Hard Times in the City: Testifying

Bernice, Rent Party Hostess

Photo: caption follows

Surrogate image: New York, New York. Summer 1938. 61st Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues. A sign offering apartments for rent. Walker Evans. Photograph, 1938. (LC-USF33-6718-M3).
West Indian
Informant gave the interview on condition that her present address and last name be omitted from story
Rent Party Hostess
141 Street, near Lenox Avenue, New York City
October 2, 1938
Frank Byrd

Interview Excerpt: "Why did you start giving rent-parties?"

Listen to Bernice's response

"When I first came to New York from Bermuda I thought rent-parties were disgraceful. I couldn't understand how any self-respecting person could bear them, but when my husband, who was a pullman porter, ran off and left me with a sixty-dollar-a-month apartment on my hands and no job, I soon learned, like everyone else, to rent my rooms out an' throw these Saturday get togethers.

"I had two roomers, a colored boy and white girl name Leroy and Hazel, who first gave me the idea. They offered to run the parties for me if we'd split fifty-fifty. I had nothing to lose, so that's how we started."

Transcript #21011104

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Man at Eddie's Bar | Man at Colonial Park | Bernice, Rent Party Hostess | Clyde "Kingfish" Smith, Street Worker

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All in a Day's Work: Industrial Lore | Rank and File | Hard Times in the City: Testifying | Making Do: Women and Work

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