount Union College Web site on Abbott.
Soon Abbott's father died of tuberculosis and Flora remarried to

John Hermann Henry Sengstacke and it is here the legacy began.

Abbott's stepfather John, was a hardworking, well educated man.

John’s father, also John Hermann Henry Sengstacke, was a German

sea captain from Brehman, Germany who settled in Savannah Georgia

during the late 1830s, according to Joslyn DiPasalegne, Vice

President of Event Marketing, Sengstacke family historian and

Abbott’s great-niece.
"One day while surveying his new home, he went to the factors

walk--an area where warehouses and factories were in town. The

(sea captain) stared in horror. He had never seen a slave auction

before," she said.
He bought Tama to keep her from being humiliated. Shortly after

her purchase, he married her and they settled in Savannah. He

started a dry goods store in an area near factor's walk. They had

two children; John, Abbott’s stepfather and John's sister Mary


Tama died shortly after giving birth to her daughter.
The German sea captain, not wanting his children to become slaves

if anything were to happen to him, sent them to Germany to be

raised by his sister, DiPasalegne said.
"The Civil War kept him from returning to see his children before

he died. After his death Abbott’s stepfather, John came to settle

the sea captain's estate. That is where he met Flora, Abbott’s

mother, who was a recent widow. Her husband Thomas, Abbott's

natural father, died of tuberculosis shortly after Abbott was

born. She was fighting her in-laws over the rights to her son,"

she said.
John Sengstacke married Flora and together they raised seven other


Abbott’s stepfather, John became a Congregationalist minister, and

operated a school for black children said the Web site, African

American Registry.
He also operated the Woodville Times newspaper in their home state

of Georgia--the predecessor to the Chicago Defender those in the

Sengstacke family believe, DiPasalegne said.
Abbott was sent Claflin University and then studied the printing

trade at Hampton Institute from 1892 to 1896.
While there, he made a life changing discovery on a trip to

Chicago, singing with the Hampton choir, according to a film by

Stanley Nelson, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.
James Grossman, who is in the film, said Fredrick Douglass at the

age of 75 delivered a speech at the Columbian Exposition but was

heckled by a crowd of rowdy whites.
He made his speech anyway about how blacks serve great a purpose

in the world and Abbott was there watching and learning.
He said that Abbott was in Chicago for the first time and Ida B.

Wells had recently emerged as a major leader and voice within the

African American community. And all three of these people were


Abbott went on to receive a law degree from Kent College of Law,

Chicago in 1898, but because of race prejudice in the United

States, he was unable to practice, in spite of attempts to
establish law offices in Gary, Indiana, Topeka, Kansas, and

Chicago, Illinois.

So he returned to his roots. His stepfather John, had a print shop

of his own.
Christopher Reed in the film, The Black Press: Soldiers without

Swords, said he believed Abbott's presence at the fair led him to

believe a change in American values could come through the


"Abbott invested the 25 cents he had in his pocket, his good

name and then borrowed money from a friend," DiPasalegne said. He

set his printing equipment in his landlady's dining room with a

folding card table and used a kitchen chair as his office.

On May 5, 1905, he started the Chicago Defender.
He sold three hundred copies of the four-page booklet by going

door to door, visiting every barber shop, poolroom, drugstore, and

church on the South Side of Chicago, writes Roi Ottley, author of

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott.
Local news was the thrust of the Chicago Defender, as it is today.

Abbott started his earliest reporting by gathering tidbits around

his neighborhood.
His newspaper was penned "The World's Greatest Weekly" and

eventually made Abbott one of the first black self-made

millionaires through publishing. He worked for fifteen years to

make the newspaper successful, the African American Registry Web

site said.
He also immersed himself into the world of the Black Press.
Black Chicago got to see their world chronicled in print.
"Our news and neighborhoods were ignored. We didn't exist in the

other papers. We were neither born, we didn't get married, we

didn't die, we didn't fight in any wars, we never participated in

anything of a scientific achievement. We were truly invisible

unless we committed a crime. But in the Black Press, the Negro

press, we did get married. They showed us our babies being born.

They showed us graduating. They showed our PhDs,” Vernon Jarrett

said, in the film, Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.

More than 500,000 Blacks migrated from the south to the north with

more than 50,000 settling in Chicago.

Abbott used The Defender to encourage migration to the North. He

would post job

notices and writings about better conditions in the North. He also

used red headlines to

speak his mind on each lynching that happened in the South in

hopes more Southern blacks

would relocate to the North.
He sent the Defender into the South. There, the Defender had a potential
black audience

nearly 200 times larger than

in Chicago, an audience that was hungry to hear what Abbott had to

say, film maker, Stanley Nelson said.

James Grossman of Nelson's film said the Chicago Defender was

blatant with the truth.

The Defender would say things like, "When the white fiends

come to the door, shoot them down. When the mob comes, take at

least one with you." Those

were things that if you were a black Southern newspaper, if you

were a newspaper editor in

Birmingham, Alabama, you can't say that because your newspaper's

going to get torched or

you're going to get run out of town.”

The nick name of public defender, still sticks in the minds

of those in the community who need help today.

Abbott’s editorial creed was to fight against "segregation,

discrimination and


The Defender reached national prominence during World War I, when

the paper's banner headline for January 6, 1917, read

"Millions to Leave South." The Defender became the bible of many

seeking "The Promised

Abbott used the full resources of the paper -- articles,

editorials, cartoons, poems, and

even songs-- in a campaign to urge the Defender's readers to come

North. The paper even

printed train schedules, one-way to Chicago, Nelson said in his


Abbott advertised Chicago so effectively that even migrants

heading for other

northern cities sought information and assistance from the pages

of the "Worlds Greatest

The Chicago Defender was a remarkably successful in encouraging

blacks to migrate from the

South to Chicago, often listing names of churches and other

organizations to whom they

could write for help, such as the Bethlehem Baptist Association in

Chicago, Illinois,

according to information from the Library of Congress.

Still, White southerners did not take the migration seriously.

“When the great migration really first began in the fall of 1916,


Southerners were sure that when blacks

went North, they would get cold. and they'd come back. That didn't

happen. Landlords and other employers began to realize that

their workers were

leaving so they began to try to stop people from leaving, which

meant trying to confiscate

The Chicago Defender. They would even have the police go up onto

railroad platforms and

arrest people for vagrancy,“ James Grossman said.

Nelson said with more than ten thousand black people leaving each

month, the South's economy

suffered and its leaders grew desperate. Some towns, ignoring the

Constitution, even banned

the sale of black papers to try to stem the tide of the migration.

In Somerville, Tennessee

a petition ordered that "no colored newspapers be circulated" and

that "every darkie must

read the local white paper." Abbott, asked for help from

the one group of African Americans who traveled freely through the

South--sleeping car porters.

“He hands them bundles of his newspapers, which they hide in the

train, and as these trains roll through the South,

instead of being put off at the stations like they used to be,

which are in the town limits

or the city limits, these porters would step out between cars or

at the back of the train,

toss 'em out in the countryside and suddenly all these Southern

cities found they couldn't

stop the black newspapers, no matter what they did, “ Patrick

Washburn said in Nelson’s film.
Thomas Picou, Sengstacke in-law and Chairman of Real Times, Inc. parent
company of the

Chicago Defender, said the train's path wound through New Orleans making
stops in Jackson

Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee then on to Chicago.
"It was called the chicken bone express because blacks

brought boxes of fried chicken with them. The train's dining car

was segregated," Picou said.
He said the people from the south also traveled through Indianapolis,

Detroit Michigan Cleveland Ohio to work in the steel mills,

automobile factories and stock yards.

As a result, thousands of prospective migrants got help with the

task of finding housing and employment.
During the years to come, Abbott was simply telling black folks

what to do when they made it north during the great migration.
Abbott, being a self made millionaire, cared about the social

graces of the new migrants and wanted them to fit into their community.

"Abbott himself was formal and reserved, writes Nelson.
“ He was 50 years old before he married. He

would allow neither his first nor his second wife to address him

as other than "Mr.

Abbott". He did not drink and avoided social activities. What he

enjoyed was the trappings

of wealth -- the gold- headed cane, the grand tours of Europe, and

even though he did not

drive, the Dusenberg convertible and Rolls-Royce limousine. Like

many in the black middle

class, Abbott was enamored of the social graces and attempted to

use the paper to teach

them to his readers. He even published a list of rules for

migrant's behavior. Such as:

"Don't promenade on the boulevards in your hog- killin' clothes."

"Don't clean your fingernails and pick your nose on the street."

"Don't flirt with the grocery, especially if your hair is still

chunky and full of bed

lint." " Nelson said.

The Chicago Defender and Mr. Abbott played a major role in

changing the face

the North. Using its pages, Mr. Abbott

was able to influence more than 50,000 African-Americans to leave

southern states and come to Chicago.

But like with all fast change comes conflict. There were riots and

allegations by the Unites States government of sedition during that time.
The Chicago Defender came under fire, starting with World War I.
Abbott was the first target of the intimidation effort on April 13, 1917,
only a week after

the United States entered WWI, according to information from Elliot
Parker of Central

Michigan University on the CataList Reference Web site.
Worried that repressed blacks would refuse to support World War I, the
War Department held

a conference with 31 of the nation's leading black editors in June of

The gathering was a seminal event in the relationship between the black
press and the U.S.

government in wartime. It led to President Woodrow Wilson making a
public denunciation of

lynching and commuting the sentences of 10 black soldiers who had been

sentenced to death for rioting," Parker wrote.
However, in 1919, race riots exploded across the United States and

of people were killed. It became

known as "The Red Summer".

Grossman said a riot broke out during the summer in Chicago, July

of 1919.
In the end, more than 30 people died. Hundreds were injured and

The Chicago Defender ran a box score. At the top of the front page

it would keep track, day-by-day, of how many people on each side

had been killed.
The government's first attempt to solve the black press problem,

which it instituted more than a year before the editors conference,

involved intimidating editors, writes Parker, whose publications it

Members of the Black Press capitalized on white and black soldiers

fighting each other during both World Wars.
The Chicago Defender went so far as to send a reporter undercover

to a military camp to capture what was going on, Picou said.
During the First World War and the subsequent Red Scare years the

Justice Department and its Bureau of Investigation, the

intelligence branches of the Army and Navy, the State and Post

Office Departments, and other federal agencies engaged in

widespread investigation of anyone deemed politically suspect.

Black Americans were special targets because they were perceived

by some as particularly receptive to the radical ideas.
And, it wasn't a secret.
Theodore Kornweibel Jr., a Professor of

African American History in the Africana Studies Department at San

Diego State University, wrote about it in an article entitled
"The Most Dangerous of All Negro Journals": Federal Efforts to Suppress
the Chicago Defender During World War I."

Abbott, created the "Bud Billiken" picnic in the early 1920s to thank
the children who helped sell his newspapers. The picnic is held in
conjunction with the Bud Billiken Parade, the annual South Side
celebration named for a mythical, squat comic character that serves as a

The parade, held in mid-August, honors black children on a route along
Martin Luther King Drive from 39th to 55th Streets. It is the nation's
largest African American parade, drawing thousands of spectators each
The thousands who heeded Abbott's call to move North created new

urban communities and in city after city, other black newspapers

were established to serve them. Nearly 500 black newspapers were
in print by the early 1920s

Government estimates of the Defender's circulation soared tenfold, from
12,000 to 120,000,

between 1916 and 1918.

The government cited Abbott's efforts toward migration during the war and
because the

Defender became available nationwide.
But it wasn't just the circulation of the Defender and other black
newspapers that

concerned the government but the eloquence of the editors and their
ability to sway the

public, in the role of journalist.
The Justice Department issued a report on October, 1919, on the threat to
public order from

what it considered radical publications. The section on the black press,
"Radicalism and

Sedition Among the Negroes as Reflected in Their
Publications," mentioned how articulate many black editors were.

(The citation on the report's reference to the black press:
"Investigation Activities of

the Department of Justice," 66th Congress, 1st Session, Senate

Document XII.)
Other editors under fire included W. E. B.DuBois of the Crisis, J.H.
Murphy of

the Baltimore, Afro-American, J.E. Mitchell of the St. Louis Argus ,
Cyril Briggs

of the, Amsterdam News and A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen of the

The group of black editors signed a resolution that asked for black
loyalty towards the

country and a belief that the Germans needed to be defeated. In return,
they asked for

President Woodrow Wilson was asked to create a federal law against
lynching but he
only denounced

it. There were slight improvements for black soldiers and officers
because of the

conference but overall, Parker writes, the conference failed to produce
concrete civil

rights results but it had an important psychological impact on the
editors and the militancy would continue during World War II.

As a result, soldiers' reading was curtailed.
"The Army said, "We don't think this is good. You can't read it."

On a number of bases you had papers that were taken away from

newsboys, black newspapers. You had paper burnings, Patrick

Washburn, who appeared in the film, The Black Press: Soldiers

Without Swords said.
Along with other African American newspapers, the Defender

protested the treatment of African American servicemen fighting in

World War II and urged the integration of the armed forces.
As a result of their protests, the U.S. government threatened to

indict African American publishers for sedition and treason, again.
But Abbott's health was in decline.
His 25th anniversary message to the public outlined what Abbott intended
to do when he started the newspaper.
"Before I started on my life's work--journalism, I was counseled by my
beloved father that a good newspaper was one of the best instruments of
service and one of the strongest weapon ever used in the defense of
race." Abbott said.
Abbott began a new magazine from October 1930 to September 1933

entitled Abbott's Monthly. Later the name was changed to Abbott’s

Weekly and Illustrated News. Inside were stories written by new

writers such as Richard Wright and Chester Himes. Abbott also

accepted submissions from Cook County, Illinois judges, like

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Burke. He wrote a piece called "Divorce,

the Great American Pastime," according to the cover of the

magazine, found on the Galactic Central Publications Web site.
Seven years later, Abbott died at the age of 70.
He died of Bright's disease, an inflammation of the kidneys, on

February 29, 1940.
By then, he had become the father of three newspapers; The Chicago

Defender, The Louisville Defender, and the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit.
However, he did

not have any children, so he left his business with his nephew, John H.
And just in time, because by 1942, near the end of World War II, there
were new charges of sedation against the Chicago Defender and John
Sengstacke would find himself following in his uncle's footsteps.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Help for the Addicted

Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005

An act of defiance 20 years ago saved Juan Deas from a life of misery. He diagnosed
himself as an alcoholic at the age of 14.
"I felt early on I would be an active alcoholic for the rest of my life," he said.
Eventually, his family slipped away and a chance after high school to attend college.
He methodically recounted his history of being addicted, as if he was discussing his own
case history with colleges at a staff meeting.
He remembered how many times he went to dry out at a men's mission before being confronted by a counselor for fighting, then getting put out of the program. He hit a wall with drinking at his next treatment program where his problems continued.
"She was screaming at me. The director told me I would never amount to anything," he said.
He entered a 30-day program to prove her wrong.
Now at the age of 46, he is Program Director at Discovery House in Pennsylvania and has
been counseling others on the jagged path of addiction for 16 years. He has earned a
certification in addictions counseling and a master's degree in health science. Deas was on
hand Wednesday for an open house at the local Discovery House located on Cleveland Street.
Richard Heidenreich, the program director at that location, said Discovery House is a
national methadone maintenance treatment program for those who are addicted to
opiates. They have 13 clinics in five states.
He said that their clients are people who are addicted to painkillers like oxycodone HCl
controlled-release (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine (Tylenol-3), heroin, morphine
or any other opiate. They are one of the few outpatient clinics who enroll teenage
"We offer methadone maintenance and counseling services. For those persons in the program
that need to be stepped down off of methadone gradually, we offer medically supervised
withdrawal," he said.
Mark Besden, a Discovery House program director in Hatboro, Penn., said Oxycontin is the
drug most patients use because it is more powerful than Vicodin.
"Doctors don't like to give pain medication to methadone users," Robin Schulte, a LPN at
the local Discovery House said, and it becomes an issue in pain management.
Methadone, like the drugs it combats, is an opiate too and the clinics often carry a bad
image because of it.
"People are so ashamed to say they come to a clinic," Schulte said.
She said county police officers sit in the parking lot on Cleveland Street and GRIT
officers use the huge space as a staging area. It houses commercial property where a beauty
shop, barber shop, tax accountant and a flea market call home.
Discovery House patients can be detoxed off of illegal drugs in about 30 days. The
average length of time on methadone varies from 12 to 18 months.
Discovery House plans to offer in the next year, buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment where
patients would come to clinic less frequently.
Including Heidenreich, there are three counselors who provide services to 120 patients for
$63 per week who live in the surrounding areas. The clinic can comfortable service 350.
There weren't any who signed up for services Wednesday during the open house. He hopes that
will change in the coming days.
"They're lives are out-of-control because of usage. We are starting to see more and more
teens as heroin addiction takes off. The family dynamics are askew or there might be a
predisposition to use. The key element is the environment at home, he said.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

...more importantly (read this)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Is My Book Boring?

1:35 PM 7/21/2005 Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005
"I stink."
" And anyone who lookin can tell that my hair isn't
combed." Marion said aloud.
It sort of just stragled along her shoulders, like straw as she clip clopped down the street, clumsily.
No job.No man.No cares.
Marion hefted her bags up the stairs to a waiting cafe table to
order several of Wet Willy's special frozen drinks and to look at
the men.South Beach shopping and drinking made her forget all of her
problems--which was the purpose of living in Miami instead of
Indiana.But it's really no place for little kids, she thought.
"I'll have a large strawberry margarita, please." she told the
waitress who bounced away to fetch the order, blond pony bobbling
Shopping gets respect in South Beach--not everyone can do it.
Marion relaxed a bit. It was humid and she tried to smooth her
black, parted-down-the-middle-60s-layered-do with her open palms.
"This is like exercise." she said to herself.
She looked down at the loop of flesh oosing around her midsection.Now, that ain't a cute look.
She pulled out her new leather large Coach Shopper from the box. (Now, that's a good look.)
Camel matched her new mules that she so countrily wore out of the
store after buying them. But country is okay in Miami--it is still the south.
She took her time transferring the contents of her black Coach
bucket into her new purse. The leather smelled good and mixed well
with the sea mist in the air. The sun on the balcony of one of the most well loved bar on the beach gave little protection from the noonday sun.
"I love me" she said audibly and shaking around the contents of
her new purse and fanning a little.She rumbled in her new bag for her phone.
"Ma, what chal doin'?"
Nothing Marion, why. What do you want now?"
"Nothing just calling. How are the kids?"
Fine, when you coming to get them?
"Next week. Next two weeks. Gotta find another job.
"Again? Girl whats wrong with you? Your daddy had the same job for
40 years," her mother said.
She eagerly reached for the drink and handed the woman her card to
open a tab.
"Ma, I'm a writer and things are different for me. Didja get that
money I sent?"
"Yes but you really ain't sending me any money cause most of it goes
to feed and clothe your kids."
I sent $1,200. I ain't broke. You need more?"
"No, but still. A woman down there by herself at your age.Why don't you stay up here and do something."
"What ma, like get married?
"Yeah, and have some more kids."
"It would be nice but that's just not the path I'm on right now. It
would be nice though.I'm gonna make some roots here in Florida so in about 20 years you and dad can have someplace nice to live,"
"And watch your kids too, right?
"Bye Marion. Grow up. You are a 35-year-old divorced woman writing
God knows what for whomever will pay you,.
"And I get paid well too ,ma. Bye. I'm gonna grow up. Don't worry," Marion said, taking another brain freezing slurp out of her drink.
"Are you drinking?"
"It's just a frozen drink ma."
"Bye Mari."
Momma hung up. Marion could hear her children and her nices and
nephews in the background playing. They seemed happy. One big
happy family.And here she was on the deck of a bar drinking in the hot
sunshine.But she knew she didn't want to stay in Indiana so she had to make this work.Someone had to have need for a corporate writer.
"Hell I can commercialize or spin anything. And still a pretty
decent news reporter," she thought to herself.
Continental paid her pretty well when they were done with her--$100,000 is enought to pad the way until the next job.She slurpped on her drink. It was good. Couldn't even taste the
grain alcohol.

Meanwhile, her friends could join her in her search for a new her. Momma could hold out a little longer with just a little bit more money.
She text messaged Nicey. Her husband would let her out of the
house. Hell he was never there anyway. One advantage to holding off on childbearing. Her phone rang in the middle of the message.
"Yeah, fool where you at now?"
"You moved to Florida?"
"Yeah, I'm sitting out here right now sippin' on a margarita. Yall
coming down here?
"Me and Toni--I don't know about Sheila. She got a job and a man."
"She ain't no fun noway. You bringing Tom?"
"If he want to go. You know how you two fight."
"Shit I ain't married to him. I don't have to do what any ol' man says for
me to do," Marion said, wriggling her neck. She took another long suck of margarita.
"Well if yall come down here look me up."
"I'll be down there Wednesday but Toni said she can't come until
this weekend."
"Okay. Where yall staying?"
"We got a time share down there Toni said she staying with us."
"Okay. I should be totally moved in by tomorrow. We can have a
"I hope this is the last time you have to move."
"Shit, I needed a job."
"Unhunn, 1,500 miles away."
Marion was silent. She knew why Niciey was hedging.She didn't want to get serious with Tom's friend Bobby.
"One of us stuck in Indiana is enough."
"Okay dear. We'll see you Wednesday."
"Alright, bye. "
Chapter Two
The house was a mess but it was hers. She bought it because she
really wanted to put down roots.All homes came with an inground pool in Miami. The kids would love
it because they've never had much more than an inflatable pool in the courtyard. The grill disappeared, somehow. Apartment living wasn't big on outdoor privacy.
Grandma's house was only temporary but at least they had a
backyard. And the same inflatable pool. And Grandma's grill.
But Marion had just purchased 2,450 square feet of South Florida sunshine--for just about all of
her 401K.
The white piano in the corner, wet bar--it was so 60s--master bedroomand bath would keep her just fine.
The children each had their own room and there was a dining room, guest room, family room, a huge professional kitchen screened patio and huge vaulted ceilings in the living room. To top it off it was in a gated community. Marion wondered why it came so cheap but she didn't care if someone died in the house. There were plenty of pastors in town that would bless the house for a good tithing church member.
Everyone decent in Florida had a home in a gated community, a pool
and a screened patio.
"Maybe they won't notice I don't have any furniture, yet," she wondered.
Besides a black barstool, and an Asian-inspired room divider,
the house was empty but for love. She managed to move with her three beds and three dressers and two televisions.
She didn't have the DVDs and other electronics because she was never home enought to think to buy them when she was out. Her feet never stayed at home, where a good woman's belonged. Marion never fitted in well with the old-fashioned values that surrounded her.
It was dark in her house too. She left much of her favored lamps and other lights her mom gave her in Indiana.
Marion, in her fit of shopping, didn't even bother to look for
things for her home when she arrived in Miami. She bought more clothes, some luggage and
accessories. None of it reflected a need for putting down roots. And it's difficult to live in a Coach Leatherwear handbag.
She hadn't bothered to check to see if the children were in a good
school district or if there were good day cares in the area.
She was living in a weathy area and wealthy people had nannies.
"I need a job," she heard herself say aloud standing in the middle of her house, surveying all that needed to be done.
Chapter Three
Niciey and Tom were the most popular couple in the city. They went
to all of the right balls and galas, donated to the right
charities, had the picture perfect life--and above all they still
loved one another and got along.But they rarely spent more than 30 days straight, together. Alone.
This trip to Florida would be more like a mini spring break than ahoneymoon.Niecy and Tom liked to have fun together. And bringing Bob would
make it all that much more fun.They might even meet some more swingers while they were there.Tom got Niecey into swinging exactly 45 weeks after they were
married. It's almost as if it were planned that way.She resisted at first but after meeting Bobby and his wife Tammy
then LeAuthur and Clea she knew she would never go back to regular
married life.
And a good thing for Tom because he knew he couldn't love anyone else.She got used to watching her husband glare at the breasts of other
women. At least he picked for her, attractive, endowed men who
were nice before plowing into another man's wife. He had nerves of
steel to introduce her into his lifestyle.But to look at Tom, one would ever know and he liked it that way.Niciey sat up in the bed and gently shook Tom.
"Is Bobby still going?"
Anymore, they didn't have much sex without the swinging.Tom was sound asleep.
"What. Yeah, he's going. He ain't got nothing better to do."
Bobby's wife left him after a particularly interesting coupling
with a West Indian couple last year. Hadn't seen or heard from
Tammy or Rufus, since.Marion helped soothe some of the pain but now she was gone too and
Bobby looked to only float through life now.Still, no one dared tell Marion about the swinging. Besides it was
married couples only. She didn't need to know just yet.


Leslie Jones McCloud
Copyright July 2005
GARY--Passersby grabbed for shirts and other promotional items Tuesday at a Soul 106.3 live remote held outside of Mercantile Bank on Melton Road.
The event, sponsored by Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living, was held to promote a concert Friday July 29 at Marquette Park Pavilion featuring artist Angela Bofill and an array of classic automobiles.
However, to get free tickets to "Vintage Night on the Lagoon" Bofill fans will have to listen to the radio.
James Ward, Director of Marketing for Edgewater, said 12 pairs of tickets to the event will be given away this week to listeners during 106.3 radio contests.
"Dr. Hughes is excellent at building relationships. (she) also likes music from the 70s and 80s," Ward said.
Tickets to the event are $50 and the attire is white, Ward said, because it promotes the idea of a summertime beach concert.
The event is being coordinated by the Ambassadors of Edgewater, a group of community members and business owners who are committed to supporting the non-profit behavioral health care company.
Roosevelt Haywood III, President and CEO of Haywood and Fleming Associates, is one of the many Ambassadors for Edgewater. He said their numbers swell and shrink but at least 12 members are working on the concert. Haywood specializes in insurance and risk
management and is helping to promote Vintage Night through his business.
"It is the prominent health care system in Gary and Northwest Indiana. Ambassadors support the mission of Edgewater and raise funds," Haywood said. He also said the concert gears community members up for the annual Ambassadors Ball held in October.
Ward said they have had as many as 21 Ambassadors at one point.
However many, CEO of Edgewater, Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D, is a fan of classic songs and the Ambassadors of Edgewater. She said she was thrilled to find out Bofill had been booked for the event.
"I love her. I remember her from back-in-the-day. The Ambassadors are extremely helpful because they have been in the community for a long time and they are very active," Johnson Hughes said.
Funds raised will be used for new and enhanced programs such as shelter and care for homeless teenagers and educational or prevention programs at Edgewater.
The concert, for the most part has become an annual event that the community as well as Edgewater employees have come to enjoy.
"Its a chance to mingle and get out and have a good time. Last year they had the Spaniels I believe and vintage cars. It's really a good time," Armelia Johnson, who works in the finance department for Edgewater, said.

I'm Getting Old

It was a snowy day when I took this picture of myself several years ago. I had braids with strands of blonde intertwined with my off black and brown hair.
Sometimes I forget what my real haircolor looks like because it's been dyed so much.
Until recently.
I went to part my hair in the traditional down-the-middle-60s-look and there it was: a wirey patch of gray strands.
It was almost white.
Well, I haven't dyed my hair yet. I just find another area that is grayless in which to part my hair.
I am REALLY getting old...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play