Boo had a learning disorder. “It was hard [for him] to read,” says Richards. “He was intelligent, though.”
Richards and Pedrick hatched a plan to let the boy stay with Pedrick during the school year. She loved him and was willing to be a live-in caretaker and tutor.
“He was very tiny, and had huge eyes and the greatest smile ever,” says Pedrick. “My entire family fell in love with him and that shy sweet smile. I was very worried about him growing up in the city because he was just too sweet and kind.”
So Boo stayed with Pedrick for one school year.
“He loved his Patti” says Richards. “And she really loved Boo so much.”
Pedrick and Richards talked about arranging for Pedrick to legally adopt Boo, so that if she needed to take him to the hospital she had authority to make the necessary decisions.
“When you’re young and stupid, you think you can do everything and everything,” says Pedrick. “[Richards] was a very loving mom. I don’t remember it any other way than that, but she just wanted him to do well, and since I’ve known her she was always had her hands full with working, trying to get better jobs, and it was rough.”
They started the paperwork, but Pedrick felt pressured by the courts to say bad things about Boo’s family. “The courts wanted her to say that I’m on drugs, and unfit and stuff like that,” says Richards.
“When it got to that point, we got uncomfortable,” says Pedrick.
Then the family moved around South Philly a few times. But Richards always worried about Boo’s safety. “We live in an area where it’s the Fifth Street and Seventh Street gang,” says Richards. “You have to get out of dodge.”
When Boo was about 13 years old, she sent him to an Islam boarding school in New Jersey.
Pedrick was happy to hear it. “Our city is a rough place for sweet, nice boys to grow up and there’s not enough things for our boys to be involved in to keep them out of trouble,” she says. “Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, things happen.”
He lived there for a year, but then the school moved to Malaysia and Richards didn’t feel comfortable sending Boo so far away; it was right after 9/11.
The last time Pedrick saw Boo was about five years ago when she was teaching at George Washington Elementary School. “I was taking [my class] to the playground, and there’s this big young man with Boo’s smile, and I said, ‘Boo?’ And he was like, ‘Miss Patti!”
“Sometimes I figure if I would’ve let her go ahead and raise him, maybe he’d be still living,” says Richards.
In 2002, Boo was attending South Philadelphia High School but got in trouble for truancy. His little brother Leron was skipping school, too. “They didn’t feel comfortable going to school because they were not comfortable with the gangs,” says Richards.
Richards enrolled them at George Junior Republic, “one of the country’s largest, private, nonprofit residential treatment communities in western Pennsylvania for at-risk youth.”
Boo lived there year-round, until he returned to South Philly in 2005, and was shot two years later.
Khadijah Alderman is the funeral director who helped Richards take care of Boo’s final arrangements.
Alderman, like many funeral directors working with clients in violent neighborhoods often do, covered the cost of the services while awaiting reimbursement from the state’s victim’s assistance fund.
Employing massive shifts in scale and proximity, Strauss’ exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art features both modestly sized photographs in the gallery and an expansive installation of billboards that chart an epic voyage throughout the city.
It’s Thursday morning, and a small group of writers and photographers gather at the back entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Zoe Strauss’ first PMA solo show, Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, kicks off with a dance party next Saturday, Jan. 14. We’re here for a mini tour of the Billboard Project, a re-telling of the “Under I-95” narrative across the cityscape. As of yesterday, 54 billboards featuring Strauss’ photographs have been installed on billboards all over the city.
"Linda [right] worked at Sunoco right at I-95 and Allegheny Avenue, and I made the photo of her a few years ago. Kelly [left] was made about a year after in Vegas. When I was traveling it was somethin...
We reported in the beginning of July that Philly’s unofficial photography laureate, Zoe Strauss, was raising some cash to get to the Gulf of Mexico. Her goal? To document the aftermath of BP’s oil spill, which was the result of an explosion on an oil-drilling rig off the southeast Louisiana coast 101 days ago. What follows [...]
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