On April 21, 2o1o the first article I wrote was posted on these pages for me by my Son, Anthony. “I Surrender!” proclaimed the headline, and my entry into the world of blogging began with 344 words. Happy belated 5th birthday!
While the first articles were very short (more along the lines of what blogging really is about), of the 235 articles posted since that day, that was probably the shortest. At the opposite end of the spectrum, almost 3 years to the day later, on April 18, 2013, I would post “unspoken”, which contained 10,077 words! Perhaps someday I will add them all up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the total word count comes in around 500,000!
According to Wikipedia, a novel is 50 to 100,000 words. Maybe out of those 235 articles I can extract enough to form the nucleus of a book about my experience.
Long or short; 100,00 words, or one million; each and every article that has contributed to this body of work has been important to me, and as I sit in my room at Central Union Mission in Washington, DC at 2:35 AM, I find my eyes filling with tears as my mind flashes back through the years and I recall just how important this blog was during my incarceration. Over time, it became important to some of those around me as well. There is a story here. Or, rather, “TOC” (as it has become known) is a collection of stories that are very personal, and contributed mightily toward turning what could have been a completely negative experience into one of the most positive influences in my life.
“TOC” is where I, Tony Casson, finally became a man. With the editorial assistance of my beloved Son, Anthony, who started this project for me; my best friend and brother-in-law, Larry Peters, who picked up the ball and ran with it for a while; and my own personal Angel and dear friend, Diane Woodall, who was sent by God to ‘bring it home’, “The Oakdale Chronicles” helped to shape a life that was formless, and to define a faith that lacked foundation and clarity. Indeed, a faith that didn’t exist at all.
When I first arrived in Washington as a ‘free man’, I moved into a dorm with 23 other men in a building that housed around 170 each night. I now live in a separate room with one other man who is hardly ever here, and it is his absence that allows me to sit and bang away on this keyboard at this early hour in the morning. When I wrote the first 344 words for these pages, if I found myself awake and restless at this time of night, all I could do was sit up and look forlornly out the narrow, barred window next to my top bunk and gaze across the well-lit lawn at the tall fence topped with razor-wire that sparkled under the lights. I would have to wait till 5 AM for someone to unlock the cell door, allowing a little more ‘freedom’.
Now, I look out the window that has no bars and I can see the Walmart sign on the other side of the Government Printing Office parking lot. I can put on my shoes and walk a couple of blocks to Union Station and get a cup of coffee at Au Bon Pain, which is open 24 hours.
Or I can go back to bed.
Thank you, Anthony, for not giving up on your old man.
Thank you, brother Larry, for being a rock for me.
Thank you, my dear friend Diane, who still is there when I need her.
Thank you, dear “TOC” reader, for spending some time here. We are approaching 30,000 ‘views’, and while this is no “Huffington Post”, it is something.
And thank you, God, for being so loving, so forgiving, and so full of mercy and grace.
Happy birthday, “TOC”. Here’s to the next 5 years!