It was the summer of 1985 and I was residing in Mount Holly, the Burlington County Seat of New Jersey. By all accounts and even today, Mount Holly is a small, country town with a cosmopolitan feel to it. There’s a downtown area with various small-scale nightspots, prone to gentrification but according to friends I’ve spoken to, is on its way back. The population is a mixed one; today I’m sure with its share of immigrants but back then it was primarily white, black and Latino.
On that Saturday, I was sitting on the porch of a home on the corner of Levis Drive and North Martin Avenue in the Mount Holly Gardens development; a projects by all practical accounts. On that stoop, we were a mixed bunch of black and white with me being the interloping outsider who hadn’t lived in the neighborhood for too long.
The others had all grown up together and were telling stories about their childhood and in general, just reminiscing. One dude, a white guy, all of a sudden asked about a mutual acquaintance even I knew named Tyrone. The others told the man that Ty was still around and lived around the corner. They rapped a bit about past antics and then the white dude dropped a bombshell.
“Hey, remember when we used to call him Sambo and he’d get all mad?” Continue reading