A book was passed on to me. I sat looking at it wondering if I really wanted to dive into its pages. Sold on Monday by Kristina McMorris.
On the cover of the book is a small boy with a suitcase sitting next to him. Sold on Monday. A man stumbles across two boys sitting on the porch of their run down home. TWO BOYS FOR SALE reads the sign above them. The man who saw the boys was troubled. I was even more troubled. In fact, the thought sickened me and would not leave me. How could a parent just put a sign above their child and turn aside? How do you give up a child to save money or to make profit?
Of course, all this led to investigation. The stories were heartbreaking. Children during the Depression had been sold for only a couple dollars to farmers who basically used them as slaves. Girls were raped or sold by the people who took them in. Children were treated as nothing more than a piece of livestock. Desperation seemed to numb people to the reality of what they were doing. It was a horrible time of starvation and destitution. Again, the thought sickened me.
There were those who had so many children that they could not feed all the mouths. So, those children were sold or given away. Then the people went on to have more children as they prospered. Those they kept. The stories are tragic. In my research I found stories of those adult children trying to find their siblings as they piece together their pasts and find pieces of themselves. Many children during that time were given to other family members to raise. Families were separated in order to save them. For a child who grew up with the joys of living on the farm, the thought of losing my sisters to others was terrifying.
I was not a child of the Depression. However, over the years, before I came along, several cousins and children of other families had come to live at our house occasionally. In one family, the children were separated and sent to live with other family members when the mother died. In another, the mother was destitute. Her husband died leaving her with three children and no way to raise them. I believe her son came to stay with Mom and Dad just to give her a reprieve. It is a history I can now understand a bit better.
I know. This is a depressing subject, but I have a reason for posting this. There are children today in foster homes. Children living on the streets in poverty. We live our every day lives of prosperity and hope while so many families are suffering. Children separated from families yearning to have love and stability in their lives.
The holidays are coming. We are planning for a day of thankfulness. There are agencies that can help those in need. There are children who need homes. There are women who are struggling in a life alone. There are elderly who would give anything for a conversation with a stranger or a family member. You can be the difference.
Yes, I will finish the book. But the sign still haunts me: Two Boys for Sale. Please remember that you have much to give. Give someone else a reason to be thankful.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author