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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do you remember when a GOOD NAME meant something?

My Paw-Paw used to always say, “Boy, don’t do nothing to bring shame to the Gamble name.” Apparently, this is something he shared often with his son also. My father constantly beat this into my head as a child and even more as a grown man. Don’t do anything to bring shame to the Gamble name.

For my 37 years on the planet, I have done sooooooooo much to honor this request. You would not believe how much. My folks have always taken a tremendous amount of pride in not having the Gamble name associated with particularly dastardly deeds. I have made my mistakes, but I have been pretty good at holding to this core ancestral request.

During the mad hustling days of the late 80’s and early 90’s, when it seems most of my “friends” started to hustle in one manor or another, I always thought about what I had to pass up to keep my name clean. There is some dirt on the Trennan moniker, but the Gamble name has always remained fairly clear. Like most black males growing up in Northeast Houston at this time, the consideration to be an outlaw was there, but what about my name? Couldn’t do it!

I always wondered if my peers got the same request form their grandparent or parents. Don’t get me wrong, by no means do I knock a man for doing what he HAD to do. I am from 5th Ward, Tx, so I do know a little bit about what that is like, I promise you I do. I could always appreciate those people, even if others from other places could not. I understood and understand their struggle, for it is mine as well. My thoughts were always with the ones that really didn’t care about dragging their parent’s good surname through the neighborhood gossip circuits or even the local news because they wanted Jordans and Girbauds. You know, the ones that hustled to hustle. You know how some people like the celebrity! An older cousin told me, “If you have to hustle, do it to a point that you never have to again.” He took the money he hustled in the 80’s and bought Laundromats, many Laundromats. Believe me this was the smartest thing he ever did in his life, but I digress……

What happened to people caring about their good name? What happened to people being embarrassed by indiscretions? I always thought that this embarrassment made for a better product of human being, at least in my family I’m sure it did. These days of “anything goes” and “minding your own business” has gotten us into a rut of secretly calling people on the carpet from the comfort of anonymity via blogs and message boards. The days of the neighborhood chastising your child are gone, in some cases for good reason.

I guess I am just a little nostalgic for the days when Councilman McGowen called my grandmother and told her that he saw me watching a fight on the way home from Key Middle School, or the day when Sis. Lemon told me to put my shirt in my pants and then told my Dad that it was out. I kind of long for the time when Sis. Mark was on one end of Engleford Street and Sis. Lindsey was on the other and they would tell my grandparents if they saw me go past the boundaries that all of my grandparents neighbors knew that they set. What happened to the days when the ladies on the street were Sis. Something and the men were Bro. Something? I am glad that Ms. Thomas sent me home when she caught me on Liberty Road. I always wondered how she knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. In a way, I truly believe they were being the village that taught me that my name meant so much….not only to me but to the Gamble children that now call Katy home.

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