Monthly Archives: June 2019

Eyes of Gratitude by Wayne T. Dowdy

Gratitude Drives this Post: Gratitude for Experiencing Sight.

I posted the original version of this essay on Facebook to help those who follow my posts and who are friends, to understand why the majority of my content concerns a photo or video I make for their entertainment. At the end of this post I will include another video from the Adventures of Wayne.

I hope you enjoy this modified version of the essay I wrote while in prison and used to reach beyond the walls, bars, and fences, lined with rows of razor wire, which held my body but could not bind my mind.

Reading this may help you understand my fascination with taking photos to post online and why I am quick to post images of nature and the natural beauty of God’s creation. I’m grateful for my eyesight:

EYES by Wayne T. Dowdy (excerpt from Essays & More Straight from the Pen).

Seeing the beauty of God’s creation thrills me because I realize how fortunate I am to do so. This story will help you understand why I feel that way.

The sun shined brightly on the day my older brother, Stanley, came home from school with a bright idea that he had formulated from something taught in his science class: recharge a penlight battery with a twelve-volt car battery. I think I was about six-years-old. He was close to eleven.

My mother or dad had left the car battery sitting on the carport. Time has erased my memory of exactly what I was doing when he summoned me to assist him.

“Come here,” he yelled.

In one hand he held two wire coat hangers; in his other one was a double “A” battery, the ones like you might put in a radio, clock, or small flashlight. He had straightened the coat hangers to use as leads: one to make the connection between the negative post of the 12-volt battery and the negative post of the AA, and the other one for connecting the positive sides of each battery.

When I got to where he stood on the carport, he said, “Take this, “and then handed me one of the straightened coat hangers.

He laid down his coat hanger and the AA battery to free his hands as he wrapped the end of my coat hanger around one 12 volt post. Then he wrapped the end of his coat hanger on the opposite post. “Now,” he said, “hold this tight,” having me to grasp one end of the AA to hold to the coat hanger. “When I say let go, you let go. Okay?”

I nodded in agreement. I held the coat hanger tight to the end of the AA as instructed, always wanting to impress my big brother. I watched him hold the end of his coat hanger to the opposite 12-volt post. And then he touched the AA with the opposite end of the coat hanger. My fingers burned instantly from the heat of the coat hanger and AA. “Let it–,” he said.
BOOM!

The AA battery exploded before he completed his instruction. Particles of the battery struck both corneas of my eyes. I screamed, blinded by tears, eyes on fire.

Stanley grabbed me by the arm and led me to the water hose attached to the spigot on the front of our brick house. He sprayed my eyes with water.

“What have you did to that baby?” my grandmother yelled, accustomed to me and him fighting on a daily basis; me getting beat up, usually, though, I did sometimes win when using a weapon. More stories.

My grandmother made him bring me to her for examination. She was in poor health and unable to hurry to me. After inspecting my face and learning about what had happened, she yelled for my sister, Brenda.

“Get the mineral oil and pour some in his eyes,” she said.

My Mother was en route from work when the incident occurred. It was about time for her to get home, so they waited for her to arrive. As soon as she pulled in the driveway, someone ran and told her what had happened. She put me in her station wagon and then rushed me to the Emergency Room at the hospital that was about ten miles away.

The doctor examined me as he used a solution to rinse my eyes. His diagnosis was external damage to the cornea and surrounding tissue, from particles of sulfuric acid and fragments from the battery casing. The prognosis was that I would be okay, to keep putting eye drops in my eyes for the next few days to prevent any infection.

The doctor said to my mother, “If y’all had not put the mineral oil in his eyes, he would have been totally blind by the time you got him here.”

Mineral oil neutralizes acid, whereas water only dilutes it. Diluted sulfuric acid eats flesh and tissue; especially, the tender tissue of a child’s eye.

Ironically, for many years my vision was better than 20/20. I could see two lines below the 20/20 line, which isn’t true today, almost fifty years later. However, my eyes still allow me to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, without glasses, except for reading.

I had written the above and thought this was ready for submission until I returned from the library to the cellblock where I live as a federal prisoner. Two chain link fences surround the compound, layered and lined with razor wire; several coiled rolls strung in-between the two. Back inside, I looked out the window and saw two mockingbirds fighting inside the compound, flipping and flopping on the ground. Seconds later, one took off and zoomed through a square in the chain link fence, then weaved between strands of coiled razor wire in-between the fences. Then it flew back and forth through squares in the fence closest to me; the other mockingbird hot on its tail. I watched the chase until both birds disappeared down the fence row.

Then I watched a gaggle of geese walk on the other side of the fence; some honking and flapping their wings. Two pair of geese escorted seven goslings, two adults in the front, two in the rear, protecting their offspring from other geese in the procession. I thoroughly enjoyed watching both events and knew I had not finished writing this story.

My feeling was confirmed later. It’s rare to look out the window and see deer. That night I watched six of them graze. I also have a fascination with great blue herons. The next evening I watched for maybe three minutes as one flew outside the fence and then across the compound, right above where I stood amazed.

After those events, I knew I had to write more. When I stand and admire the beauty of the trees and nature, beyond my reach, but within my sight, I feel grateful for having had a grandmother who told my sister to pour the mineral oil in my eyes. I know I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe the beauty of God’s creation for all these years.

Another Video from the Adventures of Wayne

Life and Times of Wayne (Updated)

These clips I made into a movie with the help of Gallery come from an exciting day. I ate well at a retirement event with one of my sisters, and then went for a walk this evening and saw a beaver and an alligator snapper.

June 14, 2019, Update: Upon further investigation and during the daylight hours, I conclude I erred in my Turtle Identification. The turtle kind enough to pose for the photo shoot was not an alligator snapper: it’s a common snapping turtle, more aggressive than the larger alligator snapper. Sorry.

This YouTube video tells the tail of the turtles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRrWiW1o19E

Good thing for the turtle it was me who found it. A lot of people I know would be cooking Turtle Stew.

Bullet Proof, Tough Guy Mask

The Sun Shining Bright Above the Park

The Sun magazine, Charlotte, North Carolina, published a clip I sent in response to an article in Readers Write.

That was a decade or so ago. In the published clip, I shared about the experience I wrote about in response to the Quora question: Is it true that people get sprayed with water in prison when they first get there?

No, not during any of my experiences. However, this did happen:

In the Georgia prison system, at the Georgia Diagnostics and Classification Center, in Jackson, new arrivals were sat in a chair and then asked, “How do you want it cut?” referring to the hair on our heads.

After a moment of appearing to listen (for the effect of the joke), the inmate Barber would smile before using hair clippers to cut it down to the scalp. “Oops, I got a little too close,” he might say, a smirk on his face.

Then came the degrading and humiliating part:

All prisoners were stripped of all clothing, and then sprayed with bug poison under the arms and testicles, before the “Turn around and bend over and cock ’em.”

We would have to turn around, bend over and spread the cheeks to be sprayed with the bug poison.

Upon completion of the licing process, then followed a group shower, another aspect of Prison Life I didn’t find enjoyable, but no one ever knew that because I wore my Bullet Proof, Tough Guy Mask.

THE SOLUTION: Keep my ass out of prison. 🙂

L.E.A.D. Program

The correspondence I am posting came in response to material I sent into the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, via a former blog post I wrote that concerned an experimental prison project in Connecticut : “Prison Reform Progress”. https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/04/05/prison-reform-progress/ (referencing Mr. Bill Whitaker’s presentation in 60-Minutes: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/german-style-true-program-at-cheshire-correctional-institution-emphasizes-rehab-for-inmates-60-minutes/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7d&linkId=65567301).

I modified the blog to make it compatable with Corrlinks.com because only text is accepted through Corrlinks. Corrlinks.com provides an email system to federal prisoners at a cost of five-cents per minute, to read, type and send emails. The security system removes all formatting and strips all photos. Text is converted into one font type and style.

I spent hundreds $$$$ to get blogs posted on this website, but … it was only money and the things I am doing are more important than the funds I spent and am spending.

Now I need to find a real job to be able to afford to keep the blogs going, because those of you in the free society have not been charitable, nor were those on the inside.

But …. I will still accomplish my goal of providing valuable content to effect positive social change, even if I do have to find a job flipping hamburgers to do what I feel I am supposed to do, with or without financial support.

Sorry about that:-( I had to get it off my chest!

Here’s the delayed correspondence I intended to post two months ago, but … I got busy and forgot about it until going through old files looking for things to delete and increase storage space.

Corrlinks Correspondence: L.E.A.D.

Well, to answer some of your concerns, guys here have already been actively involved in outside community outreach projects, I made belts for children and guys knitted hats and scarfs as well. I will forward you info so you can see some of those accomplishments, however, it would be extra special to have exclusive outside individuals involved and of course everything is being done according to The First Step Act of 2018 and needs assessments are taking place. This is why most of our class attendance are for the Faith Based Programs L.E.A.D. has to offer because under the First Step Act, those programs reward you 10 days more a year on top of the 7…we always need publicity and our very first graduation will be next month in May and our Unit Manager Mrs. Owens resides over all of this. Thanks for your support. Glad you made it home and some of my other topics from R4R have been posted on a site called The Voice…voicematters2255
—–Dowdy, Wayne on 4/5/2019 3:21 PM wrote:

>

That is great! I am impressed. In the future, I may see if the staff involved, as well as yourself and others, wants some publicity.

What I have to watch is the fine-lines drawn between Bureau Policy and privacy laws. Anyways, the program sounds great, for real. One thing I suggest is keeping a log if participants to use for recidivism studies and program success rates.

Thanks again for the info. I will send a complimentary copy, Corrlinks’ modified, if I use what you just sent. And I will, of course. I know I’ll update the Quora.com post. Take care and keep up the good work.

M.R. on 4/5/2019 12:53:23 PM wrote
This program was a vision by our very own Dr. R. who is on leave of absence right now and who we miss for her leadership abilities and leadership skills and also Warden A. along with the chaplain. The acronyms stand for:
L.eading
E.ffecting
A.chieving
D.efeating all odds
Our Philosophy statement was created by a staff Sponsor Chaplain Middleton and goes as such:
I am not the mistakes of my past.
Who I am is a masterpiece in the making.
My future is what I dream.
Through discipline and dedication our dreams come true.
I am leading the way.
I am effecting change.
I am achieving greatness.
I am defeating all odds.
Help me learn.
Watch me grow.
Cheer my victory.
This is recited every single morning at our community meetings and must be memorized and learned. I created a few contests and made creative championship belts out of cardboard for those who can recite it on call or for those who have learned every member in our community by last name I make them an achieving greatness belt.

[Modified copy sent into approved correspondents through Corrlinks.com (Inmates must put in a request for correspondence that must then be accepted and approved)].

Swimming

Lake Blue Ridge

One thing I gave up when I went to prison was swimming because prisons don’t have swimming pools. At least, none I know of in the United States.  Some kiddy camps may have them, but because a knucklehead would drown someone, I understand why prison authorities don’t want swimming pools for prisoners.

Oh, I forgot, prisons are for punishing the inhabitants (in the two Youth Development Centers I was in as a juvenile, we did have swimming pools, but I don’t think they have swimming pools anymore in the Georgia Juvenile Justice system because a child drown years ago).

While in prison, I often wished for a large body of water on hot days, whether a lake, swimming pool, or ocean. Even a bathtub would have been a pleasure. Taking a bath was a rare occasion (I only had a couple while in a local hospital at Leavenworth, Kansas), so when I got home and used the bathtub to take a bath, it was the first bath I’d had in decades.  😊

I loved to swim! I swam like a fish three decades ago, Olympic-type swimming, rhythmic breathing and all of that, where the swimmer uses proven techniques to increase speed and to reduce fatigue. For instance, controlling the motion of the head when coming up for air during set intervals (I believe it’s every third stroke); holding the hands in a certain position, bringing them close to the body, and keeping legs straight while kicking to propel themselves through the water.

At a Youth Development Center, a staff member taught us how to swim like an Olympian, like a fish. Today I went swimming for the first time in three decades and did well, but struggled to get back into  the rhythmic breathing and ran out of air too fast when trying to swim like a fish under water, but … it was great to jump in a big body of water!  Life is wonderful!