The Catholic Worker Movement

Dying Man Unable to Carve Turkey If Family Had One, but It Hasn’t; Another Home Has Famished Brood

By Dorothy Day

New York Call November 30, Thanksgiving Day, 1916 p. 2

In a two-room flat on 11th Street, a man of 48 lies wheezing and moaning all day. He cannot eat anything, because there is something the matter with his stomach and with his lungs, and every once in a while blood pours out of his nose and mouth. He could drink milk but milk is now 10 cents a quart. And the only money that is coming into the house is the $5 a week that his wife earns in a restaurant as helper in the kitchen. All day long the man lies on the cot in the kitchen. The kitchen is clean scrubbed all but underneath the cot, and the little girl of 12 that does the housework does not scrub under the cot for fear of disturbing her sick father.

The 3 year old baby has not enough energy to play around and mess things up healthily. From the time he was born three years ago his mother has gone every day to work and his father has been lying on the couch, so he has not been fed babies’ natural food but has subsisted on rice and milk, when milk was not 10 cents a quart.

The mother is 38. She has to go away in the morning at 7 and stay away all day to earn the $5 a week that is given her in addition to her meals. They will not let her bring any of the food home to her hungry family. Food is too valuable now. So, when the rent is to be paid, and when the doctor prescribes medicine for the sick man the family must go hungry. They need coal now and some food. Today is Thanksgiving.