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Doll Play…

housingIt was the early 1970’s, and my friend Vicky and I sat on her back porch playing with our dolls. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, both hot and breezy. Vicky lived in front of me in what was referred to back then as the project homes. Our homes were actually townhouses nestled together in groups of buildings made specifically for low income housing. Most of my friends at school lived there and Vicky was one of my best friends, and she happened to be a white girl, which is rare because the media doesn’t often show white people in the ghetto’s during the seventies.  But there were plenty of white people living around us when I was younger.  Our neighborhood was definitely classified as the ghetto, but loving called the West End by those who lived there. Despite what the media portrays about “the projects” in the seventies, White people actually lived in housing back then too, and in my world Vicky and her family were no different than any other family that lived there. What was different was Vicky’s father also lived there, and this was not the case in most of the black families that lived in the development. Very few fathers lived in our homes. Most of the homes were headed by women.  There were a lot of families that had other family members who lived very close by.  Our neighborhood was filled with families and it was meant to be a starting block to moving on to something better.  However a lot of families never made it out of the ghetto.

What I loved about going to  Vicky’s house was seeing all of the ceramic nic-nacs on ever book shelf.  This seems to be most of what I could actually remember about visiting inside her home.  All of the ceramic characters and the soap opera’s playing on the television.  The same soap operas that played on the television in our home.  Later in life Vicky’s mother would open a ceramic shop downtown. They had moved away and so did we, so I lost touch with Vicky and her family.  One day when I was much old (about 12 years old), I wondered into her mothers shop.  I usually walked downtown or took the city bus by myself and I would go on adventures walking into ever shop that was open on a Saturday afternoon.  I walked into this shop nestled in the furthest area, at the end of town and there sat Vicky’s mother as I remembered her making crafts.  She remembered me and asked how everyone was doing at home.  I told her we were all fine and we chatted for a while. I soon left on my way to continue my journey.

Vicky had a brother who played with my brothers and an older sister named Judy. On Saturdays Vicky and I would play together on her porch. Her mother would spoil us with popsicles and cookies as we played out scenes with our dolls and watched the activities of our neighbors and friends hanging clothes on the clotheslines, or sitting on their porches watching us and other children play. On this particular day as Vicky and I were playing I noticed a woman run around her building and a man chasing her.  As I turned to continue playing suddenly Vicky’s mother came quickly out of the house and snatched us inside. The only thing I remembered from that point was the police and ambulance surrounding the area and the building where the woman had been shot down by the man chasing her. Later that day my mom, my brothers and I sat around our porch talking about what happened. My mother asked me what did I see, and I told her what I remembered. She said, “ask God to help you forget”. I did but  at 40+ years later I still remember…

I remember the lady’s body laying on the ground under a sheet and all the neighbors standing around watching and telling the news to the neighbors with too much respect to move in close and gawk like the others.  I remember the next day hearing about the blood still fresh on the grass from friends who had the courage to go and look up close.  I remember it took years before I could walk past that area and when I did I looked for the blood.   I always felt the spirit of that woman  calling out from that spot and it kept me away like a wall that had a heart beat.  I remember being frightened to my core as a little girl to even ride my bike near there.  I was somewhere between the age of 5 or 6 years old.  I remember.

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