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To the Bottom Rung of Hell
Big Ron’s Baltimore: High School: To Age 16


Northern High School was ridiculous, just a penitentiary for dindu kids, preparation for their future, I suppose. But I did meet this one fella from Waverly. I met him cutting school one day. He came on the MTA bus with all the dindus. We were both cutting school—seemed like an alright white guy. Did some time up in the hickey school [for boys] for stealing a car or truck, did 6-9 years. His name was Josh. He had an older sister and younger brother—their mother was a crackhead and his sister was raising him. He had it pretty rough. The second day I knew him, we both cut school. We had a plan—some beers or something, went with some friends and were hanging out. We used to stand—me and other kids—in that narrow alley by Brennan’s and ask drunks to buy us a six-pack if we’d give them one.

I was walking with him back to the school so he could catch his bus and get home. One of the major groups in that school was the Old York Boys. Old York Road, from Greenmount—a shit load of them right in that school. We were walking back to the MTA bus and Mister Dindu had his mouth to him.

Mister Dindu was tall and skinny, looked like Jay Jay from Good Times, like Jimmy Walker. Josh had alraedy showed us his brass knuckles. As Mister Dindi was running his mouth, he hit him in the mouth with these things never saw anybody get hit with brass knuckles before that. He had reached into his back pocket and slipped them on, and boom! His lips looked like rose petals. It looked like a stick of dynamite went off in his mouth. He had braces and his teeth were broken in half. He was laying there like was dead. The teeth hanging from the wires of the braces, that burned an impression in my mind. Every day when the kids got out it was a major police event and we ran through there were the track and football field is. We took off running through the ball field and we got caught by the cops and he didn’t snitch on me. Ad running from the cops had never been my forte. He told the cops, “I hit the fucker in the mouth, he had nothing to do with it.”

And I never saw him again.

Josh was a good guy. I hope he made it.

The Football Hero

I was in ninth grade. This guy was a senior football player. There ain’t too much to this story.

I was 5’ 10” 160—it wasn’t about until I was seventeen that I really started shooting up. I could have probably been five-two, but it wouldn’t have mattered with this guy. He had that football mentality that he was somebody and people were going to get out of his way. Big guys like that walk into knocks out all the time. It’s so easy it’s not even worth recounting.

I didn’t even know his name. He was a good six-two, two-twenty. He was a good size, buck—but bull size. I seen this guy coming down the hallway pushing kids around, teachers and cops of course tolerating his bullying. He had no business in this hallway. It was ninth graders. I pretty much ignored him to see what happen and he pushed me. I let off with a left hook—that was nice for a change, actually popping off a lead hook and followed with a right, let my hands go, beat him up against the lockers and down to the floor.

The Author, in great state of concern, asks, "Weren’t you concern that you might be adversely affecting his chances of learning of a law degree and his eventual nomination to the supreme court.?”

I'm sure he's doing fine with his pork rinds and forty of malt liquor, living off of my tax dollar.


No, I was just pissed that he pushed me. The amazing thing was, I watched this guy come down the hall pushing all these dindu kids, pushing these underclassmen around, and the minute I do something to him teachers and staff are pulling me off. They had nothing to say about this guy coming down this half-mile corridor pushing these kids around—mostly black kids—around. It was 85-90 percent black. So I get pulled off, expelled and sent to the prison school.

Last Chance Chimpout

The following school was attended, at about the same time, by one of the author’s boxers, a big easy-going heavyweight named Miguel. Like Big Ron, the only white in the school, he was first attacked by a black student with a bat that struck him in the head between a row of lockers in the locker room. Miguel picked the kid up and broke his back over the bench between the lockers [fortunately not severing the spinal cord but only breaking vertebrae] and was suspended. On another occasion a mob of students stormed onto the bus to drag him off and beat him, even diving through the windows opened by the black students on the bus for this purpose. After Miguel knocked three of the attackers unconscious the rest fled the scene and he was expelled for the greatest crime a white man or youth can commit in modern America, defending himself against the martyr beasts of the hood.

Harford Institute was a penitentiary. I was the only white person in the entire building. The teachers would give you a reading assignment, barricade themselves in a corner and then it was chimpout time—like being in the monkey cage at the zoo, like Planet of the Apes. I just got out of there and went to work. It was only going to go one way. They had this one prison school on the Eastside for last chancers and one on the Westside. That was your last chance before you got expelled from the system for good. Basically, the first dindu I dropped was going to get me expelled, so why wait around for that?

I was sixteen now. It was time to learn a trade, to be a man.

Author's Note

Based on my preliminary interviews with Big Ron, the upcoming period of his life from 16 through 21 saw a level of violence that exceeds that in this chapter, both in intensity and volume, including two of the most brutal armed encounters I have ever documented.

I'll see you at the bar on Tuesday, at 6 P.M., Big Ron.

The contents of all four bookmarks of this chapter were transcribed with the subject on my laptop on 4/11/17 and edited and uploaded on 4/17/17, the original interview running to 5,928 words, with headings, inserted dialogue from my preliminary hand notes, author's notes and context [inserted in italics] taking the word count up to 7,439.

Thriving in Bad Places

Add Comment
BobApril 18, 2017 2:30 AM UTC

A really enjoyable read, ditto for the other articles in the series. Thanks.