20 things I learned in the inner city

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I lived a significant portion of my teenage years (from 11 until 14) in the inner city of Regina, also referred to as North Central or Moccasin Flats. It’s the most impoverished and most crime ridden neighbourhood in Regina. While things were not all rosy while I was there in the 1980s, things are far less rosy now.

Nevertheless, here are a few lessons I learned growing up in inner city Regina during the 80s.

1. Gangs exist.
2. Prostitutes peddle their wares on residential street.
3. Abandoned schools make attractive playgrounds for teenaged boys.
4. So do apartment building parkades.
5. Apartment building managers don’t like teenaged boys playing in their parkades
6. Turf wars can be settled without guns.
7. Some children eat only two meals a week.
8. Children start having sex at an early age.
9. When my brother and I threw a party, it was the first party our friends attended that was free of beer and sex.
10. A lot of children go to empty homes after school.
11. I made friends as easily here as I did when I lived in The Crescents.
12. People may still break into your house even if you live in subsidized housing.
13. People will try breaking into your house even if you bar your doors shut.
14. A big dog can be helpful in preventing people from breaking in through a basement window.
15. Some teachers don’t take any smack.
16. Schools without air conditioning can be hot during prairie summers.
17. 12 isn’t too early to start smoking.
18. Poor kids like sports.
19. Poor kids can succeed academically.
20. Rap and heavy metal are popular among poor kids.

12 thoughts on “20 things I learned in the inner city

  1. I can relate.

    When I lived in the inner city, it was:

    12 isn’t too young to start smoking crack.

    A 13 yo can spend his birthday entirely alone because his mother is at the tavern on the corner getting drunk.

    Prostitutes will have sex for drugs.

    You can get shot at for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And being black.

    Don’t wave at your friends on the street. A gang member might think you’re making rival gang signs and kill you.

    If you see an old creepy man in an old creepy kidnapper van driving slowly up and down the street, chances are good he’s trailing for a prostitute.

    Stay away from the guys with tears tattooed on their faces.

    Don’t leave anything semi-valuable on your porch. Or anything else, really.

    A 15 year old can have a baby because it’s her third pregnancy, and after 2 abortions she’s worried a third will prevent her from being able to get pregnant again.

    Gang members will hide from the cops on your property. In your bushes, next to your house, in your garage. Whatever’s handy at the time.

    Gang members will stash their drugs on your property.

    Gang members carry semi-automatics in their trunks.

    There’s a lot of good, honest, caring people in the ghetto. They stay in their houses.

  2. That’s about the same size as Regina. So, you’re referring to the 90s? Yes, I am sure NC Regina was worse in the 90s, but I was already in suburban Vancouver then.

  3. People may still break into your house even if you live in subsidized housing.
    People will try breaking into your house even if you bar your doors shut.

    Interestingly enough, it’s because poorer areas tend to be cash rich. They call it the cash ghetto. In most middle-class areas, a lot of wealth is in the bank or sunk into other intangibles (stock portfolios, etc.) But in poorer neighborhoods, most people carry around a lot of cash or have a lot of cash stashed in their house.

    For example, here in Clearwater, FL where I live, there are a lot of Mexican immigrants who can’t open bank accounts so they carry around a lot of cash. They are often the target of thieves.

  4. poor people carry a lot of cash or keep a lot of cash on hand? What planet do you come from that poor people do this :-D?

    As Kim’s mom I lived in the same subsidized homes that he lived in and I can guarantee you we were not cash rich, rich or have cash laying around or on our selves :)

    Although I did find a new winter jacket between my mattress and box spring one Christmas hehee

  5. Sally:

    It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the truth. In comparison to those who are better off, poor people tend keep the little money that they have in cash. That’s why liquor stores in poor neighborhoods are often the target of robberies. It’s because the customers who use those types of businesses generally pay in cash.

  6. Here is what I learned in a couple of the lovely neighborhoods I have lived in:

    1. Your neighbor will be a meth dealer.
    2. A screaming, drunken man will show up at your neighbor’s house at 1:00am and proceeds to smash the windows and car with a baseball bat.
    3. Neighbors get into profane yelling fights that the entire block can hear.
    4. The neighbor will beat up his girlfriend in his front yard.
    5. Somebody’s house on your block will get bullet holes in it.
    6. Somebody’s house on the block will have a car drive through their wall.
    7. The cops will be parked and staking out your street regularily.
    8. The county deputy will knock on your door wondering how to find one of your neighbors.
    9. A couple of teenagers will run through your backyard, followed by the police in pursuit.
    10. A police pursuit you are watching on the news is happening a couple of blocks away from your house.
    11. There will likely be a peeping tom in your alley.
    12. A two bedroom house can hold a multi-generation family and have seven cars parked at it every night.
    13. You will hear the cops yelling on there megaphones to stay inside your house while the search the area for a wanted felon.
    14. You will witness a drive-by shooting.
    15. Your bike will get stolen.
    16. Your motorbike will get stolen.
    17. The playground down the street will get set on fire.
    18. You will frequently hear police helicopters and see thers spotlights sweep by your house at night.
    19. Several lawns on your block will never be mowed or will be dead.
    20. There will be a few nice elderly neighbors who moved in when it was a nice neighborhood in 1950.
  7. I guess you don’t have to live in the “inner city” because some of those things have happened in our small southern alberta rural town Nerm.

  8. True Dar. While none of the things I listed happened in that particular town, I do know that some really weird things happen there.

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