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The Truth About Philadelphia

Angelo Menefee
HVAC Engineer, North Philadelphia

Question #1: What is your history with the city of Philadelphia? How many years have you lived here? What brought you here?

Glenn: Tell me about the neighborhoods you lived in here since you were born.

Angelo: Umm, I grew up in Tioga, North Philadelphia. Uh, back in them days, uh, you know, if you gang warred or if you misbehaved, your neighbor can spank you on your behind. You see what I'm saying? And the respect in the household was good, you know. If my mother and them had family in the kitchen, in order for me to go in my Mom's kitchen when she had company, I had to knock on the door, on the side of the wall and ask, "Excuse me, may I please have a drink of water?" The conversation was stopped as adults. You didn't know if Mr. Jones was doing anything to Ms. Williams because they didn't speak on thing for kids to hear anything. See what I mean? So I couldn't walk around with an attitude at Ms. Jones because she's cheating on Mr. Williams. You know what I'm saying? So there was a lot of respect.

Uh, if you gang warred or if you was out there caught doing something, the neighbors would grab you and take you to your Mom, spank you before you get to your Mom, and the respect again was, parents respecting parents, you know. And I love that.

And, uh, if you did something wrong you had, if the menfolks were working during them times, uh, there's always, I would say like 200 guys coming around the corner getting ready to fight, gang bang, you always find everybody had a Ms. Williams or Mrs. Jones in the neighborhood who came off the step and got in the middle of the fight and said, "You guys go back around your way and you boys go back around here." And she may even call your name and say, "Well, you know, Angel, I know your patients," you know what I mean? And I'm, "Yes, ma'am," you know. Even the opposite corner would respect that lady, you know.

And it was a lot of respect between then and now, there's just none, there's none. The values, again, is, is just gone, it's gone. You know, if I seen a woman, if I was 17 and I seen a woman, uh, 21 years old, I wouldn't dare look at her unless her back was turned. I couldn't say nothing sexy to her even though she looked good. I wouldn't do it.

Now you have, uh, nothing wrong with it I'm saying, but you have young men, 17, hitting on 35 year old women, 40 year old women. Where's the values? Something's wrong somewhere in the nineties. And like in, in the sixties, the seventies, when you would do things, you know, you, you went to school, you had to worry about school, trying to get to school, hoping that you'll stay alive. Because in the sixties, every day the Daily News had a printup of body counts, they used to call it body counts, and you did that. You know, you tried to stay alive. But you all respected your elders.

Glenn: And what's happened to the Mrs. Williams or the Mrs., I don't know.

Angelo: Mrs. Jones...

Glenn: Are they still there? Why are they..

Angelo: (CLEARS THROAT) Well, I used that as an example, like, as far as, uh, adults speaking around teenagers, you know, when it says, uh, like now a days, uh, in the nineties, my age bracket maybe or maybe younger, speak about certain things that children shouldn't have to hear. You shouldn't hear, you know, in other words, you don't mimic, I think the word's mimic, what your parent's say. You know what goes in, what's said in the house stays in the house, you know. But adults never talked business or about neighbors around children. Where, where the children had their place, adults had their place. Therefore, I can't say, "I heard your Mom was cheating with watch you call him down the street, you know. I, I never knew that. And if they did do it, it was out of our grasp to, to understand what was up.

Glenn: What also what I was going after was sort of neighborhoods trying to get I involved and just keeping their communities safe. I mean, do people still feel free to make that kind of interception if there's trouble or they're scared?

Angelo: Well, in the nineties, now, I would no. You know, if, if you want to really look at it, you know. Uh, when I was in school, even in high, junior high school, umm, teachers was allowed to come to your house, safely, you know. If your teacher said, "Well, Mr. Menefee, you're acting up. That's okay, I'll be at your house at 7 o'clock tonight, Mister." And by the time I get home I'll be looking for, I'll be looking at the clock saying, "Oh gosh, Mr. Morton's coming over the house and I'm gonna, I know I'm gonna get a whipping." You know what I mean, my Mom, I promise I'll be good, and I'm scared, I'm standing upstairs. The doorbell rings, here's, I can hear that voice, you know, it's my teacher at the door.

Now, you can't do it. You don't know if you're going to a crack house or somebody's gonna rip you off. You have service men with, the insurance men, you know how they used to come to the houses and collect money. Insurance men don't do that no more. They don't, you know, you don't -- they used to have Dr. Welbys in the cities back in the, you know, that come and check your, your son and daughters out. They can't do it no more because you don't know. The Mom might want to rip you off. Well, I'll be right you back and she goes to the store and you're sitting there with a whole wad of money. You can get ripped off by the time she comes back, I got ripped off. I don't know nothing about it. A set up. Cause everybody's trying to get money.

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