by katiedelp on

by Leroy and Donna Barber  Growing up in the city has always been a pretty positive thing for me so when the term hood was created by those that live in struggling urban neighborhoods as a way to offer self identification with a particular place and culture, I embraced it as a good thing because it was a way of self identifying. The term hood is, for me, a response to the negative connotation of “inner city”.    I learned most of what I know about community and neighboring in the hood. The stereotypes that exist and the assumption that others out side of the hood know better can’t be more misleading.  The neighbor(hood) has been a place of community support for as long as I can remember.  I have known all of my neighbors and have shared things like food and even clothing with neighbors.  In fact, I had to obey my neighbors just as if they were my own parents. The hood represents a culture of sharing and celebration. Block parties and playing in the fire hydrant are cherished memories that helped shape my commitment to loving neighbor.  Corner stores where we knew the shop owner by name and where many older teens got their first jobs were staples.  There were dads and uncles who would referee our pick up football games and cut the bottoms out of old milk crates for us to shoot basketballs.  The hood, with all of its struggles, was a great place to grow up and learn how to help people.  It is a term I am happy to share with the world as a positive look at life among people who know family, community and neighbors are the most import elements to life.   I don’t even need to talk about the amount of creativity that has come out the hood. Musicians, actors, artist, dancers, and filmmakers to name a few. The hood germinates creativity and entrepreneurs who find ways with little resource to create and enhance life.  The culture is magnetic and those who find their way to the main stream from such places offer hope and encouragement to world.  The hood is not a place to be mocked and feared.  It is a place to be protected and uplifted for its influence on society.   Some efforts have been made to take the smaller percentages of negative influence that exist in the hood and highlight those as the norm. These efforts portray the two challenging homes on my block in South Atlanta as the norm instead of the 10 where everyone works and cares for their property. The difference and the beauty is that of those 10, I know each family and many others around my neighborhood. I think the hood has an untold story.  The next time someone tries to portray the hood in a light that is consistent with hype and negative images please recall the words shared in this story from one who, by choice,  has never lived anywhere else, raised kids, and has a happy 25 year marriage.   The following are reflections from a few friends that grew up in the neighborhood with me or close by, our reflections on the neighbor(hood).    I'm from Philly. I grew up riding buses & taking the el and subway. I played halfball, dead block, hide and seek, truth or dare, tag, wire ball, hand games, war & wall ball. Hot summer days we would get wet under the fire hydrant, sit on the steps eating water ice, Now and Laters, candy, sun flower seeds, & hung out till we were tired enough 2 sleep. I'm proud 2 be from Philly.   Chopsticks on City Line Ave, Mr. Curly's store at the corner of 56th Berks St, Mann School Bazaars, Jerry's Corner Drive In Movie, Papa Parker's fried chicken at Roy Rodgers, Chuckwagon on City Line Ave, Todays Man. Getting out of school at... 12:00 pm to walk home for lunch and return to school at 1:00pm everyday. Watching Hickory Dickory Doc show at noon for the cartoons at lunch then Wee Willie Webber show after school for Ultra Man, Astro Boy, Prince Planet, Speed Racer. Only the old heads will remember those days in Wynnefield!!!   Hanging out on Belmont plateau every weekend with members of the Z-28 Camaro Club of Phila. It was always packed on the plateau! When you hear "summertime" by will smith, it takes everyone back to those days!   Hey don’t forget punchys right there on the same block as foo foos and the wynne ballroom wagners Kim graves roller skating at Elmwood and the best of the best the PLATEAU on Sundays and SOUTH STREET afterwards ha ha ha yeah damn those were the good ole days umm umm umm wish I could go back lol   Martha Washington, Wm B. Mann, Mann - Annex, Dimner Beeber Jr. High, OVERBROOK HIGH, St. Joseph's, Temple University... like I said... I'm from Philly Baby!   ANYBODY REMEMBER THE BLOCK PARTIES WITH DISCO DOC AND STONEY LOL   One thing I remember about growing up in Southwest Philly, you rarely did anything alone.  Someone’s mom was always sending him or her to the grocery store, or the drug store or dry cleaners or the deli and when one had to go, two, three or four friends always walked along.   Play was creative and fun.  This was before technology took our minds and bodies hostage.  We rode bikes and jumped rope like kids everywhere but we also built stunt ramps and go carts and club houses with the scraps we’d find in our basements and around the neighborhood.  I remember summers where we played “tops” in the street from 10 in the morning until 10 at night.  My house was under the street light so that’s where everyone gathered once the sun went down.    No one on our block had central air conditioning so when the sun went down everyone who wasn’t already out came out to try to catch a breeze.  Often the ice cream truck would turn into the street and kids would take off running for their houses in hopes of getting some change for a cone or popsicle or ice cream sandwich.  Someone would bring out a boom box and we’d dance and sing along to the best R&B ever, played on everyone’s favorite station, WDAS.  One by one, parents began calling kids in for the night and each of us hoped to be one of the last.    We didn’t have the fancy houses of the suburbs or the sprawling acres of rural farms but we had something just as valuable.  We had each other.  We had community.

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