Category Archives: book

A final goodbye

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“I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy — 1972

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong

I am invincible

I am woman

***
Patty Smith was one of my best friends for the past 47 years; a long time, but not long enough. Paula and I moved to Carbondale in 1971 and bought a house next door to Buddy and Bev Rogers. It was through the Rogers that Paula and I began a friendship with Dick and Patty. In many ways, the six of us – Buddy, Bev, Dick, Patty, Paula and myself – were like an extended family. We shared stories, meals, jokes, laughter, sadness, opinions, and the occasional game of pinochle. It was not unusual for the six of us to hang out two to three times a week. Based on 47 years and my rough calculations, we spent some 10,000 hours just hanging out.

Without hesitation, Patty Smith is one of the strongest women I have known. Each of us has obstacles that block our chosen path. How we deal with each challenge defines our character.

Patty was married to James Staff in1964 and lost him in 1966. During that love-filled marriage, Patty gave birth to Jimmy. In a flash, Patty had become a widow and a single mother. A few years later, she married Dick Smith and became the mother of two families rolled into one. In time, Patty and Dick lost Scott, their oldest son, to cancer. As time passed, Patty was dealt an additional challenge – Dick suffered a major stroke. In addition to the normal duties of wife and mother, she was now a caregiver, head of the household, and major provider. She stepped out of her husband’s shadow and took charge.

Any one of these challenges could break a weaker person. While family and friends offered their support, Patty turned to God, her spiritual source for guidance and strength. Her loving qualities grew and her toughness only strengthened, allowing her to face any adversary. Patty’s spirit now resides in the glory of the Lord. But her compassion, strength, and knowledge continue to live within each family member and friend who knew her well. She gave us a template, a master plan for how to face life’s challenges. But we have to act upon the lessons she has passed on. The answers, the magic is there. When faced with our next test, I suggest that each of us say, “What would Patty do?” “What would Patty do?”

***
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(strong)
I am invincible
(invincible)
I am woman

 

“Knock my socks off book”

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Perhaps one’s taste in books changes as much as their favorite ice cream or the potato chip of the day.  I tend to pigeon hole my favorite authors into one of three categories:  lyricist, storyteller, and knock my socks off.

The “lyricist” chooses words that mimic the streaming of musical notes; creating the sadness of a love affair gone bad; the intensity of a raw, dark murder; or the joyful sound of children playing in the sand box sharing gentle hugs as they close out another day.  It’s the flow, the beauty of the written word.

The “storyteller” writes words as if they are carefully chosen hues, creating an succession of colors rapidly moving together, jumping from one shade to another to another.  The image grabs hold of you, unable to stop until the tale has been told.  It’s the page turner, reading one leaf while turning onto the next.

The “knock my socks off” combines the talents of a “lyricist” and the “storyteller;” a byproduct of our brain’s emotional center; the limbic system — hypothalamus, thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, pituitary gland — working in concert to create the next great book.  Only then can the lyricist and storyteller “knock my socks off.”

Foreword for “Dark Days in Chicago”

Larry L Franklin

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Foreword

There are a special group of forgotten men who live in the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison located in Crest Hill, Illinois. Each of them spent their early years as gang members on the streets of Chicago. All three were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Each has served over 25 years in an Illinois prison.

The temptation to continue their gang activity while incarcerated was strong. Protection, contraband, money, and the allure of a prison family fulfilled their immediate needs. But amidst the violence and quiet roar of 2,550 troubled inmates, a miracle happened. Three like-minded inmates – Adolfo Davis, Patrick Pursley, and Stanley Davis – sought redemption as well as a need to give back to those they have harmed.

Words give testimony to their lives, thoughts, and concerns as they reflect upon their youth and the freedom they once had. Their…

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Midwest Book Review of “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

Larry L Franklin

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I’m pleased to share a recent review from “Midwest Book Review” on my latest work, Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.  

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The Social Issues Shelf

Supermax Prison
Larry L. Franklin & Rakesh Chandra MD. JD.
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road, Palisades, New York 10964-0700
http://www.historypublishingco.com
9781933909837, $19.95, PB, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

The collaborative work of Larry L. Franklin and Rakesh Chandra, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a penetrating look at the violence that swept the American prison system in the 1980’s and 1990’s and the organizational structure mirroring the Mafia that erupted in them. The inmates had to make a choice between joining a gang that offered protection, friendships, financial rewards, access to drugs and other contraband or serving as a lone inmate in a dangerous, even lethal world. The worst in this violent world were sent to the supermax prison…

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Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist

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DARK DAYS IN CHICAGO:
The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist
By Adolfo Davis, Stanley Davis, & Patrick Pursley
with Larry L. Franklin

 “Rarely does a book come along that shows the journey of three young men as they moved from street gangs to isolation in a 6 x 9 foot cell, and to the beginnings of a righteous life. ‘Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist’ serves as a template for at-risk youth, anyone searching for a better path, and those looking for a fascinating read.”
— Father Leo J. Hayes, M. Div., MA – Retired Chaplain in the Menard Maximum-Security Prison, Author of Evil in Mirror Lake
***
Dark Days in Chicago provides a view of three former gang members convicted of murder and sentenced to life-without-parole, and their struggles to find meaning to their lives. The inmates provide a fascinating insight into their spiritual transformation while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison.”
— Janet Coffman, Ph.D. Psychologist
***
“Words give testimony to the authors’ lives, thoughts, and concerns as they reflect upon their youth and the freedom they once had. They share the history that steered them towards prison, and the hope that this book supports healing, thoughtful reflection, and awareness of the 2.3 million adults and juveniles incarcerated in America’s state and federal prisons.
— Father David Kelly C.P.P.S. – Precious Blood of Ministry of Reconciliation. Doctoral Thesis – “Responding to Violence among Urban Youth: A Restorative Approach”

________________________________________
NAME (Please Print)

________________________________________
ADDRESS

________________________________________
CITY/STATE/ZIP

Advanced copies available now.
$20.00 per book includes shipping and handling
Mail payment, name, and address to:
Larry L. Franklin
416 Virginia Dr.
Makanda, Il 62958
618-521-5041
Books will be available through Amazon and other retail stories
on September 1, 2018.

 

A book is about to be born.

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     It has been my honor to assist Adolfo Davis, Patrick Pursley, and Stanley Davis in the completion of their book. While the story was presented in third-person, it was my challenge to give it a cumulative-voice of three inmates determined to tell their story. Unlike most of us who have our favorite writing spots — private study, isolated cabin, library, or perhaps a table tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop – the authors wrote their story in a 6 x 9 foot prison cell.

Adolfo, Patrick, and Stanley have spent most of their incarceration in an Illinois maximum-security prison, while Adolfo spent four of those years in a supermax prison. There were times when the three of them attended prison classes and shared their thoughts on writing a book; communicated their ideas while walking in the prison yard; and the occasional trips to the gym. Then, in the isolation of their cell, they wrote their thoughts on paper to be shared at their next meeting. Adolfo combined the writings into what would become a manuscript. Unless indicated, the words will represent the thoughts of three inmates.

The driving force was their commitment to explain the path that led to their violent ways, and share their newfound secrets to a better life. Their desire to help the troubled youth of Chicago — the place where street gangs rule – gave Adolfo, Patrick, and Stanley a reason to wake up each morning, a purpose for living.

 

 

 

 

A Mighty Fine Book

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I was pleased to write a review on “Hurting Like Hell, Living with Gusto:  My Battle with Chronic Pain,” by Victoria Stopp, a fellow Goucher College recipient of an MFA in creative nonfiction writing.  Hope you get a chance to check out her latest book.

A mighty fine book.

Hurting Like Hell, Living with Gusto: My Battle with Chronic Pain serves as a template for those suffering through chronic pain; athletes searching for longevity in an aging world; and readers yearning to experience the endorphin rush enjoyed by serious athletes. By most standards, author Victoria Stopp, was at the top-of-her game when injuries threatened to break both her body and spirit. Stopp experienced off-the-chart pain, leaving her with no escape from her newfound misery. Drawing upon her experiences as a health-care professional and patient, Stopp struggles to overcome pain while recognizing the need to redefine the limitations of an aging athlete. As a reader, there was a time in the middle part of the book that I imagined that Stopp would awaken, realizing that this was a terrible dream. But that was not the case. The author picked herself up and continued her journey.

It’s a joy to read a page-burning story written in the creative nonfiction genre. There were times when I felt myself in a lockstep-pace with the author as we raced down a country road, feeling the rush of our neurotransmitters pop and crackle like fireworks on the fourth of July. And then, without warning, an unforeseen pain brought us to our knees. But that was just the beginning of a miraculous journey. Yes, this is a mighty fine book.

 

 

 

 

Interview for “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals”

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Recently I was interviewed by John Clemens, SAL Audio, on my most recent book, “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.”  Please check it out.

(click here for the complete audio release)

 

The day my father loved me.

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It was an earlier time, many decades ago, when the love between my father and I first appeared.  My parents had ended their dysfunctional marriage, leaving my older brother, Keith, to live with our father while I was sent away with my mother and a dog named Nippy.  Keith was 13 and I was 7.  I was later told that Keith and I had to be separated; he did bad things to me.

Two months later, after the spring plow and the crops had been planted, I returned to the two-story farmhouse for a one-week visit with Keith and my father.  On this summer day, my grandfather and mother were in the front seat of his 1951 Chevy while I peered over the back seat looking for the house where I had spent my earlier years.  No sooner had we turned off highway 16 and headed north on the DeLand blacktop than I saw my father driving our way.  The two cars pulled over to the side of the road and stopped.  I cautiously stepped out of the car while my grandfather opened the trunk of his car and, without looking up, quietly passed the suitcase to my father.  There was no, “How are you doing?”  “Think it will rain?” “Your beans look good.” in the exchange.  My mother opened her door, stood up, and faced my father.  The car stood between the two of them.  “We’ll be back in a week to pick him up,” she said.

“I’ll have him ready,” my father replied.

As we drove to the farm, I wondered what was next.  My father and I had never spent much time together.  He was either working in the fields or nowhere to be found.  We turned right on the lane leading to the house which sported a chilling look on a 90 degree day.  The front screen door swung open and slammed shut as Keith swaggered across the porch, stood at the edge, looked to the left, to the right, and focused his eyes on me.  Fear surged through me, causing me to wonder if coming here was a mistake.  Without speaking, Keith conveyed the feeling that this was his house and that I was not welcome.

While my father and I walked up the steps, I latched onto my father’s right hip, keeping my father between Keith and I.  While Keith never said a word, his eyes made contact with mine.  After dropping the suitcase, my father said, “Hey, Larry, how about you and me go to town for a cold bottle of soda pop?”  It all seemed so strange, since I didn’t remember being asked before.  Keith was the one my father took to town.  But this time, Keith stayed home.

We climbed into the pickup and headed south toward the local bar and grill.  My right arm hung out the window as the wind blew hard against my skin causing the tiny hairs to stand upward.  Minutes later we arrived at the bar and grill where farmers hung out when it was raining or the crops were all in, or to watch the winter months pass by.  There was a long bar with several stools that swiveled each time a butt moved from side to side.  Dad rested his feet on a long silver pipe at the base of the bar.  Mine hung in the air like Monday’s wash.  Behind us were a few booths with bright-red plastic seats and silver-gray tabletops spotted with the occasional cigarette burns.  My father ordered a tall, dark bottle of beer and a half-frozen bottle of Coke for me.  Sitting next to the Coke was a saucer holding two cake donuts covered with white powdered sugar that stuck to my lips each time I took a bite.  Men stopped by the table to talk with my Dad about the need for a slow-summer rain, his stock car racing last Friday night, and asked if this was his boy.  My father drove in stock-car races at the fairgrounds on Friday nights.  He knew how to drive a car fast, especially around the corners.

Sue, the woman my Dad was dating, was a waitresses at the bar and grill.  She dried off her wet hands with a dish towel and walked our way.  She was a good ten years younger than my father and, unlike my mother, brought an excitement to a conversation even if it was meant just to pass the time of day.  Sue was of the opinion that there was more to life than cooking, sewing, and doing the chores.  It was no secret that my father liked her.

“This is Larry, my younger boy,” my father said as he looked my way.  Sue commented on how cute I was, and how I looked like my father.  All I could managed was a “hi” and my biggest smile while I swung side to side on the metal stool.  Sue had an easiness about her; the way she moved, her soft but steady voice, and the way she looked at me, not passed me.  She had rich auburn hair, soft eyes, and a shapely figure.  It was obvious why a man would be taken by her.  My father and Sue talked in near-whispered tones like most couples do.  I turned, listened to the farmers laugh, and watched them drink coffee and then sit back and take deep pulls from their cigarettes.  Tall tales, politics, and farming consumed their conversation.

On this particular day, or any day for that matter, a farmer might have talked about the long winter months and how he looked forward to the spring plow.  The tractor seemed rested, he probably said, when he drove into the field pulling a four-bottom plow.  He drew back the hydraulic lever, steel blades cut in the rich, black soil; just the right amount of moisture, not so wet as to be like mud, or so dry as to be like cement.  The temperature was 70 degrees with a slight southwesterly breeze coming in at 10 miles per hour.  Looking over his shoulder, he saw the soil turn and churn like freshly kneaded bread.  Worms awoke from their long winter’s nap, and robins flew down from the sky, looking to be fed.  The aroma of freshly turned soil mixed with gasoline fumes, and the puffs of smoke exhaled when the tractor pulled through a patch of wet soil, produced scents of spring.  Taking another sip of coffee, the farmer probably gazed out the window with a smile across his face.  “That’s when life is pretty much near perfect,” he said.

Decades later, I remember the one-week visit with my father, a time like no other I ever recalled.  Maybe it was an illusion, a hint of how life should be between a father and his son.  It remains as my most treasured memory, that one-week visit when life was pretty much near perfect, the day my father loved me.

A few months later when my mother and I were living with my grandparents and I was returning from school, my grandmother and mother were sitting at the kitchen table, gripping their coffee cups hard.  Whispered words stopped as I entered the room.  My mother rose from the table and led me into the bedroom.  “Keith and your father were in a car wreck,” she said.  “They were going to the Illinois state fair.  Your father was driving fast and ran into a truck pulling a horse trailer.  Your father and Keith were both killed but they didn’t feel a thing.”