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LIKE many single mothers, Barbara Terry, 52, scrounged for baby sitters and leaned on her own mother while raising her four children and working the night shift. But Ms. Terry is a prostitute who has worked nearly her entire adult life on the streets of Hunts Point, in the Bronx. Terry, whose daughter and three sons are now grown. Yes, she said, she was arrested more than times, sometimes landing at Rikers Island for several days or weeks — but that never deterred her from returning to this area of industrial warehouses and repair shops off the Bruckner Expressway.
By day, heavy industrial traffic fills the streets. By night, the traffic comes for other reasons. Terry was front and center in garter belts and high heels and fur coats. Terry appeared under a street name, Cleo, and flashed a youthful, toothy smile. Those great teeth are gone, lost to diabetes, Ms. Terry said. She mostly works days now and dresses more conservatively.
While it is impossible to corroborate all the details of an eventful life in a profession often synonymous with drug abuse, violence and tragic outcomes, the Correction Department confirmed that Ms.
Terry had been jailed many times for prostitution over her career. Today, Ms. Terry lives nearby in the Bronx, but she hopes to retire in a year or so to a house she bought upstate, she said on Tuesday at her usual spot on Whittier Street. She had a supply of condoms in her purse, a plastic cup of vodka and orange juice in her hand and a cellphone for steady customers.
Barbara Terry, 52, raised four children and bought a house from the proceeds she earned working the streets of Hunts Point, in the Bronx. Those customers, dates or tricks, can be lawyers, city workers, husbands, fathers or truckers heading in and out of the sprawling Hunts Point food markets.