Straight Up Gangsterism
I wouldn't say this goes with the words "Fondest Memory". But it is interesitng to note how even in the suburbs of LA the gang culture found a pseudo-cult following.
Gang violence is a serious problem in most big cities, but it kind of became a phenomon in the LA area. While I was in elementry school it wasn't uncommon for kids to say "I know the Pirus" and some other kid ot say "My brother knows Crips." Even playground trash talk became about what gang names you knew.
Most of what I know just comes from listening to rap music and reading the newspapers. But the LA gangsterism phenomenon was out there even before movies like "Colors", "Boyz N Hood", or "Menace II Society" were box office hits. It was kind of crazy to think about how a kid living in Hawthorne would know about the Hoovers or ETGs or other infamous street gangs.
Hawthorne only has a few "known" sets:
Hawthorne Pirus (Bloods) and the rest are Crip sets--118th Gangster Crips and Water Gates.
From what little I know, the gang life is totally different in the suburbs when comparing them to the gangs in South Central LA. But the gangster mentatily is very noticable.
Living in the USA
Hawthorne, California holds alot of memories for me. This is the first place we lived in after coming the US.
When I went to college someone refered to Hawthorne as the Ghetto. It's a shame the city has not been kept up. But if you look up the word Ghetto, it means a neighborhood that houses one ethnic group. Even though people who live here are usually poorer than the average middle class person, it is far from a ghetto.
When I was at Eucalyptus elementry school. All my friends were Vietnamese, El Salvadorian, Costa Rican, Philipino, Mexican, Indian, and black. Just because my grade only had 1 white kid, that's no reason to call this city a Ghetto.
But one thing is clear, the city has not developed at all. In fact, I think the only business that has grown is one of the Strip Clubs here.
The Hawthorne Mall, which seemed to be a huge megaplex when we first touched down on US ground is actually closed down. The first time my family went shopping there I got lost (I was 4yrs old and didn't know any english). The security guard had to call for my parents over the intercom to come pickup their scared and crying little boy. I remember seeing a news scene of people running out the Hawthorne mall with Tires during the 1991 LA riots (we had moved out by then).
"First Christmas 1982"
Checkout this picture of our first Christmas in America. Can you see our mini-Christmas Tree? I'm wearing a super cool blue polyester V-neck (a hand me down)--I was too young to know the 70s style had just worn out and was 15 years from coming back into fashion. Even though I had the chicken pox, this is one of the best Christmases ever for me; notice the HotWheels track and the Remote Control Cars. My Sister got that huge doll that's dawfing The Tree. You can see my dad sporting a hi-tech calculator watch (they didn't make stuff like this in Sri Lanka back then). My mom has a stylish shirt and is wearing her best jewelry for our Christmas celebration. The little guy is my cousin, Anuk. He's been my best friend for all my life.
You can tell by the size of the Xmas tree that the house wasn't that big. In fact that's pretty much the whole living room. I'm sure everyone that has migrated to the US can tell stories of hard living. We used have Twinkies for lunch and Top Ramen for Dinner. But all I can remember were happy times. My mom and dad both worked Airport security for minimum wage ($3/hr back then) at odd hours. But amazingly they also fed us, kept us exceling through school, and also went to school themselves (not only did they have to learn english but they also went to Junior College while doing those hard jobs and both finally got their Universtiy Degrees in 1990 and 1991). That's 2 strong hearts working as one soul...
I learned to play basketball here on the Eucalyptus playground. Back then everybody was trying to do no-look passes like Magic Johnson (my all-time favorite player).
I ran across some cool black guys wearing all red when I was like 7yrs old. (Hawthorne is supposedly Crip territory now).
My sister and I walked like 2 miles to school everyday. We used to ride bikes after school too. But we were never allowed to go more than half the block down the street (I once snuck off all the way around the block but was scared back by a big dog guarding a garage).
We had a bike stolen out our garage and a black and white TV stolen too. Then we had some gang graffiti on my grandparent's house. I guess my parents were scared into moving out of there.
I really liked living there. The weather was good. It was located close to the airport and you could watch (and hear) planes going overhead. It was close to the beach. But my parents got out of there as soon as they got good jobs.
This picture was taken in front of our Hawthorne house which was right behind my grandparents' house. My sister is showing off her English book and I'm taking notes. Check out the clothes which were given to us by another Sri Lankan family. My dad found the Lawn Chair on the street one day. You could imagine how people think the US is the land of plenty when you could just find Lawn chairs on the street.