I remember my father struggling every day for our meager existence. Every morning he traded and bartered for food rations on the “black market.” He worked at whatever odd job he could find. We survived because of ingenuity, skill, determination, sacrifice and the thoughtfulness of our wealthy up-town neighbors who contributed to our family’s existence. But as kids in the neighborhood, we also found creative ways to sustain our families in this time of the “Great War” and personal battle for survival.
Every Saturday morning before dawn our small army of five met in front of the old Presbyterian Church. With our homemade wagons built with glue, roller skates, orange crates, rubber bands and string, we were armed and ready for the attack on our wealthy Republican neighbors living in the 6th Ward of New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was a long walk to the battlefield of colonial style homes belonging to the upper-class. Under the cover of darkness, we kept a sharp lookout for our early morning target — the milkman.
While the milkman was busily delivering his assortment of bread, cheese, butter, eggs and cream on the front porches of the enemy, we were right behind him. After he turned the corner, our well trained army of five started filling the burlap bags and pails with small portions from each of his delivered treasures. Speed, timing and courage was paramount to our success.
“June-bug,” was in charge of stealing the bread. After opening the wrapping, he eased out half a loaf of bread, re-wrapped the golden grain and ran to the next porch.
“Bones” Broderick, commandeered small portions of cheese while “Bang-bang” Baymer, managed the milk department. “Ted the toad” gathered the eggs and I was the lookout man pulling the wagon, always ready to protect our contraband in quick retreat if we had to make a run for it.
We only took small portions from each household, leaving enough for everyone and hoping no one would resist our maneuvers or set a trap and capture us as prisoners of poverty. After a few invasions, our victims surrendered and signed a peace treaty that lasted until the end of the Second World War.
One Saturday morning on the porches in our battlefield of survival, there were paper bags filled with groceries, candy, cookies and sometimes even money. Each bag had a note attached addressed to: “The kids in the Bread n’ Butter gang.” We didn’t have to steal anymore — or get up early on Saturday mornings. Even the milkman helped us out. Needles to say, Republican attitudes have changed since then.
Today, Republicans are accused of being obstructionist. On September 8, 2011, President Obama proposed his American Jobs Act on a nationally televised joint session of Congress. If passed, it would have cut taxes for the middle class and maintained state and local employment payrolls. Similar to Republican President Eisenhower’s $25 billion Federal-Aid Highway Act enacted in 1956, it provided funding for building, maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure of roads, bridges, freeways and rail system. Non-farm employment would increase by 1.3 percent, adding almost 2 million new jobs to our economy by the end of 2012. Our GDP would provide another 1.5 percent boost to our economy.
Modern-day Republicans ignored the prescription for prosperity and blocked the bill, fearing Obama’s success could guarantee his election to a second term. Senator Mitch McConnell, validated the strategy to extend hardships of recession on the American people for Republican political gain. He told the National Journal magazine “ the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Sounds like an obstructionist to me.
It took Republican policy of President Busch eight years to create the mess we are in today. It will take President Obama at least eight years to clean it up.
The question asked is: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” That depends on if you think a half a loaf is better than none.
Will we be better off with Obama as President? That depends on the voters who know which side of the bread their butter is on.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.