Jun 19, 2010
Liddonfield Housing Project in northeast Philadelphia was originally a military compound built during WWII that was converted into public housing. Though there is no definite date, Liddonfield will be demolished under the HOPE VI program and turned into a privatized mixed-income neighborhood.
R.I.P Liddonfield Project on Facebook was founded in April 2010 in response to this planned demolition and boasts over 500 members. Some are recently displaced former residents. Some left the project years ago but want to connect with others who know what it was like to have lived there. Check out this group at R.I.P. Liddonfield Project.
Today I’m exposing the whole truth about my past.
Dad beat us a lot. Frustrated and under tremendous stress because money was so tight, especially when we lived in Liddonfield Housing Project, he took it out on his children. He only had an eighth grade education. Dad had to feed a family of ten on a laborer’s salary. When I was six, Dad taught me how to load his shotgun. My father is now deceased and I never got to tell him how I felt about the way I grew up. That’s because I was afraid of him up until the day he died.
At fourteen, I became a runaway.
At fifteen, a teacher believed in me. She read a short story I had written and said I should become a writer.
At eighteen, I left home. I was in and out of work and starving half the time. Once, I tried to sell my blood, but the nurse said I was anemic and refused to pay me the five dollars.
At twenty-one, I received a grant to attend Penn State University and later entered the field of publishing. Thanks to that teacher, I thought I had something to offer the world.
Now my parents are gone and I want to put all this anger toward something good.
I am no angel. I can belt out a stream of curse words that would make a truck driver blush. When I am emotional, the proper middle-class speech I was taught to use goes out the door. I feel imprisoned by society’s expectations. I am confused. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be or where I belong. By any common measure, I am a success. But the past keeps calling me. Liddonfield, Liddonfield….