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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, April 25, 1960

April 25, 2010 |  1:20 pm



 April 25, 1960, Mirror Cover



Heartsick Mother's Problem One Which Has No Solution

 
Paul Coates    Steve's mother knows she did wrong.  But she wonders, under the circumstances, what would have been right.
 
    "I don't know," she told me from behind her handkerchief, "what any other mother would have done."

    For a long time, she started her story, things hadn't been exactly right with Steve.  His moods -- they changed so fast.  Morose one minute; happy to the point of being silly the next.
 
    His age?  Nineteen.  But he's immature.  Still a boy.  That's what his mother told me. 
 
    "It was a few weeks ago," she began.  "I was cleaning the bathroom when I came across a little plastic bag with six cigarettes in it.  Hand rolled."
 
    There was something funny, strange, about them and other things had been happening.  Steve was at work so she kept them, and when he came home, she asked him about them.   




 April 25, 1960, Chessman

  
    He got upset, almost violent.  He wanted them back.  They were none of her business, he said.
 
    But she disagreed.  She hung on to them.  She showed them to a friend and it was the friend's opinion that they might be marijuana.
 
April 25, 1960, Hope Emerson     In this kind of thing, Steve's mother wasn't worldly.  But few mothers are.
 
    The next night she asked Steve if it was true.
 
    He said, "I got to have them."
 
    And she was convinced.  The way she told it to me: "I didn't know the difference between marijuana and heroin.  I just knew they were dope and that my boy was using it."
 
    Even today, she's not sure if her son was using heroin, too, but there are strong indications that at least some of his friends were.
 
    Steve's mother's next step was a logical one.  She consulted a doctor.
 
    He told her that there was nothing he could do.  He suggested that she might try some clinics, sanitariums.
 
    She did.  But their prices per week were higher than her husband's paycheck.  There were the other kids in the family.  It was impossible.
 
    Then she got to thinking.  "I'd read about the two 19-year-old boys who were high on dope and how they killed another boy at a dairy.  I couldn't get that pout of my mind.  That maybe Steve would do something like that."
 
    She talked to a friend who had a friend on the LAPD.  The friend took the little plastic bag of cigarettes for police examination, just to be sure.
 
    They were marijuana cigarettes, all right, and the police invited her to a private meeting at the friend's house.  They assured her that they'd do their best to see that the boy got the proper treatment.
 
    So she agreed to let them follow her home to meet Steve.
 
    "Steve was standing in the living room.  They put handcuff son him and searched him and found another marijuana cigarette," she told me.
 
    "Then they took him away."
 
    That was a few weeks ago.
 
    AFTERWARD, SHE LEARNED from one of her younger daughters that Steve had been "rolling his own" cigarettes for quite  awhile.  "Just like the cowboys do on television," the girl told her mother.  "I used to watch him in the bedroom."
 
    Steve's in County Jail now.
 
    His mother, of course, has been down, hoping to talk to him.
 
    But it's Steve's attitude that they've got nothing to talk about.
 
    "All I wanted to do," she told me, "was help him get treated.  But now they tell me that they don't have enough facilities for everybody.  Only for the worse cases.  I don't know whether he'll qualify."
 
    "I guess," she added, ""all I've done is hurt him."
 
    She sighed.  "It was a terrible thing to turn  my own son in, but I thought if I did, they'd help him.  Give him treatment.  But they say they don't have enough facilities.
 
    "So all my son gets is a felony record and a feeling that his own mother turned against him."
 
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