Feb 25 – The Guardian – “Former bank robber and pool hustler shares story with Islanders about finding redemption”

Feb 25 – The Guardian – “Former bank robber and pool hustler shares story with Islanders about finding redemption”

On February 25, 2018, Ted Nellis was featured in an article in Prince Edward Island’s newspaper, The Guardian. The article was based on an interview he did in Prince Edward Island while on a speaking tour in the Maritimes last month.

See the full article here: TheGuardian.pe.ca/community/None/former-bank-robber-and-pool-hustler-shares-story-with-islanders-about-finding-redemption-188591/

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A forward to “Journey to Redemption”
by Randy Roach

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1996 I was enjoying a cold one with an old friend when our conversation was interrupted by a ringing at my door. We were comfortable out on the back patio and I didn’t really feel like getting up to address the disturbance. The majority of my friends knew simply to walk in so I figured it was most likely a sales call of some sort. Regardless, something led me to get up to see just who was at my door. The gentleman standing on my front porch introduced himself and stated that he was referred to me by a local fitness store that knew I had resources to build a piece of equipment that he was looking for. His name was Ted Nellis and just by coincidence the very man who could build what he wanted was sitting in my back yard.

I found this stranger a little perplexing. He was a big guy pushing at least 6′ 3″ with tattoos down both arms, but that body did not for some reason seem to belong to the gentle demeanour radiating from it. I felt an immediate natural chemistry between Ted and I even though there was not much personal background disclosed from either of us, especially regarding Ted. The equipment he was looking for was not going to be a problem and I felt good about being able to fill that need for him. My welder was sitting right there and assured us both that he had the time to do the job and he did in fact hold to his promise.

Later that year over a Saturday night phone call, Ted and I discovered further just how much we had in common in terms of sharing sporting interests outside that of strictly strength training. Nonetheless, over the next several years as our friendship grew it became evident that there was more to this fascinating man than he cared to reveal. Ted did eventually share with me that he was once the youngest inmate in Kingston Penitentiary, but never would expand on the particulars surrounding that part of his life. He possessed a street savvy amplified by a natural intellect that allowed him to successfully manage the environments in which he interacted. His psyche I would learn was forged decades back and was still at work keeping recent friends at an arm’s length basically on a “need to know” basis. This would change.

I never burned with curiosity over Ted’s past simply because it didn’t really matter all that much to me for good reason. Over the past 16 years I watched him traverse many of life’s toughest hurdles with a level of integrity and dignity rarely seen in those difficult circumstances. Whatever lay buried in the secrecy of Ted’s past certainly appeared to have been conquered so it couldn’t really have been all that bad. Could it? That question would be answered for me through the manuscript of this book!

“Surprised” would certainly be an understatement for what came to mind after reading just a draft of the first chapter. I don’t know what startled me more, the shocking details of Ted’s teenage years or the fact that I, too, am a writer with a college education, years of mentoring, and two large book publications yet this man, possessing no more than a grade eight level of schooling, was authoring a story in such a style that I could not duplicate. Ted has never ceased to amaze me in his accomplishments so my astonishment quickly changed to a marvelling at what he was doing. His manner of penmanship only served to magnify the allure of his fascinating story, a complete revelation of those early days in which he previously chose not to share.

I was totally captivated right from the first chapter not just with Ted’s early experiences, but in the education I was receiving in Pool Hustling 101. In the early 2000s I had a billiards table and Ted at that time did mention that he hustled a bit of pool long ago. Although he hadn’t played in years and his skills showed some corrosion, it didn’t take too much time before the rust was gone and those balls were snapping into the pockets with authority, making it quite clear that the man definitely had played the game before. Nonetheless, I had no idea as to the depth in which pool hustling commanded his early years until reading his manuscript a full decade later. It wasn’t simply a passion expressed by most teenagers towards their chosen endeavours, pool was a life venue for Ted often mitigated with a trichotomous mindset that bounced between good, bad, and at times sociopathic!

In telling his story, Ted freely shared his fascination with specific fiction and non-fiction characters, many of a dubious nature, who influenced him in his growing years. Throughout the book, he draws some comparisons and relationships with some of Canada’s most historically notorious criminals. It is also quite interesting to see how the burgeoning media and social outlets of the more liberal western culture of the 1970s were at work in shaping the malleable young minds of that era, yet the electronic technology of today…

Whatever the influences that set the life course of the teenage Ted Nellis, by the time he was 19 years of age he was viewing the world strictly as his antagonist: “I had long been an anti-establishment figure. I had turned my back, completely, wholly and without compromise, on everything and anything even remotely connected with “normal life,” including everyone and anyone in it.”

Obviously this pent-up, skewed view of society would put Ted on a collision course with the law in a manner that over 30 years after his actions he found it very difficult to express his deeds: “I simply stared at the keyboard for two weeks without typing a single word, not knowing what to articulate, in words, the horrendously hurtful, almost diabolical decision I made all those years ago. How do I rationalize, adequately, the decision I made to…”

I earnestly invite you to join Ted in his incredible “Journey to Redemption” and most amazingly dear reader, this is but only one aspect of this man’s life worthy of publication.

Photograph of the cover of Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors by Randy Roach.Randy Roach, author of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors book series

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