God Said NO!

God Said NO!

By: Bill the Butcher

I was born on September 11, 1951. It was a Tuesday. My place of birth was Schumpert Sanitarium in Shreveport, Louisiana. Don’t try to draw any hidden meaning concerning the word Sanitarium. I was not born in a nut house. I became nuts later. Someone once told me that Hank Williams, Jr. was born there some months before me because his dad had a job at the Louisiana Hayride, but he’d left the nursery before I arrived so I can’t verify that.

My first three years of life were nondescript, which if you were from Shreveport, Louisiana that’s really about all they could be. We lived in my grandmother’s house on Laurel Street, and about the only thing I can remember is the candy factory about two blocks down the street.

I’d play outside in the street (Take that Gen Z!) and would go down to watch the candy being made through the big picture window. Not that I could afford the candy, I came from a long line of white trash, but it looked good.

At this age I had no ambitions, other than spinning wax records on my Victoria. I was fascinated by Chuck Berry but unimpressed when mom and dad took me to see Elvis at the Hayride. He really was just a hound dog.

I was all set up to grow up reasonably healthy and take my place in Louisiana society, such as it was. However, long about three and a half years old I contracted polio and encephalitis. I might have had malaria, too, but I was so dead the doctors didn’t even worry about that. Due to what had to be the power of God I woke up in the hospital one day and walked out with my parents. Not getting slapped with not one but two pandemics left me deaf in my left ear and blind in my right eye, just in case I ever forgot. I wanted to run and play with other kids but God said, “No!” and I was consigned to limping to the candy factory pretending I was dragging a huge oxygen tank behind me like I’d seen on the TV show Sea Hunt. I thought everyone liked me because they’d stop and stare when I’d go by waving my arms like I was swimming while on my way to the candy factory. They all knew about my recent hospitalization so they just dismissed me as an “idiot kid” and hoped I didn’t get run over in the street.

My mom fetched a big, empty box that had fallen from a truck on Laurel Street and put it in the hall that separated our part of the house and my grandmother’s. It soon became a castle for me and I stopped swimming the neighborhood. I would sit in it for hours, talking to myself, which was no easy task seeing that I was tongue-tied. When folks would drop by and hear me in a refrigerator box babbling it was just one more confirmation that I was an idiot kid.

Nothing of any importance happened for the next five years or so except my dad got drunk one night and had a fight with my grandmother. We had a place to live but after that God said, “No!” and Mam Maw pitched us into the street. We went about a mile away to Milton Street. I was excited. A whole house, just for us. We had to move there by way of the Kaywood Apartments over in Bossier City which was nice, and as an added attraction I got to play in the Red River. I actually had some friends there because Bossier City kids were as dim witted as I was. But dad had to pay rent and we ended up on Milton Street in a house provided by my Uncle Dave.

In Bossier my mother had a friend, and she’d come over and talk with my mom about “Louisiana things” which primarily consisted of opinions about “the Yankees” and what they have to do about all them blacks. The visitor had a daughter. Her name escapes me but she always wore this red coat and brought a deck of cards. Not Uno or anything like that, but a poker deck, and she would invent numbers games. The mothers would talk and she and I would play numbers games. After a while I began to feel as if she and I were the same person. Not like that! Get your head out of the gutter. Like I’d start to say something and she’d finish it. It was the 50’s! But, God said, “No!” and we moved to Milton Street, and that was the end of that!

The house on Milton Street was a single family dwelling. That means we were the only ones living there. There were fruit trees, and it sat on a double lot. Milton Street was paved with asphalt but the street behind us was oil. Just plain oil the pumped up out of the ground and sprayed on a dirt road. Us shoe-less kids would walk on the street in the summer to coat the bottom of our feet with hot oil and pretend we had shoes!

I did have friends. By this time I’d gotten around being tongue-tied and could speak fairly proficiently, or as proficiently as a ten-year-old could speak in Louisiana in 1959 which was not much. Children were to be seen and not heard with a Shreveport twist. Seen only if you made it home after playing in the street until the street lights came on. Oh, we’d climb trees and such. I liked to walk up and down the big concrete ditch that ran through the neighborhood pretending I was on a quest for something. I’d found this cliff about three blocks from my house that was about ten feet tall. If you understand that Louisiana is predominantly flat you can easily see why I saw this as a mountain and I’d climb it over and over again. All in all I’d settled into a comfortable routine, but . . . you guessed it, God said, “No!” Dad got into a fight with Uncle Dave and I found myself in Texas! And not that Almost Texas just over the state line fifteen miles away, but out back Hotter ‘N Hell downtown TEXAS!

I was ten years old when I arrived in Texas. I was forty before my first day of school. It was long about this time that I discovered Mexican girls. Now, it’s a little know fact that Mexican girls are born fully grown. Get your head back out of the gutter, I was ten! Up until then I was in love with Tinkerbell. I didn’t know the implications of such attraction, but they sure were easy on the eye. And they all had a big brother named “Santos” who would later gain fame as a major antagonist in every county jail as he had an affair with the wives and girlfriends of every other inmate therein! Viva Zapata! And, as I grew into my teens I tried to date numerous Mexican girls, but God always said, “No!”

By the time I was eighteen I’d pretty well decided to go to Africa and become a big game hunter. I could see myself heading through the jungle shooting lions and tigers and bears. I know, I know, but my worldview was shaped by the three hundred miles from Shreveport to Killeen. How much of a world view do you expect. I could never consider Africa looking much the same as Texas. And no way it could be any hotter. But, God said, “No!” and knocked my legs out from under me I ‘69. Literally!

Got pinned between two cars while working in a gas station saving money for Africa. My best friend, Danny, was saving his money because he was crazy too! And I didn’t have just broke kegs. Oh no. Compound dislocation of both legs from the knees down effectively making me null and void. Took me a full minute to learn to walk again, and I ain’t got it right yet!

In ‘71 I decided I was gonna be a famous songwriter. Hell! Wasn’t doing nothing else at the time. Only problem was I didn’t have anything to write about, my genre being Country, so got married four or five times to sweeten the pot. First divorce hurts. The others, not so much. I prefer summer divorces.

While I did learn to compose I did not become famous. You know. God said . . . I actually went to Nashville in ‘93 to try and impress them. That will show you just how long I can hold onto a stupid idea. Came back in ‘94 and went into Real Estate. Couldn’t sell a condom in a cat-house. But I did write my first book which used my ability to string words together in a semi literate fashion giving the illusion of readability as opposed to my tenth grade English teacher telling me that I would never be able to communicate in the English language. That book sold well under a million copies. God said, “Hell NO!”

I can’t say I failed economically. My wife held me up. But the most amazing thing happened. After about three thousand songs, five books (going on ten) and somewhere up around thirty thousand articles I learned to tell a tale. I was convinced to call an old high school associate and it just so happened that he was looking for a new path. I can write a movie! And for me it’s not even hard. As easy as writing this article. And he, Vic Quinton, can make a screenplay out of a grocery list. Over sixty international awards later Witt & Wittier Films is rocking and rolling.

This is what He prepared me for. I was trained to explain the human condition to . . . well, humans! Not college professors, not psychologists, not politicians, but the guy with a pistol in his mouth but he can’t afford bullets. And in this world if I can bring a smile or a tear to but one face . . . I count that as a win! God said, “Yes!”


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