Strange Arts & Visual Delights
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L. R. Travis had a hard beginning in life. Possibly his first memory is of his father beating his mother down and kicking her as she lay on the floor. When he was quite young, he and his older brother were stolen by their father. The next several years were dreamlike and brutal: “I never knew where I was because my father traveled around and worked off the books, picking fruit, picking cotton.…—a different town all the time, a different shack. I didn’t know how old I was. I didn’t have a sense of time’s passage: every day was the same—fear that my brother and I would be beat for something we hadn’t done, or beat for not doing something, or abused for any reason and no reason.”
Abandoned by their father in Phoenix, L. R. and his brother spent years in foster homes and orphanages. Because L. R. was small for his age, wore glasses, and had speech impediments, he was picked on mercilessly. He and his brother learned how to escape bullying by becoming bullies themselves. Understandably, L. R. grew up angry and mean. How I Lived Through & Survived Brutality is the story how he overcame his start in life to become a loving husband and father.
When I started talking to L. R. several months ago, I realized that he had an interesting story to tell. We recorded our conversations, and he dictated memories between our discussions. I transcribed the recordings; as we reviewed the transcriptions, new details emerged. We clarified, as much as possible, the timing and chronology, and organized his stories. He found some family photos, and I found some newspaper stories and pictures.
Why did he willingly relive his traumatic past? “If I can overcome all that happened to me, you can, too, with the Lord’s help, and with the help of therapists, doctors, and the appropriate drug therapies. I hope I can help one person, just one person, with this story of mine. That would make me happy.”
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