By Tom Joad
Four months ago when my family lost our house, we moved in with cousins and patiently awaited the day when we would move back home to indoor heating. Imagine my shock then, when after just a few weeks, all 12 of us dragged our sorry asses out the door, past the eviction notices, and walked a few miles up the road to the nearest Hooverville.
Now, I won’t bog you down with all the facts you already know, but you’d think that if our beloved Hoover was going to allow thousands to go homeless, he’d at least make sure we had enough materials to build our temporary housing. The first month living in a shanty is always the worst: rodents always seem to sneak through the holes in whatever walls we’ve fashioned for the week, the select scraps of metal for our roof rust and break every time it rains and at night, when people forget that the walls are literally paper–thin, you can hear some pretty weird things from other people’s “houses.”
However, none of this really matters to me anymore, because last Thursday I first heard the sound of Mary’s voice and will never be the same. She lives with her family about three shacks down, but until I heard her singing her little brother to sleep, I paid her no mind. It’s as if the dust has cleared from my eyes; I’m so attracted to the way small patches of dirt gather on her cheeks when she can’t get access to a washbowl, or the way her outgrown clothes tighten in all the right places and small holes threaten to expose more skin. Too bad there isn’t an inch of privacy in this entire lot.
I’m trying to work up the courage to ask her on a walk or something, but I’m still unsure of Hooverville dating etiquette. For now, I’ll just pull my Hoover blanket (that’s a newspaper) tight and try to get some rest with the family next door (six inches away), fighting again about who gets to redeem tomorrow’s food stamps.