YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFood Stamps

'America and Its Poor'

August 11, 1985

When I read your articles on the poor my heart went out to all these people, especially the children. But then I remembered my early days growing up in New York City during the Depression.

My dad earned $17 a week; the rent was $40 a month. If there was a holiday that week, he would carry home $13 (no unions then to fight for you). My mother would never let us go hungry though. She would make many a delicious soup from chicken feet, meatballs that were mostly bread, and plenty of pasta. She would sew all our clothes; she would "make do."

The only way we finally made it out of the cycle was that dad heard about a two-story apartment up the street that was rent-free if the new tenants would be willing to clean, do household chores, take care of the coal furnace, etc., for the tenants upstairs.

This way mom and dad were able to save enough over the years to finally buy their own small home and get out of the poverty loop.

I don't remember any welfare checks, food stamps, handouts. There weren't any. We were all poor; each of us felt responsible for ourselves.

What is needed more than free lunches, food stamps and free handouts is education at an early age. How to stretch a dollar until it screams, how to make nourishing meals out of very little, how to buy in thrift stores; that it's foolish to buy pop and candy if you have nothing else to eat; that you can't spend your monthly check in two weeks.


Santa Ana

Los Angeles Times Articles