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Joseph M. Retired

I live in New Orleans for a lot of years – 66 years. I come from a family of 18 kids. I’m 72 years old. I worked all my life, never went to school, but I survived. I got married in 1950 and I had eight kids. Married to my wife for 50 years until I lost her. Her name was Irma. When I lost her, I lost the world.

I sent all my kids to school ‘cause I knew what it was. You need education to survive this world. I picked up garbage when I was 10 years old, in the French Quarters. I worked with my daddy. We worked the mule teams together. After we finished the route, I used to go out and pick up papers, old junk, to help support my family. You have a whole life when you come from a hard family. If people think this is bad, they should see 1932. That was the Depression. People jumping out of windows cause they lost their money. My daddy always reminded me of what a dollar meant. When I got a little older I was in charge of cleanup crew in the French Quarter. We seen good days, we seen bad days. I was retired on Social Security before I got here.

I’ve seen what I wanted to.

I’ve went through five hurricanes. I went through two “3’s” and two “4’s.” This was the worst. I went through Betsey, Camille, Hugo, Ivan, and Katrina was the worst. I wouldn’t want to see anybody in the future years live through this. There’s only so much you can see. I survived this here one ‘cause I had two friends who owned a bar, Hanks’s Place in Chalmette. I took my grandbaby with Downs Syndrome, Matthews. I raised him since he was one year. I took him and we stayed at Hank’s Place all during the hurricane till the water started rising. Then we went to my friend’s trailer in Chalmette and it was dry. It was amazing. We all said that.

We stayed there till they ran us out, the sheriff. We had to get out of Louisiana altogether. We got picked up on the highway by a big truck. They took us to a bus and the bus took us to the airport, and they flew us here. My little grandson took it all the way. I’m proud of him. Every day he learns a little something. He’s Downs Syndrome. But I teach him a little something every day. So he knows what he can do in case I die. He’ll be prepared. I’ll tell you what—for a man who never went to school I did pretty well in my lifetime.

My plan was to stay here in Austin, but I didn’t get treated too good. So now I’m gonna go to California. God takes things one day at a time. I can say better than a lotta people, I lived.

The easy part for me now is just waiting and dying, I guess.

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