11 Families Cook in Yards; 36 Children Suffer Until Paper Guarantees Gas Bill

Returned to civilized living, this group of 23 children is happy once again. They are members of 11 families under Emergency Relief at 106, 108 and 110 State Street who were forced to cook their meals on rude makeshift stoves in the back yards after gas and electricity had been turned off for non-payment of bills.

Camden Courier-Post – June 5, 1933

Mothers Forced to Use Make-Shift Means When Public Service Cuts Fuel Supply Pending Assurance of Payment by Emergency Relief Officials

Uncivilized hardship forced on eleven poor North Camden families has been alleviated.

From early Friday morning until 3.20 p. m. Saturday these families, supposedly under the protecting care of the emergency relief, were forced to revert to pioneer methods to cook the food and heat milk. There are 35 children in the families.

Gas and electricity which had been turned off by Public Service for non-payment of bills by owners of the properties in which the families are living finally was turned on again after the Courier-Post newspapers guaranteed to Public Service the payment of future bills.

“When the Courier-Post learned that these families at 106-108-110 State Street had been forced to cook their meals and heat their milk over makeshift stoves in the yard, an effort was made at once to reach Emergency Relief officials Saturday afternoon. When that failed, these newspapers notified Public Service they would stand responsible for the bills incurred until the emergency relief would have an opportunity to act today.

A few minutes later, however, a Public Service employee stated that a representative of the emergency relief organization also had called and agreed to guarantee payment of the bills.

Diligent efforts to verify this statement were unsuccessful last night. Wayland P. Cramer, Camden county relief director, said he had heard nothing of the case and that it would be one to be handled by Dr. Arthur L. Stone, Camden city relief director who is serving until his resignation is accepted by the state relief organization.

Dr. Stone said that while he had guaranteed payment of gas and electric bills in a similar case about a month ago, he had no knowledge of Saturday’s case.

“I assume the, situation was handled by Charles Edgar, of the rental division of the emergency relief,” Dr. Stone said. Edgar could not be reached last night.

Dr. Stone said it was the usual policy of the Emergency Relief to arrange with Public Service to guarantee payment of gas and electricity of companies when rent properties to the relief administration. If the bills are not paid by the renting companies, the money is taken from the amounts due these, companies from the relief administration. Dr. Stone said he had no knowledge that such was the policy followed in this case.

“A pathetic picture was presented in the back yards of 106, 108 and 110 State Street Saturday until the gas, and electric service was resumed.

Huddled about little open stoves, with the sun beating down on them, the housewives worked as best they could to cook food and heat the milk for their children.

In these families are 35 children between the ages of one and ten years. All 11 families have been on relief for some time. Three other families in the apartments not on relief, also suffered from the lack of gas and electricity until payment of the bills was guaranteed.

Meanwhile John Colt, state director of emergency relief, has received but has not accepted Dr. Stone’s resignation. Colt admitted the possibility it might be necessary for him to visit Camden in his investigation surrounding Dr. Stone’s resignation.

“I have received Dr. Stone’s letter of resignation,” said Colt,”but have not accepted it. You can say for me that I have this whole matter under advisement. I shall visit Camden if necessary.

“I do not want to give this matter any more publicity than is necessary. After all, my job is to conduct relief affairs to the satisfaction of localities throughout the state, and disturbances of this nature take my time from relief work. I shall try to compose this matter to the best interests of all concerned.”

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