“I’m Gonna Be A Pro”

In fourth grade my family lived in Holly Park, which is part of the Seattle Housing Authority. We just called it “the projects.” Mom, a high school drop out, was recently divorced, had no job and four little kids. We were really poor and didn’t mind — except we had to eat powdered milk on the commodity oatmeal for breakfast every morning.

At Holly Park, we had tons of other kids to play with and learned all kinds of new things. For instance, the grandma lady who lived next door was our “proxy” grandma. We learned what “proxy” meant and enjoyed her company as she enjoyed ours.

One of our neighbors and my best friend was Tonya. I loved Tonya’s sense of humor, her no nonsense style, and the way she could climb those jungle gyms. She taught me some great jungle gym tricks.

Tonya’s mom would iron Tonya’s hair in the morning to straighten it. My sister and I would beg Tonya’s mom to iron our hair too. We liked it because it made our hair warm. She’d just laugh at us and iron our straight hair too. She was a lovely and loving person.

Tonya’s brother, Mike was older than us and he was a complete mystery. He had a basketball in his hands at all times and tell us frequently while bouncing it, “I’m gonna be a pro.” We had NO IDEA ON EARTH what he was talking about. We earnestly tried to find out what a “pro” was. We even asked adults, but out of context, they had no idea what we were talking about either. You have to remember this was in the 1960’s; professional sports wasn’t the big business it is today — well, not that we were aware of anyway.

Years later I realized Mike wanted to be a , to make good money and to have respect. He wanted to be good at something and to be known for it. So he practiced hard.

I started thinking that maybe we should encourage all of our young kids to become a pro. Professionals at something — anything! It would encourage them to work hard on their dream career, practice, maybe go to college or a trade school that they hadn’t considered before. To shoot a little higher (pardon the basketball pun) for a larger goal.

I had no idea what I would do with my life when I was in fourth grade, but I’m proud because I became a pro in my field. I sincerely hope and pray that Mike became a pro too. I wish all of our kids could grow up to be pros, earn the money they want and get the respect they’ve dreamed of.

©2018 Sally Kintz

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