Sunday, December 8, 2013

Frail Woman Dying

Detroit Free Press, June 5, 1906
When Mary Jablonski's husband died at Eloise it was hardly a moment to grieve. His alcoholism had all but cancelled him out of the life of his family and his death was more or less the loosening of a burden. One which Mary carried with her as she trundled miles to and from work opportunities to secure money for the care of her 6 children, despite being ravaged by the white plague of tuberculosis.

Having come to America from Germany a little over a month earlier to join her husband she soon found him in a manic state of drunkenness. A week or so after she had settled into her new home Mr. Jablonski returned from work and demanded money. She gave him the last $2.10 and he disappeared for a week. In the meantime Mrs. Jablonski and her brood of children were evicted from their home for non-payment of rent. A neighbor, John Grzeskowiak, a grocer, saw her sobbing in the street and took her and the children in to his home to be cared for by his wife.

The woe didn't end there as her youngest child died in his sleep during her stay over at the Grzekowiak residence. It was attributed to malnutrition but could have very well been SIDS, seeing as there was no autopsy, nor any knowledge of such syndromes at the time. Meanwhile, the grocer who had taken her family in crossed paths with Stephen Jablonski and in confronting him demanded the rest of the money he had confiscated from Mary. Luckily, he had only spent 31 cents. Unluckily, he seemingly died in the month between the second article and the first. Obviously, he received a paycheck and went to heavy laboring on the death of his liver.

Detroit Free Press, May 11, 1906
Having moved on from the neighbor's home to a room on Willis Street she was on the verge of being homeless and starving when she finally contacted the Poor Commission for help. It assuaged the bill collector somewhat but did nothing for her health. A fainting spell on the way home from one of her cleaning jobs elicited the dire medical diagnosis which demanded she quit working lest she die of the consumption which had taken over her body. It also marked the return of the dire poverty which began this tale.

Although I can find no follow-up story or information that confirms she died, the snippet below suggests that she either remained feisty despite her condition or that there were multiple Mary Jablonskis having a rough go of it in 1906 Detroit.

Detroit Free Press, August 19, 1906

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