Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big-City Troubles Are Crumbling Family's Fortress

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big-City Troubles Are Crumbling Family's Fortress

Article excerpt

RURAL LIFE was not easy in the Deep South where Sally was born 43 years ago, so when she turned 17, she joined the migration to the northern cities. She came to St. Louis.

She got a job in a packing house, and she met a good man, Lewis Beasley. They got married.

They eventually had four children. Sally quit her job, but Lewis was a steady worker. He had, and still has, a factory job. They bought a house near Fairground Park, and for a long time, Sally appeared to be living a modest version of the American Dream.

But life in the city was turning meaner and meaner, and even though Sally lwent to church three times a week, the outside world was always threatening to crash into Sally's life.

The first bump ohad nothing to do with the mean streets. Earlier this year, Sally's health went bad.

"I just began to swell up," she said. "I ended up at the hospital."

The diagnosis was renal failure. In August, she began dialysis treatments. Three times a week, for three hours at a time, she has to be on a dialysis machine.

In the first week of October, though, the crash came.

First, Sally's 15-year-old son witnessed a shooting. An 8-year-old boy was walking with an older brother when a shot was fired from a group of young men on the other side of the street. The 8-year-old was hit. A juvenile, later identified as a gang member, was arrested for the shooting. Sally's son was taken downtown to give a statement.

"This area is infested with gangs," said Sally. "Everybody was saying that they were going to get my son next because he had talked to the police."

So Sally pulled her oldest son out of school and sent him to live with relatives in another state.

Three days later, in a totally unrelated incident, Sally's daughter, Samantha, was murdered.

Samantha had been visiting a friend in St. Louis County. The bodies of the two young women were found in a soybean field near Granite City. Samantha was 17. Police are seeking the other young woman's boyfriend.

Sally knows little of the details.

"I had never formally met the other young woman," Sally said. "I had heard of her. I knew they were friends."

"Were they good friends? …

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