Creative Commons License
Super Friends by Whitney Holwadel Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at Super Friends: February 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Old letters

Back in 2007, not long after Whit arrived at Terre Haute, I got the idea to create a blog of sorts consisting of letters he had written me from Dayton Correctional Institution, where he had spent three years from age 18 to 20. This was of course long before Whit came up with the idea for his own original blog. After just under a year of putting letters up and noticing that no one was reading them, I abandoned the project. I thought I'd post a link to that site in case anyone here is interested. It also includes some pieces he wrote from Dayton for an independent newspaper published in Cincinnati by Steve Novotni, who ended up becoming a good friend of Whit. (Click on "More Writing Samples") After he came home from DCI Whit lived with me for a couple of months before moving into an apartment in Steve's house. It was there he last lived, for another few months, before being arrested and sent to Terre Haute.

By October 2007 I had begun putting up a few letters he'd written from Terre Haute. All letters through 2002 are from DCI, anything later is from Terre Haute. The folder/link dates refer to when I posted them, not when the letters were written.

I think all the letters are worth reading, but the one he wrote on October 8, 2002 hits me especially hard.

I called the blog simply Letters from Whit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A visit with Tiny

Yesterday I drove up to Dayton to meet with Tiny, who's been out for just over two weeks now. He was the one who took Whit under his wing when Whit first arrived at Terre Haute.They were inseparable until Whit was first sent to the hole. 

Tiny is from Centerville, OH, next to Dayton. He lives with his mom now, and spends his days taking the bus into downtown Dayton to make the rounds of federal and state offices for the process of getting medical coverage (he needs a number of prescriptions), applying for disability (for his weight and related medical issues) and checking in with both state and federal parole officers. Because he doesn't (and for now can't) drive, I met him at the Federal Building just after 1 pm. Turned out he had to be back home at 3:00 so he could go to church with his mom (strong Irish-Catholic family, and this was Ash Wednesday), so we didn't have much time together. Found a Ruby Tuesday's and had steak, talked about Whit, the prison system, and Tiny's bureaucratic nightmare. He really needs a stomach stapling or intestine shortening (don't know what the medical terms are) procedure, which will, after he's been on disability, allow him to get back off it and find real work. 

His mom was in the driveway when we got back, so I got to meet her as well. Good person, good family. I did make the mistake of referring to him once as Tiny, but caught myself right away and apologized. I'm guessing she's not crazy about the nickname, as 1) it was given to him in prison, and 2) it's a play on his size. His given name is Gerald, and he was always called Gerry. The next time I talk to him I'll have to ask which he prefers now. My vote would be for Gerry; I know that all the inmates whom I communicate with refer to Whit as "Smitty," and I'm OK with that, but somehow it's a bit of a disconnect for me. And if I were Gerry, I'd want to put the "Tiny" tag behind me along with everything else. I suppose I should continue using the name Tiny here on the blog, though, since that's how everyone here knows him.

I wish he were a little closer - it's just under an hour drive to Dayton - but I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of each other. Not only is he a good guy who deserves all the support and friendship he can get, but any real friend of Whit's is a friend of mine. It tends to provide a sense of continuity, if not comfort, to spend time with him. And I have no doubt that they would have been good friends even if they had met on the outside.