I ordered The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, by S. Bear Bergman. I told the folks at Giovanni's Room, the GLBT bookstore in Philadelphia, that if I didn't get there this weekend, I'd like to have it shipped to me. I called, and they were happy to do that.
I don't drive in the city, and I was feeling less than ambitious about walking a number of blocks to and from Market East. When I've tried to get taxis from the train station, the drivers are very reluctant to take me as a fare. I have no idea why. I dress casually and I'm middle-aged. Perhaps it's being casually dressed. People in and around the train station aren't shy about begging me for money. I'm never sure how to react to that. If I'm on my way back to the train, I rarely have money left.
I'll go to the bookstore and browse another day. I had called S. on Friday to see if he wanted to meet me at the train station Saturday. I'll call or text him again to chat, or he'll get back to me sooner or later.
Later: We went to the spaghetti dinner at church. On the one hand, I think it's good for me mentally to get out of the house and see people. On the other hand, I ate a lot of sweets and starches. I got Louisa May Alcott's Christmas Treasury: The Complete Christmas Collection from the church library. I'd been the last person to check it out, in 2007. I remembered several of the stories in it. One I particularly remembered without remembering the title. It's A New Way to Spend Christmas, adapted by Stephen W. Hines. It's about a Christmas visit to children housed in institutions on an island in the East River. This would presumably be in the later part of the nineteenth century.
*Warning for outdated word for intellectual disability/developmental disability.*
Here are the first few paragraphs:
"In spite of rain and fog, our party met at the appointed hour on board of the boat bound for Randalls Island.
"This is one of the three islands that lie in East River that are used for charitable purposes. Blackwells Island is full of hospitals, alms and workhouses; Wards has a hospital for immigrants, a mental asylum, and the Potter's Field, but Randalls is devoted to children.
"On it is a nursery in which children over two years old are placed and kept until parents or guardians are able to provide for them. If not claimed, they are bound out at a proper age to respectable citizens to learn some useful trade. There are now in the nursery six hundred and forty-two boys and three hundred and twenty-one girls. A school for retarded children is also on this island as is a hospital for sick babies."
The visitors brought presents and candy to the children. A number of the stories in the book had characters in dire poverty. There are no longer workhouses in New York, and people aren't confined to islands. Poverty is still quite an issue through the country.