Rolls Royce Rings, Gold Teeth, and Other Financial Investments

Air date: 
Thursday, March 31, 2005
This piece was a part of the series, Stories of Money, produced by Alex along with Amy Drozdowska. It aired on WBEZ and on This American Life.

Dan Lebo helps run the family business, Chicago Pawners, in a hardscrabble neighborhood on this city’s West Side. And he occupies an unusual place in peoples’ lives, all over the exchange of money. Lebo often thinks people have the wrong idea about his customers. They’re people with nowhere else to turn.


Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart.

Separated by a river, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are two Michigan towns that are geographically close, yet worlds apart. St. Joseph is a prosperous, predominately white lakeshore community while Benton Harbor is impoverished and predominately black. When the body of Eric McGinnis, a black teenage boy from Benton Harbor, is found in the river that separates the towns, relations between the two communities grow increasingly strained as longheld misperceptions and attitudes surface. 

There Are No Children Here chronicles two years in the lives of two boys, Lafeyette and Pharoah, struggling to survive in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex disfigured by crime and neglect. 

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