- Posted June 23, 2014 by
New Orleans, Louisiana
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
From the Projects to the Run Way
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From the Project to the run way
No, I am not talking about a Science, Social, or Psychology project. I am talking about Public Government housing Projects. In New Orleans, Louisiana the mid-1950’s families of color pride themselves at having indoor plumbing. Back then, outhouses were too used for one to take care of his/her personal needs. The tiny hot, humid, musty apartments made the summer heat much more sickening, and the fights between my parents would escalate in the heat of the night. So, my two older sisters, I, and mom would find ourselves fleeing in the night to sleep on the floors of a family member that lived in another public government housing apartment. It was just as miserable as ours because the gas lit boiling belly of the hot water heater sat dangerously close to the gas lit stove. Sometimes I use to think that the St. Bernard Projects was some kind of experiment one that could measure the tolerance level of common folks. I can recall when a neighbor was shot and left for dead under our first floor window. On night when two guys was breaking into our apartment to cause harm to the family. My mom moved my oldest and only brother to my grandparents away and out of the projects. As a result, it was an all female home. Finally, the family moved out of the Project and next door to my grandparents in 1968, it was the summer that I was discovered in a local department to model first teen age African American at D. H. Holmes on Canal Street under the gigantic clock. The one spoken about in the book: “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. I caught the bus to the Monteleone Hotel where the first meeting would take place with the store buyers. The “White Only” signs were on almost every restaurant, and hotel window. Upon my arrival to the hotel the domestics was bowing and tipping their hats as I walked to the brass door elevators, I did not understand much more than we had moved out of the projects into a resident, and I was hired for pay for my good looks and small frail body. Now, the importance of the Civil Rights Struggles was made very clear to me. I was able to contribute financial support to the family for modeling at that department store. I am proud to say that my relationship with that store lasted five years, and I learned my self-worth. In 2005 when hurricanes Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region the St. Bernard Project was frozen in time. Until, it was demolished around 2013. I can remember it just like it was yesterday. I made my way through the crowd to see that brick building that had frighten me as a child was being destroyed old memories rushed through my mind. For some odd reason I still have yet to understand brought tears to my eyes. It was not the big monster that I imagined it to be; it was gone just like that, and I never would have to fear all of the scary memories. I walked away understanding why I was born. Never question the Universe about my being again. On that day I found the run way and I never looked back.