Saturday, April 11, 2009

(Part 4) The Slowness Of Dreams


I had no idea how long it was gonna take to get out of Mesa AZ. I guess when you're in a hurry things that take a long time take even longer. My brother Bill had gotten out of Arizona state hospital, but was never the same. Once a powerful force in my life he now appeared to have been stripped of all dignity. He was timid and unsure of himself like a dog who'd been abused too much. It was the worst thing I remember about being a kid the day I watched through the wire mesh glass on the iron door at the state hospital. Two orderly's dressed in white hauled him away like a sack of potatoes from my view.

He was altered there, too many shock treatments. It was the old days of mental hospitals much worse then now. They didn't use much care in the application of electric shock therapy back then. They just wired you up and turned on the juice and bingo you were half a vegetable. I hated my mother for doing this to him I hated her for a long time. I just couldn't understand how you allowed that to happen to someone you loved. But over time I have learned that she was a victim as well of those times. She lived in the era when women barely had rights, hell they had to have a husband just to get credit and even then it wasn't their own. So over the years I have understood more clearly how that event troubled her as well.

Hoover High In Glendale, California

By 1962 I was enrolled as a junior at Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale California. The only persons I knew in Glendale, other than my family, was a girl I'd met and her brother who lived across the street from us. I was a fish out of water and knew it. The lingering southwestern cowboy environment I'd come from hung on like an ill fitting jacket. It was obvious to people as soon as I started talking. This became my training ground for reinventing myself lock, stock, and barrel. I learned to talk different, walk different, and look different than I had when I'd first arrived. I wanted to fit in and I was ashamed that I didn't. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to associate me with any redneck background so I dressed like a surfer.

You may be surprised to know that the first record I ever made was called "LET'S SURF" on Jolum Records in 1963. In my days at Hoover High the biggest thing going was surf music. like Dick Dale And The Deltones. Shortly thereafter it was The Beach Boys, Jan And Dean, and some Chubby Checker. Two years later I would be the opening act for all three of these artists. But in the meantime I had a lot of crap to go through.

Like every other teenager I thought I knew everything right then and there. I was just 17 years old and barely starting my life, but in my mind I had already been through the ringer. Family mental illness, failed marriages, and harsh surroundings had done their damage. Coupled with forced down your throat religion, multiple schools, towns, and fathers and I was kind of confused to say the least. Once again in my own mind music was the only thing that offered any hope to me of ever making my life any better than it had been in the past. It had been and still was the only thing I believed that I could do well.


  1. Bobby, you new blog is amazing, once more I thank you for taking us on this journey through your past



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  2. Bobby,
    I just want to say, I'm glad you got out of there. Camarillo.

    I purchased a Kindle book named “Commitment Criteria – 23 Women Patients of Camarillo State Mental Hospital: A Look Inside One of America’s Most Infamous Mental Asylums”

    No it was not a good book to tell the INSIDE story of CSMH, BUT, For me, the book did have some merit due to my Father’s confinement there in 1963.

    I purchased this book, to gain further insight upon Camarillo State Mental Hospital. Although I did not get more insight on actual things that happened to those women while confined there, it did confirm for me that THINGS DEFINITELY HAPPENED AT CAMARILLO STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL THAT WERE NEVER MAKE KNOWN TO THE PUBLIC, THINGS THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

    Why I was looking for more insight?
    I was 12 1/2 in 1963, when my father went on an alcohol bender during the messy divorce between my parents. My father was highly agitated and had drank a lot of alcohol, got picked up by police, transferred 5 times from one facility to another within a 27 hour time period, with his final destination being Camarillo State Mental Hospital at around 11pm at night, where he was given the typical “cocktail” of sedating drugs within minutes of his admission and then put into bed, two of the drugs he was given was high doses of Thorazine/Hyoscine (noted on 5 facility’s records of meds given). He woke up during the night, was confused due to drugs he was given and alcohol in his system, he also became combative likely due to the body’s natural adrenalin system to help the body stay alive when oversedated, at this point he was given another cocktail of drugs, which soon stopped both his breathing and his heart. An hour or so later at bed check time, about 4 am, he was found to be nonresponsive and pronounced dead. Many many years went by. Then, In 1998, my sister and I ordered copies of his medical records, and through close scrutiny of those records (I was an RN) I saw gross patient physical assessment negligence prior to being given the sedating medication, and medical and medication malpractice which led to his being overdosed by being given drug cocktails shortly before leaving a facility, and then given a similar cocktail upon arrival at the “next” facility, until his death which occurred within 5 hours after arriving at the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. Basically, the nurse’s who gave the med’s upon his arrival did not even look to see what he had been given in the previous hours. A day later, I was home sick from schoool, and a telegram came, which was notifiction of Father’s death. I opened it and was instantly devastated and my heart hurt from sadness. In essence, my father was murdered there at Camarillo State Mental Hospital. He was only 44. At the time, my mother was not knowledgeable enough to order his records, or pursue wrongful death litigation. Sad.

    My Final Thoughts from an RN standpoint:
    What was available for mental health services in the years prior to the 40s and on through the early 70s was far different than what is available today. So many sedating drugs such as Thorazine and Hyoscine etc were given routinely to each patient. Today, IF a person is placed in a Psychiatric facility, it has been my experience as a Psychiatric RN, that although the majority do get treated with dignity and respect, I have also seen some deplorable patient situations due one particular Psychiatric facility’s staff’s self seeking agendas, including theft or denial of patient rights. I witnessed first hand where staff routinely stole patient belongings, medications, clothing, cigarettes (MDs, RNs, Psych Techs, CNAs), and commonly, patient’s were being overmedicated which is also known as a chemical restraints and considered the same as being tied down with cloth or other types of restraints).
    After losing my father at Camarillo, and working in the field, I’ve witnessed enough to know I would never want any of my family members to have to be in any facility unless absolutely necessary.