We are all familiar with the financial crisis that our economy is currently facing. Our stock market is unstable and unemployment is on the rise. These hard times have affected people from all walks of life; from the most affluent neighborhoods to the modest. The housing market has been steadily declining, as well, in record foreclosure numbers. There have been numerous scandals in the mortgage lending industry, with our government bailing some of them out. In The Day They Came for Addie Polk’s House, by Peter J. Boyer, we are given an effective insight into one woman’s act of desperation to save the only thing she has, her home, and how predatory loan companies target the elderly. This essay is centered on a profile of Addie Polk. Mr. Boyer uses a clever approach to entertain us in showing her significance. The sentimental audience is targeted by showing the effects of this crisis on the elderly. Throughout the story we are introduced to several people who play a role in shedding light on Addie’s story. By telling us about the town she lives in, readers are reminded that the housing crisis can happen anywhere, no matter how prosperous the city or town once was. Mr. Boyer strikes a chord with those who advocate for what’s right, and makes others wonder how much of our woes are self-inflicted.
The essay opens with the scene on the day of Addie Polk’s eviction from her foreclosed home. This is useful because it brings to reality the harshness of the process of eviction. We are introduced to the sheriff, Donald Fatheree, who is a long time resident of the town and who is overseeing this eviction. In The Day They Came for Addie Polk’s House, by Peter J. Boyer, the sheriff is described as, “a skilled salesman, who could negotiate, unofficially, between banks and evictees, possibly avoiding a forcible removal” (Boyer 946). In giving us this background on the sheriff, it is understood that this is the sheriff’s job and it is the one part of his job that he could do without. This portrayal of the sheriff shows that while he has a job to do he makes it as pleasant as he can, but ultimately the law trumps any feelings he has toward the evictee. The opening scene is successful in showing us a look at the process and sets the scene to show how we got to this point.
While this situation happens all over the country, Mr. Boyer shows this particular city’s fall from grace. Akron, Ohio, is sketched by stating, “Akron’s three rubber giants- Goodyear, Goodrich, and Firestone- had provided more than enough opportunity for anyone who wanted to work” (Boyer 948). Some of the effects of the community dilapidation is stated by saying, “The street’s brick roadbed now pushes up through the asphalt in big patches, and nearly every other house is empty or up for sale” (Boyer 948). This reinforces the fact that this can happen anywhere; even a town engulfed by multi-million dollar companies.
The introduction of Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Cleveland is an alert to the fact that some sort of political interference happens, and it does. Bringing reference the congressman enhances the credibility of this story and also adds to the sentiment because the congressman is from Cleveland, Ohio, not far from Akron. The intervention of the congressman is crucial to this story and brings about many changes in the mortgage lending arena. His portrayal lends a strong hand to this story by being the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the main investigative committee in the United States House of Representatives (www.dkosopedia.com). He reads of Mrs. Polk’s story on the internet and mentions her in a speech before Congress. Credibility is strengthened here, not only by the fact that Dennis Kucinich is a congressman, but also having been in the same predicament as Mrs. Polk. The Congressman bluntly states to Mr. Boyer, “My story is a little bit different than some of the members...