Black Panther Party, Black Panthers, Con Games, Counter Culture, Drug Paraphernalia, Head Shops, La Raza, Panthers, Street Life

LIVING LARGE – A THOUSAND GAMES TO PLAY

 LIVING LARGE – A THOUSAND GAMES TO PLAY
PART 7 OF A SERIES – STORIES FROM A LIFE
© PJ Hayward, New York 2008
First Published 2008 by Hold On Publications
Revised © PJ Hayward New York 2013

I’m going to skip ahead a year or so now to 1972.

As you know, by then I had left the church behind me. I was making some progress in my life and living happily on my own in a cute little cottage up in Hollywood.

Brandi had followed some guy to Alaska where he claimed he was working on the Alaska Pipeline. I was convinced he took her there to make a sex slave out of her but no – they actually got married and lived almost happily ever after.

To make a living, I was selling weed, making and selling little jewelry pieces and doing assorted other money making projects. Also, just to keep something legitimate going and make sure I could pay my rent, I was working a few days a week in a small Head shop up on Sunset Blvd., which was owned by a friend.

Head Shops were little shops where you could buy all kinds of counter-culture books and print material such as the L.A. Free Press, Zap Comix, the Whole Earth Catalog and many other types of underground publications. Primarily though, head shops carried all kinds of drug paraphernalia. Typically they sold pipes, bongs, hookahs, gourmet rolling papers, clips and all kinds of other accessories which in California in the ‘70s, were pretty much considered as daily necessities of life.

To me though, the most important function of any head shop was that they were usually good places to get information. You could always find out the latest goings on with the Panthers, La Raza or other militant or counter-culture groups and get news of what Civil Rights or other political rallies or protests were being planned or where they were currently being held etc. I really liked working in the shop because my friend and the people I met there kept me totally informed and in the loop about everything I was involved in at the time, which was a lot of political activism.

On an otherwise ordinary day, this real tall, skinny guy in a white sharkskin tre-piece strolled into the shop, along with his 2 buddies. He had that Lean down so low, if he had leaned just a tiny bit more he would have toppled over. His 2 buddies leaned and strolled in right behind him. He was pretty cute and he was just my type, tall and skinny.

This guy started flirting and messing with me while his two buddies wandered through the shop. I have to admit I pretty much flirted back (but all the while keeping a real close eye on the 2 buddies – I mean – I was young but not stupid).  Anyway, as it turned out, the guy thought I was cute too and said he’d stop in again – which he did – a lot.

That was how I met Tony.

Tony started stopping by my little cottage and we got to know each other, which is how we found out we were different as night from day. Still, the attraction was there loud and clear for the both of us and we clicked.

He moved in.

In the beginning though, we really went through some serious changes.

Now I don’t mean this as an insult or a put-down, but it’s just a statement of fact. Tony was raised in the South where at that time men were MEN and women were expected to stay in front of the stove wearing a little apron, stirring a pot with one hand, bouncing a baby in the other hand and running the vacuum cleaner with their foot. And if the woman could have levitated herself she would have been expected to keep her husband happy somehow with her other foot.

So Tony assumed he would now be Man of the House and part of his role would be to take care of the business end of things. I suppose that MIGHT have been okay with me (MAYBE) except that he dogged my little business so bad he ran off all my customers.

Just so you understand – my way of doing business had always been to give people a decent deal – to me that was just ordinary good business sense. I’m not saying you had to be stupid or anything – just be fair. It worked very well for me because I had always kept a steady and reliable bunch of customers and by their word of mouth to other people, my various little businesses had grown nicely and given me a reasonably dependable income.

Tony’s idea of business was to take whatever merchandise we were selling, cut it as much as humanly possible, wildly overcharge for it and then somehow beat the people anyway unless it was impossible to avoid. Boy, that pissed me off so bad and I screamed about it so loud I ran him all the way back home to Little Rock. Well, he probably would have run there anyway because by that time I was pregnant and very moody and irritable and it really didn’t help to watch him throw my entire living out the window.

Patti in her wing dress - pregnant with DevinPregnant me in the driveway of the little cottage – still wearing my wing dresses

Still, a couple of months before our son was born, Tony called to say he was coming on home and to expect him in a week or so. Five minutes later he showed up at my door. What a clown! He had called me from Safeway about a block away.

He was driving a brand new yellow Oldsmobile.

Yellow Caddy

A little faded but….the yellow Olds

Well, by then I guess I had cooled off enough and all of a sudden it seemed like he had never been gone.

We managed to work things out and before long we were totally solid – Solid – and we became a true team.

But that was just the beginning….

Once our son was born, healthy and thriving and I was properly back on my feet, Tony took me shopping.

He transformed me.

Gone were the hippie clothes and the tire sole sandals and here to stay were chic and beautiful fashions. Tony would take me to trendy shops and sit there while I modeled different outfits for him. He would nod his head and smile or shake his head or just tell the sales lady to wrap that up and so on. In time both of us had so many platform shoes we needed a closet just for our shoes. We had shoes and boots in every color and every kind of snakeskin, lizard, alligator, suede – you name it. When our baby grew big enough, he had his own closet stuffed full of little tre-pieces, shoes, hats, coats and everything Tony had but just in a tiny size.

Tony gave me the first diamonds I ever owned.

He made me feel special and beautiful – and he developed a kind of power over me…….

Then he married me.

We started making money. Tony was an idea man and he would come up with all kinds of different schemes and games. Since I had been struggling for so long, all that fast money was very tempting. And since I had already spent my whole youth scheming and lying, it wasn’t a stretch to follow right along with Tony now and somehow everything seemed natural and normal to me.

Tony schooled me about marks, chumps, tricks and everything in between and everything there is to know about catching them. I became an expert at playing into people’s egos and arrogance and using their weaknesses to my own advantage. I worked at thinking faster and acting faster than the next person and how to stay two steps ahead of them so I could get what I wanted way before they did.

I became a chameleon – I was who I appeared to be at any given moment. Whatever the game was I listened, learned and played my part until the money started rolling in and we were living large – extra large.

patti 1977

Transformed me

But Tony had a bad temper. A really bad temper. When his temper would fly out of control, he was always just as sorry afterwards. I really loved him though and I never stopped loving him, so most of the time I would find myself forgiving him. Always I would make myself believe his remorseful explanations and tearful apologies, because he tried so hard to make up for his temper explosions.  He would try to show his future good intentions by showering me with apology gifts of jewelry, leather coats, cars and eventually, even a big house up in the Hollywood hills.

Through the years those “sorry” diamonds would be in and out of the pawn shop as our fortunes ebbed and flowed.

We stayed together for a long time. Some days were happy and some days – not so much.

Years down the line, those “sorry” diamonds financed my road to freedom – but that story will come later on in this series.

7 thoughts on “LIVING LARGE – A THOUSAND GAMES TO PLAY”

  1. This sounds like fiction! You really had an extraordinary life. And so clever to become an entrepreneur. Who taught you to think out of the box. Clever Boots, all I can say..looking forward to the next blog.

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    1. Lol! Well about being an entrepreneur. I guess it’s like the old saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. I think it was only because I was so wild and undisciplined I just couldn’t seem to hold down an ordinary job in those days, so I had to find other ways to survive. Yes you are not the only one who says my life sounded like fiction, that’s why I wrote these stories, because for so many years people who knew me back in those days nagged and nagged at me to write a book, which is what I did finally. These stories are abridged excerpts from my book.

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  2. The story about your experiences with a man who couldn’t control his temper reminds me of my own first husband. After we were married and lived in a one-room apartment, we were having a quiet conversation when my husband struck me–not hard, but he struck me. I asked him why and he replied that I had dared to express an opinion different from his. That night after he fell asleep, I took my slipper and hit him awake with its hard heel. He raised his hand and hit me lightly and asked why I had done that. I replied that he should not hit a person smaller than himself and a female to boot. I then proceeded to hit him 2 more times. At one of them he said: “I did not hit you now, why are you hitting me? I replied that he had raised his hand as if to hit me. The third time he did not raise his hands at all and I let him sleep. P.S. He never hit me again.

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    1. Wow Rose! I’m glad you stood up to him! It’s so hard to imagine today what women had to deal with back in the old days. I mean, to get upset because you dared to have your own opinion. But that was the experience for millions of women back then. I remember when I was studying
      women’s suffrage, I read that men expected their wives to vote the way their husbands told them to. I’m sure some women did, too, but I would guess that most of them voted their own way but still told their husbands they voted their way..lol!

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