A number of people do not remember when we said, “no ma’am, yes ma’am, no sir, yes sir.”
There was a time when our parents or grandparents reached a certain age there was no thought of a nursing home. All around us were aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives, not biological, but it made no difference. If you were out of order any adult could reprimand you verbally or physically. Teachers were almost regarded as saints and good grades and conduct were required. Daddy was frequently unemployed or generally underemployed and momma was truly Wonder Woman, because she had to be a genius with the short money, excel in the kitchen, needle and thread and make whatever she had to work with stretch. If there was a person in the neighborhood who drank to excess we were required to call him mister and help him home. Daddy overwhelmingly was an example of responsibility, strength and love. Everybody was in church; it was mandatory. We had no choice then, but it began to change; children were allowed to make the decision about going to church.
FAMILY WAS FIRST.
NEIGHBORHOOD WAS SECOND. The people who lived around us were not considered well off financially, but were neighborhood oriented. I remember we lived on a dead end street and all males would sweep the street, shovel snow so emergency vehicles, milk truck, etc., would be able to get in and out. The mothers would go to work and there were no daycare centers, but the neighbors fulfilled that function looking out for the children. My aunt who had no children would receive clothes from her employer and she would give them to us, and if we could not wear them they would be passed on throughout the neighborhood, and that was a common practice. Everybody knew each other, no one went naked, hungry, or lacked coal in the winter. Whenever an emergency occurred the entire neighborhood would respond. In those days we were more than neighbors, we were friends.
THIRD THE CHURCH CHANGED. The church members generally lived around the church. We all walked to church, but we began to buy old churches that other religions had moved out of, because they left the neighborhoods. Then we became George Jefferson (moving on up and out). Now we all drive to church, or on bus, or church vans. Church is in the community but we are not. The church now puts more emphasis on the edifice than they do on doing God’s work. We preach, pray, sing, shout on Sunday then most of us get back into our cars and go back into the communities we now live in. As we leave we fail to see the unemployment, drugs, failing school systems and general lack of hope.
Kingsley needs your financial assistance.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)