(by Renee Irvin)
My brother and I started out like most baby boomers, in a neighborhood full of kids, with family all around. We lived in a middle class Cleveland suburb, and all seemed happy and fair. But my father was a traveling salesman, and that life was shattered when we moved to a wealthy suburb of Chicago, away from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—people who look out for you, who feed your body and soul.
We lived in the poorest part of this suburb, the “Apartments.” My mother became isolated and miserable, and my father drank more and more. We were the poorest kids in the richest neighborhood, with nothing to eat and only one pair of shoes each. When my father did come home, he ate steak and we ate tuna fish. As hungry as we were, we didn’t care if he ever came home.
My parents divorced shortly after that move, and something happened to my mother; she literally disappeared. She worked on State Street and wore a velvet cocktail outfit that I watched her sew with great determination on her pedal foot sewing machine. I was ten, and my brother was eight. She left each of us $5 a week on