Do.They Sell Beer At U Of A Football.Stadium The Best Small Towns For Raising a Family

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The Best Small Towns For Raising a Family

Little Watts, Name Made Streets!

A short story

In the summer of 1961, leaving my mother’s three brothers and sister, at the age of 11, I moved into my father’s home at 147th Street and Crenshaw in Gardena, California.

A very small community made up of mostly poor and working class families who had moved from various parts of Los Angeles or migrated from the South to provide a better life for their families.

It was a new beginning for me. Being shy, with low self-esteem, I was about to make new friends.

The first was Ronnie Brembre who lived directly across the street with his father and dog. Later, my best friend would be Irwin (later called G…), who was several years older than me.

In Gardena, there was very little. A canal divided the community. I could see nothing but houses on my side of the bridge. On the other side were two schools, Kit Carson and Roosevelt. Divided by a large grassy area, there was a baseball diamond and a basketball court.

Our community was bordered by Rosecrans to the north, Crenshaw to the east, Yukon Avenue to the west, and Compton Blvd., now known as Mariner, to the south. If found “outside this area”, we will be subject to a police investigation.

At first on my block, it was just Ronnie and I playing catch with a football, basketball or baseball. We’ll go to the canal where we used to catch frogs without dust and water flow.

Sometimes we would cross the bridge to the other side and go to the playground where the school was. We mostly played baseball.

Sometimes we played flag football or baseball. Sometimes we used to have a foot race. At this time, I don’t think any of us knew any other young people in the area.

After summer ended and school started, I entered Kit Carson’s school. I started meeting other young men and that’s when I met Irwin Gardner (G…). Not at school but hanging around.

Irwin was older than me, nice, and interested me. He and I used to hang out after school. At night, we will explore our neighborhood. Travel outside of “our border area” and mostly always successfully evade the police (Lenox Sheriff…).

Often I would visit Irwin’s house. He and I became close. We became “brothers” in the true sense of the word. His mother Miss Thomas became my mother. His sister Bertha, Evelyn and Rita became my sisters. His brother’s Joy and Ernest became my brothers.

My father is Filipino and he accepted Irwin as my best friend and allowed me to spend the night at Irwin’s house.

Over time, others were brought into our circle. Washington (Duke John, Charles, Eddie…). Ronnie and Donnie Patton will soon be joining our family. We all became brothers!

We click very tightly. We used to hang out at each other’s houses, but mostly Irwin’s house was the hang out spot!

I started drinking beer and wine at the age of 13. That’s when I started smoking cigarettes and then weed.

The fraternity circle grew, Hamdy, Cobbs, Edwards, Rhodes and others.

Up to our borders, we continued to take part in escapes, albeit limited to our neighbourhood. Running through the neighborhood, winning over avoiding the police and the sheriff became our “bond” and made us very close friends.

Now teenagers, we were family, we were a community. We became a “Community of War” along with the surrounding streets and neighborhoods. I know it made our family! We had a “one for all and one for all mentality”.

In 1965, when something happened in the city of Los Angeles while visiting my mother’s house, he “flew”! Some call it “The Watts Riot” (… later known as an uprising)!

I was taken to another settlement, people were looting. I tried to do something by stopping myself, but with my little brother in the car with me, it wasn’t going to work. People were looting here and there.

When I got back to the Garden, Rebellion was playing on TV. Irwin was older, had a car and could drive, so we went back to the rebel area so we could keep busy. That’s what we did for 3 days. We continued back to South Central, avoiding police, sheriff’s and National Guard units.

Because of our actions, our neighborhood, where we lived, was renamed “Little Watts”! Writings appeared on the walls of our neighborhood at every corner. We began marking our territory and entering our community.

Nicknames appeared on the walls representing the neighborhood and our involvement in the Watts Rebellion became widely known! Now, to be caught, outside or inside our community, was punishable not only by police interrogation but also imprisonment.

Over the years, we became more antagonistic (…usually in a negative way) with robberies, burglaries, etc.

New arrivals to the neighborhood adopted the name “Little Watts” and proudly spoke of living there…proudly!

In 2004, with most of the original members dead or locked up, LITTLE WATTS still exists in name and boundaries have grown, as has its membership.

But, those who originally represented Little Watts should be remembered and recognized as the men and women who “stuck together”, never backed down and “named the streets”!

By Manuel Benito Compito… (aka The OG Man)

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