I was born in Bradenton, Florida 1961
I was adopted when I was three and my sister at only one. It's confusing to say but maybe it will make more sense written. My Aunt & Uncle (My Uncle was the blood relation) could not have children of their own due to a malfunction of Marijo’s reproductive system and wanted to adopt. My biological Mother was not honestly ready to raise children, so that was that. There are conflicting stories about this bit of history but that’s really *it* in a nut shell! They kept it in the family, so to speak. At three years of age, one gets used to their name and nick names. My first name was changed and growing up I could not STAND being called by the new name, Rob, or any of the nick names that were born of it. I think unconsciously I missed my given name, duh! Then after only a few years Bob & Marijo divorced and like so many court decisions, at that time, we went to live with our adopted Mom, Marijo. So she gained full custody and he received visitation rights. At the time she was working towards her doctorate and would later join the University of South Florida’s faculty, part of the Social Sciences Dept. but unfortunately also had debilitating issues with alcohol which led to abuse towards my sister and I as well as other relationships in her life. Her mother, our Grandmother Kogler, was much the same with her “habit”, so there you go!!
As a result of being exposed to all that by about the age of 10 I was drinking and smoking myself, What is that old saying “you become your parents?? I was only imitating her bad habits and using the psychology techniques she taught in college to get my own way. She did teach us allot in those terms!!
In my 12th year of life “Mom” decided to allow my sister and I to visit with our biological family for the summer, under the guise of Aunt and Uncle, both had remarried at that point. Mom was “Aunt Carol” and Dad was “Uncle Richard”. Didn’t take my sister and I long to figure it all out though and after some conversations about our home life with “Mom” we all reached a decision to take her to court to have our guardianship awarded back to our biological Mom & family. The courts were on our side considering we spilled the beans about the abuse, absenteeism and bad parenting skills since she was too busy having affairs and what ever else and not taking the time to raise us up the right way. We were both tired of it. Funny how ones life is so affected by the pasts abusive behavior that one endures growing up under such a roof. I think I’ve gotten most of it healed but there will always be some residual “stuff”. The courts did indeed award guardianship to bio-family. It was a VERY emotional day, especially seeing our adopted mom being led away like that. Still can see it in my minds eye all these decades later!
We ended up living with our Aunt Sherry (on our Mom’s side of the family) and her husband, Art, and his 8 kids, which was very kind of them to give us a home but then eventually moved in with Grandma & Grandpa Shores (on our Mom’s side of the family). I went into a sort of withdrawal time from my free range of being allowed to smoke, drink and basically run wild and then into a much more controlled environment and being made to go to church & straighten up, I did it though. By my 11th year in high school we finally got to live with our Mom and we relocated up to Natrona Heights, PA, which was a bit stressful for all concerned. For my 12th year in high school I moved back to Bradenton to live with my Dad, Richard, and his lovely wife, Ruth, (who I met when attending Manatee High, she was their Truant Officer at the time). Then came my 18th birthday and it wasn't long before I was back to my old bad habits of drinking and smoking cigarettes. At this point I had begun to follow in my adopted Mom’s footsteps with the over drinking and got into doing drag (female impersonation) which led to me doing a few shows at a local bar called "Ryan’s Someplace Else”, now gone to “bar heaven”.
I then did something really stupid, but you know, you do these things and they make you a better person in the end - if you survive the lesson that is. LOL I quit my job at the Alamo Rent-A-Car and said goodbye to Ryan’s and my buddies. I and a few friends all piled into my ‘65 Malibu Chevelle (that I got for a sweet $400.00 - which my Dad helped me get) and went down to Ft. Lauderdale to hustle the streets, do drag and be young and reckless there. What a mess that was. I ran out of money and ended up back in Bradenton in no time and my lovely Chevelle was history due to misfortune. I then got a job at a car sales place cleaning & shining them up for sale and lived in a little studio apt. close by. What a life!! I managed to mess that up royally and ended up living with a friend in his mothers trailer home, working the bars and hustling the streets in Tampa to make money to eat and just exist. Around that time I got a call from my Grandma (on my Dad’s side) telling me that my adopted “Mom” was found dead from alcohol poisoning (dead at the age of 46). That was around my 19th Birthday, very sad & miserable day!! Around that same time I fell off of a bar stool at Ryan’s and broke my nose in a drunken stupor! Shortly thereafter my adopted Dad was on a trip down to see my Grandma McCormick, who informed him of what a mess I had become and to come and save me before I got myself killed. So, he flew in and saved the day and I was relocated to California where I enrolled and attended Ponce’s Beauty School. It gave me a chance to get my life together. I let my eyebrows grow back in (took forever!) so no more drag for the time being.
Finally, my 21st Birthday came along and discovered San Francisco and began to drink heavily (again) and got myself involved with drugs (speed & MDA) and the sexual world of men. That’s when I met Arthur. I found out a few weeks into our affair that he was past lovers with the man who was his then room mate, Thad. Sweet, charming, handsome Thad from the South, good stock but Thad was also infected with what would be known today as HIV or AIDS. So then my mind went *CLICK* and there it was. I went into a total state of denial. Arthur and I broke up a few months later over an issue of he and I settling down. He wanted to continue to party and I wanted to nest. So much for stable relationships in my life. After the break-up I got deathly ill and I figured out quickly it was something much worse than a cold, *CLICK CLICK*!! I lost about 20 pounds in 3 weeks and missed my first 3 weeks of work at Mr. J’s salon that I had just started work at, which essentially put me on the owner’s shit list! In the back of my mind I KNEW what was happening to me but then again my denial reared it’s ugly head but