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Depression’s Child

Depression’s Child

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Depression’s Child

Lunghezza:
187 pagine
2 ore
Pubblicato:
Apr 28, 2017
ISBN:
9781483463254
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

his book is about a young poor boy growing up during the Great Depression when organized crime was rampant, welfare didn’t exist, food lines were commonplace, and hot tamales were available from a vendor on a modified bicycle, if you had the price. His mom, a widow since he was four years old, didn’t have the price. Once a week, they had meat; it was sausage and what tasted like sawdust mixed in. He didn’t like it, but he ate it because he was hungry. Sometimes, on Sundays, White Castle had hamburgers on sale, ten for a dollar. When his mom and his older half sister had a dollar, they ate like royalty. He could’ve eaten all ten by himself. When he was fifteen, he lied about his age and joined the US Navy and was never hungry again.
Pubblicato:
Apr 28, 2017
ISBN:
9781483463254
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

Depression’s Child - Mark Nelson

tomorrow."

2

Idon’t know what transpired between Jeff and his mom, but the next morning, Jeff and Holly took me home.

I could feel Holly’s hand shaking as we went up the stairs. Mom was on the landing waiting for us.

Can you forgive me, mom?

She embraced us both. There’s nothing to forgive, Holly. I was beginning to miss my little guy anyway. Will you stay with us, too?"

I can’t mom.

Why not?

I’m pregnant.

That’s all right with me.

I want our baby to have a fathers love to grow up with, too.

I understand.

Jeff is waiting downstairs. I’ll have to go.

All right.

I clung to Holly’s leg. I won’t let you go!"

Mom began pulling on my shoulder, Turn loose son, Jeff’s waiting for her. She has to go.

Tears began leaking from my eyes and I clung ever tighter to her leg. Mom, make her stay with us!

Holly placed her hand on mom’s arm. Let me talk to him, privately, mom.

Mom went into the kitchen. We sat down on the divan and she dried my face with her handkerchief

Do you miss your dad?

Sure I do.

I have Jeff’s baby in my tummy. Give me your hand. Sometimes I can feel it kick.

I don’t feel anything.

It’s tiny now, but it will get bigger in the weeks to come. You wouldn’t hurt my baby would you, Mark?

Heck no.

Jeff won’t hurt me again because I’ve got his baby inside, and besides, I won’t go to any dances and he won’t have any reason to get mad at me."

You could stay with us and have the baby.

I know Mark, but a baby needs a father’s love, too.

Is it a boy or a girl?

We won’t know till it’s born, but when that happens you’ll be the first to know.

Will you come back if he hurts you?

Of course I will, little brother.

She hugged me so tight, tears leaked out of my eyes again.

When she got to the bottom of the stairs, she turned around to us, smiled, and waved goodbye. I waved back, but I was so worried about her, I couldn’t smile because I was worried about mom, too. How could she get a job with me at home, she’d have to look after me now that we don’t have Holly anymore, but I’m really ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning when my dad was alive.

3

My bed was a blanket in a shipping crate with big black letters on the outside. I could hear steam sizzling in the pipes overhead. I slept in the kitchen, next to an outside door. It was separated from the rest of our apartment by a thin wall of plywood nailed to upright studs. The rest of my family, mom, dad, Holly, Brad, and Ralph occupied the other side. My dad was the custodian of the Wilburn Apartments, and he could fix anything. He built that wall and installed a sink with four pipe legs and a draining board. On the other side he built a cabinet that held our dishes and added a drawer for utensils. The pots and pans were stacked below on the concrete floor. It was crowded, but we were happy because we had steam heat and hot water and in the summer time, the basement was a cooler place to live. Mom and dad were in love. I could tell because when they washed and dried dishes together, they laughed a lot.

We didn’t have a bathtub, but our kitchen had running hot and cold water, and except for me, everyone took turns bathing there. They used a dishpan to take a sponge bath, but we didn’t have sponges, so they used washrags. It got everyone clean and mom insisted that all the kids, except me, take a bath every week. Mom gave me more frequent baths.

Later, dad got a better job, and we moved to a basement apartment on Jarboe Street, close to a park overlooking the Missouri River. In the summer time, we would take our blankets to the park and lay down on the grass until it got cool. A lot of other people did, too but it was never crowded. We would sing songs together. Dad had a good voice and he liked to sing to us but he taught us some of the songs so we could sing with him. My favorite was about a man and his wife, but I only recall the chorus that we sang: Ha, ha, ha, you and me, little brown jug how I love thee. Dad and mom didn’t drink alcoholic beverages

During the week, mom and I would set on the porch swing and wait for dad to come home from work. Every time he had a piece of hard candy for me, but I had to search him to find it. His jacket only had two pockets, so I guessed right most of the time. Win or lose, I always got the candy.

I loved my dad, but he got into trouble, and we had to move. Holly was in detention and I didn’t understand why. She was always so good to me. Mom said she didn’t want to move away with us, because all of her friends were here. I missed her.

After a year of living in Topeka, Kansas, mom and dad moved back to Kansas City. Mom missed grandma, her brothers, Uncle Dorsey and Uncle Damen, and my Aunt Sandra. I never met anyone from my dad’s side of the family. They probably lived in another state. The war brought young men from all over the country to centralized boot camps to become soldiers.

4

Dad brought home our first radio. You had to use sensitive earphones because it didn’t need electricity, but used the power of the airwaves to make it work. It was called a Cat’s Whisker Receiver, and we could tune in music from a radio station. The whisker was a wire. It was used with a chunk of stone that had a piece of crystal, called galena that was sensitive to the Cat’s Whisker, to pick up radio stations. Only one person could listen at a time, but dad put the earphones in mom’s washtub, so we all could hear it. The sound was very tinny, not something we could enjoy, so we took turns with the earphones.

Within a matter of a few days, kids from all over the neighborhood came to our apartment to listen to the music. It was so incredible that everyone had to put on the earphones to be truly convinced that there were radio stations and that music could be sent through the air, without wires.

Prior to the discovery of the Cat’s Whisker Receiver, we used records and a stiff whisker to ride in the groves to produce music. Records were expensive, so we only had one. It was Strike up the Band. When no one was around, I would put the record on and march to the tempo of the music, and I never tired of it.

We didn’t have a radio, but Dirks mom had one. It was a Philco Radio and no cat whisker was needed. It was connected to an antenna and used a tuning coil with a metal condenser to tune in the radio stations. We had stations in Kansas City at that time. Most important there were serial adventure stories we could listen to. Dirk’s mother sent ten cents and a box top to one station and got a small casting of A tiger. She put it on a high shelf so we could see it, but none of us was allowed to touch it. We could also listen to baseball games and boxing matches. We were especially interested in a world heavyweight boxing match between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis, who broadcasters called the Brown Bomber. In their first match, Max knocked Joe out in the 12th round and the world championship went to Germany. This was a rematch and Dirks mom had to move out of her kitchen to let us all in to listen to the fight. Joe Louis knocked Max Schmeling out in the first round! We couldn’t believe it at first, but when we did, we cheered and made such a racket that Dirk’s mom turned off the radio and sent us all home. I wanted a radio of our own, but mom said we couldn’t afford one.

5

Dad got sick and the ambulance took him to the hospital. The next thing I can recall about my dad is that I was sitting beside mom on a long bench with vertical shelves on the back to hold music books and fans. Several ladies that I didn’t know, talked briefly with mom, and one said to me You’re a very brave boy. I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I didn’t reply. It was hot and mom was fanning us when she asked me if I’d like to see dad. I looked around, but I couldn’t see him. Mom said He’s lying in that long brown box on the table up front. He’s dead son. I couldn’t believe what she was saying, and began to cry. She asked if I’d like to see him. I wiped my eyes and shook my head. I’ve never seen a dead person before, and I didn’t want to remember my dad that way.

6

Mom was devastated for days after dad died, (a victim of bronchial pneumonia) and totally unprepared to become a widow. She had polio when she was a little girl and getting well took so long my grandparents kept her home to help with the housework and she never returned to school. Mom is intelligent and smart, but she can only read a little, her writing is barely legible and she walks with a limp. Competition for housework made finding work in that field nearly impossible. She couldn’t even start looking for a job until she had help with us. Her brother, Steve adopted my younger sister, Nancy. Her sister, Sandra, took Ralph for a school semester, and my half-sister, Holly, who had just turned sixteen, married Jeff and his family took me in. My older brother, Brad, still in high school, had a part time job at a local drug store and stayed home to help mom pay the bills.

7

During the Depression, every house and apartment building was backed up to an alley so all occupants had a place to dispose of their trash, notably empty cans, bottles, and garbage, but only the garbage that didn’t burn up in the 55-gallon trash barrels set out for that purpose. Jeff couldn’t find a regular job, so he bought a pick-up truck, on credit, and tried huckstering, but found that dumping trash and garbage provided a year around income. It was a much more dependable way to make a living.

One morning Jeff took me with him. We drove up and down a lot of alleys before he found what looked like a profitable place to stop. Wait here Mark and I’ll show you how to make it when times are tough. When he returned, he parked as close to the barrels as he could and emptied them into the truck bed. It stunk, smelled so bad I had to hold my nose, but I concealed it with my handkerchief. Before he drove off, he waved some bills in my face, smiled and said That’s how it’s done, Mark.

I fell asleep after the first stop and napped off-and-on till he pulled into his mother’s driveway. When I got out I saw that the truck-bed was empty. I don’t know what he did with all that stuff, but the truck didn’t stink so much anymore.

We lived upstairs in his mom’s house. The stairs didn’t go straight up, but stopped at a landing, and then turned to another set of stairs that went up to our apartment.

There was a door on the landing and I was always curious to know what was behind it. When Jeff and Holly were away at work one day I opened the door.

The little room was dark and empty, except for a stalk of bananas hanging from the ceiling. I picked one, closed the door, as quietly as I could, and crept back up the creaky stairs to eat it. It wasn’t all yellow, but I love bananas for what’s inside and I didn’t miss the peelings, but I forgot to ask if I could have one, so I hid the peelings under Jeff and Holly’s bed. I was still banana hungry so I took just one more and after I’d eaten it my stomach

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