Saturday, February 02, 2008
The arabbers of Baltimore have fallen on hard times. Their central stable was condemned and the horses seized by the City. According to the Sun, the horses were treated properly but were inadequately housed.
Tonight the doorbell rang at about 8:30. I was in bed reading homework, and jumped up to open the window and look down. It was our former arabber--when we first moved to the neighborhood we became regular customers, buying tomatoes, cantaloupes, bananas, strawberries, and potatoes from him.
He was crying. I barely recognized him; he was grizzled and looked unwell. First thing he did was ask about my wife. "She real nice," he said. "Soon as you came to the neighborhood I was happy to meet her." He told me he was having hard times. Their horses had been moved several times, and it looked like they wouldn't get them back until June or July. "I'm fifty years old," he said. "My work was took away. They got my horse and I don't know where my cart is." He asked if I could spare some money until the summer. "You know I'll get it back to you."
I gave him some cash, but didn't have much in the house. He often cut us deals on 'maters and good fruit, and I told him we missed having him come around. He thanked me. "Antonio won't forget what you done," he said, touching his hand to his heart. I asked if I could drive him somewhere. "No sir. I'm gonna make my usual rounds tonight and ask for some more help. I wish I had my pony."