Good Times and Real Life In The Housing Projects

Each time I see the opening credit of the basic TV sitcom, “Good Instances”, I am at all times reminded that the housing initiatives proven are not there. The infamous Cabrini Inexperienced initiatives had been torn down in 2011. The Evans household lived in a type of buildings however the housing mission they lived in was by no means referred to as by title. However these of us who grew up in Chicago knew precisely the place they had been.

Once I was slightly woman, my household lived within the initiatives, too. Cabrini Inexperienced was on the close to north aspect. We lived on the west aspect in Rockwell Gardens. These buildings had been demolished earlier this century. Our condominium was just like the one the Evans household lived in, though our entrance room was not as spacious as theirs was. There have been two bedrooms, a small kitchen, a tiny rest room, and an awesome lack of closet house. Not fairly sufficient room for a single, divorced mother with three kids, however we made it work.

My household had moved out of the initiatives lengthy earlier than “Good Instances” premiered on CBS in 1974. However we nonetheless had recollections of day-to-day life there. The problems about vandalized washers and dryers within the laundry room, damaged elevators, gang wars that prompted individuals to cover of their residences, and so on., had been true. However different issues that occurred on that sequence didn’t at all times replicate actuality.

One of many curious facets of the present was how everybody, from members of the family, to next-door neighbor Wilona Woods, might simply stroll into the Evans’ family with out knocking. I do know that is a standard tv trope. It is achieved as a result of it is normally too time-consuming and/or boring to indicate characters opening doorways for guests, particularly whether it is a person whom they know properly. However most everybody who has lived within the initiatives would agree with me that entrance doorways in these residences had been normally locked always. Simply leaving the door open on a regular basis would have been like hanging indicators that stated, “Please are available and take no matter you need.” It simply wasn’t achieved.

Bookman was the obnoxious custodian whose character was added to the present through the second season. Bookman appeared to have plenty of energy, together with with the ability to evict households. In fact, custodians are obligated to report uncommon situations they discover to administration. However I by no means knew the custodian in our previous constructing having authority aside from to wash. In reality, I keep in mind tenants at all times giving the custodian a tough strategy to go and complaining about cleansing points.

Lately, I noticed a rerun of an episode the place Thelma had gained a scholarship to a prestigious, predominately white, all ladies’ highschool positioned in Michigan. A member of one of many college’s sororities confirmed up on the condominium to persuade Thelma to pledge with them. The Evans shortly discovered that the sorority solely needed Thelma as a token member as a result of she was African-American. There have been so many issues flawed with that situation exterior of the racism. The sorority member, a blond teenage woman, who was clearly from an higher center class or rich background, wouldn’t have been caught lifeless within the initiatives again within the day. Not everybody who lived within the initiatives had been criminals or grime poor, for that matter. However the one white individuals I noticed who dared enterprise into the initiatives had been social staff, insurance coverage brokers, and the cops. Tales in regards to the housing initiatives being harmful, violent locations saved everybody else away.

After Thelma turned down the invitation to hitch the sorority, the sorority woman determined to go away the household with one final parting shot. She informed them they had been fortunate that they did not ship one other sorority woman to see Thelma as a result of that exact woman hated African-Individuals. JJ slammed the door closed behind the sorority woman. In actuality, that woman would have been stubborn out or worse for being asinine sufficient to specific racial discrimination in an space the place she was the minority in the mean time.

I nonetheless take pleasure in watching reruns of “Good Instances”, however I at all times must weigh how life actually was within the initiatives towards the Hollywood model.

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