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Click Twice on the Hand to Find Out More About Homeless Youth

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Summation of Noah Street

Summation of Noah Street

The last few years have compelled me to review my early years. In a nutshell: I was raised in a poor neighborhood by my grandmother, though my parents lived in a nearby state. My grandmother, who was born around 1913-14 and smoked, dipped snuff, drank and chewed tobacco, was not healthy, and as her health deteriorated my parents, along with my little brother, moved first across town from us, and eventually into our house as my grandmother got sicker and eventually died. I did not like them - I considered them invaders of my life. They had been an infinitesimal part of my life for most of it, and now here they were taking over. My father was one of the biggest hypocrites I have ever known, as well as one of the most manipulative. I lived with them from about age nine to about age twelve. During that time, I was physically, emotionally and sexually abused by my biological father, once being beaten unconscious by a tree branch in the yard and once being forced to sleep with glass in my head from a jelly jar that he broke over my head. Toward the end of those years, my brother and I would walk around looking for change on the roads to gather enough to buy something to eat because there were times when there was absolutely no food in the house for days. Our electricity and water was being turned off. My father was an alcoholic and had lost his job. I can remember being very happy to get food from the soup kitchen where he took us sometimes during that era. The summer I was finally taken away, my father had left for a month or two without telling us where he was going. He came back and announced that we were moving to Oklahoma to live with the woman he had met. While it's true that my mother moved us in with my father's friend while he was gone, he had clearly made these plans before he had knowledge of this. When he got back in town, he just came and took us back. My mother didn't follow up to get us back for whatever reason. Social services had already been coming around for some time, and they would question me and my brother when my father wasn't there. As it happened though, this era ended in a different way. My father's physical abuse of us sometimes happened in broad daylight. I don't know if it was one of the neighbors or a teacher at school who had asked me about a black eye who ended up calling social services. In either case, there was also the sexual abuse which, although hidden, was escalating, as it usually does with the abuse of children. I always resisted in whatever way I could, including avoiding being alone with my father whenever I could. But the day I left was different. For one thing, my father was sober, though this was due to absolute lack of means to buy alcohol, not lack of desire. The other thing that was different was I had made a decision. On that day he told my brother, "Go outside and play and don't come back inside until I tell you." He then told me to go and sweep my bedroom. I understood that he was planning to take his abuse to the next level and I had decided: I would fight. I would die. I would kill. I would tell. I would do whatever I could, but one way or another, this would end today. I understand that not everyone in that situation is able to do that, but on this particular day, with this particular predator, at this particular age, I could. And I did. When he came in and told me to take off my clothes, I gave him a very firm no. This led to me hitting him with a broom and running out the door, and to another standoff in the front yard with me threatening him with a pitchfork (one of my grandmother's garden tools). Then I ran to a neighbor's house while my father followed behind me yelling loudly, "Now that your mother's gone, I just need help cleaning the house." After explaining to my neighbor that such was not the issue, she called her younger daughter who I told. By this time, my father had dropped the "cleaning" charade and was swinging around nunchucks shouting that our family was none of these neighbors' business. My neighbor's daughter called the police. The officer offered to either go back in the house with me to get some clothes or personal items or go in himself and get them for me. My worst fear was that somehow it would end with me staying there and that was the last thing I wanted, so I left with only the clothes on my back. I never saw my father again. First I was put in a group home but that didn't last long because I was withdrawn so, in concern for my psychological welfare, I was put in the Emergency Shelter program. This was a program where a child is placed with a family for what is supposed to be just a few weeks until a more permanent arrangement can be worked out. That family shelter became my foster home for two years, but that's another street that I might write about on a different day. After that, I was legally adopted by a family that were friends of my foster family. So, by the time they were adopting me, I had already known them for two years. Yet another street for yet another day. Throughout my life, I'd thought of looking for my little brother and, off and on, I'd given some effort. In December of 2019, I wasn't really looking for anyone, but I decided to go on 23&Me and Ancestry.com. I was curious about my heritage and all I really knew was what I had been told by my father, and there was no way to know if anything he said was true unless I had seen it with my own eyes. I decided that, if I was going to engage with these sites though, I might as well go all the way. I'd had a lifetime of back and forths with myself on so many things. So I gave permission to share my DNA with possible matches. I was immediately made aware of a DNA match with a "possible first cousin." I reached out to the guy, shared a brief background along with the names of my birth parents, to which he responded, "Let me get this straight..." and "that's my mother's sister." My cousin has since put me in touch with his mother, my aunt, and I have learned that my mother was one of six and that her entire side of the family was kept hidden from me and my brother on purpose by my father. My aunt said, "I told the family that one of you kids would pop up someday, and here you are." I have since been put in touch with my mother, who is alive and in a nursing home, and I was able to visit her recently. During my visits one of the snippets she shared was one time her mother sent me a birthday card with money and that my father sent it back. There is no doubt in mind that he kept that money, threw away the card and told my mother he sent it back. Shortly after being connected with my aunt and cousin, I launched a new search for my brother (not on the genealogy sites). This time I found him. I learned that he had also looked for me throughout his life. I learned that he also was unaware of our mother's side of the family. I shared that our mother is still living and connected them. I learned that my father packed himself and my brother up and left in the middle of the night on the day the police took me away. I learned that my father spent the last years of his life on an oxygen tank and died of emphysema. And most astonishing of all, the day on which I found my brother is the date on which my father died and on which my brother takes a sabbatical every year (but that's my brother's street). I decided to sum up this era of my life, because after coming to terms with so much after my recent discoveries, I feel I finally have what I wanted for so long. Over the last year and a half, or so, I have been able to fill in so many blanks. Of course, I can never get back the missing years with relatives who should have been part of my life. But I know now that what I needed most were answers. I have them. Forward.

Noah Street : This too Should be Noted

Noah Street : This too Should be Noted

In line with the theme of this site - the full flavor of our experiences - which often happens on streets, I want to include the following points. When my grandmother was still raising me, she would go berry picking with the older ladies in the neighborhood and take me with her. She would make preserves out of what they had picked, and these berry picking escapades were something I enjoyed. Even after my parents moved in, there were happy times on Noah street. For me, none involved my father. There were a few with my mother, like nights when she sat on the front porch swing and taught me old songs, or when we watched the fireflies. There were times, that sometimes included my brother, when I played kickball, hide and seek, and touch football with the neighborhood kids. I played all kinds of jump rope games with the girls, and at one point, I was really good at double dutch jumping. I was often a witch chasing others around. I also had a bike on which I learned to do all kinds of tricks. And as I got older, I loved playing headhunters in what were then woods, where I had my very first kiss. These were the times in my childhood when, as it should be for a child, I was completely in the moment. At the end of the night though, reality would set in when it was time to go inside to what for me, at least, was never a pleasant experience. I'm not saying that I will never revisit an experience if I have a day on which it's relevant, but I wanted to note the good experiences before I post the summation, because I'm at the point where I know I have fully assimilated these experiences, so these too should be noted.

A Few Chilling Memories

A Few Chilling Memories

One night a stranger came to our door. He said he wanted to use the phone-this was before the age of cell phones and most other technology that is now taken for granted. My grandmother argued with the man a long time. She said she would call the number for him. He was insistent about wanting to come in. To this day, that memory is chilling. During this same era of life, I witnessed a pregnant woman get shot by her ex-husband in the yard next door. In spite of these and other events, for the most part I felt safe during my early childhood. I wasn’t hungry (although I do recall eating a lot of pinto beans and cornbread) and I had clean clothes and a roof over my head.

Perceptions

Perceptions

I don’t think I was aware that we were poor or that we lived in a high crime neighborhood. We were on food stamps. We didn’t have a car. We walked to the grocery store when we needed groceries. Mama had a folding aluminum basket with wheels that we would put our groceries in and pull them back home. I liked going to the grocery store because it almost always meant that I would get a coke. And when I needed shots or was sick enough to need to see a doctor, we would take the public bus downtown to the health department.

My First Street

My First Street

From as early as I can remember, I grew up with my grandmother on Noah Street. It’s unclear to me why my grandmother, whom I called Mama , was raising me instead of my biological parents who were both still alive at the time and living in another state. My grandmother said they were going to give me up for adoption when I was born, but she took me instead. No other explanation given for this particular arrangement.

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