Growing up Bronx: A visual journey

Take a quick trip into my childhood Growing up Bronx! Here are a few random pictures, quite a few of them were taking “en el rufo,” also known as the rooftop!

This first picture is yours truly at a park on Jerome Avenue and East 174th Street. The first Bronx apartment we had was at Featherbed Lane, a short walk from here. We then moved to Walton Avenue. The rocks and concrete from the building next to us collapsed and literally came into our living room. Thankfully we were in the bedroom and my entire family remained unharmed.


Here is my mama, my middle sister, and once again yours truly. We were hanging out at the Bronx zoo. You can see that we were all totally rocking those dope ass 80’s socks! You know you love it! I’d love to be able to sit and watch these old days again. I love my mama. I remember we’d go to the Bronx Zoo relatively often, be it on a school trip, or with family. I still get a great laugh about my sister busting her butt off of a lion for not listening to us. We told her not to do it! Thankfully she wasn’t hurt. Or was it me that fell off? Damn, I can’t remember.


Growing up Bronx, we all had bunk beds. It was a part of everyday life. When you had more kids than you did rooms, (we’s was po’ folk) you went bunk bed! I guess we enjoyed putting everyone on the top bunk, and taking pictures. This is my sister, and my adopted cousins. We are not “blood related,” but these guys are more family to me than most blood relatives that I have out there. We are still in touch, and there is lots of love there. Me and the bigger guy used to compete for the attentions of this one girl. Haha. I always felt inferior to him in terms of looks and charm, and we’d sort of have fights about the girl. Good times, good times.


One of our pastimes Growing up Bronx was simply hanging out in the rooftop. Sometimes my dad and I would take pictures as if we were monsters. This is one of the ones we took up there. It may sound dangerous to let kids on the roof, but we were with our parents at this stage, and so long as you avoided the syringes, crack viles, and crackheads that might be hiding somewhere in a corner, you were ok. Plus, my dad was known on the streets, and no one messed with him. He was known as a “dangerous man.” I learned as an adult, that he in fact was a dangerous man. So yeah, the crackheads weren’t going to mess with us.


Here is another monster picture that my pops and I took. Remember, this is pre-Nintendo, and pre-internet. This was during the time that families actually interacted!


Here I am with my middle sister. We were at Orchard beach rocking that polaroid camera! We would often fight as kids, and getting us to take pictures together was an amazing feat! As adults, I don’t recall the last time my sister and I have ever argued. Though I did snap at her over text because she brought up a topic that I didn’t want to talk about. However, I apologized moments later and explained that I was just upset about losing my dad and that I didn’t want to talk about logistics at that precise moment.


Once again, you see us taking pictures in a bed. This time my sister and I are drinking milk from baby bottles. Why? I don’t really know, I think we did it because it was convenient, you could be chilling in bed and not worry about spills, etc. I honestly don’t remember. Check out the string holding together the bunk bed! We didn’t have much back then, but my family made due. I love my parents for all they did for us. There were rough times, but I will always appreciate what they did.


Here I am at the park again, straight pimping on my cow bike. This is the bike I learned to ride on. My pops taught me at this very park, and I really believe this is the day I learned to ride, though I cannot say for certain. Later in life my dad would sell this bike that I had to fuel his drug habit, but then replaced it with one of the coolest bikes my neighborhood had ever seen! Unfortunately some criminals stole it from me at Crotona park. Knife to the neck, good times.


This was my dog Tuci. When I was younger, my dad and I used to record these “programs” on cassette. He had a made up character named “Don Ramon” who had a dog named “Tuco.” So it was only natural that when I got a dog, I’d use a variation of the name. Since my dog was a female, I named her Tuci. My parents couldn’t deal with the constant pooping and peeing back then, so they took her from me and gave her away to someone. Until his death, my dad swore to me that he gave her to someone, but they never took me to see her, or gave me details. Until the day that I die, I will always feel unsure about what they really did with my dog, Tuci.


Here is a picture of the boys doing what we do. You know, all crowding into and hanging out in the kitchen. Yeah, we couldn’t hang out in the room which was shared by the whole family, and the parents were often in the living room. So, we commandeered the kitchen! These are some of my best friends, thankfully everyone in this group made something out of themselves. I can’t say that for all of my friends.


I was a bit older in this picture, but I believe we were celebrating my sister’s 16th birthday. That puts me at about 18 or so. You’ll see a new child in the mix, that’s my baby sister who is now 20 by the way. 🙂 You also see my mom and my pops here. He didn’t live with us, but he did come to see us, and he always showed up for the special events. My mom and little sister still live in that same apartment. I’ll be visiting them this week. Looking through these pictures, I miss them terribly. In fact, I’m really struggling keeping it together because so much of this time frame involves my dad who is no longer with us.


No home in the Bronx was complete without a plastic covered sofa, and a Puerto Rican wearing a “boina.” This is my pops when he was a bit younger, I’m probably close to the age now that he was then. Possibly a bit younger. I wish I could talk to this man again, I’d love to be able to see moving video of him back then. I believe that the memories are in my head, I just have to figure out how to access them. I want to remember.


Look at the gloworm behind me! Hahah. I totally forgot about that. So you see two things in this picture. One, I had dirty feet, and I thought I was a Karate guy even at a young age. I still think it, though I am far less nimble and athletic than I was back then.


No memoir of Growing up Bronx would be completely without at least one fire escape picture! This was when I was a teenager and going through my Nirvana kick. I had grown out my hair down to my shoulders, but always faded the sides even then. I had my cool little cheapy “A” chain on, some boss pants, and a nice fitting green shirt. I was macking on the girl that lived above us in that building. So I’d go to the fire escape to talk to her. Again, good time, good times.


I hope you have enjoyed this cool little trip down memory lane with me. I love my family.


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