Welcome to the Neighborhood


Barry and I moved to a section of Chicago that is 99% black. It’s got a pretty bad history and reputation. It’s called Maywood but everyone calls it murderwood. It’s really not as bad as people make it out to be but there are sections I wouldn’t go in during the night. The city is small so the per capita murder rate makes the area look really bad. Even with everything I read and heard about the area I believe when an area gets a bad rap, it overshadows the good parts about the people and how things really are on a day-to-day basis.

Keep reading and you’ll see that I was right ;)…

I did hours and hours of research on the area, compiling crime statistics and maps, reading old and current news stories, and looking at what houses have been selling for in the area within the last year. I did it all and was able to pinpoint the areas that we were comfortable with. I even listened to the police scanner for a week to see what kind of calls were coming in and where. Yes, when I research something I go balls out! When we got into keeping saltwater aquariums I researched it for a year before even buying our first tank and corals.

Where we are is generally the “safe” section. Even though it’s very apparent lots of gang bangers live on our street. I noticed right away a lot of the kids and adults wear red all the time, which is one of the popular gang colors in this area. Or perhaps it’s just a coincidence. At any rate we are not worried about it, we won’t bother them so they won’t bother us.

Now to the point of my post. On the onset I was hesitant about the area and us being a target for theft due to the appearance of us being “well off” by the things people watched us cart in. Big TV’s, computers, a shit ton of construction tools etc…There is a house we have to drive by at the end of our block where there are always about 15 people just sitting on the porch doing what they do all day. Every time we pass it’s all eyes on us. It’s actually become sort of funny to us, wondering as we get closer how many will be on the porch and how many looks we get.

Now that we’ve lived here all of 13 days we are both encountering something very strange. People are going out of their way to be nice to us wherever we go in the area. People are waving and being more friendly than most white people we’ve lived around in our old area. It’s very refreshing. Southern hospitality anyone?

Just the other day we were checking out a place to eat by our new house. Have to check out all the new local joints right? We were sitting at a table waiting for the food that we ordered and our number to be called. We sat there for a bit trying to figure out what our number was on the receipt. Some guy from the other side of the restaurant must have noticed our confusion. This guy gets up from his food walks over to us and asks if we need help figuring out our number. Thanks! We sat there for maybe 5 minutes more patiently waiting to hear our number called. This same guy gets up again, goes up to the counter and asks if our food is ready, like “Come on! There are important people here!”. Barry and I just both sat there looking at each other like what the heck is going on. We aren’t use to people being like this.

I knew moving to this area was going to be interesting and full of new things, but this is not what I was expecting. Everyday I love this neighborhood more. Every neighbor has been so friendly and welcoming and most everyone says hello. It’s just so different and I love it!

4 comments for “Welcome to the Neighborhood

  1. Ellen
    13 July, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Wow, I had no idea your neighborhood was so . . . . not white. That took balls. All four of them.
    I really don’t think – wait, I know I would never have had the nerve to do that.
    As humans I think we pre-judge; it’s natural for many of us.
    I’m proud to “know” you and wish you guys the best. I’ve got a feeling you’re going to make a difference.

    • Joe
      18 July, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Everyone we’ve met so far has been so pleasant and welcoming. I wasn’t totally without worry about the area but the people here sure have made this a good experience. If the yard/lot were bigger I might never want to leave.

  2. Lori Baker
    13 July, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Beautiful post! It reminds me of the song by John Lennon “All We are Saying, is Give Peace a Chance”. We never know what is waiting for us to experience, we just have to have the faith and the nerve to let it happen. I experienced a similar feeling when my reading position was cut and I was transferred into special ed. I thought, I’m not made of what it takes to work with these children. SURPRISE, Yes I am!! Biggest blessing of my working career. I now know a whole new population of the area that I overlooked for years. I was missing out on some of the most special people and unconditional love like I have never felt. So glad you are cutting through the fear and finding the pearl in the sand…….Keep posting.

    • Joe
      18 July, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you Lori! Your situation is exactly what we’ve come to realize. There are all these wonderful people to know but most everyone is afraid to interact with them.

      Just yesterday someone from the block came by that stops by often to say hi, he made the comment “thank you for sitting on the porch like you do, it means a lot to the people here”. Who knew the simple act of sitting on your porch could affect how you are perceived so much.

      Learning something new everyday.

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