Cardinal Charlie: growing up poor in ’30sPublished 11:00am Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Not too long ago, I read about people in poverty and I said to myself I also was a person in poverty back in the 1930s.
My father was 55 years old when I was born and had a lower-paid job of night watchman at the Premier Furnace factory on Railroad Street.
Also, my mother was 38 years old and I was the first and only child she ever had.
My father, who had been married, had two sons and two daughters and his first wife was deceased.
My mother was a widow, but had no children by her first husband.
I must tell you my half brothers and sisters were quite a lot older than me, and I was Uncle Charlie to three of my half brothers’ children who were older than me (how about that?).
I guess we were considered poor folks.
We had no cars, no house of our own and rented the house we lived in from Thomas Callahan, who had a plumbing business on Front Street, where his son later on had a hamburger take-out there (It still is a place to eat now).
We rented this house for the first 12 years of my life.
If I remember, we were the only family in the neighborhood where once a month a government surplus truck stopped at our house and gave us canned meat, flour, sugar, cheese and maybe some canned vegetables.
I suppose today our situation would put us in the category of getting food stamps.
I guess now food stamps are being outdated and have been replaced with a credit card (a special one) like I use our Visa or MasterCard.
I guess folks who are real bad off can still get food at some churches.
Also, I guess if one is really bad off, you can go to the welfare office for help for their rent and fuel.
One thing I remember we never had to go to welfare for ADC, but I’m sure we would have gone if needed.
Now that I’m 83 years old and my situation is a complete turnaround from the 1930s, I’m sure people who know me would never have thought of me as a poverty person, huh?
“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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