Columbus Ohio

Bobos

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  As we’re all finding out in countless ways Facebook is a blessing and a curse. Tonight it was a true blessing for me. Let me share with you why...nestled in the comments of a childhood friend’s Facebook post was a word that I hadn’t heard in about thirty years and it is a gem. In fact the term was completely erased from my memory. What was this gem?  Bobo.

 

It’s funny because back in the seventies bobo (pronounced, boe boe) was a word of shame. Bobo was a derogatory term but it was a shame all of us shouldered. Me, my brother Curt, my friend Sean, and our other friend Shawn all grew up on Elizabeth Avenue in a lower middle class neighborhood on the eastside of Columbus, Ohio. Before any of us had the means to scratch together our own money with paper routes or lawn jobs our parents had to buy our clothes and shoes. None of our parents had a lot of extra money so those shoes were always bobos.

 

Just incase you aren’t familiar with the term bobo or have forgotten, like I did, bobo was a term for generic, no-name shoes. Bobos never cost more than ten dollars, they sported, “made in Taiwan” on the label, smelled like burning rubber, and were almost always from Kmart. I have to hand it to the Taiwanese, they were inventive.

 

I suspect the foundation of the entire modern Chinese economy was built by the bobo tycoons of the 1970’s making knock-offs of popular brand shoes like Nike and Adidas. At first glance bobos looked strikingly similar to the popular name brands but had crazy features that were just a little off like an upside down Nike swoosh or four stripes on the Adidas-style shoes instead of three.

 

When new, bobos were magical. The funny thing about bobos is all of us were convinced that we could run just a little faster and jump higher when our bobos were brand new. This luster wore off in just a few days when they were covered in mud and grass stains. The life span of pair of bobos was way too short, it only took a month before they looked like they had been run over by a herd of buffalo. We would still try to make them last all summer.  Between Curt, Sean, Shawn, and I our parents probably paid for the Taiwanese bobo factory several times over.

 

In retrospect I think bobos were actually a good thing. Those parents of the seventies were wise because bobos built character. In our neighborhood you weren’t measured by the clothes or the shoes you wore. You were measured by how fast you could run, how high you could jump, or how far could sail off of a flimsy plywood ramp on your BMX bike (sans helmet or knee pads.)

 

So many children walk around these days with an air of entitlement. I would bet a majority of kids now would refuse to step out their front doors without their smartphones, let alone wearing non-name brand shoes.  Children of the seventies, this is our chance to make a difference in the world. We need only pool our money together, stoke the flames of that Taiwanese shoe factory, and get it churning out bobos again.

Parents, it will be difficult, but we must work together. For this plan to succeed you must refuse to buy your children a pair of name brand shoes ever again. From here on out it’s nothing but bobos until the kids can pay for their own name brand shoes. I have faith that we can stand united and together we will change the world, one child (and one beautiful pair of bobos) at a time.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

A DIFFERENT STORY

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Until I was eight or nine years old our neighborhood was the kind of place where few people locked their doors. We were all lower middle class and mostly white. We knew almost every family that lived on our street by name.  The neighborhood always felt safe and the threat of violence was totally absent from our minds. In reality we existed in not as much of an oasis as in a bubble.  Our city had already changed outside our imaginary borders but our neighborhood still had only one story.

 

Life provided a few hints of stories that were different from our own during my days at Fairmoor Elementary School.  Damon came to our school in the first grade. He was the first African-American I can remember meeting in person. Kids would run up to him and ask to touch his hair because the texture was different from their own. Damon was quickly accepted as "one of the guys" when kids realized although he looked different, he was really just like us.

 

Just a few weeks after the start of the school year the Principal introduced Sivaley (pronounced, civil-lay) to our third grade class. Sivaley was a shy Asian boy who didn't speak a word of English. We discovered he and his family were recent immigrants from war-torn Vietnam. At first Sivaley seemed so foreign to us that he may as well have been from another planet.  He spent the first few weeks quietly taking it all in and drawing tanks and artillery on the blackboard, which were likely the last memories he had of his country.

 

A few of my friends and I took Sivaley under our wings and made sure he had someone to hang out with during recess. I had a Superball, which was a small rubber ball that would bounce hundreds of feet in the air. This is the first time I remember Sivaley relaxing and attempting to communicate. We connected on a human level. It was as though playing with the ball made him forget everything else that was running through his head. I lost track of him after third grade and often wonder what became of him.

 

Our neighborhood changed pretty significantly at the start of the 1978-1979 school year. This was the year desegregation began in Columbus, Ohio. I'll never forget when the outcome of the voting was announced on the radio during my summer vacation. That day I sensed a general helplessness and disbelief amongst the adults in my life. It was a done deal, for fourth and fifth grades I would be bused into one of the worst neighborhoods in the entire city. As a child of nine my stomach felt like it was twisted into knots as the end of Summer approached, I was terrified.

 

The first day of fourth grade I realized it was only a fifteen minute ride to a different world.  Mrs. Love, greeted us with a smile as we boarded her bus, the stereo blasted funk music the entire way to Fair Avenue School.  As we approached the school I saw a neighborhood that was much different from our own.  Houses were boarded up, yards unkempt, and trash littered the streets. The first few days were uncomfortable and were a shock. This was my first immersion in a story different from my own.  It got easier every day.  Although it was uncomfortable at first, I consider the education I received at this school, from the curriculum and otherwise, was among the best I ever have in my life.

 

By the time I started ninth grade at Eastmoor High School in 1984 our own neighborhood was undergoing a transformation.  It was the golden age of the crack epidemic and gangs from larger cities, including the L.A. Crips, had started to move into the east side of Columbus. Law enforcement wasn't prepared. Our neighborhood fell quickly, seemingly overnight, to become a haven for drug dealing, prostitution, and violence. Everyone who could afford it moved away and we became the minority.

 

As my teenage years went by I met many different people of many different backgrounds and races. Sometimes it was hard. The lesson I've taken away is people are pretty much people and the only real measure of a person is the content of their character. I appreciate exposure to their various perspectives which have enriched my life in ways that I could never have imagined.

 

There is a great divide in our country and our world today. This divide exists primarily within the confines of our own minds.  I think possibly the first step to building the bridge to understanding one another is to realize that there is more than one story. Each of us has the opportunity to be both a student and a teacher. Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt, it can also breed compassion. We must teach our stories and learn the stories of others. When we can finally open our minds to this maybe the true healing can begin.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

Read The First Five Chapters of Alarm Clock Dawn for Free!

Read The First Five Chapters of Alarm Clock Dawn for Free!

This is the first book of trilogy in the Alarm Clock Dawn series. Sometimes, when all hope seems lost, there's only one solution…to AWAKEN.  

What Readers Are Saying...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and full of twists, turns, reflection and enough suspense to keep me reading (I just had to find out what was going to happen next!) It contained a good mix of drama, science fiction, poetry, spirituality and a hint of romance. It was a book which really made me think outside of the box and is one I still continue to think about! Rumor has it this is a part of a trilogy and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next book. I believe this book will interest a lot of people because it crosses several genres. Congratulations Eric to a job well done! - Sue Kimmes

 

Alarm Clock Dawn is cleverly written and the title should "dawn" on you as you progress in your reading. Once you do get it, you may be surprised at the meaning of it and realize how the story relates to your life.

Eric Vance Walton is a brilliant author and poet and proves it though out by providing his readers with layers of spirituality, suspense, poems, and symbolism. All you have to do is be willing and able to be receptive to Eric's message. I believe that it is a powerful one and very well worth your time. I guarantee once you pick the book up, it will be hard to put it down.

The book should help you, as it did me, to remember some things that you may have forgotten, things that are extremely important to a person's soul and mental well-being. It may also help you to remember what you are passionate about. - Jean White

This is an excellent first novel from an author more known for his poetry. Set in a dystopian society, that frankly looks like somewhere we could easily be headed, the author crafts a cautionary tale about the excesses of a society that strives for more and more "things". Driven by huge multinational corporations with excellent advertising (Marlboro, Budweiser, Lunestra anyone?), the story evolves to provide a yin to the yang that sets it up. I am NOTORIOUS for getting halfway through a book and jumping to the last chapter, just because I hate waiting. This book was the first one that I didn't do that to in a Looooong time, and I was handsomely rewarded. There was a nice twist and denouement that I just didn't see coming. Well worth the read! - Shawn Mullen

This book was a fun and thought provoking read!! The characters are so relatable,I found myself challenging my own routines and reasons behind them!! A must read for anyone who is ready to enjoy a story that will force you to look beyond yourself! - Kami Burgess