West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader
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We were living on Arthington Street when the Depression came. My mother would go to the bank and get money to pay the rent. The bank was on the corner of Kedzie and 12th Street. Liberty Savings. My parents always bragged about the fact that they didn't lose a penny during the collapse. They only wished they'd had more money in the bank. The bank held. It never failed.

When she got down to $200 ma wouldn't take any more out, because she knew she might need it for an emergency.

Rent was $44 a month. But then we couldn't pay it, and it started stacking up. We paid what we could, but pretty soon we owed about $80. So they asked the landlord to come over. It was an old lady who owned the house, Mrs. Peterson, and her son. They lived out in Riverside.

The son came over one night. My parents told him that they would try to pay the back rent but that we were going to have to move because we couldn't afford the rent anymore.

He said, "Well, my mother would want you to stay, no matter what. So I'll reduce the rent to $20 a month. And if you can pay the back rent, fine. If you can't, that's OK too."

So he took the $20. And we stayed there until 1937. I remember that my father tuck-pointed the house while he was out of work. We could have bought the place later for $2,500, but nobody had any money for a down payment.

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