The photo was taken in 1948 in Chicago, United States. It shows four siblings and their mother at the entrance to their house. In front of them is a gigantic sign saying: “4 children for sale inquire within.”
As it happens, the photo was real and the children were indeed on sale. Their parents, Ray (forty) and Lucille (twenty-four) Chalifoux were both unemployed and poverty-stricken. They were facing eviction from their apartment for not paying the rent.
It’s possible that the sign “4 children for sale” was just a cry for help. Once the newspapers around the country published the story, help actually came in the form of job offers, apartments, and money.
Nobody really knows what happened in the following two years. However, in 1950, father Ray left, and the family fell apart. Mother Lucille began dating a man who didn’t want anything to do with the children; therefore, she gave them away.
Lana was adopted, RaeAnn and Milton were sold for $2 (around $22 in today’s value), and Sue Ellen was adopted. Bedford, who was still in his mother’s womb at the time the photo had been taken in 1948, was adopted as well.
Do we have any idea of how the kids turned out? they were sold to different people, and after the mom got rid of them she found a man, got married again and had 5 more children!!
RaeAnn (then 7) and Milton (then 6) were sold to the Zoeteman family in August 1950. Regrettably, this ended up being horrible for the two children; they were frequently chained up in the Zoeteman barn, and worked for hours as laborers on the farm. Milton remembers being called a slave by Mr. Zoeteman.
RaeAnn was kidnapped and raped as a young teen. The rape resulted in a pregnancy. The Zoetemans sent her to a home for pregnant girls; the baby was put up for adoption. RaeAnn left the Zoetemans (voluntarily) at 17.
Milton became violently angry—as who wouldn’t?—at being chained up, beaten and starved. No idea what he did, if anything, but a judge deemed him “a menace to society” and gave Milton a choice between being sent to a juvie reformatory or a mental hospital. Milton chose the hospital; I am not sure how long he was there, but it was years. Plural.
Sue Ellen Chalifoux was raised in Chicago’s East Side neighborhood, about 13 miles south of downtown Chicago.
I don’t know what happened to Lana, except that she died in 1998. Cancer.
David (the child Lucille Chalifoux was pregnant with in the photo) was adopted by Harry and Luella McDaniel. He seems to have gotten the best deal; he describes his parents as strict but loving. (He also recalls riding his bike to see RaeAnn and Milton and unchaining them, so his life was not wholly normal.)
Oh, and Lucille Chalifoux had four daughters after getting rid of her first five kids. Again, I don’t know what happened to them.