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Favorite Family Tradition

Life Story Club Contributor

Dec 9, 2019

I mean, Thanksgiving, the family all comes together. I like to see things that are done with a purpose. So you know, you would get together, say what we’re thankful for, everyone would pray. Everyone would bring a dish because if I cook for my family, they wouldn’t even all fit in this room. Even if you were to do it on this entire first floor, they’re still not in one space. But we have it really big because it started small and then they come in.

But at the end, they would do a grab bag and the adults did it with the adults and the children did it with the children. And the children basically made their gifts, because we don’t work or anything so at that time we just made things and it was something that you would do.

But the way I liked that they did it, was leading all the way up until the day when you get the big gift, you would get small gifts that symbolize what you were going to get. So that was like fun thing to do. And it was enjoyable. One of the things they did, on Thanksgiving before the family left, we would go and try to, it would be like one, two, three, four rooms and we’d all take one big family picture. So we’d have a photographer. So every year the picture gets bigger. They did it this year. But you know, if you look at it, a lot of people passed on so it wasn’t as big, but they still do the picture. And then at Christmas they do the same thing again.

You get your gift and then you get your food and all that stuff. And they all come together. And I went to take the picture, take the picture. But I’ve always impressed upon them, you know, if we’re going to get a gift, I’m not looking at the value of the gift, I’m looking at what’s the purpose? Why would you give me this? Because I know some family members who get gifts, often would say, “well you know I got a gift but they didn’t know I have like 17 of these, I’m going to re-gift it.” And I’ve always thought that was rude. They went out of their way to get you something. And it was a grab bag gift. And I know when you say grab bag, it’s not something you may want and then for you to just turn around and take what they gave you and give it to someone else.

But I always told them to put a purpose in it because I say, you know when I go to China, anything you get has a purpose. It’s not something, “Oh well I’m going to give you this.” No, it’s a purpose behind it. And you can always use whatever they give you. So it’s always a valuable thing even if it was something that was free. It’s something that you can always use to better your life or improve yourself. Because everything is to make you better. But those traditions, here in America, are celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to, even on birthdays, they seem to just look to give you stuff.

Like they said, “Oh well, your mom and dad provide your needs. I’ll get you what you want.” And I said, “Well, you’re really not giving me what I want” and they said “well, what do you want?” And I said, “if I said it, you’re not going to get it, so why bother telling them?” So they would offer and say, “well just please, humor me.” I said, “I want real estate.”

And then they said,” I don’t know if I..”. I said, “Then don’t ask”. You know what I’m asking. And I said that just to let them know people’s wants can be selfish or more embellished upon living and stuff to make you look better. But in actuality, people do want things that’s going to make their life’s more purposeful. But they would prefer to be surprised to see that they really thought about this gift for me.

Just seeing and remembering some of the stuff that I got as a child from my cousins and stuff like that was really amazing, you know? Wow. So you really do know me cause it made me feel like my family member knows who I am. They don’t just know me by my name. They know what I really like. So that made a difference and it made the bond stronger in the family. You put a lot of thought into it.

You think about what you’re going to give them. It’s not something like, “Oh well I saw her looking at this dress.” Maybe she wasn’t looking at the dress. Maybe she liked a pattern in the dress. If she gets the dress, she’ll be like, “Oh this is…” Or maybe the material is what they like, but that’s something that they would probably do on their own or make it on their own. We put a lot more thought into it.

Young Trouble

Life Story Club Contributor

Dec 2, 2019

When my great-grandmother died, because she was basically the controlling family member over the whole family. The matriarch, yeah. When she died I was like, well what’s going to happen to me? Everybody was more concerned about, let the children this and that. I said, “Since you’re not respecting what I’m asking.” And I know during that time they say children are seen and not heard. I went and did my laundry, because when I was young I did a lot of stuff. When she was here she would teach us how to do all that stuff. Pressed everything, put it into a little suitcase, and back then you could go anywhere as long as you had an adult with you. I would attach myself to people at the bus station. I made it to Florida.

I was living there and it was so funny. I made friends with a family, and they was like, well you can stay with us. They were really kind. I stayed with them for I think almost six years. I was around 10 when I left.

The only reason I got caught was I didn’t know I have family in Florida. We went to a church service, and this family kept looking at me and I kept saying, “Why they looking at me? I don’t know these people.” Someone evidently said, “Would you like to visit with us?” And I said, “I have to ask my family.”” They said, “Who’s your family?” And I said, “The people I’m sitting with.” They looked at them and looked at me and said, “I’ll speak to them. “

Back then, like I told you, you took verbatim what people you know. “Okay, I guess they did speak to them, so it’s okay. They’d probably said it’s okay.” I guess they spoke, and I went to their home, and I kept saying, “Well, it’s getting late. Don’t you think my family should come and pick me up? I don’t know these people.” It was so funny, because I was looking at pictures in one of the other rooms, and I saw a picture of my mother and my father, and I went, “Who are these people?” And I say, “Oh my gosh, I got to get out of here.” Before I can get out of here, they told me, “Your family telling me to tell you, you have to spend the night, because your mom had to go to work. It was urgent, and your father had to do some other stuff where he’s not able to come over here, but we promise you by tomorrow, or maybe the day after, they’re going to pick you up.” They said “You can stay here.

You’re not really that smart, so I’m like, “Oh, okay. It’s kind of fun. Yeah, they have a lot of fun stuff.” But I wanted to ask the mom and dad for picture of somebody that looks like I know these people. Not thinking they must have contacted them. When they got up, my father didn’t come thank God, because he would have, you know how they are in China. Punishment so severe. Thank God they didn’t tell him. My mother and my uncle came up. When they came, my mother was very happy and she said, “Why would you do this?” I said, “I was asking you back then what’s going to happen with me, because she was the one that did everything? You were there, but you have to work, and by the time you came home we spent some time but not a lot, because I had to go to bed. Who was going to be there for me?”

She says, “Oh my God, don’t ever do this again.” My uncle, he was like, “Let’s get roping, string him from a tree. Make him run home behind the car.” I said, “”Oh gosh, I don’t like him.” My uncle, he passed away earlier this year, but he was one of those people that would scare you. He says, “You know, I’m going to tell you for all that.” And I said, “Please don’t.” He says, “So that means you’re going to do everything I want.” I didn’t really care for him. He was not the best, but they brought me back to Brooklyn, and then they asked me how did I get there. I said, “When you’re ten years old, and because I was a very short, I didn’t start growing until I got to college. I was grab and walk next to a bigger, taller people. So they thought children don’t pay to get on the bus back then. You have to have an adult. I got on with them.

They say “What bus did you get on?” I said, “A bus.” I didn’t know where it was going, but it took to me to Florida. Took me and the person I was sitting next to, that was my bus ride. Then when I got there they said, “How did you know what to eat?” I had stuff in my suitcase. They said, “You weren’t afraid?” I said, “Of what?”

They said, “But how did you find a family member?” I said “I didn’t. I found some kids, and they invited me to stay with their family, and it was fun. I had so much fun.” He said, “More fun than what we do?” I said, “Are you kidding? More fun than ever.” He says, “They didn’t have rules.” All these rules, children have to go in the room now the adults are here, children can’t go outside, it’s too late. Children have to go to bed early. These kids do what they wanted, and it was fun. She says, “How did you get with the family?” Say, “We went to church.” That’s the only rule they had. You have to go to church. So I said, “Okay, all your other rules don’t fall in place. I guess I can follow this one.” There was people who were there that kept staring at me, and I felt very uncomfortable about them.

The other family didn’t try to find me again. No, I think what they thought was that I lived in the neighborhood, and as we started talking, I just told them I was an orphan. So they said, “You can stay with us then.” They said, “So you don’t have any family.?” I said, “No, I don’t.”

I don’t know if my family back in Brooklyn did a serious search. If they did, they did. I wasn’t concerned anymore about them, because they didn’t care.

They didn’t even like-They were more during the time when my great-grandmother died, they told me go in the room, and wait, and then we’ll come and get you. Nighttime came, we went to bed. No one came and got me. I took it that they didn’t care. Why bother staying with someone that doesn’t care? So I left. I got on the bus and found people who did care, and I stayed with them, and they were really concerned. Once I told them I was an orphan it fit. I didn’t have to say anything else.

When I came back to Brooklyn, Oh gosh. Then they always listened to what I said. They said, “You’re not going to run away again.” I said, “I don’t know…” They said, “Are you serious? You don’t know?” I said, “It depends on y’all.” I’m the type of person, if you don’t want me around you, I’ll disappear. You will never find me. That’s how I’m with everybody. I just feel I’d rather not be a problem. If I’m a problem or I’m the burden guess what? Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. Well, “Where’d you go?” It’s not none of your business, I’m going, I was there for the season and got to go.

My neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

November 18, 2019

It was a residential neighborhood. I mean, all the children would play a lot on the streets. I mean, I wasn’t allowed because my great-grandmother was very protective. I know one day when I was outside playing, I had a death experience where I got hit. I have a dent in the head ,and I have a lump in the back. My brothers used to always say, “Oh, he’s playing dead,” because I was always getting in trouble with them, and I would just say, “Well, if I pass out, you’re going to get beat. So I’ll just pass out.”

But when I got hit by the bike, they said that they called my brother to come down. He thought I was joking, so he threw me in the garbage can and put the garbage lid on it and went back in the house. And my great-grandmother said, “Well, where is he? Go get Marvin.” He said, “He’s outside playing.” She said, “Well, go and get him,” and they went back outside and they couldn’t find me. So he said, “Oh my gosh. I’ve got a garbage can,” and I was still there. So they had to call the ambulance because he didn’t tell them that he put me in there because he didn’t want to get in trouble.

They rushed me to Brookdale Hospital in East New York. Well, that’s where I lived, East New York, but it’s near Brownsville. When they took me there I was DOA, and my great-grandmother was like, “I’m not going to let this happen.” The funny thing is that I saw them. They were sitting in the waiting room, but they couldn’t see me. I was just floating around. I said, “I can fly,” and all this stuff, and something pulled me back. I was like, “Oh, no.” Then I came back and I was in pain and everything.

When I got home, I told them, “Why were y’all quiet?” and she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You were all sitting in the room. I didn’t understand what room it was, but you were all crying and upset.” They said, “What did we have on?” and I described everything. And they was like, “How did you know what we had on?” I said, “I saw y’all. I was sitting in the room.” So ever since then, she wouldn’t let me go outside. The most I could do is sit from the window and watch everybody play.

She got overly protective because she said, “You might get hurt and die or something.” So I was like, “Whatever,” but it was a very nice neighborhood. They played games. I mean, some families allowed their children out to 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning playing. So I used to say, “Why can’t I do that?” She wouldn’t allow it.

My playground was basically in the house or in the yard until she passed away when I was 10. Then they started letting me out. Afterwards, we would do different, assorted games. My parents’ backyard was the largest backyard, so all the kids would play all their games there, so it was really nice.

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