Commentary by Todd Oldman
The Homeless of Cleveland have been waiting with anxiety ever since it appeared in March that the Dow Jones Industrial might soon stay atop o the 10,000 mark. The city’s street dwellers let out a cheer of joy when the market measure actually achieved this historical goal.
Balinda Osbondi, a Grapevine vendor, was at the Bishop Cosgrove Center when the news came across the wire. “I was waiting for breakfast. I woke a little late and had just arrived at Cosgrove. I am lucky I didn’t sleep through it.” Tony Tall also recalls what he thought, “I will for the rest of my life remember where I was the moment the Dow toped 10,000. Usually they make us listen to rap and hip-hop music, but in the middle of the day – they cut in and announced what had happened. I can’t tell you how much joy I felt in my heart. I ran to the phone to call my mom collect but there was already a line.” Things were not so rosy all day however.
Just as the mood of the cafeteria had reached euphoria someone mentioned that the tide had turned and the market was beginning to fall again. “My heart just stopped! I could not stand to see the advances we had just made be taken away with such ambiguity.” Remarked Stanley Clause.
The crowd rushed down Superior to watch ticker through the window of McDonald & Co. Securities, Inc. The glass became foggy with the breath of the hundreds of homeless crowded near with anxiety as they watched the Dow at first creep slowly and then begin a general free fall back towards the 9,000’s Clause again said, “ I couldn’t watch. But when I heard the young strawberry scream ‘NO!’, I knew it had happened.”
Soon the crowd was overwhelmed with tears. The revelry was over. Some say they even saw a tear in the eye of old man Stuart Doberman, the wisest and most experienced of them all, as he turned his shopping cart around and went looking for aluminum. Many homeless people had pt all their hopes in the Dow. They saw thousands of job coming to Cleveland. They knew if the Dow stayed above 10,000 there would be o need for food stamps, welfare, or temporary service companies.
If the city’s most powerful political, business, and religious leaders could not help them, who could? As the millennium approached the homeless came to believe only a 10,000 Dow in 1999 could turn their lives around.
A group of the hard core waited outside McDonald Securities hoping the market would rebound. They left only when angry priest complained they were blocking his way to his broker. As the last stragglers disbursed a child asked her mother if they would ever reach the “magic number” again. Tired and hungry the young mother took a drag of her cigarette before telling her daughter in a tone more wishful that determined that she was sure one day they would. The little girl smiled and went back to looking for aluminum cans.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue 34 April-May 1999