“The sun had just set on a Friday night in early May and my older brother Jimmy, Ted and Sam Nafores, and I were hanging out on Garnsey street in Santa Ana in the outdoor patio of our mother’s then rented house. We had about seven or so places in over the course of time because they were just so hard for her to keep up I guess. Eventually she stayed in the Long Beach area until the end of her life with the help of her brother, my uncle, but even that place turned into a pretty full space with people coming and going around the clock, sometimes twenty or so sleeping around and about. I didn’t much mind though, that’s just how it was.
The air smelled of weed and hash that night in as we popped whites washing them down with Budweiser beer. The older boys were talking something fierce about making music and getting some nice hot guitars of our own. After getting as high as we all could, we jumped into my brother Jimmy’s dark green Pontiac and raced down to a known music shop in a neighboring town that we frequented before already knowing when they would close and what they had for us to take. Laughing and still drinking with music blasting as we sped down the road, we were ready to load up on some good music gear we had always wanted. This wasn’t our first time making a small hit on a shop and it certainly wouldn’t be our last, but it was my first time with my brother and his friends, and it felt a thrill to creep up to the store, blast open the windows of the shop apart with a bumper jack from the trunk, and run out with a bunch of guitars. One last slug of the bud light and out of the car we jumped managing to steal several guitars, and 3 basses, the 335 Gibson was the one I remember still to this day, before screeching away in the night.
Jimmy would later get caught due to the serial number of one of the guitars but as for me I was scott free. As the year unfolded, my drug habits grew and so did our non violent robberies. Between hits of drugs and hits to mini marts and gas stations, we shared girl friends, pipes, and crimes the same as the fancy would dine together.
Years later, I came to discover last place my mom ended up living in by a note on the door to her old one left by a neighbor for me to find when I got out of prison for a stint I was just done doing. See about that and all, I’ve been in over 14 prisons around and about California, mostly for drug charges or for not stoping my using them like the state kept trying to make me do, but man if you had to live around the people I did all the time, you’d do them too. It was just better that way and besides I wasn’t much hurting anybody else, I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.
More often than not since I didn’t much have the money to buy what I needed, my brother Jimmy and I would get oregano from the store, mash it down, and make fake hash from it to sell on the street for our heroine habits but even that gets you in lieu of sales of a controlled substance and you can land three years for that, even when it’s fake. And we did that a lot. Overall, I’ve probably spent about twenty years on and off in jails and prisons until I met my daughter in 2016. And man she really did the impossible helping me get off probation, getting me gr and food stamps, a real doctor and inhalers of my own, later a mailing address and an SSI check, eventually having me stay around and about with her, and that’s not even all of it. She didn’t have to, but she stopped, turned around, and went back to help her biological dad.
But the two lives are totally different, hers that she shared with me and mine as it was, and when I met her I knew I’d have to choose between my life and drugs and her and her way of life because the two wouldn’t ever mix. She wouldn’t ever be safe. And I wouldn’t say one is even better than the other really because I had my own kind of freedoms living on the street and I likeded it out there.
Sometimes I even got myself caught to go to jail for a bed and the food and a place to play my guitar. And I was the only guy in mainline that was allowed to play music with all the races. Miss Bagley even put me in charge of Mr. Scully’s music studio in Chino State Prison minimum yard. Most of the stuff was broken when I got there but I had gotten good with wiring and tape to get electricity from local gas stations since we didn’t have much electricity around the outside area, so fixin up the prison studio and helping people record stuff was the thing to do. I loved it.
But before all that, starting as early as I can remember, I’d mostly spend my time with my older brother Jimmy hanging around with the neighborhood kids or hang around my dad’s younger girlfriend Mary Lou because that’s just what we did. Back in those days you gotta remember we all hung around with each other, doin the same things together, even my dad. And then sometimes he would go away for a while and it would be just me and Mary Lou. Many times when we would sit around smoking cigarettes and drinking pots of coffee between laying around with each other, she would talk about really wanting a daughter. And we all knew my dad was done with that after already having so many kids, he even found a way to make sure he couldn’t have anymore, but she always wanted to have a child.
It was around the holiday time again as December began to creep in and it was almost my 17th birthday. I had already played with Mary Lou and my brother’s girlfriends before as we all shared in casual pleasures because that was the way life was back then. It was no big thing. Just weeks before Christmas, while I was still on the run from having left the Riverside Boys home a few months before without severing the time I was supposed to, my dad asked me again to stay with Mary Lou a few days while he went in for his routine quarterly check-in at Metro State Hospital for his wavering mental state. Mary Lou was used to me and always happy to see me. It seemed as though I was her favorite as she was warmest to me in our private time together. Even though she was my father’s younger girlfriend and partner, Mary Lou and I had our own story of sorts, me being an excitable 16 year old looking for anything to feel good by and her being almost 15 years my senior in age but almost the same in the way we would relate to each other so we would just make out and pet for fun. The night we went all the way wasn’t supposed to be by my dad’s rules, but it was a secret plan between me and Mary Lou. She had wanted a baby real bad and I was happy to have a good time while possibly giving her one. I told her right away I wouldn’t be there to father anyone as I was already on the run again for leaving the boys home, for safe cracking theft, for still skipping school, and for doing the drugs I wasn’t supposed to do and all and it was only a matter of time when I was going to get caught to serve the time I owed. We both knew it, but it didn’t stop our night.
The following morning I went off on the look out for some whites and stole a car to get around only to get caught by the police a week later in a wild car chase that had all the cops first from Downey and then from Fullerton and then from Anaheim all in on the wild chase. It even made the news. I sped and sped in the Malibu classic I had stold and was so close to getting away. Just as I was about to exit off the 605 freeway off of the harbor offramp though, the car finally ran out gas and spun out of control. My instincts kicked in to bend around the steering wheel in a fetal position just under the dashboard which protected me from impact from hitting the guardrail allowing me to jump out and continue running on foot. Soon I would climb over a fence and come upon a hot water shed that I thought I might be able to hide in as a get away only to have it yanked open by the Fullerton Police force with their fully loaded guns drawn at my face. The police later said they actually thought they were chasing a dangerous race car driver not a 17 year old kid. They also told me was pretty lucky not to get shot. That was the end of the line for me that time running from the law but not the end my running from the law by any means at all as I would keep doing that for most the rest of my life until I was to one day meet my daughter again.
I was sentenced for two whole years in the California Youth Authority for all the crimes collected against me. By this time, my life didn’t have any set plans as I was used to getting taken in. I didn’t see Mary Lou again for over two years but while I was serving my time in YA, a counselor told me they were transferring me to the local Jail in LA to meet with officers there on the account of a baby being born to a Mary Lou that might be mine.
Back in those days, having sex with an underage boy was as serious a crime as it is today and since Mary Lou was already classified as a ward of the state due to still being in connection with Metro herself as well as about fifteen years in age my senior, she was looking as some serious charges for having made a baby with me, an underage boy, even though to me I was a man.
When I first met with the officer it was to be determine by a paternal test if I was the father or not but of course I already knew. At first Mary Lou had said it was my older brother Jimmy’s because he was of age and they had been together in some form before anyway so it could of been true, but in the end I knew it was mine and that was that. They took me from the jail to some tall building in the Hollywood Hills looking area but I couldn’t be sure, then marched me up a few flight of stairs and down a hallway to show me the baby girl. The officer let me hold her in my arms for about 2 minutes and I knew this was my daughter. What a trip so it worked. Besides the test came back 99% positive for me anyway. After taking the baby out of my hands, she said to be that I wouldn’t see the baby again and walked me back down the hall towards the rest of my life.
A court case ensued as to who could raise baby Cameron which was her name. Baby, baby Morantz, or Cameron as intended, though to me, she was my daughter Cameron Morantz Logsdon. But none it mattered because no matter how many people in my family tried to get the courts to let us keep her, it wasn’t long before the baby was to be taken away, and taken away eventually for good.
Now Mary Lou was classified as a ward of the state for most all of her life when I knew her, but really by this time she wasn’t as much out of her mind as people thought, at least not on a regular basis, but it didn’t matter anyway even though she was free from living Metro by this time because my father had been able to convinced her dad and the hospital to release her to his custody under his wing and care and that’s pretty much what he did. They became partners. She supplied financial stability and he provided a sense of family though he could not give her a child for the vasectomy he had. They had something between them though and as far as I knew of her, she was my dad’s younger girlfriend but someone cool from time to time to know and lay around with even later after the baby was gone. A lot of people might say she was schizophrenic and out of her mind and sure there were times where this proved to be her state, but more often she just hung about in her large flower dresses or lay around in bed, only really unstable when pushed to far to be. She loved to make a ton of coffee, smoke her Salems, and only took her prescribed meds back then. It was later when I partied around with her and my dad for years. We were all like partners really, everything was cool. In fact, I don’t have a nothin negative to say about Mary Lou at all. See but it wasn’t until much after she lost Cameron that she began taking the hard stuff with us. It would be five years later when she would try crack for the first time while I was in jail doing a county lid after a short stint with cocaine and from then on, she never looked back.
Anyway, when the judge asked me about the baby and how it all came to be because it was my older brother Jimmy who was in question as the potential paternal father at the time, it would of been pinned on him for the rest of his life had I not spoken out despite my age, and there was such a thing as a blood test by then to match the dna molecules and there was also my testimony. Not only that, I wanted it known that I was the father because I was proud of what I did, what I did worked, I helped Mary Lou make a baby. When asked, I told the judge it had been my idea to make sure Mary Lou wasn’t gonna get in any real trouble which cost me mainline access and put me in the hole for 12 months. The hole for anyone who doesn’t know is a disciplinary area of solitary confinement. That’s just how it was. And it wouldn’t be my last time there either, for years later I would be thrown in there again for refusing to take psychiatric drugs they were trying to make me take when all I was trying to get was the drugs I wanted to get high on and I knew those other pills weren’t really meant for me. I remember also asking the judge during the case for my daughter to release baby Cameron to my mom and my grandma, even Mary Lou wrote the courts for that, which also almost worked, but in the end we all lost her anyway.
The next I heard, my mother, my grandmother, and folks on Mary Lou’s side all didn’t quite qualify to take the baby in so it was left undecided and she was placed in what was possibly going to be temporary foster care. By now my mother had a new set of kids Ramona and Steve by her latest boyfriend Ramon, though still married to my father for financial reasons mostly, and our fourth younger brother had recently died from an accidental self caused hanging at age 12 so the fight to keep Cameron in the family was extremely desired but a loss nonetheless. I was told that though for a while my grandmother kept tabs on where Cameron would move, showing me once a photo of her in a foster home yard on a red tricycle, she would soon after be moved several more times from foster home to foster home somewhere in the Bellflower and Downey areas not terribly far but then she was lost for a while and that put a scare on everyone especially Mary Lou’s Dad Lou Lou who finally stepped in and insisted on a stable adoptive family like his far away, and so it was, Cameron was gone and I was back to living my life.
I had just been offered heroin for the first time right before getting caught stealing that car anyway, and I was ready for my new future that I was just about to fix for myself.”
VII. YOU COULD OF BEEN MY FAMILY
The prison in my mind has guarded memories chaining my heart from the terrors that is truth for as long as I can remember only it’s the likes of you that remind me. There are several significant men ... You may not like this chapter ...