Neighborhood Turf

“We were proud.”

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Transcript for Neighborhood Turf

We moved to Eighteenth and Adams, and while our block was like a oasis, that was really the ghetto, but we weren’t using that word then.  We didn’t know what the ghetto was.  Two blocks down—three blocks down—was prostitution, and it was organized prostitution, so it was a big difference.  We moved around more businesses because we were closer to Broadway—they had a lot of black businesses, neighborhood businesses: cleaners, junkyards, barbecue stands, watch repair people, tailors—I mean, it was just populated with businesses.  Hair product companies, chicken houses where they sold chickens.  You know, you go and pick your chicken out, and they wring the neck and give it to you.  Pluck the feathers off of it… So, it was different.  It was much different.  I enjoyed the West side as much as I did the East side.  Definitely a Froebelite.  And it was really a good community back then.

There are two schools in Gary I think had a rivalry that still goes on, and that was Roosevelt and Froebel. Tolleston likes to try to get in the mix of horsemen, but they don’t fit into it.  The rivalry still lives between these two schools.  And we were proud.  And it was a neighborhood turf, too.  You know, you’re from Fifteenth Avenue compared to Twenty-Fifth Avenue.  And, you know, sometimes I felt a little trepidation going in, especially when the gangs began to start in my later years in high school: the Blue Devils, and the Kangaroos.  And so, if you went into a Kangaroo’s territory, you felt uncomfortable.  I got chased out of it a couple times.  I had a girlfriend that lived on Diamond Street, and I was walking over to see her, and these guys came up and said, you know, ‘Why you over here? You’re in our neighborhood,’ and, ‘Don’t come back up any more.’  They didn’t hit me that time.  And I ignored them, because Love said, ‘Go back.’  And I went back, and this time, they got one lick in, but that’s all they got ‘cause I couldn’t do very much—I’ve never been an athlete, but I could run.  I learned how to run, so they only got one lick in.  Because, you know, how are you gonna fight seven or eight guys?  You just run.