Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Too proud to go on welfare

It's hard to believe, but there was once a time when people refused to take charity, public or private. Despite Mitt Romney's belief that 47 percent of Americans are on the public tit, there once were people like that, too proud to go on welfare.

My mother-in-law was one of them.  She was a proofreader, working in the printing trade, but she was not allowed to join the union, which at the time did not accept women.  So when the Depression hit, she lost her job, and was unable to get another.  She was a single mother of three children at the time and the sole support of her widowed mother.  She scrubbed floors.  She took in laundry.  But she would not go on welfare, then known in New York City as "home relief."

Don't think the family did not suffer.  My husband, who was born in 1931, was the baby.  Too young to understand what was going on,  he cried because he was hungry.  His older brother stole bread in the early morning hours, when bakeries delivered bread and pastries to retail stores.  When he could get any.

Eventually, she married a man who had several children of his own.  Her family was fed, but the marriage was a disaster.  I don't know the details of either the marriage or the split-up; but eventually the marriage ended.  She was supporting  herself, her mother, and her youngest child by freelance proofreading.  The older two grew up and married and moved away.  She died of a heart attack at 54.

I by no means support her views; if my kids had ever missed  a meal I would have been first in line at  welfare headquarters at the opening of business.  But I admire her integrity and the steadfastness with which she lived her beliefs.

2 comments:

Dick Stanley said...

Romney's 47 percent includes social security recipients, most of them retirees whose corporations factored social security into their retiree pensions. The actual welfare rolls are smaller, not counting folks on disability. So far.

It's already getting weird. The highway intersection beggars in Austin have phones now. They have their noses in them while their fingers peck at the screen like everyone else.

creakypavillion said...

https://creakypavillion.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/in-the-breadline/