Love Poems and Sad Stories - The Winter Coat

Geraldine
Geraldine | Source
Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter | Source

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Forced to grow up too fast (Graduation), a young woman manages to escape from an abusive marriage (The Five Dollar Gold Piece) and returns with her two small children to her parents farm in North Central Wisconsin.

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She is forced to watch her children go Hungry (The Church Picnic) and is finally returned by the county to Milwaukee (The Train Ride).

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She manages to re-marry just as the Great Depression begins. Her husband soon loses his job and is forced to gather (Rags, Bottles and Paper) to feed his family.

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Now, she has to keep her fourteen year old daughter home from school because she doesn't have a winter coat to wear.

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The Winter Coat

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She sat in the darkened room with the shades drawn, still in shock over the events that had taken place over the past few weeks. It all began when the weather started to grow cold and she had to keep her daughter, Geraldine, home from school because she didn’t have a winter coat to wear. At age fourteen, her daughter had outgrown the tattered coat that she had worn the year before and they didn’t have any money to buy her a new one.

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The Depression had left a lot of people unemployed and her husband had been reduced to combing through rich people’s garbage for anything usable that he could sell to help put food on the table.While it was true that the county helped pay their rent and supplied them with flour, potatoes, cabbages and lard, there was no money to buy clothes.

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She had gone to the Red Cross and the welfare department and begged them for a coat for her daughter, but they all told her that she had to wait her turn – everyone else needed things too. Meanwhile, her daughter stayed home each day and tried to study from the one book that she had managed to bring home with her on the last day she had gone to school.

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Each week, the woman had contacted the agencies asking when they would have a coat and each week the answer was the same "You are still on the list and we will let you know when we find one". And then, to make matters worse her daughter had suddenly become ill. The pain in her side had begun slowly at first and kept getting worse until they finally had no choice but to take her to the county hospital. The doctor had said that she had a ruptured appendix and had rushed her into surgery.

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What happened next was all a blur. The doctor came and told her that her daughter had died on the operating table. The woman screamed and fell on the floor. Only a few days ago she had had a healthy fourteen-year-old daughter, and now they would be looking for a place to bury her.

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Fortunately, they found a funeral parlor that agreed to do the job for twenty-five dollars down and a small monthly payment over the next two years. The county had provided a simple pine coffin and an unmarked grave in the pauper’s cemetery. The ground had not frozen too deep yet, so the gravediggers were able to dig the hole. It had happened so fast that it all seemed to run together in her mind.

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Now she sat alone in the darkened room with tears trickling down her cheeks thinking about a daughter that she would never see again and an unmarked grave with only a patch of dirt to protect it from the snow. Suddenly, she heard a knock at the door jarring her back to reality. Maybe if she didn’t answer it, whoever was there would go away. But the knocking only got louder and finally she pulled herself together and struggled to open the door. When she finally opened it she was shocked to see the lady from the welfare agency standing there. The woman was smiling as she said, "Good news ma’am. We finally found a coat for your daughter. Now she can go to school". In her arms the woman was holding a winter coat.

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In memory of my step-sister, Geraldine Johnson. She won't need a coat in heaven.

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The young woman and her family, manage to survive the Depression and have finally moved back to North Central Wisconsin where they buy an old house on an acre of land where they can grow vegetables and a few chickens.

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Life gradually begins to get better until 1946, when the next chapter takes place.

Sad Stories - Halloween

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin where this story takes place during The Great Depression

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

raciniwa profile image

raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

oh, so sad...yes, she doesn't need it in heaven...


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

This is a sad, but sweet story. I enjoyed reading it. The poor Mother, my heart would go out to her.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments and feedback.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina

Beautiful! And to think where the world is now heading..


akune profile image

akune 5 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

I guessed where it was going, but it did not lose dignity in the predictability. O poor woman. I feel for her.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

How sad. Enjoyed reading the story. Thanks for sharing.


Sassywolf profile image

Sassywolf 5 years ago from Utica,New York

How very sad,my heart goes out to any woman who looses a child !It would kill me if I ever lost mine.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

She didn't lose just one child but two. If you are interested read Halloween.


buddyporter96 profile image

buddyporter96 5 years ago from Mid-South, United States

this was a great look at the rare commodity of compassion. Voted every button but funny. Way to go.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

Thank you all for your comments.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Beautifully written, unbearably sad. Its hard to imagine the mom still standing after such loss.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

How sad these things happened in the depression, are they going to happen again? You did a beautiful job of writing this touching piece. Voted up, awesome and interesting.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

Oh my. I have chills and a heavy heart for dear Geraldine and her mother :( How horrible to lose a child and have to bury her... and then to get the one thing mom wanted most for Geraldine to care for her and get her to school. You wrte so beautifully.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

All of my stories which begin " Sad Stories " are based on true incidents that either happened to me or were told to me by my parents. You can't make up things like that.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

Its wonderful that you are sharing your history. Must be that my family history is tainted or something because my family refuses to share stories from the past! Makes me all that much more interested though :)


klarawieck 4 years ago

What a beautiful tribute to Geraldine, rjsadowski. I'm sure she is smiling at you from Heaven, because you've shared her story with the world and it serves as a reminder that we should be grateful for what we have in the present. Thanks for sharing your family's history with us.


Magdaleine profile image

Magdaleine 4 years ago

Really a sad story of Geraldine and her mom. I am going to read your other stories. thanks for sharing the your true stories to us.

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