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The Bronx and I have a storied history. From caved in building walls to being used as a human shield. Have a listen for some of my tale!
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I believe the year was 1982. At the time I was 5 years old, and my younger sister was 3 or so. The youngest hadn’t come into the world yet. My family relocated to New York City from Puerto Rico. I believe the reason we left was because the cops were looking for my dad due to some crimes he committed. I won’t share those details here.
In any case, we came to NYC and stayed at my mom’s uncle’s place in Brooklyn. He was okay with it, but his wife clearly was not. I can’t remember her at all, but my mom told me that we weren’t welcome there by her. I get it, I mean we were his relatives, not hers. Also, I used to pee on the bed, and we had a fairly full family of four, so that did not go over very well. Apparently, the woman blamed me for killing her plants, but my mom said that it was the cats and not me. In any case, that was our queue to go.
Soon thereafter we moved to the Bronx. We moved into a place called Featherbed Lane, it’s just off of Jerome Avenue and Mt. Eden. We lived there until the walls quite literally caved in and almost killed us. You read that right, the building across from us, the foundation, the rocks, huge rocks, they fell off and came into our living room. Like, what the hell? I wish I had instagram stories then, because that was some crazy stuff.
From there, we spent some time in the shelter system as we searched for a new place. Then we made our way to Walton Ave in the same general area. I was still fairly young, and I didn’t experience too much violence in that building or block. As far as I can remember, the kids in the building were cool with us because we were super young kids. I also remember hearing that people were afraid of my dad, he was considered dangerous in some circles.
Later on, we moved to a new block where we spent many years. The 169th street area, that’s the spot where I made my closest and lifelong friends. That’s where we spent most of our childhood dodging bullets and staying out of gangs, drugs, etc. At this point I did begin to experience a lot more bullying and street violence. I was just finishing elementary school and going to Junior High. That’s when things started to get bad. Also note, that many of the buildings you see here now, were not there when I lived there. One of them desecrated my hamster’s grave site!
Next up we moved near 161st street for a few years. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time there, but I don’t remember people on that block really messing with me. I was cool with most people and though we did have a very large gang presence, those guys never troubled me. When they had their really huge member meetings, I’d just stay home and away from the windows. We could see into the gang meeting area, and I didn’t want to be perceived as snooping on those guys. They used the basement and back area of the building across from us. Also note, the school there, that was a bodega and a laundromat.
Finally, we moved to the 167th area. In that block, I never had any real beef with anyone. Though I did see someone get shot in front of my building while swinging a milk crate. I waited a little longer to go for my morning run that day. Years later a young 12-year-old boy would be killed steps away, that was a horrible tragedy.
From there, I got married and moved out on my own. For some time, my ex and I lived in our old block. We took over her parent’s apartment as the rent was significantly cheaper for us. Later we lived by 183rd street, and we also spent a very brief period in Valentine Avenue. We left that place pretty fast because someone broke in within days of moving in. We had crack addicted neighbors there, bad business. Actually, though I did spend time there, I think my ex and I were technically separated by that point. I can’t recall exactly.
After that I spent some time in Queens, Brooklyn, and then back to Queens again. I’ve now settled and been living in Queens for years. And that ladies and gentlemen, was a peek into my journey through the Bronx.
Just a life long New Yorker sharing the journey through my lens. Please take note of a post’s date. The views I express here are subject to change and evolving as I grow and learn.