Ted Williams A Golden Voice, How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation should read: the man whose voice laid the golden egg but he cracked it again and again and again. The memoir is simply written but rich in details about a life driven completely off the rails by none other than Ted himself.
In my opinion, unlike many homeless people Ted had a choice. He wasn’t mental. At least he wasn’t born deficient in reasoning skills or ever declared certifiable crazy. Nor was he too old or sick to work a steady job. From what I read, Ted was given many opportunities starting from birth. According to him he never knew his birth mother. I imagine that had to hurt. But Al and Julia Williams gave him a last name and raised him the best they knew how.
He talked about them being color struck. Back in those days a lot of light-skinned African Americans distanced themselves from their darker complexioned brothers and sisters thinking the hue of their skin somehow elevated them. It was mostly an exercise in futility which Ted pointed out. His father didn’t want him to identify as black. He processed his hair hoping to look Samoan or Hawaiian, worked extra hard and yet the man was never promoted.
Ted also claimed his mother rarely came to his defense and that his daddy beat him often. As far as discipline, I feel Ted’s folks were pretty typical of black parents during that time. I’m around his age and back then if you got out of order they didn’t hesitate to get you in line with a belt, cord, hand spanking, or even a switch, if you were from the South. I’m not saying corporal punishment is right, but I don’t feel Ted endured any more than the rest of us.
Maybe when Ted turned his back on the golden life he could’ve had deep down he thought he was sticking it to the flawed folks who had raised him and the selfish woman who couldn’t be bothered. Maybe a worthless crack head was what he felt they deserved. Whatever his reason he turned his back on his children in pursuit of a crack pipe, the convenient crutch he used to excuse his behavior time and time again..
Another thing that struck me was how Ted reveled in being a hustler and seemed in love with the sound of his own voice. That voice set him apart from the other drug addicts and street hustlers because it could quite literally stop a person dead in their track. It opened doors for him and would have taken him places long ago. Instead he used it like a cheap trick. Mesmerizing and winning folks trust with it one moment, then ripping off those same people the next.
Ted says God sent him to the side of the road to humble him. Yet freely admits both he and his girlfriend were at the end of their shelf life far as the streets are concerned. Years of hitting a crack pipe had taken a debilitating physical toll on their bodies. They were out of options with nowhere else to go. Whether sent by the good Lord or not there he stood, holding up a sign touting the only hustle he had left.
Overall I enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it. It definitely attests to this new reality TV and social media age. One minute you could be begging on a street corner and the next you’re being given a chance at a second act in spite of your past transgression(s) or maybe because of them.