Equal? Imbalanced?

The 1930s, not many families had an automobile. If you wanted groceries and the old man was at work, where he drove the only car you had, if you were lucky, you either walked or took the bus to fill up the pantry.

When the 40s arrived some families where wealthy enough to buy a second car, but not many; mom was still slogging to the corner or nearby grocery to get supplies for the family. Pork chop, grits and green beans could have been the dinner for the day and everything mom bought was to please dad.

After the War, more people owned two cars, but still not many. My parents had only one car and my dad had purchase his first new car, a 1956 Dodge Coronet. My dad, after working a half day on Saturday, would take my mother to the grocery. But during the week, she walked about a half mile to the neighborhood grocery for the odds and ends that she needed. I used to love to walk along with her and help carry a light bag for her back home. I felt like such a man.

When we moved to the country, my dad bought a second car. My old man was always a Dodge man so he bought her one of the first economy cars, at the time – a ’61 Dodge Dart. My mother was free from the confines of home. Cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping no longer had to be an all day task. She could even fit her favorite stories in during the afternoon – the “Edge of Night.”

The bus still traveled 12 miles from the city into the country where we lived. The bus actually passed our lone 20 home subdivision, four miles further to the county seat.

While my mother got used to driving the Dart, she would still take the bus to the city because she was nervous about driving downtown. She was taking a class on being a telephone operator. You remember how operators used to put wires from a sort or desk and plug them into a panel of plug to connect you. She eventually got a job as an operator and continued to take the bus to and from work.

I believe the bus continues to run out into the country stopping at various workplaces along the way.

As you know from the article on the front page and a huge piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, eastern Chesterfield is plagued with poverty along the Jefferson Davis corridor. There are other small areas on Hopkins Road and even smaller pieces of poverty-stricken areas on eastern Hull Street Road and Midlothian Turnpike, but these areas are quickly turning around.

In Virginia there are approximately 2.5 persons per household. The poverty level along the Jeff Davis Highway (JD) corridor is a mean of $24,000 (mean is half above and half below) with typical rent or mortgage of just less than $1,000 a month.

Let’s do the math: $24,000 a week is $461 before taxes. Some neighborhoods off of JD do better than that. Half as you saw above. The corridor poverty level is 24 percent.

That 24 percent is higher than any other census tract in the county. Yet, at least one District Supervisor, Dan Gecker, has said he “would like to see parity in the county.” Later he said he didn’t think we should keep comparing the east and west of the county because that does nobody any good.

The Bermuda District, by the way, provides the lion’s share of taxes for the county due to its huge industrial presence.

How do we fix it? All other County Supervisors but the Bermuda Supervisor could really care less. Their districts don’t have the poverty problem. Parity? Yeah right. The revitalization plan, which would include the JD corridor, has been shelved due to budget constraints.

The free market is the only way to go for those trying to improve the corridor. Those that could work at the many industrial businesses can’t get there due to a lack of transportation. Gecker said during the budget process, whose district takes in most of Midlothian said, that they were not taking his express bus service to downtown.

 In the meantime those on the corridor can’t get to work and are called disparaging names like welfare queen and living off the government.

We need a bus service on this side of the county, not where the mean income is approximately three or four times that of the corridor. The eastern side of the county needs buses not Midlothian.  

According to Patricia Cohen, New York Times, “People living in poverty tend to be clustered in certain neighborhoods rather than being evenly distributed across geographic areas. Measuring this concentration of poverty is important because researchers have found that living in areas with many other poor people places burdens on low-income families beyond what the families’ own individual circumstances would dictate. Many argue that this concentration of poverty results in higher crime rates, underperforming public schools, poor housing and health conditions, as well as limited access to private services and job opportunities.”

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