Hurlbut 45

My mom and I packed three large bags, none of which matched the others, in preparation for my trip to Boston and ultimately on to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Harvard. I had been away from home before, once to visit my grandfather in Atlantic City, and another
time for pretty much the entire summer in a college preparatory program held at
Columbia University, but this was different.There was both excitement and
sadness.

I was grateful for two things though: my mother had always been particular about how my sister and I looked and despite not having a lot of money, we bought clothes that allowed for a lot of combinations-thus increasing the size of our wardrobes- and also, I
developed the meticulous habit of keeping them not just clean, but spotless.

I didn’t take any mementos from my room, no pictures of the family or keepsakes that reminded me of home. The fact is at an early age I was always looking forward and never backward. I appreciated my experiences and cherished memories of the things my mother,
sister, and I had done as a family but my focus was always on the next challenge, that next hill to climb. (I did pack my white football cleats. I fully expected that I would be using them at Harvard.)

We struggled with the bags as we placed them in the car, a 1968  blue VW  bug, and headed for Dayton Airport, about forty miles north of Middletown. From that point on, the trip was a blur. I was just too excited, with too much going through my mind, to really notice anything else. I was simply on an American Airlines flight from Dayton, Ohio, to Boston Logan airport. I do remember giving my mom a hug, and I do remember her
offering advice on safety, but that was it, I blinked and I was there.

When I arrived in Boston I struggled with those bags again, a seasoned traveler I was not. I did manage finally to pull them to the curb and hail a taxi. The driver, a short stocky man with a prominent nose, helped me put them in the trunk, and off we went to “Hah-vahd
Square”.

“Going to be a freshman at “Hahvahd” he said with a strong New England accent. At least that’s what I thought he said.

“Yes sir” I said.

“Where are you from?”

“Ohio.”

“Ohio… huh” he said. I guess the mention of Ohio told him all he needed to hear. We both then let our conversation drift off and dissipate into the ethers as our attention turned to
the matters at hand, him driving and paying attention to the road, and me imagining all the adventures I would experience at Harvard.

Boston looked old to me and not very friendly. The streets were so narrow and rickety and the buildings looked so imposing. I knew this was a new beginning for me and so I forced myself to look at the positive side, the chance to explore all the history that Boston
had to offer. “For goodness sakes, I was on my way to Harvard College,” I thought, “the oldest and most prestigious university in America.”

After a few miraculous twists and turns, a drive along the Charles River, and a trip through a tunnel that had scared the “shit out of me”, the taxi pulled up in front of a red brick building, no different than all the other red brick buildings on the block. The letter I had
said I would be living in Hurlbut Hall, one of the Union Dorms. I took this to
be it.

The fair was $17:00 and I gave him a twenty and waited for the change. He gave me three and I gave him back one as a tip. He just smiled. I never got his name; my first chance to make a friend in Boston and I missed it.

The cabbie opened the trunk and together, he and I pulled the luggage to the sidewalk. He returned to his cab and gave me a quick wave goodbye. As he drove off, I stood there looking around at nothing in particular, just taking it all in. It was beautiful. There was a gentle breeze, the trees were green, and the sun was shining brightly. I just stood
there. So these were the Union dorms which sat outside of Harvard Yard.  I pulled my luggage to the front of the building, which was actually the back of the structure, and stared at the doorway. Above the door was a sign in metal letters that said Hurlbut Hall. The taxi driver had been correct and he had dropped me exactly where I needed to
be. This was to be home for the next year.

There was only one problem. I had no idea what I needed to do. I stood in front of the door a few moments longer and just looked around. I opened the door to Hurlbut Hall and in the foyer were mailboxes to the left and another door that was locked straight ahead. On that door was a sign “suggesting” I go to the next building and meet the janitor. He
would give me my keys.

“This is crazy,” I thought. “There’s no one here to greet us, or rather me; there’s no one here to tell me what to do.”

I left my luggage in the foyer and walked to the next building. There sitting behind a long table in a hallway just inside the door sat a man in dark blue kakis with a row of keys scattered neatly on the table in front of him. “Hi” I said. My name is Jan…Jan Adams and I in Hurlbut Hall, Hurlbut 45.

“Hurlbut 45,” he said as he surveyed his table and picked up a set of two keys. “This one,” pointing to the larger of the two “gets you in the building; and this one gets you into your room. There is also a combination lock on the door; the combination is in your packet. In the event you lose your key-and you will- the combination will allow access to the building” He then reached behind him and took a large yellow envelope from a stack sitting there neatly.

We then stared at each other for a few seconds and finally, not being able to take the silence any longer, I was the first to flinch, “Anything else?”

“No, that’s it…Good luck; have a great year.” he said. And away I went.

There was no elevator in Hurlbut Hall.  I carried those bags, one at a time, up three flights of stairs. I was the second to arrive and my roommate, Raymond Swaggerty, “RaySwagg” as he came to be called, had already claimed a bed. I was left with the bed in the front room. Ray was not there and so I began to unpack.

The room was simple and rather sparse when it came to furniture. Opposite the doorway was a wall with a large window that looked out on the Harvard Union across the street. A twin bed and mattress sat below the window. The wall to the left had a desk situated in the
center. On the right was a doorway which led into another room, RaySwagg’s room. Next to it sat a bureau for storing clothes and adjacent to that was a closet. The restroom and shower were down the hall on the right.

My schedule was inside the packet I had received from the janitor. Everything that I would need to do for the next few days in order to register was right there. I was shocked at the lack of fanfare. “Where was the band and cheerleaders? Where was the welcoming committee for my arrival at Harvard College? That was it, just the janitor?”

“RaySwagg” returned before I had finished unpacking.  We said our hellos
but you could see him staring at me: jeans too tight, hair too big, and
rose-colored glasses, prescription of course, wire rims certainly. There I was
in all my glory.

Ray and I spent a lot of time talking that night. Our conversation was at first clinical as we sparred to get some concrete idea of each other but soon progressed to a warm sharing of
feelings. He was from Detroit, he was black, and he was to be my roommate for
the next four years. Ray had attended Detroit Country Day School; he looked very studious but not very athletic. He was in fact almost shy, kind of quiet, but clearly friendly. I could see from the start that we would get along fine. My first fear about college was now behind me, so far so good.

From Middletown High to “Project 600” to Harvard College!

In February of my sophomore year at Middletown High, Middletown’s racism reared its ugly head. During football season, it was traditional for us to select homecoming
queen candidates. The problem was that in a school where there were 700 kids in
a class and only 50 of them black, the black girls never had an opportunity to
participate. There simply wasn’t enough votes.

Rick and Guy on the other hand, being the starting guards on the basketball team, got selected as escorts. Two black guys being put in a position to escort white girls in Middletown, Ohio, at that time was scandalous. It was 1969. That is where the rifts began to appear in the fabric of life at Middletown High and by the time Black History month arrived, Middletown High School had become separated along racial lines.

As president of the sophomore class, I was required to meet with the student council to discuss these issues. Unfortunately for us, before these meetings took place, violence broke out and for a week Middletown High School was closed. The black and white communities
separated from each other and, as was traditional, the ministers in the black churches emerged as leaders.

From my perspective though, that was the problem. Slavery, and the racism that followed, was never a moral issue in America (although I personally believe it is morally wrong). In America slavery was an economic issue: America with all its land needed free labor to work it.

Resolving the race issue therefore needed to start with recognizing the
economic contributions that we, as black people, had made to America. I just couldn’t see being angry at a white kid who was just plain ignorant. For one, I didn’t see it as his
fault. He had been “mis-educated”. He didn’t know that a black man had invented
the third rail, or the traffic light, or the machine that made his shoes. He
didn’t know that a black man developed the technique for storing blood for
transfusions. He didn’t know that a black woman invented the washing machine.
He hadn’t been taught this. As far as he knew, all black folks did was take.
America had made him stupid and I just couldn’t make it his fault.

The Ku Klux Klan, which everybody believes to be a Southern phenomenon, was actually quite active in our area. Periodically, during the time surrounding the riots at Middletown High, we would get calls at our house that were threatening. That was the most amazing situation for a sixteen year old. I was not particularly militant; in fact, my only dream was
to complete high school and get on to college. The Klan, however, saw it
differently.

Psychologically, I closed down then, and even though I didn’t know it, that was to color how I related to the outside world from then on. I was friendly, I was cordial, but it was clear that I was never going to allow people inside again. To be 16 years old and
have the Ku Klux Klan calling your house threatening your life and your
family’s life was just too much.

Perhaps my personality and my talents were more suited to public office, having been president of the sophomore class, the junior class, and then finally of the student body, but
that episode changed me. That’s why I chose medicine rather than business or
law, and even within medicine I was determined to do research to further minimize my interactions with people.

Toward the end of my junior year in high school, I was nominated by Thomas Cloud, a member of the Nixon administration, to attend the United States Naval Academy. It was quite an honor and realistically my mother’s first choice for me. She loved the notion
of the discipline, believed completely in a structured life, and saw a career in service to our country as honorable. (She had also worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the last 18 years. It was a life she knew and respected.)

I didn’t have an opinion on it but was happy to please her by doing the right thing. That is also something I adopted as a child. It wasn’t so important to me how I felt, as long as I did
the right thing. That in effect became my mantra: “It doesn’t matter how I feel, as long as I do the right thing.” And so at a very young age I learned to suppress my emotions (as if my life needed the extra help).

It turned out that while the Naval Academy may have been the right thing for me, I was not the right thing for it. During the extensive physical exam I was discovered to have congenital heart disease, a second degree-type 1, AV heart block (Wenckebach/Mobitz I).  There would be no naval intelligence, no career flying airplanes onto a warship, and no black James Bond.

I’d like to say I took it in stride but I’m not sure that was the case. I accepted it for
what it was, but emotionally, I don’t think I addressed it at all. I simply
tucked it away, way down deep inside where I suppose I catalogue all things
emotional.

I put it beside Donette Slusher, clearly the love of my life, and someone who never knew because in Middletown, and certainly in my life, you just didn’t date white girls. Donette sat beside me in homeroom and was in all my classes at Middletown High.  

From the moment our eyes met she was the only love for me. Dressed in
a flowing white dress I could see the gentle curves of her hips as they
extended into slender sturdy legs with ample calves and thin ankles that
deposited into tiny flat shoes. Her face was chiseled, and yet soft at the same
time, with eyes that sparkled and said “yes, yes I am yours” as she moved closer
to me. Her arms were gentle and as she hugged me the warm softness engulfed my
soul. I pulled her closer and our lips brushed softly against each other, my
heart rate and breathing pulsating stronger and louder. Our kiss became more
firm as we began to gyrate in each other’s aura. I could not help myself. I
could not stop. The fire between us burned hotter and hotter…

“Mr. Adams, Mr. Adams,” Mrs. McBain, my teacher interrupted. “Mr. Adams, where on earth do you go? I realize you are the quarterback on Fridays, but for now, how about staying with us. We’re doing trigonometry in here”

“Yes mam” I said to the snickers of my classmates. Donette was this beautiful, quiet little angel, whose smile I can still see to this very day. No words were necessary; it was simply love at first sight.

Mrs. McBain on the other hand was a terror. She was this small black woman, with the complexion of a white woman, who was determined to get the most out of all of us. For her, teaching was a calling, not just a job. She was determined to see that we got the best
education we could get and nothing was going to stand in her way, not even the
mindless daydreaming of the starting quarterback. She was on me for the entire
fifty minutes, from the time I walked through the door of her classroom. She
also lived a few doors down on 11th Avenue, my street, which also
made it too close for comfort. She saved me and a lot of black kids over more
than thirty-five years of service, period. I never learned to appreciate her
until I got to college.

I applied to Harvard College and was accepted. In fact, I applied no where else. I received the notice on March 10, 1972. Everyone I knew, and even people I didn’t know, were happy, and proud. Not many black kids from Middletown escape the steel mills to college, and certainly not Harvard. About ten years earlier, John McCluskey, who also
quarterbacked the Middies, had accomplished such a feat in the 1960’s.

Yet no where were they more proud than in the mills. The summer before I left for school, I worked at Armco Steel Corporation as a general laborer. My job was hysterical. I worked at Project 600. If you have ever driven on the Interstate highways you’ve seen these
massive trucks with one, but certainly not more than two circular rolls of
metal sitting on them. The rolls are massive and weigh tons; that’s why you
only see one, not two or three, on a truck. Project 600 is where this steel was
rolled into these coils for transport.

There were four large furnaces at Project 600 and each could achieve temperatures of greater than 2000º F. A four foot by 10 to 12 foot, one foot thick, plate of raw steel was placed in these furnaces and heated to almost a ‘gel’. Once the steel was soft enough it was
pushed out onto a conveyor that ran the length of the building, more than half
a mile. As the steel move down the conveyor it negotiated a series of rollers -like
on an old-fashioned washing machine- that flattened the steel out into a long
serpentine sheet. Toward the end of the conveyor the metal would then be rolled
into a spool for transport.

These furnaces had movable parts that would slide the steel out onto the conveyor. These movable parts had to be lubricated with oil, but understandably, it was so hot, that when oil was placed on them, the oil would heat up and liquefy to a point of where it would
drip.

Approximately 65 feet underground in the basement of the structure were
the working mechanisms of these furnaces. That is ultimately where the oil
landed. Now, here we are in Ohio, in the middle of July. It’s 95º outside with
95% humidity. I’m 65 feet underground, under furnaces where the temperature is
greater than 2000ºF, and I have a steam gun, that’s right a long metal tube where steam and hot water came out the distal end, removing oil from the floor,
forcing it into trenches to be carried away and processed. Needless to say,
that job motivated me to study at Harvard.

But Middletown is a good place, and it was a wonderful place to grow up. When it became apparent that I was on my way to Harvard, the entire town rallied around it. Even the whites who worked at Armco Steel Corporation were supportive. They too believed that if I
did my best at Harvard, with emphasis on the best, I would have the opportunity
to enjoy “how the other half lives.”

It also afforded me an opportunity to come out from under those furnaces periodically to enjoy their air conditioned offices at Project 600 (and that alone made it worthwhile). I wouldn’t change any of it.

High School Life was not all about Sports

In grade school and junior high I played on the basketball team as well, but that ended after my sophomore year in high school. It was the age of specialization and prudence dictated that I concentrate on football. If I was to play regularly, I needed to do the work
that it took to get better. It was a full time endeavor.

It wasn’t all sports though. When I entered high school, my mother became increasingly concerned and a lot more overbearing concerning my development. She saw it as a time when young boys grow wild. She saw it as a turning point: you choose a path that is honorable, or one that leads to destruction. She was taking no chances.

An uncle was the pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Middletown, the church we attended on Sundays. My mother “suggested” that it might be very good for me to become a junior deacon and spend more time around him at this point in my life. And so I did.

The church though was a strange place for me at thirteen. I understood faith but I guess I just couldn’t understand the logic behind it. By this time, books were everything for me, and I was learning to have a lot more questions than people, or books for that
matter, could supply answers. I just remember thinking that my uncle, the Rev.
Hampton, wasn’t so much interested in saving my soul, as he was in making me a
good Baptist. Nonetheless, I have grown considerably over the years, at least in terms of my spirituality, and I owe both my mother and the Reverend Hampton for that.

That chapter, my committment to being a Junior Deacon in the Church lasted two years  and no one was happier for the arrival of high school than me. New challenges afforded me the opportunity to let go of some of the old things in order to focus on the new. I gladly would spend time in the library as compared to sitting around with my fellow deacons, all over the age of eighty.

In Middletown, Ohio, that meant getting on a bus and going from the “hood”, to where the white kids lived. (Middletown had a segregated black area but in all honesty it was a far cry from “the hood”. Jobs at the steel mill made sure everyone could earn a living. Our “hood”
wasn’t a ghetto plagued with crime and drugs; it was just a middle class black Midwestern
town. There weren’t a lot of things to do, not much culture, but, again, it was
safe.)

Middletown High School had been originally located downtown, not far from
the black inhabited west side, but with construction of a new building it had
been moved to a more convenient location (for the white families that lived out
toward the eastern part of town). We were to be the first group of sophomores to
attend the new school and despite the ride it was wonderful to “break in” a
brand new building.

Football season began with the “dog days” of August and so those of us who played football actually arrived a month before school started. We’d carpool out to the school in the morning, head for the locker room, and change into our gear.

Morning practice lasted two and a half hours and was more about fundamentals and conditioning. We’d then have a break for lunch and rest an hour or so.

At noon we’d practice in shorts and helmets. Helmets were the hardest thing to get use to wearing and so when we convened to learn plays with the “skilled” players-that is the backs and ends-we were required to wear them at all times.

The afternoon workout was torture in full gear and this was the time when starters were declared. It was man against man and the payoff was a chance to play every Friday evening, and more importantly, in Barnitz Stadium, a place that seated about 10,000 people in a town with only 20,000.

I moved up the depth chart quickly, and as a junior was considered for the starting quarterback position. That meant replacing Bob Coleman, who was a senior, but more
importantly, my friend. Bobby was like a big brother to me. As things
progressed, that is as the first game of the season grew closer, he moved to head off a confrontation for the starting quarterback position. It was interesting because he
wasn’t avoiding the competition, Bobby was a tremendous athlete. He was the
captain and he was making the move for the betterment of the team. It was he
who approached Coach Gordon and suggested I start at quarterback while he continued
to play safety and concentrated on defense. That, in no uncertain terms, was a
man. He taught us all about the notion of team.

It was short-lived because soon after that I broke my ankle and missed six weeks of practice. After I healed, it took three to four weeks for me to get back in shape and by the seventh game of the season, Bobby and I were alternating at quarterback during games with him leading the running plays and me coming in on obvious passing downs. I was a passer, not a runner.

I started the last game of the season, a game against Hamilton Garfield, our rivals, which we won.

Playing football, and being a part of high school life before the rest of the student body had even arrived, also had other benefits. It made me the most popular kid in the sophomore class, which got me elected president (of the sophomore class) and placed on the
student council. As a result, I was President of the Junior Class, and as a senior, President of the student body.

I had developed my closest friendships by the time I was in high school. Rick Martin and Guy Mack had been friends of mine since grade school and, because we had all our classes together, our relationship continued on into our college preparatory courses and graduation.

I played football, and Rick and Guy were starting guards on the basketball team.
They would come to football games to support me, and in turn, when basketball
season arrived I cheered them on. The three of us did everything together. Most
of all, we participated in high school life, and growing-up in a small midwestern town.

Contrary to the Reports; My Life did not end, nor begin, with the death of Donda West

My paternal grandmother, Alberta, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and that’s where she met my grandfather, Edward Adams, who had come north from Alabama. I never met Edward Adams and no one ever really talked about him. By the time I was born, Edward had died and my grandmother had remarried Pearlman Hicks, the only Grandpa I knew. Yet here she was, one of the most wonderful people I had ever known, telling me how racism in America had affected her choices, and ultimately, her decision to leave home. That has
always stuck with me. It’s amazing that people could be so mean to someone who
truly was such a wonderful spirit.

My parents, as I noted earlier, had divorced by this time. Sports became my father and my teacher. After the death of Alice, my childhood disappeared and so, as a child, I guess you could say I was parentified-at least that what psychiatrists and psychologists call it today. My mother was a single parent raising two children on her own. As the oldest, my responsibility was for my younger sister. My mother would leave for work each morning at
approximately 6:30 a.m. and from that time forward, that is until about six in
the evening, I was responsible for Delia (to this day my best friend and the
love of my life-so much for sibling rivalry).

The hours after school were spent first making sure my sister got home safely? It was then off to whatever sport the season dictated.

By this time we had moved to a large house on Eleventh Avenue, my mother, sister and I. It was a perfect place to live because of its location. The house sat one structure (a small church) from the corner and across the street to the left was Wm Howard Taft Elementary
School where my sister went. And directly out our front door, across a large
field, was Wm. McKinley Junior High School (where I went); and behind McKinley
sat Barnitz Stadium, where the Middletown High School Middies played football,
a place I would come to love because it gave me my identity. There was no
greater honor in Middletown, Ohio, than being the Middie quarterback.

I was also very fortunate because the kid who lived a few doors down was none other than John Holland. John was older than I was and, to put it mildly, a tremendous athlete. He was muscular before we knew what muscles were and was great at all sports. He eventually
played football for the Minnesota Vikings.

John and I would go to McKinley Junior High School, across the street from our houses, with a tennis ball, a baseball bat, a glove, and a piece of chalk. We’d draw a chalk square on the wall to designate the strike zone and played strikeout almost every day during
the summer. It was John Holland who taught me to hit a baseball, and it was
John Holland who made me a pitcher in knothole baseball.

During the fall I played Pee Wee Football, and with that came a ritual. Everyday after school, I would run home, get my bicycle and pedal the five miles south to Smith Park. On the days I didn’t have to go to practice I was lucky to have Jesse, Jesse Jemison, in my
life too. We called Jesse “Flubber” and while the fact is that Jesse eventually
played professional basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters, his real claim to
fame is he taught an eight year-old kid to throw a football.

We really did hang an old tire from the tree in the back yard and throw that ball threw the tire for hours at a time. Jesse would critique my mechanics and we would make adjustments and continue throwing for another hour or so. What a great thing for Jesse to do. That kid that Jesse taught to throw a football became the quarterback for the Middletown Middies and went on to Harvard College.

I never really thought about it at the time: that the other boys were always there at Smith Park with their fathers and I wasn’t; I really didn’t think about it. I was the quarterback and got more than enough attention. All I really wanted to do
was play. It was my time to have fun. I was good at it, and my coaches took an interest
in me. It was also the only time that I interacted with white kids in Middletown.

I didn’t see my coaches as the white men from the other side of the town though; I saw them as uncles and brothers and father figures who had taken an interest in me. They fought to keep me a kid when I needed it most.

As a seventh grader I had considered playing football at the junior high school level. The coaches who had taught me football since I was eight years-old urged me to continue Pee Wee Football. “Play ten games as the starting quarterback” they urged, “rather than sitting the bench for four games at McKinley while the ninth graders get to play. Your time will come; just make sure you are prepared when it does.” They were right and football turned out to be very, very kind to me. It afforded me the attention that all kids need, and soon
football would be my ticket out of Middletown.

Remembering the Early Years

My first recollection of Middletown, Ohio, where I grew up really began at about four years of age. By that time, my parents had separated. I had an infant baby sister, and I was
living on Baltimore Street with my grandmother and my mother’s younger siblings, Sonny, Ritchie, and Tido, all in their teens.

The house on Baltimore was a large, red brick building. It was a complex, odd-shaped house and that made for lots of places for a kid to play, to hide, and to think on his own. By now, my name had been changed by my mother from Rudalgo Alonzo Adams to Jan Rudalgo Adams. Rudalgo Alonzo, in her opinion, was way too ethnic, and let’s face it, I
wasn’t really Latin, I was pure American.

There were no white kids growing up in our area of Baltimore Street. In fact, Middletown, Ohio, was quite segregated (but we never really knew it, or rather we never gave it any thought). The absence of whites was something we took for granted and frankly, it was all
the attention it ever got from me. I knew they existed but they just weren’t
part of my world, and my world seemed huge. There were fields and wide open
spaces in which to run and play everywhere. It was a young boy’s paradice.

In reality though, Middletown was just a small Midwestern town of approximately twenty thousand people. The largest employer was Armco Steel Corporation and all over town you could see their influence. Everybody worked for them and all the men from our
neighborhood worked in the mill. It must have been hard work because they all
complained about it, and they all came home plenty dirty; their jeans, shirts,
and faces covered with black soot.

The greatest advantage in growing up in Middletown, however, was that
you, but more importantly, all the grown-ups, felt safe. I guess it was a lot like Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show. Me and the other children who grew up on Baltimore Street would spend hours playing football in the field across the street during the fall and baseball in
that same field during the summer. What I remember most is just being able to
run – free to run and ride my bicycle.

My greatest Christmas as a child was the year I got my first Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star basketball shoes. I was six years old. It was a signal from my mom that I was growing up. I had changed from the nondescript 99¢ sneakers to a real shoe, with a name. I hugged
my mother real hard that Christmas morning. She had done a wonderful thing: she
had made me one of the guys. I now had shoes like the rest of the kids. I was
the youngest of the boys growing up in that neighborhood and those shoes made
me feel as big as the other kids.  That Christmas there was a light snow but even that couldn’t hold me back. I bundled myself up, put on my new sneakers, and went outside to run. I had to break them in.

My grandmother, Alice Gates Roberts, was a beautiful and kind woman and what was particularly interesting was that she, along with my grandmother Alberta Hicks, about 12 miles away in Hamilton, Ohio, were the people who really raised me during my early years.

Oddly though, as most black people go, both of them were very light-skinned and could easily have passed for white. I was told my mother had an aunt who actually did. My most vivid memories of growing-up are memories of them.

When you think about it, 18-year-olds, though having the ability to reproduce children, don’t have the ability to rear them. They are still trying to discover who they are. In
America we consider this as dysfunctional, being away from your birth parents a
lot of the time, but I believe that grandparents are in fact more able to take
on that task. They are more patient, they certainly have the wisdom of time,
and more importantly, they are not trying to discover who they are. They are
really trying to share with you who you can be.

My father was gone by that time, which was alright with me, mainly because my only recollection was of him giving me a beating for some offense that was really only in his mind. I think it haunted my mother though. As I got older she, believing that I was somehow harboring some massive amount of anger toward him, always encouraged me to
reach out to him. I considered myself indifferent. I really didn’t have enough
information on him to feel one way or the other. I never thought much of his
absence either because most of the other guys’ dads weren’t around either.
Mothers and Grandmother’s were our source of parental strength. It was all I
ever knew and it was the way, I guess, that I believed it had always been.

That is why the most devastating moment in my young life still rings true as if it happened yesterday. When I was nine, my grandmother, Alice, died of a stroke on the living room sofa. I watched the paramedics trying to revive her. I can still see her mouth
twisting toward the right side of her face and her eyes rolling back in her
head. Everyone was running around the house screaming and crying. I just stared
at her.

The person most affected at that time was my mother. My nickname was Trick and I remember her coming to me crying, holding me and saying, “Tricky, what are we going to do without Grandma?”

I didn’t answer her. To this day I’m not sure one was required. I had really no emotion at that time. I just stared at Grandma lying on the couch. I didn’t know what was going on, or how to feel.  I really didn’t quite understand that Grandma would be gone and for some reason never coming back. I guess at some level I understood that she would always be with me. It was 1963.

The time after my Grandma’s death was dark and lonely for me, but mostly vague. I spent more and more time alone, and books became my companions. I’d sit in a hidden corner in that old house and allow my imagination to run wild. It was also at that time that I began to psychologically become two different people. Perhaps it is symbolic of my name
change. On the one hand, I was that quiet, mannerly, sweet, loving child who
spent time with his grandmothers, and yet, after my grandma’s death I became
isolated (and extremely protective of the child in me). And so, in a sense,
there was Jan, the sweet little kid, and Jan the protector, the strong, wise,
defender who was mature beyond his years and would protect that young boy at all cost.

It is also at about this time that I began spending more time with my paternal grandmother, Alberta Hicks. I spent all of my summers with her. She had remarried and had three children –Tony, Patricia, and Paula – who were all much older than me. I don’t really remember a lot of time with them. They had their own discoveries to make, and a
little kid was just in the way.

My grandmother, Alberta, became my confidant and my teacher. My mornings would start with her at the kitchen table eating fried potato pancakes and collard greens. That by far was my favorite meal and I would have eaten that three times a day without any complaints if she would have let me.

After breakfast my Grandma and I walked the half block down the street to the “Rib Shack” (really the Southside Dry Cleaners), a combination dry cleaner and convenience store my grandparents owned. My grandmother pressed clothes on the dry cleaners side of the store. I wasn’t allowed over there. She didn’t want me near the steam presses.

My job was to run the convenience store, which consisted of counting change and eating
as much candy as I could before lunch time. As I got older the trips to
Hamilton, became less and less until finally they stopped. My attention turned
to sports and my summers were for knothole baseball. At fourteen I played
pitcher and third base and batted clean-up. On the days when I was not playing,
I worked as an umpire for the smaller kids at $1:25 per hour.

My most tender moment with my Grandma Alberta occurred a few years later. She was getting older and I was now off to college. I had come home for summer break. (During those times, I always made two trips. The first was to Woodside Cemetery to see my
maternal grandmother, Alice Gates Roberts, and tell her how I was doing. I’d
wind through the roads of Woodside Cemetery and park in front of her grave, and
just get out and talk. It was a peaceful time for me, and it helped me get a
lot of things out that I needed to get out. I wasn’t good at sharing the things
I was feeling; so I saved them up and talked with Grandma about them. I would then get back into the car and continue south to Hamilton, Ohio, to see Alberta
Hicks.)

On this occasion, she was in a very talkative mood and explained to me
how she had grown up in Bethel, Ohio, a member of the only black family in town.
By now Grandma was in her nineties. Her most vivid remembrance was that of
graduation from high school. None of the white kids would walk across the stage
to receive diplomas with her. Finally a Jewish girl consented to do it. This
Jewish girl, of course, was from the only Jewish family in Bethel. What was interesting
to hear was that at 18 years of age, the only thing my grandmother wanted to do
was move away from Bethel. She didn’t talk of a career. She didn’t speak of
wanting a family. She just wanted to get away from Bethel, and she did.

Dr Jan’s BlogNovel-Correcting the Record

Her return seemed almost instantaneous and her arrival continued to be marked by more “fidgeting” in the kitchen, which seemed much louder than it needed to be. I could hear her “duct-taping” the garbage bags closed as she prepared them for disposal- a habit of hers. I am sure our garbage men believed these people have the cleanest garbage they had ever seen.

On the breakfast room table was a white postal receipt with a nickel rolled in it, my
change. She had placed it there for me to find, and had avoided  the obligation
of having to speak, or hold a conversation, that went along with handing it to me.

I had to do something now. This thing was escalating and it needed to stop. I couldn’t pinpoint what I could have possibly done three or four days earlier that triggered all this and I resolved that there may not be a separate instance anyway. Perhaps it was just
the pressure that builds over time. Perhaps it was just our unnatural living
arrangement, me being here when in fact I should have been at my own home,
dealing with my own issues. I know I personally would have preferred that, but
that was not the case. Here is where life had brought me and here is where the
remainder of my journey would have to start. I needed to understand my past and
I needed to go as far back as I could go.

I headed back downstairs where my mother was continuing her three day cleaning of her house. “Did you read the paper?” she asked. “I’m going to throw it out”.

“Yeah… Yeah I’m fine.” Our eyes never met during the exchange. And so I continued on to the kitchen (this was not the time for confrontation) and prepared a turkey sandwich which I cut in half. I put half on a saucer for her and began eating the other half. “Let me ask you a question” I said. “What was Middletown like when you were growing up?”

“Racist” was her quick and one word reply.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means white folks treated us badly. It was awful.” You could see the wheels turning in her mind, evident in her gaze, as she looked off into the distance. Her posture slumped as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders. At that instant she just looked
tired. Those memories weighed heavily on her. “We were poor and on welfare. It
was awful.”

What about Grandpa, Jonathan Roberts, where was he? Certainly when he was around you guys weren’t on welfare.”

She shook her head demonstrating the sadness in this memory “I don’t remember him ever being there. I have no memory of him ever being around. Maybe, I was just too young.”

“What about grade school? How was that for you?

“It was racist and awful too.” She shook her head again gently in disgust. “We lived in “Honky Town” over on Sychamore Street and so we went to Garfield Elementary, the white school. The teachers would push us around, call us niggers and generally just treat us badly. It’s awful to even think about…Phoebe and them, our cousins, lived in “Cloverdale”. They went to Booker T. Washington, which was the black school. They didn’t
have a kindergarten class there; they had the first through the sixth grade…And
so, there were six black teachers in Middletown. If there got to be seven then
one of them had to work downtown as the elevator operator because they weren’t
letting them teach white kids…I’m sure though that the kids at Booker T thought
they were better than us…and they probably did get a better education because
they didn’t have to deal with the rest of the stuff.”

“Like what?”

“I just remember in the fourth grade where the teacher pulled me out of line and accused me of doing something she knew one of the white kids had done…things like that. They just picked on us all the time.”

“What did you do in school? I mean, who was your best friend?

“Odell” she said without any hesitation. “Odell was my best friend”.

I knew myself that that friendship had lasted for a lifetime. Odell was one of the few people from Middletown my mom would mention, that I immediately, got a mental picture of. Odell was a pretty, dark-skinned woman who was from the Jones family. They grew up on Garfield Street around the corner from my mom. She and Odell had remained the closest of friends and my recollection of her was always this wonderful giving person who was estatic to have me in her presence. Her smile just beemed with a glow that was wonderful. I loved being around her. She married Willy Marvin-that’s what everyone called him, Willy Marvin, using both his first and last names- and had two sons, considerably younger than me, but I knew them well. The youngest, Todd, had drowned in their neighbor’s pool which was incredibly sad; and although Odell was devastated, her smile for me never changed. Odell eventually died from kidney failure after being on dialysis for more than twenty years. My mother didn’t talk about it much but sometimes, in her eyes, you can see that she misses her friend.

“After Garfield” I began, “I guess you went to McKinley, McKinley Junior High School, where I went, or was that there yet?”

“Yes it was there; and that is where I went, McKinley Junior High.”

“Well…how was that?”

“It was better. The teachers were not as mean…I guess because we were bigger, but they still let you know you were black.” My mother’s facial expression changed a bit. She appeared less weighed down. All of the memories weren’t bad. “They closed Booker T after my senior year in high school” she continued, “and Mrs.McBain who had been the sixth grade teacher and principal at Booker T, was made a math teacher at the high school.”

“Mrs McBain, my math teacher”…

“The same.”

“Wow” was all I could say. “Man that’s continuity.” “So what about
high school; what was your favorite subject?”

“I didn’t really have a favorite class or subject. We didn’t have anybody, any mentors. There was no one there to guide us, to tell us not to do stuff. We were pretty much on our own. The white teachers didn’t care about us…I went to high school only half a day in my
senior year. The second half of the day, I worked at Booker T as a secretary.
There was room for only one black girl to work, that was our quota, and so I
was the only one.”

That I did know about my mother. I knew she was a good student and I knew the other kids, her colleagues considered her very pretty. But I had never considered that it wasn’t all wonderful for her. That level of hatred and racism had never been part of my life. I knew it was out there, and had even experienced it myself, but frankly, I had quickly ignored most of it as I had learned, early in life to focus on my goals. In a way that explained her fierce concern with racial politics, though in contrast, a lot of her friends were white people with whom she worked and socialized.

“So how did you and Charles Adams meet?”

“We met at the skating rink at the community center in Cloverdale…It was the worse day of my life. I should not have messed with him… I should have gone to college. To this day I hate him.” She shook her head again in disgust, “I should have never fooled around
with him.”

“Ouch” I thought. “That had been said with conviction.” More importantly, it was a
confession that needed to be out in the open. For all of my life she had
resisted allowing those sentiments to make it to the physical world. I guess
she always thought that she was protecting me and my sister, but I know I had resolved
that those were her feelings long ago. I had no problem with it. I just wanted
to have it out front so we all could deal with it. I wanted her to confront her
feelings because I had always believed that subconsciously those feelings were
being directed at me as his son.

She paused for a long while collecting her thoughts. “I’m pretty sure that it was the drugs and the alcohol that made him crazy” she continued.

“Eureka” I screamed in my mind. That certainly would explain the over-reaction I get every time I have a beer. I guess had she admitted that earlier in my life, no beer would have ever been necessary. Or at least it would not have been necessary out of youthful
defiance. Her reactions weren’t just crazy. Whether I knew it at the time, or not, she did have reasons for her reactions.

Quicksand: The Unfortunate Death of Donda West (was only the beginning)!

Those are the facts and they are indisputable! They also show how people, some in the press and others in administrative positions in the government, manipulate the truth and mislead the public.  However, that is not our story; nor is it is not the end of mine. In reality, it is only the beginning. My story is about triumph. It is about not “forgetting who you are in the moment of your encirclement by that which you are not”. It is about personal growth.

“Sometimes Jan, the dragon wins”. That’s a favorite saying of mine. I remember it from conversations with my mother. It is not an admonition to surrender, but merely the recognition that success in life is not easy. Success is more like a batting average. Not all swings result in a home run, a double, or even a single. Sometimes, the batter strikes out. Her point: “Don’t quit; show up for your next time at bat. Stay in the game. For
only by participating do you give yourself the chance to win”.

In the film, “The Replacements”, Keanu Reeves plays a “has been” quarterback,
given a second chance to play football at the professional level. That
opportunity, the result of a player’s strike, is given to him by a crusty old
coach, played by Gene Hackman. The replacement players are a move on the part
of team owners to avoid cancelling the season (think NBA Basketball right now).

As the story winds through its dramatic- and comedic – twists and turns, the moment of truth arrives when the coach (Hackman) convenes his team and urges his players to get “to the next level, the mindset of a champion, by confronting their own, personal fears”.

Hackman is serious, but the scene becomes humorous when the 300 pound gladiators that make up his team confess to their fears: in particular, the childhood fears of being frightened by bugs and spiders. The payoff occurs with Reeves’s admission that his character is afraid of…well: “quicksand”.

The other players, though confused by his confession, listen intently as Hackman encourages Reeves to explain what he means. Hackman’s character, for obvious reasons, gets it immediately.

His fear, Keanu clarifies, is falling into a situation that he can’t control. Realizing that each correction he makes, and each step that he takes, though the logical thing to do, pulls him in deeper and deeper, until finally, he’s in over his head.

I, too, got the point of Reeve’s character immediately.
On November 10, 2007, that is exactly where I found myself: in “quicksand”.

(But my life didn’t start when Harvey Levin appeared on Larry King Live and lied, nor  was it about to end there. Up until now we have merely looked at the facts surrounding the death of Donda West. I produced documents because I wanted you, the reader to see for yourself.

Nonetheless, there is one more, a much more important, thing for me to do. That intense light that exposed Stephan Scoggins, Brad Rose, Harvey Levin, the Medical Board of California, and the media has to be pointed at myself also. I am just as much, in fact more, a part of this as any of them. That is what this story is all about.)

I was born Rudalgo Alonzo Adams in Middletown, Ohio, on April 21, 1954. My parents, Charles Adams and Gwendolyn Francis Roberts Adams, had been married approximately one year earlier at the ripe old age of 18. My father was in the Navy at this time; stationed in Panama.
Very early after my birth, my mother and I moved there to be with him. And so
my early years as Rudalgo Alonzo Adams were spent in Central America in the
Canal Zone. I learned Spanish, along with English, as my first language.

I don’t really have much of a recollection of life at that time. Nor do I have much of a recollection of my father then. (I have come to realize that that oversight
on my part is not really a character defect that happened by accident. It
speaks volumes to who I am and how I think today. I live in the present, the
now, and am constantly looking forward to the future based on what I do now. It is not so much that I don’t pay attention to, or learn from my past, as it is that I am constantly
looking forward to the next challenge or the next mountain to climb.)

My name, Rudalgo Alonzo, was in honor of my father’s closest friend, but I have no memory of him either. The first and last memory I truly have of Panama is actually leaving. There is, in my mind, an image of a very large ship with me looking overboard and thinking, “My God, the water is a long way down.” Instinctively, it was a child’s fear of
falling that stuck with me. That is why the image has remained so vividly.

My mother was the third of ten children born to Alice Gates and Jonathan Roberts. She was born January 15, 1936. I did not know much about her life as a child either because we frankly, never discussed it. As a child you rarely think of your parents as
having also been children too. Yet that was the benefit of our time together
during this chapter of my life.

During this period following the death of Donda West and the collapse of my professional life, I was severely depressed. I know that to be true now in
hindsight because of those occasions when I, an early riser, had trouble just
getting out of bed. I’d often just lie there thinking, contemplating what I
should I do next.

Many times the prudent thing to do seemed just to quit. I was
tired despite having just awakened from a night’s sleep, but more importantly,
my soul was tired too. Finding the energy to go on was difficult. It was also
at these times that I could sense-or imagine- my mother’s disappointment,
either in me or in life itself. She would “mope” around the house cleaning
furiously avoiding any interaction. There were times when she made no eye
contact and we did not speak. That gave my mind the opportunity to entertain
even more depressing thoughts. I could not shake the idea that she, my mother,
just simply did not like me. What a horrifying thought for a child, any child
at any age, to have. Perhaps she never did.

At my lowest point, when I felt like I was about to explode and could not take the isolation any more, I mustered up the strength to ask her about her life. Focussing on my issues had
exhausted my imagination and maybe, just maybe, my past started long before I
was born. I had to get some insight into exactly who this person was so that I
could also get a glimpse of myself.

It was a Friday morning and I lay in bed with the covers over my head. In the distance, I could hear my mother downstairs in the kitchen, dishes clinking as she went about fixing her own breakfast. It was past 8 o’clock in the morning. I know that because I had
looked at the clock on the stand next to the bed some time earlier. Then it had
been 7:59am and although I did not know exactly how much time had elapsed, in
my mind it seemed like quite a while, I felt guilty for having not gotten up to
fix breakfast for her this morning, but I was simply paralyzed with grief. For two days
prior to this we had not spoken except when absolutely necessary.

I forced myself out of bed. I went directly to the computer and dialed up my e-mail. There was only spam. This represented more insult to injury. I had quickly become irrelevant and that made seeing a solution, a light at the end of the tunnel, even more difficult
and unlikely.

My mother appeared behind me. I had been so engrossed in my own misery I had failed to hear her coming up the stairs or into the room. “Did you call in your medicine?” she barked in a tone that could only be interpreted as angry from my perspective. In fact, it wasn’t so much a question as it was a command. No hello, or how are you, just an affirmative statement was made. “I need to go over to Wal-Mart later and I’d rather do it only once”.

I got up from the computer to walk past her. The last thing I needed the first thing this morning was a confrontation. “I put a call in to the doctor’s office” I said. “They need to
renew it first.” There was no reply and I continued on down the stairs to get
myself some breakfast. I poured a bowl of cheerios and chocalte milk. I needed
comfort food and this was my favorite from childhood. I stared at the stack of
envelopes sitting on the table in the breakfast room, another reminder of how
bad things had gotten. These contained CV’s and applications I was sending to
various universities and hospitals seeking employment. I had prepared them the
night before. “Man”, I thought, “this should not be happening. My only error was silence”.

It wasn’t though, my only error. I also needed to stop looking back, relivinga thousand pasts at the expense of one future. At least I had a skill and an education that was marketable. But that too is of little consequence when you can’t, or aren’t, using it.

After finishing my cereal I returned to the kitchen and took a strawberry Activia out of the refrigerator. Yogurt was comfort food also. I quickly finished it and headed back up the
stairs to the computer. It had been more than a year since my second ankle
fusion operation and despite the agonizing pain associated with bone surgery; I
was now even more frustrated because walking was unsteady and had not seemed to
improve. I moved slowly and this, on top of my depression, made me even more
miserable.

Sitting back at the computer I began to collect my thoughts. I reaffirmed from lessons from my mother the notion that my reaction to all this was more important than what was going on. The habits of childhood follow us throughout our lives.

As a child, out of necessity, I had learned to encourage myself as a mentor. I was in control and I was the one who was going to make it better. It all comes down to what I do. I resolved to have a conversation with my mother. I was going to break the ice. I was going to make this better by understanding her point. I didn’t get the
chance. The next time she entered the room her posture was the same: I’m not ready
to talk so don’t engage me. “I ‘m going to the post office” she said. “Do you
want me to mail those envelopes?” She then examined the envelopes in her hands more closely. “Why didn’t you use one of those standard fee envelopes from the post office?”

Without responding I rose from my chair and headed for the closet. Postal envelopes were kept on a shelf there and after a few moments of searching I triumphantly offered, “There are none”. I could have said it from the start because I knew the answer, but that would
have only elicited more venom. This circumstance required demonstration. With
that she left the room and I headed for my bedroom to get the five dollar
postage. By the time I had gotten the money, she was already down stairs and so,
I dropped the cash down through the stairwell, which separated and fluttered
down the stairs like five separate butterflies. I didn’t wait for her to
collect it. “Thanks” I said, and with that she was gone.

Kanye West’s Lawyer Exposed; Refused to Participate when Client Investigated In Death of Donda West

Dear Sharon: Thank you for your input. I believe the niece’s name is Yolanda Anderson. Thanks for the heads-up. As I noted before, this is a work in progress. I will incorporate that information into the final manuscript.

Back to our story:

They did it. Brad Rose and his co-conspirators, protected Scoggins and harmed the estate of Donda West by first controlling the media and the dialogue surrounding her death, and secondly by manipulating the authorities and pointing the finger at an innocent doctor. There is no other way to look at it.

I wanted to believe that they, the attorneys, were fooled into this behavior. I had been fair and forthright with Rose and the family. I wanted to believe that they were misled by information passed on to them by Stephan Scoggins. He was, afterall protecting his butt. The reality however is that they weren’t. They were willing participants and the savagery of their assault demonstrates their resolve. Their subsequent behavior confirms their active participation. 

I, on the other hand, was “circling the drain”. This book began as a way for me to deal with what was happening. Being constantly bombarded with lies, made even me, question the truth. I sat down to write, to make certain that I kept the facts straight in the event I ever needed to reproduce them. I won’t (it’ll never go to court), but it is my hope that the people who think they got away, realize that we all see them for whom they are, and Donda West, my patient, will be heard.

The lawyers for the West family, particularly Brad Rose objects to me telling my side. It is not so much that he cares about Donda West or her privacy rights, as it is that my story exposes his misconduct. And he is right. This is not a story about Donda West. No doctor-patient privilege will be violated. This is about what other people did. It is about a cover-up being worst than the crime. It is about correcting the record. 

When he learned that I was telling my side he immediately wrote the publisher to threaten them (Rose/Atlas Letter). Rose did not write me mind you because I do not fear his threats; and let’s face it, I have truth and time on my side.

It is certainly his right to threaten who he wishes, but his explanation of his behavior is quite inaccurate. It’s what I like to call, lies. Rose simply makes assertions that he long ago knew not to be true, so I challenged him on it. There is no “doctor-patient privilege” between him and me (Reply to Rose/Atlas Books Letter).

They pressured the publisher, Atlas Books, Inc., an innocent bystander, who eventually backed out of the deal because they did not want the threatened expense of litigation. The fear is not that Rose was right, or might prevail; the fear is in spending time and money. I get it.

Rose simply didn’t want the truth out there. I of course responded. As far as I was concerned nothing in Mr. Rose’s letter to Atlas books was accurate, and I was tired of them repeating the same old lies.I had not violated physician-patient privilege at any time, the Medical Board of California had not warned me about anything (which I have already documented) and if I had, the Medical Board of California, I am sure, would have responded. But again, they didn’t and haven’t.

Also, since people like Rose operate best in the dark, behind the cover of lies, I forward copies to everyone involved including Matt Wurster, the CEO of Atlas Books, Inc.; my attorney Tom Byrne; Rene Threadgill and Barb Johnston of the MBC; Richard Marino, deputy Attorney General, State of California; Tom Ferbers, Managing Partner, Pryor Cashman LLP.; and Rebeca V. Taub, New York Bar Association.

What was Rose trying to hide?

 Besides the facts, this: an article like the one written by Angie Anthony in November 28, 2008 (What Brad Rose was Trying to Hide).

In the article, she offers nothing new, but makes an observation: “Dr. Adams, who had operated on West, was cleared of responsibility in her death”, but more importantly that “Donda West was in the care of a registered nurse, Stephan Scoggins, 46, Donda West’s nephew and cousin of Kanye West. Stephan Scoggins’ role was to supervise the post-surgery care of his aunt”.

The reason that is significant (and the icing on the cake demonstrating Rose’s misconduct) is that also, at that time, I received a call from Cristina Vazquez, Investigator, Department of Consumer Affairs, the Nursing Board of California. She was forwarding a “subpoena” to my office requesting records (Investigative Subpoena/C. Vazquez).

 “Don’t you think that’s a bit heavy handed? “ I asked. “All you need to do is get the family to sign a release and I’ll forward them to you. Why do we have to involve the courts? Besides, Robin Hollis, also an investigator with Consumer Affairs already brought one by signed by Kanye West, undated I might add, but a release nonetheless. She has the records.”

“We know that Dr. Adams, but procedure requires that we get our own. We tried going through the family and the lawyers but they refuse to help.”

 (Read that again:”We tried going through the family and the lawyers but they refused to help.)

“They have been ignoring us for a couple of months, so we had to go through the courts.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “They signed complaints, requesting records more than three or four times. Everyone of them have copies. Rose has copies. McPherson has copies. They filed complaints through an attorney named Harwell with the MBC, certainly he has copies.”

“That’s when you were being investigated” she said. You have been cleared. We’re investigating the Coroner’s complaint about Mr. Scoggins.”

(Read that again also: “We’re investigating the Coroner’s complaint about Mr. Scoggins.”)

That’s what Oprah calls an “AaaaHaaaah moment!”

“So what you’re telling me is that now that you guys have gotten around to the facts, the family and their lawyers don’t want to play ball. They are refusing to participate in the investigation”.

“It certainly seems that way.” (Turns out that in September of 2008, after receiving the complaint from the coroner, the Nursing Board of California, a State law enforcement agency, had attempted to obtain a signed release of records by contacting Kanye West through Ms. Alison Finley, his attorney (who, by the way, hired Rose) and Ms. Michelynn Woodard, his publicist. Ms. Vazquez had not received a response from either one of these people, and that explained the necessity for the subpoena: (Reason For Subpoena).

Just so we’re clear, these are lawyers ignoring a request from a law enforcement agency. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph of Ms. Vazquez’s explanation. It would appear that the reason our legal system doesn’t work is because the lawyers don’t respect it.

These people had been working overtime to suppress the truth, not only from the authorities and the media, but from Kanye West himself, all the while collecting money from him to pay their fees. Yet the person they were protecting was the person the Coroner implicated in the death of this man’s mother.

I was “flabbergasted”. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed no one really cared about what had happened to Donda West, but me.

And then I had my “AaaaHaaaah” moment. These people were horrible and I was never going to convince them to do the right thing. If I was to find any resolution, it was time I looked where I should have looked from the start: inside me.

Kanye West’s Own Lawyers Protect the Individual the Coroner Says Was Negligent in His Mother’s Death

And that is perhaps what is most bothersome to me about this whole episode:not only were people jumping to “delusions” without the benefit of the facts, but more importantly, that the people leading the procession, were professionals, lawyers no less. I expected more from them. 

What were the “litigation lawyers for the estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” trying to hide? What were they tryingto accomplish? Exactly how was their behavior protecting the interests of the estate of Donda West?

Let’s be honest, I understand some members of the family’s posture: they were ignorant of the facts. I even understand Stephan Scoggins: he was wrong, negligent, and protecting his butt. But what were the lawyers’s motives? You’d think they would want the truth told so that their client, the estate of Donda West, receives some justice, but apparently not. Kanye West, while famous for his music and rightly so, is also famous, or perhaps I should say infamous, for saying “President Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Apparently, neither do his lawyers.

 The press wanted to blame somebody – the surgeon being the most obvious – for the death of Donda West, but everyone, it seemed, ignored the facts of the case. Donda West died at home, not the Brentwood Surgery Center.  Donda West, it would seem, died as a result of gross negligence on the part of her nephew, an experienced nurse with an advanced degree. No sensible human being could arrive at any other conclusion. And, no sensible human being did Figure28.

Figure 28 is again the copy of the complaint sent to the Nursing Board of the State of California by the Los Angeles County Coroner. His office, the authorities in the case, knew quite well where to point the finger. Why is it that neither Harvey Levin, nor TMZ, nor anyone else in the media, shared that fact with their readers or viewers? Why is that? And more importantly why didn’t the City Attorney, the Medical Board of California, or any of the other authorities follow up on it?

 Contrary to what the press, and the family, would have us believe Donda West’s care was appropriate and within the standard of care. All the hoopla, and all the meanness, was simply smoke and mirrors, a consequence of a dysfunctional press creating news rather than reporting it.That is why no suit was filed.

  Mr. Scoggins didn’t point fingers at me at the time – no, he didn’t even express regret. He implicated the women with Donda West to whom he had abandoned her; women with neither the responsibility nor the training for her care.The first words out of Stephan’s mouth to me were, “Can you believe that there were three women in the house and none of them were with her?” Yes, Mr. Scoggins, the experienced nurse with the advanced degree, had already begun making sure no one evaluated his behavior in this matter. Even with me on the night of Donda’s death he was blaming Nubia, Diana, and Glenda, her best friend.

 I cautioned him, “Frankly, we don’t know what happened here yet. We, you and I, are the only medical professionals here. Let’s don’t do things that are going to further hurt this family, your family. Let’s you and I be supportive.” I then walked with him to the nurse’s station to sign the death certificate.

The real answer, however, is that he was the medical professional contracted to care for her for the  weekend and he wasn’t with her. He was negligent.

But let’s take a critical look at what the lawyers did:

Stephan Scoggins, with the help of attorneys, Mr. Brad Rose of Pryor Cashman in New York City and Edwin McPherson of Los Angeles, in my opinion, began to orchestrate a series of events to cover up Stephan’s involvement (Rose Letter).

I put a call into Rose to discuss the details of his letter.  “First of all,” I said, “No one from our camp, meaning me, my employees, or the employees of Brentwood Surgery Center, had talked to anyone.” In fact, the first indication that anyone had even heard anything about it came Monday morning when we received a phone call from a plastic surgeon who had been called by the West family doctor over the weekend. We actually were in surgery performing a breast augmentation at the time of the call, and her inquiries were actually addressed to Larry, my scrub technician, not me.

 I informed Mr. Rose that the information about Donda West was not coming from us and was in fact coming from his own camp. I also assured him that I had hosted a TV show on plastic surgery for five years and, believe me, there was no publicity-seeking behavior on my part.

 I did, however, suggest that he should speak to Dr. Aboolian, who apparently, had appeared on an entertainment magazine show and read out loud her medical history from a consultation she had had with him a few months earlier. Mr. Rose at that time informed me that they had associates in the same building as Dr. Aboolian and that he had sent them down the hall to tell that doctor to cease and desist.

(Hmm…Here’s a question for you: If Mr. Rose had associates in an office in Beverly Hills, why did he need to retain Ed McPherson? Why did he need to do that? Why did Mr. Rose, representing the “estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” (his words), retain Ed McPherson to represent Stephan Scoggins?

 If the Coroner’s assessment is correct, which it is, isn’t that a conflict of interest? Isn’t that playing both sides of the fence, especially with what he knew?)

At any rate, I followed up our conversation with a letter of my own (Initial Reply to Rose).

Part of my conversation with Mr. Rose was concerning my ability to respond to inaccuracies in the press. Being a brand attorney, he agreed that I had the right to defend myself and protect my reputation.

 But that is when Mr. McPherson, who was hired by Rose, joined in the fray. I received a faxed letter at the CNN offices in New York City upon my arrival to Larry King Live, as I stated earlier. Mr. McPherson threatened that he had filed a complaint with the Medical Board of California demanding that I cancel the interview and that I had been warned not to participate in the interview by the Medical Board, itself. That was not true. I had spoken to no one at the Medical Board and in fact (I learned later) Mr. McPherson had violated the legal profession’s code of ethics by threatening action against my license. Besides, the Board has no authority to prevent a physician from conducting an interview. They can question whether the interview violated doctor-patient privilege, but they cannot compel someone not to talk. The point though is deception. Rose was saying one thing to me and using McPherson to impose the opposite. Now that is under-handed.

 I explained to Larry King and his producers that these issues needed to be clarified. I also felt people wouldn’t be able to separate me from Donda West so soon after her death.  We needed the coroner’s report first.  In order for people to listen, they first needed to know what happened to her. And so, while we waited for the Coroner’s report, the press was able to spin its stories unchecked. All the while I was requesting of the lawyer’s releases to talk about the case. They wouldn’t budge.

However, Rose continued to suggest I had a right to defend myself; all the while the attorney he had hired was maneuvering legally to shut me up. I suggested to them that Dr. Aboolian had better have received the same notice. He didn’t.

I never really understood at first why they didn’t want me talking. I have discussed it with a number of attorneys, and anything I said on tape could ultimately be reviewed by them and used against me in a court of law. Their posture, however, was to generate as much negative press as possible without allowing me an opportunity to respond because of doctor-patient privilege. The last thing they wanted was for me to have the opportunity to show the facts. This was never going to court.

 In my opinion, by helping Scoggins hide his involvement, his negligence in the death of Donda West, both Rose and McPherson have engaged in a conflict of interest and in a sense have harmed the estate of Dr. West, the client they were hired to protect.

Perspective: TMZ, Harvey Levin, and Lawyers Denied Kanye West’s Mother Justice

As near as I could tell, Larry King, to his credit, got it. The fiasco had started on his show, but he clearly understood from the beginning that there was a lot more to the story. He also correctly understood that, ultimately, the only one who could make it right was me, and urged me to get on with explaining the facts. The problem though remained: doctor-patient privilege. Some of the questions out there required answers that frankly were nobody’s business but Donda West’s. I respect that. And, let’s not forget, the “litigation lawyers for the estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” were continuing to “lobby” the Medical Board of California.

My attorney, Tom Byrne, was concerned with not only protecting my back, but with doing the right thing. I took his advice. We discussed it all, Larry King and I, prior to walking off his show.

 “The litigation attorneys for the estate of Dr. Donda West and the surviving family members” however, were lying to the press and manipulating the authorites in order to keep me from telling the truth, but I also know a bit about television. What I gave the authorities was not heresay or lies, I gave them video proof that the stories in the press weren’t coming from me. I declined to speak and simply left. (They, the Medical Board of California, also had the facts, but as we all can see, that doesn’t necessarily motivate career administrators to do the right thing unless someone is watching. And, unfortunately, no one was watching!)

 I also needed the coroner to clear me, if I was going to get people to listen to my take. Eventually he did.

  To put things in perspective, no one was going to listen to my take until they knew what had happened to Donda West. Even with that, some people were going to walk away denying the facts. I knew that, but two questions still remained: Why did the press take this posture in the first place, and secondly, why did the so-called legitimate news people join in without pursuing the facts of the case? They certainly had the time, the coroner took two months to come to his conclusion.

 It would be easy to blame tabloid news organizations for getting this off on the wrong foot, they, particularly TMZ, were wrong. Harvey Levin, for all his bravado, is really just an idiot, a pawn in all this. He and TMZ are under the same pressures as any other media organization that has to put a product out daily.   I believe Harvey and TMZ were being used; perhaps willingly, but used nontheless.

I also believe that the persons negligent in the death of Donda West realized early on their predicament, and in order to remain close to the source of money in the family, pointed the finger elsewhere. I believe the plan to do that was orchestrated with the help of the entertainment lawyers, the family, and the media. And I believe the inaccurate information shared by Harvey Levin on Larry King Live was coming from that camp, the family and the “litigation attorneys for the estate of Donda West and her surviving family members”. It certainly was not coming from me (and the authorities, including the Medical Board of California, knew that).

Harvey Levin and TMZ have to take responsibility for their part. They began a malicious assault by contacting my patients (and how I still have no idea), providing false and inaccurate information, and steering the story away from what really happened to cause the death of Donda West. Their duty as journalists, whether they choose to acknowledge it consciously or not, is to speak for someone who couldn’t speak for herself. They didn’t do that. They spoke for people trying to hide their blame, their culpability in this matter. They, the producers at TMZ, dishonored themselves and their profession.

I couldn’t speak for her, at least not yet (and that was the hardest part for me).

In all fairness though, what was the legitimate press to think, when next, a Dr. Aboolian appeared on television offering that he had seen Dr. West in consultation? On camera, sitting at a desk with a chart in front of him, he began going through her history and physical (at least at that time we all thought that was what he was doing; the findings of the coroner demonstrated that his information, just like Harvey Levin’s and TMZ’s was wrong).

 If I were a member of the media and knew nothing of doctor-patient privilege, I would certainly have thought, “What does Dr. Adams have to hide?” He’s telling us a “Code of Ethics” prevents him from discussing a patient’s history, but it doesn’t seem to hinder this other guy.

 Furthermore the California Medical Board, the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and more importantly, the family and their lawyers weren’t demanding that Aboolian cease and desist. Clearly his behavior violated every tenet of doctor-patient privilege.

 The question is why? What was in it for them? Why didn’t those lawyers file a complaint with the Medical Board of California to stop Dr. Aboolian’s from from his “publicity seeking foray”?  His office is in the same building, “down the hall” from Pryor Cashman’s Los Angeles office. Why didn’t the litigation lawyers simply walk down the hall and stop him from presenting confidential patient information?

The answer: he was doing and presenting what their side wanted everyone to hear. He was directing blame and accountability away from those who had something to hide. Their motivation was never to protect the privacy rights of Donda West.

When asked for comments by a number of reporters including those at People, and Sister 2 Sister, magazines, Stephan Scoggins, as spokesperson for the family, replied that “the family had no comment. They have, in fact, moved on”.

Yet if that were the case, then articles like the one that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May 25, 2008, more than six months after the death of Donda West, would have ceased to appear. In that article, a niece comments that Ms. West surgery was performed without a physical exam. Could there possibly be a statement more ridiculous than that?

The author, Ron Lin II, suggested, correctly, the ludicrousness of the statement by pointing out that both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist examined Donda West (nonetheless, he printed it anyway as if her statement was fact).

The niece goes on to point out that what happened to Donda didn’t have to happen. She’s right, but for the wrong reason. Just the silliness of her statement demonstrates that she doesn’t have a clue about what happened, and who could move on under those circumstances.

What Mr. Scoggins really meant when he said “the family has moved on” is that they don’t want to get into a discussion about what really happened. Ultimately that would mean, looking at their own behavior, (Donda West was, afterall, home when she passed away) and neither Scoggins, that neice speaking with the press about her aunt’s care, nor the lawyers involved want that happening in an open forum where the facts can be presented beside their comments for everyone to see. They don’t want that happening because they know (and knew at the time) the stories being told were way off point. More importantly, they knew that from the start, from the moment they found out she had died, and I know that to be true because I discussed it with them.

They also don’t want the rest of the family (or the media) to take a critical look at the events leading up to, and directly after, Donda West’s death. They didn’t want it because a few family members were already beginning to question Scoggins and the attorneys take on what had happened, why it happened and whose responsibility it was.

On our website I was beginning to receive more and more e-mails like the one in Figure 27. The author offers that he is related to Donda West, and is concerned (understandably) that the stories “just are not adding up”. I appreciated his need for anonymity.

 Stephanie, my assistant, wrote the author back and offered to sit down with the family and give them the information that had already been shared with Scoggins, Rose, and McPherson. We received no follow-up reply.

My advice to the family members with questions was quite simple: Ask why their aunt chose not to go to an aftercare facility? Ask who brought her to the surgery center that morning? Ask who insisted that Donda West sign power of attorney over to another family member? Ask that experienced nurse with an advanced degree, why he was late picking his aunt up? Ask where the bed, the wheel chair, and the monitors for her aftercare were when they arrived home after surgery? Ask why the monitors didn’t even arrive the next morning? Ask why she was abandoned the next morning? Ask an experienced nurse with an advanced degree, why he would abandon a patient whom he had been “feeding Vicodin all night and it wasn’t working” to the care of her personal assistant and a friend, neither of whom had any medical training whatsoever? Ask that nurse why he didn’t check back all day? Ask him why he ignored their calls for help all day Saturday?  Ask, how, on his watch, Donda West’s medications (according to Diana, in an interview with S2S Magazine) demonstrated that she had received 20 Vicodin tabs in less than 24 hours, three times the daily recommended dose?

Ask that experienced nurse with an advanced degree, and the lawyers for the estate, Mr. Brad Rose and Ed Mcpherson, why they don’t release the doctor from the doctor-patient privilege and discuss the case in an open, and fair forum? They let Dr. Aboolian read from her chart on television no less, without complaining to the Medical Board of California. Ask that niece Mr. Rong Wong Lin II why the family doesn’t insist on it? And ask yourself, as a journalist, why you didn’t ask any of those questions, or get any of them answered for your readers?

And you the reader ask yourself if any of this were true and relevant, why didn’t the family sue the doctor… Why?

I know the answers to those questions and so do the family and “litigation attorneys” for the family. I know that they had alerted the Medical Board of California, the California Department of Health Services, and the City Attorney’s Office (a violation of professional ethics). I know their intention was to implicate us, myself and the Brentwood Surgery Center, in Donda’s death and thereby divert any attention from where it belonged.

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