Looking back over the years in refference to crime, it seemed as though criminal activity changed with the decade. At least according to what was choosen to be shared through news media, it appeared that way. Even though various crimes have always occured, the attention of a particular crime, as I recall, has always been highlighted or for some reason stood out more than others to me. There was a period of endless bank robberies at one moment in time, then the focus became child abduction/rape leading to serial killings becoming top stories. Which is one crime spree I recall all to well. As if Jeffrey Dahmer wasn't disturbing enough, there was a personal connection to Dorthea Puente. Let's not forgoet the lives lost during the terrorist attacks; yet through all this there was/is the "war on drugs" which also meant gang violence. Now, sadly we're experiencing the moment in time when police brutality and shooting people of color are constant top stories. With all the violence and distruction in the world somehow children back in my day still managed to have the luxery of roaming free in the neighborhood playing until dusk. Doors didn't have to be locked nor were outdoor camera's for our homes a necessity as they are now.
I miss that moment in time when kids could simply be kids without the concern of danger in the world. Although I wasn't allowed to get out as much as my younger brother, when I did, I enjoyed our adventures. On Halloween we would walk for hours to trick-or-treat. The best part was living in neighborhiiods that gave out dollar bills and full size candy bars. Being a tomboy, I often tried to follow my brother and his friends. He'd ride his bike across town. Regardless of momma's threats of taking a switch to him, he'd still return home after the street lights came on. To this day, I laugh while looking at the scar on my knee from the time he set me up. In an attempt to hop on my bike and follow him one day, he loosened all the boltsn on my huffy. Just as I hopped and began peddling, the entire bike fell apart causing me to crash resulting in scraping a nice chunk of skin from my knee.
During my 5th grade year we lived downtown Sacramento near the State Capitol building. My mother had practically turned saling Avon products into a career. I would usually make deliveries for her and one of her regular customers was the notorious Dorthea Puente. Of course then as kids I assumed she was a harmless old lady. I was never comfortable around old people anyway, so I'd knock, practically tossing her the goods that were paid for in advance in an attempt to be on my way. I can never forget the foul odor that escaped the door when she would answer. Once I got a bit older and the media revealed her crimes, I couldn't help but think about all the times she had offered me cookies. Now thankful that I never ate one, also the main reason I rarely eat other people's food in general. Besides, as a kid I enjoyed eating from the blacberry vines, pomagranted and orange trees that used to grow in the neighborhood. She would also pay my brother to help her with what she called "yard work", which as it turns out was where she was burrying the bodies after dark. He didn't mind because it was candy money for him. One of my fondest memmories was Crawfords Barn. A beautiful park with a full playground and garden scenery tucked away in the neighborhood just a block from our house. Lots of trees, grass and hills to roll down with a huge barn that sits in the corner.
Crawfords Barn was a popular venue for weddings. As children there would be a ceremony about twice a month. Whenever my brother and I got wind of a wedding taking place, (usually by simply playing in the park watching them decorate the barn and the caterer's setting up) we'd run home, clean ourselves up a little and throw on our Easter clothes. Often sitting quietly in the back while witnessing the couple's exchange vows, anxiously awaiting the reception or what we called the "party" time of the wedding. We must have attended a dozen ceremonies. We danced with strangers, ate cake (the only reason my brother had fun) never saying much and not once did anyone EVER question why or what the only two little chocolate people were doing there. Kids today would not be able to fet away with that. We had such a great time at those weddings that when the time came for me to get married many moons later, I tried to reserve a date, but apparently it's still very popular because they were booked for afull year in advance. My how times have changed. I sure do miss the good 'ol days!
Tammy Wynette is a mother of three and a “G-MA” (grandma). Born in Warren, Arkansas, she currently resides in Sacramento, CA and is pursuing an AA degree in English at American River College, with plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento (Sac State). She is an active leader and role model in her community, she works with teens sharing and teaching poetry, as well as providing insight for young parents to prosper.
She has certificate from NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is a trailblazer & Griot, keeper of stories/traditions passed down from her ancestors. As an Author and motivational speaker it’d be an honor to present at your events to inspire, encourage & let our VOICES be heard!
She has short stories and poems published in Our Black Mothers Brave, Bold and Beautiful!
View more posts