Dear Kids of CB East, Bucks County, America, and Society:

WONDER AND THINK

img_2805.jpgDear Kids of CB East, Bucks County, America, and Society:

Tonight, in just a couple of minutes, a house the next street over from me went up in a red plume of smoke. It was the house of a childhood friend. It was the house right next to my Uncle’s, a house next to my father’s colleague. And in just a few seconds of seeing a trailer destroyed, in just a few seconds of seeing a neighborhood friend put it out with the help of his fire company, and in just a few seconds of seeing the kindness, the helpfulness, the caring…I felt so angry—not at what I was seeing, but at your biased misconceptions of us.

I want to address that.

I want to extend an apology to some of you. I am sorry to those of you who find the existence of my neighborhood an embarrassment and disgrace to even exist. I am sorry that you find a mobile home (aka trailer park) nasty and grimy, unaesthetically pleasing, and filled with people you view as trash that are unfit to walk among you, share classes with you, cover a work shift for you, ride the same school bus at you…

But that’s your problem if you want to call us awful names, give us the finger when we brake in front of you to turn into our development, or start a fight. To the kids I went to high school with, I’m not saying you need to grow up because many of you are already young adults capable of making decisions on how you choose to live your life. It’s just my opinion that negativity won’t get you very far. As long as you’re happy with yourself, I forgive you…although most people say I shouldn’t.

And this is why.

Sure, doctors may not live here, but we have nurses and phlebotomists. We have EMTs and fireman. We house the people that do your landscaping, fix your electric, build your extensions, change your oil, and pump your gas when you’re too lazy to get out of your car.

You may be right in saying that there are a lot of illegal immigrants in this neighborhood and those who have less then perfect pasts, but just like you, the people of Valley View are humans and should be treated with dignity—especially KIDS who have had no choice in choosing to live here. And don’t you dare think that I am giving you a chance to bash their parents or guardians.

The reason why so many parents move into this neighborhood is so their children can go to one of the best school districts in the state, in the country, but cannot simply afford expensive pieces of real estate. I want to point out to you that this is a Central Bucks EAST neighborhood. So then why is it that a separate bus comes every weekday morning to transport most high school students to West?

Even though it is true that a select few “entitled” Tohickon Middle School and East High School students can bully peers so much into transferring schools, it isn’t fair. You may see us as the bad kids, the ones who will result to punching you in the face if you insult us, but behind that is the breaking of a student’s self-esteem, the breaking of a student’s desire to achieve in school or out. And, it’s frustrating.

It’s frustrating that when I go to get my prescriptions filled, I get into a conversation with the pharmacist who congratulates me on making it through East. Her son just stared middle school, and already he wants nothing to do with my high school. So, she asked me how I did it, so she can pass the advice along, and this is what I said, “I didn’t advertise where I lived.”

She pursed her lips, and offered a shy smile.

What I didn’t tell her was that I never told my friends my address until my Junior Year, hardly had them over. Never dated before I was 18 or gave a guy my number…except for once which ended in an invitation for a booty call. I cried myself to sleep for a week, because he called me a worthless trashy slut when I said, “no.” I worked too hard to not fall into the stereotype of “trailer trash”—took too many honors and APs, tried to involve myself too much in extra curriculars, all while battling depression, all while developing an anxiety disorder. It crippled me, and my senior year of high school, I lived in guidance.

I don’t harbor any resent, or regrets, or judgments, because overall I loved my high school experience. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it, but some days life was awful because it took all my energy not let man drag me down enough to hate them.

Just like a lot of kids I know who grew up in Valley View, I find happiness in non-material goods, and in accepting that everyone has their own free will. I look for happiness inside myself, because at the end of the day, if my home were to burn down in 2 minutes…burn all my belongings…burn all my money…I know I would be alright. As long as my dad, my three dogs, and I went unscathed, I know I would be happy, and most importantly, thankful.

Would you? I hope so.

31 thoughts on “Dear Kids of CB East, Bucks County, America, and Society:

    1. Dear Stacey. How beautiful you write!! I grew up in Warrington in the 70’s and 80’s. I had the privilege of attending Titus and Tamenend. These schools were divided into East and West High Schools. There was not a South at this time. My father was an immigrant at 22 years old. He moved to a great country that promised him opportunity. He became a proud legal American citizen at age 25, started his own business, married, raised 4 children and bought a home in beautiful Bucks County. We felt proud and enjoyed our community offerings, such as WAA sports and school activities. I unfortunately attended East because we lived on the east side of 611. This was my first introduction to what I call “Doylestown A**holes.” CB East fostered Students and faculty that thought they were better than anyone else. East only had community for atheletes and overachievers. Those considered less than above average were left out to hang and dry. No support for anyone unique and certainly no support for the ones who lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Of course I grew up and became a self sufficient adult. I met my husband and we decided to start a business in beautiful Bucks County. We laid roots and started a family to raise here. While we looked for a home, we made a conscious choice to buy in CB West territory. Thankfully We did. My children attended Groveland, Tohickon and West. Tohickon like Tamenend was in the 70’s and 80’s, is divided between East and West. So with every Tohickon child and their peers there is great debate regarding which high school they will be attending. It is heartbreaking to watch these students be separated after years of being together. Often when I am asked about my thoughts regarding this matter, this is what I say. “I went to East and hated East, it lacked a sense of community and support, if you were not from wealth you were typically not accepted. I envied all of my West friends, they had football games and Nats pizza, local jobs and hometown pride. They were accepting and kind. They did not care if you lived in a Warrington or Doylestown. There was diversity. And through my own personal experience East has not changed much in 30 years, sad but true. I am thrilled my kids go to West!” I do not say this to make people uncomfortable or defensive. Until one actually experiences what it’s really like to grow up here they may not understand it. I am proud to say I have lived in Plumstead township for over 20 years. I have tragically watched from my home (I am situated on the ridge above the trailer park) quite a few trailers burn over the years. With each one my family has reflected with great sadness, because we worry, is it a friend? Are there children? But as we have witnessed time and time again, this little community in Plumstead rallies! There is outgoing support and true kindness and concern for these famies to get on their feet again. We have helped in the past and will continue in the future. It’s the people who can lift others, not knock them down that truly make a difference. Self acceptance is where it all starts. Compassion and empathy is an asset to all! Best of luck to you Stacey, keep doing “You”

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  1. By the way, I forgot to mention, I live in a mobile comunity as well. Your address does not limit nor define you. (In fact, I know many losers who live in fancy houses.) Its what is in your heart and between your ears that counts most!

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  2. Stacey,

    This was very well written. I can tell by your words that you are a very intelligent young woman. As a kid who grew up in the very same trailer park that you have, I understand your frustrations. I have been there. It is really sad that people (kids and adults alike) look at where you live to judge who they THINK you are. Unfortunately, that is the way a good majority of our society works. I mostly blame the parents for allowing their children to act like that, and/or for teaching them those ways and putting those thoughts in their heads. This is how racism is spread as well.

    I grew up there, and guess what? I turned out ok… in fact, I turned out pretty damn good. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but, we had enough. We didn’t need the mansion in Buckingham or to drive a BMW at 16. What we had when we lived there was a pretty great group of kids that all played outside until 10 pm during the summer nights. Friends that would back each other up. We all knew what it was like to be the “outsiders” at CB East… But, we just kept going. I didn’t graduate from East, but the kids at Holicong were just as cruel.

    You’re going places. I like your writing style. You have an edge to your words, yet, they aren’t cutting words. Thank you for writing this… some of the firefighters that live in that trailer park are my family and friends. They would give the shirts off their backs if it came down to it. To me, it’s not how much money you have, or what kind of home you live in. It is the kind of person you are when things get rough and how you handle the situation. I have a better understanding of people and their struggles, because I can relate to them. I don’t judge them, just accept them where they are.

    Thank you for being such a voice. Keep your eyes on where you’re going, because you’ll go far!

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  3. very well said coming from someone that raised my kids there for 9 years and also lost our trailer to a fire my daughter hated that school and when we moved 3 years ago she did on line home school and she graduated 5 months before she would have in that district because she didnt have the bullying for where she lived,when something bad happens in that park we all become “family” and pull together for each other no matter skin color,religion or anything that makes us different from the other. kids can have all the money in the world and still not be happy in life or amount to anything. The kids that start with nothing usually have the courage and the will to become more, Thank you for the words of honesty

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  4. Amazing! I appreciate your candor and how articulatly you wrote this, without anger and judgement. I live close to you, my daughter goes to West. She’ll be reading this and sharing it to spread empathy and understanding. Beautiful and inspiring (you and the post).

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  5. Stacy, this is a very wonderful and very well written story with equally wonderful comments following and I couldn’t agree more with them. Very encouraging is an article I read recently on how true hardships in our youth, the ones our family tries to protect us from, makes us more responsible, resilient, empathetic, and charismatic (and many other attributes) later in life. So be proud, love and embrace your past and it will be a great guide and large footprint for others in similar situations to follow. Kudos Kid!

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  6. Stacey, what a brave tale you tell! I am standing here shouting BRAVO! And I cringe at the pain and heartache you also went through. We too live in CB schools in order for our son to have a great education. We lost much in the economic recession years ago and now cannot afford to buy again in this area which is why we rent – and there is a whole stigma with that too. We could buy a standard CB home (whatever that is!), if I went back to a corporate job instead of forging ahead in a career as an author which can take years to make livable income on. So I will continue to follow my dream with the support of my family and we will do whatever necessary to stay here until our son is out of school in 6 years. He is happy and thriving in MS (not in CB East schools) and I hope that continues.

    And I hope you follow your dreams too – it certainly sounds like you are the kind of special young lady to become whatever you dream! I hope people read this and change how they treat people – and teach their children how to treat others – equally. We can NEVER assume what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes – no matter where they live. And YES, I am thankful – every day – for I have a home that is filled with love. And that is most important of all.Thank you for shining your courage here to the world!

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    1. Hey, Rick! Thanks for commenting. There definitely are some students that act like that, but it is not all of them. I think it’s important that in defending working class families, that we do not criticize others for choosing to live their life the way that they do. But there definitely is a “divide” so to speak, and oftentimes I found it difficult not to get too hung up and sour over it. But once I looked past that and at a person’s general character, I did find some amazing down-to-earth friends that didn’t care about where I lived. Haha 🙂

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      1. Stacey, within this comment is the real take away from this story. “But once I looked past that and at a person’s general character, I did find some amazing down-to-earth friends that didn’t care about where I lived.”

        Everyone of us lives with a stigma based on where we live, where we go to school, where we work. As your title implies both at micro and macro levels. Not everyone has the courage to rise above the fray and noise, but this does not mean they are culpable of stereotyping and judging.

        I have traveled extensively both domestically and internationally. The more I traveled, the more I realize we are all human and we all have our story to tell. We do need to tell our story and people do need to listen to as many stories as possible. Only then is empathy possible and empathy is what tears down our stigmas.

        Keep reading, keep exploring, keep listening, keep writing and most of all keep yourself above the noise. I do believe in a silent majority and their ability to see past the stereotypes.

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    2. Love what Stacey wrote. I too went to CB East in the eighties, was not a snob, nor a bully, and wasn’t a privileged rich kid. Where the rich kids go? Then we all could sit in judgement and say the same about other schools in districts close by. Isn’t part of bullying labeling, and judgement? While unintentional Rick, you have done just that by grouping an entire student body as one. I didn’t exactly fit in or not fit in, everyday was different and sometimes a challenge with students you didn’t even know. Where you live doesn’t define you in any direction.Which is why Stacey is spot on and a bravo Stacey for putting it out there, what some are afraid too

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  7. I’ll be sharing this with my children – thank you for your honesty. We just moved from NJ into Buckingham – what is funny is that among the adults there is a sort of reverse discrimination and stereotyping. When at networking events I mention I live up here and I am often hit with “oh, you are a snob from Buckingham…excuse me.” They make assumptions. I’m the most down to earth person, but they stereotype and label me a snob based on where i live. And I’m like “hey wait a minute! I moved my three teenagers here to blend families with my boyfriend into his house, that his ex-wife actually selected.” I wish all kids had your strength and I wish you nothing but amazing success.

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    1. A person from the neighborhood is a volunteer fireman who participated in putting the fire out. It references the high quality of the people of the neighborhood. This information is in the first paragraph. One of the themes is that good people live in this neighborhood.

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  8. Stacey you’re not the only one. While Central Bucks has a great school system/education, a lot of the people who go there in particular I can say where I went-East were stuck up and materialistic. I remember being worried about money when I was 11 at Buckingham! Kids were always talking about how much money their parents had at that school. As though that should be on a kids mind at that age. I don’t know that those kids did it on purpose or were probably just all they had known, but definitely made me feel like an outsider a lot. So many of the kids do come from affluent homes so that if you don’t its a bigger deal than it should be.

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  9. This is an awful thing to happen to anyone, but it unfortunately happens everywhere. To have a home burn in a flash is heartbreaking. You write beautifully, but I must say that characterizing all of East is very unfair and appears a very biased judgement on a large community that are not all the same. My son goes there and I am quite frankly offended by this gross characterized. We area a hard working, middle class family, who live in a modest home. We instill valves in our kids to be good, caring people. I would NEVER tolerate them treating someone in the way you were so unfairly treated The cruelness of the few does not represent the entire East community and it would be a shame to bash us all. I would stand by you.

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      1. I appreciate that. I just want people reading to know that not everyone including some East students condone such behavior.

        You handle a horrible situation with grace. I don’t disbelieve your journey during high school for a second. I too strongly know I would live in a cardbox and be happy with just my family. Best Wishes!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this.
    I grew up poor in Central Bucks too. I didn’t realize my experiences (20-30 yrs ago) were still the norm.
    Heart-breaking.
    I hope your story has an impact!

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  11. So beautifully written. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you are trash. You are a beautiful soul, wise beyond your years, and I am honored to have read this. Stay strong and keep writing; you have a gift. I’m thinking the world just might know you one day.

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  12. I owned a mobile home for a number of years in northern PA.We had a few noses turn up at us,a realtor that wanted nothing to do with us,the so called “adults” who didn’t want their children to play with ours (they never had the guts to come right out and say it,but it was obvious) We heard the nasty comments also.It really amazes me how rude and cruel some people can be.I’m glad to see you rise above their nasty,petty hatred and shine! Best wishes!

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  13. Dear Stacy,

    A very well written, revealing, and deeply touching article by you. A few things:

    Thank you for sharing the reality of what exists in Central Bucks and many other school districts in the US. I did not go to East or West, but since the 70’s, but East has always had the reputation you described. What you described is generally characteristic of most of Central Bucks; it is a somewhat affluent area, definitely lacks diversity (of people), and many, but not all, have an elitist attitude which is strange because this is Central Bucks, not Radnor, not Berwyn, not Gladwynne, not Palm Beach, not Scarsdale, not Nantucket, not Los Gatos, not McLean, not Rancho Santa Fe, not Palos Verdes………. it is little old Central Bucks. People make 2-3-4 hundred thousand a year, have a 3-4,000 sq ft home, and think they qualify as one of the Rich & Famous. How funny is that?

    It is also strange that West seems to have a reputation of where the not so smart or wealthy families have their kids attend, as from an academic and income comparison, there is little if any difference with many families whose kids attend East or West. I am glad that West appears to have a reputation of being more acceptive of those lower income family students who might not fit into East.

    I am sure many of not all of your neighbors have very good values. I am sure they are doing the best to raise their children properly, I am sure if you pulled people from your neighborhood and those of the surrounding neighborhoods in Doylestoen, Buckingham, Solebury, and Upper Makefiled, and no one told any noe where they were from, but described the challenges the have with their children, there would be many similarities.

    Thank you for brining reality to the forefront in the Central Bucks community and perhaps the smart parents will share with their children, many who are respectful, but also many who need to get out of their used $40,000 lexus l new jeep, and get a dose of hard core education and respect for others smacked across their head.

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  14. Stacey and All others, I appreciate reading your comments. I deal with people every day, in my neighborhood, that judge others based on the amount of money they appear to have. It is so sad – as the owner of a small mobile home park, I deal with city officials that pre-judge and mis-judge the residents of my park. I repeatedly explain to each of them that it is my goal to provide a good, safe, clean community where the residents can raise their families. I am hoping that I am starting to educate some of them, but it is a slow process. A few of them are starting to get it. Meanwhile, I see the residents going on about their daily lives (seemingly) without a care that the city doesn’t understand it. I am excited when I see that! We should all live as though no-one is watching! Another person shouldn’t define us.

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