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McGavock & Sons: 1941

McGavock & Sons: 1941

April 1941. "Sign. Chicago, Illinois. (Children in the 'Black Belt,' Negro section on the South Side.)" Acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Tiny cemetery?

Two games in this photograph

The first game is a scam. The Lincoln (why Lincoln ... hmmm?) Funeral System Association protecting your family from embarrassment for premiums as little as 10-cents a week is disgraceful. I wish I could say this kind of manipulative preying is a thing of the past; but it still flourishes.

The second game is the kids. I can't figure out what they're doing. My best guess is two guys are wrestling. But that doesn't explain why the guy on the left is down on one knee.

Click to embiggen.

Burial insurance schemes

Forbes Advisor online has a revealing article about the pushing of burial insurance policies in Black communities, a practice going back into the nineteenth century. At base were policies providing fixed burial expenses but not passing on generational wealth, and relentless collecting of small amounts that added up quickly but often didn't increase the payout.

Quoting an contemporary insurance executive, "For decades, it was a standard practice at some insurance companies to charge Blacks more for products and offer them small face amount burial insurance that provided little value for the premium paid. These practices led to litigation and settlements that were resolved not that long ago."

Rest in bits and pieces

It's hard to believe, I know, but there was a point in history (not so long ago, really) when people were encouraged to (and did!) put away hard-earned money in dribs and drabs so as to have the means to bury their own dead with dignity when the time of dolor came, and in so doing, to protect their family "from embarrassment." Today, before the remains of a loved one even have a chance to assume room temperature, a family member has used their thousand-dollar smartphone to set up a cyber panhandling account for funeral expenses, and posted on their various social media platforms to advertise the fact. Prove you're sympathetic by showing us the money!

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