I just got done mowing my lawn… something that wouldn’t have not gotten done this early if not for the generosity of my neighbors at The Woods Campground. (see: “The “Shut Up” Heard Around the World“) Had it not been for my neighbors I may or may not have had a late night camping and frolicking with hundreds of LGBT people enjoying “Summer Heat Weekend” at The Woods, the first of several nudist weekends and as a result would not have gotten home today until 4 or 5 PM. So my lawn looks wonderful at 10:30 AM on a Sunday morning, of course I still have some trimming to do… but what is done so far looks great. I have lived in Edgewood for most of my life. My family came here from Germany when my father, an Army soldier, was reassigned to Edgewood Arsenal, (or as known now “APG, Edgewood Area”) … and most people don’t know this but the military bases here were at one point considered the Germ Warfare Capital of the world. Today, some 40 years later I still live in Edgewood and feel proud of my yard this morning.
I know that this is “cliché” but when we first moved here people would leave their keys in their cars in their driveways, people would go shopping with their doors unlocked or just their screen-doors open. Today people are afraid of Edgewood. They are ashamed to say they live in Edgewood… and people with any intelligence will say when asked where they live a very vague “Harford County” unless pressed for a more definitive location. People leave Edgewood in droves are generally replaced by more of the people that give Edgewood the negative reputation it has these day. Its not Edgewood’s fault… its not like there is something in Edgewood that yearns for crime and gangs to begin inhabiting the area… I hate to say it but its the fault of our government. A response by the need of the comfortable and wealthy to return to the inner city of Baltimore and other such locals like Dundalk or Essex that were once considered vile places to live… but with the wealth of new found residents of such places as Canton and Fells Point the people that once caused the degradation of these areas are being displaced and what better place to put them than in Edgewood… a town in the middle of Maryland that had long ago began establishing section 8 housing because of the low income our Government paid the then (and most likely still) impoverished military that serve and defend our country. How shameful!
So as the areas our Government seeks to boost financially, those areas with tourist appeal… those area that have the potential to lure young, healthy people with outstanding incomes those of us that have long invested our lives in Edgewood pay the price and pride, comfort, decent living are displaced with gangs, hoods walking the street, murders, graffiti, un-mowed lawns… a reputation of being a ignominious and dangerous place to live… a place that most decent people tend to mumble under their breath with shame.
Now this is not about government bashing. I might be one of the few people left in this world but I love our government, our protectors… I love President Obama, I love the Affordable Care Act (referred to either lovingly or vehemently as “Obamacare”); I am one of the few that do not believe there is a conspiracy theory around every corner. I truly thing that the government that represents us does do its best to defend its citizens and our way of life… and disgusts me that there are actually people in this nation that are calling for “revolution”… but I’m getting way off subject here. Sometimes our government does things they think will do good (even the hateful and wealthy republicans and by association; the soon the be leaders of the American Authoritarian government led by the wealthy and discriminatory Tea Party… but again I digress) and the result backfires… instead of something good coming of it, the results is gangs, poverty, garbage on the streets and grocery cart parking lots at the local ghetto.
There is a fine development behind my house… wonderful homes that before the housing bubble burst of 2008 were selling in excess of $400K. Our government’s grand scheme was to move the impoverished, the criminal element and the gangs from their homes in Baltimore and relocate them to Edgewood… the plan was brilliant. They would intersperse these people in homes intermixed with those that had invested their life savings to realize their American dream… those that scrimped and saved (or even those that were given homes through the greedy banking schemed that brought the world economy to its knees, but at least they qualified at the time) and put them next door to these now proud homeowners… the result would be impoverished welfare citizens and gang members into homes which would give them pride. They would in turn take care of their lawns… they would seek and education and a way of life that would remove them from the existence that would lead them towards a way of life that would be more fitting for these people in need… and again the world (or at least Edgewood) would be a better place. Instead those first time homeowners moved from Edgewood (including my family) to places more desirable. Those that were given their homes due to the greedy and inept banking systems lost them and the homes that were left were being foreclosed on in unimaginable numbers. Homes that had one been sold for $400K were now being given away at $130K to $140K and if these weren’t being bought by future slum lords as rentals they were sitting vacant or becoming occupied by the greater exodus of city dwellers that could afford these bottom priced houses but could no longer afford their inner city row-homes that were not in such high demand.
A lot of what is happening in Edgewood is not the fault of those that have lived here all their lives… its the result of not only the element that are replacing those in exodus but the home owners associations that are too frightened of their residents to enforce their rules or the media that now embraces their new front page headlines of “Crime and Murder in Edgewood”. Not all impoverished people are bad, I mean I am only a paycheck or too from being in the same state, especially with recent events that have drained any surplus I once enjoyed, and I’m sure that in some cases the government’s plan might have worked, but its the attitude of the impoverished that have moved into our area. Our mail lady once told us that she found it unbelievable that the people that were being placed in the $400K homes were on welfare while driving primo vehicles and still the names in the houses were changing every 6 months or so because those that could trekked back to their inner city origins or could not afford the pittance they were being asked to share to live in their section 8 mansions. As a side note one of my neighbors applied for the low income homes in Edgewood… he had been living in the same house in Edgewood for 20 years and thought it would be wonderful to upgrade to one of these beautiful homes but was told that his $25K income exceeded the qualifications… In other words despite being at near poverty himself despite working all his life, he could not qualify unless he quit his job and became destitute. I told him that even still he probably would not qualify because he was already living in the area that the government had targeted to become one of the wealthiest states largest ghettos.
I continue to take a modicum of pride in my home despite the throngs of youth that trek by in their hoodies or driving by throwing their trash on the lawn between my fence and the road. Last year I gave up on mowing that portion of the lawn… the McDonalds cups, the cigarette packs, the empty liquor bottles and beer cans… the dirty baby diapers full of shit that I had to clean up. I eventually decided that if these pigs wanted to live that way then I would let them have what they want so for nearly 2 months I only mowed the lawn on this side of the fence, the masses could have the Edgewood they so desperately needed, reminiscent of the city from which they had come. Eventually I came home from work and the lawn was mowed. I believe that it was the home owners association that manages the development next door that took care of it. But I still avoid saying I live in Edgewood.
So in closing one might think that this posting is a total exaggeration of what has resulted in response to our governments efforts to improve Baltimore at our expense… the home next door to my house has been occupied three times in the last 5 years. The first couple that lived there were military and they improved the house at an unimaginable level, planting flowers, putting up a wrought iron fence and putting up a shed, incidentally the homeowners association nearly threw a gasket at the construction of the shed and one of its members told me that they had targeted the couple for violation of the homeowners rules. Whatever the result the shed remains… but the family that lives there now at first impression seemed a wonderful family… even their names reflected quality highly devout persons, “Honesty, Justice, Precious, and Prince Valiant”… odd names but impressive names… today their lawn is overgrown, the shed that the homeowners associate once claimed as offensive truly is now offensive with the graffiti that now adorns it, and when I load my compost bin I am assaulted by the words “Fuck You” among other expletives recently added by the young Prince Valiant or number of friends that he has over to skateboard on their driveway while their lawn continues to go un-mowed. This family is so lazy that they could never close their brass framed glass storm door and during all the worst weather I would watch it slam against the side of the house… so lazy that they determined it was easier to remove the door rather than close it… giving the house that homey inner city look…
One day we too will leave Edgewood and let the throngs of newcomers bring further decay to this once proud military town… but until that time I will continue to maintain what I have and hopefully if I don’t die here first I will be able to at minimum leave it in a positive state which can’t be said for many of these that I now call “neighbor”…