Mary Beth Writes

What Happens to Personal Finances When One Grows Up Poor and Black in America?

Our Brothers story -   “Black Lives Matter”

I met Our Brother when I was the coordinator (and only employee, hah) of the Jail Employment Program in the Racine County Jail. I did this job nearly a decade and retired from it two years ago. (The jail disbanded the program a few months after I left.) Each year I worked with several hundred current and some former inmates; helping about 100-125 of them obtain employment.

I liked and respected most of the people with whom I worked and I told myself that when I was completely retired I would contact a few of the guys to find out more about their stories.  I started with O.B, a dignified and serious man who had earned my respect. I first interviewed him in 2016, started asking him some questions and was soon was sucked into the quagmire of frustration, debt, and incarceration due to debt that is the right hand of racism in the US.

I interviewed him about twenty hours over six sessions in the past two years. I took some breaks when he would “go dark” at his end and when I couldn’t personally handle how overwhelming his situation is. I have never known what to do to address the injustice in his life and I still don’t.

Please be aware that this is not all of his story; this is not even all of his story that I know. This is just some of it so that perhaps we can better understand realities we barely understand at all.

If you are a generous person who is able to share some of your security, or if you are lawyer or a detail-oriented person in search of a worthy project, contact me. I’ll ask for allies again at the end of this article. He needs more than me but right now, I’m the outside-of-his-circle person whom he has.


I can’t use his real name. You will soon see why.

Let’s call him Our Brother, O.B.

Because he is.

He was born 40 years ago, the 10th of ten kids, to a blue-collar African-American family in Racine, Wisconsin.  His mom was a staff person in the local Catholic elementary school and his dad was a truck driver. “My parents loved us and we knew that. We were never hurt or abused in our family. My dad came to all my games in middle school and high school. I still I miss him.” His dad died of a heart attack years ago.

Our Brother smiles a little. “Other kids thought we must be rich because our house was clean and pretty. We wore nice clothes every day. We sat down and said grace and ate our meals together. We all went to church on Sunday morning.” His face breaks into a grin, “At Christmas time our mom and aunties and my grandma would have special activities for all us kids and our cousins every Saturday. We would make cookies and sing carols and horse around and it was really fun. On Christmas eve and on New Year’s eve we went to church and prayed the next day in.”

Here are background stories to take in and consider:

Dad was over-the-road driving a lot, so often he wasn’t there at all. When he was home he drank too much. He wasn’t abusive, but he was not helping his wife and kids when he was planted in his chair, drinking, watching sports on TV. This is often called self-medicating for depression, though I never met the man and O.B. and I didn’t talk about that possibility.

When he was very little, O.B.’s mom moved herself and the kids from Racine to Spokane, Washington where she had family. O.B. doesn’t know why his mom took a break to move far away. She would return to living with his dad in Wisconsin, in a few years. They never divorced.

In Spokane she rented a 3-story wood frame house for her family and then rented one of the bedrooms to an older couple from the church they attended. The husband had suffered a stroke which made his face droop and his speech slur; he was frightening to 4-year old O.B. whose bedroom was near theirs. O.B. didn’t like to go to his room because he might see the man.

His mom worked in a café. One summer day one of his teenage sisters was in charge of the family while Mom was at work. Two of O.B.’s older brothers were sneaking smokes in their bedroom. The brothers eventually got bored and left so O.B. snuck into their room, found their matches and began to play with them. The bedspread caught fire which frightened him so he left the room, carefully closing the door behind himself to go downstairs to watch TV with his siblings.

A neighbor came screaming to the kids to get out of the house. Everyone escaped, including the older couple. Their mom ran home before the fire department showed up. O.B. remembers being hugged by his crying mom as he watched their three-story home go up in massive flames.

When he tells me this story his eyes are not looking at me, but inward as if he can still see his house on fire, knowing he was the child who caused it; a preschool child upstairs on his own in a big, rambling, sometimes-scary home. They lost everything they owned.

His mom moved them to a different neighborhood. Some of the kids in their new neighborhood were, as O.B. says “gypsies.” (Romani people prefer to be called the Romani, which is why I put it in italics.) O.B. was told to not play with those kids but he did anyways. They were all young boys and they ran in a pack, throwing rocks at trains, getting into kid mischief, running from the police.  These were O.B.’s first interactions with police; the rush of adrenalin was exciting.

His parents had decided to put their marriage back together. O.B. remembers being in a car with his mom and dad and some of his siblings. They were returning to live with a relative at Shelburne Court and were just pulling their car into the lot after the long cross-country move. (Shelburne Court in a sprawl of one-story subsidized housing units in Racine.) 

As they turned in a man ran out of one of the apartments with a gun, put it to his head, and shot himself. O.B.’s mom and dad tried to shield their kids from the grizzly image but it was too late. At age 6 O.B. witnessed his first death by violence.

One of the aspects of racism in housing that many of us who are white don’t understand, is this. Rent in segregated, gang-controlled, poor housing-stock neighborhoods is generally as expensive as in the good neighborhoods. The reason poor people live in “bad” neighborhoods isn’t because the rents are affordable, but because that’s where they can find a landlord who will rent to them. Once into the cycle of poverty and legal troubles it is almost impossible to get a lease in a middle-class neighborhood because one doesn’t “qualify”. And if one is also a family of color, it’s a dead-in-the-water deal.

A 1974 study (conducted by Bradley University, Illinois) of 28 small cities in the US, looked at issues of equality on the basis of education, jobs, income, and integration.  Racine was rated 18 out of the 28 cities; two thirds of the way down the list.

That was the time and place in which O.B.’s parents were looking for safe places to rent for their large family. Racism and housing discrimination is the CORE of Our Brother’s complicated and suffering life.  Don’t ever doubt it. (Ironically, I have been writing another interview that includes a white man who was the 10th of ten kids in a poor, church-going, farm family in central Wisconsin. He’s in his 50’s now; his life is secure, rewarding, and successful.)

Our Brother’s family moved nearly every year of his childhood. These were always rambling homes in insecure neighborhoods where many males were gang members.  A teenage boy (girls, too) must always be vigilant in a gang neighborhood. They must either join that gang or join a different one that will protect them from the one around their house.  A few kids don’t join gangs, but it is hard and dangerous to NOT do so.

Here is another reality we who are white middle-class people need to understand. Every poor neighborhood where people of color live is run by one gang or another; turf is staked over runs of blocks going all directions. 

When you belong to a gang, you are only free to walk around in your own gang’s turf.  But while you are there you can be asked to do tasks and errands on behalf of your gang. You can’t say no.  If you want to get out of a gang, the way to do it is over a long period of time is to NOT live in your own gang’s neighborhood. Stay far away from it so they can’t ask you to do things and you don’t have to say no.

But of course, this now puts you in “enemy turf”. Now you need to be super-cautious and lay low so that you don’t rile members of this other gang. If they don’t trust what you are doing, they will make your life, and that of your family, fraught and dangerous. Several times I visited O.B. in the home of one of his relatives which is in a neighborhood run by a gang with which he was never associated. He lives close to there because he doesn’t want to be in any gang. I visited in my car twice in three weeks. He was threatened because they wanted to know what the white lady was doing. They assumed I was a social worker or attorney getting information about THEM from O.B.

 Is this threatening and complicated enough? If one is Black or brown and poor in a ghetto neighborhood in America, this is part of the reality one considers every day.

Remember when African-American people did not walk away from their neighborhoods during the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina? Remember how many people said they were lazy? If where you currently lived was under a huge weather alert and you didn’t have a car and public transportation had stopped – would you walk through Syria/ El Salvador/ North Korea to get to possible safety 50 miles up the road? Many locales in Syria/El Salvador/North Korea are fine and quiet, but if you don’t know which neighborhood is which – would you take off to walk through the unknown for two days?

Next time someone makes a comment about lazy men and women who won’t walk a mile to their jobs – consider why they might rather lose the job than walk the gauntlet of a neighborhood not their own, at odd times, by themselves.

Except for some politicians and law enforcement who know what they are talking about - when you hear someone talking about protecting citizens from gang violence – figure out if they are trying to protect citizens in gang neighborhoods from gangs – or are they talking about keeping gangs localized in the poor neighborhoods so they don’t come close to YOU.

Our Brother made friends in elementary school, but gang intimidation and violence prompted his parents to move from neighborhood to neighborhood.  O.B. remembers how much he liked another kid when they were both in 3rd grade but at the end of the school year, his family moved. The other kid only lived about 10 blocks away, but they couldn’t walk to play with each other because they would have to cross gang turf, and it wasn’t safe. Not even for little kids.

He grew up in one small city, yet he moved almost every year so he could never develop long term friendships with other kids, other families, or with teachers. If the Catholic school where his mother worked had offered free tuition to children of staff – and her kids could all have gone to one school consistently, their family story would be powerfully different. If you donate money to a local private school, see if you can lobby for this.

One of his older brothers made friends with a smart teen boy who possessed impressive manners.  Soon the whole family liked that young man and he was welcomed to come and go from their house as he pleased.

When no one else was around he sexually assaulted O.B. O.B. didn’t tell anyone; he didn’t know that he could. He tried to save himself by never being at his own house alone, which he did by hanging out in the streets instead of at home. He never told anyone about this until he told me.  He said, not aware he was telling me the classical dynamic of PTSD; that he just blocked it out of his mind since there was nothing he could do.

When Our Brother was nine an older brother was attacked by opposing gang members. O.B.’s brother was beaten to unconsciousness and was in a coma for a month. To this day he suffers brain damage.

O.B. was terrified and furious. He went to the leaders of his big brothers’ gang and said he wanted in. They held a ceremony and it happened.  He is still considered a member of that gang, though he has intentionally stayed away from their neighborhoods since he was in his early 20’s.

At one of the elementary schools he went to that year - a magnet school that is highly touted in Racine - he remembers nothing of teachers or curriculum. “All I remember is sitting there, wondering how I could get home without getting beat up. We lived two blocks away and they knew who my brother was, so they would catch me and beat me. One would hold me upside down by my ankles while another punched me in the stomach. I was always scared. It’s all I remember, being scared.”

When he was 12 he was hanging out in an alley with a friend. (Smoking dope, throwing dice, what did YOU do in the summer when you were 12?) O.B and a friend witnessed a crime committed by an opposing gang but they didn’t tell anyone what they saw. The leader of that gang understood he “owed” his freedom to these kids who didn’t “snitch”.

The fall-out from this event set in motion the trajectory of his life. The opposing gang began to give O.B. gold chains, money, and drugs. O.B. used some of the THC (marijuana) himself, but most he gave or sold to others. The other gang leader kept him supplied for months until one of O.B.’s older brothers realized what was going on and had a strange “come to Jesus” talk with him. O.B. was selling “enemy gang drugs” in his own neighborhood while being a member of a different gang. It had to cease immediately before he and others were shot by one gang or the other.

O.B. told the other gang member he didn’t want any more gifts. That man understood the position O.B. was in and ceased the “gift-giving”.  But now that O.B. had shown what he could do, his own gang drew him more tightly into their drug dealing. By the age of 14 he was running his own drug house and owned his own car, a 1977 Cutlass Supreme.  He didn’t have a license, of course, and his mother wouldn’t have allowed it if she knew, but he kept it in the backyard of a friend and he loved that car. He lost it when cops took it to search for evidence of a crime and he couldn’t prove it was his to get it back.

As I said, O.B is now 40. He understands the devastating effects of drugs in urban neighborhoods. He knows what he did was wrong. He had many dramatic run-ins with the law, some fair, and some ramrodded ersatz justice. I am not going to list the details here. It happened and by the time he was 23 he had spent 3 years in prison which he will tell you he deserved in general, although not for the charges that put him there.

(Curiously, I heard that so often from inmates. Sloppy, rushed, or unjust police and public defender work put men in jail for things they didn’t do, but they accepted it on behalf of the wrong things they HAD done. I still don’t know what to make of this dynamic which is so related to a person’s sense of God, justice and spirituality.)

Our Brother used that time in prison to earn his high school equivalency certificate. He read a lot. He read literature of and about Black Muslims in the US and he professed to be Muslim, because in prison that helped to keep him safe. He wanted to continue as a Muslim when he was finally released from prison because he was attracted to the discipline, orderliness, and Black pride of it. But he also felt gratitude to his family and to his mother for supporting him through the chaos and destruction of his teenage years. It would break her heart for him to claim being Muslim, so he left that part of himself behind.

When he came out of prison at 23 he was determined to set his life straight. He moved back to live with his mother and later with a woman he loved. He took the low level, temporary foundry and warehouse jobs that young Black men with felony records can get. He attended church again. He stayed away from his gang, he did not sell drugs; he was a quiet guy trying to turn it around one day at a time.

Let me say this clearly and non-dramatically. Our Brother believes there is a particular white cop in the Racine Police Department who “hunts” him. This cop has, if one reads the criminal complaints, (I have read some of them; they are not simple to obtain) been the arresting officer many of the times O.B. has been arrested. I heard this cop’s name in one other instance early in my career at the jail; that first time from a white professional who was saying, unsolicited by me, that when she encountered beat-up arrestees, too often they had been brought in by this cop. What she said caught my attention so I remembered his name. Years later I would hear it from Our Brother. For example, O.B. talked about being thrown off his porch when he was cooperating while being arrested on child support issues (which are financial commitments, not misdemeanors or felonies). The bruising allowed that cop to add “resisting” to the charges on which he was brought to jail. This meant O.B. could plead guilty later in order to have the time in jail reduced, but the charges stay on his record forever, damaging his life. 

I knew O.B. through one period of incarceration where he had been arrested by that cop, who had physically accosted him and then charged him with resisting. O.B. did not take the “plead guilty and we will reduce your sentence” offer. He remained in jail an extra month so that he could get literally have his day in court. The judge DID toss the charges.  But O.B. “paid” for those cleared charges with a month of his life sat out behind bars.

All cops know they have these kinds of powers. Most of the law officers I met would never have done this.

Some do. 

I also called a judge whom I knew to talk about this and that judge said they would talk to some other authorities. I heard nothing after that.

So. O.B. was not yet 25 and had been out of prison for close to a year. He was walking down the street, recognized a friend parked along the street so he walked over to the curb and leaned down to chat with that guy.

Right then a cop car pulled up and the officer we are talking about roughly tackled, threw down, and arrested O.B. and his friend on charges of selling drugs.

Very long story short – O.B. had been talking with his friend. His friend clearly stated O.B. had nothing to do with the drugs in his car. There was no other evidence presented except that of the one cop who made the claim.

O.B. was hauled to jail, losing the job he had at the time. Because he had been a drug dealer and he had been imprisoned on for that previously, his bail was set so high his family could not raise it for months. They finally did so and O.B. was released, but now he was even further behind on child support. He had a court appointed Public Defender who never met with him.

At one of his court dates, his lawyers switched, and now he had a new lawyer who never spoke with him. He appeared for a court date months later. The new attorney, whom he did not know, told him that he was going to prison – that morning - for the rest of his life - unless he pled guilty - that morning. She had a plea deal going and that is what she wanted to accomplish. 

He had not been selling drugs. He did not want to go to prison at all and he was terrified of the suddenly looming possibility that he could spend decades there if he didn’t plead guilty to a crime he didn’t do.  He felt trapped. He told his attorney he had to use the washroom, walked out, and didn’t come back.

He was on the lam for 18 months until federal marshals came to his mother’s house and told her that if he didn’t turn himself in, when they found him it was possible he might be shot. She called him in the state where he was staying and begged him to come home.

He did and on a Saturday afternoon he walked to the jail and told the person at the window that they wanted him.

He would be in jail for nearly six months awaiting his trial. On the day that trial finally happened, the judge looked at the case, read the criminal complaint, asked some questions of O.B and the arresting officer – and threw the case out of court.

“There is no case here.” The officer and prosecutor starting flipping through their notes to find more evidence to convict O.B. The judge was angry and told them to be quiet.

Our Brother was cleared of the drug charges. But he had run and that is also a crime. The judge fined him $5000 for “bail jumping” which is walking away from court when one is “out” on bond. 

His mother and family never got the thousands of dollars they had posted for him.  And now he owed more to the court for running.

He did not pay any of this fine imposed in 2003. Interest has compounded so that now he owes more than $20,000. Years ago the debt was turned over to a collection agency in Milwaukee. Now when O.B. works, eventually that collection agency realizes he is getting paychecks so they legally garnish that paycheck as WELL as the garnishment from the Child Support department.

O.B. worked for nearly a year at a job that paid $8 an hour, paying his child support out of that. But then his paychecks dropped from low to less than $15 for two weeks of work – because that collection agency processed paper work to garnish.  He quit because it cost more in gas to go to and from that job than he could earn at it.

He was hired last summer to work “off the books/for cash” on a home remodeling crew. After two weeks of work the owner of the company didn’t pay him. He had counted on that money to pay child support. He then couldn’t pay his emergency child support “bond” (it’s called a purge, I don’t know why) so he went to jail until his family could pay it.

Also, because it is relevant, years ago he damaged his hip at a foundry job. It hurts for him to walk. A doctor advised and scheduled a hip replacement surgery but O.B. didn’t go through with it because he owes so much in back child support that he figures he will be arrested in the hospital. He can’t go to therapy if he is in jail; sleeping on a 4” mattress on a bunk bed for months would cripple him.

He has high blood pressure. He can’t afford the co-pay.

Here is what he can and does do. He has three kids born over a period of 20 years to three women. He watches them. He cares for his children as well as his girlfriend’s children from a previous relationship. All of his children know him, he is in their lives, and he has cared for all of them when their mothers worked. He is a valuable and respected man in his community. He is kind, polite, thoughtful, and quiet. He talks to young men, listens to their tales and situations, urges them to not do or sell drugs.  He talks to them about respecting women and cherishing the kids in their neighborhoods.

I asked him once what he wished he could do with his life. He closed his eyes like a person remembering sweetness. “I would go to school to learn how to help young people. I wish I could do something to help young men not have my life.”

He called me a few days ago. He is working again, but there are child support warrants out on him right now. I told him to do the thing I always told guys to do. Call the child support department. Tell them where he is working. Ask how much money they will take to remove the warrants so he can continue to work.

He did that last week. They negotiated a figure of $1350. At $9/hour (which is what he is earning) he could earn this in 150 hours which is about one month. But then, child support will take out his current obligations, which is several hundred dollars. So he ought to be able to get the $1350 in about two months - except negotiated purges are generally due in five days. If one doesn’t it pay it promptly, they can be arrested at any time. When I ran the program in the jail, I often met guys who had been picked up on their warrants AT THEIR JOBS!

The Child Support department is not staffed by awful people. I worked with them, most were completely cognizant of the pressure on the non-custodial parents. But incarceration is the only leverage they have to obtain payments, so this exhausting and broken system exists. As too many child support workers told me, trying to explain to me or maybe to themselves, “I work for the children."

In a wildly over-simplified nutshell, child support obligations for people who are already poor is around $200 per month for the first child from one mother, $100 per month for each additional baby from her. If a child is born to a different mother, that formula starts over.  I knew a very sweet man who had eight or nine children with five women – and more in another state. His adult life was mostly being spent bouncing between jails in the two states. Obviously that man had a responsibility (and birth control) problem – but how is society better incarcerating that gentle man for nearly his whole adult life because he sired too many children? What if free vasectomies were offered after one’s second child came into the child support system? Not mandated, not required, but just offered?

Child Support doesn’t stop when the father goes to jail or prison. Obviously, the child doesn’t cease to exist, so that makes sense. But if a man (with one child) is sent to prison for a year – that is $2400 in obligation he now owes PLUS he is annually, (compounded monthly) charged 6% interest on the balance. If I just did the compounding interest calculator correctly– he will leave prison owing $2556. The amounts these men owe are staggering.  If they can obtain a real job and thus pay their support regularly over a year or two, the Child Support department is usually willing to “forgive” big chunks of the interest-load of the debt. But the guy has to have the job, make the regular payments, actually know he can contact Child Support about this, and then negotiate it with them.  How successful are you with your health insurance bills?

Our Brother has never had an apartment in his own name; he either lives with his current girlfriend or with his mom. He doesn’t have a credit card, nor car, nor license.

Our Brother used to smoke marijuana. I don’t know if he still does; I have read it is a pretty good antidepressant and also helps with chronic pain, so I don’t ask. He has received traffic tickets for driving without a valid license. He got his last ticket for this on his way to work – although he can’t get a valid license without paying a several hundred dollar fine to child support because he owes child support. 

Other than THC and driving without a license, he has not broken a law in 20 years.

He loves his kids. He writes music and sometimes performs with some friends and his brothers in his church. He talks seriously and with respect to young men in his neighborhood, about how to stay away from guns, drugs, violence, and gangs. He told me he would love to be a mentor in a program for kids, but he knows he probably will never be allowed to do that because of his record.

Is everything I wrote true? I think so. He has read it. There was no reason for him to lie to me in the ten years I have known him, or in the past two years I have interviewed him. There are parts of his story that could hurt the feelings and reputations of others, we have omitted those details. 

Can we help? 


ONE – See People, not stereotypes. It is racism to say “they” are this or that or anything else you want to pronounce about others when you are frustrated and exhausted by your own life. What you expect to see is, in general, what you will see (Thanks, Rev. Tony Larson, for your sermon yesterday on “Expectations”.) So see persons. It makes society safer and more just and it will make your life more interesting and less angry.

TWO – Can you donate money to help pay $1350 to Child Support to drop the warrants? Maybe you can’t afford a lot, but consider that he can only earn it at $9/hour.

Diane Lange is a friend of mine (if you live in Racine you probably know her). She and Our Brother opened a bank account today in his name. This is his first bank account and he is grateful in a way I wish I could write well enough for you to understand. Today he has a savings and checking account in his own name. Today.

We had explored ways for you to donate money to him. The on-line funding apps all charge fees that we are not ready to support.  

So here is our fix!

Remember Franc Garcia? (Franc's story here, so you know what kind of guy he is...) 

If you are moved to donate money to Our Brother, send a check to Franc Garcia / 2038 Russet Street / Racine, WI 53405. He will take a photo of it (so we keep track) and then endorse it to Our Brother’s bank account and deposit it that day or the next.

This is NOT Tax Deductible - which means your generosity is way out ahead of the curve here… Just helping a brother.

THREE – Our Brother could use some people. Please be aware he is intelligent, kind of depressed (who wouldn’t be?) and rather shy African American adult. He doesn’t need a “fixer” to swoop in and take over anything. He could use friendly and respectful adults who are willing to help him face his challenges.

What is going on with his blood pressure and obtaining medication for it?

Who has experience dealing with bureaucracies? Is there someone out there who would help him call the courts (or confer with him first and then call on his behalf), negotiate the lowest possible amount in order to pay off the 2003 bail jumping payment?  I have talked with some court staff people about this and can share what I know so far. If that obligation can be brought down to a manageable amount, can you help him decide where or how to borrow it?

He is just one guy in one small city in one place in America. He is also the parent of children (his baby son is facing heart surgery in the next month). He has his family and friends. All we can count on is that whatever we do will have a ripple effect.

He doesn’t need charity (well, not so much…) as much as he needs a window to open to allow him, for the first time in a long, long while, a glimpse of justice and hope.

We all do.

So, like I just said (say what is most important twice!)

To contribute money.

Make a check to Franc and send it to him.  He will deposit it to Our Brothers bank account.

Franc Garcia

2038 Russet Street

Racine, WI 53405


We will send you a thank you note.

If you can contribute a willingness to wade into the court system on his behalf, contact me and we will go from there.


Thank you for reading this. This is not an easy situation to live, know, write, or read. I appreciate your consideration.


Oh man, gf. You have done an awesome job writing his story.

M.B. You knocked this one out of the park my friend. It took some time to think on this and I just read it again to help it sink in. As a person of color I've had my own experiences with the injustices of not being born into white privilege. Luckily for me I wasn't raised in poverty or with gangs ( I would not have survived ) The modest house my parents built was far away from that and we were only allowed to speak in English so as not to have any trace of an accent. My father did this because he said our color would be used against us. ( a neighbor passed a petition to keep us out in 1953 ) My father said speaking well would help get us over the color barrier and he was right. To be singled out for harassment the way O.B. was is beyond wrong and only goes to show how that sort of power corrupts. I feel honored to help O.B. in any way I can my friend.

Your comment makes me stronger. Thanks for this - and for being willing to accept donations and get them to his account, while keeping him safe. Well, as safe as we can.

Heartbreaking and not uncommon, as I learned working at Workforce Development Center. I had to read this over several days as it made me so sad. I need a coffee buddy!

O.B. was given a raw deal from birth. My heart aches... I learned so much while at WDC and how unfair the world can be. I have been fortunate and wish to share my sense of peace with others.

Hi, I just read this (end of Feb. 2019) and wonder what is going on at this moment. I'd like to know before I decide about contributing. Great read. I work in a similar field and can vouch for the reality of others who live lives similar to this man's story.

He can always use money, but we are not trying to specifically raise money right now . This first story was from last year. Thank you for reading and thinking and responding.

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Retirement Smackdown

I just made a list of fourteen friends who have retired in the past five years. Of the fourteen, SEVEN retired early and abruptly when their employer’s business practices, for various reasons, changed or failed.

There is a myth out there that retirement is a fixed event with a date one knows years in advance. Then at the desired retirement age there will be a company party where one gets a memento from their employer - and after that they live aimlessly, trying to find purpose.  


Last week we went to Cahokia with our pals, Otis and David. Our Corps of Discovery (not to be confused with Lewis and Clark’s expedition of the same name) started because, at my daughter’s request, Otis had sewn a quilt for her. Len and I decided it would be fun to drive to the central Illinois village where he lives to pick it up, thus saving them the fortune it would cost to ship it.

And if one is going to be tootling down along the Mississippi River, why not hop on down to Cahokia, across from St. Louis?

I mean, how much further can it be? 

4th Thoughts

I’m reading a new book about the Upper Midwest, late 1500’s - 1750ish.  The book is Indian Women and French Men; Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes, by Susan Sleeper-Smith - and I am reading it as avidly as my granddaughter listens to story hour. 

This is from the introduction: “In kin-based societies, behaviors change as people struggle either to attain or retain symbolic capital – what people sense as honor, prestige, respect, or authority.”

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