Broad Creek Village : a defense housing project for 2600 white families, Norfolk, Virginia, 1942-1958

~Broad Creek Village : a defense housing project for 2600 white families, Norfolk, Virginia, 1942-1958~

I lived there when I was two-years old. That would be 1955. Each prefab building housed four families. I remember the concrete steps up to the front door. I remember one time my young mother smacking the screen door with a broom because there were several large, green praying mantis on it and she was terrified of them. I remember my mom and I sitting on the stoop eating apple slices in the sun. Other than that, I don't remember much else about the place except for a steady, repetitive, noise in the distance that sounded like metal pounding metal, and a vision in my mind of a horrid woman as big as a house with very evil eyes. I found out many years later that the noise I was hearing was a pile driver. 

 

The woman would sit on the ground, and far below her were scores of tiny men wearing yellow coveralls and hardhats. They were all busy constructing something. I think it was a miniature city. They would be pushing wheelbarrows, carrying lumber, digging with shovels, all the while doing so at the giant woman's commands.  They were not allowed to look up at her. They were to keep their heads down and work. If the woman should catch one of the men steal a glance at her she would squish him to a bloody smear on the ground with her thumb. 

 

The woman was a mouth breather and always smiling. I believed the sound I heard in the distance gave her power. I would lie on the ground, listen to the sound, close my eyes, and scare myself with the vision I conjured up of the horrid woman. I did it a lot. I wonder why. I wonder how I got so crazy after existing only two years. 

 

After a while I would go inside our unit, lie down on the wood floor, and take a nap beneath sunlit dust as it streamed from wall to window.

 

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