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Guest post: ‘Someone got hurt and died on our corner’

- September 30th, 2012

I asked Teresa from City Lights bookstore if she would share her feelings about the shooting over the weekend. Take it away, Teresa . . .

All we want to do is to sell a few books . . .

The Bookclerks came to work on Sunday to be greeted by a downtown core blocked by police cruisers and cordoned off by crime-scene tape. We got permission to enter our bookshop and started informing our customers via phone message and social media that we would be closed that day due to unforeseen circumstances.

Someone lost their life through violence on the corner that various Bookclerks over the decades had trodden past to get to work, or, in the wee hours of the day, to go home from an evening out on the town.

Our street was closed off while officers processed the scene. We couldn’t concentrate on working, we were too amped up from being thrust into a real-life crime drama.

Our shop has been continuous retail of one sort or another since the late 1800s. We feel part of a historical tradition. Our particular part of history starts from 1975. My time there started in 1992.

All these years have definitely brought changes to the area, from the razing of the old Covent Garden Market to the rising of the new one, which all of us continue to support.

We’ve also seen fortunes rise and fall, including our own, as businesses open and close over time.

Countless local residents have come through our doors, exchanging bits of information about their lives with us. We know our retail neighbours and exchange ‘Hellos’ as we sweep our front curbs. Keeping a friendly, watchful eye on the kids from nearby apartments is second nature. People know they can come to the shop if they need help and we will do our best to assist them.

As my manager, Tyler Smith, said today, “We are not a bad area, we are foremost a community that cares about each other, through our ups and our downs.”

We know who is having a tough time with mental illness or who is getting better. We know who is starting to move a little slower because of the age that will visit us all someday. We have called for help for folks who have passed out on the sidewalk from substance abuse or from a heart attack.

We remain aware. We don’t turn away. We don’t dismiss. We don’t sugarcoat either.

Of course we want the best for our area, who wouldn’t? But life is getting tougher in general for folks, both young and old. London, Ontario does not stand apart from that.

Big-city problems are migrating our way. The world economy has left its mark on our mid-sized patch of the world too.

All we want to do is to sell a few books . . .

That’s hard to do when some poor soul with his own story has been gunned down on our corner, not because we were inconvenienced, but because we care, we still care after all these years, that someone got hurt and died on our corner, our corner, where we work and play and live our lives.

We don’t know the circumstances yet, but it doesn’t matter if he was a good guy or a bad guy. He died in our neighbourhood, on our streets, in our town.

It was not business as usual because, as Charles Dickens wrote, “Mankind is our business.”

Categories: News

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5 comments

  1. Tom says:

    Nice job Teresa.

  2. Paul says:

    First..it is a very well written piece.. so Congrats on that.
    But, why is it.. that every time something happens in the core area.. Teresa is the first person you turn to?
    I applaud Teresa’s efforts to try and shine a positive lite on the core. I really do, but she only see’s part of the problem. She isn’t the only person who lives downtown. trust me… there are lots of people who would love to share their experiences. Not that she doesn’t have a valid right to talk about things, it’s just.. once she closes her store for the evening.. she leaves the core, and goes to her safe little corner of her community.. far away from the downtown core.

    Try talking to the people who live on Richmond between York and King… you’ll hear a completely different story.

  3. Teresa Tarasewicz says:

    Hi Paul, I will answer the last part of your comment, as Dan might want to address the first. Anyway, I used to live above City Lights Bookshop as did the other owner, so we were right on the Core scene for a long time…..also most of my staff over time including current staff lives Downtown. Presently, I live 7 minutes from the Core by car, ten minutes by bus, and if my legs are working properly, 20 minutes by foot. All of us have shopped Downtown, gone to bars, supported events and been there at all hours over the years. The Bookshop has been open after 6pm various times all the way to 10pm in the past. After closing, we frequently worked inside after hours and would be going home through the bar crowds occasionally in the early morning hours. Right now, we stay open on Thursday and Fridays till 7pm. The only reason we close earlier other days is lack of foot traffic. My “safe” little corner of the world includes several houses being broken into on my block as well as neighbours stopping thievery in progress. We’ve had domestic violence calls as well as other incidents. You have no way of knowing that, but I thought it might help you understand how I feel about our area. Trust me, I’ve seen the seedy underbelly of our area many times. I am still quite shaken by the loss of this young man and this guest blog piece came from my heart.

  4. gary4567 says:

    We are told we need to move to being a world class city maybe it means you have world like crimes?

    I work downtown 5 days a week.

    I dine with my wife 3 times a month.

    I have Knights season tickets.

    Am I an expert…no..but I do have some perspective.

    And I think it is a mess.

    The LFP has to stop performing CPR on downtown like it has the last 15 years. Take a look who the major builders have been the last few years. City government, Goodwill and Sally Ann….thats it

    The schools did not build anything new they took it over at Galleria.

    Pull TD and London Life out and downtown would look like an Escape from NY movie set.

    Too many wanna be 140 lb hat askew tough guys with their ass draggin pants to attract anyone let alone people with money to spend.

    Clean it up starting from Talbot and push east until you hit Vet Highway.

    And for God sakes make sure the $%&^** JP doesn’t let this clown out on bail like they did last time!

  5. Paul says:

    Teresa.. as I said, you piece was well written, and touching. I question the fact that you’ve been in the press 3 times this past week.
    I’m sorry if you think I was trashing your piece, as I’m not. I lived in the core, a few doors down from City Lights for a number of years, and know you lived there. I saw things that made me weep for the city. I saw people beating the hell out of each other, simply because they were drunk, and needed to let off steam. I watched people shooting up, and snorting stuff off of garbage cans.. because they could. I watched police officers try in vain to stop this kind of behaviour.. while others turned a blind eye.
    I watched, as the place I loved, turned violent, in a matter of months… I called the police so often that they joked about chipping in, and getting me a rubber stamp made with all my relevant information.
    I know it doesn’t sound like much, but even 20 minutes away from Richmond is different as night and day.
    Walk 20 minutes up Richmond towards Oxford, and see how the businesses change, head the other way.. and again… things change drastically. I walk 20 minutes north of my place, I end up in Stoneybrook, 20 minutes the other way.. Huron and Highbury.

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