A Life-Changing Stay In Juvenile Detention

Larry Hoover with his granddaughter, Anastacia Garcia in Taos, N.M. (Custom) i i

Larry Hoover with his granddaughter, Anastacia Garcia, in Taos, N.M. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Larry Hoover with his granddaughter, Anastacia Garcia in Taos, N.M. (Custom)

Larry Hoover with his granddaughter, Anastacia Garcia, in Taos, N.M.

StoryCorps

As a kid growing up in Santa Fe, Larry Hoover, now 62, found himself in the middle of gang territory. He had the Lucianitos on one side and the West Siders on the other. On Friday nights he would fight with the Lucianitos and on Saturday with the West Siders.

"There were no knives and no guns," Hoover told his 18-year-old granddaughter, Anastacia Garcia, in a StoryCorps booth in Taos, N.M. "It was part of growing up."

But his mother told him that if he didn't straighten himself out, he was going to end up in Springer, the local penal institution for juveniles.

"And, lo and behold, my mother was right," Hoover said. Thirty years later he went to Springer — but as a teacher. The correctional facility needed a graphic arts instructor and he had his own print shop at the time.

When he taught at Springer there was no fence surrounding the grounds, but in the more than five years that he worked there, Hoover said he never had an escape.

"We had some really, really tough little boys there," he said. The key to working with them: "I treated them like humans, even though what they did was wrong."

And his approach seems to have paid off.

"Not too long ago I got a phone call from one of the boys there," Hoover told his granddaughter.

The caller was one of Hoover's former students, Rudy. He called to say that he was now the manager of his own press in El Paso, Texas. He was about to open another store and wanted to invite his old teacher to work for him.

"And I told him, 'Oh, I'm retired, no thanks.' But that to me was my reward," Hoover said. "I taught him good and he did good."

Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing with Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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