Carl Charnett, Director of Gateway House, and residents ; part 2
BROADCAST: 1970 | DURATION: 00:56:45
Carl Charnett discusses Gateway House, a community for the cure of drug addiction (part 2 of 2). Includes interviews of Ira Robinson, Bill Jacobson, and other residents.
Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.
Studs Terkel This is part two of a visit to Gateway House, a residence, drug addicts seeking to kick the habit. It is the nature of a community. Staff: Ex-drug addicts. 48th and Ellis in Chicago. Similar in a general way to Daytop, Daytop Village in New York, and, to some extent, Synanon in California. Yet, its own place. Yesterday the conversation was with a young resident, Linda, and with the director of dynamics, Carl Charnett. We pick up the combination with Mr. Charnett, who is, we're wandering through the place and he's discussing the nature of, well, to some extent, the nature of needs, economic needs of Gateway House. By the way, it's a good time to point out that every Saturday is Open House and everyone is welcome at 48th and Ellis. There's an open house at eight o'clock at Gateway each Saturday. Here, then, we continue the conversation with the director, Carl Charnett.
Carl Charnett An addict on the street. I'm talking about a heroin user, not a marijuana smoker or anything like that, an addict on the street costs the community anywhere from a hundred dollars a day on up to support him in the community. He has to steal five times the value of merchandise for his heroin. An addict--and there's no hope of rehabilitation. An addict in jail costs the community anywhere from five to twenty-five dollars a day. Again, in jail he's only perpetuating his lifestyle, the problem is only warehoused, he comes out, he goes right back to drugs. In a hospital it'll cost anywhere from 50 to 75 dollars a day to keep this man in a hospital to detoxify him, and his only purpose for going into a hospital is to cut down on his habit so he can go out there and start again. At Gateway it costs the community $10.50 a day per person, and there's a damn good chance if the person wants to he can become a constructive member of society instead of a parasite. So it's a good investment, even if just, just economically speaking it's a good investment.
Studs Terkel Aside from the human aspect [involved? and All?]. Carl Charnett. We're going to wander now through Gateway House. I'm sitting right near the entrance of Gateway House, expediter on duty, and at the desk taking notes, doing some work, is Ira Robinson. And you, sir, and Gateway House: How'd it come to be?
Ira Robinson Well, it came to be by, I was incarcerated in the house of correction. And when I got ready to be released, you know, I inquired about vocational placement, you know. I was just interested in getting a job. So the counselor there, you know, he found out that I had been using drugs and had a record for using drugs for a, you know, a long period of time, so he told me about Carl Charnett and David Bryant and Gateway House and told me I should come over and get an interview.
Studs Terkel Well, how did this--again, how old would you be now, Ira?
Ira Robinson I'm 31 right now.
Studs Terkel You're 31. When did you begin using drugs?
Ira Robinson What? With the drugs?
Studs Terkel Yeah.
Ira Robinson Oh, wow, let's see. I've been using drugs for 12 years, so 12 from 31 is--
Ira Robinson Right. With the heroin and I was using, you know, smoking marijuana for a couple of years before then, so, actually, it started when I was about 17.
Studs Terkel You're talking about yourself now, and drugs and Gateway House. I know that the interest is not why you did it. That is the important thing. Why you did it. It's rather the how you overcome it. Isn't that the point here? Or why you did it, I suppose we can talk about it if you want to.
Ira Robinson Well, that's a very good point of how you overcome it. I think that I'm overcoming it because Gateway House is showing me, you know, it's making me grow up again. It's showing me the right way of how to go about life, the right kind of values. I mean, you know, it makes me, you know, feel like that I do have something to do, something of importance. Before, all the while I was using drugs I always had this feeling like, you know, I wanted to do a lot of things, but I just couldn't get started at doing anything. And part of the reason was because my values were the wrong kind. I valued the material things, such as money, you know, and a lot of clothes and cars and stuff like that and I didn't know how about, you know, how to go about getting them.
Studs Terkel The fact, too, you say your values that--you didn't like yourself then, is it, you liked the things rather than yourself?
Ira Robinson Right. Right. I didn't realize it then, but I realize it now, that I didn't feel good about myself because I'd always think, you know, why I like to do this and I like to do that. But, you know, really, I didn't feel good about myself because I didn't put in enough effort to do the things, you know, I wouldn't sacrifice and didn't put forth the effort that was necessary to accomplish the things that I wanted. And the end results of that is that you wind up with a bad feeling about yourself. And, so, you resort to drugs to try and escape the reality.
Studs Terkel You know, as you're talking, I find this very interesting, that people pass by, colleagues of yours, members of your family here, the communal family. There's no--you're not ashamed as you're talking, there is no whispering. Shhh! It's exactly the opposite is the case. People walk by
Ira Robinson and we talk about this. No, exactly, because I'm at and I can speak for everybody else that's involved with the program. We're glad to be here. I mean, it's wonderful. It's like a new--I mean, it's like, you know, you've heard people say, "Wow, I wish I had a second chance." Well, this is a second chance on life, really, because here at Gateway House we have all the right kind of friends, a social part of life that you need, the right kind of friends, and you have all the responsible guidance that you need, good, good guidance, and you have the atmosphere of a family. And you don't have to worry. If you want to go to school you can go in your second phase. And everything. I mean, the work you feel good about it because you're doing it for, you know, for yourself.
Studs Terkel As you're talking, I said then there's no sense then, earlier I was interested in no sense of concealment or shame. Everyone here pretty much has a common denominator. All of you have been there.
Ira Robinson Right. Right. We've all been down pretty, you know, have a real hard time with the drugs and everything and we've all been real lonely. And you know, that bit about the jails, in and out of jails, and just practically in the gutter and, you know, we all have the same thing in common as far as that goes.
Studs Terkel You're also responsible--each one has something to do. For example, what are you doing right now behind the desk here?
Ira Robinson Right now I'm making out a daily report. And this has to be done every day for our directors to, you know, see what's been going on every day.
Studs Terkel Each one has a job. There's a blackboard there, "Things to do," by the way, that word "to do," things, a purpose.
Ira Robinson Yeah, that comes from the coordinators, they coordinate specific things for the day. That doesn't necessarily mean what every individual in the House has to do today. This is just for trips, for business of the house that has to be taken care of for the day.
Studs Terkel There are various activities, but at the same time each individual, though, has things to do. No matter what it is.
Ira Robinson Right. Each Individual has a job function, you know, some work in the kitchen, some work in a business office, some work on the operations crew, some in your expediters department. That's the department that I'm in, in expediting.
Studs Terkel Expediter. You're the expediter on duty right now.
Ira Robinson Well, right now, yes.
Studs Terkel What--Ira Robinson, how long have you been here?
Ira Robinson I've been here four and a half months.
Studs Terkel What was your feeling when you first came here? The first, do you remember the first day you came here?
Ira Robinson Yes, the first day I came in here was very, you know, it was, you know, wasn't what I was thinking it would be, you know, like I came here with the intentions of people at Gateway House giving me an interview and then helping me get a job and letting me just go off and get a job. Maybe, you know, I had the idea that they would vouch for me or something, you know, like saying, "Well, this guy, you know, he's been using drugs and we understand drug addicts, and we think he can make it," you know. So when I came in, you know, this is what I was thinking, but when they told me in the interview that I would have to live here, you know, and didn't make any, no outside contacts and that I wouldn't get a job, that I'd just be living in the house here and try to, they pointed out that I never really grew up emotionally, that I was still a young baby emotionally, and that I would have to grow up and become a man emotionally. I thought they were all kind of wacky, you know, telling me these things, you know, I said, "Well, okay, you know, I'll try anything, you know, I'll see what's going on." So after I was around for a few days, I started to see that what they were saying was true. And then the atmosphere, so much concern from all these people, you know, it's sort of hits you in the right spot, too. And after about a week, you know, I was pretty clear about, you know, what I was going to do. I said I was going to stay here and I liked the program and you know, I was going to get involved. You know, I really could see where it gave me a new chance and a new future.
Studs Terkel Did that seem strange to you, you said you suddenly realized, first you thought it was wacky, that there was so much concern. That kind of hit you, is that it? You mean other people were interested in you?
Ira Robinson Yeah, right. Exactly. I mean, and then, you know, you've got all races and all ages, you know, living in a house and there's just there's no, you know, no prejudice going on or anything, there's nobody better than the other person, because the person that's been in the program longer than someone who's only in here a few days, you know, they still are all are treated, you know, with the same amount of concern.
Studs Terkel So how do you find this different from that world outside?
Ira Robinson I find it different because in Gateway House it's actually, like, people, most people who do have the right outlook on life wish that it was out there. You know? They wish it was like that out there. Like this out there.
Studs Terkel You mean the concern for others that is here--
Ira Robinson Right. The consideration for others.
Studs Terkel Right. I take it in your life you didn't see too much of that. In your pre-Gateway existence.
Ira Robinson No, just from my immediate family. My--you know, I had a pretty close family. My mother and my father and I have three sisters. We've all been close, and they've given me, you know, all the things that I would need to be a well-rounded individual when I was young, but for some reason and another, I just got, you know, went astray after I graduated from grammar school, got hooked up with the guys a couple of years older, and started doing a lot of things and I fell into the trap.
Studs Terkel Talking about your family now, I mean the family now, not the Gateway family of 40, 50, 60, 70 people. Your immediate family outside. What were the reactions of your family, do you remember when they knew you were hooked? You know?
Ira Robinson Yeah, it was, it was pretty sad. They were real hurt. Awfully hurt, you know. They cried. My mother you know, would just tell me to try and do something for yourself. Go to a hospital and stuff like that, and then, you know, after the years went on, you know, seemed like that, well, she finally just said, "Well, I don't know. There's no hope or something," and she started saying, "Well, you must be crazy," you know, or something like that. But they were all hurt and very much disappointed, because I'm the only one in my immediate family, or in my family at all that I can think of, that has gotten hooked with drugs.
Studs Terkel Do you, I don't know, I know it depends on how long you've been here. Are you in touch with the family now, or?
Ira Robinson Yes, my mother came to a big parents and friends meeting that they had here about three weeks ago, and I have permission to write home, and she called and they told me she called. And, so, I'm in touch.
Studs Terkel I know that there are house-warmings here, but also there I take it are gatherings, relatives on occasion, too, here. Any thoughts? 'Cause I'll leave you to your work. You have responsibilities here, I don't want to hold you up. Any further thoughts? I know the various seminars that are here, and sessions. Anyone that attract you more than others?
Ira Robinson Well, our group therapy what you call clusters, is always very interesting because that is, you know, three times a week we can really--like it's informal and it's to, it has, you know, mainly two purposes: to vent your hostilities and also to point out in other people what they see, what you see wrong in them, and to be confronted about what's wrong with you. And this is always very interesting.
Studs Terkel This is true. I mean, nobody holds back. 'Cause I mean, for example, you're somewhat shocked, are you, when someone tells you what they think of you and think you're doing wrong?
Ira Robinson Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes you are, I mean, you know, like if for some that you wasn't aware of at all, you would be, but sometimes, you know, a person could be doing something wrong and he knows his self that he's doing wrong. And I guess he would be kind of shocked when somebody like pulls his covers, you know, like, but, see, that's the atmosphere here, it's an atmosphere of complete honesty, and if a person isn't being honest about anything, it will eventually come out. Somebody will pick it up and he will eventually have to admit to it, talk about it, or either he'll leave, because he can't stay here being dishonest, because being honest is one of the things that we've never done in our lives while we was using drugs. And if you change something about yourself, like start to be honest, when you leave here, you will be a changed individual and you won't resort back to drugs. You will get the same problems and you might even get, sometimes think, well, heck, you know, a urge or something, but you will know, you know, you'll know so much about yourself that you know that you can't solve a problem by running away from it. See, here we learn how to face problems and see them all the way through.
Studs Terkel Can I ask you one last question before I let you go back to your work. You yourself, do you have any idea, when you graduated from Gateway House, say, what you would like to do?
Ira Robinson Well, for my second phase of the program which will probably be up for another four or five months before I enter the second phase, that's the phase where you work out or go to school out and live in. For this phase of the program for me, I plan to go to school. I have a G.I Bill, plus you know, I don't have to worry about any financial responsibilities because I'm still a resident of the house. And, so, I plan to go to school, but exactly for what I'm not too sure right now. I've thought about a computer program in which I even attempted to do a couple of times in the past, but the drugs had me so wound up that I didn't get it started. I thought about that. And then here, lately, I've been thinking about even working for the program. You know, maybe being an addiction specialist or a counselor or something like that because when you involved in this program, you really become interested in people. You do, and so you get--well, at least me myself I get the urge to like try and work with people.
Studs Terkel So you might even become a staff member here, possibly. Possibly.
Ira Robinson I think I would like that.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much.
Studs Terkel Walking through the various rooms now with Carl Charnett, we were through the living room, and a young woman, well, a couple of people are pressing the ironing board is there. Busy working. Three guys are there along the divan chair, they're studying, discussing. The openness is here. I notice--yeah. Two of the girls are pressing clothes, you know. We're in a room now that's vacant. It's being fixed, obviously. I see the electricity is--or this room is being repainted, is that it?
Carl Charnett Well, more than that. The plumbing in this house is very, very old and we're redoing all the plumbing. But in the meantime, the bathroom directly above the dining room rotted the plaster in the dining room ceiling, so we had to take down the whole ceiling and replace it.
Studs Terkel Who takes it down?
Carl Charnett All of us. The residents.
Studs Terkel All the residents are doing the work. I see.
Carl Charnett Yeah, the residents do all the labor here.
Studs Terkel I see. So, the electrical work, too?
Carl Charnett Yeah. Everything.
Studs Terkel And the plumbing?
Carl Charnett Everything.
Studs Terkel The plastering
Carl Charnett Everything.
Carl Charnett Everything.
Studs Terkel So they're all doing it.
Studs Terkel Let's take a look in the back. Now we're wandering toward the corridor to the area of the kitchen and you may hear some music in the background. Almost a variety of records, various albums, Charlie Parker, Beatles, Donovan. We're now in the kitchen. It's a very clean and pleasant place, and people here, too, are working. A radio is going. You may hear the sound of pots and pans, a man is cleaning them. A younger man is helping, washing. This is for supper, I guess, preparing for supper and huge refrigerators here, so there, that may be, I think, Spanish hour you're hearing there. So we're going, again, through the very--this, you know what, this was a, quite a very posh mansion once upon a time.
Carl Charnett Oh, yes. Very, very posh.
Studs Terkel As we mount the stairs now.
Carl Charnett Unfortunately, the building was in very poor repair, and it's not really suited for our purposes other than by its size, so we're in the process now of replacing most of the plumbing, installing additional bathroom fixtures, here's an example of a--
Studs Terkel We're
Carl Charnett on the second floor. Of a bathroom that's been completely gutted, enlargened, with all new piping put in, and--
Studs Terkel You're doing this work. You're doing this work here as a craftsman. How'd you learn this work? I notice you're doing carpentry here, and--
Resident 1 Well, I've had some experience, out in Lexington, Kentucky that's where I first started off in doing this type of work, yes.
Studs Terkel You say in Lexington.
Resident 1 Yes.
Studs Terkel At the federal place.
Resident 1 Yes. U.S. Public Health Service, it was in.
Studs Terkel And, so, you learned the, what, the basic carpentry?
Resident 1 Most of what I've learned, I learned it there,
Studs Terkel yes. So you're working here. How long--how much time have you been putting in here and the work? How's it look? Is it shaping up pretty good?
Resident 1 Shaping up very well now, yes. I don't know, if we can get the right equipment supplies that we need, it should be finished in a little while, really.
Studs Terkel Do you have many colleagues working with you here on this?
Resident 1 Oh, usually two, a couple of fellows working here. Keep it is, it's pretty crowded with more than this.
Studs Terkel It looks like a good job, too, and you'll be doing the painting, too. Are you yourself a resident here?
Studs Terkel I can see that, then, you have no at the moment union labor problem.
Carl Charnett No. No. In fact the union's been very good to us. They've offered us assistance and advice.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much.
Carl Charnett We'll start at the top, really. So we're going [unintelligible].
Studs Terkel Now we're going on the, toward another floor. There's a third floor now.
Studs Terkel This is steeper, yeah, the steep stairway here. We're heading toward the upper stories now of Gateway House, and now it's their office is up here and a number of people, residents are working there, one more.
Carl Charnett This is the girls' dormitory. This whole floor was gutted out to redo, put up new walls, new bathroom, here's--anybody in here?
Studs Terkel We now have a bathroom, there's a curtain as a door for the moment. Again, this is being worked on. Electrical work, plumbing.
Carl Charnett This was a very, very tiny bathroom with one sink, one toilet, and one tub and no shower. So the whole bathroom was ripped out, all the plumbing is ripped out, new piping was put in, so now it will have two sinks, two toilets, and two new stall showers. All the equipment that you see up here, sinks, toilets, showers, electrical supplies, they've all been donated by people, businessmen in the community who own large supply houses.
Studs Terkel I would guess this was once the attic. I'm just guessing this is definitely an attic.
Carl Charnett Yes.
Studs Terkel And suddenly it becomes a communal bathroom. That is, a bathroom for the girls, ladies, by the way, as far as sex is concerned, the number of people. Mostly males here?
Carl Charnett Yes, about 75% males. Now here is one bedroom that has been completely redone with the exception of the doors and the floor. We're still waiting on tiling.
Studs Terkel This'll be part of the girls' dormitory.
Carl Charnett Yeah. There'll be four large rooms now as opposed to three small badly-laid-out rooms--
Studs Terkel Wondering now there's a huge flowerpot here, and here are various bedrooms, again being newly equipped. You can see here is a very graciously appointed one with artificial fruits, there's some paintings, some might be even works of some of the residents themselves.
Carl Charnett Yes, definitely.
Studs Terkel I think they are flowers, I notice the presence of flowers here is predominant. And we wander--how many rooms are there altogether?
Carl Charnett In the whole building, 16 or 17.
Studs Terkel Sixteen or seventeen. Here's another larger bedroom for the girls. This faces the corner of 48th and Ellis, this is the third top floor. Again, somebody is painting, another resident is there, painting away. Everybody, I notice the one thing, Carl, it's quite clear that everybody is doing something. I think this is the, perhaps, one attribute that stands out. Here's another large room. I see it's--has some unique touches, probably also of the girls who may be living here, too, their own contributions.
Carl Charnett Oh yes, everybody is encouraged to use their own individuality, their own creativity.
Studs Terkel So now we're wandering down, this is sort of a, what you call a very quick tour of Gateway House.
Carl Charnett Now, all these rooms are new,
Studs Terkel these partitions are new, they're all done by the residents. So during the house warmings on Saturdays at 8:00, this freedom to walk around and about is part of it too, I take it. Is that so, Carl?
Carl Charnett Yes.
Studs Terkel Yeah. Now we enter an office on the third floor where a number of people are working. How are you? Four or five different desks.
Carl Charnett This is the house business office that takes care of all inter-house and business, plus business with the community, progress reports to probation officials, letters to courts, family letters, donations, etc. Everything comes out of this office.
Studs Terkel Talking to a genial resident here. I was about to say basketball center. Just kidding.
Phil Jacobson Yeah, my name is Phil Jacobson and I've been here about eight months, and right now I work in the business office, and like Carl explained, the office is in charge like all legal matters in the house, business concerning 79th Street, the drug abuse program, resident business concerning the residents.
Studs Terkel So you put in quite a few hours a day here, weren't you?
Phil Jacobson Yeah, quite a few.
Phil Jacobson Wheaton, Illinois originally.
Studs Terkel Wheaton. Yeah. And you're a suburbanite, originally.
Studs Terkel I'll just take a wild guess, so middle class.
Phil Jacobson Yeah. Middle-class neighborhood, yeah.
Studs Terkel What--can I ask a question I asked, perhaps, of other people who were here, too, if I may, you know, in a moment. I want to ask each one a certain question, though. What was your first reaction when you came to Gateway House?
Phil Jacobson My first reaction? I wanted to get out of here.
Studs Terkel Why?
Phil Jacobson Well, it was kind of hard for me to adjust when I first came in, you know, because I had a lot of fears about being here. I wasn't too secure myself, so when I first came in, naturally, I was uncomfortable and I wanted to get out. But I stuck it out. And I must say a lot of my hang-ups, you know, I still have a lot of hang ups. But I don't have that feeling anymore.
Studs Terkel Oh, what--was there a certain discovery you made here, a certain--your feeling now here. What is it about Gateway House that made you change your attitude?
Phil Jacobson I don't know, it's for a while like I was here, you know, for a lot of different reasons than, you know, besides to help myself. I get down, I feel pretty bad, I think about the fact that I couldn't leave because of my parents. But then I thought about the fact that, you know, if I didn't get myself together, help myself now, I'd go out and use drugs again, which I never really seriously thought about before. And I had to think about, you know, did I want to stop using drugs.
Studs Terkel This is interesting. As your talk--I just wander about, the idea that each one talks freely. Your companions are all here and you're not whispering to me. Everyone--there are no secrets in this matter, are there? May I speak with you about this? You're here and you're busy behind the desk working. You don't have to identify if you don't feel like it. It's up to you, you know.
Betsy Jokes Well, my name is Betsy Jokes, and we do talk freely here. We don't have any secrets because we want to really know each other. We don't want to keep our feelings in because we've been hiding our feelings from people for so long. And here I feel comfortable because I can let the other residents here know the real me.
Studs Terkel This matter of people hiding, so most of your life, and I know you speak for practically everybody. You've been hiding your feelings, people hide their feelings.
Betsy Jokes Yes. I did, because I wanted people to like me, and some of the things that I were doing that and that I thought, I was sure that they wouldn't accept it. And this was real important to me to be accepted.
Studs Terkel As you were talking, you--when did you, so this wanting people to like you, you think that was also a factor in when in other days when you went to drugs the first time?
Betsy Jokes I think it could be related to that. I think everybody wants to be accepted and in my case I did things for people to be accepted.
Betsy Jokes To please them. I went out of my way doing things for them, not really being myself, not really telling people what I think.
Studs Terkel And then how long you been at Gateway House?
Betsy Jokes I been here for three months.
Studs Terkel So in these three months. What was your first reaction when you came here?
Betsy Jokes I was confused and I was lonely. And as before I wanted to be accepted and I wanted to belong.
Studs Terkel What happened? You're now here three months. What is the change? You sense a change in your attitude or here?
Betsy Jokes Yes. For one thing, when I was out on the street I always related to men through my body. And here I've learned how to relate to the brothers as a brother and a sister.
Studs Terkel So you think of this as sort of a family.
Betsy Jokes Yes, this is my family.
Studs Terkel Is there--by the way, do you have a family outside?
Betsy Jokes Yes.
Studs Terkel Are they aware of you being here?
Betsy Jokes Yes. They're--they want me here. They want me to do something for myself.
Studs Terkel This question. Doing something for yourself, like the work you're doing now right here behind this desk, you're part of this office dealing with the communications, the community outside and here.
Betsy Jokes Yeah. I'm doing this work for my brothers and sisters as well as myself.
Studs Terkel You say your brothers and sisters, you mean here.
Studs Terkel Gateway. I know there are many things that happen at therapy in various forms, clusters--each of you is that you're all so open with each other. Is anything hidden? I mean, when you speak of yourself or problems is discussed, people somebody faces you with--and, so, you--they tell you about you, you tell them about them?
Betsy Jokes Yes, we tell our true feelings. Like when I first came in, I wasn't very honest and I'm still working on being honest, because it's hard to be honest with people, but we do confront each other about our behaviors.
Studs Terkel You mean when you
Betsy Jokes first came in you tried to kid them but kid yourself, too. Yes, I did, because I didn't really want anyone to know me.
Studs Terkel Now?
Betsy Jokes Now I want them to know me because I want them to help me. And I could help them.
Studs Terkel When you leave, or as I put it, when you graduate from Gateway House, any thought as to what you would like to do with your life?
Betsy Jokes Yes. I'd like to work in a therapeutic community. I like to help other drug addicts.
Studs Terkel This is, as I'm talking now, this is a very definite pattern that emerges here, that the person going outside himself, you want to now help others, as Carl, in a sense--
Betsy Jokes Yes, because you know, so for so long, you know, all my life I've been taking things from people and not giving, and now I feel like I want to give. I want to help, where before I always wanted people to help me. It is a growing up process. That's a phrase you've heard a lot here, I suppose. Yes. You also feel like saying that we haven't touched? Thank you very much. I'll talk to your two coll--your two brothers over here. You're seated in the armchair there, we'll come to the man behind the typewriter in a moment. Behind you is a sign that says "creative communication," and then it says, "To Juan Lopez and Michael Darvy, resident director, creative communication," is that a certain kind of seminar? No, this is primarily the function of this office. Communications, inner office and inner facility with this facility and the other. I'm the newest member of this particular family, and I'm not really well-versed on the functions of what I must do here or even the office, for that matter. I'm learning. Making an effort to learn. My family is here in this facility. My wife and my baby also. You mean your actual family. So, actually, it's a matter of expansion as far as my family concept is concerned. What else would you like to know specifically? No, just that. Just on this very point. Your wife, that is physically by marriage ritual, your wife and your baby are here, you said something about your family has expanded. You mean the people here in this room are a part of now of your greater family. Yes, this is a concept that is still relatively new to me, but I'm gradually taking into my character as I encounter it each day here because the actual relationship between the other peoples involved in this office and in the building is actually like a brother and sister level, which is a new confrontation for me. I've never encountered this particular attitude before, and it's a very healthy thing, I'm sure. I see the theory of it. The actuality of it has not been an experience for me yet. You said it's a new confrontation for you. Now, what was your--roughly, you don't have to tell me your age, just a general idea. I've been involved in the drug situation longer than any of the people in this office. And what I meant by confrontation was exactly that. I have never been exposed to a situation where a demand of this sort was ever placed on me. And the concept of such a thing undergoing is new for me. I only hope that I am capable of favorably reacting to the techniques applied within this facility. You mean, you never faced up to what you were doing when you were taking drugs outside in the greater community. This is very obvious in the pattern of my past performances. When did you first begin taking drugs? I first began in the service. This was many years ago, it was 1949. And it started out as a very legitimate and medical clinically administered thing and got off the edge. I got off the edge, it didn't, you know. And it was broken up by a series of exposure to penitentiaries, jails, and all the other things that go with drug addiction. In recent times, the last two or three years, I had gotten married and my whole attitude towards what I must--what I want to do and want to be took a drastic change, and I simply didn't know what to do about it. My wife and I were exposed to this program a couple of years ago, and we became a part of it at that time. Unfortunately, I had an automobile accident in January of this year, and I've been in the hospital up until just a few days ago. But in the interim, my wife became a member of this facility, and
Betsy Jokes It is a growing up process.
Studs Terkel That's a phrase you've heard a lot here, I suppose.
Betsy Jokes Yes.
Studs Terkel You also feel like saying that we haven't touched? Thank you very much. I'll talk to your two coll--your two brothers over here. You're seated in the armchair there, we'll come to the man behind the typewriter in a moment. Behind you is a sign that says "creative communication," and then it says, "To Juan Lopez and Michael Darvy, resident director, creative communication," is that a certain kind of seminar?
Resident 2 No, this is primarily the function of this office. Communications, inner office and inner facility with this facility and the other. I'm the newest member of this particular family, and I'm not really well-versed on the functions of what I must do here or even the office, for that matter. I'm learning. Making an effort to learn. My family is here in this facility. My wife and my baby also.
Studs Terkel You mean your actual family.
Resident 2 So, actually, it's a matter of expansion as far as my family concept is concerned. What else would you like to know specifically?
Studs Terkel No, just that. Just on this very point. Your wife, that is physically by marriage ritual, your wife and your baby are here, you said something about your family has expanded. You mean the people here in this room are a part of now of your greater family.
Resident 2 Yes, this is a concept that is still relatively new to me, but I'm gradually taking into my character as I encounter it each day here because the actual relationship between the other peoples involved in this office and in the building is actually like a brother and sister level, which is a new confrontation for me. I've never encountered this particular attitude before, and it's a very healthy thing, I'm sure. I see the theory of it. The actuality of it has not been an experience for me yet.
Studs Terkel You said it's a new confrontation for you. Now, what was your--roughly, you don't have to tell me your age, just a general idea.
Resident 2 I've been involved in the drug situation longer than any of the people in this office. And what I meant by confrontation was exactly that. I have never been exposed to a situation where a demand of this sort was ever placed on me. And the concept of such a thing undergoing is new for me. I only hope that I am capable of favorably reacting to the techniques applied within this facility.
Studs Terkel You mean, you never faced up to what you were doing when you were taking drugs outside in the greater community.
Resident 2 This is very obvious in the pattern of my past performances.
Studs Terkel When did you first begin taking drugs?
Resident 2 So in a way there's a growing-up process here. I first began in the service. This was many years ago, it was 1949. And it started out as a very legitimate and medical clinically administered thing and got off the edge. I got off the edge, it didn't, you know. And it was broken up by a series of exposure to penitentiaries, jails, and all the other things that go with drug addiction. In recent times, the last two or three years, I had gotten married and my whole attitude towards what I must--what I want to do and want to be took a drastic change, and I simply didn't know what to do about it. My wife and I were exposed to this program a couple of years ago, and we became a part of it at that time. Unfortunately, I had an automobile accident in January of this year, and I've been in the hospital up until just a few days ago. But in the interim, my wife became a member of this facility, and with what has happened for her and what could potentially happen for us and me, I, too, am a member now.
Studs Terkel You say it was while you were in the service that you first, it began as medical, as medical treatment. Why--I mean, as Carl Charnett has pointed out, I think correctly, why is not the important thing here at Gateway, it's how and what you do now is the important thing, isn't it, I'm going to ask you if I may, why. What led you, just a general feeling toward drugs after the medical treatment? Was that it?
Resident 2 Well, I am a musician by profession, and this offers a particular occupational hazard which was a combination of this and being injured in the service that brought about my extreme exposure to drugs. And simply my inability to emerge from this has led to this circumstance now.
Studs Terkel Here we are now, you are now and your friends and your greater family, as well as your immediate family, and Gateway House doing work. What is your feeling? You're just here--newly arrived here. And since everybody does speak freely here so there's no inhibition involved, what is your feeling here at being in Gateway House at this moment?
Resident 2 The theory of this circumstance and how I stand within it is not new or even removed from me. Like I told you before, the actuality of being able to do anything about it is, and I'm still new enough here that I have to just look and learn to, how to overcome this. I don't know how to do this yet, and I can only hope that my ability will not elapse before I do take on some constructive learning here.
Studs Terkel It's premature to ask you this, perhaps, but you were a musician, you say, outside. Do you have this idea or, perhaps, will other thoughts occur to you? It's hard to tell now. When you leave Gateway House.
Resident 2 This is true. It is hard to tell. I've had extensive training in the music field and I don't really know anything else. I do have a desire to further help myself by participating in this particular type of technique. I have a great interest in children. And the exposure that children have to drugs. I feel that I could function efficiently on this level, you know. I would like to do this at a point if I ever become equipped.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much.
Resident 2 You're welcome, sir.
Studs Terkel Wandering around the same office, talking to the man behind the desk, you're typing away and you have the carbons here. I know you're working on the communications. So I say, you don't, if you want to identify yourself, fine. Otherwise, just yourself being here.
Robert Dawson Well, my name is Robert Dawson, 31 years of age. I've been at Gateway approximately seven months now, I came in in February. I'm from Gary, Indiana.
Studs Terkel You've been here since February.
Studs Terkel About seven months. How would you be described? Not as a veteran. Just as sort of a in-between. Sorry.
Robert Dawson Well, I did leave prematurely about two months ago.
Studs Terkel You left prematurely.
Studs Terkel Well, did you leave on your own accord, is that you felt you didn't want to stay?
Robert Dawson Yes, I had a notion that I was ready for it out there so I decided to go out and try it. Well, I found out I wasn't ready, so I had to return.
Studs Terkel By the way, laughter, I sense that laughter is also a component of Gateway House very often. There is this ability to laugh at yourself, is that part of it, too?
Robert Dawson Well, I don't know. Would you restate that question, please?
Studs Terkel No, but as a matter of laughter, I notice often there's an easy feeling here at Gateway House among people. Right now they were laughing as you were talking, you were laughing yourself.
Robert Dawson Well, it's mostly a happy atmosphere. You know, it's a family-type thing. They might take it funny at the time. But actually, you know, that was a serious thing.
Studs Terkel Yeah, I know that, of course. That's marvelous. Mr. Dawson, let's go back to beginnings if we can. When you first came here--no, before that. How old were you when your first took to drugs?
Robert Dawson I started off as the other fellow just mentioned, in the service. I was 17 years of age.
Robert Dawson Yes, I was in the Air Force. I was 17 years of age. I was stationed up in New York at the time. And I just sort of got involved, I guess, with more or less what you call "fast set," you know. And that's how I got started. You know. When I came out of the service, well, I wasn't messing with anything but marijuana at the time, but somehow or another I guess I just got hooked up with the drug crowd. And one thing led to another. Finally, I--
Studs Terkel By drug crowd you mean harder.
Robert Dawson Yes. I finally became addicted to heroin as a result of this. Upon becoming addicted to heroin, well, I don't know, one thing just led to another, you know, I lost my wife, family, whatnot, I didn't have actually nothing, I started going to jails and whatnot, so I did seek help. I had went to a Veterans Administration over here in Chicago. And they referred me to the 79th Street drug abuse program. When I went there seeking help, they told me at the time that I, it would have to be a six-month waiting period. I told them I didn't want to wait all that time, was there some kind of other way that they could help me sooner. So referred me to Gateway, you know, I called Gateway and they gave me, they told me to come in the next day for an interview. And I've been here, you know, up until I decided to leave for two weeks.
Studs Terkel When you first came to Gateway, or when your first when you returned to Gateway, after the, when you left, what's your first reaction when you came here?
Robert Dawson Well, when I first returned to Gateway, my reaction was--actually, I didn't--I don't know, because, you know, I had to sit on the prospect chair for a little while.
Studs Terkel The prospect chair?
Robert Dawson The prospect chair. I had to sit in the prospect year for three days.
Studs Terkel Well, tell me about that. You were in the outer office.
Robert Dawson No, I was over at our other facility at the time. And when I came back first of all what they did to me, they took me down in the basement, they cut about a three-inch streak out the top of my head all the way back and they put a woman's brassiere on me, a big flower on the top of my head, pair of women's shorty pajamas and gave me a woman's pocketbook. And I sat on a chair like that for three days 'til they decided to have my general meeting. And general meeting, you know, that's where the rest of the family confronts me about my behavior and why I left and why did I want to come back. They are the ones who decided, actually, where I got back in or not, you know, and after that I was given a stiff work contract.
Studs Terkel Is this after you had left here? And you returned. Ah, that's what I meant. That's when you got back the second time. Yeah, because they were, I guess they were sore at you, was that it?
Robert Dawson Yes. Because people had put a lot of effort into me, you know, and they had a lot of trust in me and I messed all this up.
Studs Terkel So, what--can you recall, this is very difficult. When you sat in that prospects chair for three days, what were you thinking about?
Robert Dawson I was thinking about leaving again, but 'til I saw that part in my head, and I said, no, I couldn't go out there like that.
Studs Terkel Wait a minute. You had that part and this is what they were showing you, and what, were you embarrassed? Was that it?
Robert Dawson It was very humiliating. Yeah. But that was just something I had to go through to get back in. You know, it all depends on how much a person wants to help himself or how much he'll go through, you know. And you know, after I sat there for a day or so I got to thinking, "Well, it is my life. You know, if I really want to do something for myself, this is one of the things that I'll just have to go through." I knew what to expect when I came back, but I didn't think it was going to be that harsh, you know. It was a little bit harder than I thought it was going to be. So far I've been progressing pretty nice now, you know.
Studs Terkel Now that you're here, what is it, is there one thing that stands out in your mind about Gateway House?
Robert Dawson Yes, the fact that I am doing some for myself. When and if I do enter phase two, I have a feeling that I will get a pretty nice job. That's something I always wanted, something in the clerical field. That's what I'm looking forward to at this time, and I would like to take care of my children. This is something that, you know, I have not been able to do in the past. And this is something that I really want to do.
Studs Terkel You have children.
Robert Dawson Yes, I do. I have four children.
Studs Terkel And you want to take care of them.
Studs Terkel At this moment as I'm talking to you now, you're behind the desk and you are typing. Were you learning typing? This is an electric typewriter you're working on.
Robert Dawson Yes, well, I previously--I was a teletype operator and radio operator in the service. Prior to my leaving from the other facility, I worked in community relations over there for a while. That's the procurement team. I did some clerical work in the office over there for a while. Went out into the field. So this isn't new to me.
Studs Terkel Any other thing that occurs to you I haven't touched on you feel like talking about this moment?
Robert Dawson Well, I can't think of anything offhand right now. Except this is a self-help program, you know. If a person really wants to do something for himself, this is the place.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much. We left the office and are walking with Carl Charnett. We're now in another office here. How are you?
Dan Chisholm Pretty good, thanks.
Studs Terkel What office is this where you're working?
Dan Chisholm This is the medical office. We keep, you know, files, accurate files on the residents here. In this particular office, you know, covers both houses. We keep medical history forms on each resident, we have a nurse that comes in every day to give medical assistance. We also have a doctor that comes in twice a week. In case you need any further attention, we have medical facilities at 79th Street.
Studs Terkel Are you interested in medical history?
Dan Chisholm No, and I think that's the main reason I'm in this job department.
Dan Chisholm Because part of the program is, you know, [Garrett?] says that, you know, a resident is placed in a job area that is, you know, he is least familiar with, you know, like if somebody comes in, you know, and they happen to have been an auto mechanic or something on the street, that's the last job area that they'll be placed in, because you know, you don't grow when you're doing something you're comfortable at doing.
Studs Terkel So, in other words to lead you to something that may be alien to you, to your experience.
Dan Chisholm Because in the past, you know, for some reason we've all managed to, you know, get away from doing things that are hard for us to do, and I think that's kind of where we all missed out.
Studs Terkel May I ask how old you are?
Studs Terkel Well, when did you first--I see a picture here, there's a montage behind here. Woody Guthrie, children's songs, Christ, Hubert Humphrey, not all related, birth control, [Qwik?], Vietnam, D.H. Lawrence, the swami. When did you first take drugs?
Dan Chisholm About a year and a half ago.
Studs Terkel You from, can I ask, are you from sort of a middle-class?
Dan Chisholm Yeah, middle, upper-middle-class suburb.
Studs Terkel And how'd you know about Gateway House?
Dan Chisholm I found out through my mother, who sort of had me arrested. And she had already been familiar with the program, so she sort of hit me with a burst of responsible concern in that way. You know, she knew that the only way to force me in a position to do something for myself would be to have me arrested, which she did. You know, she had previously kicked me out of the house and everything, you know. But I returned, you know. So she knew that that would be the only way to, you know, sort of force me into a position to change.
Studs Terkel You mentioned your mother. What about your father?
Dan Chisholm My parents are divorced now.
Studs Terkel Do you have brother and sisters?
Dan Chisholm Yeah. I've got a younger brother and an older sister.
Studs Terkel So there you were. And you discovered Gateway House. And when you first came, a month and a half ago, you were about 16. No, just--
Dan Chisholm I've been here for six months.
Studs Terkel Six months. So you were about 16 and a half or so when you first came; 17. You came into Gateway House here. First reaction when you came in.
Dan Chisholm Well, when I first came into the program, you know, I wasn't really too crazy about being here to be honest, you know, I was doing it from my mother and to avoid going to jail, and when I first came in I felt superior, you know. I thought, "What am I doing with a bunch of heroin addicts that have been sticking needles in their arms?" You know. I thought, you know, well, you know, I was an acid head on the street, you know, and I felt superior until I started talking to, you know, some of the other residents, I asked some of them, you know, "Well, why didn't you use LSD?" You know. They said they were afraid to. They said they didn't go crazy, you know. So, you know, I had to kind of think about it and it's kind of ironic, because both sides are so equally messed up, you know, one's toying with their sanity and the other is toying with their physical well-being, you know.
Studs Terkel So as though it were a mirror held up to you.
Dan Chisholm Yeah. Yeah. I found that, you know, we're all here for the same, you know, to actually do the same thing, which is essentially to grow up, you know, so it doesn't really matter what kind of background we come from.
Studs Terkel I'm thinking as you're talking now, you've been here only about six months, you say. This awareness that you have, that doing the work that is not necessarily the work you would have done outside, the awareness of yourself and meeting you, an acid head at the past meeting a guy a mainliner, heroin, the attitudes toward each other. This all, this awareness come in the six months? You didn't have these thoughts before that.
Dan Chisholm No, not originally. As I mentioned, I felt superior and I didn't think that I would be able to relate until I started getting involved in the program and started, you know, participating in things, you know.
Studs Terkel What is it about Gateway House that you find most impressive? That impresses you most? Either way.
Dan Chisholm I think it's the honesty involved, you know. It's a environment of almost total honesty, you see. I think it's just arranged such that, you know, when you're not honest, you can't help but feel guilty about it, you know, since you know everyone else is being honest around you, you know. So this is what sort of, you know, impresses someone towards being honest.
Studs Terkel Have you been in touch with your mother since you've been here?
Dan Chisholm Yeah, I've visited my parents.
Studs Terkel You're in the second phase, then.
Dan Chisholm No, I'm in the first phase, although they came here to visit me after I was here for three months.
Studs Terkel What did you want, did you have any idea what you wanted to be before drugs, before Gateway House? When every kid has some sort of idea or ambition generally?
Dan Chisholm The only real goals I had was to be sort of an international ski bum, you know.
Dan Chisholm Jetsetter. You know, sort of a supreme acid head, you know.
Studs Terkel Status. Any idea now what you think? I realize this is just conjecture, of course, but after you leave Gateway House, the third phase, you might think you might be interested in doing?
Dan Chisholm Yeah, I fantasize a lot about starting a drug abuse program of some sort or a therapeutic community in Colorado, which I sort of consider to be my home, having spent a lot of time there.
Studs Terkel You're talking about skiing. You said Colorado, is that what you meant, because of Aspen you mean?
Dan Chisholm That's sort of, you know, I think a lot about starting a drug abuse program because, you know, from personal experience, you know, I can assure you they need one.
Studs Terkel So this is a change you see in your feelings, you know, from being that jetsetter, beautiful people, ski bum, to something entirely different.
Dan Chisholm In the past I was actually striving to sort of create the image of being a very messed-up dope fiend. You know, I used to delight in walking down the halls at school, you know, having people talking behind your back, I guess, just for the attention of it, you know, "Well, I hear, you know, Dan Chisholm's using LSD," and stuff like that, you know. I liked that.
Studs Terkel The attention-getting.
Dan Chisholm Yeah.
Studs Terkel And now you see it something totally different.
Dan Chisholm Yeah. You know, I used to delight in receiving looks of disgust from my parents' generation. You know, when I drifted down the street with all my hair and everything, you know. Smiling away at them. I guess it was just the attention I was after.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much. Anything--I know there's much you have to say, I don't want to leave, but I'm running out of tape. Anything you feel like talking about we haven't touched? About yourself? Gateway House? You friends here, your family here?
Dan Chisholm Well, as far as my own personal feelings. I think the biggest thing that I've gained so far in Gateway House is just plain feeling better about myself and more confident in myself and, you know, just being able to deal with my feelings instead of acting off them. You know, I'm more in touch with myself, you know. I sort of, you know, think about myself before I put my feelings into actions now. Which I think is the biggest step I've gained so far.
Studs Terkel Thank you very much. [pause in recording] Carl now. With Carl Charnett, the director, Gateway House, we're now in the men's dorms, the guys are here and these are double-decker. There are, oh, might I say, very, very neat indeed. Guys make up their own beds and everything?
Carl Charnett Yes, oh, yeah, everybody [unintelligible].
Studs Terkel Towels are all hung, I see. Cleaning is done. We're in the bathroom now. It's quite spic, span. Another room, again double-decker beds. A radio. By the way, there's a little painted drawn up against the wall mirror, a little sign, "Give a damn." Give a damn. Gateway House open to all Saturday nights 8:00 P.M. Now, laundry's being done here, obviously, by the residents themselves. Another, we wander through more bathrooms, dorms and signs and posters, all invited Saturday nights. Oh, it says a picture drawn--did one of the residents draw this, too? Everything is done here--a picture of a family, I suppose. Looks like a father, mother, and three children facing. And it says, "All invited Saturday nights 8 o'clock, Gateway, furthering man's awareness of himself." And escape--escape while there's still time. This is our guest, escape while there's [sort of a?] temptation, you're attempting to escape while there's still time, another sign with a drawing, a surrealistic drawing, says, "We know what drugs cost us. Do you know what they cost you?" Now, this is asking the outside world, is it? Yeah.
Carl Charnett This was a, all these signs were made for a Harper Court fair in which we participated in, had a booth and tried to get as much community attention as we possibly could, so we made up the booth, the posters and hoped that people from the community would be interested and express their concern. Unfortunately, too many people in this day and age express verbally concern about the problem of drug abuse, but behaviorally very little of the people do something about it. For instance, if we wanted to open up a therapeutic community across the street from someone else in a nice quiet section of the city, everybody out of fear would most probably scream protest, but yet not take the time to meet us, see us, come in, find out what we're about. Very few people are actually participating and doing something meaningful about the problems of drug abuse, although everybody expresses concern about it verbally.
Studs Terkel You know, Carl, there's something you said a moment ago, fear. Misconception one, and fear the other. The fear of that, he who is different, or in one way or another.
Carl Charnett Fear of the unknown. People, the first thing that happens, we had this experience in Daytop Village. The first thing that happens, a rumor goes through the community that dope addicts are moving in. What will happen to our children? What will happen to our families? The pushers will come around. But yet, I don't feel badly about the people expressing these fears and concerns, even though they are misinformed. What I do feel badly about is many people in the community will continue to express these apprehensions, fears, and concerns even though they're invited to see what we do and participate in what we do. We want to give them a chance to see what's in the dark room, not just be afraid of it and stand outside the door. We'll turn on the light for them.
Studs Terkel Perhaps that's it. Give them a chance to see what's in the dark room and turn on the light for them. And awareness of self here also, of course, implies to the people outside of the straights, awareness of themselves as well. I mean, I again suggest as we walk down the stairs, I'm about to leave and go into that world, enter that world outside, that's far, far less gentle and tender than the world I'm leaving now at Gateway House. There's an open house every Saturday 8 o'clock, 4800 South Ellis. Thank you very much. And that's our program for this morning.