I'm going to guess it's the first. I grew up next to the projects in
Omaha, and I lived 20 years in Chicago.
Wait a minute...I misread that. You grew up NEXT to the projects? What the
fuck is that supposed to mean? I thought you said you were willing to bet
you grew up poorer than me....now it comes out you didn't grow up IN the
projects, but NEXT to them? LOL!
What a fraud!
This is where your arrogance shows what an asshole you are. Learn not to
We could only wish we were living in the projects. I visited school friends
that lived there and it was like Orphan Annie visiting Daddy Warbuck's home.
My mother was a waitress and at times worked for a company where she ran a
punch press that pressed out plastic items such as fishing bobbers, women's
barrettes, women's hair combs and other such things. That work was sporadic
and the waitressing was there when the punch press wasn't. My father was a
handyman that worked for different real-estate managers doing odd jobs
during the summer, but seldom was able to get work in the winter months.
We lived there from kindergarten through 6th grade. I walked from my house
past the projects to school. The students at school were approximately 95%
black, and the rest were mostly white with an occasional Hispanic or Asian.
We lived in an apartment house that had previously been a small
pre-turn-of-the-century hospital. Our apartment was the converted attic that
had pipes run up the outside of the inner walls since they didn't want to
tear out the walls to turn the attic into an apartment. It had a small
bathroom with a tub, a sink and a toilet. In addition it had two rooms, the
kitchen/bedroom and living room/bedroom (for 5 people)and everything had
slanted walls since the slanted roof was both our walls and our ceiling. We
kept to the middle of the rooms when walking so we didn't bang our heads,
even us kids. You could touch the slanted wall/ceiling while sitting in the
tub, and had to crawl out by ducking and edging yourself over the side so
you didn't hit your head.
When Christmas came around my mother went down to the Goodwill (1 block
away) and bought us a 3 ft tall, 2 ft diameter pre-packaged bag of used toys
for a quarter, that we got to split between me, my brother and sister. Some
years were better and we each got a bag. A few years things were good and
we each got a couple of real, store-bought, wrapped Christmas toys.
Fortunately, the winters were cold and during the week following Christmas
we kids didn't have much contact with our friends so we didn't often get
into the show-and-tell comparison of toys that we got. Most of the other
kids in the neighborhood was fairly poor too, so that usually wasn't a major
Most years, when September brought us the start of school year, we each got
a new pair of shoes, me and my brother got 2 new pairs of pants and two
shirts and underwear, and my sister got two dresses.
We never starved, but we quite often had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch
and dinner, and our lunch was not subsidized because we would have had to
pay the 50 cents a day for each of us.
Despite the poverty, I enjoyed my life growing up. With so much free time on
his hands in the winter months, my father started helping me with reading
and math much earlier than the school did, and by the 2nd grade I was
spending most of my time working on special projects in the library, and
going to the 4th and 5th grade classes to join in with their math and
Practically every Saturday I would walk the two miles to the downtown
library and spend the entire day there. I was allowed to check out 6 books
each time, and most times I returned them all the following Saturday read.
And from the 3rd grade on, I got a special pass from the librarian to check
out books from the adult section rather than the children's room. During
those years I read Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and all of
Poe's works, especially the poetry. Those were wonderful times, with few
Starting with the 3rd grade though the 8th grade the Omaha public schools
required all students to take The Iowa Basic Skills tests. During those 6
years I scored in the 99 percentile across the board. The teachers and
principal at the school every year tried to convince my parents to skip me
up a grade or two, but they insisted I stay with the kids my own age.
Since us kids didn't get money to buy things, starting in the 4th or 5th
grade I found some old scraps of wood and built myself a shoeshine box. I
stocked it with shoe polish and wax, brushes and clothes and went 1 block
east and headed south to the downtown and the skid-row bars and shined shoes
for a quarter a pair. I had to sneak into Many of the bars because they
were off limits to kids, but if I got someone to say "yes" before the
bartender saw me then I made sure I got the polish on a shoe so my customer
would insist that I be allowed to stay long enough to finish his pair. That
usually led to one or two others brow beating the bartender to let me stay
to do theirs too.
I also shoveled walks in the winter, but there was only one lawn in the
neighborhood that I got to mow, so most of the spending money that I and my
brother and sister had when we were kids came from my shoeshining in the
seedy dives along skid-row.
Well, there you have some of the information from the early years.
I'm not sure if you read the whole thing, but it is all the absolute truth.
I suggest if you get the urge to call someone a fraud, you might just give
it a second thought, because not everything is the way you imagine it. And
it might just turn into causing someone to take a nostalgic trip down memory
lane, and I'd guess that few besides me find it the least bit interesting.
But it was nice and fun to think back through those carefree times.