'4 Children For Sale!' The Tragic Story Of Pain And Poverty Behind This Viral 1940s Photo Will Break Your Heart
This has got to be one of the most heartbreaking photos we've ever seen and the story behind it is even more moving. Sometime in the 1940s, four children were put on display in front of a stoop with a sign that said '4 Children For Sale - Inquire Within.'
The mother could be seen hiding her face, perhaps in fear or shame, as a reporter took the photo.
The woman's name was Mrs. Lucille Chalifoux. In this picture, she was reportedly pregnant with her fifth child. She and her husband, Ray, were about to be evicted from their small home after he lost his job as a coal truck driver.
Marvin Dement Boland [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The couple was worried about what the future would bring. They were poor, starving and facing the possibility of being homeless.
By Jackman, George; Contributor(s): Truth (Brisbane, Qld.) (Copied and digitised from an image appearing) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Then there was also the fact that they now had so many mouths to feed. They sought a solution: They were going to auction off their children.
By Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It was reported that within two years of this picture being taken, the four kids, plus the one that was yet to be born, were sold off or given to other people to care for.
By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, life was far from rosy for the kids in their new homes. Two of them, RaeAnn and Milton, were sold to farmers John and Ruth Zoeteman for $2.
The kids ended up facing extreme abuse. The couple bought the kids to work on their farm and they were forced to slave away for long hours. There were also regularly chained up in the barn.
ilonitta / Shutterstock.com
RaeAnn was kidnapped, raped and sent to a home for unwed mothers when she was 17 because the rape led to pregnancy. Her child was put up for adoption. It was at this point that she said goodbye to the Zoeteman forever.
The youngest child in the photo, named David, was taken to a new home at the age of two. His story was a little less disturbing.
He was raised in a very strict and religious household. Because he lived close to his older siblings, ReAnn and Milton, he would often be the one to untie them at the Zoetoman's barn.
Many years later, David reunited with his mother. But if he was hoping for an apology, he was left with disappointment. His mother's only comment was that David looked like his father.
David also met the four siblings his mom later gave birth to - Lucille kept them all.
Thanks to social media, the children were able to reconnect with each other later on. RaeAnn met her sister Sue Ellen in 2013. David, RaeAnn, and Milton also reunited that same year. Their eldest sister, Lana died in 1998 after battling cancer, but the siblings are reconnecting with her family.