Write Again…Symbols of Hope-1971

Published 7:55 am Friday, August 12, 2022

NOTE: As I recover from hand surgery, please allow me to offer some previous columns from a very long time ago.

I knocked for a long time, and had begun to think that no one was at home.

Finally I heard footsteps, and then the door opened partially.

After telling her who I was, and what my mission was, she invited me in. I could tell from her white hair and wrinkled face that she had seen many years.

It was quite cold in the house, almost as cold as it was outside. And it was dark, too.

She explained that she didn’t have any electricity in the house. And also that she had no running water. Her neighbors let her use their bathrooms, such as they were.

The boards creaked as we walked about, and the house had a musty odor about it. One space heater bravely but futilely attempted to take the chill from the air. This worn out heater also served as her stove.

She told me how she spent most of her winter days in bed. Trying to stay warm. She had lived by herself for many years. In this same slum neighborhood. Whatever else you might say about it, to her it was home.

Her furnishings were pitifully few, and woefully inadequate. But they were hers, and they amounted to all that she owned in this world.

That was this past winter I suppose that spring has brought a welcome respite from the misery of cold weather. In just a few short weeks she’ll be moving into public housing. And when this day arrives it will mark the first time in all her life that she has lived in a decent, safe, sanitary dwelling.

She will use some of her meager Social Security money to pay her rent.

Whereas her hovel was worse than most, though not by too much, there was one striking similarity with almost every other house like hers. Every dwelling I’ve been in has displayed, in a prominent place on the wall, three pictures.

Pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

Almost without exception there are always the three pictures. Cheap, dime store reproductions, perhaps. But always there.

What did these men mean to these people? Perhaps above all else-hope. For as long as there is hope, there remains a will and a reason to endure. And during the lifetimes of these three men, the flame of hope burned higher and brighter than ever before in the hearts of so many of our countrymen.

APROPOS- “Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, and captivity would, without this comfort, be insupportable.’

                                                      -Samuel Johnson