Matt Potter 12:30 p.m., Dec. 9
NPS – North Park Skaters…or switch out the S for anything you choose… stoners, scrubs, slackers…etc. I am a San Diego native but more then that I am a North Park Native. I grew up in North Park and now I am about to go back to North Park as I am in escrow on a condo in my beloved San Diego community. Today you think North Park and you think…a nice up and coming area with restaurants, shops, and cool bars. It was not always like that. When I moved from Mission Hills to North Park in 1985 at the age of 7 all I heard was comments under the breath and nay-sayers from our neighbors and my parent’s friends. In those days if you said North Park you would think ewwwww….the ghetto. My parents moved there because they wanted to own their own place and there was no way they could own a home in Mission Hills. So off we went to North Park in search of the American dream.
My mom was a teacher in those days so she knew about the state of the schools in San Diego County. I stayed at my nice upper class elementary school in Mission Hills and commuted there with the rest of the minority kids they had to bus in; in order to keep cultural diversity at Grant Elementary school in white Mission Hills and to keep their public funding money. So I started to live two lives one during school hours and when I got home to the ‘hood in North Park. I always liked my “home” friends better then my school friends. We had a lot more in common. It wasn’t long until I started roaming the streets with these cool and interesting people. I no long spent weekends in Mission Hills. I was perfectly happy staying home and chilling out with the neighborhood kids. This made my parents happy because they didn’t have to drive me to my friend’s houses anymore. I could just walk outside and there would be tons of kids to play with.
I first found the NPS kids when I was about 12 years old. My friend’s boyfriend was a North Park Skater and that was all it took to meet all of them. They were a fun group of people. The girls would all go watch the guys skate in the parking lot at the Bank of America on 31st and University. Another favorite skating spot was on the steps of the Baptist church located at Bancroft and North Park Way. This is part of the reason the church redesigned their entrance way. It was long days of skating and long nights of hanging out on the corner. There was lots of underage smoking, drinking, and sex going on within this big group of people. There was also a lot of tagging, shop lifting, and general teen crime within this circle. There were so many stories and gossip between everyone. Awwww…the good ol days. Now I realize we were part of the reason North Park was considered the ghetto in those days.
My best friend’s parents would go to Scolari's Office and Tuba Man’s every weekend. They would come home drunk and happy. Little did I know about 10 years later I would be doing the same thing. While they were out at the bars drinking we were at home drinking their vodka and refilling it with water. Boy were we smart…they would never know.
I was bussed out for Jr. High as well and again I had two lives. The life during the school days and the life that started the second I got off the school bus at McKinley Elementary and started the mile walk home. Every day I would stop at my friend’s house (she went to Roosevelt Jr. High the neighborhood school) and I would hang out with her until five minutes before her mom got home from work. We passed the time gossiping and prank calling people. On weekends and during the summer we were still roaming the streets looking for anything to keep us occupied. There was always something going on in North Park. As there is now.
Then I entered high school and went to San Diego High School, finally I was at my neighborhood school. I took the trusty number 7 city bus to school each day with all of the kids from North Park. The morning bus ride was the beginning of a long day of chilling. It winded down University Ave stopping at almost every corner to pick up more kids from the hood going to Roosevelt Jr. High and San Diego High School. Morley Field was a favorite places to hang out when ditching school. Running from the cops at Morley Field became a major part of being a teenager in North Park. As the years went by more and more of my neighborhood friends dropped out of school, got pregnant, went to rehab or jail.
Somehow I made it through the ‘hood life and ended up in college at San Diego State University. Since the days of North Park and NPS I have lived in various areas of the San Diego but none of them have felt like home. Even though I moved out of North Park I still drank down there. I loved going to see bands play at Scolari's Office. I loved and still love all the dive bars.
Now I’ve come full circle and it is time for me to try and catch a piece of the American Dream. I am trying to buy a condo in North Park. I still haven’t decided if it’s because of the nostalgia I feel when I am in North Park or the low housing prices right now. All I know is that I grew up and so did North Park.