After Decades On The Streets, An NYC Prostitute Contemplates Retirement

52 year old prostitute Barbara TerryIt's not often that you hear the details of a career lived on the streets, let alone by someone who raised a family from the money she earned working them.

But Barbara Terry supplied them for an article in The New York Times. Trained to be a medical lab technician, by age 21 Terry's husband had left, leaving her with children to support.

So, she says, she turned to prostitution, working the streets of Hunts Point, a Bronx neighborhood of warehouses and repair shops that straddles a busy expressway. It's where, Terry says, she has worked most of her adult life.

"It was beautiful out here then," Terry, who is 52 and a mother of four, told the Times, adding that there was plenty of money to be made -- even if it meant routinely being arrested and spending time in the city's main jail on Rikers Island.

In the 1990s, Terry was among those who appeared in a HBO documentary about prostitutes working "The Point," and was seen in the movie flashing a "toothy smile" that has since been lost to diabetes.

But Terry soldiers on, working mostly days now and dressing more conservatively than she once did.

Terry says that few women who eke out a living on the streets make it to her age. "I call myself the last of the survivors."

And yet Terry, too, may soon call it quits. Her children, two of whom she put through college, have begged her to get off the streets, she says.

Terry plans to move upstate in about a year or so, to a house that she bought, she told the newspaper.

Still, Terry says, she loves the excitement of street life. "This place has made me strong. It keeps you young."

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