Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Restoring the hood

Written By: Bob - Apr• 29•13

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.

My lawn. Off of it you should get.

My lawn. Off of it you should get.

The house next to ours was an eyesore during the day and at night, it was a magnet for vandalism, drug use, and prostitution.

The tree you see to the left and several others on that corner formed a canopy, under which "ladies of the evening" earned their livings in parked cars.

The tree you see to the left and several others on that corner formed a canopy, under which “ladies of the evening” tried to earned their livings in parked cars, and druggies would smoke crack.

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.

We had to call the cops once to save a couple of teen-aged taggers that got stuck on the upper stories one night when it was 20 degrees out and they couldn't get back down.

Our home was 50 feet to the left. We had to call the cops once to save a couple of taggers that got stuck on the upper stories one night when it was 20 degrees out and they couldn’t get back down.

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.

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  1. Klingonwork says:

    Looks like they even added some space to the right.

    Same for me in Canoga Park, Ca. Gangs selling dope, whores, needles in the street…the first night I borrowed a self protection tool from a friend, and my daughter was sleeping in her crib, I knew I had to get out and a month later we did. My kids deserved better.

    For me too, what that old house represented wasn’t acceptable. My grown kids and I now refer to it as the “drug neighborhood” and haven’t been back since.

    Molon Labe

  2. Comrade X says:

    For me it was DC and getting to hear gunfire on a regular basis, and having to stay out of certain areas after dark or having the option of being bought home in a body bag.

    That house you showed us is like our nation, it can be saved no matter how low it goes!

    Death before slavery!

  3. crankyjohn says:

    Like Comrade x says, no matter how low it gets it can be saved. True, but my first thought would have been to burn it down.

  4. Sharpshooter says:

    For me the situation is reversed from yours: The very nice townhouse my wife and I lived in right after we were married is now derelict in a very crappy area.

    But, as Comrade X points out, the country can be saved. Unfortunately, it will likely have to hit bottom first, resembling the world of “Atlas Shrugged”. After that it won’t be political change but “change between the ears”.

  5. Jackdaddy63 says:

    My great-granddad’s place was a beautiful 2 story built in the mid-20’s in a small town in South Texas. He built it for indoor plumbing and electricity, even though those utilities were not available at the time of construction. It must have been one of the nicest homes in town at the time.

    It got sold out of the family in the ’50’s, then fell into disrepair. It was subject to vandalism and the use of druggies when I, for the first time in my life went inside the house in 1995. This house was burned down by a vigilance committee soon after I visited it. Those cypress floors must have burned hot, as there was little left but ashes and sash weights when it was done. Fortunately, I stole a pair of doors from the dining room before the fire. These doors are all that’s left of that fine house. They’re in my home now.

  6. A047 says:

    Thanks for the story. This is a very interesting and informative blog. Keep up the great work!