Friday, January 29, 2010

Flashback #1

Just a small town [boy]
Living in a lonely world
[He] took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city [girl]
Born and raised in South Detroit
[She] took the midnight train going anywhere
- Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

That's how I've always sung it.   I love songs that mention Detroit.   It's where I spent the earliest part of my childhood.  I think Eminem is Mr. Suburbia compared to me even though he's way more 'hood than I am.   (kidding)  I mean, really, 8 Mile?!   I grew up further South below 5 Mile. That means nothing to you if you haven't lived in Detroit, of course, but basically it means I lived in a not so nice neighborhood.   
I wasn't afraid of it though.   At least not until one afternoon after school my 5th grade year when I received a threatening prank call.   But it was the only time any violence had been directed at me personally.   Those were the days before caller id and unlisted cell phones.  

But we had good neighbors.   We knew nearly everyone on our street.   The Andersons, The Randalls, Dorothy (don't you dare try to sell fundraising candy to Dorothy - her husband is diabetic!), The Apostolopolises (Rachel was their daughter and oh! how we loved to say that last name - Apostolopolis!).   There were more of course but can't remember them all.   Terence Anderson, across the street, had a bunch of cousins that lived close by - Toot, Poochy and I can't remember the other one's name.  But you can't forget names like Toot and Poochy!  Especially since that was the same year Mattel came out with a toy named Poochie.   

It was a fun neighborhood in spite of a drug bust and the house on the corner being burned every Devil's Night. We often rode our bikes to the nearby park and walked a couple blocks to the corner store for candy.   We climbed trees to get on the roof of the Andersons' garage and I listened to "We Are the World" in Rachel's upstairs bedroom.  

We were blessed with parents who did what they could to keep us in a private school run by our church so that we didnt' have to attend the pitiful public school in our district.   I only spent one semester at Vetal. (I think that school has been closed and I can't remember if this is how to spell it.)   My grades plummeted from A's and B's to barely C's and D's.   I don't remember Mr. Nelson teaching.  What I remember about that semester was him listening to headphones at his desk, that we had a rabbit for a class pet, eating lunch in our classroom, making a paper mache puppet in art, that Reagan was President and that I was the minority as the only white child in my class.  

When you're a child, though, you just aren't aware that life is different in other places.  Your life is your life.  That's just how it is.  And you're happy with it.  And we were.
We were happy.

This post linked up to Flashback Friday at Mylestones.