Spare the rod, and spoil the child is a saying that many people have heard, and also live by. I can recall all the times the rod was not spared when I was growing up. But, I can’t come to the conclusion that the rod was the reason I wasn’t spoiled. There were a number of experiences that shaped me into a somewhat disciplined kid growing up. Let’s be clear, on most days I wasn’t a good kid, but I was far from the worst. (In my eyes at least)
Were you a bad kid in a good city or vice versa? Being born in a particular city automatically gives you a certain reputation. Whether that be Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, London or New York. Being born in Florida is a gift and a curse. This means I have the Florida Man gene in me. Hopefully, my Florida Man headline will read “ Florida Man breaks all the fishing records in one-day” fingers crossed.
For this blog, I made another trip to St. Louis to interview Louvis Johnson or Big Lou for short. It had been almost a year since the last time I saw him, but things kicked off where we left them. As we drove down Natural Bridge Ave we laughed, and reminisced about our childhood in Golden Gate.
Do you think good kid bad city is an accurate statement for most kids misfortunes?
“ I think that it is true in a sense, but it is not only the city that they grew up in. It is also their family and their upbringing and all the things the family goes through as well. So that phrase can be a hackney at times “ Good kid Bad City” but for it’s up in the air. It is accurate at times but it doesn’t tell the full story.”
If you had the opportunity to grow in a big city you might have a certain view based on the neighborhood you lived in. To be fair, this might be your only perspective of the city. However, every city is more complex than most people think. There are multiple “worlds” within the city that have their own laws and rules. Certain things that are tolerated in one part of the city would never happen in another part. So it’s not accurate to paint a city with such a broad brush.
I don’t think “Good kid bad city” is an accurate statement. The city can play a role in the downfall and the rise of kids. But in my opinion, it comes down to the kid to make the right decisions. If I would have fallen in love with robbing, or selling drugs. I would have turned it into a lifestyle. Lucky for Golden Gate I fell in love with fishing. I have almost died at least 3 times due to fishing. I’ve walked over 10 miles to catch one fish. If I had the same passion for the streets, things would have been different. Golden Gate would have been different.
Did Golden Gate have a bad influence on you?
‘’Honestly, no. It had its role in what we went through. But it definitely didn’t help, because there’s a difference when you say Naples and Golden Gate. When other people hear Naples. They say it’s a nice city. But they don’t look at Golden Gate because of the beach and the palm trees. They don’t see the drugs, guns, and gangs. But I didn’t really didn’t see the difference until we left Golden Gate because we were so involved with it.
As humans, we learn coping mechanisms to survive the worst circumstances. Seeking acceptance is one of the many ways you can be influenced to act out of character. We are living in the era of the “shooter”. Every young kid wants to be like Steph on the court, and in the streets. Cities can have a bad influence on their youth. Most kids that join gangs come from cities that have a prominent gang culture.
It is safe to say, your everyday experiences have an affect on you consciously, or subconsciously. Golden Gate didn’t have a bad influence on me. Nor did it have a good influence. For many reasons, Golden Gate lacked what I was looking for in life besides fishing. Golden Gate motivated me to leave, and see the world.
Where you a bad kid growing up?
“Bad as hell!! I was bad. I was never disrespectful to my elders unless I felt disrespected by them. But I was a bad kid. My momma had nine kids. I am the last of nine. All of them are in the street life. She had eight boys and one girl and she is the worst one out of all of us. So it was almost inevitable for me. Growing up I was exposed to everything you can think of. “
Being labeled a bad kid, or problem child without any context can be misleading. There is always an underlying reason why kids misbehave. You might have stayed out late, or skipped school to make your parents worry. Or in Lou’s situation, it was a means to an end. The downfall is, kids become adults with the same perspective. Instead of addressing the issues at hand they find ways to sabotage the relationship or validate their toxic ways.
There is no way around it. I was a bad kid growing up. If you ever get the chance. Ask me about the birthday party we had for a dead snake. The moral of the story is “don’t play with fire’’. I have to be honest I enjoyed my knucklehead days. From the busted lips and swollen hands from fighting to the hours of crying and sore butt from whoopings. I enjoyed everything that came with it. They say a hard head makes a soft ass. I guess there are a lot of hard-headed women in the world.
What’s one thing you think you shouldn’t have done growing up?
“One of my biggest regrets as a teenager was being a jack boy. I say that now because we had no business taking them people’s money. Till this day I am still scarred from some of the stuff we did. If they didn’t have any money, it was bad luck for them. The term Chico lotto or Guato lotto in Florida means we are robbing. (Person of Spanish ethnicity usually construction workers). One night buddy didn’t have any money, so I knocked him out and took off running. All because it was get it off muscle, or go hungry that night, because I was living on my own at the age of 13.”
There is a chance that you have made a hand full of mistakes you wish you could take back. Some of these mistakes may be a heavy burden on your heart. (I got a burden on my heart Lil Boosie voice). When you are young it is common to make errors of judgment. Some of these errors effect you for a day or two. While others will be there until you are laid to rest. In turn, these experiences shape your perspective on life as we get older.
I have done my share of bad deeds. I got into more fist-fights than I can count. Sold drugs for a short period of time. But I believe everything I have done was needed. It has allowed me to see life from both sides of the coin. I am able to place myself in another person’s shoes. I may not always agree with their actions but I understand why they committed certain acts of violence or other crimes.
How would you feel if your son made similar decisions growing up?
“Heartbroken. Selling drugs, robbing people, everything. I know if my ole boy (father) knew half the things I was doing, he would have a heart attack. In his eyes, I am still his little boy no matter how old I am. One time my older brother told my dad I’ve been to jail. My dad said “ Not my son. I have never been to jail and my son has never been to jail.” So if Mari was running around selling drugs and robbing people it would break me. Because I am working hard so he doesn’t have to witness a lot of the stuff we did coming up.”
Having your son or daughter follow in your footsteps is something most parents want. Unless the path you took was a difficult one due to errors on your behalf. Yes, it is a great accomplishment to make it out of the street lifestyle. Also, you wouldn’t be the person you are today without experiencing the traumas of your childhood. Whether that is for better or worse is for you to decide. Everyone is not capable of surviving the same experiences without being scarred. The same water that boils the eggs softens the potato.
When it comes to this topic I find myself on the fence. Of course, I don’t want my future kids ( If I don’t have any already) to live a life of the streets. But if they choose that lifestyle I just want them to accept everything that comes with it, including death. I have a younger brother that is currently facing an armed robbery charge. Yea I could be heartbroken but when I was a teenager I witnessed and was willing to commit the same crime. Look at me now, I turned somewhat decent.
Are you worried about your kids growing up in St. Louis?
‘’I am worried about my kids growing up in St. Louis. But it is more so to do with me because if anything happens to my kids I will burn this bitch down. (And I will bring the gas) St. Louis got a bad rep. I don’t agree with the way people move. Niggas be ready to die for some pussy they never had.”
Unfortunately, we live in a sick world. You are not safe in any city in the world. As they say, death is waiting around the corner. No matter how many measures you take to protect your loved ones. They can be taken from you at any second. It’s something that we are reminded on a daily basis. I hope you have the luxury to be buried by your children and not the other way around.
I know my mom was worried about me and my siblings. That’s why we lived in Golden Gate due to having family close by. I recently had a conversation about the little girl Cupcake that was kidnapped in Alabama. It may sound bad, but I am glad she murdered. It is the lesser of two evils. Human trafficking is a global issue that we need to do more about. At least the parents were given the chance to lay their daughter to rest.
What is the best advice you would give your kids if you couldn’t be there for them growing up?
‘’The best advice I would give my kids. It is a term we always use. “Get it off the muscles” What I mean by that is by any means necessary. Make sure you straight, and always keep God in front of you. Because a lot of the things I did coming up, if I didn’t believe in god I probably would have been fucked up out here. Also, don’t trust anybody as far as you can throw. You know who for you and who’s not. Be a great judge of character.”
I hope you were privileged to live a carefree childhood. Having a stable household and a solid family community is something people can take for granted, or assume it is something that is common. There are millions of kids that would have had a better life if they had someone to hold their hand and guide them away from poor choices. Everyone needs guidance from time to time, some more than others.
I wasn’t blessed with a father figure, or someone I looked up to guide me in the right direction. Being a single mother raising four kids my mom truly didn’t have the time to keep a close eye on me. Lucky for her whenever I would sneak out I was trying to go fishing. One day I’ll never forget is when she dropped me off for college at Liberty University. She hugged me looked me in the eyes and told me to handle me “ Handle your business” and walked away. It was her way of saying get it off the muscle.
Golden Gate is a good city that has its issues. Drugs, murder, human trafficking, and police brutality are issues that every city is trying to manage. Unfortunately, kids are the ones that are being effected the most. As adults, we have to do our best to prepare the youth for the numerous obstacles they will face daily. Yes, many of them won’t be able to escape the city’s temptations, but at least we have given them a better chance.
Regards to the Author
I can not name names or point the blame to the wordsmith that transfigured fiction to nonfiction.
Therefore I can only name names and point the blame to the credulous readers of this world.
For a number of centuries, manufactured testimonies have won the hearts of millions
These same testimonies have delivered millions of hearts to ruin for centuries to come.
The narrative of the story is filled with intangible truths that lack conviction but convict with ease
The mark of the beast has been done again as the color of the beast to evince the plot.
The characters of certain hues weren’t humble and sweet nor docile and weak, uprooting peace with ease.
But pay no heed for the day the minds of the readers see certain hues for the true colors that they be.
I can not name names or point the blame to the wordsmith that transfigured fiction to nonfiction
Therefore I can only touche the wordsmith and rewrite the narrative from a different hue.