Step Into Le Promenade Apartments by Leo Calderon

7400 Bissonnett
Houston, TX 77074
(713) 774-3289
November 2010

I heard the police sirens during the day and night, but mostly at night. Occasionally gun shots woke me and every time they did I prayed everything would be alright. There was also a lot of gang violence at Le Promonenade Apartments. I witnessed guys and girls getting jumped into gangs, your average drug dealers waiting for daily customers, and even one of my friends shot and killed for no reason he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I lived around all this until my parents and I moved when I was fourteen. This is what people see while living at or even visiting Le Promenade Apartments. There are also positive things going on in the Apartments.

They say, for every negative there’s a positive this applies to Le Promenade Apartments. People spend their time to setting to know each other no matter what skin color, age, or race they are. For example many including myself, who live or lived in the apartments know Ms. Flores, is a sixty- five- year- old sweet lady. She always stays in a cheerful mood if you are ever down, she is the person who will put a smile on your face. One day Miguel a friend of mine, had a rough day at school. He passed by Ms. Flores apartment the next thing you know he was laughing at the jokes she was telling him. Some of her jokes were corny but that’s what made them funny like the one she once told me “Knock, knock who’s there? Tuna, Tuna who? You can tune a piano but you can’t tune-a-fish”. People like Ms. Flores help others not be afraid of talking and getting to know other people who live in Le Promenade.

On the flipside there is J.J he who was in a gang, and always in trouble with the law. J.J was about twenty-five years old about 6 feet tall and had numerous tattoos on his body. Also at the age of nineteen he was put in jail for five years for robbery. Even though J.J was not what you can call such an innocent person, growing up around people like him reminds people what not to do. I learned to a distance so I wouldn’t get in any kind of trouble. As you can tell there’s a lot of criminals at 7400 Bissonnet and Fondren, Le Promenade Apartments but good people many can be found there.

I also have cherished memories from growing up there. My family and I celebrated birthdays there, and at Christmas and Thanksgiving all my relatives would come and celebrate with us. One memory I will never forget is when my grandma spent her last Christmas with us before she passed away two months later. Memories like that and the lessons I learned growing up there, I still carry today and will for always. Maybe, it wasn’t the best looking place but there is family and memory-making. I learned to appreciate the things I have and the roof my parents put over my head. My parents work hard and manage to give me a home, food, clothes, and most importantly love. Living in those apartments made me realize that it was my home. A home that is to be valued instead of being ashamed of how it looked.

It took me time to get past my shame about living there. I am now able to see the positive. It’s hard seeing things in a positive way when you live in a dangerous neighborhood, they don’t look classy, cops are always there, violence. For example whenyou first come in the apartments you see the gate entrance, the gates are about 7 feet tall and all black. They open but don’t close, but the gates are broken. Once you’re in the apartments you see parked cars left and right, some old some new, but be careful with the pot holes that just never seem to get fixed. Driving around and looking at the apartments you notice that the apartment’s color of are green all front doors have a brown color, green and brown seem like a very odd color for apartments. Once you start walking around you can also note that many of the windows have bars. These bars are a result of houses being broken into, they’re used as a precaution. Our windows had bars but luckily my house never got broken into so after a while my dad decided to take them off. This is all a glimpse of my apartments look like.

Most apartment complexes have pools for the residents but not ours. At one point in time but for some reason they closed it down. The pool area was still there just no water in the pool, it was emptied out and filled with sand. We did have a park though. The park had a basketball court and a small soccer field, that’s all I cared about. One of my friends, Michael, would always come knocking on my door saying “Leo lets go hoop” or “are you ready to get beat on the court”. Michael would always like to “thrash talk” but most of the time I would always be the one that beats him on the court. Some people they may
not think much of the little park but that park is what got me and many other kids out of trouble it prevented getting involved in the wrong things.

If I wasn’t playing basketball with my friends, I was on the soccer field trying to make goals. Imagine a twelve-year old boy playing with his friends while someone passes him the ball and he kicks the ball as hard as he can hoping that the ball will go in,and he can yell “Goal!” The best soccer game I remember was the day it rained, the ball and grass was soaked, everybody was slipping and falling but that day was one of the best days I had with my friends. Had very good times living in Le Promenade and I wouldn’t take it back.

Once the sun went, it was time for my friends and I to go back inside. Some of my friends lived in a two story apartment but I lived in a one story. Despite the two stories,the apartments looked the same. All the rooms in the apartments have red carpet with white walls. People always try to color their walls or change the carpet even though it’s not allowed. The only difference between the one story and two is that with the two stories the kitchen, living room, and one of the bathrooms are downstairs while the bedrooms are upstairs and each have their own bathroom. Size wise there is a difference but other than that the appearance is the same down to the rooms to even the tiles on the floor. There is square tile in the kitchens and bathrooms, but everything else is carpet. When it comes down to it I really wanted my house to be more square tile than carpet but after a while I started liking carpet better.

The first thing you notice are walls being tagged by the neighborhood gangs. The apartment manager would always get the workers to re-paint each time a wall was tagged but in about two days the walls would be tagged once again. The managers were spending so much money on the repaints and after a while they just stopped painting over the tagged walls. My apartments don’t feel like a safe zone area to people. There are security guards but even that’s still not enough since there are still tagged walls and houses being broken into. Not to mention once in a while even cars get broken into or even stolen. I understand the security guards try their best but it’s not enough. Even with all these problems the apartments still stand people still live there. The people are what keep the apartments running and not getting closed down. If the apartments were to be closed down my family and everyone else who lives there would have been homeless.

The overall look may not be a good one but never be so quick to judge because you can really be surprised by what you learn at Le Promenade Apartments. I still have friends who live there. I keep in touch with them and from what they told me not much has changed many people see the complex as the ghetto but my friends call it home.I’m very thankful that I didn’t get caught up with the crime while growing up there and thankful for the lessons I learned. Much of that is what made me the person I am today, and I will never forget where I was raised at. If you’re ever in the area, check out the complex. Maybe you will learn a lesson too.

MAP:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?oe=&q=7400+Bissonnet+Houston,+TX+77074&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=7400+Bissonnet+St,+Houston,+Harris,+Texas+77074&gl=us&ei=ggP9TK-UKsL7lwfM2IWRBQ&oi=geocode_result&ved=0CBYQ8gEwAA&z=14&ll=29.687047,-95.51192&output=embed

LINKS

LePromenade

Neighborhood Store

Elementary School

Author Bio:

Leo Calderon is currently a freshmen at the University of Houston Downtown and is majoring in law. He is getting his basics at UHD and plans to transfer to Saint Johns in New York after he is done with his basics. He grew up in Southwest Houston and he hopes when he reaches his high in life he wants to give back to the community he grew up in. He will never forget where he came from and the lessons he has learned and will keep on learning. As for now he will keep working hard and wont give up until he becomes a succesfull person in this world.

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