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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: February 2010

1 - The Social Designation of Deserving Citizens



Dorothy Turoski is a 74-year-old woman who lives in a public housing complex for the elderly in the city of West Haven, Connecticut, 80 miles to the northeast of metropolitan New York. She packed chicken at the local poultry factory for 28 years before retiring from her job, and now lives in a subsidized one-room housing unit of this complex on a small Social Security income. Dorothy has some difficulty moving around because of arthritis, and she has lived here alone for 7 years.

I do nothing. There's nothing to do here. I haven't got none, no friends. There's plenty of days I don't see anybody. I don't know anybody here. I don't go to City Hall [senior center], I don't know anybody here. …

My husband died. My two daughters died. My son had a stroke. He is paralyzed. He's in a wheelchair. For three and a half years, I was away taking care of my daughter. I used to go at eight o'clock till four when the kids came home from school. When she died, it seemed that everything in me died. Because I didn't care anymore. She suffered so much. … I got all her children, but they're not very nice. They don't come to see me or anything.

On a Sunday, the parking lot is full when they come to see their grandmother or their mother, but there's nobody there for me. … […]