West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader

West Side Stories 

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My father used to work five and a half days a week as a marble worker. On Saturday morning, while he was at work, we kids helped clean the house. My mother cooked dinner, and the dinner would be on the table at one o'clock when my father got home. Well, this Saturday he didn't come home on time. He didn't arrive until three, three-thirty in the afternoon. And when he gave my mother his pay, half of it was gone. She was furious. So she put the dinner on the table and put her coat on and left. This was 1922.

She came back hours later. She had gone down to 12th Street and bought herself the most beautiful hat. It was a big hat, black velvet with a big brim and a tan velvet flower on the side. She said she had to wear it for years because she'd spent so much on it. The reason she did it was he spent half the pay, she could spend the other half.

She always told that story as an example of two wrongs don't make a right. She said, "I hated myself every time I put that hat on my head. But I paid so much for it I had to wear it."

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