When I was six years old my parents bought a nice blue tri-level house just a block away from the Zion Police Department. It over looked a beautiful golf course and a public library. At first, I was more fascinated with fact that we were close to the police station than with the brand spanking new home. I would watch the squad cars zoom past the street that was directly in front of our house intrigued by speed of the car along with the flashy lights and sirens. I often pondered, where they were going. Are they breaking up an altercation or helping someone in a car accident? I didn’t know much about the police at that age, but just the fact that they help people who are in danger was enough to win me over. I immediately had my heart set on becoming a cop someday.
My parents got us all settled into our new house and registered at our new elementary school. I was so excited to be in the second grade an even more excited that my big sister and I would be able to walk to school again. Our neighbors had children our age who would also join us on our walk. My mom had finally opened her own beauty salon that was in downtown Zion. She worked near a bakery and even had a Chicago style food truck that parked right in front of her business. Life was good.
One morning, my mom had to leave us to get to an early appointment. She made sure we had breakfast and clothes already together to get ourselves successfully out of the door on time for school. As I was brushing my teeth, I heard a loud screeching sound and then bang. Our house shook like an earthquake had hit us. I immediately ran upstairs to see what had happened. I opened the door and saw two teenage girls frantically screaming and crying. The girl who I assume was the driver yelled; “Do you have a phone? Call the 91. I think she might be dead!” If I could see my face, I’m sure it resembled an oblivious fawn facing the bright headlights of a fast-approaching-car.
My body froze for a quick moment and I then I ran to grab the telephone. I dialed 911 and then gave the phone to girl closest to me. She told the dispatcher that she had lost control of the wheel while driving and hit a pedestrian that was walking on the sidewalk. I looked over at the other girl who was shaken and noticed she looked a little weak. She asked me where the bathroom was. I directed her to our guest bathroom. She could barely make it before the breakfast that had been bubbling in her gut decided to finally come up, all over our bathroom.
As the other girl was talking to the police, I snuck outside to get a peak at the damage. I saw a little sports car smashed into our 1st level deck that was attached to the side of our house. Curiosity led me to closer to the deck and that’s when I saw something I’d never forget. The lady’s body was halfway under the deck and she was smashed. Half of her body was under the deck and the other jammed in the wreckage of the vehicle. There were little splats of blood on the deck and I could see some of the woman’s face. I ran back into the house as I heard the sirens nearing.
The first responders arrived promptly and began to remove the lady’s body from the deck and remnants of metal from the car. It was by the grace of God that lady survived with just a broken leg. This was a reminder that life can drastically change for us all at any given moment. Always be careful, prayerful, thankful and grateful.
Despite all the crazy events that happened in our town, summer time on Gideon Avenue was the best time of the year! Our neighbors were like family. We all had joint BBQ’s and played basketball all night long in our back yard. The Library had a huge storage garage with bright security lights. It kept our basketball court lit for games well into the wee hours of the night. My dad made the best ribs and grilled chicken seasoned to perfection. My mom did her thing with the huge pan of baked mac n cheese, potato salad, baked beans, sweet corn on the cob and watermelon for days! Everyone was invited to our house and no one ever wanted to leave.
A group of my friends and I would ride our bikes down to the Shiloh pond and go fishing. I think I was the only person in the group who really wanted to fish. They were just going with the flow. One summer I caught about six nice sized bass and was prepared to gut them, wash them and load them onto the skillet. My friends were down for the fishing part but left me hanging with the cleaning part came.
The memory I will cherish the most is when my brother and I became very competitive with basketball. We would stay outside for hours playing shooting games like HORSE and seeing who can continuously dribble between their legs without mis stepping or losing the ball. Then when got too late we went inside and created a basketball rim using a wired hanger by opening it up into a slightly imperfect circle. The open-ended hook part of the hanger would into top of the door. When we shut the closet door, the rim would then lock in place being held at the perfect height. Then we balled up a pair of my dad’s socks to create a basketball. Creativity was not lacking in Smith household. In the large family room located in the lower level of our home, is where we all would watch Love and Basketball, Above the Rim, and Coach Carter repetitively.
It has been said that home is where the heart is. As for me, a piece of my heart will always be at 2401 Gideon.