To Have and Have Not And Have Again …..For At Least Another Week! 1935 was a brutal depression year in New York City. Especially for those who had emigrated just before and just after World War 1. Jobs were scarce and countless breadwinners were out on the street looking for any type of work. Landlords were desperate for tenants in order not to lose their buildings to foreclosure, and would offer oneyear leases with the first ninety days free. Consequently, there were many ‘midnightriders’ who simply moved out on the eightyninth day seeking to relocate As favorably in another apartment. The lines at the unemployment ‘reliefoffices’ were always long. My mother at age 27, was fortunate enough to have a clerical job at a Ship Chandler office which paid a handsome seventeen dollars for a fortyfour hour work week. At five, I was used to being babysat after school, by one of her three sisters. Usually, it was the youngest, Aunt Angie. Her husband, Uncle Norman, was variously with, or without a job. They lived in the Bronx in a ‘railroad flat’ apartment (So named, because the outside door and all the rooms, led off, from the same side of a central hallway). They had managed to furnish the living room with maple furniture — A sofa, two chairs and two endtables, one of which had a radio built right into the flat surface. It was exiting to sit on the sofa and to listen to the fifteen minute radio soap operas that were on each weekday. Even at that young age, it was easy to become immersed in the lives of ‘Lorenzo Jones’, ‘One Man’s Family’ and many others. The furniture, of course, was bought on time, and required a weekly payment to be made each Friday at the furniture store. Aunt Angie and Norman were frequently in arrears. I remember one afternoon when they, had apparently, missed making a payment the prior week. There was a knock on the apartment door, and when opened, in marched two men, who, despite Angie’s pleading proceeded to remove the furniture. I was left sitting on the floor against the wall, in an empty room – Minus the imaginative storyworld on the radio. Now, I was listening to my Aunt, on the telephone, trying to locate Norman Which she finally did. Somehow, he managed, to scrounge up the six
dollars past due, and ran down to the furniture to make the payment. Several hours later, there was a knock on the door. It was the moving men bringing back the maple furniture. In its own way, it was a ‘rich’ growing up. The common denominator – Was that no one had any money – We simply made do. Did we regard ourselves as poor? No. Everyone around us, neighbors and friends, were all in the same boat! ====================================================== Alan H. Grant
Published on Jun 27, 2010
1 dollars past due, and ran down to the furniture to make the payment. Several hours later, there was a knock on the door. It was the moving...