The Great Depression

Walter Takes in Hungry 10-Year-Old Runaway

This article was published on June 25, 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression.  I can only imagine what it was like for these girls living on the streets for a week.

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10-Year-Old Girl’s Odyssey Ends When Ridgefield Cop Offers Good Home, Food

A 10-year old New York girl, who with her 13-year-old sister ran away from their New York home because their mother had too many mouths to feed, is going to know the feeling of having a good home with plenty to eat for a few weeks at least.

The girl, Betty Shields, has been taken in by Sergeant and Mrs. Walter Gallagher of Ridgefield, for a few weeks stay.  She and her sister Alice were picked up in Ridgefield Saturday, while they sat on a curb forlornly awaiting a bus to take them back to their home on Old Broadway, New York.

The sisters told Patrolman Joseph Sucek who brought them to the Ridgefield station, that they had been wandering about New Jersey since last Monday.  They slept for the most part, they said, on open porches and in vacant houses.

They didn’t mind particularly that they hadn’t eaten for a couple of days, for they weren’t used to getting much at their own home.  There are four other brothers and sisters, and with their father out of work, they felt they were making the burden heavier for their parents.

The girls were befriended by a 17-year-old Little Ferry boy, Friday, who took them to his brother-in-law’s home and fed them and then “staked” them to their fare back home.

Tired of wandering about in strange towns, and hungry, too weak to stand in the hot sun while they awaited the bus, Betty and Alice parked their weary bodies on the curb stone, where Patrolman Sucek found them.

They were taken to the station where they related a tale of privation and poverty in their New York home.  Sergeant Gallagher offered to take Betty home with him and his wife for a few weeks.

The mother of the girls came to Ridgefield later in the day, after being notified by the New York police of the whereabouts of the youngsters.  She told police that both Betty and Alice felt very badly because things were so hard for their parents at home.

Mrs. Shields consented to Sergeant Gallagher’s suggestion, and now Betty’s going to have plenty to eat and a good home for a while.  Alice was taken back to New York by her mother.

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