Here on Earth to Help Each Other

“…we must do it in a good way so we don’t destroy our earth.”

Part two in a two-part story.

Transcript for Here on Earth to Help Each Other

Always, whenever you spoke of Gary, people said, “Oh, the mill.” Because that’s why people came to Gary. Joe Chapman, when he got to working in the Urban League, he found some people would come even—two, three people he met—from England. And then another person was from Germany. They wanted to come to see what was happening with this mill and why they would be producing so much steel and how they did it, you know? And that’s why they came.

Louise was a friend of my sister-in-law. And she and her husband were—now, Joe Chapman was Louise’s husband. Now, Joe, even in high school—I was a freshman, and I remember Joe. He was a senior, and he was helping to run the school newspaper. And he was always all up and down the place and all over the school. And everybody knew Joe Chapman, you know? But at any rate, Joe and his family—Louise wanted me to come to help her move her family. “I can’t—I don’t know how we’re going to move all of our stuff, and the children, and I’ve got—we can’t pay her, but we’ll—she’ll have time and maybe we can give her a little money, and she can run out to see Chicago.” And that did it, when she said, “Chicago.” Oh boy!

About 1943 or ’44 that we made that trip. And when we came into Gary, we were coming up 5th Avenue, and I was amazed. I looked out the car window and there was tumbleweed blowing down the streets. I said, “This looks like the Wild West.” I could see these sand hills that were between buildings and I said, “It’s so flat,” I said. People had houses, but nobody had a house over two stories. And then I found out that everyone wanted to come to Gary because there was a mill. The people that Joe, Louise’s husband, knew took us for a trip to go down Broadway, and then he took us all the way down so we could see the gates to the mill and realize what it was and why people kept wanting to come to Gary. In the old days, the mill would take the huge, molten steel and dump it directly into the lake. These were the days before EPA, and all of that wonderful, pure, wonderful water in Lake Michigan was being contaminated, and when that hot steel hit the water, Uh-whump! and it would be—you could hear it past the borders of Gary. It would go way—it was loud. But then I cringed, I said, “I don’t like it,” you know? Then—but I’ll tell you what I did like. I learned about the South Shore.

I could relate to the South Shore because it looked so much like the streetcars that were in St. Louis. When I got on that South Shore, I looked out the window and there were some trees. And then past that canal, you could see pheasant. And I knew they were pheasant because my grandmother told me about the pheasant and how the beautiful feathers that they had. And I said, “You could see the colors of their feathers as they would fly, be flying through these trees.” But then, they were soon lost and gone because whatever they were throwing into the mill were frightening the birds, and so they left. The pheasant weren’t there anymore.

I’m an old lady. I don’t know when God will call me home. But as long as I can talk with young people and at least let them know that we are here on Earth to help each other, but we must do it in a good way so we don’t destroy our earth. Our earth is beautiful—we must try to find a way to keep it. And in our keeping it, and taking care of our earth, we can take care of each other, too.

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