Khalid’s Corner: Growing Up as a Richmond Kid

By Khalid Elahi

Richmond has been one of the best and worst things that ever happened to me.

Growing up, I can remember getting Moo’s ice cream and then running like gazelles thru Nichol Park. Kennedy Manor was where I learned to play throw-up tackle, strike-out against the nursery center wall, and full-court basketball.

I would venture out to Easter Hill and knock on Ms. Crummie’s door to see if Andre Bean or Derrick Clark was home, or stop by South 24th Street to see Dion Salaam, and then head straight to the Boys Club on South 20th to run some hoop with Hatchett, Eric Obee and many others.

Most of the time I would end up at Dion Salaam’s house, where it was like a second home to me. His family was a Muslim family like mine. They owned a home on South 24th Street and a Muslim restaurant on 10th and Cutting.

Dion was the only boy in the house. For a 10-year-old boy, Dion was the best big brother I could have. His beautiful mother, Mary, was my daycare Mama when I was young, so whenever I would go over there, she would feed me.

Dion had a lot of freedom and he would take me through Richmond to explore. He taught me how to defend myself and hooked me up with one of my earliest jobs selling newspapers early in the morning before school on the corner of Cutting and Carlson. On summer days, we’d go fishing at Butlers Bay, now they call it Marina Bay. We wouldn’t come home until we had a basket full of perch.

I would play Donkey Kong Jr. at the Blue house on Cutting Boulevard with Len Bone and Larry, and then to Azzy’s house, which led to Lil Bo’s grandmama’s house on Virginia.

We would always end up at Johnny’s Diner because Azzy’s mama worked there. French roll with cheese all day. You could catch me in the Barrett’s sometimes, because I had two aunties that lived there and that led me to Larry Dorton’s house on Ninth Street.

It’s funny how I met Larry considering the first day I did we had a fight. We were young, wrestling and doing karate on each other. He was the first kid that taught me a lesson about when you are in a scuffle. I remember pinning him down, and he told me that he couldn’t breathe and he had asthma. The moment I let him up he said, “I lied” and started to scuffle with me again. My family was very close to his family, and they came down real hard on us for fighting. From that day on, he was like a brother to me, and I could count on him for anything.

If you wanted a pager, you went to a few spots. Mine came from P7, the arcade joint. Dorian and Derrick Jefferson introduced me to North Richmond. Gary Cooper and Bubba Godfrey are the reason why I started being a youth activist. I met a lot of good brothers out there, who I grew to love.

Richmond was my playground. On foot first, then on the bus, then driving my first car thru the town. I went to Portola Junior High and played for the Richmond Steelers and the Kennedy Eagles.  

It should be no surprise that I love my city so much. I’m a Richmond kid.

  • Leland Johnson
    Posted at 16:50h, 13 November

    Man! Man oh man oh man. Your article brings back so many memories. I’m 54 now and you look too young to remember Moo’s Ice Cream. We loved Moo’s! I ran through that park too. We called it Nicholas Park. I didn’t know the real name was Nichols Park until I was an adult. There was a Doggie Diner where that McDonalds is now on 23rd and MacDonald. I cannot tell for sure from looking at your picture but based on everything you wrote I am sure our paths had to have crossed before. I remember so much of what you said and recognize so many of the names of the folks you wrote about. I went to Kennedy a year ahead of Terry Obee. He lived over on South 19th.

    I went out for the Fuller Brother Falcons little league and the Richmond Steelers, but my mom could never pay for me to join. Real-life Richmond problems for a little Richmond kid.

    Once I got to Contra Costa, I became close friends with Vince Ellis and his entire family. He lived next door to Ms. Mary and Mr. Salaam and Dion and Munir and their sisters..let’ me think…Tammy, Rashida, and Naima. I was 18 when I met them. They were so welcoming to me and fed me more than a few times. Wasn’t there a Church’s Chicken around the corner on 23rd and Cutting before they tore it down and made that center with the donut place and subway?

    When I worked for the city of Richmond at Shields-Reid, I met Bubba Godfrey and his son David. I worked with Bubba and others from Neighborhood House to get that Midnight Basketball happening at CCC. David must have been about 12 or 13 at the time. I remember he was so smart. I also worked at the MLK Center with Jerry over on Harbor Way. The kids called it the Team Center. I don’t know if it is the same Derrick Clark, but I met Derrick Clark once because his younger siblings were in a program I worked at from 2001 to 2012 or so.

    I was best friends with Eric Dorton when I was little.–he and his sisters lived on 37th. The address of their little white house was 37 37th Street. I knew him before someone put up that apartment building on the corner of 37th and Chanslor. It used to be an empty lot we would cut across to play basketball at Harry Ells High School–DeJean middle is there now. Eric and I did everything together.
    We would catch the 72 and swim down at the Plunge. After we swam, we collected our clothes back in that green mesh hanger bag by turning in that big metal pin with a number on it We would go across the street and get fry’s after that–dump them all in a paper bag and put a ton of ketchup on them and shake that greasy bag up. If we had 15 cents left we would catch the 72 back but sometimes had to walk. He had a nephew named Larry who I remembered would get mad pretty quick. I can’t remember how he was related to Eric; I mean I knew Larry was his nephew but I can’t remember who his mom and dad were. I don’t think he was Ron’s son. Eric’s brother Ron and his mom and his whole family helped me grow up right. Maybe you can tell me more about Larry and see if he remembers Eric’s friend Lee. When I was little his mom called me Lee-Lee,. God bless her soul. She always worked so hard and was so tired a lot. But she would let me and Eric make fried boloney sandwiches when I spent the night.

    Vince and I would go to Johnny’s and get a french roll before folks kept getting shot at around that way. Walking, running, bussing, or driving, I love Richmond too. I’m a Richmond kid too. Thanks for writing this, Mr. Elahi. God Bless.

  • George Keith
    Posted at 12:32h, 13 June

    What’s up Big Bruh? I remember them days oh so well Johnny’s Diner that “French Roll” Burger was the truth! The Barrett Apartments the Mexican spot LaPearla on 4th street in Central Richmond all landmarks ya’dig! And of course RnB Soul Food another landmark! Love you Big Bruh town biz always

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 09:10h, 24 October

    Yes those was day playing hoop at the team center and east shore park

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 05:40h, 04 June

    Whatever happened to Andre?

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