We grew up in the hood. No one called it "the hood" back then. "The Hood" was not a term much used, until that movie Boys in the Hood came out. I didn't see that movie. We were sheltered.
I remember being kind of appalled the first time I heard someone refer to that area of town as the hood.
Then I recalled the neighbors. The family next door with the back yard full of stuff of questionable origin, and the fact that we couldn't keep our bikes locked up beside the duplex because they would get stolen.
My mom was a single mom from the time I was in kindergarten.
Of course we lived in the hood.
My mom remarried when I was 12. Then we moved up the hill, where there were more trees along the street, where every other house was not a rental. Although we still ended up living next to a drug dealer for a couple of years.
When I got my first job at age 16, it was at the Victoria Street McDonald's, the newest McDonald's in town at that time... in the hood. I would ride my ten speed to work and then the hard part, ride it home again. Up the hill.
I got so I could ride it all the way up the hill without getting off to walk it.
Except of course at 1am after a closing shift when a truckload of young guys pulled up and drove slowly beside me. Riding uphill takes a lot of concentration!
"Hey, do you wanna party with us?"
Pfft. I think not.
The last thing I wanted to do was get off that bike, but my legs had started to shake by the time they drove away. After being on my feet for 8 hours and then trying to ride up hill, accompanied by heckling, I walked the last bit that night.
We don't live in the hood now either. My partner and my three teenagers and I live in a character home up the hill on the opposite side of the hood. Actually, a fragrant five minute walk down the sun dappled Heritage Trail, through the wild rose and cranberry bushes takes me to the apartment building that we first lived in when I was 7 years old and started Grade 2 at Carney Hill School. That apartment building looks really small now, and the basement suite we lived in has plywood over the windows.
As my sister said, I don't live in the hood; I live where the hood goes to rob.
My daughter Lydia is 16.
Guess where she just got her first job.
You got it, Victoria Street McDonald's.
She is probably one of the few people working there who has a full set of teeth.
She worked her first closing shift the other night.
I made her take a cab.