When I was a little girl, we lived in a neighborhood that had all the trappings of poverty and lack. However, I never knew that we were considered poor until I visited Lake street as an adult. Through the eyes of a cynical observer, I looked around and saw shotgun houses that appeared to be in sore need of paint and, more appropriately, demolition. The yards seemed minuscule, the flower beds bordering the homes, scraggly and the homes seemed like they leaned sideways as if to touch each other for support to keep from keeling over.
The sidewalks looked tiny. I could hardly overlook all the cracks that sprouted weeds and debris. I stopped for a minute to look for the home I grew up in, only to see an empty lot shaded by a huge pecan tree in the front yard and a set of steps that went up to empty air. Those were the only tangible remnants of my childhood at that location. It made me sad to think everything was gone.
But, as I began to reminisce, I remembered Ms Sally and her husband. They were godly people who loved us and looked after us when we were left at home while our parents worked. They patted our faces in love and spanked our butts, likewise. Ms Lou, who lived across the street from Ms Sally, who always had cookies she baked and affectionately shared with the neighborhood kids. Ms Hannah, who was kind and loving to the wild and ragtag bunch of youngins we were. At one time, my Uncle Hyatt and his wife, Barbara, lived a couple of houses over. We loved seeing her, because she was beautiful and classy. She added a sparkle to that street. We weren’t too happy when she went back to New York because every neighborhood needs a shiny, sparking treasure. I remember playing in the dirt with marbles, enjoying hide and seek with the other kids, chasing headless chickens in the backyard, watching the stars at night and eating homemade ice cream my Mother made.
I remember being a kid and not knowing about assault rifles and murders and pedophiles and hunger. We didn’t have a McDonalds, but there was always enough beans and cornbread and fried chicken to fill our bellies and in our pockets, a dime or quarter that our Papa( my moms’ dad) would give us when he came around. We walked to school and didn’t think about stranger danger and came home to empty houses without fear of someone knocking on the door and stealing us away from our Mama and Daddy.
Boomer wisdom would remind you that when you want to worry and there are fearful thoughts that encircle you, go back down memory lane and remember the times in your childhood that were good days. Mull over the tasty meals, the delectable homemade cakes and pies, the cousins, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents that loved you and you loved. Think about the people that you grew up with, that you played in the dirt with, fought with, were punished with and still played with the next day. Bring back to your memory those things that bring a smile to your lips.
There is joy in your past, my friends. Unearth it and sit there a spell. It is good for you to sort through your life to hold close those memories that contain visions of from where you have come and what you have come through. You made it. And, somewhere in between there is something sweet and valuable and worth remembering.
Blessings to you all!