A blinded, sickened, choking family of six was forced to flee its own house under a cloud of tear gas when foreclosing bank officials followed through on their threat: “Get out, or we’ll get you out.”
Ironically, Alvin P. Barkes, 44, was himself a loan officer at a savings and loan until his sudden lay-off.
After five months of unemployment, negotiation, shattered dreams, and misery, Barkes saw himself and his family put out on the street.
The bank proceeded with the dirty deed after the local sheriff, L.T. Hayeswroth, 57, refused to evict the family, despite a court order.
“I couldn’t do it,” says Hayeswroth. “I just couldn’t. Alvin’s a good man. He was a good friend of mine. I don’t care what the bank, the judge, or the law says. In a case like this, I couldn’t do it. That house wasn’t just a house. It was that family’s home. There were kids in those rooms. It would have been immoral.”
After getting no cooperation from the sheriff, officials at Innesbrukens Savings and Loan finally took the matter into their own hands. They gassed the family out, put their belongings on the street, and kept them out with private armed guards hired by the bank.
“I’ve seen a lot of cruelty in my day,” says Sheriff Hayeswroth. “But that beat all. Those kids’ faces were pitiful looking. Just pitiful.”
Says wife Angela Barkes, 41: “Alvin knows about mortgage payments. He had every intention of catching up on his payments. He was looking for a job as hard as he could, but times are tough. He just didn’t find anything in time.”
Angela says she would have found a job herself, except that her children were too young for her to leave the home. The two girls, Angel and Heather, are four and two. The boys, Mike and Al, are three and one.
The Barkes and their four kids spent the four nights following their eviction in a homeless shelter before dividing the family into the homes of family and friends.
“A family of six can’t just move in with one relative,” says Angela. “We didn’t want to break up our family — but we’ve had to. As soon as Alvin gets some work and saves some money, we’ll be back together again. I can’t wait. This has been a nightmare. I know we’ll get through it, but it’s still a nightmare.”