It really feels like a huge task at hand but, I really think I am up to it. I never really had the ” “Giddy up and Go” for something like this, but here I am.
Reaching in the back of my mind and pulling out memories when I was very young, I do have a few.
I can remember asking people in conversations. What can you remember about your childhood? And they would respond with very little before the age of 10 or so or I don’t know, but I will say that I have a few memories from when I was like maybe 1 and so on.
This is not a complete history of my life, but mostly of the things I can remember.
I am Harry Lee Wood born in Baltimore, Md on May 4, 1968 at Maryland General Hospital in Baltimore City.
I lived in a small neighborhood called Lynn Hurst in Baltimore County, Md with my Mother and Father.
My first memory that hits me and this memory has been whirling in my head for 43 years.
I was outside crawling around, so I think I was almost one years old, a little diapered boy pulling myself up on a fence and on that fence seeking with crossed eyes 3 inches from my nose there was a furry caterpillar and in the distance beyond the fence out over the water an airplane was landing in the water. I don’t really know if I was amazed by it, but from what I know from little kids today I am pretty sure I was.
Thinking back that was 43 years ago it makes me smile that I can remember these things.
Here we are and it’s 1969, I was less than 1 years old.
I am still that diapered little boy still crawling. I am sitting on the floor and I am looking up at my father standing in the doorway. He was wearing his cap & gown for high school graduation holding his rolled up diploma in his hand and he was looking down at me and waving, He was 17 -18 at the time.
I was 1 year, 2 months 16 days old when man first walked on the moon.
This memory I think I was a little older say maybe 2 or 3.
I was in the street and I was walking ,not crawling and my mother was in our car. I believe it was a purple 60’s something Ford Falcon. I was standing right outside the driver side door and my mother was trying to start it and at the same time she was jumping up and down on the driver’s seat until this day I don’t know why
Here we are in April of 1971
I do not recall my mother being pregnant with my brother, but I do recall walking crossed the hospital parking lot my father holding one hand and my grandmother holding the other and hearing them say ,” Look as they pointed up to a window where my mother was standing holding my baby brother in her arms and waving.Not much more I can remember until the ride home. We are in the car and I am standing up between the bucket seats on the transmission hump watching the marble steps of the houses in Baltimore City pass by.
So far my life seems to be happy,but everyone’s life in some time or another isn’t so happy at times.
As an innocent child I had no perspective or clue that my Mother and Father were having problems.
I remember being alone with my baby brother in the house one day and I reached into my baby brothers crib and pulled him out, he couldn’t have been no more than a year old or less. I carried him to the bed and was bouncing him up and down on it. After that I don’t really remember anything only that after all day my father came home and my mother was gone. The next time I saw her I was around 7 years old over a weekend , then again when I was 18 over a weekend, then she vanished completely.
After that we moved just up the road to a neighborhood called Edgemere, Md. I really don’t have many memories from there, but I do have some.
These memories go into the snippets category
I can remember when I was around 5 -6 me and the neighborhood kids used to play army in an old chicken coop and one day I stepped on a board with a bunch a rusty nails sticking out of it.
I had a tractor I used to love to play with and someone stole it one night.
I can remember my first day in the first grade.
My grandmother took me to school to help me get settled in and when she started to leave me there I fell to the floor crying and wrapping my arms and my legs around her legs and didn’t want her to go. That part I don’t understand because kindergarten went so well.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot a memory from kindergarten.
The following is a true story only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
You know in kindergarten when we all had nap time? We would go to our little cubby and pull out our little mat and find a place on the floor and the teacher would turn the light out. Well just another normal day in kindergarten until ( I will call her Susie ) came and laid next to me. As we lay there , now I don’t know if she knew I was watching her or not, but Susie, Oh, Susie was digging into her nose really deep and when she pulled it out, it looked like a string of green slime hanging from the tip of her finger and she opened her mouth and ate it, no jok
I was on the 8-10 Baseball team called The Padres, we really sucked but I was the most valuable player that year. I was 8 years old in 1976.
Me and my brother when we were like 8-5 ran away from home because we were sent to our room.
The reason we were sent to our room is completely unknown,but you can use your imagination and anything you can come up with would probably be right. We tied sheets together and climbed out our bedroom window with our paper bag full of clothes and ran up the street just to realize we forgot my bike. We hid our bag under a big pine tree and went back for my bike. As we were making our my back for the bag we were riding down Fishers Rd. Back then bikes had banana seats so my brother sat in front and I sat in the back while I pedaled and steered and for some unknown reason I said, “Hey I’ll pedal and you steer,” and as soon as I let go of the handle bars we went tumbling on the asphalt. Some of the scaring remain today lol.
We ended up at the school ( Sparrows Point High School) about 2 miles from home. We sat in the grass and watched the older kids do football exercises and a really nice woman from across the street saw us, I guess she wonder why us being so young were all by ourselves invited us to her house and feed us cookies and juice and pried us for information and as young as we were we didn’t know the difference, because a short time later my father pulled in front of the house.
Oh, Fishers Rd. I have another
Fishers Rd was one street over from my street Veronica Ave.
We used to ride our bikes there because it was long and it looped around and every time I rode down that street this mean little Chihuahua would come running out of his yard after me and snapping at the bottom of my pants leg, but he could never catch me. I was so scared ,but it never deterred me from riding on that street. One day I am riding down the street like hundreds of times before always prepared, because I know what’s coming, And here he comes just like always except this time he ran out in front of me and he rolled over and beneath my bike tires, it felt like I rode over 2 speed bumps and he yikes away. He never did chase me anymore, but I always saw him in his yard watching me as I past by.
I had a German Shepard named, Amy and a Beagle named, Queeny and was really sad when my Father and Grandfather packed them up and took them up the road just to let them go, I never could understand that just another unhappy time in my life.
I think at one time or another all kids are brats and it’s no different for me.
My grandmother was sitting outside in her lawn chair one day reading a book and I was doing something that was annoying her and she was telling me to stop and I mouthed off to her. She chased me around the yard and couldn’t catch me, but she said to me,”I might not get you today,I might not get you tomorrow,but one of these days I am going to get you,” With that I thought cool I am in the clear, that night as I slept I was awoken by being cracked with a plastic whiffle ball bat over and over again.
My grandfather on the other hand was a lot different but, of course I did the same thing to him and he got annoyed a chased me around he yard and as always he couldn’t catch me just like me grandmother couldn’t catch me, but it stopped there if my grandfather couldn’t catch me it ended and it was almost like it never happened. Sometimes, I wonder what he would have done if he could catch me.
I hope I am still capturing your attention.
This is another part of my life that saddens me and I think that it really shook me to the core as a 8-9 year old kid.
Me and my brother were playing “Hide and Seek” outside it was my brothers turn to hide, he was about 5-6 at the time. I was counting then time to go find him. I looked and looked, then I heard a Boom ! There were 2 big metal drums placed upside down on top of a picnic table. I thought ha ha , I know where he is, I ran to the picnic table because I thought he was trying to hide under one of the drums and knocked one down, but they were still there on the picnic table undisturbed, then my grandmother came running out of the house screaming and doing laps around the house. I have never in my life till this day felt the fear and shock running through my body as I did on that day. The chill of my grandmothers screams and the sirens of the Fire Department blaring in my ears. I found out at 8-9 years old my grandfather took a double-barreled shot-gun and shot himself with it. He died on the way to the hospital, but they revived him
I can remember my grandfather had a big pot belly and he used to tell us that he had a pumpkin in there and if you would tap his belly with your hand it would sound hollow just like a pumpkin, but no more. After what he did he wasn’t allow to live with us anymore, my grandmother didn’t want him back. He did survive, but not for long after.
He moved to Dundalk, Md
On occasion he would come back to see me and my brother, I remember he came over one day and we took a cab to a sports shop where he bought me and my brother new baseball mitts and a bat and we loved it.
On another occasion, one night he came to the house and knocked on the door wanting to see me and my brother and for some reason my father and grandmother wouldn’t let him see us. I can remember him saying I just want to see Lee and Clifford. I peeked around the corner and through the window I saw a cab parked in front of the house with its lights on and still running as I continued to hear them tell him , go away. He finally did leave and going outside to the front steps shortly after there sat a big brown bag full of donuts.
I didn’t see my grandfather much after that until the day my cousin called and told my father that my grandfather wanted to see his grandsons.
We went to see him at his house in Dundalk.
As I walked into the room he was laying in bed and he didn’t look like my Pop – Pop, No pumpkin, he was frail and he reached out his arms for me, As I hugged him he told me he loved me and said, “Pop – Pop is going to die.” I didn’t really know how to feel, I loved him very much and it didn’t really sink in of how much I loved until the day he died.
As kids we all had our fights with other kids and growing up I was “the bullied”not the bully.
In grade school, I want to say 2 nd or 3 rd grade there was this kid, I will call him Joey. Every time I raised my hand to go to the lavatory, Joey would do the same and once there he would push me around and call me names and this happened almost on a daily basis until one day I was feed up with it and pushed him back and got into his face and told him to leave me alone. After that no more problems.
We also have our neighbors sometimes we live next to people who we get along with and sometimes we live next to people we don’t get along with or sometimes it falls somewhere in between and this case it does.
Higgy the youngest of 5 brothers, John and Joe the twins and Marvin and Danny
It was always we were friends or we are not friends it always kept bouncing back and forth all the time. Marvin and Danny were the oldest, so they were Ok I guess they really didn’t get into much as far as hanging out with me. Higgy was a few years younger than me while John and Joe were a little older than me. Honestly, the reasons are unclear to how we would be friends one day and not the next. The only thing I can think of is that we were all kids and that is what happens.
I can remember one day and this is one of those days that we were not friends. I am sitting on my back porch watching them play kickball in there back yard, something we always did when we “were friends”. They saw me sitting there and said,”Do you want to play,” I was excited and said yes. I walked over into their yard and they said I can kick first. ( I hope I still have your attention because it gets better lol ) So, I am standing there waiting for the pitcher to roll the ball and he does, I kick it and start running,the ball loops into the air, but no one is trying to catch the ball. All of their eyes are on me as the ball hits the ground and bounces away ,then they all jump on me and beat me up.
We also have the neighbor who complains about everything, a grouchy old man who has nothing better to do with his time then to pan the neighborhood with his eyes just like a surveillance camera and find reasons to pick.
It’s a long story, but it started with this grouchy old man and his brother who lived right next door to him, we’ll call his brother Joe.
Joe put a fence because his brother kept staring at his wife and kids as they were swimming in their pool. Obviously, this may have been deeper before this, but this is when they started calling the grouchy old man “Big Balls” and he wore the name well, know one in the neighborhood could do anything without hearing him say,” I am going to call the “Poooolice.” And even so the police were sick of “Big Balls.”
Eventually , We moved to Dundalk when I was 11-12…it was like 1980-1981.
We moved into an apartment complex called Hidden Cove where I met a few kids my age a few who were a little older than me.
Sometimes I wish that we didn’t move there,but then again, What I am about to tell you could have happened anywhere in my life.
The new crowd I was hanging with like to smoke cigarettes, weed and loved to pop pills like speed so , I wanted to be apart of it all.
I started smoking cigarettes, weed and popping pills at the age of 13.
I smoked weed for the first time right off of Sparrows Point rd at my friend Chuck’s house.
We were sitting at his picnic table in his back yard under this big tree.
Weed and cigarettes were so easy to get, cigarettes were 75 cents per pack in the cigarette machine at the corner bar Ford’s Inn.My father always threw his loose change in the bottom of his tackle box and my brother and I would take it and go play video games at Micky’s which was a carry out / liquor store/ arcade. In those days anyone ,any age could go get cigarettes anywhere, and when it came to weed / pills all my friends always had it.
As for beer and wine we would stand outside of Mickeys and wait for someone who didn’t mind getting it for us. Our favorite was Green Apple and Tickle me Pink wine.Things have changed a lot since the 80’s
I would always drink beer and whisky when I took the 5 mile bike ride back to my old neighborhood in Edgemere.
Miss Jenny who was a very nice old lady. She rented rooms out and I had a friend ( Little John )who lived there who was maybe 5 years older than me, it was like the “Party Spot”. It was cool he went out and stole these blinking yellow lights from a road construction site and had them hanging everywhere.( Not that it was cool that he stole them, but it did look cool ). On the corner of School House Lane there was a bar named Friendly’s and it burned down one day.
So, one night me and my friends when searching for booze and we found it. We turned over all the burnt wood and anything that was not nailed down and found bottle after bottle of booze a little of everything.
We found a huge pickle jar , it had to be a gallon and emptied every bottle we had into it.
We sat in the room and passed it around.
I am 5 miles from home and drunk. I stayed up and out all night long.
I can remember being bent over on my knees throwing up in a drain before I hopped on my bike to ride home and on the way I saw a bill board advertisement of Bacardi Rum, ” You know the iced down glass sitting next to the bottle”? At first sight I started throwing up again as I was riding up the road.
Sad thing about all this I never did learn a lesson. I continued to drink ,smoke weed and cigarettes.
My father was never around and at this point, he was always working or at the bar, my grandmother was living with my aunt,so basically at the age of 14-15 I was pretty much doing what I wanted to do, skipping school and staying out all night.
By the time I hit the age of 17 , my father gave up on me and kick me out of the house.
At first it was really hard, I didn’t have a clue to what I was going to do.Hungry with no knowledge to find a way to eat I would fill up on water at any water fountain I could find I found myself wondering around for days at a time , it seemed, until I just couldn’t do it anymore because of fatigue and just slept where ever I was at the time.
Sometimes, I would sleep in this old junked van in my friend Marks back yard. One winter morning I woke up and my toes and feet were frozen and to get warm I would limp over to Hidden Coves laundry room where it was always golden when someone was drying their clothes, because it would steam up the whole room and what relief it was. The problem with just staying there, people would chase me out, so I just saved it for the mornings and as time went by I just learned the ins and outs of surviving on the streets.
I also tried sleeping in the woods without a tent or knowledge. All I knew to do was throw a piece of plastic on the ground and sandwich another piece of plastic between two blankets and cuddle up underneath and use my breath to stay warm.
One morning I woke up with 2 inches of snow on top on me. Just briefly, I became a part of the landscape.
That spring into summer I started working on a Crab boat with my uncle and also had a job at Pizza Plus. I lived with my Aunt and Uncle in Ft. Howard, Md and I was still in school.
Things seemed to be looking up for me, but drinking and drugs were still a big part of my life and suffering from depression only made things worse for me, so I found myself back on the streets once again.
I am no stranger to jail,but don’t get me wrong if you add all the days I ever spent behind bars it would equal to about 45 days.
I never had a Judge sentence me for anything, but I was arrested for drugs and violation of probation.
It’s 1999 , I am 31 years old.
On and off the streets seemily fore-ever. I used to travel to BWI Airport to Hunt Valley, Md everyday on The Light Rail. Back and forth all day and night sometimes just to sleep or to hop off at the airport and blend in with all the travelers. Back in the days before 9/11 you could get away with it with ease.
I could have just went to the shelters and I did at times,but living in a shelter is like living in jail with all the people who are also depressed and on drugs and shooting up under their covers , fighting, stealing, disrespecting each other and so loud I never could sleep. The only difference between a shelter and jail is that you can leave the shelter anytime you want.
A little smarter and more experienced I chose to camp in the woods away from anyone and anything. I had a tent, clothes and blankets, a fire pit and most of the tools needed to survive. I chose a camp site somewhere that only I knew the path in the woods and for good reason not only to lay low away from anyone, also to protect myself from other homeless gangs of men who would go around and invade your camp site and kick you while you slept and steal all of your things. I found my peace as close to a normal life as I could at that time and hunkered down where no one would find me.
On the way towards my camp site way at the end off Stansbury Rd. Down off the side of the rail road tracks was a community garden and it had a water pump. I would stop by and clean/ fill my containers that I have collected and hump a 100 lbs of water on my back to my camp site. I used it for drinking and cooking and I also used it for washing up.When I was in hard times on the street I would lay a big piece of plastic on the ground then take a milk crate and sit on it naked, ( Yes I was naked in the woods) I would then fill a bucket up with fresh water and pour it over my head, soap up then rinse. Just as clean as taking a real shower, but man was the water cold.
Also in the fall after everyone abandoned their garden for the season, I would go pick it finding tomatoes, cucumbers and just about any vegetable you can think of. I also went to local churches for diner on Monday, Thursday and Friday and once a month the one St. Ritas church in Dundalk ,Md would give you a weeks worth of food to hold you over for awhile.
I really don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for the generosity of others, one thing I never did and it’s because of my pride. I never stood on street corners begging for money by holding up signs, my pride wouldn’t let me do it. I would have felt embarressed and humiliated to do that, so I managed to do without and for me that was the right thing to do.
It’s 2000 and “All is good.”
I found a job at Sheet Metal fabrication Shop and learned to operate and forklift and became a machine operator as well.
In the beginning I was still camping out and saving my money to get a room or a small apart somewhere. I washed my clothes at the local laundry mat and took my showers either at the gym I joined, The Dundalk Youth Service Center or Baltimore County Community College and I ate anywhere I wanted . If you didn’t see me walking around with this big green army bag thrown over my shoulders you wouldn’t even know I was on the streets, ” Man, I have come a long way.”
I saved all my money and found a small apartment in Fells Point ,Md on the corner of Eastern Ave & Washington St. above a Mexican grocery store.
I am still holding down my job at the steel fabrication shop, but thinking about leaving for something that pays a little more.
So I started searching and found one in Dundalk at a Welding Wire Plant. I use to get really nervous when going in for an interview and a drug screen, but this time around I have been clean for nearly 6 years, so I am confindent it’s in the bag.
I moved from Fells point to be closer to my new job and now staying with my brother.
It’s June of 2006.
I wanted to change-up my routine which was working from 2 pm 10 pm Mon – Sat and I needed to break up the monotony, so I went back to my old neighborhood in Fells Point where there are a few bars all in a line.
I decided to walk into the Cats Eye Pub to listen to the bands playing and to have a beer or two.
While there I met a girl named Pam who was there with a couple of her friends and we started talking and we seemed to hit it off really good.
I really did meet my best friend that night, we dated for a while and things just fell into place and we started seeing each everyday and soon we were building a home together and started our family.
And, for the first time since I was just a little kid, I feel at peace with my life.
Right now, As I look back I wonder how I made it through it all. I was drowning with the water passed my mouth, but not quite to my nose,” I can still breathe.” Sometimes, I think it was God who put a rock under my feet to keep my head from going under all the way and that’s why I am still here today and that rock was Pam
“2011” Drug free for 11 years.