Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1994-96

Southern California had been having what seemed like a lot of strong earthquakes lately. The fortunnorthridge quakeate thing is that these quakes were all occurring in places that were sparsely populated. This would change in 1994 when the San Fernando Valley had a direct hit from a quake that struck just a few miles beneath the city of Northridge. It measured 6.7. This one caused all sorts of damage and killed over sixty people. It happened on the Martin L. King holiday which was said to have drastically reduced the number of people killed. Actual KNX news broadcast of that early morning is included here.

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My first apartment
It came time for me to look for my very own place. My former co-worker and long time friend Robert knew someone who was managing an apartment complex on San Pablo Dam Road in El Sobrante. The apartments were known as the Rancho Apartments. I rented a studio for $430 a month which included water, garbage, and Cable Television. I stayed there for over a year before moving into a one bedroom within the same complex. The reel sobrante, cant subsequently jumped to $525. The landlord was someone who came off as a cranky old geezer but turned out to be a very kindhearted man. His name was Rick. Most of the people were senior citizens until several years later as more and more families and individuals started moving in. The people were diverse not only racially but also in background, mental capacities, and lifestyles. One lady who was probably in her 60’s used to always obsessively sweep the property. She would often be seen sweeping the grounds and holding conversations with herself. She dressed well and posed no threat to anyone other than her babbling about the landlord. In the middle of the night “Juanita” would go out in the street and give passing cars the middle finger. Another interesting person was a man in his 30s who would put on red women’s’ shoes and then go out to the street and wave at passing cars. Whenever “Scott” saw me, he would always say and in a very feminine voice, “hellooooooo.” He actually was a nice guy but I kept my distance. There were normal people who lived at the same complex. My neighbor above me was a PE teacher and was very nice but snored loudly. Several times a year he would also get these coughing episodes which could be heard through our thin walls. My friend Robert also lived in the same complex and we would often go to dinner at many of the cafes and food places in the area like Jobajas, Tina's Cafe, Tandoori Chicken, Café Soleil, Pizza, and Nations. I stayed at these apartments for nearly fifteen years.

Ohlone School life
I also started working at Ohlone Elementary School as a yard duty teacher. Later, the resource specialist, Kathleen Tyson asked if I would work for her in a new reading intervention program. I accepted her offer and worked with her for nearly a year. During that time, we started a new reading intervention program which proved to be very successful and was needed for the students. I helped Miss Tyson with her classroom prep and designed her dittos and worksheets for the students. I also assessed the students’ performance and progress in the program. Miss Tyson and I became good friends. Later, the principal Mr. Frank Bianchi asked if I would be the science resource teacher for the school. I chose to accept that offer but it meant that I had to leave the reading program. Mr. Bianchi started an amateur radio program for gifted students and asked if I would teach the program as part of the science curriculum. So, I did so. I earned my ham radio license as did Mr. Bianchi. I stayed with the school for nearly five years. The school transitioned into a multi-track, year-round school which made scheduling classes for science very challenging. The school remained on this type of schedule for nearly two years before returning back to the traditional school term.

I continued in my own schooling to earn my early childhood units to become a teacher at the City of Hercules’s Childcare program. I was promoted upon completing additional classes at a community college. I was now able to make a little more money.

summer camp kidsDuring this time, the kids were playing with these little digital devicpogses called Tomagachies. Most of the girls in my class were usually bringing them to school and the teachers were telling them to put them away. The kids were torn between getting caught with these virtu-pets and having them confiscated or trying to babysit these toys because they required to be held, fed, and pampered. Just another trend at Ohlone. The next wave would be the emergence of the Pogs. These were basically cardboard wafers the size of silver dollars which were decorated with animated characters, abstract designs, animals, and anything else. Kids loved them and had them in their desks, backpacks, etc.

Television
It was time for the Olympics but I was not all that interested. It didn't seem to carry tnancy kerrigan attackedhe same relevance that it did during the 70s and 80s. It wasn't until a lot of hoopla was made over several ice skaters who would make news and bring me back to the TV to see what would happen next. Nancy Kerrigan who was a competitor in the Winter Olynpics of 94 was attacked by someone while she was practicing. It turned out that the attack was planned by the husband of her co-competitors Tonya Harding. Cameras emerged on the scene only minutes following the attack.

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Humanitarian Award
As I continued to work at Ohlone Elementary School, I became more and more of a fixture there getting involved in various activities. Completely unbeknown to me at the time, a second grade class was having a discussion about the accomplishments of Dr. Martin L. King. The teacher, Mrs. Pedley asked her students if they could think of another African American who has made significant contributions to their community. The students of the classroom chose me. Mrs. Pedley was completely amazed and later told me that the students were unanimous and delighted in their decision. Some weeks later, the Mrs. Pedley had informed me that because of the students’ decision, I was being nominated for a Humanitarian Award. I of course, had no idea what such an award meant. I felt grateful but was still a little confused on what this whole thing was all about. It would be a few days later that Mrs. Pedley would excitedly inform me that I had won the Humanitarian Award. The school district had arranged for a dinner to honor me along with other school staff members from the entire district who had won similar awards. All the teachers and the principal from my school attended the dinner in my honor. I also had to give a speech expressing thankfulness and gratefulness to be given the award. I was given a very nice plaque which now hangs on my wall in my bedroom.

Homegrown terrorism
I had just oaklahoma city terror attack return to my classroom after dismissing the children to their school classrooms when I heard on the radio that a "federal building has exploded and is completely leveled.baby and firefighter, oklahoma city." Well, at first I was astounded that something like that could happen but then quickly thought to myself, "my mother works at the federal building.." The radio report never, ever said the location of the federal building that had been bombed. I ran to the phone and tried to dial my mother's work to check on her. The phone continued to ring and ring. Fortunately, everything turned out okay. She was at work and had no knowledge of any federal building that was intentionally destroyed. The news reports finally gave more precise information and I went home to watch the news coverage of the Oaklahoma City Federal Building bombing. There were hundreds of people killed including a large number of children. It was a very sad and tragic event.

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Movies!
During this time, I spent a good deal of time going to the many movies that were released during the mid 90s. The 101 Dalmations movie was re-released and became very popular although I did not see thID4is film. The interesting thing about this movie was that it prompted so many people to go out buy Dalmation dogs as pets. They didn't realize that these dogs required extra special care due to the many health problems they tend to have, such as being prone to deafness. The other movies I saw included the horror movie Scream and my all time most favorite movie ID4 (Independence Day). ID4 was cool because of the notion of the earth being attacked by alien creatures inspiring a worldwide effort to be made to help the human race survive. Great movie!

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Computers!
The latest and greatest operating system for home computers had hit the shelves and started a new era of Windows home users. WiWindows 95ndows 95! We have come a long way through computers. Windows 3.1 went away along with its 20 or so installation floppy disks! Windows 95 gave us a better interface with nicer colors and sounds to use on our PC. And it was all on a single CD!

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