For five years before moving to West Buechel, Carmen and I lived in the 1200 block of Second Street, just south of Oak Street. We were managing two apartment houses for a friend who got a sudden itch, quit her job and moved to California, leaving the train wreck of her life behind for the land of medical marijuana. She couldn't do without. She worked as personnel manager for a large local heavy equipment company which was about to implement employee drug testing, including management. She couldn't stop the policy, but she couldn't live with it either.
So, she packed her dogs in the car and headed off into the sunset. Carmen and I were left to deal with the mess she left behind.
On the southeast corner of Second & Oak, just a few houses away from where we lived was a beautiful old red brick Presbyterian church that had be re-purposed as a halfway house for ex-cons just out of prison on parole. They were good neighbors. Part of the program required some community service, so work crews would periodically go up and down the block raking leaves out of the gutters, picking up trash and sweeping the sidewalks. It was nice.
The only downside to having a bunch of ex-con in the neighborhood was that they liked to gather around a picnic table outside and preach Jesus loud and passionately. Nobody preaches Jesus quite like an ex-con. And they sang too. "I was lost and now I'm found."
Amazing Grace. I sometimes had my doubts.
Across Second Street to the west was the Saint Ives. It was an old apartment building that ages ago was fairly classy. Now it is public housing. My name for it was "The Drug Store". With the number of cars pulling up to the curb for five minutes at 2 AM, it looked to me like business was good. I'm pretty sure the guy who lived there with the Yellow Cab made deliveries, but I couldn't swear to it.
Most of the crack whores seemed to live around Floyd and Ormsby to the southeast but the good looking young hookers lived closer to U of L and passed as college girls. Heck, they might actually have been college girls. Tuition is expensive. It's easy to tell the difference between a crack whore and a hooker If you feel the urge to spray an emaciated desperate-looking woman with Lysol, she's probably a crack whore..
The main business district of Old Louisville is 4th and Oak. The anchor stores are a PNC bank, a Dollar Store, a Rite Aid and a Chinese restaurant.
One warm afternoon while I was walking back from the Rite Aid, I spotted a tall skinny middle aged black guy standing on the corner shouting, "Don't f*ck with me!" Nobody else was anywhere near him. He was alone on the corner slowly turning this way and that shouting, "Don't f*ck with me!" to the world in general.
There were dozens of people out and about and everyone respected this guy's wishes.
Nobody was f*cking with him. I didn't f*ck with him either. I crossed the street in the middle of the block just so I could stay as far away from him as possible.
I love that guy and I'll never forget him. He had the guts and clarity to tell anyone who could hear him exactly what he wanted, and he got it. That guy is my hero, and I claim his spirit as being part of my own.
Don't f*ck with me.