Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Two things I read yesterday:

On the train downtown, while reading Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas, I read the following excerpt from Boston's South End neighborhood in 1971:

"One summer, Richard worked for a Globe delivery truck, earning ten dollars a week. But well-paying jobs were virtually impossible for a black teenager to find. Any hustler with a modicum of skill and daring could do much better on the street."

Later, I happened across "Out of Sight," a New York Times article written 27 years later:

"These are the teenagers and young adults — roughly 16 to 24 years old — who are not in school and basically have no hope of finding work...There are four million or more of these so-called disconnected youths across the country. They hang out on street corners in cities large and small — and increasingly in suburban and rural areas. If you ask how they survive from day to day, the most likely response is: “I hustle,” which could mean anything from giving haircuts in a basement to washing a neighbor’s car to running the occasional errand. Or it could mean petty thievery or drug dealing or prostitution or worse...Some are drawn to gangs. A disproportionate number become involved in crime. It is a tragic story, and very few people are paying attention...It’s not as if these kids don’t want to work. Many of them search and search until they finally become discouraged."

27 years passed between these writings. 27 years.


Anonymous said...

What is that photo? I can't make out what it is trying to show.

Bobby said...

Near the railroad tracks by the South Bay Mall, there was a squatters camp where immigrant day laborers set up tents and a cooking area to live. This weather-petrified mound of scratch tickets stood at the entrance to the camp, a monument of sorts to their hopes of finding a way out. The camp has since been razed.