My wife ran across a post on Facebook that brought back a lot of memories from a tough time in our lives, but it showed us things can often be salvaged with hard work.
In the mid 2000s (when I started blogging), were living in the ghetto of Newburgh, New York, renting a second story apartment in what had once been a grand Victorian, in a neighborhood that must have been spectacular as late as the 1950s. When we moved in, unfortunately, the neighborhood was a war zone, and the hood was more or less owned by the Benkard Barrio Kings street gang.
I may or may not have kept a loaded M1 Garand in easy reach.
The house next to ours was an eyesore during the day and at night, it was a magnet for vandalism, drug use, and prostitution.
I hated that house, or rather, what it represented. The local prostitutes who walked the street several blocks up would get their clients to drive down to this house, and they’d turn on to our street and park under the trees to complete their transactions. Likewise, druggies from the ‘burbs would roll in, buy drugs a few streets up, and get high not 30 yards from where my baby slept. It made me angry.
Fed up with the crime, I would occasionally spend summer evenings on my small balcony with a six-pack, watching the ship traffic on the mighty Hudson River pass by, my phone at hand for when the criminals started rolling in just after nightfall.
As soon as I saw a car roll up and the lights go off under the canopy of leaves, a phone call to the police usually resulted in several police cars swarming the darkened parked car, hitting their high beams all at once. Somehow, the hookers and druggies were never bright enough to stay away for long, and the pattern of phone calls and busts persisted the entire time we lived there. We left for the South and sanity within the year, and I haven’t been back since.
I’m tickled to see that at some point after we left, things changed, at least a little. Newburgh is still pretty much a dying dump of a town, but at least they’ve been able to save this old home, and turn it into an all girls school.
I noticed the trees have been cut down, too. No matter how beaten-up, run-down, and abused a place gets, there is always a chance to save it. That’s good to remember, especially in these troubling times.