I drove from Mount Vernon up to the Bronx still looking for a mall like the traditional inside the building malls of Ohio. I seen this one sign that said it was mall, but it was like a circle of stores outside, not exactly what I was looking for. I got the idea around 4 P.M. to call Stu Fines and try to meet him since we had talked on the phone a few times and I had written him a few letters. He didn’t know where I was and how to tell me to get to his office. So I drove some more and parked my car by a train station on Baychester Ave. I went walking down the street a little and walked into this shoe store that didn’t have anything that excited me too much. I was actually looking to buy an African America College Alliance sweatshirt and tie-top skully hat to match like the rappers wore in the videos.
I got on the train. I can’t remember if I asked directions to get to 125th Street of not, but I was on the train. This kid got on and I started talking to him. He had a heavy New York accent that I could barely understand him. He told me I could get one of them sweatshirts on Fordham Road or probably 125th St. I asked him how to get to 125th St and he told me. I called my mom while at a train stop and told her where I was. She was shocked. I hung up with her when a train started coming and we couldn’t hear each other no more.
I got off the train at 125th St and it was like a whole nutha world right there at Malcolm X Blvd / Lennox. I smelt this heavy incense smoke like no smell I had ever smelt before. I seen all the African vendors lined up on the sidewalk. I started looking to see if anyone had them sweatshirts and those hats. I asked about the sweatshirts and no one had them. I asked about the hats because I didn’t see any on display. This one lady pulled out a piece of cloth that was open on both ends and she tied a string of cloth around one of the ends, and sure enough, right in front of my eyes was a tie-top hat like the rappers wore in the videos. I bought one. It was black and white stripes going down and the tie was black. I continued to just walk up and down the street. The vendors were starting to pack up. I was looking for a club or something once they left the street, but there weren’t any. People just walked up and down the street. People with their polaroid cameras were out taking pictures for I think $6 to $8 maybe $10. I had taken one picture.
I got back on the train around 11 P.M. and went to my car. I tried to drive back over into Manhattan but I kept running into bodies of water and dead ends, so finally I gave up, went and parked my car by the subway station I was at before on Baychester. I figured this was a safe place to park and go to sleep because people walking past my car would either be going to get on the train or getting off the train to go home; no time to be vandalizing my car or tryin’ to rob me. I climbed in the back seat and went to sleep. I’d wake up every time I heard a truck go by. In the morning I woke up to kidz constantly passing my car to get on the train or walking to school. But at about 9 A.M. or 10 A.M., I began to wonder were these kidz goin’ to school at all. In Ohio, the streets are clear of all kidz by 8 A.M. It was like 10 A.M and kidz who looked like they should be in school were steadily coming up and down the street.
I got up around 12 P.M. and went back to 125th St to look for my sweatshirt and my tie-top hat to match. It didn’t even matter what school or color, I just wanted one. I went into damn near every sports store on the street and asked for them damn sweatshirts. My lucky store that I went into and asked about them, they weren’t even officially selling them yet or they just got them in or something. Because I asked the guy about them, he said, “hold on, I’ll be right back.” He came from out the back with about three or four of them. I chose the grey, yellow and black Hampton University sweatshirt; you know, colors of the frat. They didn’t even have a price tag on them, and I really didn’t care how much they cost. He charged me $75 for it and I paid it. It was a pretty heavy duty champion-like sweatshirt, and I thought it was worth it. It was definitely worth it because I still have today. After I got it, I was happy. I walked up and down the street some more. I bought me a golden like tie-top hat to match the sweatshirt.
I went back to my car at like 3 P.M. and headed back to Warren, Ohio. I was a victim of racial profiling in Jersey. I got stopped and the cops searched my car thoroughly, trunk and all, looking for drugs. I wasn’t nervous. I let them handle their business. They said they stopped me for speeding, which was a lie because I wasn’t speeding at all. They let me go and I proceeded home. I got home and all my friends were telling me how crazy I was for driving that car to NY, and how come I didn’t tell any of them I was going, etc. From that point on, me and a couple of my friends took trips to New York 125th St once a year at least. After about two years, we ventured over into Brooklyn to the Fulton Mall, and those were our stops: 125th, then to Brooklynto the Fulton Mall. We didn’t know to take the subway, and didn’t want to try and park anywhere else when we’d see stores, so those were the only places we shopped.