Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Gut

From Mick Melvin:

I was driving in my adopted hometown of Downingtown, PA, (I was born in New Jersey) and thought I would drive past my old house. As most of you know by now, I love nostalgia. Downingtown is an old paper mill town along the Brandywine River, which was the site of many battles in the Revolutionary War. The town is a mixture of 18th century stone homes and new mega-houses.

On the way to my destination, I saw this old rundown house with the words "No Trespassing" spray painted on the front.

No Trespasing

I remember driving by this house a million times. It has steadily declined over the years. The house is right next to the former home of the Anderson family, which are still friends of my family to this day. These houses are located in a section of town known as "the Gut."

The Gut was a small stretch of road with about 10 or so homes. Most of the families who lived in the Gut were African American. Many of the homes were in decline, which is probably the reason it was called the Gut.

The houses up the hill from the Gut were more modern and up to date homes; we lived "up the hill." When coming from Downingtown, we had to drive up the hill and through the Gut to get to our house. I remember my father telling me that the real estate agent didn't want to take him that route for fear of seeing that section of town. It ends up that it was one of the major selling points for my parents.

As it turns out, the families we met in the Gut will be friends of ours for life. The Boggs, Smith, Simpson, Walls and the Anderson families to name a few. My family always lived in the white neighborhoods (up the hill), but our parents made sure we lived close to other African Americans so we would understand and appreciate our culture. I basically lived in two worlds growing up, the white and the black. As a result, I have friends and acquaintances from many cultures in Downingtown.

Home Sweet Home???

I'm so glad my parents picked that location, because it exposed me to those cultures. Seeing that house reminds me of a time when I was trying to figure "it" all out. It comes down to the fact that we are all connected no matter the color of our skin. Taking pictures in my old stomping grounds brought back memories of a childhood with many good friends and a lot of lessons learned. If any of those families get to read this, I'd like to say thank you for all the love and the life lessons I gained because I lived up the hill from the Gut.


  1. Well, thank you. I am a Walls. The values that I've learned up the Gut I have carried on and instilled in my son. Special people came off the Gut.

  2. "we are all connected no matter the color of our skin." ...thank you for this post dear...

  3. Great history! Love that your parents were ahead of their time for being so progressive in their thoughts. And of course liven the pics as always.