Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Harlem Memories by Ty DePass

i was born in Harlem -- W.117th St., 1/2-block off Lenox Ave. the brownstone owned by my Great Aunt Sissy was the anchor for family moving north from Louisiana, as well as for an extended family of "uncles," "aunties" & "cousins." there was always a pot of red beans on the stove & a welcome for every visitor. (in this fashion, my Honduran-born "Paran," or godfather, was inducted into the family)
as a child, i remember Malcolm's outdoor rallies, pushcart vendors & African bookstores on 125th St., block parties & open fire hydrants in the summer. in the early '50s, horse drawn carts still carried blocks of ice, piles of coal & cold watermelon or cabbages. but most of all, i remember Harlem as the home to black people from the Caribbean, Central America & Mother Africa.
my last good memory of my mother was as a young adult, then living & raising a family in Virginia, having a quiet drink, listening to live music at Small's Paradise on W.135th St.
i always thought i'd return to Harlem someday, but i fear it won't be the place i left so long ago. Ω