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Rated: E · Poetry · History · #2054107
Response to a photo, remembering the beginning of Social Security.
Pa, a nice young man named Mr. Shay
dropped by to see us…. said he had money
to give us, if we’re older than 65; money from
the US Government. Mr. Roosevelt signed a law
last year. Do you know anything about this Pa?
He gave me this here piece of paper
that he says tells all about it.

I don’t know if I’m more scared to get some money
or not to. “What can the government do to us
if we take that money and don’t pay it back?”
I asked him. He said we don’t have to pay it back,
ever. We get it because of all the taxes we paid all our lives.
Did you ever hear such a thing?
He says money will come in the mail every month.
All he wanted was to see our birth certificates.
Well, I said to him, we ain’t got no papers like that.
We was born at home. Both of us was.
He asked if we have baptism certificates.
I said I do. He asked to see so I showed him.
And I showed him all my perfect attendance cards
from Sunday School. He asked about you too.
I told him you were gone.
“That’s all right, ma’am,” he said. He was real polite.
He asked me to sign a paper.
I told him I don’t write nor read.
He read it to me and I made my mark.
I hope I did right.
I sure wish you was still home, Pa,
‘stead of over in this here churchyard.

Note: Mr. Walter Shay was one of the early social workers serving under the 1935 Social Security Law in West Virginia.
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