Yes, the people of the Bronx are hearty people.They have to be to survive.Money is scarce,crime is high, and the living conditions are somewhat below standard. The Bronx section of NYC is very high density, and the people are stacked up like sardines in a fishing vessel.Space is everything,green space is almost non-existent, and every inch is fought over.I met a life long New Yorker that had never even left the confines of the City. When she found out where I was from she told me that her life long dream was to roll around on a green lawn. She then asked me a question that I was asked more than once by New York natives."Why did you leave trees and lawns to move here?"The answer was always the same, I was living a life long dream to live in New York , And, I always received the same incredulous look that if translated would read"you are totally insane"Maybe I was, but oh well, I was living my dream.I was doing it "my way".
Well, the Bronx had nothing on the people of Burke in the old days.Burke had a very dense population, the people were very hearty, they had to be to survive. Money was hard earned,the living conditions were below standard, and you had to be tough because a fight could and would break out at any time in "downtown Burke".The houses set on top of each other, stacked yo the hills, and the space between the homes, well, just like in the Bronx, you could hear everything going on in your neighbour's home.Even the house that we lived in when I was four was so close to the one next door that when one burned down, they all burned down, and that was what happened to ours a few years after we moved to Wallace.An entire neighbourhood was wiped out in one night as fire roared unchecked.This, too was just like the Bronx.Whole blocks could be wiped out with one shot.And wiped out they were.If you walked just a few blocks from where I lived on Gerard Avenue, you see burned out building after burned out buildings.
Sometimes you would thing that you were in the middle of the worst was zone that you could imagine.
Well, take a walk through Burke today. Maybe that is what fascinates me so about Burke, It looks much like the Bronx looked in the Eighties.You see what once was, and you wonder about the lives of the people who called it home. You see numerous foundations with nothing left standing except the ruins of what once was a home. I have told more than one person that if the Burke Canyon was in the Bronx, it would be called the worst ghetto in the area.
Another similarity about the people of the Bronx and the people of Burke is the ethnic about mixtures . The Bronx was about as colorful as you could get.Customs and cultures were very diverse, and you hear every language under the sun. The early settlers of Burke were the sane way, the exception being the lack of African Americans.In the Bronx, which was dominantly Blacks mixed with Haitian,the people proudly displayed their dress, music, and language.I love hearing the boom boxes at night, and seeing the beautiful combination of skin tones. Burke had its own diversity in the early days, as Italians, Irish, Germans, and French blended with one another in one common goal,Survival. They were drawn together in the shared experience of providing for their families in the best way they knew how, mining.Life was hard, and they shed their cultural differences when disaster stuck.
You see, all of us are the same. We want to live, survive, play work, breed,grow, and nurture our spirits. We are all connected. We are one race, the Human Race.When we out aside our differences we find that the similarities far out number the differences.
Next-The Bronx rises from the ashes-a new beginning.