Chuck Berry 1963

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From: Chuck Berry - The Autobiography

Harmony Books (1987)

by Chuck Berry

"When I finishes the credits and extra courses in business management and accounting I was ready for graduation. My wife, Toddy, came to hear me deliver the valedictory speech and witness me receiving my diploma and extra certificates. One of the more pleasant memories, yet a bit sad, was that she wept as I was nearing the close of the valedictory address, causing me to stumble over some lines. Later she told me her sorrow was caused by the location of the occasion within the confines of a prison.

I came to the close of my stay (in prison) when I was successful at my first chance up for parole. With my diploma and credits, Toddy, my father, and my brother Hank picked my up on my birtday, October 18, 1963, and we traveled back home. I was free again but did not feel much different that the week after I was registred in the place other than I kneew I had many more obligations and responsibilities. It may be odd to some but I've allways belived that no place or condition can really hinder a person from being free if he has an active, imaginative mind. There is one thing for sure, I did cheat the government of my imprisonment by way of the achivements I accomplished while there. Sorry, great white father, You can't indict me for that.

It was a real thrill to get into my own Cadillac, after not even seeing one for sixteen mounths, and drive myself sixty miles per hour up I-55 for 255 miles to my own home. Hank and dad were fatigued after driving down and Toddy and I had the journey back all to ourselves after the first 20 minutes of the four of us reminiscing about things occuring during my absence.

After October 18, 1963, I started all over again and quickly got into the swing of rebuilding the business. As soon as I was released I began phoning all my business associates to inform them that the prodigal soon had come back home. How glad they were to know this appeared in their immediate readness to get me back to work as soon as engagement or sessions could be arranged.

I had spent 22 mounths away from business. The parole officer I was assigned to was at the threshold of retirement and went by the book, which requared me to request permission to travel out of the St. Louis City district. This was crippling in negotiating with producers and booking agencies. Many concerts were lost because of the time it took to clear the paperwork required to process the travel. I was denied permission to travel to chicago to record. Leonard Chess, seeing still a value in the product, suggested I have my parole transferred to Illinois, where he knew people who knew others who had the authority to allow leniencies to be given in "hardschip" cases, as they called it."