Saturday, April 30, 2005

Beggars in the Streets

My dad told me that men would beg on the street corners in the cities during the Great Depression, back in the 1930's. He also said that it was uncommon and that usually they'd beg just for their next meal if they had no money for food. They'd beg for the price of a meal to give themselves strength to keep looking for work. Sometimes, they'd go to the residential areas and to the farms and ask to chop firewood, or to repair fences or other work, just for a meal.

The operative phrase here is trying to find work. Begging for a living, if it ever happened, was rare.

Throughout the 40's, 50's and 60's. Begging was rare, according to Dad, because it was easy to find work in those days. I saw begging in many parts of Europe when I was there in the 60's, but I also travelled extensively around the US in those years, and never saw street beggars here.

I think the hippies started it. It was during the late 60's when I started seeing young people begging in the streets. That tapered off as the hippies finally decided they should get jobs.

But now, the past fifteen years or so, we find street begging and panhandling on the increase. If I take the streets home from work instead of the freeway, it seems like I'll see two or three beggars in the boulevard medians or on the sidewalks at big intersections every day. Quite a few of them aren't young--most appear to be in their 40's and 50's.

I often wonder how much money they get, standing on the street corner begging from the cars that stop for red lights. They used to carry signs saying "Will work for food," but I guess too many people took 'em up on it, because I haven't seen that one lately.

I stopped right in front of one once, at a street corner. I pointed out the "Help Wanted" sign on a burger joint right behind him. He got very angry. I had to show him my pepper spray to get him to back off.

Point is, there are planty of jobs to be had. Flippin' burgers might not be a lucrative career, but it can be a good start.

The point is, we're Americans. Americans don't beg. Egyptians beg. Mexicans beg. Sri Lankans beg. Americans work. Americans invent things. Americans build things.

I'm starting to think America's falling apart.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

3 comments:

? said...

this is true.

i think most beggers probably make more money begging then they would flipping burgers. heck some don't even look like their homeless...it's odd.

i wonder too, how much do they really get in a day?

most of the people around here look alittle older then thier 40's..probably 50's or 60's, most claiming to be vetrans... come to think of it, that would of made them in their 20's back in the 60's and 70's... maybe some of those hippies decided not to work after all

?

just a thought.

Col. Hogan said...

Last year, on a busy intersection not far from my place, I saw a begging family. Dad was in a wheelchair. Mom looked dirty, old and frail. Their son just looked dirty, otherwise looked ok.

I saw them walk to a parking lot behind a liquor store. Dad got out of his wheelchair, folded it up into the trunk of a fairly new Mercedes. They got into the car and drove off.

I guess they must be doing all right, eh?

? said...

ha...

you know, i believe it. i've heard some stories myself about people with full out careers, degrees and all quiting the blue colar life to head for the street corners.

absolutely INSANE! Good Post ;)