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Prison Narratives: ‘The Move, 1974’ by Vincent Young

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VOX Press‘ book, Prison Narratives, features personal stories written by prisoners at Parchman Farm. The book can be bought here.

Vincent Young was raised on a farm in New Albany, Mississippi. His father was an airplane mechanic and sometimes bare knuckles fighter. He is serving a life sentence for armed robbery and aggravated assault.

XIII. The Move, 1974

Vincent Young

The day of the move was not what I expected. There was everyone helping us move. We had a train of trucks behind us following us to our new home. The most hurtful thing about the move was that I could not take Legs with us. We had to leave her at my grand mommy’s house. Once we were at our new home, I noticed people walking up and down the street. Another thing I hated was how close the houses were together. I could look out our window and see into the next house. Even if the people are black, it was the way they looked at us.

Our new house wasn’t as big as the one we’d left. This one had one bathroom and our old house had two. Now all three of us would have to use the same bathroom. When we finished unpacking, I went outside and sat on the porch. I felt I was in a world that I wanted no part of, but mommy had forced me into this world. Why did she sell our house and all our animals? I’m not old enough to say or ask why. Me and my sister are alone a lot at night. Mommy and her friend go somewhere at night, and some girl came over to stay with us until she came home.

The babysitter’s name is Penny, and she’s only three years older than me. I must say, she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.

After about a month in our new home, I had made a few friends and also had a few fights. They gave me the nickname, “Country Boy”. I only talked with my sister, and hardly said anything to my friends. I was boiling inside and ready to blow. I was upset about moving, about the death of my daddy, and about leaving Legs behind. I’m a twelve year old boy missing his Daddy very much.

We’re still going to the same school, only this time we walked there. So, every morning I would wait on bus #8 to pull up, and when it did, I’d wait for Judy to get off. I explained to her as best as I could that I didn’t like it at all, and that I’d wanted to stay in our house and not his new one.

A few weeks later, I noticed Judy was drifting away from me. She no longer held my hand or rubbed my neck. I came to find out that she and Larry were talking, and that only added to my anger. Everything seemed to be turning against me and causing me more pain.

Mommy asked me, “What’s wrong?” I guess she could see my pain. I told her only half the truth, because maybe she wouldn’t understand. I told her about how Judy was treating me and how I missed Legs. She told me I have many years ahead of me and I’ll find another girlfriend. “Go get your sister and meet me at the car,” she said, and when I did, she came out and told us, “We’re going to grand mommy’s house.” I could hardly wait to get there, ‘cause I haven’t seen Legs in two weeks. When we pulled up in the yard, Legs came running from behind the house to greet us. We played with Legs before going in the house, me, my sister and Mommy. We must’ve been playing a long time because grand mommy came outside and said, “Ya’ll would rather come see that hog than come give your grand mommy a hug!” Me and my sister gave Grand Mommy and Granddaddy a hug. Then I ran straight back to Legs with my sister in tow.

The most hurtful part about visiting Grand Mommy was when the time came to leave, ‘cause leaving Legs behind would hurt me so much. As we pulled out of the driveway, Legs would look like her world was coming to an end. Legs always trotted behind the car all the way to the end of the road. That was the last time we saw Legs alive. She died a week later. From loneliness, I believe, and because she had no one to play with and rub her ears. Legs missed seeing how much she was loved. Legs didn’t get the great funeral like Truck, because daddy was the one who did Truck’s funeral. But I can say that Granddaddy did do a good job. He even got a real preacher to say a few words over Leg’s coffin. I just assumed that the reason Legs died is that we weren’t there for her.

I didn’t cry out at Leg’s funeral. Instead, I cried within. After the death of my Daddy I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry out again. Little did I know by doing this, It would cost me my happiness, my freedom, and my love.

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