by Jeffrey Stockbridge
Maria with her family and neighbors at Kensington and Somerset, 2009.
Maria (Looking at a book of my photos): Oh my God.
Daughter: Pregnant lady.
Robert: That’s the pregnant girl?
Maria: That’s not her, that’s not her.
Robert: All these ho’s be out here.
Maria: That’s another one. Oh my God look at her arm, Jesus Christ. Oh my God, Jesus. You know that I don’t need no cable in my house. I see everything live, live.
Robert: I pray and pray and pray for the people like this. But I can’t do nothing but put them in God’s name.
Maria: I have a daughter, I’m the only one with a daughter in the building, I’m 2811 and nobody cares. People sell me, up and down, up and down, takin drugs, all over the freakin building, and I’m the only one that don’t take drugs thanks to the Lord, knock on wood, okay. I’ve been I’m been honest, very honest. I believe in the I believe in the Lord. Nobody does but I do. Okay. So far I’ve been here almost 8 years and I see a lot of bad stuff going around and I don’t, they say when you go between it, you gonna do it too. That’s a lie, but I’m, my daughter’s right now, she’s 11 years old and I’m tired of her seeing this. She got two bikes she cannot enjoy. She got, she don’t got nobody but me and her father. She don’t got no friends at all. So right now I’m about to move. Hopefully God-willing by next week we out of here.
Robert: Damn, the only people we know out here is, is junkies. Those are the only people we know out here is junk they all come up to us, you got this, you got a cup of water, can I get this, can I get that, can I get. And uh we help them. And we help them. We feed them, we give them clothing if they need clothing. If they want a cigarette if we have it we’ll give it to them you know but it, it’s it’s crazy out here.
Jeffrey: And your sittin here.
Robert: Yea, we sit here all day everyday.
Maria: Everyday we sit out here. I’ll be out here at 7 o’clock in the morning.
Robert: Yeah this is better than HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, everything combined. You don’t need no cable, you don’t have to watch TV. You just gotta sit out here. You see drama, you see soap opera, you see violence, crime.
Maria: You even see sex. Somethings that I’ve never seen before and I don’t bring my daughter out everyday outside. When I come outside, I say ‘Mommy come outside, stay a little while with me.’ But that’s about it. When I when I go in, right in, she go in. She don’t go in with nobody, she don’t like to be with strangers at all and a lot of people know, around here, they know that.
Robert: Right here, right there we seen this one guy stand right there and defecate. Right on the steps. He just stand right there and just defecate right there and we’re like, ohhh man. You know right in broad daylight I mean it’s like, and everybody’s walkin around nobody says nothin. That’s crazy. It, it’s, it’s crazy out here. I mean they sell drugs around, they sell drugs everywhere in Philly but this is like the worst spot in Philadelphia so far. They sell everything from pills to your mother. I mean, for real, they, they’ll sell your mother.
It is a little city ;under the elevated tracks in Philadelphia. I was there in the 80’s but was not into the drug scene. It’s not a place to raise a child of any age. But adults are safe if they are careful. Lots of undercover police you would never recognize as police.
When they said, “I’m the only one that don’t take drugs thanks to the law”, I think she said, “thanks to the Lord”… Also, when she said, “I believe in the I believe in the law”. Again, she’s saying, I believe in the Lord. Just my opinion from working as a caseworker under the El for 8 years. Maybe it’s a dialect. From my opinion, in the area not many people believe in the law. Keep up the great work you’re doing, thanks for bringing attention to this topic.