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Word Count: 949
It was the frigid winter of 1975 oil prices had skyrocketed and I had moved back home with my mother four brothers and two sisters The house was a modest four bedroom two story clapboard heated by an oil furnace In October of that year Mom assembled a family meeting to ask whether we wanted her to buy groceries or oil for the heater that winter She wouldnt be able to afford both Petroleum prices were rising higher than wed ever seen them and there was no indication they would go back down It didnt take long for us to decide that we could keep warm with blankets and space heaters There were eight of us living in our house and we figured we could sleep together for warmth and comfort My father and mother had divorced several years earlier and Mom was working on the assembly line at General Motors Even though she was working full time and making union wages of about 1000 per hour roughly equivalent in todays dollars to 2500 per hour her salary wasnt enough to pay the mortgage utilities food medical and transportation costs for her family My father employed full time but an active alcoholic at that time couldnt be depended upon to pay child support for his five school age children Today he would be defined as a deadbeat dad and tracked down by Child Support Enforcement But back then even though I urged Mom to take him to court to enforce his responsibility and lessen her burden she stated that she didnt need him and didnt want to deal with the court system When I think back on that freezing winter I can still recall how frustrated and angry I felt My mother and I were both working full time and yet we were forced to make the decision between buying food or heating oil for the winter I was employed on the second shift at
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