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From an intensive week of broadcasting focusing on Milwaukee's inner core city within a city w A.J. the University of Wisconsin brings you another in a series of programs examining the problems people and conditions in our inner cities. Yes they fought the dogs and killed the cats and ate the babies in the cradles and ate the cheese out of the vats and licked the spoon from the cooks own ladles. The fictional situation in Robert Browning's Hamlet but not the problem today in Milwaukee. Or is it sir. In the next half hour we'll examine some of the problems created by what one writer has called our neighbor the rat. The program is drawn from interviews made in Milwaukee part of the narrative was taken from a series of articles written by Marcia cutting for the Milwaukee Sentinel
a Milwaukee Health Department official has noted that rats are a citywide problem but one which is under excellent control in most parts of the city. But the one major part of the city where rats are not under control is the inner core. This is evident from examining health department statistics. The area itself and the comments of the people who live in the corner. It's no wonder that they squeak. And they also can cause quite a commotion if they get in the house. But I seen rats in the backyard and this video is from around two or three times now and surely pleasure to hear. I mean why should be when I really want to holler. They have been around the whole neighborhood I mean I don't just wake up and down the alley across the street No but I see some of these ranchers be scared even a cancer scare.
Oh my mother was telling me about the Reds where she comes from she said Those rats are large as house pets and the cats don't monkey with them. You know it didn't know the dogs have to because the cats are afraid. So I think when they get that you really and especially all of the city that makes it not know last night there was a bunch of rats climbing around your back porch and my dog let me know I could hear the noise there. When I was 82 to love the street one of them but this was a long time ago the long long time ago. I was lucky. No the red D6 But as you and I put the bloviating when I studied it you pulled a so-so moves from the trap but I guess by sheer speed
and leapt off the wall it me and Chad the big trout about me and luckily I had it was my father to kill them but I have since I now live at the key cue card in queue to read this and it is I mean they're ready to run you off the front porch and thank your sister. Nice summer night you know you try and get out in it. One got in my house one time and I had this little baby and I had to get the refrigerator and when I ran from the top of the table. I got the baby and that was when. I ran from under the refrigerator.
And down through a hole and closed. This is quite an experience. You know these things are real. They carry the difference between them in the house. If. She had lived. She couldn't
sleep nights because they would be running around the room. But not in my house. That's one good thing. But you're right you and I you are in between the walls and ceiling scratching at night a chilly room here and I'm afraid you're one of these days when I'm trying to get in here. I see most alike by six to seven and do in a room that night to be more than that as about a dozen maybe other kids when I would tell him to go out and take some guy dishes something like that doing after five after six o'clock. Well David they get nervous they don't seem to want to go and I can't force him to go because they are Fred.
Well as I haven't had too much experience with them from what I've heard I want to keep perspire away from them as possible and I do. But you know like I say of us here and I'm always playing up poisonous something cause. I've heard of. Biting people's children and there are some very very ugly experiences with the red man. My cousin actually called to but she's actually a closer. Serves her very first daughter was killed by a red. I guess maybe a baby had food that smell food on its breath I guess in the Red Cross across the mouth of the throat. They found several job of it. In a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development a public health official has written. We control rats because they're a potential carrier of disease are spoilers of food are a public nuisance and occasionally bite children. Mr Roger Hubbard's assistant superintendent of environmental sanitation for the Milwaukee Health Department comments on the problem of rat bites or
rats or cars can bite humans and especially small children if they get into the Wild Wings are harbored in the winds they can bite infants that are sleeping in bed. This is not good rat bite fever it can be the result. Also rats carry fleas and through the history through the years it has been shown that. Well evidence by many people dying off of the plague for example and it's been related to rats that have died and left the fleas to migrate to the human population and. Epidemics have killed thousands and thousands of people all robbed cases of rat bites. For some reason have gone down and we don't have an explanation for this.
Maybe by the next year they would go out but we've had a very good ratbite history as fires. Lol the numbers re parted and healing today too we've had something around 13 bites this year 67 and 66 there were twenty two bites and 65 21 and spend quite similar to that it's Sept in 62 and we're down to nine bites you know a pin of the city health department has estimated that 65 percent of the departments work in pest control is done in an area with 22 percent of the population and the number of revisits it's much higher in the core. Charles Hogg one of the health departments pest control workers confirmed this when he noted that complaints come in from all parts of the city. But in the core where we've cleaned up an
area the problem is recurring. Why do rats live so prosperously in the core. The problem is complex but contributing factors include overcrowded housing the garbage situation abandoned houses breaks in the sewers and the lack of rat proofing on houses. The greatest single problem according to the health department is the garbage situation pest control worker Charles halakha commented. While out on a rat poisoning expedition. First of all sanitation is the first factor. Extermination is the second factor in a kind of rodent control program. And until you have the sanitation you can't keep the bad population down. Later in his office he went on to explain what problems of sanitation actually existed in the core. The garbage situation is a primary factor. Our poisons are less effective and we have to compete with every situation. See the problem previously
was defective cans and boxes now the problem is putting covers on the can finish boxes. And the job of taking the garbage out generally winds up in the hands of those least able to resist which is a small child and in many times it doesn't wind up in the garbage or the can is not covered properly. As far as the garbage cans themselves are concerned I think there's a sufficient supply of them. I very seldom that you'll find overflowing garbage cans generally just that you know fine covered cans. The manager of a housing project concurred with hog's view in a manner of rat control. We have an exterminator who is responsible for control of rodents as well as roaches and other type of past and where the situation is reported to us. The exterminator does put out bait to use whatever method he feels will be most effective for that particular problem however
and the rat problem is the big factor is that the tenant families. I often send small children out to dispose of their garbage and waste and they cannot reach the doors of the containers provided for this purpose and they often sucked in garbage out underground rather than properly placing it in the containers. In other cases the garbage is not properly wrapped and this attracts a rodent so that a big factor in the rodent problem is that the tenant families or at least a sufficient share of them have created the problem and are careful in disposing of this garbage and they provide food which tracks the routes to the area. Rats will not. I. Frequent an area an A-lister is a food since I provided and this is caused by the tenants not being concerned enough and disposal of their
garbage and other waste. Very frankly the biggest problem is the fact that the people living within the project. Either unaware of the problem caused by carelessness with the disposal of their waste or possibly in some cases are not that concerned about the problem. To make a serious effort to control a day it was mentioned that our men do not policed the area sufficiently well we have two maintenance men at the project in question and we have over a hundred individuals in the 10 families of an age to be capable of helping assist in the problem and of these individuals living at the project would make an effort to be very careful in disposal of the garbage plus doing some policing around their yard areas and around the dumpster units. This problem would be much less severe than it is.
But Korra residents have other complaints and expressed somewhat different ideas about why there are so many rats. Durant's of course in Milwaukee you have to separate your cans from your garbage which is somewhat archaic I've never seen and I haven't seen too many cities and still do this. I suspect although we've never done we've never documented this some time we might I don't believe that we get adequate garbage pickup. I don't think because we have a pot in our backyard 8 cans for two families and there's just my wife and I and ours and four kids and the other family and those cans are packed by the time they come around it so it seemed to me that hay cans for that number of people. This is what I am documented it's once a week roughly once a week but the cans are picked up once a month during the during the summer. Also the garbage men have to operate the snowplows in the city in the winter
so if if there's a lot of snow you don't get your garbage picked up. This business of poison sure you can poison in one yard as Mrs. given says the PEA the rats on either side of the crisscrossing your yard you've got to get them all at once I would think. All the whole corps. Get rid of this crazy business of not of not mixing cans and garbage because when you do that they'll refuse to pick up your garbage and then it piles up all over you gotta get some of these things taken care of before you get rid of the rats. I had a very job there. We first moved here I try to keep it up as good as I could but the kids they will come and just empty the cans you know in L.A. and he should do something about that because that's a red herring right there and it makes us look dirty to an unknown person I mean I'm not rich but I'm clean about myself and it makes me man I have got fish and pretty well I must of put a lot of my God machine and sacks of plastic bags and
put him in a key player in the cage and cover it only if I have a live but most have been here at layers to all of my canes but pictures have been taken over by you were from this neighborhood they taken off a bikini. So that's why I do use boards and stuff like that to cover the Canes over mostly. Collecting garbage. Maybe that might come around. Once a week. If he you know there was a god before they come pick it up and I know it in other neighborhoods just let that go out and work for peace on the table. Well they always speaks of God as I don't know out of them but I do know is more saying I'm often in they pick it up you know in our neighborhood and they talk about refs. But. What can you do is to stuff as laying around for weeks at a time you know. A few people have taken have build forms for their garbage cans so they're not directly on the
ground. And they've. Taken notice and cleaned up yards and things. But still you have some that have an idea of the new deuce but still if everyone did it it's still such a big problem it's going to take a big big project to really get rid of it. You can clear you can put poison in your yard. But you gotta running all over from back and forth from one yard to the other. He does poison have been put down in yards poisoned different things and been dry just doesn't seem to help in the reader. Good chance your dreams belong to us. Dream Brown would furnish and when we moved here they were brand new garbage cans with new cupboards another covers are gone. And the city comes along to pick up the garbage a nail even though there are yellow tagged on a garbage can that we should put a cover on. No not to spend money just for covers and garbage cans. I know one
day when I was a parent who was here illegally give me an idea he says. You put the cover on her with a chain. Well this is was going to get me to cheat. I need to spend money for change and I should presume the garbage cans we don't raise again we go over there I mean they're in search of food. And they come over here in the dumpsters are you and they get inside of the dumpsters you know how they do this I don't know but they get inside dumpsters to clubs out one night in a red jump out of the dumpster to the ground you know start to run out and you know I just knew though that when he fell down that gun. Did he get up and start to run out and so I started to do you know. Well most of the doors and storm doors you know take the section out the window and put in the storm door some screens in there and their close ones are down and I don't I don't see how the. Rats. And mice. That was out of the USA Thank you.
Well at first when I moved here I was I said that six at seven and then from there to start create more and more. And after this all house get Thank you know everything got torn up. Dennis that's where the story come from more regular. I start to see more and more. They get burned and so they couldn't use it any more. So it's just been standing there creating rants and really just you know cause and say ratchet like the people that you tear the house down they move to the next one. So if you're the house next to a better house and they're tearing it down all the rats do is pack up and move to the next house. The Health Department wages a constant war on rats. Under the direction of a sergeant. Eight men and two summer helpers work at killing rodents. They set out poisoned bait to keep feeder tubes filled with poison corn meal and pump poison gas into burrows that are not near houses or garages. The
men do not work inside houses because they're not supposed to compete with private exterminators but they do advise people on a raft proofing their houses and then there are inspectors who look for signs of rat infestation and give advice on how to eliminate or prevent rats in the school their education programs on rats and on taking care of garbage and rubbish. Such programs are also presented to neighborhood groups. There are a number of black clubs in Milwaukee working to clean up neighborhoods but many corps residents feel that the city's program isn't effective enough at the enforcement of city codes isn't strict enough and that the amount of the convicted landlords court fines isn't high enough to change anything. And so core residents in some cases are trying to find their own answers to the rat problem. Very good. It may be expensive you know you get a piece of bread you couldn't. You take this red meat and you put a little bit there and maybe spring
you know and then you said. Because. It is very dangerous you know. You know I would say that and push it under. Out of their reach. You know in the basement things with me because when you come out of the tomb. It helped but see no reason I know we have gotten more rest because my fuck out of that.
And economists ages back and turn it loose back into the house. Say Jim took a butane torch and just really quickly over his back and liberty here and he turned him loose. Well read he say smelly bad is bad here especially his own. You know just like you they decided like you would mind the sight of blood which you paid to sidle blood if it was your own blood red. Well this is we're left with a red feels when he smells about it for a lot of families some families up north too and when I was one of the most a lot of families to attend a lot of families could can really brag and say we have no rationale behind we have not enough and I house because of this because my parents were pretty well off you know they were in the richest and yet me with the poor and living pretty nice houses but I remember the next door neighbors of ours MSM not speaking gets a raise or anything else for Americans. That isn't the biggest threat come out of the house and used to run I don't want to yeah you know. You're fine don't want a time or two to find a way to get in everybody's house. And we even went down a
base we saw several dug outs in the basement in the wall. Holes were red actually dug in and I fell because you know people living next door as the reason why we convey to my mother she is very clean. She is I would say she is what you call if a speck of dust today she wipe it off but she is very clean so sinister and I think we have clinical food near thing and we will put poison down and we found dead rats and which I know with my basement because they are basically just like a recreation center we had even had tables down and you go and play in. But yeah there was a big hole to my father to country to put him back in the offices. Stuff out and he even called the lady landlord and I will learn also what am I supposed to do. You know is the house learn or in a court most don't care you know they don't live there why should I care. As in the people next door they live in the house to live in I don't know what they do to a nun because even down into the hole in the basement he felt like doing so he dug a hole out and laid out what he
could i don't care you know. He wouldn't put none in or even a statement to me about he had wet roaches in some of the skills died from eating wrote it. He had about three kids from Otis and right there with bells on their legs you know. I don't keer here they're still the people still stay there and it's the kind of people I don't like because they don't care anything about themselves and if they were really clean they were saying look this is neat. Firstly it was me and I live in the house and I like the house and I want to stay there. A man I would give meaning to kill the well I won't pay me rent. I live only free of that way Phil. You know I feel if I live here you guys have moved the rats are still going to be there. And there are other people coming even if they actually had to fight off these reds. I know I mean the problem we have a protest at a time people in. My mother owned two houses and bought from the same lot and they're pretty used to just go out and shoot a guy recently at watermelons and you find
maggots on it you know because they all wrap it up so they don't care you know what we care. My mother made a move because my mother cared about her property and want to get grants and rope to stand in the place. They find ways in the walls and they get all uppity. You can't stop and then once they get there for you my for the townhouse because they can find some way to get in there. To most people in America don't believe all of these things were say like the other night we were on this TV show Melissa she looked out the window she saw the ration racks and more rats you know and to some people they said when they asked me they said they can't be that many rats around there but you have to actually be there to see those rats. The big rats actually have families you know and they have a terrific communication system. You know we're behind this how much I've seen rats in the neighborhood I wrote about that. When they get some kind of wrong they get these exterminators out they get something that's effective but they communicate with each other then they move and they begin to get their system whereby.
They think I'm an authority on rats but I've been. Until. Actually. They move around. They get me into these things. So actually your best bet is to use an externally it is like I said before wipe off the whole area you know. Tear down and fill in the whole section and then come in all over again. So even when attacked on all fronts. Our neighbor the wrath remains annoying problem almost a focal point for grievances. In the summer of 1967 he was cited as one of the contributing causes of the civil unrest in Milwaukee in early February of 1968 Milwaukee's mayor Henry Meyer announced that the city had asked the federal Department of Health Education and Welfare for a grant of one million eight hundred fifty thousand dollars to wage an extensive five year war on rats in the inner city. He noted that the city is making the request for an all out solution to the problem. Despite the
fact that it's rat control program has been rated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of the best in the country. Our neighbor the rat a program drawn from interviews made in Milwaukee production by Bethel Kern and Ralph Johnson. This was another in a series of programs originally heard over w AJ at the University of Wisconsin. During that station's intensive week of broadcasting on Milwaukee's inner core city within a city began almost speaking this is the national educational radio network.
The inner core: City within a city
Our Neighbor: The Rat
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3596. This prog.: Our Neighbor: The Rat. Problems caused by rats, the neighbor nobody wants.
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-34-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:37
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Chicago: “The inner core: City within a city; Our Neighbor: The Rat,” 1968-10-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “The inner core: City within a city; Our Neighbor: The Rat.” 1968-10-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: The inner core: City within a city; Our Neighbor: The Rat. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from