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My mother sent me away when I stopped helping her shoplift

Courtesy of Silvana Clark

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.   

"When I was 11, my mother had me quite well trained for a certain job. But then she fired me from this job. She fired me because I was not cooperating with her shoplifting escapades." 

So begins Silvana Clark's story of rebellion. 

Clark is a writer and speaker based in Bellingham. When she was a kid, one of her main jobs was to accompany her mother to the supermarket, and position herself just so at the far end of the cart. 

"That way she could put steaks and expensive items into her purse, and if someone's coming down the aisle they don't see her," Clark said. "I knew it was wrong, but when you went to the store, that's just what you did."

Silvana says her mother's behavior was understandable, if not excusable, when you consider that she grew up desperate and underfed during wartime Germany. All her life, Silvana said, her mother retained the "hampster mentality" of feeling the need to hoard and scrape. 

Silvana stopped cooperating not because of moral qualms, but rather because she thought her mom was mean to her, and she wanted a little revenge. The retaliation came quickly. 

"She did what any mother would do to an 11 year old. She put me on an airplane and sent me off to live with relatives that I'd never met in Germany," she said. 

Silvana joined Sound Effect in our studio to tell her tale, including how she branched out into international cigarette trafficking while still in grade school. Click the "Listen" link above to hear the full story. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.