Broken Glass

On July 26, 2022, I posted on how I worked on Saturdays and often Sundays (after Church) in our family business at 137 South Albany in Chicago. The post included a picture of me – age 8 – with my father in the factory. The place was about two blocks from Marshall High School in a poor and predominantly black and Hispanic area. Our small 3 story building had been a stable for Post Office horses – back in the day. Above the third floor outer door was a large beam extended over the alley – with a hook – to rope the hay up to the top floor.

I was usually pretty busy. After work hours and the lights went out, I would shoot the big Norway rats that would emerge on the factory floor. Then carry them outside to the garbage can.

Since the door was always locked, it was often we’d hear a loud knock on the wood panels. Sometimes it was a customer. Sometimes a salesman. And sometimes it would be a few young men from the neighborhood – looking for a handout. Rather than a handout, my father would give each one a paper bag and ask that it be filled with garbage. And broken glass. In exchange, he would give each one a quarter. Now I suspect that some of these bags were filled with glass from bottles broken for that purpose. But that didn’t matter. Each kid walked away richer than before – and learned a small lesson about “work.”

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