Americana: Eratication

"There are more rats running across streets here than children," complains Chicagoan Vernie Ruffin. Indeed, in old neighborhoods on the city's West Side, the rodents, many of which have become immune to the poisons used by the health department, are having a population explosion. They bite kids, raid kitchens and even battle residents for tomatoes and cantaloupes growing in backyard gardens.

What to do? Ward 22 Alderman Frank D. Stemberk tried a new approach. With $500 from the ward treasury and $220 from local businessmen, he offered a $1 bounty on every rat killed. Residents armed themselves with bats, homemade spears and...

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