“How much is an application for a gun permit?” I was the only cotton topped little old lady in the line at the Golden Hill government office in Kingston.
The counter person, an overweight man in his fifties, could hardly contain his laughter as he handed me the gun permit application. “That’ll be $5.00 please, miss.”
After handing him the money, I started to walk away. Then, turning back to him, I said pleasantly, “Will you sell me three more applications, please? A couple of the girls in my senior yoga class asked me to get applications for them, too.”
Pulling out $15.00 more, I put the money on the counter. The man gave me three more gun applications and I walked away. I had no idea who was going to receive them and I didn’t attend any senior yoga class but I remembered the old “Alice’s Restaurant” song about three people doing something and being part of a movement.
Things in the pantry were negative and confrontational since the first day I drove up with fresh produce for the hungry people shopping in the pantry. In the beginning, I tried to hide things and overlook the situation. Frankly, I hoped the negativity would just go away. And, of course, I was mistaken. Situations like that don’t just evaporate. People don’t just change. And now, I was beginning to tire of the whole situation. I’d been living with fear for years and was feeling like it was time to try to fix things.
Maybe a gun will help, I thought.
When I got home, Barry was sitting on the sofa, surrounded by his cats, Fizzle and Carrots, as he read his latest thriller.
“Hi, honey. How’s your day going?” Without looking up, he took a few grapes from a large fruit filled bowl on a table by the sofa.
“Here’s the application for the gun permit I just got. I want you to teach me to shoot a gun.”
“You can do it. You didn’t spend all those years sneaking off to the CIA without knowing how to use a gun. They even gave you a medal or something. For all I know, you’re a damn bazooka expert. Maybe I want to learn that, too!”
“You can’t do that! You might shoot one of the Chihuahuas.”
“Well, I’m tired of asking pantry volunteers to be bodyguards. It’s not safe when I’m working after hours at the pantry. And, I’m not one bit afraid of the shoppers.”
“Listen, I know your job is difficult. Not even a Marine drill sergeant would do what you’re doing. But, I don’t know about a gun.”
“That Mag-Lite I bought a while back just isn’t what I need. A gun is more powerful and I’ve lived with them my whole life. My grandmother kept a rifle in her bathroom.”
“T.G. you’re just not the gun type. I’ll teach you to use a knife. A good knife won’t cost as much as a gun and you won’t need a permit. You won’t need to buy bullets. There’s nothing to clean unless you stab someone. It’ll be easier to use and carry. I’ll give you some lessons. Nobody will ever know. It’ll be our secret. Leash up the Chihuahuas. We’re going to Warren Cutlery in Rhineback.”
And so he did. He took me to Warren Cutlery where there was a generous selection of knives. We went into the knife room which included stock for kitchens as well as other knives not designed to slice and chop onions. I stood in front of the case. “Which knife are you interested in?” The clerk spoke to me as though showing weapons to a cotton topped old lady was the most boring thing he did all day. And, maybe it was.
“I’d like to see the one over there with the four-inch blade, please.” I held it in my hand and then asked to see several more on display in the case. Barry walked over to the case, stood beside me, and saw the knife I held in my hand.
“That knife is too big and too heavy.” he said, pointing to a smaller model. “You need something you can carry in your purse and you need something you can open rapidly. If you’re too slow, your attacker will have you down before you get it open.”
So, I chose a smaller, lighter model that happened to be on sale.
Barry paid the bill, and off we went.
He did just what he said he would. He taught me how to open a knife quickly but never bothered teaching me to close it.
And, he was correct. A knife is quiet. It weighs less than a gun. There’s no need for a permit. The Chihuahuas won’t get shot. And, unless I go through a metal detector before I take it out of my purse, no one has a clue.
Before it was over, he bought me a second knife which I kept open on the pantry counter next to the large Mag-Lite, ostensibly to open the cardboard boxes.
Woodstock, New York
Thank you for reading this story. It is, for now, the first chapter in “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles.”
Please share this post with your favorite social media network.
Thank you in advance for standing with the hungry, believing in the dignity and humanity of those in the pantry, and for joining in the solution.
2019 is still new and I’m beginning the year with a new story: “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles”.
Throughout the coming year, chapters from this new book will appear as the book develops and becomes its own entity. Thank you in advance for reading them.
It’s time for the chapters to each find a place in the story. So, when you read them, you make this chronicle a reality.
Thank you for making this work possible.
Woodstock, New York
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The first chapter, “I Need a Gun” will be posted in the next few days. I sincerely hope you’ll like it. – TG
In the spirit of the holiday, I want to thank each of you for supporting my work and following the story of hungry people in America. This has been a busy year for me and, without your support, none of this year would have been possible. However you found my blog and the story of hungry people, whatever keeps you returning, I thank you.
This blog has existed since February, 2014. This year has been one of few posts.
Why? Well, “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” finally published and I spend time now marketing and selling the book instead of writing and posting articles. Thank you for standing beside the hunger message this year. I pledge more and better articles in the coming year.
I discovered the Mower’s Meadow Flea Market in Woodstock, New York, where I had a booth on weekends for the summer and autumn. This is the perfect place for a book. People buy the book and return to the market to share their enthusiasm for the story. Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy. I plan to return to this delightful place when it opens in May.
Each new reader and follower learns something from the story about hunger in America and each new reader inspires and motivates me to find new ways to share this hidden story. Thank you.
A second volume is on the way. I’m hopeful that “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” will join “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” on the book table at the flea market in 2019. There’s certainly room for another book about hunger in America. Thank you.
Thank you for reading the blog and the books. When you read them, we both learn more about hunger, a subject important to us all because there just shouldn’t be any hungry people in our country.
Woodstock, New York
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“Homeless is not a category of people. It’s just a situation that happens. It can happen to anyone.” – Salvador Altimarano-Segura
This article actually has eleven suggestions. There are many things we can all do for the homeless if we will open our hearts and minds to the many opportunities. Hopefully this list will inspire you!
ENCOURAGE affordable housing. Is someone in your area trying to build affordable housing? Support this effort. Fewer people would be homeless if more affordable housing were available.
DO YOU KNOW someone with a tight budget? Encourage him/her to visit a pantry regularly.
BARTER. As fewer and fewer people have money, barter is a good way to go.
SUPPORT BUSINESSES that treat their employees fairly. This means giving your business to companies that don’t short shift their workers, refuse to report their earnings to the IRS to avoid paying deductions, and/or withhold wages.
WORK TO SEE that schools in your area offer free universal school breakfasts and lunches for all.
BACKPACK PROGRAMS assure that children have food to eat over the weekend. Does your neighborhood school have one? If not, set one up.
DOES YOUR CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, OR TEMPLE have a food pantry? Set one up.
GIVE GIFT CARDS FOR FOOD, GASOLINE (if they drive) or PHONE MINUTES. These cards are perfect gifts for someone on a tight budget. These cards are also perfect to be used for donations to a pantry or shelter, or soup kitchen.
OPEN A FOOD PANTRY in a college or trade school in your area. People don’t realize that homelessness is an issue with students.
GIVE A LITTLE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR by regularly donating food, money or gas cards to a homeless friendly pantry in your area.
TEACH! Do you have a skill to share? Contact a local shelter and offer to give classes.
Thanks for reading this article! Please refer it to your favorite social media network.
Woodstock, New YOrk
Ramen Noodles should be a choice.
Ramen Noodles should be a choice.
On a recent New York Subway ride, I stood in a crowded car bound for Flatbush, thinking about hungry people having only Ramen Noodles to eat because they had no money. Just then, an older black man near me spoke to everyone in the crowded car.
With a well modulated, practiced, articulate voice, this cotton top knew what he was doing. He talked about veterans and their needs. He obviously either wrote the speech because he was an excellent and experienced speech writer or he found himself such a person to do the job.
He ended his short presentation with a plea for money. And, wrapped up in this short talk was the realization that he was as much interested in consciousness raising as he was in collecting dimes and dollars. What he wanted, really, was for captive audience members in the metro car to hear his message, digest it, understand it, and act on it in some beneficial way.
This man’s message went right to my brain and my heart. What this old cotton top didn’t know was that we are on the same path. I, too, am on a mission of consciousness raising and fundraising. And, like him, I’m not doing this just for the fun of it. I’m on a mission to spread the word about a truly tragic and hidden horror in our country: hunger in America.
I want people in this country to have enough food in their lives so that Ramen Noodles should be a choice.
I sell books and T-shirts to raise money, give talks in libraries and church meeting halls. Finally, I work daily to interest you in the plight of hungry people of every age in our great nation who simply don’t have the money to buy food. Ramen Noodles should be a choice.
When you purchase my book, you help me feed the hungry. All the proceeds of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” go to buy food for hungry people who need it. Ramen noodles should be a choice.
Right now, because of the summer months, I’m donating peanut butter to hungry people. At other times in the year, the focus will be on different foods.
Peanut butter has many qualities which bring it to the top of my go-to list.
has a long shelf life.
doesn’t need refrigeration.
is a staple in a household with children.
can be eaten by people who have no teeth.
can be easily carried in the pocket or backpack of a homeless person.
In short, Ramen noodles should be a choice.
Thank you for reading this post. Please forward this article to your favorite social media network.
Ramen Noodles should be a choice. Feed the hungry!
It’s OUT! It’s in print! The story has been told! And, you can get a copy. Today! Right now!
Simply go to thurmangreco.com and order it on paypal.
If you prefer, you can wait until next Wednesday, and get it on Amazon.
And, it’s beginning to appear in independent book stores.
What began as a project, guaranteed not to take no more than two hours a month has become a calling. And, as of this week, it’s become a non-profit seeking food and funds to feed the hungry.
It took more than five years of work. Reams and Reams of paper were used. Two computers blew up. One copier died of exhaustion.
Get the book, read it, and let me know how you feel about what you read.
And, please share this unbelievably exciting news.
And, watch for the T-shirts!
I’ve got a food drive going now. Please donate peanut butter. Locally, you can donate food, at 31 Tannery Brook, Woodstock.
Any and all food and funds you donate will go to a food pantry. You can send a check to Thurman Greco, 31 Tannery Brook, Woodstock, NY 12498. OR, you can make a donation via paypal. You can get to the paypal site by going to http://www.thurmangreco.com.
OR, you can give something directly to your local food pantry!
And, thank you in advance for understanding the situation and for sharing what you can with those who have less than you.
Help me FEED THE HUNGRY!
Peace and food for all.
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IT’S COMING SOON!
After countless reams of computer paper, dozens and dozens of writing classes, three computers and two copiers, the book about hunger is at the publisher’s!
And, I actually heard the word “done” today! I’m ecstatic beyond words!
Somebody else could have done it with only one computer disaster and one copier blow up. But, I never claimed to be a writer.
This endeavor took years. And, it was worth it. I felt this story needed to be told when I started writing it in 2013 and I’m sticking to my opinion. Hunger in America was then and is now a national event which needs to be shared.
A real Woodstock story, “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” tells about the people in the pantry, channels my grandmother, and reveals a few miracles.
I’m proud to say that “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” will, within days, be available in paperback and eBook editions on Amazon.
I am already scheduling book signings for this book. If you are in the area, I look forward to seeing you at one near you!
You can purchase this book by going to my website at http://www.thurmangreco.com.
Order your copy, and please share this unbelievably exciting news!
Please share this blog article with your preferred social media network!
Everyone coming to a pantry travels down a path. For many, this journey is a real load lightener. As the finances erode, the house goes. And, of course, when the house goes, everything that was in it goes too.
Furniture, kitchen stuff, toys, clothes, tools, garden implements. By the time a person or family gets to Motel 19, things have slimmed down to a few clothes, a blanket or two, a hot plate, or maybe an electric skillet or microwave.
For the families living in Model 19, the children are usually eligible for the school breakfast and/or lunch program. But, that doesn’t cover eating at home. And, there’s no lunch program for the adults.
So…it’s off to the pantry.
Several families usually pile in a car and come over for an afternoon of pantry shopping. Or, an individual hitch hikes. In order for this trip to succeed, several guidelines to follow will help:
Try to arrive an hour or so before the pantry opens. This makes for a long wait but there’s more of a selection right when the pantry opens. Also, while waiting in line, there’s an opportunity to make new friends and learn a few survival skills if you’re new to the pantry experience.
Bring your own shopping bags. Some pantries don’t have enough of these much needed items.
Bring some ID. Some pantries require much: picture ID, proof of address, proof that other household members exist. This can be a bit tough if you’re homeless. Hint: some pantries require little to no identification
Be prepared to wait in a line. Use this time to meet your line neighbors. They can be helpful if you’re trying to navigate your way through DSS, if you’re being foreclosed upon, need your car repaired, etc.
As you wait in line, try to learn how the pantry works from those around you in the line. You’ll want to know how long you’ll be in the shopping room, what foods are usually on the shelves, what other pantries the people in line shop at, etc.
Don’t be afraid to let people know you’ve never been to a pantry.
Once you find a pantry you can use, go every time you’re allowed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a pantry in your area which will allow weekly visits. Because pantry shopping takes so much time, shoppers sometimes just don’t go if they still have SNAP card money or if they have a few bucks left over from a paycheck. Your best bet is to go every week.
Why? Most pantries have different food every week and you may miss out on some real savings by not attending regularly.
Pantry shopping requires a totally new approach to cooking. So does cooking with only an electric skillet or microwave.
Some pantries have periodic visits from a nutritionist. Don’t be shy about asking him/her for any tips you might need to help this adjustment a bit easier for you. Nutritionists know a lot about the food you are now trying to cook with and they can answer any questions you might have.
Thanks for reading this blog post.
Please share this article with your favorite social media network.
PS: This book is at the publisher’s now. It will be available SOON! You can order it at http://www.thurmangreco.com.
The world of people who are homeless may seem very foreign – But, it’s actually very near. We meet people every day who are just like us, only they don’t have a roof over their heads.
We can all find ourselves without a roof when we lose a job. Or, maybe a spouse dies. Possibly an accident which leaves physical disabilities is the cause. In short, all it takes is a personal tragedy.
There are many things we can do to help end homelessness. There are many, many things we can do to help those who are struggling with homelessness.
One easy way we can help is to take a little extra food along when we go out of our home to work or on errands. A few extra sandwiches will help. When a person asks for change, offer him or her a sandwich.
A couple of times each year, gather the clothes you are no longer going to wear and donate them to shelters and pantries providing services to help those who are homeless.
While you gather clothes for the homeless, look at your family’s toys, books, and games and select those that are no longer being used. Children living in shelters have few possessions and will enjoy them.
Can you spare an hour or two? Tutors can make all the difference. Volunteer to tutor children in shelters.
Celebrate your birthday or anniversary and ask the people you invite to bring items for the homeless.
Carry fast food certificates with you when you are going out. Hand them out to people who are homeless.
Hold a food drive and take the food to a shelter or a pantry in your area.
Donate your collectable recyclable cans and bottles to people who are homeless. Donate a bag of groceries to a soup kitchen, shelter, or food pantry.
Volunteer at a food pantry or shelter.
Volunteer your professional services. Lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can all use your skills when you volunteer at a pantry or shelter.
Ask your company, church, school to host a fund-raising event for a pantry or homeless shelter. Items of dignity are really needed by the homeless.
Thank you for reading this article!
Please refer this article to your favorite social media network.
PS: The hunger book is really moving along. Things just never get finished as quickly as we all wish. Writing a book requires years and years of research and writing. In writing the hunger book, I have gone through thousands and thousands of sheets of paper and three computers. I have spent years and years getting this story moved from an event in my life to a book which will attract you or not in less than two minutes.
The homeless have problems just like you and me: employment, health issues, disabilities, domestic violence. They just don’t have a roof over their heads.
Homeless people, families enter food pantries very quietly. They’ve lost their voices. The goal is to melt into the background, get food, and disappear.
There’s an exception to the voicelessness – when the person communicates with beings unknown to the rest of us. One shopper I know has been in another world since before I began working in the pantry in 2005. He communicates in a high, shrill, unknown tongue which I cannot describe. His shrill vowels are punctuated with hard, sharp whistles, clicks, squeaks.
We can all help homeless people in some way. Each of us has talents and skills which can be useful.
DONATE. Homeless people carry their kitchens in their pockets . So much food which we take for granted is just not helpful. Important in the homeless diet is peanut butter and crackers in individually wrapped packages, cereal in self-serve packaging. Fruits and vegetables which can be eaten raw, milk and/or fruit juice in individual containers. Donate these items throughout the year by regularly giving the food to a food pantry in your area which is homlesss friendly.
VOLUNTEER. Pantries everywhere need an extra set of hands to answer mail, drive a truck, serve food, clean up at closing time, send press releases, hold food drives, stock and straighten shelves, deliver food to the home bound.
CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSETS. Donate clothing, bedding, books, and other gently used items to places where the homeless will have access to them.
SHARE. Do you or someone you know have a garden? Donate the excess to a homeless friendly pantry in your area. When your garden tomatoes get to be too plentiful, there are those in your area who need the food.
PUSH THE ENVELOPE. Contact elected officials about homeless issues in your area. Encourage them to make ending homelessness important in your community.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Returning veterans have special needs. For one thing, they begin separation from the military homeless.
FIND A JOB. Encourage your church or community to hire a homeless person. Many homeless want to work, have skills, but have trouble finding regular employment.
DO YOU HAVE A SKILL TO SHARE? Contact a local shelter and offer to give classes.
For a time, one of our most trusted volunteer/shoppers was homeless. His partner, Nancy, died and her children didn’t want him in the house they had lived in together for many years. He fought her children for a year with a lawyer, made several trips to court, the whole enchilada.
He finally moved out and ended up homeless for a time. He eventually got housing through a homeless veterans program. I helped him move his clothes and things over to his new apartment in Saugerties.
Homelessness cannot be generalized. Each homeless person is a special personality and has a special situation which s/he deals with. So here’s my rule about homeless people:
IF YOU’VE SEEN ONE HOMELESS PERSON, YOU’VE SEEN ONE HOMELESS PERSON.
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BOOK UPDATE: The new hunger book is going to be out soon. The publisher assures me that we’re going to see the book within a month! Hurrah!