When someone hears the expression mean streets what exactly goes through their mind? If they’ve never lived on them they will have to use their imaginations. If they have, they have enough packaged memories of them to last many lifetimes. I was one of the ones who did. Dirt poor, lots of kids in our house and in the neighborhood. Few nuclear families, most were a conglomeration is yours, mine, and ours. Divorce the standard. Stray dogs and cats reproducing like mad. Animals wandered in and became part of the family and started reproducing. The neighbor behind us had a short spaniel like mutt that kept spitting out litter after litter. Up the hill from my grandma’s house was a family who had cats that kept having kittens. Just like clockwork, we’d see her walking down the hill, past the house, towards the creek with a bag of kittens to drown. Back in them days nobody questioned it. Across the street from my grandparents was a literal tar paper shack where Old Tom Norris lived. His mailbox was right next to theirs. Back to my neighborhood, which was across town, there were dozens of neighbor kids on my street and the next street over. We had a basketball hoop attached to our garage and all the neighbor boys would come over and shoot hoops with my brothers. We ran the streets as kids, mostly riding bikes, all over the place, on the nights I wasn’t babysitting my 6 siblings. As a teen I got babysitting jobs where they actually paid me and my brothers just under me took over at home with the young ones. Both parents alcoholic and mom worked in bars and stepdad gone for days at at time on the railroad. Lots of drunken fights between them long after we’d gone to bed. We’d hear screaming then crashing. One night she knocked him down with the Kirby and beat him half to death. School was a great refuge up through 6th grade, then most of my friends were sent to church schools or private schools and the few of us left went to the poor/violent/horrible school 3 miles away. Walked it both ways, rain or shine, snow, blizzard, etc, only to get harassed, touched, threatened all day, lazy or scared teachers, just all around bad. Started skipping and hanging out at the park with my budding delinquent friends and shoplifting at the dime and mom and pop stores. Started smoking weed, fending off adult men perverts who were cruising for action, perv parents of friends, and pimps looking to add to their stables. I got pulled into b&e’s of cars with a very disturbed guy who drove me out to a deserted road one night when we were both drunk and pounded the piss out of me he was so full of rage. He later hung himself in a jail cell in FL. Who knew that one day I would be working in a job with kids just like I was when I was their age. They were never told and always thought of me as some old white woman who couldn’t possibly understand.