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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs


1 March ‘05

More than food is served at the Kitchen free feed. Today’s side – the stew, salad and pears were tasty – centered on the government dole and drugs. It seems that some families deserve the money but that at least half the recipients misuse it. A black Army vet who says he’s earned the right to salute people left-handed, and does at the Kitchen, led off.

‘The first thing many parents do with the monthly check is go out and buy steaks and drugs. Their kids run around with shit in their diapers. I keep my nose outa other people’s business, but when kids get mistreated, I talk.’

There were grunts around the room.

‘One family I know crossed the line,’ he continued. ‘They have six kids - that amounts to a sizable monthly check – everyone knows we get paid by the government to reproduce. The first thing they do is fill the car with gas, then buy booze and drugs… if any money’s left then the kids get clothes. The family lives out of the car and the kids hang out the windows dirty and poorly dressed.’

‘Officials should step in!’ piped an irate server. ‘If parents don’t care for the kids, the state should take them away.’

‘Agreed,’ said the Army black. ‘I grew up in the projects where kids came first. My folks divided the monthly dole righteously. If anything was left after the kids were fed and clothed, the parents enjoyed it.’

‘That’s the way it oughta be,’ a big, tattooed white stepped in. ‘But you said the car family ‘stepped over the line’.’

‘Right,’ replied the Army black. ‘They collect in California, drive each month to Arizona to get another check for the kids. That is, for steak and drugs.’

‘It’s a felony!’ yelled the white.

‘That’s why I’m talkin’,’ said the black lowly.

I stuck my nose in my stew and thought about today’s ‘Kitchen Talk’.

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