My name is Mara Lamont Hoskins, but most family and friends just call me "Montie." I am John Hope Bryant's older sister. Each week, I will be writing a Guest Blog piece outlining "MY" accounts of "OUR" childhood.
Dave was an adventurous kid but this week will outline him as the "First" business child in our family. The first born is usually the most outgoing, this will later prove to be false.
Timeframe (somtime around 1964-1966), we were living in a single dwelling home at 2401 W Santa Barbara Ave, which later became Martin Luther King Blvd (I believe that was the address), it was a 3 bedroom home and a single unit in the back. Donnie, which is Dave's nickname (I still dont know how Donnie came from Dave) was a teenager and was really smart, he was somewhat of an intrivert, but a really caring person with a daring personality. Donnie was really good at math and had a high sense for fashion, as he would sport our mom's blazers or jackets to school, while all the other kids were happy just wearing pants and shirts to school, Donnie had to stand apart from the crowd.
Now, our dad, Johnnie Will Smith was a strong black man that had his own construction company, as well as a Shell Gas Station (On Vernon Ave, i think) and our parents, Juanita Murray Smith also had a 9 unit apartment complex across the street from our family home.
With parents like this, kid have to do something to make their parents proud. Since Donnie was the first born, he was not going to follow in Johnnie's footsteps as Donnie was not one to get his hands dirty. Johnnie did work for all types of entertainers, I recall the first funeral I ever attended was the service of recording artist, Sam Cooke who was a man that passed away way too soon. But that is another story.
Back to Donnie aka Dave. When he was somewhere around 13-14, he would tutor kids in our neighborhood for .25 cents for 30 minutes of his time to show them how to solve math problems they were having in school.
I dont recall getting an allowance during this timeframe, so he was the first to be resourcful in ways to earn money. We were also taking piano classes at this time, and not that either one of us were any good at playing the piano (we sucked), but Donnie would charge kids that their parents could not afford private music lessons for, .25 cents to show them what he had learned that day. I would guestimate him making about $5 a week off kids in the neigborhood.
What our mom did with us very early on in life is take us to Bank of America and open us up what was then called a "Christmas account." This was we could save all year and at the end of the year, we could pull it out for Christmas gifts, but …….. Our mom would not allow us to withdraw our funds. But at a very early age, she taught us how saving money for our future instead of earning money and going across the street to G & J Market to purchase candy was not an option.
So, when you think, John Hope Bryant started with an idea, the idea actually started with our oldest brother who laid the groundwork for his siblings to follow. Each one of us, Dave Darnell Harris, Mara Lamont Harris (Hoskin), and John Hope Bryant all had a beginning, and John looked up to his older siblings which is where the seed was planted.
Each week I will share the visions of our childhood from accounts from "MY" memory of it.
When I reflect back on our childhood, we were fortunate! We had people in our lives such as Tina Turner, who lived in the same project as we did In East Saint Louis (1957-1960 timeframe), Billy Barney (John's first Television appearance at 6 months of age), and many more surprises to come.
Montie (Mara Lamont Hoskins, Houston, Texas)