Springfield,Virginia Straight


Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

The drugs I did before ending up at Straight were the standard usual suspects such as pot, alcohol, cocaine, LSD, mescaline, inhalants, like model glue valium, quaaludes and hash. I was 16 when I went to Springfield,Virginia Straight. I was there back in 1985-1886. I was also there when Princess Diana and First Lady Nancy Reagan visited. Actually at that particular time, I was a staff trainee. No I didn`t meet them but, I was in the front reception area when they arrived, since I was on staff, I had the ability to roam the building as much as I wanted. I saw them very closely, Mike Kirsch and Kathy Turner were their escorts. I remember that Princess Diana had a very light and ruddy complexion, very red cheeks she was tall and thin and wore a dress w/ no stockings so her legs were bare., I personally thought she was a little dowdy looking and I thought to myself what is all the fuss about? It`s possible that she just wasn`t my cup of tea, no pun intended. LOL. Mrs Reagan was very friendly to her greeters and very gracious, she had a warm smile and a disproportionately large head. She wore a red dress with a bow on it. I remember specifically that Diana said nothing directly to Mike or Kathy, She would lean in and ask Mrs Reagan questions very discreetly. Once they were brought into the group, they witnessed an open meeting,Friday night I believe. Paul Meyer and Barabara Meyer were the staff leading the open meeting. Mrs Reagan addressed the group and gave them some sort of pep talk. It was cool. Once again, no words from Diana. I remember they had 5th phaser Jeanie Connelly do her story and it was funny because she had swallowed a pen cap earlier in the day so her voice was very squeeky combined with that fast phaser way of talking it was very humorous.

When I was a newcomer, my oldcomer Roger Smith copped out with me, another newcomer and his mom in the car. I remember Roger was a fairly new oldcomer. I want to say he was on second phase. Definitely not higher than third phase. I know it was sometime in the Fall. I want to say September or early October. The Springfield Mall was the place it happened. He asked his mom to cut through the Springfield Mall parking lot and then he asked her to stop. I think he had convinced her that we were supposed to pick up another phaser to be driven to the Straight Building or something. I’m not exactly sure why we went through that parking lot. She stopped in the middle of the lot which was kind of far from the actual Mall. Roger had me and the other newcomer in the back seat with him. The car had child safety locks on the unsecured door. Anyway, as soon as she stopped, Roger took off running.Roger`s mom honked the horn and yelled at him as he ran. I don`t think he even looked back. I would really love to hear his side of this story by the way. Me and the other newcomer just sort of looked at each other while this was happening and then the other newcomer took off too. Poor Roger`s mom was freaking out. She said, “Rob go! Go chase them! “ So I did. I remember running after my oldcomer and the other newcomer not knowing what the fuck I would do if and when I ever actually caught up with them. I honestly wasn`t really trying to catch them. I think I ran after them just to make Roger`s feel comforted. At the time this happened I was like a day 10 newcomer for Pete`s sake! Plus I knew I missed my own mom being so far from home and all so I guess I felt really sorry for Mrs. Smith. I briefly thought about running too but I was from New England. I was a long way from home plus the fact that I was Court Ordered meant I would go to jail if I copped out. There was this open stretch that we all ran and then those two guys hopped a fence and they vanished like ghosts. I think Roger and Tim eventually split up and went their seperate ways. Roger never intended for Tim to copout with him in the first place. The newcomer just saw him running and also ran as well. So they didn`t really cop out together. It was sort of together but at the same time not together. I don`t think either of them were Court Ordered to Straight. As it turned out I didn`t catch them. Later I went back to the car. Roger`s mom thanked me and then drove me to the Straight Building. After we got to the building I was debriefed by staff. The debriefing took place in I think in the office of an Executive staff member. There were a few other staff members present as well. I can only assume that Roger`s mom was questioned by staff as well after our intitial contact with staff when we got back to the building. Staff took me and I didn`t see Mrs. Smith again. The staff members and people in group all treated me like I was some kind of Hero.

Days or weeks later they brought the newcomer (Tim) back to Straight before Roger I believe. When Roger was finally brought back to Straight I remember blasting him in group. I remember feeling the pressure from both the staff and group to stand up and confront these guys. I know my heart wasn`t really in it at all. I think I was just putting on the act that I thought they all wanted to see, you know. It was kind like survival for me in there, play the game and get the fuck out you know? Because I was court ordered, in my mind the only way out of there for me was to finish the program. So early on I learned to read what they wanted from me and I gave them that. Like I said, it was Survival. At the time I was like a two or three week newcomer so I was just winging the confrontation. I think I let a few dude`s and man`s slip out. **LOL** I think after awhile Roger did have a chance to stand up in group and express his regret about his copout. I believe he stood me up and you know, made his amends. In my mind he owed me no apology. I honestly didn`t take it personally. Anyway, I made it through the whole program in like 8 months. I think the staff went easy on me from that point on so it made my life there not as bad as a lot of the others kids there.

I got Court Ordered to Straight in the first place because I had some serious charges hanging over my head like “Breaking & Entering” and “Grand Theft Auto” and the Judge, a certain Judge Richardson was sort of a crusader for Straight Incorporated. He had previously traveled to Springfield,Virginia Straight, toured the program, and was, I guess, pleased with what he had seen and heard. So he figured I would make a good candidate. I already had done the DYS and 30 day rehabs. DYS is Department Of Youth Services, a Juvenile Detention system in Massachusettes. The 30 day rehabs I was in were Seminole Point in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, Beech Hill in Dublin, New Hampshire and a place called HRI in Brookline Ma. As a matter of fact I had a few of my old “druggie friends” who were also committed to Straight Incorporated not long after me by the same judge. During my time on my phases and during my time as a staff member,honestly the last person I ever wanted to see again was Judge Richardson, so no I didn`t ever see him again.

See, up here in Massachusettes at this point in time there was no Straight Incorporated but the Springfield,Virginia Straight program had sent outreach people up here and they had organized these parent support groups in a church in Canton, Massachusettes every Saturday night. Most of the people whom you may remember from Massachusettes at that time came from that group. People like me and many others. Enough people that we actually opened our own Straight program up here in Stoughton, Massachusetts. I was a Senior staff member there. Looking back, I don`t really feel guilty about being a staff member because one of the reasons I wanted to be on staff in the first place was so that I would have some control over how people were treated. I did my best to try to change policy in that place. When Straight came to Stoughton, Massachusetts our program still sucked from the kids in it but there was no motivating, not as much face blasting etc. I always tried to be a cool staff member, I would pull kids out of group, take them aside let them lay down in the infirmary for awhile and talk about how they missed home. I tried to be empathetic. Was I perfect? No. I put people on setbacks, confronted people, etc. But that was all par for the course back then especially in Springfield, Virginia Straight.

I was on staff about 2 to 3 years in the Virginia and Massachusetts Straights and I was briefly on staff in the Los Angeles program when they first opened.They needed people to staff the place until they graduated some clients so I was one of the first people they picked to go. It was me and an executive staffer from the Massachusetts Program.There were other staff from other programs from around the country there as well. I think they took two people from each program –a group/senior staff and an executive. It was kinda cool but the program only had a few kids. It was another similar program previously and I guess Straight took over the other program, It was tough for the kids there because their program had some differences that they were sort of very used too and loyal to and I could tell they didn`t like these friggin Straightlings coming in and changing things. Since there was only about ten kids in the program the days could be very long. I think I would have them do a lot of exercise raps and I think we sometimes watched movies. I left there to go back home after about a month so I really couldn`t tell you what happened there after that.There was a very small group in LA. they were really no problem discipline wise. We kind of took it easy on them when I was there. It was sort of informal. They were all oldcomers so they knew what to do. Nothing at all like the Straight we knew and hated. **LOL**

After I graduated and left staff, I went back to drinking and fucked up my life again. Well for some strange reason I thought it would be a good idea to put myself back in Straight. I was 18 at this time. Because I was on staff in Virginia and Massachusetts, they (Straight) thought it would be a good idea for me to go to the Cincinnati program. That place was fucking crazy, 80% of the group was being restrained and acting out when I got there. My first day I brought my clothes and smokes (I was over 18.) Halfway through the day as I was sitting in that nut house contemplating withdrawing myself as soon as possible.

I was pulled out of group by a staff member and told that the oldcomer that was supposed to take me home that night had copped out and apparently he had stolen my clothes and my smokes. Fuck me!, I immediately was like I AM OUT OF Here. So I withdrew myself but The Straight building was miles from the city airport. So I walked down the road to the first convenience store I found and because all of my stuff was stolen including my money, I stole a pack of smokes. Back then they had promo smokes on the counter so it was a lot easier. I then proceeded to hit the highway and hitch to Cincinnati so I could get to the airport call my Dad and have him wire me some cash. My dad was always supportive no matter what my decisions were, he didn`t really even want me in straight in the first place. I think he was more upset about the money it cost more than anything and I greatly appreciated him wiring me the money to get the hell outta there ya know? Don`t really discuss STR8 w/ my folks. Its been so long, I have 2 grown kids now. So much time has passed, its like a lifetime ago. I think only us ex phasers still remember it so clearly cause we lived it. Also, because I was from out of state, my folks didn`t participate like your parents or others from Virginia. I wasn`t even forced to go to school when I was there they let me work instead, which was a great relief. I had dropped out at age 14. Mind you, I had never been to Ohio before so I just was going on the kindness of the people who picked me up hitchhiking that I would get to the right place. Looking back it was pretty dangerous but the program wouldn`t help me or even give me a ride back to the airport. Real nice huh? I check in to this place and they can`t even protect the property which I trusted them to take care of. That place closed down not too long after that. I think this was back in 1988-1989.

I occasionally see one particular Straight Survivor who he lives in my town. I regularly see another fellow Straight Survivor who was a phaser up here, we are in a support group together. Good guy. Other than that, very infrequently that I see other Straight Survivors. From what I know, we don`t have reunions up here, or if we do I don`t know about them. The first 5 or so years after graduating the program we were a pretty tight knit group but that sort fell apart and people sort of went their separate ways. I’m getting hand cramps. I hope this helps.