Homeless Still Struggle Where Success Triumphed
LYNN NEARY, host:
It's one thing to be out of work, quite another to be without a place to sleep. NPR's Noah Adams went to Dayton, Ohio, to check out a job retraining center and ended up spending time with some homeless people across the river. Here's a page from his "Reporter's Notebook."
NOAH ADAMS: I was in the parking lot at the job center. It was a warm day, and I looked across and I could see people just sitting out there in the sun right on the riverbank. It looked inviting and you know everybody's got a story, so I drove across the bridge and then realized they were staying at the homeless shelter nearby. I walked up and talked with Terry Goodwin(ph) who, as it turned out, had stopped in the job center that morning. He wanted to tease me a little bit.
Mr. TERRY GOODWIN (Electrician): They told me, if you come by here and you had your microphone out and you turned it on and I talked to you, you'd probably pull your wallet out and give me a Franklin. Now is that true or not? Huh? You know what I mean, I'm being serious. I mean, you don't want to let down my compadres because they can be rough after a couple of beers.
(Soundbite of laughter)
ADAMS: A Franklin, Terry Goodwin had to explain to me, is a $100 bill. And I had to explain to him that I couldn't pay for an interview. Anyway, Goodwin came to Dayton for a friend's funeral. His truck broke. He says the job center promised to bring him money in the morning, and he'd go home to Arizona. He's an electrician. He says there's no work in Dayton. Kelly Rowgi(ph) is also staying at the shelter. She says she's been in management and sales. Her last job, she worked at a Rite Aid drugstore. But now has no safe way to get there.
Ms. KELLY ROWGI (Former Employee, Rite Aid Drugstore): My car died and transportation was on foot. And I had rocks thrown on me, I was spit on twice, and kind of almost - I would say - almost a sexual assault. They took my underclothing and asked me to get dressed and walk home slowly and do not call the police.
ADAMS: Who did this?
Ms. ROWGI: They told me to look down. I have no clue.
ADAMS: This was the last Indian summer day along the Great Miami River in Dayton, and it was the sunshine that made me think of John Patterson. Right here on this riverbank more than a century ago, Patterson started the National Cash Register Company, which became NCR. His company's success in part was because he believed his workers should have sunlight in the factory and clean air and a hot company lunch. NCR, of course, no longer offers a free lunch. The company still has headquarters here close to the river. Back in its manufacturing heyday around 1960, NCR had about 30,000 people on the local payroll. Now that's down to 1,300. Those numbers make you say, well, that's Dayton these days.
NEARY: NPR's Noah Adams. This is NPR News.