The first thing you have to understand is that “Dorothy Gautreaux was desperate.” They all were. It wasn’t just the lack of space. (Gautreaux had one bedroom for herself, her husband, and her four children.) There were rats. Lots of them. Big, brazen ones. White people laughed about it, but it wasn’t a joke to Gautreaux—or to Odell Jones or Dorothea Crenchaw. The South Side of Chicago was infested. They crawled into children’s beds at night and bit them. The rats were so common that most young kids couldn’t tell them apart from teddy bears. When Andre Adams was found in his crib two days before his first birthday, his body riddled with holes and his finger disconnected from his hand, experts couldn’t agree whether the rats had chewed him to death or simply feasted on his remains after the fact.