The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I have just received a letter that puts the case of some of our unfortunate citizens so clearly that I am going to quote it:

"My case is this: Mother is an invalid and receives her old-age grant of $50 a month (which is what is allowed in the state where they live). She requires my constant attention. We are both deaf and I am a cripple, unemployable. We live alone. She is seventy-six and I am forty. In our poverty circumstances I'm on state relief allotment. Because mother needs a special diet, three years ago I received $43 relief for her care, but health and welfare gradually reduced this allocation as inflation prices rose, till now I am very desperate on a pittance of $7 a month, relief.

"The social worker apologizes, saying they are very short of funds and sorry they cannot be better providers. With mother's and my joint total income of $57 a month...we have no electric, no radio, no gas, no car, no insurance, no steaks, no milk, no bacon and eggs. Very few friends, neither. We freeze when it is cold and go hungry sometimes. Forced to pick up garbage to survive, yes, here in big rich America.

"I have this typewriter a friend gave me and do you know what? I am writing to you with soot. I take old ribbons and revive them by treating them with a mixture of soot from my stove and few drops of fuel oil. It is an odd, messy procedure which I invented myself... you may quote me if you wish.

"I am sure there are many more Americans struggling like mother and I on barest nothing, but they are too proud or ignorant to speak up. No way for them to go on strike."

It doesn't matter what state or city this happens in. These are the people who suffer when prices go up and welfare comes down. Almost similar conditions exist when wages do not keep pace with the cost of living.

In this case there is no one to be a wage earner. And if this crippled woman of forty could be found employable she might not earn much more than she gets on relief. States, cities, and industry have not yet begun to cooperate fully so as to give real consideration to the difficulties of people usually classed as unemployables, yet who might be able to do something if they were trained and fitted to a job.

There is another group of people that has a hard time and gets extremely little attention. Their plight was drawn to my attention by Mrs. R.G. Gales of Los Angeles. She wants to know why there is not more thought given to the rehabilitation of epileptics. Many of them would be able to work at certain occupations if they were under proper medical care. In Los Angeles a group has been formed to provide an apartment where they have consultative services, which practically means an advisory clinic. There they also meet and discuss their problems and have speakers to address them. Mrs. Gales says that in many cases much is being done for other handicapped people, but the epileptics have been given very little attention.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 14, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.