Posted by: Lawrence D. Elliott | July 3, 2011

My Life Revisited

After rewriting my “About Lawrence” pages for my web site and the blog, I sat back and read the words I had written. None of the facts had changed, but the way I told the story seemed like I was reading about myself for first time. I got chills throughout my body as I reflected not only on how far I had come, but how much further I must travel as I enter this period of self rediscovery. My writing has always been that anchor in stormy seas. It has always been ever-present and something onto which I could always hold when things became difficult. And I hope it will always be that. But the beginning of my passion for writing still make me stand back and say, “Wow! Did it really happen like that?”

This time, that feeling was so strong and I felt so emotional that I decided to create a Facebook Fan Page.

Me…with a Facebook Fan Page?

That’s another thing that was a bit hard to grasp.

Here is my new “About Lawrence” page:

On a September morning in 1973, a group of San Diego children began their journey on a very special first day of school. The vast majority were minority children from the inner-city as participants in a new voluntary integration program to provide them with a chance for a better education. I say voluntary because it was not a government mandated program. The information was given to parents and they were asked to discuss it with their children and enroll them if it was something in which they wanted to be involved. But I was living in my mom’s home. She felt I would get a better education than what I could receive in the then decaying inner-city schools. So, I was enrolled. The debate ended before I was allowed to render my argument.

And on that September morning, our wonderful bright yellow bus made its way through the streets and on the freeways of San Diego to our new school: John J. Pershing Middle School. Our wide eyes stared out of the windows as our familiar surroundings changed.

To say that first year was filled with tension would be an enormous understatement. Not only were mean and hateful words exchanged, but fights broke out constantly. One broke out when one white kid spit on a black one. During the year, a so-called mini-riot broke out. The police were brought into the situation because it was reported a firearm was discovered in one of the student lockers. This situation had to be squelched immediately or this “experiment” would have ended very soon.

Then something happened to me that on the surfaced looked like the most devastating event in my life. Some test I had taken showed that I had a reading deficiency. That meant I had to be placed in a remedial reading class. I was crushed. Now it wasn’t just the bigots who were judging me as “inferior.” Now, the education system made its decision. I can remember that first day trying unsuccessfully to fight back the tears as I walked through the door.

Then, she appeared. My 7th grade remedial reading teacher: Ms. Davila. That is when this devastating moment became the most important moment in my life. She not only gently and patiently guided me through the process of improving my reading, but she learned something about me that I didn’t know. She discovered I could write. Imagine a kid from the inner-city who had a reading deficiency being able to write.

Once she learned this, she gave me an assignment to write one new essay each week. I loved it so much, I wrote three or more. My life’s passion was revealed to me and it has stayed with me to this day.

But it did so much more. It gave me a reason to believe I was worth something. That I had something to offer this world. And what was the most excruciatingly painful experience become so different. The 50 minutes in that class was my escape from the turmoil of the outside world. And when the bell rang and it was time to leave, I really hated to do it! Often, I was late to my next class because I wanted to discuss my next essay idea with Ms. Davila.

And there was a hidden treasure in this experience. I cannot remember any of my teachers being anything but professional and kind under what must have been a pressure-cooker for them. But Ms. Davila became the catalyst for coming to the correct conclusion about what was going on outside the classroom.

Not all white people will hate me. Not all white people are evil or bad. Some are nice. Some are really nice. Some are willing to help me if I am willing to put in the work.
I just had to learn to find the good people of all colors and kick the twigs to curb.

And Ms. Davila was more than just nice. I’ve had several teachers who have shaped my life in a positive way, but Ms. Davila was definitely the most inspiring. She is the main reason I’m a writer today and that will always make her one of the most important people in my life.

Something else special happened that first year. One day, I came home from school and found a wonderful surprise sitting on the desk in my bedroom. My mom and Moma (her mother), who was an avid garage sale sleuth, found a second-hand Remington manual typewriter. I now had an instrument to craft my ideas. I even took typing class the following year.

My life has taken quite a few turns:

• a childhood that included a period where we didn’t know where we would sleep or from where our next meal would come

• a tour in the US Air Force where I spent almost 4 years in Germany

• a near-death experience that almost ended my quest to make my dreams come true before it even started

• almost 20 years in real estate business

But today…I can say with great pride…I am a published author! I’m not only proud, but so grateful. I worked hard to achieve my goals, but how many people work hard and don’t accomplish their dreams? I’m very grateful for what I have received and I believe the best is yet to come!

Currently, I live in the town of Bensheim, Germany. I’m on a personal journey of rediscovery as I edit my first novel and outline two others.

I’m in a different location, but I’m the same writer.

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