Who You Callin’ a B.I.T.C.H. ?

The line may sound familiar if you know about Queen Latifah’s hit song “UNITY”. The “B” word is thrown around all to often in many scenarios. Personally, it’s what I was referred to on a regular from my mother during my childhood. Later it became a common weapon of insult by males (notice I didn’t say men) who’s ego’s were shattered after politely declining their advances. Eventually; though I never understood this, it became a popular casual greeting amongst female friends. “Hey bitch, how ya doin'”, “ooh bitch come go to this party wit me”. Turns out, I didn’t have many “friends” because when I demanded to be addressed by my name, suddenly I was no longer “cool”. Mainly due to the hurt of my mother’s use of the word towards me, I grew to despise it which usually led to a beat down after I grew older against anyone who referred to me as a bitch. At least that was the case until walking in to the job one day, all eyes were on me as my boss stood at the front of the conference room as he greeted me with, “there she is everyone, give it up for the baddest B.I.T.C.H. of the cmpany!!”

In my head, I saw myself responding with my hands around his neck and asking “who you callin’ a bitch?” I wasn’t concerned with loosing my job because I didn’t like it at all. I’ve never been good at selling anything, not even girl scout cookies as a child, but while witnessing the smiles on the faces of my co-workers as they applauded me, my instincts warned me to stay calm. That’s when I noticed the cake, a congratulations banner displaying my actual name hanging over a huge table covered with gifts. The boss held a tiny box in his hand that was open as he approached me almost glowing and said “great job Tammy, you did it”, while presenting me with the box. I’m thinking, what the hell did I do? Inside was a beautiful diamond broach with the letters B-I-T-C-H. He proceeded by saying, “Tammy, we’d like to present you with this award for being a Beautiful Intelligent Talented Chic Hustler!” Now confused and still somewhat irritated, I managed a smile once he assured me the diamonds were authentic. Apparently I’d made top sales that quarter, setting a company record.

Unfortunately that broach was lost in a fire with other treasured items, mostly photos of me as a teen and when I first had my children. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve most of them due to copies I’d shared over the years with their father and my mom, but I’ll never forget the two main lessons I learned that day. One is to think before reacting so quickly. The other, is that perhaps I wasn’t too bad in sales after all. I remember feeling as though I was stuck in that job for reasons I can’t recall. However, I knew that at the time I had to make the best out of it to provide for my child which began with changing my overall attitude about the job. You all may recall a time when people were out everywhere selling large bottles of fragrances for $20 each. We traveled to surrounding cities like Clearlake, Ukiah and Vegas taking me away from my only child at the time. Soon after being presented with the broach, my confidence rose to new heights which eventually led to an opportunity to open my own consignment shop. I rented a small retail space with low over-head and ran an ad in our local PennySaver for $12/mo, a free paper magazine for an assortment of advertisements that went out of circulation years ago. My office also provided space for people to view and purchase my art work that had previously only been viewed by those closest to me. I learned that I can do anything as long as I have faith, the right attitude and determination once I put my mind to it!

Apology?

Hello beautiful people! This week I’d like to share one of many very proud moments of my children by posting a poem written by my daughter as a young teen ; her response to the first break-up.

You want to tell me your story and those other females don’t matter no more, but where were you when I read the first email and my tears fell through the keyboard?

I don’t understand your motives and the games you’re trying to play,, you talk s*** to me and expect me to forgive you because you had a bad day!

It’s like the clouds apologizing to us, “oh, I’m sorry it rained”, but we know rain will come again on another day.

You’re fake and you know it! You played the innocent role through your emails, but face to face you didn’t show it!

Aapology, a sorry a** excuse for something you did wrong. P-player’s never change their game, it’s always the same song. O-overestimating yourself thinking I’ll fall for your lies, L-love, you have to earn, it won’t simply fall from the sky. O-owning up to your mistakes, and admitting what you did was wrong. G-growing from your mistakes and moving on. Y-yesterday’s news, never take a step back because “bigger and better things is where I’m at”. I would forget, but me as a young lady, you disrespected……so it’s unfortunate for you, but Apology not accepted!!!!

By T.F.C. (Age 15)

Starting My Day

Years ago, my college counselor gave me the book shown in the image above which I refer to often. Simple concepts regarding life and my perspective then as opposed to now has helped tremendously in my growth. I recommend it to anyone who may need a little help with figuring things out. We all have ups and down or challenges we face daily. For many like me, struggling with mental health, success can be a simple task lile getting dressed in the morning. I realize I have a choice regarding my attitude when faced with difficult moments. People often ask me, “why are you so bubbly” or “how do you stay so positive all the time”? I giggle because like everyone, I have times of sadness, worry and fear; however, I refuse to be a victim of my circumstances. It may be several times a day when I have to stop and take a minute to regroup by praying and reminding myself that things only seem bad in that particular moment. I realize the Lord has provided me with everything I “need”. There are people dealing with so much more like the loss of their homes and loved ones from the wild fires and sickness in general. Therefor I “choose” to view my life as a whole, being thankful that the good outweighs the bad. Life often means situations beyond our control being thrown at us, so I’d like to share how I start my day to prepare for those unexpected moments. First by having faith and trying to keep a positive mental attitude and staying mindful, not of what I have, but of who I am and who I’m “Becoming” as a person. Like Mary J. says in her song, ” I like what I see when I’m looking at me and I’m walking pass the mirror….my life’s just fine, fine fine wooo…”

My favorite daily affirmation:

“Thy will be done this day! Today is a day of completion; I give thanks for this perfect day, miracle shall follow miracle and wonders shall never cease”
My favorite coffee cup
My motivation before leaving the house!

Then and Now: Seven Generations

Some of my posts leave me feeling a bit overwhelmed emotionally. When that happens, my plan to eliminate stress for the following week is usually to share a poem or something less emotional. This week I decided to share photos which I thought would be an easy task, but found myself just as stressed yesterday using the technology to position them in chronological order and add caption. I did my best. I’ve been fortunate enough to reach back obtaining seven generations of stories and photos. I find that visual aids tend to compliment the writng. From my Great Great grandparents Lydia & Derry who gave birth to my Big Momma, then my grandad (Eighty-Six) and so on down to my two grandson’s. The oldest will be twelve this week and the other is three. I was surprised when I learned that many of the older generations never ventured from the town of Wilmar and died on the same land they were born on. Unless it was for items like sugar or things they couldn’t grow or get from the land it wasn’t necessary to go anywhere else. The population of Wilmar, Arkansas was a little over 500 back then and prodominantly black, now just about 700 or so. The very last photo I found in Big Momma’s things when she passed along with the photo of her husband (on the horse) who passed before I met him. He is featured in the photo at school on the left side, note that many of those young boys are barefoot. Dirrectly above that is a class picture of my aunt in 1st grade. I treasure these photos and am blessed to be able to share them!

Revelations of my Ancestors

(Top Photo) Grandad in his 20’s (Bottom Photo) Hopping freight train w/ mom (in back)
Granddad working in the mill
Me & Granddad

Many of us, especially in the African American community have family members, usually elders who have taken secrets with them to the grave. I personally never understood why. Did they believe they were protecting us or was it due to shame and stigma? In my day, as children we were told to stay in a child’s place and mind our business. That meant to not ask questions concerning grown folks or there was a good chance of getting a back hand across the mouth. Listening and catching pieces of conversations among relatives peaked my curiosity to the point of as I grew older, it became my mission to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

One of those secrets included stillborn deaths of baby girls carried during first preagnancies of women in my family dating back four generations. Our photo album holds photos of those baby girls in their tiny little coffins. One belonging to my mothers oldest sister who desperately always wanted a girl but eventually had two boys and all grandsons. When I finally learned the truth as an adult, my mom was fortunate that I’m here eventhough other evidence has left me to question if she is in fact the one who gave birth to me. While growing up before learning the details, I always felt God was puninishing me; asking why did I survive, only to be abused when the other babies didn’t. I also learned why my mom and aunt argued constantly since I was little , as they still do today at ages 68 and 73. My mother had always used the term “kidnapped” as did I before gaining the courage to finally confront my aunt when she admitted she did “steal” me from my mother when I was 3. I’d always known deep down that something transpired because I remember a length of time when I was always with my aunt and never saw my mother. That along with the constant arguments over the phone where I clearly recal my mother accusing someone on the other end of the line of “kidnapping her baby”. Later I found out my aunt disappeared with me for close to three years, spoiling me rotten.

Of all the secrets I’ve discovered amongst my family, the one I wanted answers to the most, was how my grandfather got his nickname “Eighty-six”. We spent plenty of time together over the years until he succumbed to lung cancer in 2004 from constant exposure to asbestos. He and my mother were very close and even she had no clue as to why certain folks (mainly back in Arkansas) called him Eighty-six. Over time I asked several family members and assumed they were lying when they said they didn’t know. Whenever I’d ask my grandfather, (usually during our fishing trips or him teaching me how to make his tea cakes) he’d quickly change the conversation to a lesson. “Stay in school and learn ya self sumthin'”, “save ya money and don’t trus no bank”. He was always firm and more serious when he’d tell me to stand up for myself and not let people treat me any ol way, but try to avoid violence if I could. He was a good honest man, but cheap. After returning from the Navy all he did was work in the steel mill and attend church. The remainder of his time was mostly spent in isolation.

I always wondered how/why he ended up settling in Richmond, Ca. when the majority of our family was spread throughout Arkansas. Momma would tell me stories from her memories with him about the two of them hopping freight trains across the country. His mother; Effie who my mom was named after lived to be 100 and I was curious why my grandfather wouldn’t take the trip back down south to visit her. I know he loved his mother, everyone did. Growing up we’d visit every year for the family reunion. Eventually the town began hosting a parade in her honor during Juneteenth for being the longest living resident of Wilmar, even naming a street after her. My children rode horseback in those parades. He did finally make the trip back just before she passed. My brother and I made the drive with him that year, but we were in and out of town before anyone even knew we were there.

One year after my grandfather had passed, I went back to Wilmar to visit my mother. During my stay I was curious about the juke joint I heard about deep in the woods or as town folk’s called it “the hole in da wall”, like in the movie “The Color Purple”. It was a small double-wide trailer with a few tables full of older folks playing cards. The kitchen area was turned into a bar and there was down home blues blarring throughout the woods. While standing there observing country life, I noticed three older gentleman motioning for me to come over to their table. My first thought was they were some old perverts, until they asked, “hey, you Eighty-six’s granddaughter huh?” Confused yet intrigued by the look in their eyes, I smiled and asked how they knew my grandfather. The town was so small that I wasn’t surprised they knew who I was because everyone gossips when someone new comes to town. Besides there’s also a very strong resemblance between my grandfather and I. The men asked me to have a seat and proceeded with telling me the story about the day my grandfather killed a white man. They began with “whew, it was a cold day in Wilmar”. Each man, who were actually good friends of my grandfather, took turns sharing specific details of what they witnessed. In a nutshell, after the white man spit on my grandfather while spewing racist slurs attempting to cut him with a switch blade, but was not successful due the the struggle between the two, ultimately resulted in my grandfather wrestling the knife away then using it to slit the mans throat (hence the line from my poem 5thGeneration Girl ). I was in awe and anxious to get back for confirmation from my grandfather’s siblings. While none of them offered any details, they also didn’t deny it. All I was told is that our family has never spoke of that day. The three men from the juke joint had already painted a vivd image of what took place. They’d gone on to explain how when the few town white folks that there were, charged up the gravel road to our land, there was a bridge where my Big Momma, great aunts and uncles all lined up across it with their shot guns ready to shoot anyone who wasn’t colored. That land was left to my ancestors generations ago by their slave owners. No whites were allowed. I learned that decades later, the only time white’s were permitted on the land was for hunting and/or purchasing our trees for lumber mills.

To “eighty-six” someone was a phraise I’d heard in an old movie. I knew it meant to to get rid of or do away with someone or something which had in part been the motivation for my curiosity regarding my grandfather. Suddenly, everything began to make sense. Him being so quiet and secluded. Hopping freight trains with my mom ending up in California, but mostly why he didn’t visit Big momma and his siblings who all lived very long lives. The lessons he tried to teach me which the lightbulb did eventually click. Most of all though, I realized that history really does repeat it’s self. My grandfather and I were more alike than I ever could’ve imagined. I know first hand what he must’ve experienced being on the run, watching over his back constantly and not knowing who he could trust. Basically being the “black sheep of the family and having to live with such tragic memories that seemingly haunted him throughout his life. I am thankful for the ability to pass on these revelations of truth regarding my ancestors in hopes of them being lessons for future generations.

Power of Voice

Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. It’s forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuosly towards a better self.

Michelle Obama

If you don’t see that your story matters, chances are no one else will either. So even though it isn’t always easy, it’s important for you to find strength to share your truth. Because the world needs to hear it.

Michelle Obama

Your story is the most powerful part of who you are-the struggles, failures, successes, and everything in between. Remember always to stay open to new experiences and never let the doubters get in the way.

Michelle Obama

We All Have a Gift

My momma (age 17)

Having a conversation with my mother a few months ago, she questioned whether or not she possesses any talents. I was in shock. How could she not know or realize her talents and the gifts God gave her (all of us). In the image above she actually made that outfit she’s wearing. She could sew anything. As a kid she made tote bags that we’d all sell at the flea market on the weekends. I’ve witnessed her reupholstering the couch when we couldn’t afford a new one, even taking apart our ATARI, VCR and other household appliances to fix them. She taught my daughter to read music and play the piano. She’s built working structures out of lego’s and now there’s a show that airs where that skill has apparently become somewhat of a trend. My mother is the most disciplined person I know when it comes to finances as well as other aspects of her life. Although she has struggled in many areas due to limited education; literacy especially, she’s always been an extremely determined individual. She’d always tell us, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. So I’d like all my readers to help me cheer her along with a little something she seems to be very proud of that she wrote many years ago. I can definitely appreciate it due to many ocassions of pondering over and idea or trying to solve a problem while my thoughts are evrywhere. When she found it recently , reading it to me again, I asked for her permission to share it with all of you. Please show her some love!!!

Drowsy Thoughts

Lying in bed just before going to sleep is the worst time for organized thinking, it is the best time for free thinking. Ideas drift like clouds in an undecided breeze, taking first this direction and then that.

By Effie “Joanna” Johnson

Difficult Decisions of a Mother

My most cherished position in life has always been motherhood. Once I became a mother, I prayed for wisdom, especially with regards to making the best decisions for my children. Never did I imagine soon after giving birth to my second daughter that I’d be faced with the toughest decision of my life thus far. My baby girl was only a few weeks old when I experienced one of the most tragic events of my life. I ran to my mother’s house for help and to my surprise, she slammed the door in my face. Alone and afraid to leave my apartment for days, I sank into a deep paralyzing depression. Unable to move from my couch, I sat watching my two year old desperately trying to care for her baby sister. Making bottles along with changing her diaper leaving trails of formula and poop, yet doing the very best she could. Then one night I looked over at them both as tears streamed down my face thinking this was not fair to either of them. I needed to do something.

One particular evening ended in tragedy when my neighbor, who was also the property manager of my complex was shot in the head just outside our doorway. I knew anytime I saw the bald man with the blood-shot eyes who was always drenched in sweat and wreaked of alcohol, there would be trouble. I ran to my neighbor’s aid, but instantly knew there was nothing I could do to save him. The bullet fom the .22 caliber handgun had caused extensive damage. I held his head with my right hand as he gasped for air, while holding his hand with my left. Looking towards his front door, witnessing fear in the eyes of his wife and children, I asked him to squeeze my hand if he could hear me. Although he was breathing uncontrollably, there was no response which I secretly suspected there wouldn’t be due to a large portion of his brain literally spilling into my hand as he took his final breath.

I knew exactly who this bald sweaty individual was. We’d had several encounter’s since I’d moved to the area. At every oppertunity he’d harass me in an attempt at trying to convince me to go out with him. I also knew what kind of gun he carried since he’d pulled it on me before so I didn’t hesitate when police asked for witness statements. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before notes of bomb threats were being left at my door. Attempts were made to run my daughter and I down with their cars while walking in the neighborhood. Threatening phone calls and then one day while outside on my lunch break, the brother of the suspect put a gun in my back warning me that I better not testify. Obviously there’s much more to this entire experience. Being alone and afraid, not knowing who to turn to or who I could trust spiraled me into a depression. Eventually the D.A. on the case made sure we were safe. The trial went on for seven years causing us to basically go into hiding, changing our lives dramatically. I didn’t realize I was experiencing depression. I simply thought I was being a bad mother and had done something wrong knowing that my infant daughter deserved the attention I was unable to force myself to give her, ultimately resulting in putting her up for adoption. A decision I truely felt was the best for her at that time.

My baby girl is twenty-nine now and after all these years I still question weather or not I made the right decision eventhough she has told me she understands. Never really having anyone to talk to about it, I simply kept everything inside and would keep a journal of my thoughts in hopes of one day giving it to her. There were times I was so angry and blamed my mother, asking myself why didn’t she ever once ask was I sure of my decision or even at least try to talk me out of it. I realize my choice wasn’t her fault, I only wanted some form of support. Then there were times in later years where my eldest daughter and I struggled. I’d question if I should’ve given her up as well so that she may have a better life. Their dad was away in the Navy and had no idea what I’d been through. Although we were never an actual couple, we were fairly close until he began struggling with his own depression. I often wondered what he would think or feel about a decision “I” had made without consulting him first. In 1997 I had a son. I only ever wanted a boy beacause I “thought” a boy would be easier to raise. As happy as I was to finally have my son, I was also overwhelmed with guilt. How dare I have another kid after giving one up. One thing I was sure about was not having anymore children so I took the necessary precautions to ensure I wouldn’t.

For quite some time when people would ask how many kids I have, my answer was two, until my first born grew older and asked why I never count her sister. It sounds silly now, but I didn’t believe I had the right to since legally she belonged to another family. There was also the issue of an explanation expected of where the third child was if/when I did count her. Besides, when people would ask, regardless of the circumstances that led to my decision, I soon began to feel there is no reason worthy of such a difficult decision as giving up my child. Young and ignorant, all I knew to do was pray for forgiveness. I had to forgive myself, I prayed that my two children with me would forgive me for seperating them from their sister. I also prayed that my baby girl would one day forgive me while knowing in her heart, I love her and did what I believe was best at the time. Eventually, I was able to finally forgive myself. There have been several accounts in my life where I had to let go and forgive, lifting such a heavy burden. My hope is that my baby girl will be able to forgive me, not for me but for her. I don’t want her to carry that extra weight on her heart. Mark 11:25 says, “if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you…”.

Note: (not sure why the option for caption didn’t appear this time) The above image is a an article from People Magazine (Pg.36 1/1/93) of my baby girl and my great aunt (sister of my mother’s mom who I never met due to her early death, also the reason my mother went to live with my great aunt as a child), as guest at Clinton’s inauguration. She was his nanny, the role of many black women in the south. Her influence on his up-bringing was apparently significant in his life because they stayed in contact. He’d visit on occassion for some of his favorite meals she cooked for him growing up, even attending her funeral from what I’ve been told. This article was sent to me anonymously although I have a good idea of who it was. When I finally got the courage to inquire about it, years later, I found out that my mother actually went to school with former President Bill Clinton and sometimes played together. For my mother, ignorance is bliss. When I asked why she never mentioned that she knew Clinton, she responded very non-chalant that it was no big deal, he was just another kid that was around, yet describing his personality and character vividly in such a positive light. One of many reasons I became motivated in learning my family history and tracing my ancestors, we simply never know what beautiful truths will be discovered.

Social Disintegration of Society (In the Present) Through the Eyes of Emile Durkheim

One of the founders of Sociology

According to “Ritzer’s” Introduction of Sociology, Durkheim believed that the educational system should provide individuals with training for life in a broader society. He taught sociology of morality in hopes of the moral system being passed on to young people. His perspective was that society is held together by mechanical solidarity (a social/moral consensus). The subject of morality was his main focus of study. “Each society is unique, with it’s own needs and norms”. People go about their daily lives probably without giving much thought to how or why human beings operate the way we do. Some may assume that society maintains order and stability because we have laws that govern our actions. Yet there are those who break the law even while being completely aware of the consequences. So what is the “glue” that holds society together? Durkheim calls it the “Core Value System”. There are indicators we experience through generations that aid in the breakdown of the CVS. Although this system does exist, society as a whole is disintegrating because our ties to the CVS gradually weaken as time passes. The following, (not in any particular order) in my opinion are some examples that contribute to the breakdown of society.

  1. Addiction: The forefront of social distruction. Because addiction comes in many forms, the aftermath is endless. Aside from the obvious drug and alcohol abuse which ultimately leads to crime as well as serious health issues, people are also addicted to food and gambling just to name a few behavoirs resulting in the dysfunction of society. A theif who feels they don’t need to pay for goods causes prices and taxes to increase for consumers who don’t steal so the corporation is going to take every opportunity to recover at least a portion if not all of the financial loss.
  2. Jealousy/Envy: People have a tendency to do unjust things when feeling jealous or envious of others. Often we go into a zone causing emotional rage which leads to making harmful decisions. Next comes our actions that can be harmful to ourselves and those around us, leading to a chain reaction of dysfunction ( I’ve experienced this on a few occasions with who I thought were “friends”).
  3. Family Foundations: There are those who unfortunately for various reasons don’t start their lives with a solid foundation. Those foundations begin with family. Many families are very dysfunctional. Some menbers experience neglect or abuse. The abuse can range from sexual, physical and sometimes verbal. If all a child hears is negativity or put downs, that child will most likely began to think negatively about themselves and behave in a similar fashion. Children mock what they see and hear; therefore the cycle continues over the generations. It’s unfortunate that many families don’t even sit down for dinner together to communicate and build, causing yet another breakdown beginning at an early age.
  4. Fear: Fear exists in many forms. To experience fear is not only being afraid of a “monster” (spouse, police, parent, etc.) but the circumstances and situations that cause inner fear. A form of anxiety perhaps, which can come from uncertainties such as when people are not quite sure what is expected of them by society. Sociologists refer to this as anomie, relating the concept to the main cause of suicide. The feeling of being adrift in society with out any clear or secure mooring. This form of fear is much more intense when it comes by way of family or peers. Feeling as though you don’t fit in or belong can be a fear that again causes one to make bad choices eventually contributing to a breakdown. Low self-esteem as a result of this can begin a chain reaction to a host of other issues making it difficult to contribute anything good to society.
  5. Greed: An indicator that is often not acknowledged. No one wants to be labeled or viewed as a greedy person. Secretly there are those who want everything all to themselves. The problem is, those individuals don’t want to put in the time and work to earn the prize. People who constantly take from society without offering anything in return usually don’t recognize how their actions affect society as a whole.
  6. Lack of Leadership Skills: There are those who are followers. For various reasons unable to choose not to make their own decisions. Instead they go along with the crowd (normally friends or the majority), ignoring their conscience telling them not to do what they’re thinking. Not having leadership skills shows that a person is not thinking or using their own mind. The mind is powerful and when we don’t exercise it in the right way it begins to not function properly.
  7. Pessimism: Attitude is everything, especially a negative one. It can make or break a business or home. Many people walk around mad at the world taking their problems and issues out on others instaed of owning up and taking accountability for their part in the destruction that occured. As human beings most people don’t want to be in the company of those who continue to think negatively or have sour attitudes. As the saying goes, “it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch”. As far as society goes, this form of negativity causes friction, breaking down society a little at a time.
  8. Racism/Prejudice: Which there are many forms. Not generally speaking “black and white”, the reality is that everyone has experienced this to some degree. For instance, skateborders don’t care for bikers. Nerds have their issues with jocks. While this behavoir does not directly contribute to the breakdown of society, it most certainly causes a gap in unity. Even with Democrats verses Republicans , many things in these times are indeed political: however, we still have to live on this earth together as a unit for survival. Unfortunately, segregation still exists in one way or another.

Would love to hear any brief ideas on this. My goal is to live in harmony and embrace one another!! Thanks for stopping by!!

Moment in Time

Crawfords Barn (Tiber Dr. /Folsom Blvd Sacramento, Ca.)
My brother & I in one of our Easter outfits!
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!