living under the beef n beer (albuquerque, 1973)

finding a decent place to live is a bit hard if you’re a single mom, full-time student and living on welfare.

my son michael was 3 years old. the only place i found that i could afford to live was a 3 room apartment dug underground behind a beef and beer joint. basically, you walked down a dirt path to a door which led to a room with a drain in the center. i euphemistically called this the “mudroom.” a second door led to a kitchen-like area with the living area to the right. behind the living area was a large room i used as a bedroom for my son and i. the ceiling in there was tacked-up cardboard. whenever it rained, the place got flooded. i would have to go outside and hop on the roof (which was abt 3 ft above ground) and sweep the rain off as best i could to keep the flood-waters from getting too high. then i had to sweep the inside waters over to the drain in the mudroom. that drain should have tipped me off when i first saw it, but i was young, poor and inexperienced. i called the landlord and he asked, “what do you expect for $85 a month?”

but my main problem was the mice. the critters lived in the space between the cardboard ceiling and the ground above. all night long, they’d scurry back and forth, as if they were running relay-races. every morning i’d have to take all the silverware and dishes out and wash off the droppings. i called the landlord and his only comment was to chuckle and hang up.

in desperation, i bought some d-con rodent killer. i felt horrible about it, but my situation was extreme. on the package it said, the mice eat the stuff and then go to their homes and quietly die. well, it never quite occurred to me that this was their home and so we had mice staggering and dying all over the place. i was horrified at what i’d done. got rid of all the poison, but by then it was too late. the situation got worse.

the mice apparently were keeping the termite population at bay. once the mice were gone, the termites had a fiesta. every morning i had to clean away the cones of sawdust from the furniture. then one day, while sitting on the couch with a friend, it started to literally rain engorged termites! my friend left never to return. i wanted to go with him. i called the landlord again, and he laughed harder and hung up.

at some point, the termites got their population in check, but the critters weren’t finished with me yet. the breaking point came the day i found nests of black widows living in the boxframe of my son’s mattress. that was it!

critters 3 / stupid white woman 0.

the kid was shipped off to santa fe to stay with my parents while i searched for a less populated place to live.

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2 responses to “living under the beef n beer (albuquerque, 1973)

  • brni

    $85 in 1973 was a lot of cash.
    it prolly stayed cool in summer, tho.

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    • lsaboe

      yeah, and my income for the two of us was abt $2k per year. i’m trying to remember but, i think i moved in there in the spring and was out of there before winter. don’t remember feeling terribly hot down there…but it was a long time ago.

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