Boston Road and Fish by Shannon Holmes

Repost from @shannonholmesmedia:

Boston Road and Fish

�Memoirs from the Crack Game


To truly understand me or to get a better understanding of where I get the material that sparked my writing career, I have to take you back three decades ago to the mid-eighties, the ‘Crack Era’, to get a feel of where things stood for me, in that time frame. I like countless other African American males, across the country, had the misfortune of coming of age in the ‘Crack Era’. 

As an eighties baby the allure of the street life/the crack game would prove too great for me to resist. I was young and reckless, willing to take unnecessary chances with my life and my liberty. I had a ‘get-money’ mentality deeply embedded into my mind, from witnessing older dudes go from broke to hood rich literally overnight, courtesy of the crack game.   

 By ’87, the crack game was in full swing, the move for New Yorker drug dealers was to go out of town, to sell drugs in unsuspecting places like Spring Valley, Albany or Syracuse in upstate New York. Or go even further to Boston, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Baltimore, Maryland, Trenton New Jersey, and Raleigh North Carolina, to name a few. Wherever there was drug money to be made, one would find a New Yorker trying to get paid.   

Not wanting to miss out on a good money making opportunity, I dropped out of school, left home to sell crack fulltime in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Now I was all in. Essentially, I was mortgaging my future for the right now. My twisted mindset told me school was always going to be there this money might not. So like many of my peers, I linked up with a drug dealing crew that was doing it and migrated south, to greener pastures to peddle crack.

            The large influx of New York hustlers, from every borough, made my arrival go virtually unnoticed. I was just one of many, a nameless name and a faceless face, who would contribute to the mayhem that had already engulfed the city. What was happening on the streets of Washington, DC was a microcosm of what was happening in every hood across the country. The inner cities were being turned into battlegrounds, as the scent of fast money drew out of town drug dealers, by the flocks, to new towns, counties, cities and states. Soon disputes over drug territory erupted and senseless murders followed. 

Sad to say, some of my fondest memories and some of my worst experiences come from my time, that time period, in the drug game. My failure to heed my father’s warning is probably the most prevalent of all. 

‘The only thing ready for you now is jail, the army, or the graveyard. What’s it gonna be?’ My Father once told me.  

Many incarcerations later, after over a decade of doing time in prisons, up and down the east coast, I would come to the realization, the hard way, of just how right my father was. 

When you live a drug dealer’s lifestyle there are only two certain outcomes, jail or death. Although some of us were more fortunate than others, we dodged death, yet misfortune found us in the form of lengthy incarcerations. Some dealers even succumbed to the dreaded curse of drug addiction. However, virtually none of us escaped the crack game unscathed. 

Fortunately for me, it wouldn’t be in the drug game where I would make a name for myself. It would be in the literary world. I always said, ‘I wasn’t put here to be the biggest drug dealer.’ No, that wasn’t my calling. I was put on this earth to be the best writer and that’s what I always strive to be. I’ve seen plenty drug dealers that had it all, and lose it all in a blink of an eye, via death or federal indictments. Me, I was fortunate enough to find my true calling, while incarcerated. In the prison yard I met a kid who would literally change the course of my life. 

So for me this is more than a story of a good kid gone bad, turning his life around and now making good use of his god given talents. It’s a story of a generation seduced by the allure of fast money. It’s not just my story, it’s our story, Boston road and Fish ave and countless other hoods, blocks and housing projects from New York City that was heavy in the streets and getting money at that time. 

            It’s a story of the golden era of the streets that was marred by death and destruction and punctuated by draconian prison sentences. As deadly and dangerous as that period of time was, nowadays it’s looked upon with nostalgia. Countless movies like New Jack City and Paid in Full have been made about an era long since gone. Memories of mishaps, celebrations, parties, shootouts, murders, state and federal indictments will forever be etched in our minds. Street tales are still being retold about legendary hustlers that are no longer with us. The mid to late eighties was a time when street fortunes were made, street reputations were built and sadly young lives were lost. 

Welcome to my block, Boston road & Fish Ave.

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