An Excerpt from Maxwell Street

The following is an excerpt from Maxwell Street, a narrative written about the people who lived on Maxwell Street in Chicago during the 1930s and ‘40s. One of these vignettes was about my maternal grandmother, Bertha Epstein. She was quoted as saying, “I was a dreamer. I had big dreams.”

But my grandmother, like so many others who were constrained by economic and social conditions, never fully developed her potential. Their dreams never materialized into reality. My mother, Gertrude, was widowed with four children in her early ‘40s only had a high school degree. My father, raised with Eastern European values, did not want her to go to school or work. That was his job. After his death, she had no option but to work and became a library clerk, doing all that the credentialed librarians did—at half the pay.

Still today, not just in countries like Afghanistan, women are unable to break loose from the net of social webs that keep them trapped. But many of us have succeeded; thus, it is upon us to pave the way to tear down the resistant barriers so that other women may fully develop their potential and maximize their contribution to society.

Our future, our hopes and yes, our survival, may rest with these youngsters. If they can’t rise to their full potential because of antiquated barriers, prejudice, and ignorance, we are lost.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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