Taken from *The Street* by Ann Petry

‘Money?’ she said suspiciously.

‘Sure. Pick out the bottles and the pieces of metal. I’ll pay you for them. It won’t be much. But I can cover more ground if somebody helps me.’

Thus, Mrs. Hedges and Junto started out in business together. It was she who suggested that he branch out, get other pushcarts and other men to work for him. When he bought his first piece of real estate, he gave her the job of janitor and collector of rents.

It was a frame building five stories high, filled with roomers. Not many people knew that Junto owned it. They thought he came around to buy junk scrap iron and old newspapers and rags. When he obtained a second building, he urged her to move, but she refused. Instead, she suggested that he divide the rooms in this building in half and thus he could get a larger income from it. And of course she made more money, too, because she got a commission on the rent she collected. She was careful to spend very little because she had convinced herself that if she had enough money she could pick out a man for her self and he would be glad to have her.

It’s surprising to me that Ann Petry’s The Street is not better recognized. I’ve never seen it referenced. Yet it is full of interesting interactions which show how the protagonist in particular, but others as well, get along in their lives. The prose is stronger than many of her peers. It was her first book and seems to have been well regarded when it was written in the mid-40s.

Petry’s first and most popular novel, The Street, was published in 1946 and won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship with book sales exceeding one million copies.[3] She was featured in a brief All-American News film segment covering her winning the award.[18]


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