In order to love who you are ...
you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you
"I am not what happened to me .....
I am what I choose to become" - Carl Jung
A Lost Childhood
So many, many negative, critical thoughts and lies about myself and my circumstances growing up that always seemed stuck in my mind. I learned to silence them and the voices so that I could never be more than I was due to being a Tison, living on the south side of the tracks and in extreme poverty. This was based mostly on the criminal activities of my father and brothers, always being in the news or on the front pages of newspapers.
I learned to speak to those lies and negativity about who and what I was, and to fill my mind instead with what is good and beautiful about me, and not my unfortunate circumstances of growing up with career criminals and extreme abuse on every level.
Most of my young life was spent feeling as though I was in the deep end of a swimming pool, with a leg cramp and nobody to help me. I knew as a young girl, there was a way out, and I fought to get there. My family and I suffered tremendous humiliation over the years due to my three brothers and father's criminal activities.
The Last Rampage (The Movie)
After the last movie was made, The Last Rampage, of the criminal activity of my father, RC Tison and my brothers, Gary, Joe, and Larry, most specifically about Gary's escape from Arizona State Prison in 1978. I decided it was time to tell my story, the story of what it was
like for a young girl to grown up in such a dysfunctional, criminal environment.
The story of the horrific lifestyle of being unfortunate enough to have been born into such a family, to include abuse of every kind, and every level, that we encountered within our home, generally daily. I learned the true meaning of "Fight or Flight" at an early age.
The First movie was released in 1983 A Killer in the Family, the second movie in 2017.
My book entitled A Lost Childhood and it truly was, the humiliation often continues despite what I have done with my life and the success I have achieved. I never know when it is going to surface again, such as a front-page news article in the Tri-Valley Dispatch December 8, 2020. indicting there is still much interest in this family’s story even after all these years.
I decided to finally tell my story and I feel it will be an exceptionally sought-after book of details of a lifetime of growing up with career criminals and the abuse I encountered along the way. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to review my website and hopefully you will purchase my book – A Lost Childhood.
My story is of the horrific lifestyle of being unfortunate enough to have been born into such a family, to include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that I encountered within our home, generally daily. I learned the true meaning of "Fight or Flight" at an early
age. As I wrote this book, I sometimes feel as though I'm projecting myself as being a saint, not having done anything wrong. The truth is, I made numerous mistakes throughout my life, mistakes I wish I could change, but I cannot. Nothing criminal, just "Life" mistakes we all make growing up and raising a family.
In my heart I knew right from wrong and I knew the environment of criminal activity and abuse that I was living in was abnormal, even at a young age. I had perfectly good examples my entire life growing up on What Not to Do. I just knew in my
heart, there was a way out, and I fought to get there.
It was not an easy thing to write about such an abusive childhood, the memories came flooding back as I wrote and I often got on an emotional roller coaster. I had to find ways to release the strong emotions I felt as I wrote. To write them, you have to relive them, and that was not an easy task for me.
The highs and lows that sometimes looked promising growing up, generally didn't pan out, and it always hurt so deeply and disappointing. Fear, as well as hunger were a daily part of my life as a child and young girl, the fear of physical as well as emotional abuse, right down to the fight for the last biscuit at breakfast. For the sake of survival, I learned to fight long before I learned to read and write. In anyone's world .... this is wrong. In my world, it was survival.
Shame, which is something I experienced often growing up in such a dysfunctional family, and shame, as I learned, can be one of the most destructive of our human emotions. To heal, it was important for me to learn and understand .... that it was not my fault.
I'm thankful for the gift of love and determination that survived in my heart and my desire for the truth. I regret not one detail of my past, as incredibly embarrassing and painful as it was, my past has brought me to the person I have become, miraculously. I live in gratitude daily for the life I now have.
God’s plan for me from the beginning was beyond my wildest dreams and imagination. I just knew in my heart, even as a young girl, there was a way out of the south side of the tracks and the dirty, disgusting lifestyle I had growing up with my father, RC and my three brothers. My brothers took the same path as my father, for a life of crime, with RC as their mentor.
I’m eternally grateful for the love of a Christian Mother who tried to protect me as much as she possibly could, in an adverse situation, and guide me towards a different path in life.
Working in the Mental Health field as an adult, we, as a society, now understand the Cycle of Abuse that that occurs in dysfunctional families. Unfortunately, fifty years ago we did not! As a young woman, I found myself attracted to exactly what I thought I never wanted to be around again, not understanding my own behaviors and beliefs. I ultimately married a man (my first husband) exactly like my father, RC.
He was emotionally as well as physically abusive, a womanizer and all those other labels that one can classify under the heading of a “bad husband”. I tolerated it for years and thought if I were a good wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, and kept myself up, etc., he would change. It was just like growing up, thinking if I worked hard in the fields for RC, helped Mother in the house, made good grades in school, etc., RC would be nicer to me, however it never worked out that way. I fought RC daily, just to go to school.
Working in the mental health field for so many years, I learned to understand we can’t change others, only ourselves. My then husband, like RC, was incapable of change, as he too had lived a Cycle of Abuse in his own home growing up. years ago, we knew nothing about correcting, or breaking the cycle, we knew only as a society, the empty promises, and the empty promises that the abuser would never do it again, which were frequent.
Our last military duty station, with my then husband, was Key West, Florida. My youngest child was just under two years old. He beat me so badly this time that I spent weeks in the Intensive Care Unit of the military hospital. My jaw was wired together, and I had to use a cane to walk for a couple of years. I had stitches and wounds all over my body.
There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that this was the last time anyone would ever do this to me... ever again. I had finally concluded that I had to get out … even though he had told me on numerous occasions that he would kill me if I ever left and took the kids away from him.
I had bought a Lit’l red Volkswagen that I named Charlie for some reason, while we were stationed in Europe a few years earlier. After several weeks in the hospital, I loaded it up with my three kids and two Boxer dogs and headed towards Arizona with extremely limited funds. It was the only home I’d ever known, and my Mother was here. I go into detail in my book about that trip and what it was like starting over with three small children in a small town, where the Tison name was prevelent, and not in a good way.
I didn't know much about racism growing up. The neighborhood I grew up in was quite diversified with just about every race of folks. Our family didn't stand out much except for my father and brother's criminal activities bringing the Police to our home more frequently than others. All the kids in our neighborhood attended what is now called Ocotillo Elementary School, however, was known then as South School. It was only in the 7th grade when we were bused to Jr. High School north of the tracks, that I quickly learned that my friends and I didn't belong most anywhere in the school and racism was rampart even though the words weren't as common as they are now. For me, it was even worse due to the wide spread criminal activities of my family members and always being on the front page of the local newspaper.
Most of us worked in the cafeteria so we could have hot, free lunches. There were no programs then such as there are now. If you worked, you got to eat for free, as simple as that. I personally thought the Cafeteria food was on a Five Star Level and I didn't even know at the time what a Five Star Restaurant quality food was, I just knew it was so good and it was plentiful, unlike home. Going hungry was a frequent memory of growing up. If you have ever gone hungry for any length of time, only then can you have such an appreciation for the quantity of food that was available to us by working in the cafeteria.
I grew up in this same community where most of their criminal activity took place, ultimately raising my three children here as well. I only left for a few years while being a military dependent. I tolerated those who came against me due to the criminal activities of my father and brothers and my last name being Tison. However, it got increasingly worse when my brother, Gary escaped from Arizona State Prison in July of 1978 with the help of his three sons, and another inmate, Randy Greenwalt. I honestly didn’t think it could get any worse than it already had been growing up, but it did after the escape. It became the largest manhunt in the history of the southwestern part of the United States and continued for eleven days and ended in a roadblock south of Casa Grande. My nephew, Donnie Joe was shot in the head and died at the road block, Ricky, Raymond, and Randy were taken into custody and Gary escaped into the desert, once again throwing terror into this small community until his body was located in the desert a few days later. Six innocent people died during their eleven-day rampage.
Many have asked me over the years, why I remained in this area. It seemed logical for me as I had three kids and they would inevitably tell someone who we were related to, and we would have to live it all over again. Here, a lot of people knew me, knew me to be of good character and I felt I could survive it. However in retrospect, if I had it to do over again, I would leave.
It's been forty plus years since Gary's escape and the killing of six innocent people and I've watched those who came against me fall over the years. Karma really is a bitch! The inhuman treatment from some folks was almost intolerable, simply because I was related to these criminals, assuming I was bad because some family members were bad, and nothing could have been further from the truth. My Mother
consistently told me growing up, I wasn’t guilty of anything because of relationship, but it was difficult as my book explains in detail the wrath my family members and what I had to endure. As disruptive and dysfunctional as my growing up was, Gary’s escape was the worst of what I had ever experienced by all their actions. It's not right that people treat you horribly because of something that was not your fault,
unfortunately, that is the way some are.
As a young girl, my father heard me telling a friend once that I was going to get an education, drive nice cars and live in a beautiful home, when he heard me, he grabbed me by the shirt, flung me to the ground and said "what do you think you are going to do, be the fucking President of the United States. You need to get your ass out in the fields and chop cotton or I'm gonna beat your ass". I chuckled to myself because he didn't realize at the time, that all he was doing was motivating me to study harder. I had to fight him daily, just to go to school, but I was determined to get an education and out of poverty.
In 7th grade I stood outside my classroom, under a big tree crying. I had spilled food onto my blouse while working in the cafeteria and when trying to get it off with paper towels in the bathroom, it only made it worse. Mr. Sullivan, my Science teacher, walked by and asked me why I was crying, I told him the rich kids were making fun of me because I had food on my blouse. I referred to most anyone who didn’t come from the south side of the tracks as “the rich kids”. He said, “you know there is a way out of poverty”. When I asked how through tearful eyes, he said “education” and his statement changed my life forever. I was so determined after that to get an education and get out of poverty. Mr. Sullivan died just a few years ago and when I read his obituary in the newspaper, I decided to attend the funeral even though I
didn't know his family. My thoughts while sitting in the rear of the church through the service was “Sir, you will never, ever know how you changed the course of my life with your one statement.”
The Book has arrived and is now available for purchase!
Get it Now in Kindle
God’s plan for her from the beginning was beyond her wildest dreams and imagination
In Lynda Williams' first-ever public discussion of her early life and growing up with career criminals, the worst of it all came in 1978. Her brother, Gary Tison, escaped from Arizona State Prison, and her family had to endure the largest manhunt ever in the southwestern United States. She recounts the fear she faced during those 11 days, an event that spawned two books and a pair of movies. Lynda tells about the abuse she suffered growing up in a family where her father and brothers were routinely in and out of prisons, and how her family name, rather than her character, led to many shunning and ridiculing her.
Lynda also offers a stirring message of hope for survivors like her: That one can overcome adversity by learning to love yourself and faith in God.
"I concluded early in life that It's Not What Cards You Were Dealt ....
....It Was How You Played Your Hand."