Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Dad

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dog Days

Growing up I had my fair share of dogs. The first was Troy, but he wasn't but my father's mother's. Troy was a black toy poodle. There was also Dillinger, my uncle's Doberman pinscher. Dillinger lived in my grandmother garage and ate his own poop and vomit. Troy lived in the house and was pampered.

The next dog, I remember was Brownie. Brownie was a little chihuahua mix, that I received from my only blood aunt during the 2 years I lived with my mother's mother (who we all call Mother). Brownie was wild little dog that roamed the neighborhood. He found himself another home during the time when we were in the midst of moving out to Vanceboro.

Once out at 150 Chips Road (in Vanceboro), we soon went to the shelter and got 2 dogs (Big Tyme and Rusty). Big Tyme was a German Shepard mix. Rusty was an Alaskan Husky. Rusty lasted one night an was dead in the morning. The shelter replaced him with Lefty a white, Malamute mix. The two of them had a nice home in our backyard until one day Lefty got sick and died.

For a long time, it was just us and Big Tyme until we returned for a trip to Trenton and found him dead. He was buried in the back yard and it was a while before we decided to get a new dog. Our new dog was Buffy and she was a chihuahua mix. In fact, she was the half-sister to Brownie (from the same mother, but not of the same father or litter). Buffy was with us for a while and this is where my father comes in ...

Like all our dogs, Buffy was a yard dog. We had an acre of land and a safe neighborhood, so our dogs, when not confined by a chain to their dog house, were allowed to run about our fenced in back yard. The fence wasn't the best of fences so most of the time, if they were not chained down, they were roaming the neighborhood. Buffy, however, wasn't a roamer. She liked to stay at home and on a hot summer day her favorite place was under the car.

Now you know where this is going, so I'll just finish the tale.

Usually, when it came time to leave and Buffy was loose, she would be the first to greet you as you came out the door. However, this day she did not and my father climb into the car and backed up with a thump. He stopped immediately and with great sorrow, he knew what had happened. He had run over Buffy. He hoped that she wasn't too hurt, maybe it was just a broken leg. It was not. It was a broken neck and she was not dead. With tears in his eyes, he walked next door and borrowed the shotgun, so he could put Buffy out of her misery.

We were sent into the house as this transpired, but I remember watching through the window as it happened. Later, he I remember him saying that he believed that she was dead before the car started and that's why she didn't moved as she ALWAYS did before. Maybe that is what we all wanted to believe because it's easily than knowing that you killed your family's pet.

I know the truth because she was still breathing before the bullet and I remember the blood pooling in her mouth and running out. This was close to 2 decades ago and it still sits with me. I had the same sickness in my stomach that day as I did when I watched my mother swipe the drool from my father's mouth that day in the hospital. As she wiped it away, the blood flowed out of his mouth. She pulled away startled and turned to me with tears in her eyes. As I turned away to once again look out the window and into the parking lot, it hit me for the first time that the man my mother loved, my father, was not coming back and I found myself fighting back tears. That was the first time, I cried over my father's death and even then it hadn't fully hit me.

I never expected my father to be gone now or ever. Even through all his problems and adventures, he always emerged if not victorious at least mostly unscathed. Even when I heard massive, massive stroke from the doctors, I expected him to be there smiling with that smirk on his face. He was Larry Diamond ... untouchable ... invincible and I prefer to remember him that way.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Storytelling Part II

Remember the story about the sandbox and sand that I mentioned earlier?
Well, it was my time to tell it to my kids and I took it to the next level.

The story involves all the same basic information except in my telling once I get dirt in my hair ...

I walk over to the road and pick up a huge strip of the asphalt (cartoon style) and slam it down on the kid's head. The kid (now named Chris) then gave up his life of petty mischief and became Santa Claus and thus I am responsible for beginning Christmas.

That's the story and I'm sticking to it. My kids are in awe and don't question a single fact of the story. Every time they bring up the story I alter it slightly. One day it will be a tale that they tell their kids and their kids' kid with everyone slightly altering it.

My father would be proud.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I'm Gonna Get Paid Fully

The late Russell JOnes AKA Ol'Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan reminded me about my father today. There's an Ol' Dirty Bastard song called Rawhide which includes the lyrics "I'm gonna get paid fully ... whether it's truthfully or untruthfully." That line sums up my father as he was always after what he coined O.P.M. (Other People's Money). He was a straight hustler and always had his fingers in some racket.

My parents brought a house in eastern NC when I was in third grade. Back during that time NC had a ban all fireworks. This meant every year around New Years and the Fourth of July we would jump into the car and ride across Highway 70 and down I-95 to South of the Border. For those not familiar with South of the Border, it a place just south of the NC in South Carolina that has rides and sells fireworks of all size. There are signs advertising it's existence all along I-95 in Southern NC.

Our purpose for going to South of the Border was to load up our car with as many different types of fireworks as we could with the money my father had. In most cases, we made the trip on the Firday night or Saturday after payday as going then maximized the amount of money available. Of course, the idea was to take this trunkload of fireworks back to home and then sell them to others that were not as industrious as my father. With his trunkload of fireworks, my father spent the next week hitting all his usual hangouts and selling the fireworks at a 50-100% mark-up. Within the first day or so, he had a new wad of money (usually lots of ones wrapped in a $50 or $100 bill).

I remember travelling with my father and mother (someone had to keep him out of trouble)almost every time, but my sister wasn't always present. One such time in which we made the trip without my sister, we travelled down late in the day (South of the Border is a 24 hr establishment). Upon returning we hit Bunn around 11PM and my father was hungry. Bunn is a little town on I-95 and we usually stop there for gas. Being a little town this means that every shuts down early and after driving all over town, the only place to eat was Pizza Hut that was getting ready to close and the only thing they had available was a pizza with pineapple on it. [This was my first encounter ever with a pineapple pizza, but later in college I would order them by choice.] This pizza was available because apparently someone ordered it for pick-up and never came to get it. At 11PM and nothing else available, my father who would not ever consider eating a pineapple pizza normally gladly accepted the discounted pizza and we got back on the road.

The last time I visited my father at his house was about 2-3 years ago (after McKenzie was born, but before Nesta was born). He had injured his shoulder and was no longer to work, but not collecting disability. His wife was just injured, so they had no legal income. At that time, he had purchased a new CD burner and was bootlegging CDs. They were then taking that money and buying food that they then prepared and sold out of the house along with beer and sodas. Keep in mind that the closest local store was 5+ miles away, so they were the closest location where such items could be purchased. As I sat there that night, one of his wholesale customers came in and purchased $100 in bootleg CDs ($4 each), a beer and a sandwhich. I just remember chuckling to myself because no matter how amazingly bizarre his schemes were they almost always paid off.

His luck was always just amazing. My mother always joked that even thought he would the first to die, he would outlive us all. He ultimately got the last laugh because none of us expected him to go this early.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Dad was a lots of things, but foremost he was a storyteller. Most of the story is told you were likely to be complete cow manure, but he would have you believing it. However, some of the story he told were true to a point. When he introduced you to me for the first time, you were likely to hear a story about me hitting a kid in the head with a brick.

The basics of the story is this. We lived in Germany so I was at most 3 years old. Across the street from our housing was a playground. In the playground there was a sandbox. In the sandbox was sand that had little pieces of gravel type rocks. These rocks when they got in my hair were hard to get out and I got in trouble for getting this grit in my hair. This kid throw sand in my hair and I retaliated by hitting him with the first thing I could get... a stone. This is the story as told by Mom. I really have no memory of it (as I said I was 3 at most).

When my sister speaks of it, she says she told me to throw sand back in his hair and then I picked up the rock.

When my father told it, there was no rock. It was a brick and I didn't just hit the kid with it, I threw it at him from the across the sandbox and bloodied up his head. This is when my father (who watched it all transpire from the stoop) calls me over or walks over to get me (it changed). Of course, after that we quickly fled the scene of the crime.

If I heard the story once, I heard it 300-400 times, but to this day I can never tell it as well as my father did. No one told it like him.

Earliest Memory?

One of my attempts here is to force myself to find the earliest memory of my father. My earliest memories at this point go back to Kindergarten. I'm not dure if they are real or just figments of my imagination.

In my kindergarten class there were 3 kids names Larry. There was myself (Larry Walton), Larry Berry, and Larry Skinner. I only went to K for the latter half of the day, so I can't even fathom how many other kids named Larry were running about the school or why they would stick so many of us with one poor teacher.

This memory of my father is really vague. It's just he and I walking the streets of Oakland. Maybe we were on our way to my grandmother's house on 13th Ave from our duplex on the deadend road near my school. I don't really know. All I know is that we are walking and in walking we passed one of the kids named Larry in my class and that's it. It's dated because I know I had to be in kindergarten because of this one kid we passed.

To get to K, from the duplex I had to 2 possible paths. One top the right led past the drugs dealers and down a major street and up to the school. The left was the safer way with a less busy street and no drug dealers. I was 5, so this would have been late 1983. I remember Dad walking me to school showing the way I should go and telling me why. So that was the way I went to and from school most days.

I say most days because my sister (who went to different school) came to get me from school. She had some beef with the Puerto Rican kids that lived along the safe way, so they would get into fights. To avoid fights (with out a doubt started by my sister) we would scurry up the wrong way a couple blocks (to get pass the house of the PR kids) and then swing over to the safe side to get home.

Those were my adventures in getting to and fro K, however according to Mom, Dad was supposed to pick me up from school. You see my mother worked and went to school most of the time that I can remember. My father was supposed to be at home. That, of course, meant he was running the streets. At that time, I believe he was selling marijuana and cocaine as I have memories of the oven being used to dry out marijuana and that baking soda, baking powder and even powdered sugar being used to cut the cocaine.

Now that the thoughts are flowing, the earliest memory now should be getting enrolled into school. I have no memory of my first day of school, however I know when I began school we lived with my grandmother on 13th ave so I attended the school nearest that house. I have no memory of any of that except a boy named Denny who was in my K class and then later in my first grade class. I remember telling my mom his wasn't white or black or Chinese. That was the extent of my knowledge of race and nationalities at that point. Hispanics were white and blacks were blacks. Most everything else was Chinese. Denny however was Filipino. My mind just hadn't been able to grasp that until about a year later when my sister had a Filipino friend, but I digress...back to school.

My first memories of school involve us moving to the dead end road and having to go to new schools. For a while we commuted back to Bell Vista (our old school), but evenutally we needed to be enrolled into closer schools. I ended up at Garfield and my sister at Hawthorne because K was full in her school and her grade (3rd) was full at my school. Thus we went to different schools and I remember my father being there at that time. Thus that is my earliest of Dad.

27 March 2006

I'm starting this blog because my father passed away on 27 March 2006. I hope to use this blog to gather my memories of him before they grow anymore foggy than what they are now.

My father was Larry Ben Walton aka the Diamond aka Larry Diamond aka John Boy aka Big Money JB. Those closest to him knew him as the Diamond because as he put it ....

"I'm a gem of a guy."
My father died at the age of 53. The thoughts about putting this all together came to me during a long ride to Richmond, VA from Durham, NC on May 7th. During this 2.5 hour drive all I had was me and my thoughts. Oddly enough those thoughts turned to my father and now we are here.
Honestly, his death really didn't hit me hard,but it has had a profound effect on my thoughts and my insight with my kids. I go to bed every night thinking that it could be the last time and I awake up every morning thankful for another day with my family. I'm doing this because I have to. Because I am compelled to.