New Book: FOREVER WILD: My Search for Papin

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frank12

Guest
As many know, i have a brother who is full Dominican. He and i share the same father, but have different mothers. He is such a unique, funny, crazy, intelligent, weird, frightening, and adventurous man that i eventually got around to writing his life story.

He made such an impression on people here in Ohio when he arrived in 1972 that his reputation proceeds him wherever he goes. He's a big man....as tall as he is wide, as stronger as he is smart. In high school, he was a math genius and star running back. He won a full ride scholarship to play football, but chose the Army instead.

He was an excellent boxer and won a lot of money when the Tough Man competitions came to Ohio in 1983. He was also hyperactive and prone to jumping off of things, but at the same time could solve any math equation; he especially excelled at calculus and derivatives.

I'll share several chapters here from the book i just wrote about him. If you feel like it's too much of a plug for the book, feel free to delete it. (on the cover of the book are photos of him boxing so that you can get an idea of what he looks like)

Chapter 5 (Hunting for Dinner)

When Papin first arrived in America, he looked like Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies. The first time I saw him he was holding several dead Canadian geese while standing alongside our Dominican father. At this point Papin did not speak English. He did not wear shoes. In fact, before landing in the USA, he’d never worn shoes. He’d gone barefoot or worn sandals like all the other impoverished Dominican kids growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s.

We lived on Rockford Avenue, near Julienne High School, in the Five Oaks neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio when Papin arrived in 1972. It was the first week of January and 30°F outside. Papin was standing in the snow, barefoot, holding onto the Canadian geese he and my father had caught by hand.
It was very odd to see someone standing barefoot in the snow in the wintertime.

Both Papin and our father, Federico, had stopped at a state park on their way home. My father had been excited to show Papin how easy it was to catch food in America. They grabbed so many Canadian geese they ended up giving quite a few away to our neighbors.

Our crazy neighbor, no stranger to hillbilly ways or hunting for survival, approached and said, “Looks like your father has caught too much dinner again.”

It was so easy to catch dinner that neither Papin nor my father could understand why the parks in Ohio weren’t jammed full of people picking up fast food. How could Americans just drive past well-fed Canadian geese, ducks, turtles, rabbits, and squirrels? People coming from Third World countries were very excited by the wild ducks and geese standing alongside the road. Papin and my father couldn’t believe their luck. This experience left such an indelible impression upon my brother that he refused to “pay” for meat for the rest of his life.

In the Dominican Republic, wild animals do not stand alongside highways, roadways, or parks. And Dominicans are always hungry. So, in their eyes, only an idiot would ignore free food waiting to be grabbed and cooked.
Neither man understood the logic of driving past free food any more than they understood the logic of the concept of “hunting seasons.” To a person from a Third World country, every day is hunting season. For my father and brother, hunting season was seven days a week, twenty-four hour a day. And so was fishing season. They never understood the concept of paying for a fishing license. They simply opened their eyes and looked around. If there was deer, fish, geese, ducks, or fish in the vicinity, then it was hunting or fishing season.
I remember standing in our garage watching my father and brother pluck feathers from Canadian geese and ducks while a huge pot of boiling water simmered in the corner. Our neighbors were in shock at the amount of food my brother and father brought home and cooked every day.

Neither my father nor brother understood that there might be consequences from taking “free food” (their term, not mine) from state parks, lakes, and rivers. They believed animals were for eating. Papin ran after Canadian geese and ducks barefoot, killed them, and plucked out their feathers as easily as someone else might pick dandelions in their front yard.

For someone from a poor country, driving past free dinner was incomprehensible, a form of decadence. They believed that only millionaires or very stupid people would drive past wild Canadian geese and ducks and not take them home for dinner.


It wasn't long before my father and brother Papin started bringing home road kill as well. Neither of them could drive past fresh road kill—especially deer—without stopping their car and putting as much as they could into their trunk or on the roof, or securing it to the front hood like a hood ornament. They were like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Dayton seemed to them like Whoville. They simply couldn’t believe their good luck.
Sometimes my father would stop at a phone booth to phone my mother and ask her to start the water boiling. They were so eager to get home and eat they could barely contain themselves.

After learning English, Papin began telling the other kids at school about his experiences back in the Dominican Republic. He’d done a lot of crazy things to survive in that Third World country. But no one believed him. His stories seemed far-fetched. The other fifteen year olds had no clue what goes on in a Third World country. For them, hearing Papin’s stories was like watching Twilight Zone.

Most people—including Papin’s teachers—considered Papin’s stories to be fabricated and grossly embellished. They thought he had an over-reactive imagination or was high on drugs.
 
J

JDJones

Guest
Jeez Frank, that's # 13, but who's counting? I just added this one to the collection.

I read your stuff whenever I'm waiting for something.
 
F

frank12

Guest
Jeez Frank, that's # 13, but who's counting? I just added this one to the collection.

I read your stuff whenever I'm waiting for something.
I owe you so much beer now, I'll make sure you get all your money back!!
 
K

keepcoming

Guest
So good to see you posting your stories. Read some of your collection and enjoyed them all. You and Meems are very enjoyable to read.
 
B

bigbird

Guest
So good to see you posting your stories. Read some of your collection and enjoyed them all. You and Meems are very enjoyable to read.
One of the funniest ones was when he ran out of "pee" and burnt the barn down........... that was too funny
 
F

frank12

Guest
Before i wrote this about my brother, I looked up a lot of Papin's old friends that had gone to school with him. I wanted to hear their stories about him in their words. I wanted to see what their perspective was. The funny thing about life is that people can have such different perspectives even when describing the exact same event. There were a lot of stories of Papin not being able to adapt to the American school system in the early 1970's.

6
Corpus Christi and Sister Ann Xavier

Dale: “Papin was raised in a Third World country. We never really understood him. But there was more to him than that. I never once saw him start a fight; but if you were an asshole or a bully, or you mistreated people, then he’d want to fight you. Alternatively if you were a nice guy who liked drinking beer and having fun, he’d instantly like you and want to be your best friend.”

Frank: “Papin could be pretty crazy though, you have to admit.”

Dale: “That’s true. Conservative Americans who only knew one way of living, thought he was out there. But to people he grew up with, he seemed half-way normal. Since he hadn’t been raised in the USA, he didn’t always understand our ways. Every culture has their own traditions and ways of doing things. We found some of Papin’s ways of doing things to be strange. But for Papin, they were normal.”

Frank: “Good point. Imagine being taken from an island or atoll in the middle of the Pacific ocean and dropped overnight into a First World country. You wouldn’t even understand why people were wearing shirts, shoes, pants, and ties. How would you acclimate and integrate? Imagine, one day, you’re living in a dirt floor shack, and hunting and killing wild animals for food. The next day you’re in an air-conditioned classroom with kids who are kneeling and praying to some deity you don’t know or understand."

Dale: “I met Papin in February of 1972. He spoke almost no English. He’d been brought into my classroom by Sister Ann Xavier. Papin seemed like an alien fresh off his spaceship. First, he was the only black kid in our classroom. I understood he was Dominican, but remember that this was Dayton, Ohio in 1972. No one had heard of the Dominican Republic. No one knew what a Dominican was. We were just a bunch of eighth graders from the Midwest, and so far as we knew Papin was just a light-skinned black kid with an Afro who didn’t wear shoes. Some people called him nigger or porch monkey. The way he acted and looked was foreign to us. Most of us had never even been outside of Montgomery County or Ohio.”

Frank: “That’s how everyone saw him, as a light-skinned African-American from some foreign country in which no one wore shoes and everyone urinated whenever and wherever the urge arose. I never saw Papin look for a bathroom. He’d unzip his pants and urinate where he stood. This shocked people. It shocked our neighbors. People called the police on him all the time. Hell, he was arrested several times just for unzipping his pants and urinating in public while the police were trying to talk to him. He could never understand why the police got so angry over urinating outdoors. He never urinated on anyone else. He politely turned and urinated against a tree or bushes. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. Once, when he was being tried in court for public urination, he asked a judge, “What exactly do you think people did for tens of thousands of years before your stupid porcelain toilets were invented?”

Dale: “The first day of school at Corpus Christi went like this. Papin was sitting in class wearing green denim pants with chrome studs going down the edges. The studs went from his hips to the bottom of his bell bottoms. He was also wearing orange leather cowboy boots, which he kept taking off. It was February and cold, but he wasn’t used to wearing shoes. He hated shoes. Where he’d come from, no one wore shoes. So he kept taking his shoes off. As a fellow American and seventh grader, to see someone standing outside with no socks or shoes was shocking. Making things worse, Papin’s feet had been stained orange from the dye on the leather of his boots. He looked like a circus freak. His feet were bright orange.”

Frank: “Funny.”

Dale: “But all of us Catholic kids must have looked even stranger to him. We wore uniforms to school. We were prim and proper. The boys’ uniforms were dress shirts with ties and dress pants with dress shoes. The girls wore uniforms as well. We were all told where to stand, when to sit, when to kneel, when to pray. We knew nothing about hunting for our dinner. None of us had slaughtered an animal. We’d never have been able to survive on our own. Hell, a few of us didn’t even know how to tie our shoes correctly or brush our teeth. And here comes this kid from the Dominican Republic. To him, we must have looked like brainwashed robots.”

Frank: “True.”

Dale: “Imagine you meet this kid who has seldom, if ever, worn shoes, a dress shirt, or tie. He knows how to catch and slaughter animals for food. He knows how to survive in the wild. He’s never been made to kneel and pray to a statue. He’s never even stood in a line. Watching Papin was like observing an alien from outer space. His behavior was completely foreign.”

Frank: “But once you saw Papin, you never forgot him.”

Dale: A kid only knows what he’s seen. There’s nothing else. The only thing that could have even remotely prepared us for Papin was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”

Frank: “Funny.”

Dale: “So imagine it’s 1972 and your mom enrolls Papin into Catholic school. The school has theology classes. The school has a church. Kids are told when to kneel and to pray, when to go to lunch, how to tie their shoelaces. Nothing’s left to chance. Nothing’s wild. Nothing’s random. Papin entered Corpus Christi in March, three-quarters into the school year. I was in Sister Ann Xavier’s class, in second period, when he showed up wearing green jeans. Sister Ann Xavier was strict. She was hard. But she was also fair and balanced. She meant well. She really wanted to teach kids something important they could carry into their futures. She wanted us to be better people. She wanted to change our lives for the better.

And here comes Papin: a light-skinned black kid who spoke little to no English and had been raised in the mountains of a Third World country.

Sister Ann Xavier had never encountered anyone or anything like this in over forty years of teaching. The first week of class, Papin wiggled out of the second story window of her classroom. He stood on the second-floor ledge of the building, outside. The ledge was maybe three inches wide. Suddenly, he took off running along the ledge—passing all other classroom windows. He was running as though down the diving board over a swimming pool. He suddenly jumped. No, he dove headfirst, doing a flip and landing on his feet on a hill. He landed just fine and took off running barefoot down Squirrel Avenue. We lost sight of him at Five Oaks Avenue. He was running with his orange cowboy boots in his hands. I guess he’d decided he’d had enough school for that day.”
 
C

carlos

Guest
Frank,

check your PM.

Congrats on the book. I like what you wrote about the geese. Around me, I think you get more leniency robbing a bank than grabbing a geese from the park and taking it home for dinner. They are well protected by the community.

thanks for sharing.
 
T

the gorgon

Guest
Before i wrote this about my brother, I looked up a lot of Papin's old friends that had gone to school with him. I wanted to hear their stories about him in their words. I wanted to see what their perspective was. The funny thing about life is that people can have such different perspectives even when describing the exact same event. There were a lot of stories of Papin not being able to adapt to the American school system in the early 1970's.

6
Corpus Christi and Sister Ann Xavier

Dale: “Papin was raised in a Third World country. We never really understood him. But there was more to him than that. I never once saw him start a fight; but if you were an asshole or a bully, or you mistreated people, then he’d want to fight you. Alternatively if you were a nice guy who liked drinking beer and having fun, he’d instantly like you and want to be your best friend.”

Frank: “Papin could be pretty crazy though, you have to admit.”

Dale: “That’s true. Conservative Americans who only knew one way of living, thought he was out there. But to people he grew up with, he seemed half-way normal. Since he hadn’t been raised in the USA, he didn’t always understand our ways. Every culture has their own traditions and ways of doing things. We found some of Papin’s ways of doing things to be strange. But for Papin, they were normal.”

Frank: “Good point. Imagine being taken from an island or atoll in the middle of the Pacific ocean and dropped overnight into a First World country. You wouldn’t even understand why people were wearing shirts, shoes, pants, and ties. How would you acclimate and integrate? Imagine, one day, you’re living in a dirt floor shack, and hunting and killing wild animals for food. The next day you’re in an air-conditioned classroom with kids who are kneeling and praying to some deity you don’t know or understand."

Dale: “I met Papin in February of 1972. He spoke almost no English. He’d been brought into my classroom by Sister Ann Xavier. Papin seemed like an alien fresh off his spaceship. First, he was the only black kid in our classroom. I understood he was Dominican, but remember that this was Dayton, Ohio in 1972. No one had heard of the Dominican Republic. No one knew what a Dominican was. We were just a bunch of eighth graders from the Midwest, and so far as we knew Papin was just a light-skinned black kid with an Afro who didn’t wear shoes. Some people called him nigger or porch monkey. The way he acted and looked was foreign to us. Most of us had never even been outside of Montgomery County or Ohio.”

Frank: “That’s how everyone saw him, as a light-skinned African-American from some foreign country in which no one wore shoes and everyone urinated whenever and wherever the urge arose. I never saw Papin look for a bathroom. He’d unzip his pants and urinate where he stood. This shocked people. It shocked our neighbors. People called the police on him all the time. Hell, he was arrested several times just for unzipping his pants and urinating in public while the police were trying to talk to him. He could never understand why the police got so angry over urinating outdoors. He never urinated on anyone else. He politely turned and urinated against a tree or bushes. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. Once, when he was being tried in court for public urination, he asked a judge, “What exactly do you think people did for tens of thousands of years before your stupid porcelain toilets were invented?”

Dale: “The first day of school at Corpus Christi went like this. Papin was sitting in class wearing green denim pants with chrome studs going down the edges. The studs went from his hips to the bottom of his bell bottoms. He was also wearing orange leather cowboy boots, which he kept taking off. It was February and cold, but he wasn’t used to wearing shoes. He hated shoes. Where he’d come from, no one wore shoes. So he kept taking his shoes off. As a fellow American and seventh grader, to see someone standing outside with no socks or shoes was shocking. Making things worse, Papin’s feet had been stained orange from the dye on the leather of his boots. He looked like a circus freak. His feet were bright orange.”

Frank: “Funny.”

Dale: “But all of us Catholic kids must have looked even stranger to him. We wore uniforms to school. We were prim and proper. The boys’ uniforms were dress shirts with ties and dress pants with dress shoes. The girls wore uniforms as well. We were all told where to stand, when to sit, when to kneel, when to pray. We knew nothing about hunting for our dinner. None of us had slaughtered an animal. We’d never have been able to survive on our own. Hell, a few of us didn’t even know how to tie our shoes correctly or brush our teeth. And here comes this kid from the Dominican Republic. To him, we must have looked like brainwashed robots.”

Frank: “True.”

Dale: “Imagine you meet this kid who has seldom, if ever, worn shoes, a dress shirt, or tie. He knows how to catch and slaughter animals for food. He knows how to survive in the wild. He’s never been made to kneel and pray to a statue. He’s never even stood in a line. Watching Papin was like observing an alien from outer space. His behavior was completely foreign.”

Frank: “But once you saw Papin, you never forgot him.”

Dale: A kid only knows what he’s seen. There’s nothing else. The only thing that could have even remotely prepared us for Papin was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”

Frank: “Funny.”

Dale: “So imagine it’s 1972 and your mom enrolls Papin into Catholic school. The school has theology classes. The school has a church. Kids are told when to kneel and to pray, when to go to lunch, how to tie their shoelaces. Nothing’s left to chance. Nothing’s wild. Nothing’s random. Papin entered Corpus Christi in March, three-quarters into the school year. I was in Sister Ann Xavier’s class, in second period, when he showed up wearing green jeans. Sister Ann Xavier was strict. She was hard. But she was also fair and balanced. She meant well. She really wanted to teach kids something important they could carry into their futures. She wanted us to be better people. She wanted to change our lives for the better.

And here comes Papin: a light-skinned black kid who spoke little to no English and had been raised in the mountains of a Third World country.

Sister Ann Xavier had never encountered anyone or anything like this in over forty years of teaching. The first week of class, Papin wiggled out of the second story window of her classroom. He stood on the second-floor ledge of the building, outside. The ledge was maybe three inches wide. Suddenly, he took off running along the ledge—passing all other classroom windows. He was running as though down the diving board over a swimming pool. He suddenly jumped. No, he dove headfirst, doing a flip and landing on his feet on a hill. He landed just fine and took off running barefoot down Squirrel Avenue. We lost sight of him at Five Oaks Avenue. He was running with his orange cowboy boots in his hands. I guess he’d decided he’d had enough school for that day.”
frank, you have a gift. i always said that Matilda does, and so do you..
 
N

nigrarosa

Guest
Frank any story that you tell becomes a tale in witch i can lose myself. Keep up the work my master story teller, you have many fans.
 
D

DRob

Guest
Frank, good to see you posting again, particularly when you're sharing your writings. It's always been one of my favorite things to do on dr1. I hope you and meems will continue to write and post. It might be nice to even start a forum where you have the freedom to do that. Best of luck with the new book.
 
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C

Caonabo

Guest
Good to see you exhibiting your true talents once again Frank. As well, I would be remiss if I did not offer up a heartfelt thank you to you for the tee time you were able to acquire for my foursome at Moraine CC. A beautiful course for the area. This, as well as the preferred seating at Oakwood Club Incorporated later in the evening. It was truly an exquisite dining experience. Tops of the top indeed, with it's impressive wine list. Much thanks, as I, and all were truly impressed. We look forward to seeing you again on our next turn around though town if we are fortunate enough. Happy trails.
 
F

frank12

Guest
Good to see you exhibiting your true talents once again Frank. As well, I would be remiss if I did not offer up a heartfelt thank you to you for the tee time you were able to acquire for my foursome at Moraine CC. A beautiful course for the area. This, as well as the preferred seating at Oakwood Club Incorporated later in the evening. It was truly an exquisite dining experience. Tops of the top indeed, with it's impressive wine list. Much thanks, as I, and all were truly impressed. We look forward to seeing you again on our next turn around though town if we are fortunate enough. Happy trails.
That's funny! Did you remember to try the soft shell crabs and prime rib with the raw horseradish at the Oakwood Club? It's to die for! Also, did you notice that my uncle hit two holes in one ( 3rd & 13th holes (148yrds & 170yrds)) in the same round of golf on the nearby golf course, winning the tournament in July 1959 and becoming one of a handful of people to ever do that in the history of golf? He had his 15-minutes of fame here in Dayton before catching gonorrhea from his caddy and dying.