Edward White, Evan White, and Rosina Conforti

Recorded August 28, 2009 Archived August 28, 2009 45:34 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: LMN001676


Evan and Rosina Interview Edward White to know a little bit more about his background

Subject Log / Time Code

Edward was born in Wisconsin in 1922
I have never heard an argument or harsh word from my parents.
Grew up in Brooklyn. Did not see that much discrimination until he went to the military service
The goverment paid him to enlist
Would never do the military again but would never change having done it
be happy and live day by day


  • Edward White
  • Evan White
  • Rosina Conforti

Recording Location

StoryCorps Lower Manhattan Booth


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00:09 My name is Edward White. I'm 87 years Young.

00:15 Today is Friday the 13th. No, Friday the 28th.

00:20 August

00:23 Location is Manhattan downtown Manhattan?

00:27 And I'm the father in this relationship.

00:35 My name is Evan White. I'm 35 years old is August 20th. 2009 run Lower Manhattan, and I'm Edward White son.

00:47 My name is Rosie Nevin stream Conforti i m Edwards White's next wife finally.

00:53 Skipping the age of early. I'm 62. Today's date is August 28th, and we're down in lower Manhattan with the rumbling and the tumbling in the beautiful buildings.

01:07 So Dad, we we were hoping we could put a little.

01:13 Better conversation down on tape to preserve

01:18 I don't know maybe some stories are just another basic stewed tomatoes. If you know how you tell stories and get a little bit of history and have a little fun. I know that you know someday when Casey's grown-up Michelle, you know that I appreciate having some further insight into you know, the kinds of things you accomplished how you think about things and you know, what you want your life it it is like so I think I wish I was kind of a neat idea to have some kind of a record of that more easily answers the question of you know,

02:01 Who are my grandparents or great-grandparents? It still seems like a nice thing for even historical perspective to kind of have some idea there. But I appreciate you coming down here to to talk to Timmy and Mom a little bit about that. So I guess I'll just get started. What kind of come do something so much everything that you wanted to say long as I don't have to tell the truth all the time. It's okay. Why don't we start from the beginning then? What year? Were you born? Where were you born? I was born in Marinette, Wisconsin and 1922, July 13th. 1922.

02:49 I was little then. What was your earliest memory of growing up out there?

02:55 Well, the earliest memory I guess somewhere around 3 or 3 years old or so. I think it was about that time. I remember I we ate lunch and I had to take a nap after lunch.

03:10 And we had a hug a girl was taking care of me.

03:16 Hydra

03:18 And she said all you got to have sleep for an hour, so I'm about to I don't know. It's raining like a day-and-a-half to me, but I said I'd help yet. She said no not yet. Not yet.

03:31 And I just kept going on all afternoon at course I couldn't tell time so.

03:39 Finally I said either you surely I wasn't up yet and she said no not yet parents came home and it was that day that I decided I'm going to learn to tell time and you better believe it the next day. I knew how to tell time with really an hour or two, which is all I have to know either want me to go out. What about your parents? Who were they and what were they like from your perspective?

04:18 Well, my mother was from Austria came for me. It was a Jewish family and it was a very wealthy family in Austria.

04:34 A matter of fact the family-owned parts of the Pro St oil field, which is now owned by The Rockefellers.

04:46 And my father came from Russia.

04:50 The farm family I think.

04:54 Because when his father had a farm in, Vineland, New Jersey.

05:01 And my father

05:05 What is a production manager for a knitting Mill in New York?

05:12 And I know it says you could she had the sweatshops but my mother worked in the knitting Mill, I don't know exact. I think she was a and inspector or a meander. I don't recall exactly but that's how the where they met with a both born here. No, neither one were born here that my mother came over. She was I guess about 11 years old my father cuz you're a year older. I don't know exactly when he came over.

05:47 And the

05:49 One thing I can tell you with the you want to know something about them.

05:56 I grew up. I never heard one harsh word between them and the whole time I grew up and never argued never heard one argument never allowed voice. Nothing. I thought that's the way it's supposed to be who I was I was I really awake and what do you think made the relationship so close that they never argued. I think it was a real love affair. Cuz when my father died young

06:33 My other sister funny story we used to go out to a hotel.

06:39 During the Summers. I took my mother out to the Long Beach to Lido Beach Hotel the side and hold it and that I was friendly with deciding sand and my mother.

06:58 A very good-looking woman

07:02 And went

07:04 How old did the father of the sciences that I know the Sun?

07:12 When his wife died

07:14 He liked my mother.

07:17 And the course I was friendly with this the sons in their their wives used to sit together and he was getting serious and if they kept ask me say addresses. What do you think's going on here? I said, what the hell you guys what are you worried about it? Don't worry about the money. It's just nothing's going to happen. I said forget about it. She's not interested. She just she never got over never got over $50. Now cuz I know that's in it and that's the way it worked out to.

07:51 What kind of a person was your father is he how would you describe them?

08:00 I know everybody that I liked him wherever you know we go to.

08:07 And vacations are hotels or whatever everybody sort of been drawn to him. You was like a magnet is a very personable and very likeable. I know you just straight laced.

08:24 And there is a dress. I didn't drink didn't smoke.

08:30 The only way she had later on when he could have boarded. He like to to the horse racing horse race.

08:42 Yeah, I was buried in Elmont. Sarah cemetery is about two blocks from Belmont Raceway.

08:50 And he said look when I go. He said I don't care if that's a headstone or a foot stone is as I want to be watching the races when you put me in there and that's the way he's pacing and I think he's facing the wrong way with whatever you think you got your sense of humor for him from him, or I don't know if maybe I really don't know.

09:13 Titty joke around a lot it was

09:24 You know, you don't really think about it when you're growing up. I remember we used to go to camp in the summer and I was pretty fast kid, so they had to Father and Son Day.

09:37 They come visit, you know twice during the summer so they had a race but Father and Son relay and the father's guards went first. So I said to her I said boy, I'm going to have to run my ass off today. So I wouldn't hear what he gave me the stick so far in advance. I could have walked and one that's what I said to my mother. I said you got it from she said you think it came out of the year is he was very fast when he was a kid, too.

10:11 Sid and Stan wellstead, of course was a world-class Sprinter.

10:18 Jesse Owens is running maze at Ohio State.

10:22 Jesse Owens the only one that ever beat him.

10:26 As a matter of fact my every time Jesse Owens would come to town years later. He would always call said they would say if they didn't get together. At least I talked on the phone.

10:39 And that brings into my mind and insight that I of course, I didn't even realize it.

10:47 Why he was so far ahead in this race relationship how good a friend he was with Jesse Owens.

10:55 And there cuz she was light years ahead of his time as far as that was concerned.

11:04 I was still in the Dark Ages as far as I was concerned.

11:09 Stan is also pretty good ass wipes, maybe go to ask for you and rubs and world-class when he was a good off with.

11:18 How can I see what's the lover of the family? You know, I hate it and I all the girls fell all over him. I really love him.

11:30 How much older were they will stay on was 3 years older than me and my said the oldest was 8 years old and I was so you looked up to them. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

11:44 Yeah, I remember where you lived in in Green Bay also a little later on and they go to the football games and that players would teach us out a Kik passing run, you know.

11:59 And I'm Sunday's everybody went to the bowl games, except the kids, you know, I was about 5 years old.

12:07 So I kept pulling the same trick on me. I wouldn't let him go by my mother's always take it easy with you. Go ahead. So they got to get a block away and Sid would say OG. I forgot my handkerchief ready run back and get my act together and I'd run back and get the heck at you. And when I came back, of course they were gone. And you know, how much doing pretty stupid. I must have pull out on me a dozen times.

12:37 Today also Mentor you at all things to my oldest brother was a real gosh darn it said

12:57 He was about 8 or 9 years old.

13:00 1 days ago, my mother got a note from the school. They wanted to know where Sid was why he hasn't been in school for the last week or so.

13:14 So they found out he had met an engineer. There was a local railroad than 160 miles to the certain town down the road in the morning and it came back by 3 in the afternoon. It made that run everyday and he had met to the engineer of the train and he was riding back and forth when the train for a week for this guy. What's up? What year did he will move to New York from, Wisconsin?

13:51 Well, we didn't come right from Wisconsin. We went from Wisconsin to Cleveland. That's where Sid it was in one high school in Jesse Owens was in another and they raced and against each other in high school. We were there for about three years. My father ran the knitting Mill their standard knitting Mills. The knitting Mill in Wisconsin was the finest knitting Mill in the country.

14:20 During a depression. They were making silk dresses that were selling wholesale for like $300 a piece and those days and I want to dress like that today, isn't it? Probably $5,000 dress, but that then we from Cleveland it was 1932.

14:42 In the summer was July.

14:46 Hand

14:50 32 I think that's say the year that Roosevelt was elected.

14:56 We got into the Holland Tunnel.

14:59 And it took us like 3 hours to get screw.

15:04 He approach to get to the tunnel and it was with her like a 90 degree day. I'll remember that day and that's it. I don't remember the day in July, but it was July of 1932. I was 11 years old.

15:24 What do you think?

15:28 What do you think was the most trouble you've ever got in as a kid? We were always getting in trouble or you could kid. Did you get chill with your parents a lot?

15:36 I know you think I'm going to take the times for snitching son pictures in the local candy store and I wanted the kids would be up selecting Penny Candy in we were in the back snatching her son pictures, you know, it's son pictures where was a negative and they had a piece of paper photo paper you take it out and then hold a negative on top of the paper to the Sun for 10 minutes and the picture would come out on the paper and they had all kinds of different pictures.

16:22 This was one of the things that was popular then.

16:27 But I basically I was pretty good kid got school the normal amount and I went to the New York Paramount. Like I was telling this this woman outside. Yeah.

16:40 That's right. It's just people. It's hard to believe in for $0.40. You could spend the whole day in the New York go from Brooklyn to New York City in the Paramount Theater and see two or three shows and three stage shows with the big bands in the Entertainer and then be home in time like you went to school.

17:09 Was there anything I missed that one dimension about your family really is a normal family is as far as I was concerned out today. I see that it wasn't so normal that most families and other arguments and ever.

17:28 My mother of course was the oldest and her family. My father was the youngest in his

17:35 So of course, holy family events, most of them took place in and with my mother being a patriarch cell of my uncles and everybody was would come over at all hours. And I was a very interesting was very similar to your family that you're right now with all the in-laws and everything. They all center around Rocky your father-in-law and this was very similar and the gun was a big family there were quite a few.

18:16 Really was always it was just as normal American family as far as I was concerned.

18:24 Understanding

18:26 Your mother's family took in a lot of the cousins and all to help them get their education. And yeah, well her brother came out to Wisconsin during the Depression to finish High School stayed with lived with us. He was only a couple years older than Sid my oldest brother. So they were very very close. Even when I when they grow up they were like brothers.

18:55 And yeah, I helped out in all of those days and did what you had to do to keep the family to going.

19:05 Oh, she run the grocery store course my grandfather that's eyes he would have came from the very wealthy family and he was a scholar. He never worked a day in his life and

19:21 He used my grandmother ran a grocery store. She did brought into the bacon. I was just supposed but I remember when I was a kid, I was about 10 or 12 13 or and my grandfather used to sit in the window all day long and just think and studying. It was a scholar of the talmud.

19:47 And one day I asked my mother I said so.

19:51 My mom what day what did grandpa doing all day love doesn't even work crying or what? She said. No, he's a scholar. He doesn't work at all. He just sits in the eve. He's thinking all day long nights. For a while and I should know you mean he's a bum. I think your grandmother probably had a lot of fortitude and a lot of other grandmother.

20:23 Uncle's in people surviving you as if you also had eyes in the back of her head. She used to have a Cracker Barrel in the front of the grocery store out in Rockaway. Remember?

20:36 And she could be in the back of the store and we would sneak up in the front and try and get a cracker. And as soon as you got your hand out together, I should get away from the crackers no matter any time and she's always get away from the crackers. She had eyes in the back of her head. She must had mirrors around him to let you could probably watch the store normally but

21:06 Name of the red-haired uncle that was the champion of the family. He be the one that defended your grandfather when I was just built. It was about that five foot nine tall and 5 foot 9 wide and strong as an ox.

21:29 Blonde blue-eyed blond my grandpa and his father.

21:37 My head my grandfather had a long white beard and one day he was walking by The Hangout store.

21:48 These guys the boys were and one of the bullies spit on his beard tobacco.

21:59 He came home and he told Joe.

22:02 And jove toast it up. Come on Research. Come on. Let's go show me it went over.

22:10 Annie said which guy news like five or six of them sister is which guy and he's pointed to the guy?

22:21 And the guy wants fits her he didn't spit for maybe six or eight months or a year.

22:30 He grabbed them with his fingers and one side each side of his mouth and

22:37 Who's hope split him open?

22:40 And that resists guidance Pick 4 year, you better believe it in the other guys didn't make a move you would have taken them all apart.

22:53 I was the defender. I don't know he came over to this country before the rest of the family 2.

23:01 Set the gets things going.

23:04 Growing up that died young to

23:08 I don't know how.

23:12 Going up your New York did you?

23:15 Did you well?

23:17 Encounter law discrimination as far as that and not really because of him we grew up in Brooklyn and black bush has quite a few Jewish families. I wasn't I didn't see much discrimination. I didn't see any discrimination until I got into the service.

23:39 What time what you were in the service what what I mean, you're about mixing together with people from all around the country with different ethnic background how to deal with it. Well, that's good. I do know that I have to go south. Parentheses semitism, you know, you had plenty of it right here in plenty out on Long Island is plenty bed and plenty of New Jersey, you know, but we never

24:09 I never ran into it when I was a kid in Brooklyn because most of the neighborhood really were Jewish families.

24:17 It would deal with some Italian family. I was friendly where they had a good friend of mine Buster Alberti, you know, I didn't mean I didn't get out in the world much, you know.

24:28 He's kind of described and a different different ways and I guess in two different degrees.

24:35 A lesson that you learned about nipping that kind of stuff in the bud. Can you describe about you know describe one of the stores that you told me that when you go into the service and and you know how you would kind of proactively Geddes nip it in the bud. They had one today story when he went there waiting to go to Cadet training. We had one platoon that was from the north.

25:06 And I was the only Jewish kid in the platoon and all the rest of the kids were from the south. So right away, they didn't like anybody from the north, you know, so they were always heckling all of us and then I got a double dose because they were the South was just Anderson medic as you could get.

25:28 So my plan, of course I had to implement. Is it a few times before you pick out the toughest guy?

25:37 And you pick a fight with him and you let him know that they're not going to take any of that cough. So they happen to have a kid is who at that time was an All-American tackle from Georgia Tech.

25:53 I was about 260 pounds, but I was put together, you know, and I know how to fight as a middle way. Then I know how to fight to the box and this kid was like 240 lb 6 for a tackle from Georgia or Georgia Tech and he went to the Rose Bowl last year. They won the Rose Bowl and he was a good-looking guy to Dick Richardson.

26:22 Keag, when they when they were out for the Rose Bowl with all these Shenanigans out there. They had a publicity stunt. He had a date with Betty Grable in a day or two cuz you know is if only thing I had dinner with her was publicity for the Rose Bowl for the end of the month and then I I started a fight with him and that man he was tough to he was a tough kids. I'll tell you that but I got my shots in and I've been course I was counting the officers to stop it, you know after a few minutes, he doesn't want to get killed and of course that's what happened. I stopped it and then there's nothing I was just sit by this day or so later. We were I don't know we're out. We're up for baseball practice pretend I can play softball.

27:20 And

27:22 And I was the only kid from the northern patoon that made the team cuz I was up cuz good cover a lot of ground and he's not a gutsy says he says hey you guys you leave him alone from now on because this is what I was looking for. You know, that was his I never had a problem with him. And that's the only way you could really handle it cuz if you took it just filed on more and more.

27:54 Why do you think I've never really asked you this but

27:59 Why did you and your brothers enlist in World War II? What was the drift stand was it he had a ruptured kidney from playing football. So he was 4-f for a while. And of course after it healed he that he was drafted. He went into the Infantry and said he went to the right away in a list. It's because he knows we were attacked. This wasn't like we went looking for a war like kid like a bush or whatever but

28:38 We were attacked and I get all that. Everybody was gung-ho patriotic and I was exempt because I was working out at Mitchell Field. I was going to school at LaGuardia.

28:54 Academy of Aeronautics, I was at LaGuardia field. I was going to try and being with all that had it ever nautical engineer and when the war broke out the government took over the school night, they did away with that and all they had was the mechanics part of it. So when I graduated there few months later.

29:19 The government took over and they were paying me and they sent me out to Mitchell Field to be an engine inspector on the line. I was the first fighter come in. What year was the 38th 1941?

29:36 So I didn't have to go I was exempt I was an exempt job, but I saw he's hot shot Pilots coming in there with these peace 30/8 in and out, you know, I just sprayed with a nice sunglasses and you know in the leather jackets I said what am I doing here? Like I did so I went by enlisted and I got in

30:13 Course, it was one of those times when it was the thing the right thing to do. But what were your expectations? I mean you were you were young still, you know, what would you you know, obviously like the there was a lot of social pressure to be to join the military magic because it was so patriotic patriotism rather I was so, you know on a high because of the Pearl Harbor. So what was going through your mind, when will you what was with the consequences of joining the military not in your mind as much as you can. Come on a matter of fact the day after Pearl Harbor about four or five of my friends and listed right away when they were all 1890.

31:13 And then when I really have any expectations, I just wanted to do your part.

31:25 And meanwhile if you didn't have a uniform on the girls would look at you. Anyway, I'm so fancy.

31:36 What did you do while I was in there? See rescue me full of flying book PB wise very nice airplane. So matter-of-fact when you see the movie Midway with

31:54 Who is Fonda?

31:56 I think he was just

31:59 Nimitz do you know your child image rosina's lived in the neighborhood now Admiral Nimitz was in the only lived a few blocks away when she was a little when she was a little girl he gave her a wooden horse ecards.

32:17 Any word that that's what we flew. Wise and you'll see that playing in the beginning of that movie Henry Fonda flies in on one of those plans.

32:33 I was over at didn't you got you guys all come home at the same time. They roll a different state and was Sid was already home. But Stanley came from Europe. He was in the 36th division. He went all through Italy through the

32:50 Germany was in the Battle of the Bulge he was he was a medic. He got the Silver Star he would he did real fighting and I was in the Pacific.

33:04 And we both came home 1945 Christmas Eve. He came from Europe and I came from the Pacific and we both got home at Christmas Eve.

33:18 1945 within 3 hours of each other

33:23 The amazing. Yeah, let me let me change the subject a little bit just so we can cover the spread of things here.

33:41 As far as

33:44 Taking lessons away from being in the military and and and and living that out. What what do you think you took away mean headed to change it for the better of the worst with the military this way I wouldn't want to do it again, but I wouldn't change it for anything. He took a young stupid boy. I came out am in the big difference big big difference. Do you think that that helped you later on when you decide to become a parent?

34:16 Call Shara probably did Listen to I remember when I first went in the first day, the guy said we going to do 50 pushups today, and I looked at I said you're crazy.

34:29 Everybody went down and maybe you could do two or three push ups in two weeks when he said dropping 250. You did 50. You better believe it.

34:42 Let me ask you a question.

34:46 Just to kind of get on the topic of parenting and

34:51 You didn't even really start a family until you are 50. Almost a year later. Okay. Well, let me ask you is just from your perspective. Do you think?

35:11 Having kids at that age made it easier or more difficult. And what was your experience since most people? Well, I smell on my brother's a raise the kids. So, you know, of course I had a little insight there but not too much but I am listening when you're raising a family or playing it by ear United seriously, you know, they don't give classes on that has no instruction book about things what

35:46 Out of all the things that you've

35:49 Learn from being a parent. What? What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?

35:56 Advice I would say that.

36:00 The first thing I do and it really got to do a quest all parents. Love their kids some a lot more than others and some piano but I'm not talking about cougars but normal people I love their kids the ideas. They got to know one thing is that they're going to have lives of Their Own.

36:23 And you can influence you can give them the background to make the decisions and do the right thing know right from wrong, but don't try to run their lives at some point. You're going to have to let him go and they got to do what they want to do. Not what you would like to see him do.

36:45 I know is that's the way it is.

36:49 And they're going to go that way so they better gets much better that you go with him. Let me also ask you.

37:03 But you you and Mom have been divorced for a bunch of years now, but you know and I I I just think it's amazing that over all these years you both maintain a friendship that mean it's I've actually never seen some people who are divorced be so close still be friends. How do you what do you attribute to that? How did you how did you manage to work that out? It seems like The Break-Up, wasn't it?

37:39 What is it is not important. The fact is it was a decision to make whether to

37:50 Do the right thing for the children and see that they got The Right Start and while one was getting healed.

38:00 Getting healthy again.

38:03 And that's the way it worked out and I decided that I had to take care of the children and make sure that they got the best start they could get under the circumstances and it wasn't that I had an animosity or Aires any hate or anything else. Like that was the way I looked at it. There was a a sickness that had to be cured and

38:29 And the reason that they were friends now is that they was cured and there was no reason not to befriend.

38:38 I think I'd like that.

38:40 Skirting around the issue and now it's not fair to do all this into talk about all this without being specific. I was an alcoholic an active alcoholic and he mercifully gave me the go-ahead to go and get well and I think through his kindness and his fixstream caring and love for our children was able to do what he could to.

39:07 Help the family and continue. All I know is everything that we had planned in the beginning. Neither one of us ever intended for it to be like it was but it was very very ill and took time and it took a lot of distance for me to it to do what I needed to do. One of the reasons that I believe that were such good friends today on my part is that I admire and I loved and I cherish already is as a human being and this as a father and that's always been as a son to his who his family to his mother and the great regard he has for human beings even though he's pretty funny in as a dry sense of humor if he shows his great for the my Park. Thank you. I've I've two more questions. I don't know if we have time. I've I just think these are these are more from future in.

40:07 The nothing else but

40:10 Obviously you're you're one of the the healthiest and happiest people I've ever met in their 80s you don't seem to not that you complain about anything anyway, but you you seem to be content and unhealthy and you seem to amaze people by having a positive attitude. And you know, I guess what I'm trying to ask you if you know, what what do you think the secret is to living a long and happy life?

40:37 I don't know if there's any secret. I think it just got to play that day by day and I got a flow with the tide you take what comes along no matter what comes along is bad in it and there's good in it. So if you never find the good side, you're always going to be unhappy. So whatever comes along you pick out the good part of business and that's what you do you your focus on as far as being healthy and just lucky I guess. I don't know why they're certainly didn't wasn't a health freak. I know one thing if I don't have to take an aspirin, I won't take one. I haven't had one in maybe 2 years, but you know, I got a bottle of aspirins going to last me till I die. So what does that say? I don't think there's any real secret. I know my mother, you know, your grandmother lived until 9.

41:37 Do you want and she would have been still going strong if she hadn't been mugged and they broke her hip and she fell and I had to Uncle's my father's brother's I remember one day at the cemetery one was 99 and his kid brother was 97 and those two guys, they went to Florida every winter together and they lived alone and we were out at the cemetery and on the cemetery course, they got the pipes that stick up where they hook up the hoses and the the kid brother the 97 year old tripped over one of them and he looked on he said damn nose air vents.

42:25 Hell

42:28 Just for four people who might listen to this.

42:32 Down the road

42:35 If you could sum it up and you know some kind of short way, how how would you like to be remembered by you friends and family? What what what what what are the most important things about you that you help people?

42:49 Remember You by I don't know if I really remember me by just said to you

42:58 And I was a pleasant person that they like me that's all that I was in a pain in the ass or whatever as far as they tell the kids Fitbit tell the children in the future be happy and do the best you can live day by day going to straighten our lives far as you can going to be tougher today. It's very tough for kids to be living on his life. All you got to do is look around what's going around and even in government to find an honest person is secure today. Is there anything that you wanted to ask if I wanted to tell you was the funniest person I ever met was Milton, Berle.

43:55 Really a funny man, and he wasn't just funny on the stage. He was funny off the state. He was crazy all the time. He would have little if that's even looked at my Palm Beach and me the book maker in the drugstore how good when a big fat guy with a mustache with a curl mustache and Barrow was there for the weekend he was doing a couple of shows and we were in there and he was bugging out and I was on the phone trying to take bets and Vero is it in the other ear licking his ear and talking to the guy is taking the bed for two thousand and Borough. Is he can hear the guy with the Betson? I mean, this is the kind of guy Borough was he was Google all the time.

44:49 You're not a lot of really interesting people and because I know yeah, but he was a real stiff. I know a lot of people just wanted to thank you for coming out and sharing and we can probably see you in 4 hours. Oh, yeah. I wanted to thank you for talking to us about you know, just the kind of historical and personal perspective conversation in Congress in the basement for rent.