Saturday, March 14, 2009

Answering A Letter

Hey Mario,

Thank you for your letter. I do not have time to write a lot of letters, mostly emails but I know you do not have that there. If you write back I might not answer for a while because I am so busy. I am very glad my book helped you to think about your life. When your time is up, you have to work hard in your life to do good. Really, if you think about it, it isn’t really that hard to do. One big thing I found when I was young is it all depends on who you hang with. Because even though you hang with your homies and they do something but you stay out of it, they will put you in jail just for being with them. From the way you sound, you are going to do OK when you get out.

You said you wished East Side Dreams did not end. Well, if you read Those Oldies but Goodies it keeps going. The only thing is it is in English only, then, when you are done with that book read, Forgotten Memories. I will send you a flyer on my books. The only one that is in Spanish is East Side Dreams. But they are all easy reading. The Monkey Box is about my family in Mexico ending in San Jose. Even though the prices are on the flyer are what they are, I give guys who are locked-up the books for $10 each and I pay the tax and shipping. If you just do not have the money, they might have it there in jail. Ask someone who takes care of the books, show them the flyer and they might be able to order them.

Thank you about saying you were sorry about my father. We think of him a lot. (From what Mr. Gorman ‘in East Side Dreams’ taught me I plan to see him right here on the earth.) Sad to say but my mother also passed away five years ago. That day a grandchild was born in the same hospital my mother passed away in. So it was a sweet sad day.

I am now 59 years old and I have already had bypass surgery on my heart. I guess I am following my mom and dad. But the thing is with all the new things they have now-a-days it gets better. They could keep me alive longer. I really blame all my bad health on the drugs I was into when I was young. They do take their toll. I am doing well right now. Three or four times I week I go to high and middle schools and speak to the kids. I get a lot of emails from them telling me that after reading my books they are out of the gangs and they are now going to work on getting an education. I tell kids not to tell anyone that they are not in a gang anymore, (no one wants to get shot!), just focus on their education and everything will be all right. Really, the best thing to do in life is what Mr. Gorman (Real name, Mr. Carmen) taught me. To read the Bible and follow what it tells you.

In my other book, Those Oldies but Goodies I tell about having my first two sons. Then when they were babies their mother took off. I had custody of them. Three years later I met my second wife. She had three kids about the same ages that my kids were. The oldest was around 9 and the youngest was 4 years old. So right away we had five kids. I used to tell Flora that we had to treat these kids right because they are going to grow-up and remember everything we did, both good and bad! So we worked on that really hard. Sure enough, they remember everything now that they are grown-up. They all look at us as our real mother and father. Plus, we had three more kids together. So we raised 8 kids. And now I am reaping the good things out of it. I have 16 grandkids and I love it. They come over to my home sometimes twice a week and my neighbors think I have a lot of parties! My grandkids are from as old as my youngest son who is 21 to 6 months old.

I used to tell my kids my stories about when I was young and I used to tell them to learn from them. I remember a friend telling me that I should not tell them my stories because then they are going to want to party the way I did. I told him, “But not only am I going to tell them my stories, but what could come with it. The heartache that one could get and the baggage for the rest of their lives they will have to carry.” Now I tell all young people to learn from my stores. I say young people do not have to learn the hard way but from stories like mine.

Kids who do have a good family and a good life, I tell them to really appreciate what they have. When they read my books they could see what could happen to them, as you well know, Mario. It is not hard to get caught up in that life. I know as you have read.

OK Kid, again, thanks for your letter. I get a lot of letters from young people and I try to answer when I can. The address you sent it to is all right. I own Dream House Press so it came to me. Take care and keep the good thoughts running.
Your Friend,
Art Rodriguez

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