For a time in the early 80s, I believe, Dad took up residence in an abandoned warehouse. He had all his ID still, and a gang of asshole teenagers hassled him regularly. So he made a slingshot. According to his account, that was good defense and kept them at bay. I didn't doubt him. Pops was an anti-tank gunner in WWII, lived out the Battle of the Bulge, and his unit helped to capture a dam the Germans were intent on destroying as they retreated in-country see <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kesternich>. This is fact, as recorded in the 78th Lightning Infantry Division's WWII campaign book, which I have: just about 126 straight days of combat.
What we were to expect from a man who went through that? He returned, fulfilled his duties as an apprentice in the building trades, on the GI plan. He was incredibly talented and very nuts. Long and short is, we lost the house he was supposed to own and things went very badly for he and Mom after that. The death of my brother, killed in action in Vietnam in 1971, blew the hinges off and they both went to pieces after that, slowly at first, then very rapidly. Once I was out of the house and in college, there was a final and complete disintegration that included an eviction.
Dad spent some time in psych prison on absurd charges. When he got out the first, he got a station wagon, might have been a Pontiac. The transmission was shot; it only worked in reverse. Yeh, I know. I've seen that Sherman Alexie movie with the same scenario and it was funny in the movie "Smoke Signals" but it wasn't a joke back then. Interlocking parking lots, allowed him to back that thing to rear door of the Veteran's Bar and Grill, and he got there and back to his squatter's shack pretty easily.
If anyone bugged him, he was an ace with the slingshot, having been the gunner aiming a 55 mm (maybe 35 mm) gun he used to blow the hatch off a hideaway in the Schammaneul Dam, one accounting is recorded on this site: <http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Siegfried/Siegfried%20Line/siegfried-ch14.htm\ .
Anyway, Dad went prison again after he was accused of burning down the place he was in. It was a trumped-up charge; the owner burned it to collect insurance, most likely and Dad was an easy victim. He wasn't arsonist; he needed that place.
I saved all his letters to me from jail and prioson. I intend to publish them. Helluva guy. He had a few shots at life after that, but he simply couldn't hold it together. He and Mom tried to live in one place after another and a Sheriff's eviction finally stripped them of everything they owned. She went to a hospital, then a nursing home; he was homeless for the period I am writing about, then in and out of various institutions.
Wish we'd known each other better. But then, I was on my own trajectory toward mania and depression and heavy drinking. It was bad, let me tell you. But I learned some things about the gorgeousness of being both soft and hard. It has been a difficult life to reconcile, but I never cease trying to do just that.
– Franklin "Seven Times Down Eight Times Up" Crawford