My name is Steven Laws I was born in Harlem, N.Y. in 1963. Prior to 1975 we had moved to the Bronx I believe the address was 1067 E. 231st Bronx, N.Y. 10466 street just off of Laconia Ave. I forget name of the elementary school I attended but, I was somewhat bad in school. At lunch time I would leave the school and go to a supermarket and steal huge candy bars and Hostess Twinkie’s. I would run the school hallways playing “Ringo Coco 1, 2, 3” and I would fight a lot in school. I attribute a lot of my behavior to having an abusive stern father. He was a war vet with a metal plate in his head and he would beat everyone in the household including my mother, who had run away about a year or two earlier. At that time, you were given your report card to take home to your parents and I had received a very bad report card with thirteen “Red U’s”. The “U’s” meant unsatisfactory and the red emphasized “your child is really bad”. When I read the report card I decided I would run away because I knew my dad was going to beat me up really bad.
One of the worst beatings I remember was when my brothers and sisters had played hooky one day and went to Central Park. While at the park we were playing in the lake trying to catch crayfish and stepped on a piece of glass which to this day remains in my foot. My foot was all bloody and brother or sister tied my sock around it to stop the bleeding, and I put my shoes back on. Somewhere along the route of heading home we saw my aunt “Dorothy” my father’s sister. She must have called and told him we were playing hooky because when we got home he beat us all. I remember this being one of the worst whippings I ever got from my father because in-between the belt buckle, and slaps he punched me in my mouth.
After the beating my lip had swollen up so bad that it touched my nose and I couldn’t go to school for a few days afterwards. With that in mind there was no way I was going to give him the report card. The day I got the report card I went home and told my brother I would be running away in the morning. He bet me five dollars that I wouldn’t run away. The next morning, I took my brothers long burgundy superfly coat with the fur around the collar, sleeves, and bottom, and a little matchbook thing he had that used lighter fluid. I figured this would be the compensation for the bet. Instead of going to school I hopped the train to Penn Station and snuck on the Amtrak train to Baltimore. I was going to live with my grandparents. When the conductor asked me for my train ticket I started crying and told him I couldn’t find my parents, he asked me where were we headed, and I told him the stop after Baltimore whatever that was at the time. He told me to stay seated and he was going to try and help out, however when I got to Baltimore I ran off the train and didn’t stop running until I was on the streets of Baltimore headed to my grandparents’ house.
I remembered how to get to my grandparent’s house because when we would visit as a family we’d catch a cab and somehow, I remembered the route. When I arrived at my grandparent’s house I told my grandmother my father had kicked me out, but she knew I was lying. My grandfather was at work. When he came home my grandmother insisted that they send me back home, but my grandfather let me stay. Over the next few months and years my father would come down and try to catch me to take me home but I was always to fast. One day when I came home from school my uncle seemed very glad to see me and was holding my hand very tightly. I thought something was fishy and when I looked out the window I saw my father running down the outside stairs. I fought free of my uncle and ran upstairs to the second floor my father was chasing me. I jumped out of a back window onto the patio atop the garage and then hopped the patio fence and landed in the alley. I ran off and didn’t come back for a day or two. I was sleeping in the bushes across the street from the house. At that time, I feared my father more than the rats that were running through the bushes where I slept. When I was certain that my father had went back to New York I came home. I vaguely remember one time when my father and my grandfather arguing at the Amtrak station about him taking me back home. My father had a hold of me and I had a hold of a policeman who was also there. In the end my father asked me if I wanted to come home or stay in Baltimore and I told him I wanted to stay in Baltimore. That was the end of him chasing me trying to get me to come back to New York. – To be continued