Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesdays with Dorothy: Con Artists and Other Dangers

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 A woman living alone in the city faces dangers. Dorothy had said earlier in our conversations that someone at Partlow State School had tried to teach her about danger, but that she never really understood danger until she left the institution and moved out on her own. Today we will hear from Dorothy about the some of the dangers she encountered, some real and some imagined.

The first incident she recalls in one that I remember. It happened while I was working as Program Director at St. Andrew’s Foundation. Dorothy came into the office, visibly upset, talking about how someone had taken all the money out of her bank account. I talked with her some that afternoon to find out what had happened. She had fallen prey to a scheme which others, particularly elderly people, have fallen prey to.  Some con artists had talked her into giving them some money on the promise that they could get more money in return for her.  Apparently, some people took her to another branch of her bank to get her to withdraw some funds from her account. Once Dorothy realized that she had been swindled, she went to the branch of her bank where she ordinarily did her banking to tell them, hoping that she could reverse things, but was dismayed when she found that her account was almost empty and there was nothing they could do. She had not clearly understood that her money would be gone from her bank account when the funds had been taken out at a different bank location.

Dorothy was so upset at the time that I took her home and stayed with her for awhile. She settled down after a while, but I was afraid to leave her unattended for the evening.  I stopped by again on my way home from work. My colleague at St. Andrew’s, Edsel Massey, lived nearby, so I asked him if he would check in on her that night, which he did. Dorothy made it through that trial with some help from her friends, and eventually she was able to build her bank account back up.
During one of our conversations I asked Dorothy to talk about that day. She recounted the incident and then went on to talk about other frightening incidents that had occurred in her life on Southside.

“This one time there were some folks that tricked me out of my money. I had got my July check and went to the bank. It was in 1993. I went in and deposited my check. Then I told that lady I’d like about $300 to keep for myself and she gave me $300. Then I was coming out of the bank and saw an old Cadillac, it was an egg colored Cadillac. It was a colored man and a colored woman that had a turban around her had, and there was a white lady. They got me and took me up on that little hill. They claimed they were going to take me up to a lawyer and get me some more money. I had met them up at Woolworth’s when I went up there to get my pastor a birthday card. I saw them there [at the bank] and I said well they’re going to help me get some more money. They conned me into going upstairs on the elevator and when I got up there, there wasn’t nothing but doctors and nurses up there. They were in a little hatch back Civic and it was another time I met them three and they took me up there. It was when miss Hardin was working at the bank and she noticed it. I told that little man, you just get me up to that police station, and he wouldn’t do it. He just took me to Chris’s Restaurant. That lady up there said she wished she had got their tag number. They got away and I never did see them no more.

“They fooled me by telling me that they were going to go to a judge and get me some more money (that was the $300). I didn’t have no better sense than to believe them. They had me take my money out of the bank.”

“Not long after that there was a woman named Susan came up one night when it was raining. She knocked on the door and I knew her so I let her in. She went to the bathroom and I forgot I had a pocketbook back there with some money in it, and she locked the door and stole my money out of it. She came in here acting so calm and everything and said ‘What did Jesus say about helping the needy?’ and I said, ‘You don’t argue with me about Jesus, You get yourself out the door or I’ll have somebody put you out of here.’  I didn’t know she stole my money ‘til she left and I didn’t have but three one dollar bills left in my pocketbook. She had asked me if she could spend the night with me, but I wouldn’t let her. She got up and I shoved her on out the door.”

“Three old colored boys came up over there one time. I pushed all three of them out the door and told them to get away from here. They said they were visiting their grandmother out in Hootersville. I told them I didn’t care who they were visiting and I shoved them on out the door.”

“When I first moved here, there wasn’t a light on this street. There was just a light up at the churchyard and on people’s porches. One night I had to go to the bathroom real bad. There was an old tall vine out here and it was dark and I couldn’t see. I thought it was an old man out there. I thought ‘if I move, that old man will see me.’ Then a car came by and the headlights shone on it and I saw it was an old vine – and me about to wet on myself! I had waited the longest, thinking there was a man out there.”

About the Photographs: The pictures above were taken in the Five Points South area where Dorothy often walked in her excursions as she did her shopping and banking

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