Contributed By Mel Spira
As a 92-year-old, I can recall when times were tough, especially in the early years of the Depression. I remember I could often see Veterans (WWI) standing on a street corner selling apples for five cents each…but with few takers. I can vividly recall an incident that must have happened when I was nine or ten years old.
My little brother, Sheldon, and I were somewhat fussy eaters and didn’t particularly care for vegetables. We were at home on a Sunday having lunch when I, in a fit of childish anger, threw all the vegetables on my plate onto the floor. My little brother, seeing me, did the same thing.
My father didn’t say much but told us, “Come on boys, we are going to take a car ride.”
We drove to downtown Chicago where my father parked the car and took us by our hands. As we walked down the street, we found ourselves in front of Thompson’s Cafeteria, the largest cafeteria in Chicago. I remember turning to my brother and saying, “Gee, Shelly, Dad’s going to take us out to eat!”
As I began to open the restaurant door my father said, “No, we’re not going to eat. I want to show you something.” We walked around the block into the alley behind the restaurant.
What I saw there I will never forget for the rest of my life. There was a long line of men with paper shopping bags lined up to receive the leftovers from the cafeteria diners so that they could take the food home either to eat it themselves or to feed their families.
We were indeed in the depths of the Depression.