Even with the common ills of the projects; dysfunctional families, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, disease and poverty Tha' Berch was home to a special budding star. A star that was destined to represent the Garden... This young rose of "Weed Gardens" was destined because those before him of the same lineage and genes struggled. That struggle was passed down through painful family issues that created a youngster focused on not being like "them." Meet that youngster... Meet that star... Meet that rose amongst weeds.... See life through his eyes... Tobe Carberry and Samont Washington Present; The Sonny Chronicles, Volume One: First Things Learned Are Hardest to Forget.
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The Sonny Chronicles Volume IThe First Things Learned Are Hardest To Forget
By Tobe Carberry Samont Washington
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Tobe Carberry & Samont Washington
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBerchwin Gardens Projects Intro
"B.G.P., Tha' Berch', Weed Gardens ..." All nicknames representing a neighborhood - Berchwin Gardens Projects! Berchwin was a Garden because of the talented budding youth housed in the neighborhood. Hundreds of bright young children ran in courtyards, on playgrounds and in hallways of a Garden. That Garden budded youth that blossomed into adults affected by the ills of the projects. Some say it is hard to have a Garden in the Projects because there is rarely even one rose that grows from concrete. There are a few success stories of those who escaped from B.G.P.'s, finding success and never returning, but those stories are not told for inspiration but rather disgust. One thing about those housed in this Project Garden, unity was essential. Poverty had a vise grip on those of Berchwin but close inter — family bonds gave Berchwin a sense of community pride.
Even with the common ills of the projects; dysfunctional families, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, disease and poverty Tha' Berch was home to a special budding star. A star that was destined to represent the Garden ... This young rose of "Weed Gardens" was destined because those before him of the same lineage and genes struggled. That struggle was passed down through painful family issues that created a youngster focused on not being like "them." Meet that youngster ... Meet that star ... Meet that rose amongst weeds.... See life through his eyes ... Tobe Carberry & Samont Washington present; The Sonny Chronicles, Volume One: First Things Learned Are Hardest to Forget.
SONNY THE YOUNGEST SON
Being the youngest sibling in any family is hard. But for Sonny, being 13 and of the lineage of the Savoy's of Berchwin Projects, life was full of atrocity.
It was the end of 8th grade, graduation day and every 8th grader in the city was preparing for the next step ... High School! All the other students were envious of Sonny because he had it made! He was the best basketball player the city has seen in years and every High School Basketball Coach and Principal was interested in having Sonny "Reesee" Savoy grace the hallways, classrooms and basketball court of their school. Some of these coaches and administrators even promised to show up at Sonny's graduation to support him. Sonny was not impressed by this, he felt their lifestyles were different.
Sonny's older brother Ronnell was 16, in high school and was close to him but girls, hanging out and the intrigue of the fast life was beginning to control him. Reese felt that Ronnell should be guiding him more through the steps of choosing a high school and dealing with life.
The eldest brother Kevin; AKA Hustler Savoy, AKA Kool Kev, AKA K - Twizzy was gone! Gone out of the house, rarely came around. He was the biggest drug trafficker in the city, leader of the Crescent Street Hustlers. "The youngest to ever do it!" was his claim to fame. He had cars, jewelry and street credibility that movies were made of.
Reesee's father, Ronnie Savoy worked extremely long hours to try to provide for his family. He was known as the best basketball player to ever come out of Berchwin Gardens and he passed that skill down to his sons to give them a chance to follow the same path. Ronnie battled drug addiction and now works all day for the City Sanitation Department and usually spends all night at the neighborhood bar. His health is deteriorating due to his life style and habits.
"Y'all think they gonna' show?" Reese hesitantly questioned, referring to his brothers and father coming to his graduation.
"You jus' worry bout walkin' cross that stage and smilin' for ya' mommy new video camera'," Mrs. Savoy replied smiling and holding up her new prized possession, a state of the art hand held video camera she saved money to buy in order to tape all of her young superstar's moments.
Reesee was finished eating his cereal and went to pour out the remains in the sink, as Grandma Rose and Mrs. Savoy gathered their purses and made finishing touches to their hair in the mirrors by the door.
"HEY BOY! You betta' drink the rest of that milk in that bowl," shouted Mrs. Savoy. "We don't be buyin' milk just to pour down the drain now!" she exclaimed.
Reesee slowly raised the bowl to his mouth, finished the milk and made his way to the door behind his mother and grandmother. His mother wiped his milk moustache from his upper lip and his grandmother licked her finger and wiped the cold from his eye.
"GRANDMA!!???" Reese grunted with embarrassment.
"Shooooot, ain't no grandson uh mine gon' be out at no graj' 'ation wit' boogies in his eye!" she comically responded.
"Now lock da' do' behind ya'," Grandma Rose finally demanded.
Reesee reluctantly took the key from his grandmother and slowly locked the door. He followed his mother and grandmother towards the elevator through the mildewed hallways of Berchwin Projects on the way to his 8th grade graduation. Grandma Rose and Winona were glowing with pride and felt honored to escort their "young man" to his graduation. Sonny felt empty ... He felt as if he was being let down, let down by the older men in his family.
"Maaannnnn ... Them chumps ain't coming," Sonny sighed referring to his brothers and father again.
"They will BEEEEE there," Winona said lovingly, touching her son's head softly to comfort him.
Sonny slowly jerked his head away from the display of affection from his mother. He did not mean to disrespect her, but he wanted to hear from someone else. His mother and grandmother seemed like the only people he had to admire. He wanted and needed a positive male influence in his life that cared about his life off of the basketball court.
"Winona! Don't lie to that boy let em' know his daddy and older' brotha' ain't worth a pile of dog doo doo," Rose said while winding her neck and head to add extra emphasis.
"Ya' father and brothers love you Reesee, just don't think about it." Winona added.
"I don't care I am going to be better than them anyway!" Sonny exclaimed.
Whenever Sonny was mad at his elder family influence he always used his future to get back at them. He vowed to never make the same mistakes as his older brothers and complete the path his father started.
"I know baby, you mama little shining star!" Winona boasted, looking up and smiling as if her son's picture was hanging in the air. His mother said.
"Mmmmmmmm, huh, I told you, they ain't gon' be there. Winona, you so naive. You still prob'ly believe that no good husband uh yours gon' get in the Professional Basketball League an' make us rich!"
Rose always had a way with words. A way to make what she said cut deep. She spoke comically but many things she said were very harsh and hurt her family's feelings. But that is just the way she is.
When the elevator stopped Sonny walked off with both his grandmother and mother flanked on each side. They stepped out into the project courtyard past the overstuffed dumpsters that let off a hideous smell that made The Berchwin Gardens Projects entrance ever so uninviting.
Grandma Rose covered her mouth and nose with her left hand and pointed, mumbling towards Winona, "Ain't 'dat yah' husband job?"
Winona refused to answer. She put her arms around Sonny in efforts to move him away from his grandmother's harsh whispers. Sonny tells the women he is going up the block to Mama D's Corner Store to get some Reese's Pieces. As Sonny strolls up the block he starts rapping his favorite song to himself. "Hate it or love it, the underdog's on top and I'm gon' shine homie until my heart stop. Go head envy me I'm P3's MVP and I ain't goin' no where so you can get to know me." As Sonny steps into the store he bumps into Nosy Neighbors; Ms. Maggie and Mrs. Bonita.
Ms. Maggie and Mrs. Bonita were in the store already. These two women are Grandma's home girls, straight gossip column. They moved into Berchwin Projects around the same time as Grandma Rose and have known the Savoy family for years. These two seem as though they "have" to know everyone's business in Berchwin. "Well I heard this ... and I heard that ... Well you know this ... and well you know that," are phrases that dominate their conversation! Mrs. Bonita can drink like you could not believe. She is skin and bones but will throw a six pack and some wine back in a minute, then will be in church every Sunday in the front pew dancing for the Lord! They are just some nosy old ladies from the projects who gossip and play cards all day.
Sonny walks in Mama D's. She has a small, cramped space with everything shelved neatly and organized on her racks. The aisles of her store are very small, some people in Berchwin joke and say, "You know Mama D got ev'ry thing up in there ... but the store so damn small, shoppers gotta' wait outside, takin' turns goin' in three at a time to move 'round them tight a** aisles!"
"What up Mama D?" Sonny nodded as he executed a spin move through the store aisle, as if maneuvering around defenders on the basketball court.
"Hey there young man, don't knock nothin' of my shelves now." Mama D advised. "You came for some Reese's Pieces huh? You eat so many dag' 'on Reesees you are gonna' to turn into one."
Sonny just smiled, grabbed the candy off the shelf, dropped his 50 cents and thanked Mama D when Nosy Neighbor Ms. Maggie and Mrs. Bonita crept up behind him.
"I hear you graduatin'," Ms. Maggie said.
"You hear everything," Sonny mumbled sarcastically, under his breath.
We so, so, soooo proud of you ... You done made Mama B so proud." Mrs. Bonita added.
"I remember you when you was jus' a li'l snotty nose, ha ah ha ah ha AHWWW Bless ya' HEART child'." Ms. Maggie giggled.
Sonny remained quiet and politely smiled, ironically recognizing a booger in the elderly ladies nose, thinking to himself ... "You remember me being a snotty nose? You got one now!"
"Where Winona and Rose at?" Ms. Maggie inquired.
"They up the block waitin' on me... So I better get goin' ... 'Gotta graduate!" Sonny replied with pride in attempts to cut their conversation short.
"Hole' up, hole' uuuuuuupp ... I got a li'l somethin' for ya' Reesee baby," Mrs. Bonita insisted.
Sonny's eyebrows raised in curiosity, he became uneasy about the way Mrs. Bonita said she had something for him and wasn't even sure if he even wanted whatever she had to offer. She slowly reached into her brazier and pulled out the world's oldest small, leather, snap change purse and opened it to hand Reesee a dollar.
"I can not believe Mrs. Bonita dug in her ol' battle worn bra and pulled out a prehistoric change purse and gave a ni**a dollar'!" Sonny thought to himself.
All Sonny could do was reply, "Uhhhh ... Thanks, Ms. Bonita." As he left the store holding the dollar between his thumb and index finger, examining it as if it were contaminated evidence to a crime scene.
As Sonny left the store Mrs. Bonita yelled to him, "tell your grandmamma to call me!"
"Aight! Gotta' go," Sonny raised his hand to wave at the nosy ladies who stepped out of the store to watch him, as if they were making sure he was going to the right place. Sonny kept moving up the block without looking back. He did not want to spend too much time talking and answering questions with the neighborhood gossipers. He knew that these ladies would have his families business all over the city. Small questions would turn into questions that required full detail and he did not want to get into that, especially not this morning.
"Come ON BOY!" Winona shouts to her son as she ducks her head to enter the taxi cab.
"Dag on Reesee, you can't live wit' out them candies!" Grandma Rose said as she ushered her grandson into the cab.
The three squeeze in the back of the hot cab. They all simultaneously frown their eyebrows and turn up their noses due to the musty smell of the cab.
"Is 'dat him smellin' like 'dat?" Sonny leaned to his Grandmother and said.
Grandma Rose, covering her mouth and nose just nodded her head assuring her grandson that it couldn't be anything else.
"WHERE?" The cab driver impatiently demanded, with his heavy African accent.
"Damn ... What happen' to, good mornin' how ya'll doin'? You jus' gon' ask: Wheah?" Grandma snapped.
Grandma Rose can't stand when people are rude to her, even though she is. The cab driver didn't address her properly and she wanted to let him know.
"Grover St. School Field, please, don't mind her ... she got up on the wrong side of the bed this mornin'," Winona said, making an excuse for her mother's attitude.
"I can't wait to get outta' this must bucket!" Sonny said referring to the uncomfortable smelling ride.
Just then everyone turned their attention to Sonny's pocket and the music that was coming from it. Sonny started dancing to the ring tone of his new cell phone that his mother got him as an early graduation gift.
"You DANCIN'? You gonna' miss that call BOY!" Winona said to her son while rolling her eyes.
"Who 'dis?" Sonny said, in cool mode.
"It's Kool K!" The voice shouted from the other end of the phone as if couldn't be anyone else.
Sonny's older brother Kevin seldom called his younger sibling and when he did he announced himself as if Reesee was supposed to respond with the same excitement he used to as a toddler.
"Whateva' man," Sonny replied, not impressed by his brother's sudden attempts to reach out to him.
"I got you family, don't worry," Kevin said knowing that he has disappointed his brother before.
"Who Dat Kevin? Give me the phone, If you don' get your peazy head over to that field I will beat your ...," Grandma Rose demanded as Kevin cut her off in response.
"Grandma ... Be easy," Kev objected.
"Be Easy? I'm uh' easily cut you if you ain't at 'dat theah' field!" Rose threatened.
"Ask him if Ronell is with him?" Winona added.
"Is Ronell wit' you?" Rose asked as if disgusted.
"Yeah." Kevin responded.
"Put Ronell on the phone?" she demanded.
"What up ma?" he said coolly.
Although Winona felt she had lost Kevin to the streets, she still felt she had a chance to keep Ronnell close to her. She tried her best to use her tough love tone with him to stay on his case.
"Don't what up ma' me! I ain't one of them chicken heads in the street!" she yelled.
"The next time you stay out all night, your stuff will be right outside. What in Jesus name are you wit' Kevin for?" Winona pleaded, insinuating that Kevin was no good because of his lifestyle.
"I'm almost a man! And he's my brother!" Ronnell contested.
"You ain't got a pot to piss in, or window to throw it out! Talkin' 'bout you a man. I know you betta' make it down to that field on time!" Winona demanded.
"I'm out." Ronnell finalized as they both hung up.
"Kevin ain't nuttin' but the devil an' he tryin' to make 'dat boy Ronell his helper." Grandma proposed.
"Mama, you so crazy," Winona responded, laughing trying to make light of the situation.
The issue of the sons becoming grown men and being involved in illegal activity scared both of the Savoy women. They also knew and understood that this lifestyle was the reality of Berchwin Projects. Young black men have a lot of issues to deal with in general. While they understood that, they could never fully know what their sons were dealing with.
Sonny is staring out the cab window thinking about whether "they" are coming or not. He's very quiet and reluctant to speak anymore because he feels it's worthless. He begins to direct his thoughts to more a happier place ... his friends, known as the P — 3 All Stars. He could not wait to jump out of the sweltering hot cab and join the company of his friends at graduation.
The Savoys finally reach the field as the cab driver told the family the price of their ride.
"That will be $10.50 please," he said in a polite tone this time, making sure not to offend Grandma Rose.
"Ohhhhh check him out NOW ... HE got manna's when its money time!" Rose responded, not impressed with the cab driver's efforts to be polite.
"Here!" says Winona. "Keep the change," shaking her head at Rose's antics.
Excerpted from The Sonny Chronicles Volume I by Tobe Carberry Samont Washington Copyright © 2010 by Tobe Carberry & Samont Washington. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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