A Swank Life

By Larry Teren


“Relief recipients were warned yesterday that they must get rid of television sets, telephones, and other ‘luxury’ items in their homes or face being dropped from relief rolls.” So began the newspaper article on September 25, 1962.

At that time, Harold Swank was the executive secretary of the Public Aid commission. He ordered his staff to begin canvassing their clients for failure to comply. He also told them to warn the Public Aid beneficiaries that if they did not sell all such items within the month, the relief checks would stop.

An exception was made for telephones if needed for health reasons or to help get a job. “Luxury” items would be allowed to be kept if purchased before the person went on relief or were received as gifts.  But, the aid recipient must be able to prove this. Continue reading “A Swank Life”