July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday America: On Lockdown

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in an old farm house at the intersection of a busy street and a less busy street. The house sat in a good school district, but right on the edge, one block from a....."transitional" neighborhood (Easttown).  A lesson about home ownership looms large from where I grew up: If it's not locked down? Don't be surprised when it disappears.

Between the ages of 7-17 my heart was broken three times when bikes were stolen from our enclosed-on-three-sides porch. For a kid, your bike in the summer is EVERYTHING. Bike=access to candy at corner store. Bike=getting to the house of a friend with a pool on a hot day. Bike=freedom. I remember the glory of riding home at night, pedaling so hard the thin film of dirt/sweat coating my little body evaporated in the wind.

I can still hear my mom saying (the second and third time my bike was stolen) "If a person does not lock up their bike? Perhaps a person will need to use their babysitting money for a new bike."
Holiday decorations were lifted from the house too: strings of twinkly white Christmas lights or 4th of July bunting. It broke my mother's heart deeply, so deeply in fact that she eventually stopped putting out decorations. It absolutely escaped her how a human being could walk up to something lovely that didn't belong to them and take. it. Money was tight and she'd gone to all that effort to create something beautiful. I learned my version of this lesson last summer when one of our Boston fern hanging baskets disappeared.

Now EVERYTHING I put out is on lock down.
Happy Birthday America.

16 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 05, 2012

    Sorry you had to learn such painful lessons, and that they are still pertinent to your life. Your mom sounds like a real hard ass. Bet she STILL can't fathom why ¥£€%#*^#} people take things which don't belong to them.

    Love, mom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd take a hard ass mom ANY FREAKING day over a non-hard ass mom! ANY DAY! Hard ass moms GET SHIT DONE while raising non-toxic human beings.

      xoxo
      your kid.

      Delete
  2. I lived in a much more sketchy area of Grand Rapids than Eastown for awhile about 10 years ago. Not only was my bike stolen out of my backyard (fenced in AND the bike was locked up), my house was broken into multiple times (must have been kids . . . they took the dumbest stuff . . . like VHS tapes of movies like Sleepy Hollow. Also made off with my roommate's Playstation and games.) The most *awesome* steal that they made off of me came as I was moving. My comforter (which was not brand new, but was fairly new and the first bedspread I had ever bought with my own money) was in a clear bag in my (once again, fenced in) backyard. We drove a load of stuff down the street and within 10 minutes that comforter was gone.

    As careful as I was while moving, I really didn't see someone stealing a comforter out of my backyard in broad daylight. That'll learn ya.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah. That'll learn ya GOOD Snooks! Where in GR were you? We've not been broken into (THANK GOD). We have an audible alarm system that's motion activated that works wirelessly and amazingly well and (tip 'o the hat to Mr. Man) we don't leave electronics (phones, computers, etc.) downstairs at night or in the house when we leave. So the only thing a robber could get (in the 30 seconds before the alarm went off) is a giant Boston Terrier bite and some mid-century modern cache pots.

      But now that I've typed all that, I'm kind of freaked out. Such is the cost for a small mortgage payment.

      Delete
  3. My kids are living in Ada Mi, but so far nothing has been stolen. They're moving out west very shortly though! My friend here in our town had all the flowers stolen from her yard the day after she planted them..just plucked right out of the ground. So weird. So sad. Our house can't be seen from the road so I guess we'd be safe! Hope your 4th was great and also I hope everything stays put!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ada is NOT transitional Yaya! They're GOOD! I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's flowers! Out of the ground?! Makes me want to bring her a flat of annuals.

      Delete
  4. Wow, gorgeous garden!

    ReplyDelete
  5. AnonymousJuly 06, 2012

    When I lived in Elmwood I came out on my L-shaped front porch one morning and almost all the hanging baskets and window boxes sitting on the porch railings were gone. I had put them out every summer for several years and never had a problem - boy, was I ticked! For quite a while when I rode around Holyoke I looked for those darn flowers, but never did see them again. Someone needed them more than I did I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  6. AnonymousJuly 06, 2012

    By the way, you have a wonderful eye for grouping your plants - everything is beautiful. Thank you for making a difference in what was and could be again a wonderful city. You make me smile. I don't know how to enter these comments with a username so I have to remain....Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  7. AnonymousJuly 06, 2012

    One more thought - have you looked at "Growing Up in Holyoke" on Facebook? If you go to the Photos, then Wall Photos you can see tons of old pictures and postcards over many decades with a lot of comments on what it was like to grow up in Holyoke in the 40's, 50's and 60's - the heyday of Holyoke.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Elmwood gal - GRRRR!!!! That is just awful. An ounce of prevention has been a big help, but learning that lesson was painful. I looked for my boston fern too because I figured it MUST be someone in the neighborhood. Holyoke Home is a big fan of Growing Up in Holyoke on FB! We've contributed some photos, but not in a long time. It's a WONDERFUL resource online!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was told that a lot of these things are taken to be sold at flea markets.

      A neighbor had a beautiful small dogwood and someone would cut branches off it when it was in flower.

      Delete
  9. I now live in a less "transitional" area of GR, after 3 years in an apartment complex where NO ONE WATCHED THEIR KIDS EVER. We're talking a toddler playing in a drain in the middle of a narrow parking lot. We're talking one kid slugging another at the bus stop and me getting the paper towel for the blood. After a time, I was done helping. I needed rest. Just as the stealing, I'm sure, tired y'all. It's sad.

    ReplyDelete
  10. WHO STEALS FERNS??? WTF, America?

    ReplyDelete
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