Monday, January 25, 2010

2nd Ave Adventures

Ever since I first started this blog, I've been wanting to write about some my past experiences while living in Oak Park. It has been hard to think which story to tell first, but I'm going to go with the story of Ron and Anita.

Ron and Anita were some neighbors that lived right across the street from us. This was when we lived on 2nd Ave a few blocks from where we live now. The house they and their kids lived in was a chopped-up remodel mess. It was a rental and it always seemed to be rented out to bad people. One time a woman and her kids rented it and, after a few days, I never saw them again. It had been taken over by drug dealers and all kinds of crazy.

Thankfully, Ron and Anita were good people. They had 5 children who were 12 and under. I think they had a blended family and the children that Ron was responsible for were named Ronnie, Ronnell, and Ronita. Quite George Foreman-esque.

This family had come from South Sacramento and were hoping for a better situation on our street. Ron had some pretty wild friends. It was clear that they had been through tough times and had experienced a tough life. Many times on the weekends his friends would come over and they'd party. We'd always say "Hi" and be neighborly. I remember when we stopped by and it was a warm summer day. Victor said to Ron and his friends "Are you having a good time hanging-out today?" Ron right away said "Vic, 'hanging-out' means that you have nothing to do and you are looking for trouble. We are 'socializing'."

A night came when Ron and Anita's big front window was shot-out by someone driving by! No one was hurt, thankfully, but it was scary. One of Ron's friends came over the next day. I wish I could remember his name because it was a tough-guy name for sure. He had, somewhere in his past, been hurt in the throat and his voice was very gravelly and deep. Anyways, this friend was into some dangerous stuff. He asked Ron if he wanted anything-anything at all. "Do you want a machine-gun?" (Ron was telling us this later and we had such a heart-stopping moment until...) Ron said "No! I DO NOT want a machine-gun. I have kids in my house!" (Whew)

Tough Guy liked Victor and once said to him "If you ever need an army, for any reason at all, I got one for you." Victor answered him "Thanks, my friend, you know I have an army-a heavenly one." TG said "I know that, but if you ever need one on earth, you call me."

I smile as I remember that...

I like how the Apostle Paul said that he tried to be 'all things to all men'.
He was able to take people as they came and share the love of God with them.
This is what the world is hungry for.


  1. Best're writing is clear, engaging, and honest. Keep telling your stories, PLEASE!

    Noted this thought from a friend and I agree:
    Another blog, and it is new, that I enjoy is View From the Hood. Marita Styrsky is a faithful, insightful and witty Christian. She lives not far from my home in what is considered by some, well, a hoodish type of neighborhood. But it can't really be that because she lives there.

    Marita is married to Victor who is the Eastern States Director of Christians United for Israel. (Gasp!) They are good friends. Marita's last posting is about her experiences with her Muslim neighbors, "Why can't I just love people?"

  2. I love that story Marita. And I just reminded somebody today on my blog, who was saying he was glad there was so few of the people like me in the PCUSA about the story of Elisha and his servant who saw that they were encircled by the army of the Lord.

    You are a great story teller and your faith combined with your wit is so refreshing.

  3. Hi Marita--It is 15 years later and the neighborhood is better. May GOD bless you and Victor for allowing me to live at 2nd & 32nd for so long

  4. My first time reading your blog, and i TOTALLY remember TG! Victor told us this story WAAAAAY back and i never forgot it. In fact, just the other day, me and Dan were driving somewhere and Dan turns to me and says: "I got an army".


  5. I loved reading your story. My kids go to school near you at the little charter school, and it really is an experience to spend time in Oak Park. I stand outside the school every morning as a sort of crossing guard/traffic control person and I really enjoy saying good morning to all of the people who walk by. It is much better to spend time there, around real people than to sit in a suburban house where neighbors rarely come out.
    Thank you for your blog, I will keep following it.