Saturday, May 30, 2020
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As I walked to the corner

Dear Editor,

As I walked to the corner on my regular trek to catch the 21 bus an eerie feeling invaded my thoughts, telling me that this was going to be one of the best days of my life. Not knowing what to expect, I eagerly awaited the events that would unfold. Once I arrived at my bus stop, I observed several groups of preteens standing around making merry. When the first bus arrived, one group got on, a second and a third, until all of the groups were gone. That is when I noticed a lad of about 14 standing alone. The cat in me just had to find out his reason for not joining any of the other groups.

He appeared to be rather timid and was somewhat reluctant to engage in conversation with a stranger. But after a little prodding he opened up and went on to tell me that the groups that got on the buses were gang members. By now the cat had taken over completely, and I just had to find out more. So as we waited for the next bus, I asked questions like why he was not a gang member and how come he was not intimidated by them. His explanations were simple and direct: Number one, his mother would kill him if she ever dreamed he was in a gang; and number two, he would rather face up to the gangs than the wrath of his mom. His mother, a single parent of four children — two boys and two girls him being the eldest — works two jobs, seven days a week, to take care of them. While she could not afford to buy them Jordans and Polos, she provided them with the essentials of life. They were always clean and well-fed. She was a God-fearing woman and was teaching them the principles of godliness. She was an amazing woman, both mother and father to them. He had no intentions of letting her down, and as the eldest of his siblings, it was his duty to be a great example for them.

Before I had any more time to be blown away by this extraordinary young man, his bus arrived, and we had to part ways. Wow. This was truly one of the best days I have ever experienced in my entire life. His name is Jamaine, and I’m sure there are many more like him out there. To all of the Jamaines in the world: I salute you and your mom.

This poem, which was not written by me, is called “Bare Foot Little Boy” and is dedicated to Jamaine, wherever he is:

Blessings on thee, little man,

Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!

Happy if their track be found

Never on forbidden ground;

Happy if they sink not in

Quick and treacherous sands of sin.

Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,

Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,

Live and laugh, as boyhood can!

Outward sunshine, inward joy:

Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

From my heart I give thee joy,

I was once a barefoot boy!

Be encouraged little man. God bless you. Keep on making your mom proud.

— Anthony Pratt

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