As newlyweds, my parents shared a house with a couple with two children who lived across the street.
Despite the fact that my parents didn’t know the other couple, they often ran into each other while picking up their newspapers or checking their mail.
The woman on the other side of the street died one day. It came as a surprise. She was a child at the time.
Her husband lost his wife. It looked like he’d be the sole caregiver for their two young children.
To qualify for Social Security survivor benefits, the children had to be under the age of 18. Their father was only required to fill out a few forms.
Unfortunately, he had difficulty completing the forms due to the fact that they were written in a language other than his own.
The man enlisted the assistance of another neighbor, who completed the paperwork with him. There was one snag.
There was a mistake on the neighbor’s paperwork. Instead of writing down 42nd Street, he wrote down 43rd Street.
That posed a challenge for me.
On a daily basis, the recently widowed man sifted through his mail in search of his children’s Social Security survivor benefits checks.
He discovered the problem after a few weeks. As a result, the man inquired as to what to do the next time the mailman delivered his mail without the checks.
If you don’t mind me saying, he asked me to ask the mailman on his behalf. She jumped at the chance, and my mother was more than willing to act as a translator.
The mailman was able to answer her most pressing question. How could this man get the money he needed to support his children after the death of their mother?
According to the mailman, “you need to get in touch with the government agency and ask them to send the checks to the correct address.
That bit of information came from my mother.
The man asked my mother to thank the mailman for his advice, but instead of following his instructions, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
It had been difficult enough to find someone to assist him in filling out the form. Is that what they were expecting him to do now? He wasn’t convinced.
Despite the fact that my mother offered to assist, he insisted on carrying out his own solution.
My mother saw him paint the number forty-three in large digits on the side of his door later that day. He had painted it there.
The new house number was painted right next to the old one.
My mother was shocked to learn that it had worked.
I doubt the mailman gave a rat’s behind. Maybe preventing people from changing their addresses on their own wasn’t his job.
Most likely, he felt sorry for the young widower with two small children to care for.
Whatever the reason, the Social Security checks with the incorrect address started arriving regularly at the house with the new number painted next to the old one.
If it was technically incorrect, that didn’t matter at all.
We were fortunate in that we didn’t have to worry about finding a house that bore the number forty-three on the street.
A mistake like that could have made the situation even more difficult to handle.
Today, I doubt such a gambit would succeed, but it didn’t today. Almost fifty years have passed since this incident occurred.
His two young children are now approaching middle age after the death of the widower.