2500 Block of North 12th Street: Changes

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I was born and raised in North Philadelphia in 1961 on the 2500 block of north 12th Street. At that time my community was what, I now know, a community should be. The neighbors looked out for each other, the playground with the sprinkler was down the street and kept clean by Mr. Freddie, children played games outside, most households consisted of a mother and a father who were married and instilled in their children morals and values. We had actual role models in our community. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Pender, lived across the street, the lady who cleaned our teeth (we didn’t know the word “hygienist”) lived in the next block, a police officer lived around the corner, and the corner stores were owned by people who lived on top of their establishments and looked like us. As a result of this upbringing I grew up feeling very safe.

Today the 2500 block of north 12th Street is different. The neighbors still look out for one another, but just to make sure that their neighbor’s kids aren’t going to rob them. The playground is still down the street, but unusable when the sun goes down due to the hookers and drugs; and there is no sprinkler, or Mr. Freddie. Children still play games outside, but with one ear listening out for the gunshots that could come at any moment. And most households consist of multiple children with different “sperm donors” and a “baby momma”. There are still role models, but they’re the drug boys, the stickup boys, and the “ride or die chicks” who love them. The corner store is still there, but it’s operated by people who take your money through bulletproof glass without even a “thank you”. But to be fair, maybe that’s because they don’t speak English. It makes my heart heavy.

Now that I’m older I realize that shady things did go on in the 2500 block of north 12th Street in 1961. But as a child I was unaware of any improprieties. I didn’t know that Miss Violet sold bootleg liquor out of her house. I didn’t know that Mr. Ken wasn’t really married to Miss Nita, and had a wife and kids in New York. There was a lot I didn’t know. And that’s how it was supposed to be. In this day and time children can tell you exactly what’s going on, where it’s going on, and who makes it go on! This is because on today’s 2500 block of north 12th Street. it’s all done right out in the open. There is no discretion or protocol. There is no “honor amongst thieves.” The only rule seems to be that there are no rules. As a result of this experience children grow up not feeling very safe at all.

We must fix it!




2500 n. 12th Street

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