Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.

FIGHT THE STIGMA!

FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Nov 15, 2010

A Fight in the Projects

by Rosemary Reeves


The courtyard in Liddonfield where the fight took place

 It was the summer of 1965.  I was seven years old. My teenage brother had a continuous dispute with another boy who lived in Liddonfield Housing Project and things came to a head.  They agreed to settle the matter with a boxing match on the grounds of the project the following Saturday.  Word quickly spread about the fight and within days it seemed almost everyone in Liddonfield was talking about it.  A lot of people wanted to see the fight.  Some even placed bets on who would be the winner.  Neighbors, along with people I didn’t know, approached my family numerous times that week, saying they wished my brother luck.  It was like he was a celebrity.  I had heard of famous boxers like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis and so I began to think of my brother that way, getting caught up in the excitement and bragging about his bravery and strength.   Mom was upset and said someone should stop him, but Dad remarked that the fight should go on as such things make boys into men.
The big day came.  As the time drew near, I watched countless people walk past our door on their way to the courtyard where the fight would take place.  They seemed to take delight at the prospect of being entertained.  Some were placing last minute bets.  A young man waved to me as I stood at the screen door, looking out.  “I’m betting on your brother!” he said, smiling.  My brother left a few moments earlier to meet his opponent.  It all seemed so exciting.
I begged my mother to let me watch the fight, but she said it was not something a little girl should see.  She looked worried and upset.  I didn’t really understand why, because people watch boxing matches on television all the time.  When the opportunity presented itself, I snuck outside and followed the crowd of people making their way to the courtyard.  
Because I was small I couldn’t see where we were going.  All I could do was weave my way through the crowd until I came to an open space.  There I saw my brother and the other boy standing in anticipation, waiting for the fight to begin.  Someone gave the signal and my brother threw the first punch, striking his opponent square on the jaw.  There were cheers and boos from the crowd.  The other boy grimaced in pain and stumbled, then regained his footing.  He threw a powerful jab and my brother was hit.  Blood oozed from his face.
I was horrified and became hysterical.  “Don’t hit my brother!” I screamed repeatedly until I felt like my lungs might burst.  No one appeared to notice my distress.  They were too focused on the fight.  I couldn’t hear my own cries over the commotion.  It seemed like a bad dream.  Suddenly, someone lifted me up.  My mother held me in her arms.  “Mommy!  Oh, Mommy!” I cried as she whisked me away from the crowd.  Just then the sirens began to wail.  A man yelled, “It’s the cops!”  People started running in all directions.  All bets were off. 
Later, my brother and his enemy decided to put aside their differences and call it a day.

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