National Affairs: Christmas in May

Sophie Shanks is a cheerful, God-fearing Negro woman whose only contact with luxury is her night job as a floor polisher in Cincinnati's Netherland Plaza Hotel. She gets home from work in the morning in time to send the eldest of her nine children off to school, and to greet husband James as he leaves their tenement flat for his job on a city garbage truck.

One night last week, 36-year-old Sophie Shanks found a letter waiting for her at the hotel. "Dear Mrs. Shanks," it said, "When I was in Cincinnati this spring my helpers informed me that you are a...

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