Talking With Lary Ann

"I used to. When I was having my babies, I went to the average of 2 movies a day. I went to 42nd St., where you can see 2 movies for the price of one. Girly shows? Well I used to. They used to let me in for free. Because I was going to have a baby. I guess they felt sorry for me. I mean it's hot and you don't have anything to do, so I would go to the movies. But not much anymore. I don't see the point anymore.

"Now I'm just tryin' to save my money for my children. I want more than anything in the world to have my babies back here with me together.

"I get to see my children about once a month. I go see them in the home. John Paul was 18 months when he was put in; Mandy was about 3 weeks old when she was put in. I hope to get them back this year. Eugene? I don't worry about him. He's fine. He's with my father. He's in the third grade this year.

"My two youngest, they don't call me Mommy. John Paul, he's gotten so he calls me Lary Ann. And Mandy, she just looks at me. She doesn't call me anything. At first it upset me. But than I realized that that meant they had more. They had 2 parents. They had to call one of us something else."

It's now 8:25 and we go back to the employment office. As she goes up to the counter. I say "good luck." She smiles back at me with a smile that can only be described as condescending. After signing in, she rejoins me to wait for her turn.


"What kind of job are you looking for?"

"Let's see. Mostly they just have ticket takers and matrons. But I'll take any job; any kind of job in New York I bet I worked in."

"Any kind?" I ask. "You've never been a prostitute, have you?"

SHE LAUGHS. "You don't really call that a job. I don't really have a name for it. If I come up with one, I'll let you know. Some people like to earn their money that way, and I say hooray for them. It's not my type. My mother was a Baptist."

"What were your parents like?"

"Well, my father was her 3rd husband. And with him she had 18 children. When she married my father she was in her early twenties. She had 2 pair of twins in the family. One pair lived. I was told I was a twin. Can you imagine a boy lookin' like me? My mother was a hard worker. The only thing I can remember about her was when I used to run away. I wouldn't ever go that far. I used to run away all the time. That used to be my other name, besides bookworm. My mother never knew it because she was working during the day. But I always went home in the evenin' when I got hungry. My mother used to wait until I was asleep in the bed and then she'd beat me for running away.

"My first love when I was coming up was books. I used to read all the time. Fairy tales, what else? My brother came in--from Utica, he was the oldest--and he brought home dirty books--You know adult books. I used to play hooky from school and get his key from under the mat and go in his room and read those good-lookin' books. I tell you I really thought I had it made then."

IT'S HER TURN. She disappears through the door, and is gone for an hour. She comes back discouraged.

"They want somebody who speaks Spanish, you know? Another language. I just speak English. That's enough for me. I got to find some day work (as a maid) or somethin'. I don't have any money past this week."

We leave for Roosevelt Hospital, where Lary Ann plans to apply for a position as a nurse's aide. It's almost noon, time for me to leave. As she goes up the stairs, and I leave for the bus, she tells me,

"I want to do something important with my life, you know. I think maybe if I won't be a nurse I'll be a writer second. I want to do something important so when I'm old I can look back and say I did it because I wanted to and not because I had to."