What does that mean? Maybe this is the question that new generations no longer ask? Maybe, it is clearly the reason why they are in so much trouble as well. Maybe parents no longer say this to children anymore?  
When the streetlight came on when I grew up, my mother was at home to make sure that you made it home prior to. The parent that cannot be at home when the street light comes on, cannot ensure that your child made it home either. 

 This is not the question that one has to scale the highest peak of the highest mountain to get answered. At the top of the mountain where you find the old gray bearded man of wisdom living in solitude. I am going to save you the trip and just tell you what it means. You may get up there and ask the question, but there is no guarantee you will make it down with the correct answer. Of course, people would rather text the man or Google it nowadays anyway. When my generation and others saw that climb as a quest to seek and find answers to the meaning of life and to life’s greatest questions, this generation is either too out of shape, don’t care, or would rather let Lil’ Wayne and Drake come up with the answer. In response, this generation would simply tattoo it across their lower back, put it on their stomach, and go with it.

DON’T LET THE STREETLIGHT CATCH YOU, is a WARNING. This scares me, because what I am about to say makes me feel like I am old, sitting on an old white weathered porch down South, rocking in a chair, sitting next to Cicely Tyson playing Ms. Jane Pittman, eating fresh mulberries. When we were raised, we had what called, a CURFEW. I am getting ready to blow your mind with this one. A curfew was a time that my momma set for us to be at home. Our parents knew that children wore no watches nor were they going to buy a watch for us to tear up, so they used “God’s Universal Time Clock, The STREET LIGHT.” In the country they were probably told, “By SUNDOWN you better be at home.” In the city they used the STREETLIGHT. A curfew was a time term. It was a time that you had to be at a certain place. This warning allowed us to enjoy ourselves but at the same time, we had to be mindful of what time it was, our location, and the travel time it would take to make it home before the street light came on.  

How would you know the streetlight caught you? What did it catch? It caught you WRONG. It caught you in violation of a serious offense that was punishable by what felt like was death(a beat down).

One way you knew you were caught by the streetlight was, If you were anywhere else other than in front of your own house and could hear and see the streetlight buzzing and flickering. Anywhere else meant you were busted.

In my hood, all of the Olympic track stars and cyclist were developed by this warning. On a warm summer night, if you stood real still and closed your eyes, you could “Feel the Breeze.” This was not a summer breeze, but it was the breeze of the fastest runners and riders flying past you at break neck speeds trying to get home before their momma called their names or looked out the window. 

 I bet the aerial view of the hood was quite comical at least two minutes prior to the streetlights coming on. I can see jump ropes dropping, basketballs rolling away, and every child leaning into a full stride run for home like a runner rounding third in baseball.   

You knew you were caught, If you passed children standing in front of their house and you were still running to get to yours. “You gonna get a killing or you won’t be out tomorrow,” is what we would chant to the poor kids running pass our house to get home. 

DON’T LET THE STREETLIGHT CATCH YOU, is a TEACHING POINT.  Our parents knew that children should be at home when it got dark. Momma knew trouble came out at night and searched the street for whomever he could find. I haven’t done a study on this, but I am willing to bet that children who got caught by the street lights, are often the same adults who have trouble abiding by vows in marriages, warning labels, company rules, and speed limits.  

DONT GET CAUGHT BY THE STREETLIGHT, is a METAPHOR for life. Life is not all daytime fun, their must be some night. Ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad, are all a apart of life. You don’t have forever to live in the DAY. The NIGHT is coming and the street light is a constant reminder that the sun is going down on your life.  

DON’T LET THE STREETLIGHT CATCH YOU, is SPIRITUAL. To see the streetlight, you have to look up. If you want to know what time it is, look up and see GOD. HE is the SUPREME RULER of this Universe. GOD is SOVEREIGN. HE is in total control. No matter how dark the night, GOD like the street light, brightens up the night.  

I miss the old streetlight on my block. I think I’ll ride down my old street, look up and just see, if “Old Faithful” still buzzes and flickers. On second thought, that would require me to be out in these streets at night. 

Maybe folks who were raised by the streetlight, instinctively know how to go somewhere and sit down when night comes? I’m just saying….

You are grown now, but I still say, “DONT LET THE STREETLIGHT CATCH YOU!”


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