Author Fay Webern, 89, will read from her new book “The Button Thief of East 14th Street” at two events, one in Burlington on Monday evening, Dec. 12 at The Light Club Lamp Shop from 7 to 8 p.m. She will also read in Montpelier on Friday evening, Dec. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Reading Room of Noble Hall on the campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Here is a brief excerpt from the beginning of Webern’s “The Button Thief of East 14th Street.”
“I wasn’t supposed to be born. When my mother broke the news that she was in the family way, she already had three children and was living in a one-bedroom railroad flat on Avenue D and 8th Street with a bathtub in the kitchen, toilet in the hall, and a coal stove for cooking and heating. Maxie was eight, Ruthie was six, Sidney was seven months. My father was beside himself. Where was he going to get more money? Where would they find room for another child? How did she expect to take care of the house with a baby in each hand? But she would not agree to a scraping. She was afraid of infection.”
But just as things looked very grim, something very good happened. Webern and her husband saw a sign that advertised Lavanburg Homes, an apartment project made possible by philanthropist Fred L. Lavanburg. The newly constructed, six-story apartment block consisted of 112 apartments, specifically designed to be of help to low-income people.
Here’s how Webern describes the apartments.
“There were to be a hundred-twelve apartments with steam heat, plenty of sunlight and air, built-in closets, a tiled bathroom, a laboratory-style kitchen with a dumbwaiter for garbage collection, and a rack by the window for drying clothes; no outside washlines.”
“The Button Thief of East 14th Street” is available at local bookstores and online and is published by Sagging Miniscus Press (Montclair, New Jersey).