I hated holidays in shelters. The shelter atmosphere always seemed to drain every ounce of holiday spirit from me. Every holiday, we had to sit in a room full of strangers and put on fake smiles pretending to be happy. Thanksgiving had rolled around and the only thing I was thankful for was my mother was still alive. I was thankful for my legs too.
The good thing about Thanksgiving is food is usually more abundant. Not in our current shelter, though. We had to travel down to another sister shelter nearby along with other homeless families, stand outside like a herd of sheep, and wait for them to let us in as everybody drove past and stared at us. Standing there wasn’t ideal, but we didn’t have another choice.
This memoir covers the latter part of my homeless journey, ranging from age fourteen to seventeen, predominately my high school years. The horror of my homelessness is what I call it. Allow me to take you down my path and to walk in my footsteps along my own hellacious underground railroad. If you are reading this in the midst of your own overwhelmingly challenging journey, it is you for whom I write….It is you whom I urge not to quit. I know your pain and through my pain, I wish to give you strength. For everyone else reading this, please understand my story is only one of millions of other homeless people.
Clara watched to see who Bob – Butch – would choose for a partner. He came straight for her! He bowed. “May I have this dance?” He asked.
Clara stared at him. His blue eyes twinkled. She had to be brave for mama’s sake. “Mr. Cassidy…are you going to rob our train?” she blurted.
Butch roared with laughter. “I saw right away you were sharp,” he said. “How did you know who I was?”
“I saw your picture on a poster,” Clara said.
“Well, a poster don’t tell the whole story of a man,” Butch said. “We’ve all worked as cowhands here. These people have been good to us. And we’re just saying thanks today.” He winked. “We won’t rob your train. I wouldn’t want to scare your mama after she’s had such a nice time.”
“Whenever Sarah found a spare moment, she wrote. But this time it wasn’t for the thrill of seeing her work in print – it was to keep her family from starving. Soon Boston magazines began to feature Sarah’s writing. Much to Sarah’s delight, with many publications came payment.”
“Sarah made sure Ladies’ Magazine was different. She published articles on history and science and new schools for women.”
“When Lincoln received Sarah’s letter, the nation was in the middle of a civil war. Lincoln understood that sometimes it was hard to remember good things in bad times. People needed a day to be thankful for food on their tables, roofs over their heads, and the blessings in their lives. Thanksgiving was exactly what this nation needed.”