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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'South Enders' set for reunion

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brazil residents who lived in a 20-block area south of the Conrail Railroad tracks between Morgan and Sherman streets from the late 1930s to just before the 1960s are self-proclaimed "South Enders."

"It was more than just a neighborhood," Jack Tucker said about his childhood experiences. "It was one big family."

The unique neighborhood, according to Tucker, had people living there that didn't have a lot in the way of money, but they took pride in their families, their homes, their community, their town and their country.

It was a place where no one was a stranger and everyone took care of each other.

"When one family felt pain, either from a family illness, someone dying or just falling on hard times, we all did. No one ever spent a day or suffered a problem alone," Tucker said.

"If someone died, the children would canvas the neighborhood to collect money for flowers. No one had enough to send an arrangement on their own, but putting our money together we could get a nice arrangement from the neighborhood."

It was a neighborhood where no one locked the doors to their homes.

"Neighbors looked out for each other back then," Tucker said.

"My parents went to California once and never locked the doors to the house. You couldn't do that today."

According to Tucker, a rousing game of 'kick the can' or 'hide and seek' would keep children outside till the streetlights came on, a dime was the admission price to see a movie and it was difficult for a child to get away with doing anything they shouldn't.

"You do something wrong in school, your parents would know what you did way before you even got home," Tucker said.

"Safety wasn't an issue. Everyone kept an eye on you in the neighborhood."

Some didn't hold the close-knit neighborhood in such high regard.

"We didn't know we were on what was considered to be the wrong side of the tracks until someone told us." Tucker said.

"It didn't really matter. We were like family, we stuck together and rallied together to support each other."

Living in the neighborhood created strong bonds of friendship and life-long memories for the "South Enders" and for Tucker.

Now in retirement, his memories led to the idea for the reunion.

"There were over 200 people at the last reunion. You never saw so many people hugging and crying, getting to know each other again," Tucker said about the first reunion he helped organize in 2002.

"We didn't plan on having another reunion, but everyone kept asking about doing it again. We're not getting any younger, so we're having another one while we can."

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