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Full text of "A honeymoon experiment"

A Honeymoon Experiment 



A HONEYMOON 

EXPERIMENT 

By 

Margaret and Stuart Chase 




Boston and New York 
Houghton Mifflin Company 



1916 



UNIV. OF CALIF. LESARY, LOS ANGELES 



COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY STUART CHASE 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Publishtd May iqib 



Note 

THE following is a summary of our experi- 
ences as a honeymoon couple in the city of 
Rochester, New York, in the summer and fall 
of the year 1914. We have tried to give truth- 
fully the facts of what we found, and we have 
also given, of necessity, certain opinions and 
conclusions, but these latter should, and un- 
doubtedly will, have infinitely less weight in 
the mind of the reader than the former. It is 
primarily in the hope that the facts of our 
experiment will be illuminating, that we offer 
this little book. 

MARGARET HATFIELD CHASE 
STUART CHASE 



Contents 

Part I 

The Groom's Story 

Why We Went 3 

The First Day IO 

The Boarding- House 22 

Light Housekeeping 2 5 

Unemployment 4 

Employment 7 8 

And Finally 79 

Part II 

The Bride's Story . 5 

Tramping the Streets 

In the Employment Offices i 

Second- Maid Interviews IO 3 

Employment . . . I1Q 

My First Job Salesgirl I!I 

Waitress l ! 5 

Rag-Time Clerk IZI 

The Chemical Shop I2 5 

The Cravat Factory I2 7 

Piano-Player at the "Movies" . . 3 6 

The White-Slave Problem H 1 

Another Problem H 8 

And Finally ! 54 



A Honeymoon Experiment 
Part I 

The Groom s Story 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

Part I The Groom's Story 

WHY WE WENT 

"ANY worthy man that wants a job can 
get it!" 

I believe that this statement, despite the 
deep groove that it has worn in the average un- 
thinking mind, is utterly without foundation in 
fact. I want to tell you why I believe that it is 
not true. I want to tell you how I tramped for 
nine weeks through the streets of a great Amer- 
ican city, and how I was unable upon applica- 
tion to secure work at a wage that would keep 
me alive. 

And I want to tell you more. I want to tell 
you what it means to live as the average Ameri- 
can citizen in this country has to live on his 
family income of $600 a year, as given by the 
United States Census. I want to suggest to 

3 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

you, if I can, something of the violent and 
absurd contrast between the way that some of 
us live and the way that most of us live. 

We had had it rather easy, Margaret and I. 
We had had every normal advantage of the well- 
to-do child sheltered upbringing, school, col- 
lege, travel, vacations, motors, country clubs, 
and all the rest. Between us and necessity had 
always lain the heavy upholstery of our fam- 
ilies' care. We had gone our several ways ac- 
cepting, occasionally demanding. And in our 
immature years we came to believe, as the over- 
whelming majority of our complacent class be- 
lieves, that one's carefully adjusted standards 
of living must be maintained ; that it is a dis- 
grace to be poor; and that most misery and 
poverty and wretchedness arises from the un- 
thrifty, dirty, and questionable ways of the 
"ignorant lower classes." 

I am amazed, as I look back upon my up- 
bringing and review the narrow class distinc- 
tions that pervaded it. The "brotherhood of 

4 



The Groom's Story 

man" which religion preached, "democracy" 
as I learned it in American history, were matters 
infinitely remote and apart. They were fine 
but formless abstractions. They were all very 
well to proclaim of a Sunday, but they were 
held to be utterly impractical in everyday liv- 
ing. The practical things were these : One must 
not play with ragged little boys. They are con- 
taminating. One must never mention one's 
cousin who had the grievous misfortune to work 
in a factory. One must cultivate an air of inti- 
macy in mentioning certain rich and powerful 
names. One must early learn to treat servants 
as though they were non-existent only so 
may they be kept in their rightful place. One 
must evolve a certain scorn for all manual 
labor. Above all, one must hope to succeed 
that is, to get rich. It is immaterial whether 
this success comes from an inheritance, or a 
lucky gamble on the stock market, or any other 
source short of actual robbery. 
I was given literally no standards whatever 

5 , 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

by which I might judge true worth. Education 
will always be the muffling, half-coherent thing 
it is to-day until girls and boys are taught the 
fundamental difference between owning some- 
thing and doing something for a living, and the 
fundamental bond of fellowship that links all 
humanity together. 

These distinctions had never bothered us at 
home. We had never heard of them in college. 
It was only afterwards, when we came to do a 
little independent thinking, that there began to 
creep into our lives the virus of social criticism 
and unrest. We met each other in this ques- 
tioning stage. We groped along together, ask- 
ing Why. Our love is interwoven with the re- 
bellion of youth against a future predestined to 
follow fixed and rigid social standards. 

We came to feel continuously uneasy before 
the vast injustices of "Things-as-they-are." 
We wanted to know why we should be well off 
and protected, and why little Johnny Murphy 
down the street was having the very devil of a 

6 



The Groom's Story 

time. Our sympathies tended to drift strongly 
toward the working-classes. But we were over- 
whelmed by an avalanche of opposition from 
our friends. We were told that we did not know 
what we were talking about that we were 
"theorists," "dreamers . . . ." Of course we 
were theorists, and very often we had to fight 
strange misgivings in our own souls! 

But here at last was our honeymoon! It was 
ours, our own, to do as we pleased with. It was 
the one time in all our lives when the world 
stood aside, and the path lay free before us. We 
decided to devote our honeymoon to the task of 
finding out more concerning the matters that so 
profoundly perplexed us. Ever since our first 
talks together we had wanted to know how it 
felt to live beyond the pale of family and class 
influence. Here was our chance. We could 
utilize these honeymoon weeks to start clean 
and clear at the bottom. We could go to some 
strange city as a homeless, jobless, friendless 
couple, and see what it meant to face existence 

7 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

without an engraved passport. And in living 
as the average citizen lives on his meager in- 
come, we could perhaps shake off some of the 
superfluous standards of comfort and nicety to 
which we had always been accustomed, and 
perhaps find out how much it really costs to 
live. 

"A man ought to have four thousand a year 
before he marries." 

I had heard this solemnly proclaimed time 
and time again by my friends. 

We wanted to discover a flaw in this oracular 
statement. We wanted to know why we had to 
have $4000 a year, while the average family, 
including children, was getting $600. There 
was a fearful discrepancy here somewhere. We 
wanted to find where it lay. 

Also the phrase "theorists and dreamers" 
rankled. It was too true. We wanted to escape 
the obloquy of that. 

We told the family of our plan one evening 
around the fire. They were naturally shocked. 

8 



The Groom's Story 

But they had to admit that it was our honey- 
moon. Beyond entertaining, I suspect, a secret 
belief that we were both incurably crazy, they 
raised no overwhelming objections. Certainly 
we promised to be very, very careful. . . . 

We were married and went North into On- 
tario for a canoe trip. Of course, when two 
people are quite mad about each other, it is not 
wise to eliminate completely the romantic. 
There under the far northern pines, between 
the intervals of portages and frying bacon, we 
perfected our plans. 

We came out of the woods, hard and brown, 
and headed for Buffalo. I was in favor of at- 
tacking Buffalo, but Margaret shook her head. 

"We've too many friends there," she said. 

So we decided to make it Rochester. Neither 
of us knew anything about Rochester, save that 
it was the home of Eastman kodaks, Cluett 
collars, and Susan B. Anthony. And we knew 
of no friends there, to entangle the adventure. 

9 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

We stayed the night in the best hotel in 
Buffalo much as a man who is going to give 
up drinking gets gloriously drunk on his last 
day of grace. 

THE FIRST DAY 

"What in the world are we going to say to 
people?" asked Margaret. 

We debated that. Finally we decided upon 
the following. 

Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Chase, late of Boston, 
where Mr. Chase had been employed as a book- 
keeper, but had lost his job due to dull times, 
have come to Rochester, hearing that it is a 
great manufacturing city, and both hope to 
secure work, in this crisis in the family affairs. 
"That sounds weird," said Margaret. 

"It does," I said, "but we'll try it out." 

The clerk at the Iroquois gasped as we paid 
our bill that momentous morning. I had 
changed my suit to a shabby, unpressed, gray 

10 



The Groom's Story 

arrangement, lamentably worn at the elbows. 
Margaret was shameless in a suit quite three 
years old! It had been made in Paris in 1911, 
and had never been altered ! It was a perfectly 
good suit, but you can imagine the sensation 
that she created. Even the most wretched of 
the friends we were to make pitied her in that 
suit. She was to be a subject for profound con- 
sideration and sympathy! Three years behind 
the fashions ! She was as hopelessly antiquated 
as a battleship that had served in the Spanish 
War. We were to find that the American work- 
ing-girl, though she does not pay much for 
material, somehow achieves the ultra in cut. 

The ride to Rochester was like waiting behind 
the scenes for the first cue of one's initial play. 
We could not read, we could not talk, we stared 
at each other, and secretly wondered whether 
or not our friends were right in thinking us 
utter idiots. The train slowed down and 
stopped : 

"Here we are," I said. 

ii 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Yes here we are," said Margaret. She got 
up, and suddenly her eyes blazed with excite- 
ment. "It's going to be a real honeymoon!" 

"I think it is," I said. 

We got out of the Pullman, made our way 
through the beautiful tapestry brick station, and 
into the sun-drenched street. It was a rather 
bedraggled street, a rather uncommunicative 
street. We blinked at it and its sprawling shops ; 
we blinked at each other. We were close to 
panic. We had not the remotest idea what to 
do. Our education had never included a like 
situation. Taxis and cabs were barred. Hotels 
were henceforth an unthinkable luxury. 

"Let's get on a trolley," said Margaret, 
saver of situations. A street-car with unknown 
insignia wound its way out of the traffic, and 
came to a halt before us. To escape the agony 
of indecision we boarded it. It took us far out 
through the western portions of the city, and 
ultimately into the country. I drew a sheet of 

12 



The Groom's Story 

paper from my pocket and roughly sketched 
the route that we followed. We went to the end 
of the line and returned rather to the astort- 
ishment of the conductor. Dismounting at the 
station, we boarded a car going toward the east 
and repeated the experiment. So we envisaged 
our battlefield. We looked and looked in vain 
for a poor quarter such as we had known in 
other cities. And we made an amazing discov- 
ery, which later we verified to the full. 

There are no slums in Rochester ! 

There are no tenements in Rochester with the 
exception of one street. It is a city as clean, as 
orderly, as spacious as Washington, yet with 
none of the alleys and hovels which disgrace 
the capital. It is infinitely astonishing to wan- 
der through a great city and find no trace of 
reeking alleys, crowding tenements, doorways 
abutting on the sidewalk with drunken stair- 
ways leading to dim, plaster-wounded mysteries 
beyond. There are plenty of poor in Rochester, 
but the majority live like civilized beings, each 

13 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

in a little single home with a tiny plot of green 
about it. Only the lodging-houses approach 
the tenement plan in any respect, and these 
are scattered about the entire city, and never 
converge into one district. 

Rochester, with its quarter of a million peo- 
ple, its one hundred different industries, its 
amazing commercial activity, forever gives the 
lie to the axiom that poverty necessarily means 
crowded living. It gives the lie to the axiom 
that it is impossible to legislate benefactions. 
Building restrictions, civic foresight, a practical 
idealism behind the words "Garden City," have 
combined to rescue this astonishing munici- 
pality from the curse of slums. 

We returned to the station at last, greatly 
impressed with our environment (the street- 
lamps would have rejoiced the Greeks), a little 
surer of our welcome, but still very uncertain 
what to do. It was all so new and strange. We 
felt that we waited on the verge of great dis- 
coveries. Yet we had no idea how to proceed. 



The Groom's Story 

In this predicament we encountered a saving 
institution and we made a friend. We saw 
a sign in the station, "Travelers' Aid," and 
approached inquiringly. A sweet-faced woman 
greeted us. We told our story the book- 
keeper story and waited almost with trem- 
bling for her denunciation. 

"You poor dear," she took Margaret's hands. 
She turned to me. 

"You look strong. I'm sure you can find 
something to do." 

She tore a leaf from her notebook and began 
to write. 

"Here are the addresses of two factory fore- 
men I know; go and see them and tell them 
I sent you." She thrust the paper into my 
hand. 

"And yes wait a minute. I '11 telephone 
to a friend, and see if she will take you to 
board." She went with a smile to the booth at 
the far end of the station. 

We faced each other in amazement. Roches- 

15 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

ter had welcomed us and already was endeavor- 
ing to find us work and a home ! We settled a 
little more easily into our new roles. Yet we 
were not altogether at home. It was like diving 
into deep water and groping with one's hands 
among the misty stones that line the bottom of 
the pool. 

We were to find that our story was always 
accepted without question as in this, the first 
telling of it. We were universally received as 
a homeless, jobless couple. Margaret's desire 
to work was always regarded as genuine. Any 
ideas that we or our friends may have enter- 
tained as to a certain quality of distinction in 
our bearing, that might perhaps be difficult to 
hide such ideas collapsed with alarming sud- 
denness. We were from this time on nobodies, 
without standing, without influence, without 
dignity, save that which accrues to any self- 
respecting tramp. We had no position to con- 
serve. We had no appearances to maintain. 
We came, at last, fairly to revel in the immeas- 

16 



The Groom's Story 

urable freedom of our position. We had no 
obligations whatsoever, except those that we 
owed to all society and to ourselves. We came 
and went at any hour of the day or night, well 
or ill clad, in the blaze of the arc lights or at 
high noon, and no sense of shame to say us nay ! 
In some respects it was like stepping out of 
prison. 

Miss Welborn came back to us with more 
addresses the friend unfortunately could not 
take us in until later. We thanked her, and 
came away deeply grateful for the "Travelers* 
Aid." 

We walked uncounted miles that first after- 
noon following all manner of impulses, as well 
as the addresses which Miss Welborn had given 
us. We were introduced to "light-housekeep- 
ing" rooms, and knew, even as we were intro- 
duced, that here lay our destiny. We walked 
mainly through the foreign district Jewish 
and Italian. 

I shall never forget the first house that we 

17 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

entered. An old gray-haired woman, dirty and 
disheveled, answered our knock. 

"We are looking for rooms," I said. 

She peered at us suspiciously, then with ap- 
parent reluctance gave way before our entrance 
into the dingy hall. There rushed to greet us 
that faint, stuffy, sourish smell that every 
house, under a certain minimum of income, 
seems to possess. The floor was bare, and an 
uncarpeted stairway led abruptly into an en- 
veloping dimness above. 

"I'm filled up," said the woman. 

"You've a card in your window." 

"Well, you see, I'm sort of carrying a lady 
along. She's got rheumatism. She ain't paid 
her rent for six weeks but I hate to turn her 
out. Yet, of course, this ain't no charity 
bazaar I'm runnin'. Would you like to look 
at her room?" 

"Oh, no!" said Margaret. 

"Yes," said I ; and as the poor old dame shuf- 
fled her way upstairs I made it plain that we 

18 



The Groom's Story 

did not propose to take, we only proposed to 
look. The rheumatic one was out, and we were 
ushered into her apartment. It was a chaos of 
dishevelment. Scraps of food, underwear, news- 
papers, battered crockery swarmed before us. 
The place was thick with flies. The landlady 
simply held the door open, making no comment 
whatsoever. She had evidently passed beyond 
the age of salesmanship. 

"How much?" I said. 

"Three dollars." 

If you will believe it, I did not know whether 
she meant three dollars a day or three dollars 
a week! Margaret still swears that she knew 
immediately, but this is a point that we have 
never quite settled. 

"We are strangers in town and we're looking 
around for rooms. We want to do our own 
cooking. Of course, we want to see one or two 
places before we decide." 

"Sure," said our hostess. "What do you 
do?" 

19 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

I looked up inquiringly; then it flashed upon 
me that of course she meant my job. 

"I'm a bookkeeper," I said. 

"Oh" 

There was a certain scorn in her voice as 
she turned to Margaret. 

"You're workin', too, lady, ain't you?" 
Evidently she did not put her trust in book- 
keepers. 

"Yes," said Margaret, somewhat stunned. 
"Yes; that is, I'm looking for work." 
' "Where you from?" She looked Margaret 
up and down. 

"Boston." 

"Oh! I might' a' known it. That's what 
makes you talk so queer!" 

We were to find that "Boston" always ex- 
plained our accent. It was a complete defense in 
any inquiry as to our articulation. 

Meanwhile the horror of that room gained 
upon us. A loosened blind began to flap wearily 
against the single unscreened window. 

20 



The Groom's Story 

"We want to look a little further before we 
decide," I reiterated. 

The landlady appeared relieved. 

"I'd hate to turn the lady out. She's so 
lonesome . . . has n't got a single relative living. 
Still, I don't believe she'll ever pay me that 
eighteen dollars." . . . 

We left the poor soul mumbling, more to 
herself than to us, the alternative satisfactions 
of doing a kindness and of collecting eighteen 
dollars. 

The street, with its double line of trees, was 
like a breath of paradise. The visit had taught 
us one thing, very clearly, however. We need 
have no tremors as to the adequacy of our 
disguise. The simple fact of our asking for 
rooms on this income level was evidence enough 
that we had probably never known anything 
better. 

We invaded many houses with a growing 
assurance. In one place, the only person who 
could speak English was a boy ill in bed reading 

21 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Ivanhoe." In another we were offered a room 
which served as a highway between the front 
hall and the kitchen. We began to hear rumors 
of other than human inhabitants. Once or 
twice a suspicious eye and nose appeared be- 
hind a crack in the door in answer to our ring, 
and when we voiced our errand, the door was 
slammed to, in our astonished faces. One bland 
party admitted us and then openly hinted that 
all was not as it should be between us. Most 
of the rooms we saw were incredibly dirty, and 
littered with all manner of unappetizing frag- 
ments. As night drew on, we abandoned our 
search for furnished "housekeeping" rooms. 
Frankly, we did not dare accept one without 
more knowledge. 

THE BOARDING-HOUSE 

We made our way to one of Miss Welborn's 
boarding-houses addresses, and after a rather 
critical inspection on the part of the landlady 
we were admitted to the only vacant room the 

22 



The Groom's Story 

house afforded a little attic room, hot as 
only an attic room can be in August. 

"It's clean," said Margaret, after a careful 
scrutiny. That decided us. I went to the sta- 
tion for the bags, and we told the landlady 
that we should stay for a day or two. We stayed 
for two weeks as a matter of fact. Pending 
"light-housekeeping" we made this our head- 
quarters from which our first forages for work 
were conducted. 

The house was of brick, well built, and faced 
a sunny square where the children played and 
the jobless dozed on the benches. The park 
bench is more or less of a barometer of unem- 
ployment, and it is significant that all the time 
we lived at West's boarding-house, the benches 
were crowded to overflowing. 

Mrs. West, our landlady, was a pleasant 
woman and an indefatigable foe of dirt. Her 
boarders were largely moving-picture people, 
together with a trainman, and a drummer or 
two. The most interesting character of the 

23 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

household was Harry a man of forty, who 
washed the dishes, helped with the laundry, 
ran errands, marketed, carried slops, made 
beds, scrubbed floors, washed windows, in fact 
slaved for fourteen hours a day at every known 
domestic task, and for it received the princely 
sum of one dollar and seventy-five cents and 
sometimes two dollars per week! 

We excited no comment among our neigh- 
bors. We told our story, but it was too old a 
story to deserve great attention. They were 
kind, but had few suggestions to offer. They 
said that it was difficult to secure work that 
was all. It is peculiar how unemployment, like 
some distant thunder-cloud, began to obscure 
our horizon even before we had found a place 
to sleep. 

West's proved for us an excellent stepping- 
stone in the development of our plan. Had we 
gone immediately into our ultimate quarters, 
perhaps the change would have been almost too 
violent. At West's we had a genuinely clean 

24 



The Groom's Story 

room and tolerable surroundings. True, it was 
almost impossible to get a bath, and our room 
was shabby and often unbearably hot, but on 
the whole we found ourselves among the aris- 
tocracy of the working class. We paid nine 
dollars and a half a week for our room, includ- 
ing breakfast and supper for both of us. This 
was not cheap, perhaps, but it was at least a 
tremendous drop from a ten-dollar-a-day hotel. 
It is strange how quickly we adjusted ourselves 
to our new position in society. Almost auto- 
matically we began to restrict expenses. I re- 
member hovering before the window of a con- 
fectioner, seriously debating whether or not I 
should expend five cents for some very delicious 
molasses candy that was on exhibition. 

LIGHT HOUSEKEEPING 

At the end of two weeks we moved to "light- 
housekeeping" quarters. Margaret had found 
a landlady whom she felt that she could trust. 
Our room was in an ancient rookery of a build- 

25 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

ing in the poorer quarter of the city. One 
entered through a battered porch, pushed out 
along a dark and narrow hallway, and turned 
a door to the left. It gave on a small dark 
room, perhaps twelve feet square, with two 
windows fronting a brick wall. Only at noon 
did one feeble ray of sunshine gild the sash for 
a moment. One had to light the gas if one 
wished to read during the day. In a corner 
was a bed, and beside it a bureau. In the op- 
posite comer a gas cooking-plate rested upon a 
commode, the under sections of which were 
filled with a forlorn battery of cooking-utensils. 
A questionable curtain hid a row of nails and 
served as a closet. The partition between the 
wall and the next room was largely a home- 
made product, whose crazy architecture some 
greasy papers strove to hide. A pair of ex- 
traordinarily dirty net curtains hung in the 
windows, and there was a general ever-present 
air of dilapidated drapery. 
This room, however, was clean in comparison 

26 



The Groom's Story 

with most of the others that we had inspected. 
There was no one place that could be called 
unclean: rather it mouldered; dirt had grown 
into it like lichens into a cliff. 

We felt that here at last we had reached the 
economic bedrock. We paid three dollars a 
week for that room with gas included. Usually 
the "light housekeeper" must feed an inex- 
orable quarter meter. It is difficult for two 
people to find anything much cheaper than 
that. 

In this house we were to live for over six 
weeks. In this room we were to sleep, cook our 
food, eat, read, write, and live when we were 
not out of doors, or at work. Here we were to 
wage our memorable battles against dirt. Here 
we were to fetch our water from the bathroom 
on the floor above, carry out our waste, and 
do our own laundry in the dank, rat-infested 
cellar below. This was our home. 

Our first step was to take every piece of 
drapery, including the window curtains, out of 

27 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

the room. Our next step was to substitute our 
own camping blankets for the very doubtful 
bed coverings. Finally we gave the entire 
apartment, including the walls and the furni- 
ture, a bath in powerful disinfectant. We toiled 
equally at this task, and my knowledge of 
housekeeping began to increase. For the first 
time in my life I began to find out what taking 
care of one's self implies. 

Our landlady watched these activities with 
suspicion. I did not blame her. She had 
grounds, I thought, for being genuinely in- 
sulted. I intimated as much to Margaret, but 
that indefatigable lady was brandishing soapy 
cloths along the picture moulding, and would 
not pay the slightest attention to me. But we 
set ourselves to conciliate our hostess, and in 
the end she became one of the truest friends we 
ever made. 

To begin with she was a dear. She was young 
and rather pretty, and had a smile that warmed. 
By nature she was refined, gentle, lovable, but 

28 



The Groom's Story 

her work was beginning to tell upon her. 
Little hard lines would show themselves oc- 
casionally at the corners of her mouth. She had 
been a school teacher, and was the daughter 
of a clergyman. She had married fairly well, 
and then suddenly her husband had died on 
the street of heart failure, leaving her with 
exactly fifteen cents in her purse and a year- 
old baby to care for! Almost her first words 
to me were : 

"Mr. Chase, I hope you have some life in- 



surance." 



In some way she had scraped together the 
necessary capital to undertake this lodging- 
house venture, and she was making a stirring 
fight to keep body and soul together, and to 
provide for the future of her child. 

Our neighbors were varied. In the front 
room, for the first week of our stay, there lived 
a minister, his wife, and two children! Four 
people in one small room, cooking their own 
meals, eating and sleeping there! Apparently 

29 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

the immigrant is not the only class that is con- 
fronted with a housing problem. 

Across the hall lived a carpenter and his wife. 
She was dying of "Bright's disease," and also, 
according to the landlady, was slowly starving. 
The man was of good habits, but he only 
averaged one day of work in the week due to 
the dull times in the building trade. He could 
not afford to buy his wife the good food that 
her condition demanded. While we were there, 
their baby died, and the man being away, it 
was my duty to make the arrangements with 
the undertaker. It took their last penny, I 
imagine, to dress the poor little body for the 
funeral. They kept falling behind in the rent, 
and finally left one day, to drift on to some 
even more wretched and inhospitable quarters. 

Drifting, drifting, drifting, lives came and 
went before us like phantom ships in the night, 
drifting in from nowhere, drifting out into 
oblivion. 

A workman lived above us with his wife and 

30 



The Groom's Story 

two children. Her mind was failing, and she 
was not really fit to care for her children. As 
a result the older child roamed through the 
alleys and explored garbage cans much at his 
own free will. What was worse, everybody dis- 
trusted and hated him. He was an incredibly 
dirty little wretch, to be sure, but it was not 
fair to load such a burden of hate upon his 
thin, five-year-old shoulders. With a moron 
for a mother, and a father away all day, what 
is a little boy to do ? We tried to make friends 
with him, but it was very difficult. He was like 
a savage. We tried to induce the father to send 
him to kindergarten, but up to the time we 
left we were not successful. It would have 
been better for Johnny Showitz had he never 
been born. If you surprised him at his play, he 
would throw his arms over his head as if some- 
body were going to strike him. 

An old farmer had a room for a time. He 
gave me the impression in my first talk with 
him of having retired from active life, his old 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

age being provided for. This was only his 
pride. Later I found that he was trying des- 
perately to secure work, and that his meager 
savings were almost gone. 

We were raided by the police one night. A 
woman of very doubtful reputation had come 
to the house. At two in the morning a cab 
driver beat on the door and demanded to see 
this lady, saying that she owed him some money 
for cab fares. She bolted herself in her room. 
The driver went away and presently returned 
with two policemen. A crowd gathered ex- 
pectantly. There was an inquiring crack in 
every lodger's door. The policemen advanced 
to the attack. They made a hideous racket, but 
they could not force the door. Then they 
climbed onto the roof of the porch, but this 
move, too, proved unsuccessful. The law was 
in a quandary. The crowd jeered. Finally the 
landlady, by sheer force of character, brought 
the hunted one to terms. The latter unlocked 
her door and gave a note to the driver. Before 

32 



The Groom's Story 

daylight we heard her creep down the stairs 
and leave for good and all, but she left her rent 
money. 

More often than not, we made friends among 
our neighbors. We met them upon a plane of 
perfect equality. We told our story. Invariably 
we were met with sympathy, and sincere wishes 
for better fortune. And often they told their 
stories to us stories that made the heart ache. 
The bitter sieges of unemployment, the wander- 
ings, the illnesses, the accidents, the sorrowings, 
the partings, and the deaths all told with an 
almost unbelievable matter-of-factness. 

I sat down beside an old man on a park bench 
one evening. He was reading the remains of a 
newspaper under the flickering glare of an arc 
light. He let his paper slip to the ground and 
began to talk. In the course of our conversation 
I asked him where he lived. 

"Wherever I hang my hat is my home. I'm 
partially paralyzed, and nobody wants me now. 
I used to be a hack driver, but I worked so 

33 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

many nights washing carriages that well 
finally I could n't work any more. My wife died 

- just as well, I guess and this is all there is 
left of me!" He talked in a dull, beaten mono- 
tone the very dregs of a man from which life 
had squeezed the heart and soul. 

What justice in a world that throws its citi- 
zens, aged and paralyzed, upon park benches 
after demanding their manhood in a long life of 
ceaseless work ? He never asked me for help of 
any kind, but I sent him to the United Charities 
an institution of which he had never heard. 

We had a little Jewess to dine with us one 
night. We had creamed bloater and toast and 
chocolate, I remember, and altogether a very 
gay time, and yet when we asked her of her 
friends she said, "I liked Jack best gee, I 
could have learned to love Jack; only a guy got 
him drunk one night, he never used to drink 
himself, and then he accused Jack of stealing 
his watch, and Jack shot at the guy, and now I 
guess I'll never see him again. He'll get ten 

34 



The Groom's Story 

years, at least. He was only a boy; sort of ro- 
mantic, you know. He never meant harm to 
nobody, and well he was the whitest 
friend I ever had " 

Tragedy laid on tragedy, yet all in the day's 
work ! We learned what it meant to live as the 
average American lives on its income of six 
hundred dollars a year. We learned, as no book 
could ever teach us, of the deadly uncertainty 
of life at that income level. We became acutely 
aware of the temptations, crimes, abysses that 
wait just around the corner of that life. And 
the marvel to us was, and is, not, Why do the 
poor so often go wrong ? but, Why do they not 
more often go wrong ? 

So long as there is steadiness of employment, 
there is at least some continuity and some hope 
in existence. But we found so many cases 
where there was no steadiness of employment 
and so pitifully often it was "laid off" rather 
than "fired/' Work did not hold, the slender 
savings were eaten up, the wandering search 

35 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

went on and on, a child went wrong, a wife 
sickened and died over and over again, the 
same dreary, depressing story. 

And yet, under the tragedy moved a deep, 
vibrant current of good-will, and sympathy, 
and kindness. I have seen more human cruelty 
in a single club dance at home than I saw all the 
time that we lived in Rochester. We would go 
out upon our poor little apology for a porch and 
talk for hours with the neighbors. There was a 
man named Bohm whose conversation used to 
amaze us. He was going to the dogs by the 
alcohol route, but how he could talk ! philos- 
ophy, history, government, religion, smoking a 
battered, reeking brier pipe the while and trying 
to keep his telltale hands from twitching. He 
was not talking for effect, he was simply a 
starved soul who used us as a safety valve for 
the chaos of thoughts that were put within him. 
Most often, however, the conversation ran 
along intensely personal lines work, children, 
friends, troubles. 



The Groom's Story 

It is amazing the friendly help that the poor 
give one another. They assume one anothers' 
burdens quite as a matter of course. We found 
no trace of that narrow aloofness that pervades 
the suburbanite class. If the landlady were 
away, a boarder was always at great pains to 
answer the bell, and to exhibit apartments. If a 
small child were to be left alone for a time, some 
neighbor would be always glad to take charge of 
him. If one lacked a quarter for his gas meter, a 
general call for help, sounded from the front 
hall, would invariably secure the needed coin. 
We never felt lonely, we never felt aloof. There 
is a vast capacity for companionship and sym- 
pathy in the soul of the Average Citizen as we 
found him. 

These people our friends are not natu- 
rally depraved. They are not hereditary bums 
and loafers. They are our human brothers and 
sisters with potentialities as great if not greater 
than our own. Only they have never had a 
chance. They have never had reasonable op- 

37 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

portunity. They have been dealt marked cards. 
Three masters tend to dominate them: Food, 
Shelter, and Clothing mark the end of all their 
striving. At the income level of the Average 
American all expenditures for advancement, for 
art, music, real recreation, leisure, study, are 
practically precluded. There is little possibility 
of achieving those things which to some of us 
make life really worth the living. Mankind 
cannot progress unless it has access to those 
things. Civilization is a farce until the Average 
Citizen has the economic power to pause for a 
few moments in his toil, and to question the end 
of his toiling. "Democracy," "Equality," 
"Liberty" -all windy and desolate words 
until the Average Family can raise its eyes and 
look beyond the wolf that snarls at the door. 

As the weeks went by we began to make im- 
portant discoveries as to ourselves and our 
surroundings. 

First of all we learned what it means to fight 
dirt. The struggle to keep clean in a house like 

38 



The Groom's Story 

ours, or in the average tenement, particularly if 
the building is old, is a strenuous and finally 
overwhelming one. Of this there is not the least 
doubt in our minds. One's standards collapse. 
They must. We found it a question of either 
staying at home and cleaning all day and (in the 
case of the Average Citizen) starving; or of 
working out, and benumbing one's self to dirt at 
home. There is no compromise. It is quite im- 
possible to maintain a decent standard of clean- 
liness in a dwelling that many other poor people 
use. No matter how indefatigably one may 
sweep one's own apartments, the dirt that drifts 
in from the hallways, the littered alleys, the 
close-lying streets, the march of one's neighbors 
and their inquiring children, all combine to 
furnish an invading army against which no 
defense is adequate. 

We could not keep clean! Had we lived on in 
our lodgings much longer we should have be- 
come as benumbed to dirt and malodorousness 
as those about us, purely as a matter of self- 

39 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

defense. We came to understand why certain 
veteran tenement dwellers prefer coal to water 
in their bathtubs. 

We had planned originally to spend our eve- 
nings reading or writing in our lodgings. For a 
week we clung to this programme, and then 
suddenly we were aware of huge unseen forces 
conspiring to hurl us out where there was color, 
and light, and cheerfulness. 

"Good Lord," said Margaret one night, 
dropping "Fanny's First Play" with a bang on 
the floor (and we are very fond of Shaw) 
let 's get out of this. I 'm suffocating. Let 's go 
to the movies." 

We went to the movies. We gulped them 
down. The little hall was packed with Italians, 
and ten times as suffocating as our room, but 
we did not notice it. The pictures thrilled us - 
the drunken lights, the tin-pan piano, the al- 
ternate roars of applause and of horror from 
the eager childlike audience only heightened 
the effect. The tawdriness, the vulgarity, the 

40 



The Groom's Story 

smells, all were lost and forgotten before the 
gigantic fact that color still shone in the world 
that the everlasting gray of our lodging- 
house had not submerged the universe ! 

Time and again this happened to us. A hound 
of desire would seize us and fairly fling us out of 
our dinginess into some place where there was 
color and contrast again. It smote us as desire 
must smite a drunkard. I had never been to the 
movies on my own initiative before going to 
Rochester. I have seldom been to them since 
my return. And yet wild horses could not have 
kept me away from them there. I slapped down 
my nickel with my heart surging as it did long 
ago at circus time, and thrust my way in be- 
tween a fat Polish lady and an Italian laborer 
who had had garlic for his dinner, to sit rapt, 
entranced for hours ! 

Then there were the parks. I had always 
tended to be rather patronizing when it came to 
public parks. I held them estimable enough, 
perhaps, but common. Never before had we 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

glimpsed the tremendous outlet that public 
parks provide for thwarted city populations. It 
seemed as if we could not wait until Sunday 
came that we might pack our lunch into a shoe 
box and invade Seneca, or Highland, or South 
Park. We explored them from end to end. We 
reveled in them. They were like bars of sunlight 
laid athwart a prison floor. 

The municipal baths, too, we used constantly 
and gratefully. It was impossible to get an ade- 
quate bath in our lodging. There was no hot 
water except a small ceremonial amount on 
Saturday night, and that, owing to strenuous 
competition, was almost immediately ex- 
hausted. I gave up trying, but Margaret forged 
aloft one Saturday night with high hopes and a 
clean towel, only to return almost immediately 
with a look of frozen horror upon her face. I 
have never been able to persuade her to tell me 
the details. 

We made a point of attending all free con- 
ceits, free lectures, and free exhibitions that 

42 



The Groom's Story 

were announced in the papers. We found that 
by means of vigilance, application, and some 
personal discomfort, to be sure, we could 
secure a considerable amount of cultural enjoy- 
ment for an astonishingly moderate outlay of 
cash. This led us to make computations. 

We finally decided that for twenty-five dol- 
lars a week a young couple could live happily, 
healthily, progressively, by taking advantage of 
these low-cost educational and recreational fa- 
cilities, and by utterly abandoning the attempt 
to keep up with appearances. As we were liv- 
ing close to ten dollars a week at this time our- 
selves, we saw what could be done backed by a 
steady job at moderate wages with wholesome, 
clean, middle-class quarters. Under this figure 
(twenty-five dollars), however, the struggle 
must become increasingly bitter until at the 
ten-dollars-a-week level, the three masters, 
Food, Shelter, and Clothing, tend to become 
supreme. Although we were living for about 
ten dollars a week, we were buying no clothes 

43 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

for ourselves and we had no children to sup- 
port. 

When one considers that ten dollars a week 
is very close to the Average Family wage for 
America . . . 

We did not find it easy to live for this 
amount. We had literally to count every cent 
that we expended. A nickel assumed the pro- 
portions of a dollar in ordinary intercourse. 
I limited myself to one five-cent bag of Bull 
Durham tobacco in the week. We went, per- 
haps once a week, to the movies. It cost us 
twenty cents car fare to visit the parks on 
Sunday. That was the limit of our expendi- 
tures for recreation. Everything else went for 
rent, food, and absolutely necessary car fares. 
I suppose, all told, we must have walked some 
hundreds of miles in those nine weeks simply 
to save car fare. One day by actual computa- 
tion I walked over twenty miles. 

Our food was always wholesome, but it could 
hardly be called varied. We always breakfasted 

44 



The Groom's Story 

on fruit and shredded wheat with milk. Cream 
was an unthinkable luxury. Melons, bananas, 
and occasionally a peach or a pear were our 
staples of fruit diet. In the fall we had apples. 
Lunch we usually ate at a boarding-house where 
for twenty cents we had a nourishing home- 
cooked meal. On Sundays there were chicken 
bones and watery ice cream, and it cost a quar- 
ter! Our suppers were cooked at home on the 
gas plate, and usually were built about a foun- 
dation of toast and cocoa sometimes Camp- 
bell's soup sometimes tomatoes and rice, or 
green corn, or creamed salt fish. They cost us 
about ten cents apiece. Margaret was vastly 
more economical than I. Some ancient thrift 
in her inheritance surged strongly to meet this 
crisis. You see, we were trying to live on what 
we earned, and she sought desperately to suc- 
ceed. It seemed as if her hand was always on 
my arm as I reached into my change pocket. 
I do not think that she bought a piece of candy 
during the whole time we were there and she 

45 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

is very fond of candy! It was always I that 
backslided. I used to buy peanuts furtively and 
try and hide the munching of them from her, 
but she usually unmasked these deceptions 
with scorn. And I shall never forget one terrible 
night when an army of cockroaches invaded us, 
and I got up and dressed and stormed about 
the room and told Margaret to put on her hat 
and come with me immediately to the " Seneca" 
(the leading hotel). 

"You quitter!" she said, and turned to repel 
the invasion. 

My indignation collapsed in the face of her 
resolve and in the end I humbly stuffed rags 
in the wall as she bade me. 

UNEMPLOYMENT 

It is a cold October morning with almost a 
touch of winter in the air. It is barely light and 
the sky is dull and heavy. The trolleys have 
not started to run upon the street along which 
I am hurrying. I walk briskly for two reasons : 



The Groom's Story 

first, I am cold, and secondly, I am desperately 
afraid that others will reach 2407 Blank Avenue 
before me. I pass unending rows of small, flat- 
roofed shops. There are very few people 
abroad. A milk wagon is making calls on the 
opposite side of the street. 

Suddenly I hear the steady thud, thud, of 
footsteps behind me. I quicken my pace, but 
the footsteps come nearer and nearer. Those 
footsteps are coming for my job ! I am tempted 
to run, but I realize that that would be cad- 
dish and unfair. I look around cautiously. A 
shabby lad half boy, half man is coming 
up behind me with a stern, set face. I stop and 
wait for him. 

He flings a glance at my well-worn suit and 
battered hat, and says : 

"It looks as if we were going the same way, 
Bo!" 

He slaps the morning paper in his pocket. 

I smile, for in my pocket also rests a clip- 
ping cut from the "Democrat and Chronicle" 

47 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

at five o'clock that morning, "Wanted Men 
to help in a bakery." 

We walk along together in silence. Suddenly 
about two blocks ahead of us we see a little 
cloud of men emerge from an alleyway and 
scatter in all directions. One passes us upon a 
bicycle, but says nothing. 

We both know perfectly well what has hap- 
pened, but something urges us on to the end. 
We turn into the small dark alleyway. It leads 
to a dingy wooden door set in the side of a low 
dirty brick building. There is a general odor 
of baking and yeast in the air. Upon the up- 
per part of the door is tacked a sign, scrawled 
hastily in a large unsteady hand : 

NO MORE MEN WANTED 
KEEP OUT 

No sound whatsoever comes from the build- 
ing. A few drops of rain begin to fall. 

My companion turns on his heel with a sound 
halfway between a sob and a curse. 

48 



The Groom's Story 

"That's a damn long walk for nothing," he 
says; and then, more slowly, "I'd a hunch I 
was going to get this to-day but aw, 
what's the use! It's the same old story day 
after day!" His face sets, hard and sullen. 

"How far have you walked?" I asked. 

" From Brighton five miles." 

A clock begins to toll six. 

Upon graduating from college I entered my 
father's accounting office. I received no special 
favors, but I was the "old man's son." There 
was no evading it. True, I had learned the 
business from the bottom, but men stood aside 
to help me learn it. Everything was arranged 
to break my way. I was lucky, of course, and 
far from dissatisfied, but I wanted to know how 
it felt to stand on one's own feet and to face 
the world alone. This urge was much stronger 
in me than any desire to gather figures upon 
the subject of unemployment. In fact I had 
never questioned, in anticipation, but that I 

49 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

should find work immediately. What perplexed 
me was how I should fill a position when I had 
secured it. Do not think of me, then, as a cold- 
blooded investigator, anxious to gather lurid 
impressions. I wanted work and I wanted it 
badly. I wanted to see what I was good for. 
I wanted to prove to myself and to my friends 
at home that I could get a job, and could fill 
it. I wanted to feel that I was worth something 
on my own account. 

When we arrived in Rochester, we had no 
idea how to go about finding work. It was 
part of the game that must be learned. Miss 
Welborn, you will remember, gave me the ad- 
dresses of two foremen. Later in the day she 
advised me to see a certain department-store 
manager, whose name she mentioned. These 
were my first clues. 

On the morning following our arrival, I left 
the boarding-house after breakfast and called 
on all three persons, one after another. Their 
places of business I found by purchasing an 



The Groom's Story 

invaluable little street map. At Sibley, Lind- 
say & Curr's, the department store, I was inter- 
viewed by the employing manager in his private 
office. It was about ten in the morning. He 
tilted back in his swivel chair and eyed me 
appraisingly. I was vastly excited ! I thought 
that I had a position as good as secured ! After 
a few searching questions regarding my former 
employment and my reasons for leaving, he 
ordered me to fill out an application blank. I 
did so, and handed the document to him hope- 
fully. He turned to his mail. Without glancing 
up he said : 

"We have no openings now, I doubt if there 
will be any before winter. I '11 put this applica- 
tion on file. Good-morning." 

I withdrew somewhat dashed, but the street's 
sunshine brightened me. After all, one could 
not expect to be successful the first time. 

I took a car to the Cluett Peabody Factory. 
After a long search I found the foreman who 
knew Miss Welborn. He was a young, clean-cut, 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

kindly man, anxious to help me. When I spoke 
of my wife, a look of pain came into his face. 

"I have n't got a thing I can give you not 
a thing. We're laying men off every day in- 
stead of taking them on. You could n't expect 
to earn over eight or nine dollars a week here 
anyway. The pay is n't much. I '11 sure let 
you know if anything turns up but, believe 
me, it's an awful time to get work." 

I thanked him and left. 

The second foreman came to me grimy and 
beaproned from the bowels of a shoe factory. 
He was a man of fifty-five or more, dark, 
swarthy, and bespectacled. The name Welborn 
evidently bore a charm, for he also was decid- 
edly kind to me. His story, however, was the 
same men were being laid off in fact, the 
whole shop was on half-time and might shut 
down altogether. He called in the chief clerk 
and asked if there were any clerical oppor- 
tunities. The latter shook his head with a 
smile of utter impossibility. 

52 



The Groom's Story 

So I was out in the street again, still jobless. 
I decided to try the private employment agen- 
cies. There was no state bureau at that time. 
I consulted my reference book and directed my 
steps toward Stearns's "Old Reliable" Agency. 
It was a long walk from the shoe factory. The 
room I entered was large and clean. There 
were chairs about upon which men and women 
in considerable numbers sagged rather than sat. 
They were a depressing congregation. I stepped 
to the desk. 

"I'm looking for a job." 

"You are not the only one. What can you 
do?" The clerk eyed me dispassionately. 

"I'm a trained bookkeeper and account- 
ant. I can do all kinds of office work, and 
(this came hard the first time) I 'm willing to 
do anything work with my hands any- 
thing!" 

"There is n't a clerical job in the city. Not 
one. I could place a good barber. That's all 
I got." 

53 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Are you liable to have anything later on?" 
I inquired meekly. 

"No." 

"Do you know where I might inquire from 
some one else?" 

"No." 

He lost interest in me and picked up his 
paper. I was evidently dismissed. 

I proceeded to make the rounds of the em- 
ployment agencies. Also that first day or two I 
tried for newspaper work with every large daily 
in the city. I was nowhere welcome. The 
agencies were curt, uncivil, and worst of all, 
uncommunicative. Their lack of knowledge was 
profound. The editors were far very far 
from requiring enterprising assistants. My ini- 
tial enthusiasm began to wane. I came to real- 
ize that one could not secure a job by merely 
asking for it at polite hours in the morning. 
One had to get up early and think. 

I sat down and thought. Then I went to the 
Public Library and thought some more with 

54 



The Groom's Story 

the great blue city directory in front of me. 
When I came away I had an alphabetical list 
of every institution or agency which in any 
way suggested the possibility of work, or knowl- 
edge where work might be found. Relentlessly, 
one by one, I ran these clues down. 

I went to the Chamber of Commerce, well 
brushed, having surrounded myself with an 
atmosphere of vast business energy. I was 
presented with circulars showing in elaborate 
detail the great prosperity of the city. But the 
secretary in charge shook his head when I 
asked to be allowed to contribute to that 
prosperity. He informed me coldly that the 
Chamber had no information on the subject of 
positions. 

I went to the Salvation Army. The Major 
was kind, but overrushed with relief work. He 
welcomed me to his meetings, but had no idea 
where a job was to be had. 

I went to the Y.M.C.A. They gave me a 
formidable blank to fill out, which of course 

55 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

I never heard from. It is one of the chief 
diversions of the unemployed to fill out 
blanks expectantly, and then never to hear 
from them. My name, character, aspirations, 
and family history must still be rotting in scores 
of dusty and forgotten files throughout the 
city! 

I went to the United Charities. The discreet 
young man in charge offered me unlimited 
work volunteer work. When I told him I 
meant a regular payroll position, his manner 
changed. He knew of nothing in his organiza- 
tion. 

"Do you run an information bureau on the 
subject?" I inquired. 

"No," he said, considerably to my surprise. 

"You have no knowledge of where work may 
be had in the city?" 

"No." 

I went to City Hall and studied the Civil 
Service lists. A clerical position caught my eye. 

"How soon is the examination?" 

56 



The Groom's Story 

"Not until December." 

"Have you any examinations at all in the 
near future?" 

"No." 

I went to the City Recreation Department 
and cited my experience. The director was 
very kind, but he had no immediate work for 
me. He hinted at Boys' Club work later on. 
The pay was very little. 

I went to the People's Mission. The manager 
said that there were at least five thousand men 
out of employment in the city and that they 
were sleeping in rows on the mission floors at 
night. 

I went to all the employment agencies again 
and again. There was no work of any sort for 
which I was fitted. Occasionally a specialized 
trade opening, such as cook or carpenter, ap- 
peared, but never clerical or manual work. 
Once I was offered a harvesting position for 
four weeks on a Canadian farm. The pay was 
a dollar a day and board. I could not have 

57 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

taken it without going a hundred miles away, 
and furthermore I have grave doubts as to my 
ability as a farmhand. I declined this offer, 
and it was immediately snapped up by the 
man next in line. 

I went to the Teachers' Bureau. Here I re- 
ceived some encouragement in the form of a 
tentative position to teach bookkeeping in a 
night school. Later I was informed that there 
had been a mistake. The position had already 
been filled. I was, of course, barred from all 
public-school positions, because I lacked a 
teacher's license. 

In the end my careful planning and thinking 
came to nothing. There was apparently no 
place in the entire city which could intelligently 
dispense information about the possibilities of 
employment. The streets swarmed with the 
jobless, but nobody knew anything about it 
officially. 

Finally I was driven back to the papers. 
For the entire time that we remained in Roch- 

58 



The Groom's Story 

ester, never a morning went by that Margaret 
and I did not go over every single item of 
"Help Wanted Female" and "Help Wanted 
Male" in the columns of the "Democrat 
and Chronicle." The paper came to us at four 
or earlier in the morning, and very often we 
would get up, light the gas, and blue-pencil 
our opportunities, if there were any, before the 
day had fairly dawned. If a reasonable chance 
appeared, we would dress, eat a cold, hasty 
breakfast of cereal and milk, and leave before 
six. It was hopeless to attempt to secure any 
position after that hour. One comes to appre- 
ciate that phrase of the learned economists 
"competition among wage-earners." 

Our routine seldom varied an early break- 
fast, a list of possible jobs, the city map, and 
carfare. We would say good-bye at the lodging- 
house steps, and go our separate ways. At noon 
we met in a twenty-cent restaurant to talk 
over the morning's adventures. For the first 
few weeks our stories were largely identical a 

59 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

long hunt for the factory, a waiting line of 
eager applicants, occasionally an interview, 
with its inevitable climax "turned down," 
or "too late," or "we want more experience," 
or "we hired all the people we wanted yester- 
day." Time after time an advertisement was 
allowed to run for two days when all the posi- 
tions it offered were filled before six o'clock on 
the morning of the first day. So cheaply is 
labor regarded, so great the competition, that 
the employer tends completely to lose sight of 
the human cost of his neglect cost measured 
in needless walking, and car fare, and at the 
end, needless disappointment. 

There was no position, that I felt I was in 
any way competent to fill, for which I did not 
try. Furthermore, I wrote over thirty letters 
in answer to newspaper advertisements. I re- 
ceived just two replies; one offering a clerkship 
at six dollars a week, which I did not answer; 
one offering another clerkship (at an unmen- 
tioned, perhaps unmentionable, salary), which 

60 



The Groom's Story 

had been taken when I came to telephone 
for it. 

Toward the end of our stay, I became so 
weary of writing unanswered letters that out 
of curiosity I myself put two shameless adver- 
tisements into the paper; one calling for "a 
man able to use and keep his head," the other 
for "a good bookkeeper." To the former I re- 
ceived thirty-two replies, and to the latter 
thirty-nine. I wish that I could print some of 
these letters just as they came to me. They 
form a mosaic of wretchedness and defeat. 
Those from the older men men who had held 
important offices in former years ,were the 
most pathetic. One man had been the chief 
auditor of a transcontinental railroad. Another 
had been editor of a well-known newspaper! 

In all I applied for nearly one hundred spe- 
cific positions, and with the exceptions already 
stated, I never secured any sort of an opening 
in a single one of them ! The nearest approach 
to a real opportunity that I had was as motor- 

61 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

man for the street-railway company. At the 
car barns I was offered a job, but as the uniform 
cost eighteen dollars to begin with, besides the 
fee for a union card, and as one's period of ap- 
prenticeship without tangible earnings was of 
some months' duration, I let this golden moment 
pass. So would any one without twenty-eight 
dollars and with the need of immediate returns. 
We had been in Rochester perhaps two weeks 
when I opened the paper one morning to find 
the following : 

"Wanted Man for bowling alleys." 
I ran my pencil under the type hopefully. 
I had bowled. I knew how to set up pins. This 
was the most promising opportunity that had 
yet presented itself. I reported at the address 
named at a little after seven in the morning. 
The janitor told me to come back at noon. 
At noon a clerk told me to see the alley boss 
at four. At four o'clock the alley boss told me 
to come at seven. At seven the same gentle- 
man, mounted upon his throne, where he 

62 



The Groom's Story 

scored the bowlers, told me to stay, to watch 
the boys "set 'em up," and possibly at nine 
o'clock, when the shift changed, he would give 
me a job. I watched them "set 'em up" by 
a rather ingenious machine instead of by hand. 
I watched until every motion was clean and 
clear in my mind. I wanted this my first 
job ! I wanted it badly. I could feel excitement 
surging up in me as nine o'clock approached. 
I did not care if the pay was only twelve and 
a half cents an hour. I did not care if I earned 
only enough for " a cup of coffee and a flop for 
the night," as one of the other aspirants put it. 
I did not care how menial the task. I was sick 
and tired of looking for work. I wanted to do 
something. I was vibrant with strange re- 
pressed emotions. At nine o'clock a gong 
sounded. The men filed out of their places, and 
the fresh crew filed in. All twelve alleys were 
almost instantly filled. Some half-dozen of us 
remained. The alley boss lit another cigarette 
- "Nothin' doin', boys." 

63 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

We went out in the night. For an hour I 
walked the streets bitterly resentful, and angry 
clean through. All day my hopes had been 
kindled and rekindled. I had been ruthlessly 
stimulated to a crisis which collapsed when the 
hour came. I shook myself out of the mood at 
last, but I realized that night how anarchists 
are made. 

"Wanted Janitor and bottlewasher." 
At six o'clock in the morning I was on hand 
at the address named in the above advertise- 
ment. It was a gaunt factory building toward 
the center of the town, I found thirty-eight 
men ahead of me. We waited four hours ; the 
crowd increased to fifty or sixty. Nobody was 
interviewed. No word came from the sullen, 
battered door around which we pushed. Finally 
a clerk emerged on an errand. As an apparent 
afterthought he turned and spoke to one of us. 
"No use you waiting around. The job's 
filled long ago." 

64 



The Groom's Story 

It had been filled filled from the inside, 
and the manager had not had the common 
decency to let us know. There is no telling 
what that long fruitless wait may have cost 
some needy man. So often this happened to 
me long, dragging waits, and then not even 
an interview for any of the applicants. The 
position had been quietly filled from within. 
I remember being almost suffocated in a mad 
rush of clamoring theater "supes" one after- 
noon, and then, after hours of swirling about 
the stage doors, hundreds of us, it ap- 
peared that the "twenty young men" needed 
had all been picked that morning! It would 
have filled a German statistician with joy to 
compute the fruitless miles traveled that after- 
noon by those hundreds of boys and men ! 

Despite the almost desperate drives we some- 
times made for a door, there never was any 
elbowing or trying to forge in front of the next 
man unfairly. It seemed to be an unwritten 
law of the unemployed that every applicant 

65 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

should have his chance. There were no hard 
looks directed to newcomers, no attempt at 
monopoly. I never saw an unemployed man 
handle another roughly. Rather they talked 
together, often jested in a grim, pathetic way, 
compared notes, and commented upon the 
European war. It is strange and gripping to 
see men, on the verge of starvation and de- 
spair, imbued with a certain fine sense of 
courtesy and fellowship ! 

I answered an advertisement calling for "two 
laborers." I found the work to consist in 
carrying fifty pounds of slate up ladders on a 
church steeple. The wage was eight dollars a 
week. I talked, as always, with my fellow 
applicants. There were perhaps twenty gath- 
ered. One tall, clean-cut, neatly dressed man 
interested me particularly. He looked a gentle- 
man. I asked him what he was doing at this 
place. This was his story : 

He had held a good clerical position with the 

66 



The Groom's Story 

Eastman Kodak Company. Owing to dull 
times he had been laid off together with over 
a thousand other workers. He had tried des- 
perately to secure a new position ever since. 
In all the eight weeks of his searching, he had 
been employed for only one day's scrubbing 
upon his hands and knees! He had almost no 
money left. He told me of a wife and child at 
home. As he spoke of them his face hardened 
and these words flashed from him : 
"God! what is the world coming to?" 
He is the spokesman for millions of human 
beings. 

A little later they told us that no more men 
were wanted, and I watched my friend go bit- 
terly 'down the street thinking, no man knew 
what black and somber thoughts. I found his 
kind everywhere, steady, reliable, clean-spoken 
men, beaten back from the clerical field and 
trying at last for any sort of manual or menial 
labor. 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Wanted Men to pick pears on Monday 
morning." 

This advertisement appeared in the paper 
on Saturday. I decided to forestall my com- 
petitors by applying immediately and register- 
ing my name in advance. The address was that 
of a suburban town. I took a trolley to the end 
of its route, walked four miles on a hot and 
dusty road, and came at last to a big white 
farmhouse. I went to the back door and 
knocked. A florid man in shirt-sleeves an- 
swered. 

"I understand you want pickers on Mon- 
day," I said. 

" Sorry, son," he replied ; "we Ve got our men, 
and turned away a hundred more already!" 

I might multiply these incidents indefinitely, 
but it would be largely reiteration thirty, 
fifty, one hundred men for every position, and 
in many cases the work disappearing through 
some hidden mechanism within. There was 
nothing so useless, so utterly unwanted, in 

68 



The Groom's Story 

the city of Rochester as our army, thousands 
strong, that got up in darkness on a summer 
morning to read the paper, and to walk the 
town from end to end in search of gossamer 
butterflies. What wonder men degenerate 
under the pressure of this continual defeat and 
failure ! What wonder their courage sinks, their 
moral inhibitions collapse, and that they grow 
sullen, bitter, and at last unemployable. I have 
no great love for the sodden and the outcast, 
but step by step I have seen them made under 
the pitiless mould of continued unemploy- 
ment. I have watched them come eager and 
hopeful in the morning, confident in the sun- 
shine and in their ability to succeed; and I 
have talked with them beaten and bitter under 
the arc lights at night. 

There were, however, two avenues open to 
me in which I might have secured unlimited 
work. The first was known as "business oppor- 
tunities" in the columns of the press. These 
opportunities made alluring copy, but they 

69 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

sold from one hundred dollars up. In fine, it 
took a capitalist to enjoy them. I interviewed 
a number of these brilliant hopes, not because 
I had money to throw away upon them, but 
because I wished to find out what they meant. 
One suave gentleman offered me a sure five 
thousand dollars a year in exchange for five 
hundred dollars down. He merchanted an un- 
known but potent "Bug Killer." Another 
brisk and nervous person offered to collaborate 
with me (for a consideration) in the produc- 
tion of the unborn "Liberal Weekly" a 
sheet designed to protect the liquor interests 
of the city from such untimely onslaughts as 
had been recently launched by the W.C.T.U., 
the Anti-Saloon League, the Suffragists, etc. 
He had many hundreds of paid-up subscrip- 
tions, and yards of prepaid advertising space 
but as yet he had no copy. If I had had 
six months before me, I believe I should 
have taken this offer. It had enlightening 
possibilities. 

70 



The Groom's Story 

The second avenue that always beckoned 
was that of selling agent. The opportunities in 
this field were numberless. The reason was 
simple. No salaries were paid. All compensa- 
tion was on the commission basis. For a week, 
by way of experience, I tried to sell real estate 
lots by means of door-to-door canvassing. I 
sold no lots (though I left a big list of "pros- 
pects" as a legacy to my successor), but I accu- 
mulated considerable experience. I was made 
acutely aware of the psychology of salesman- 
ship as practiced by the typical "agent." I 
found that the end, the aim of his life is to 
sell seldom to please, seldom to provide 
some rational object for a rational human need. 
The supreme achievement is to force some un- 
wanted article upon an individual against his 
slowly decreasing objections. I attended a 
"selling talk" one night in the office of the 
company with which I was connected. It was 
a vile and cowardly affair. One after another, 
the salesmen, with manifest pride, arose and 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

told of the various tricks by which they had 
taken advantage of human nature, and trapped 
their "prospects" into buying something which 
they, the prospects, neither wanted nor needed. 
I encountered the selling army at every turn. 
It was recruited from middle-class boys, pre- 
sumably of a high-school education, too proud 
to learn a trade. It was a life that fairly splin- 
tered the props of character unsteady, wan- 
dering, hourless, with a premium upon the art 
of taking unfair advantage of human nature. 
It was an uncanny revelation to me these 
hundreds of drifting young men engaged in 
wringing a living from the community by hang- 
ing like leeches upon the selling organism. I 
went time and again to answer advertisements 
for "agents," and whether the commodity was 
crayon portraits or automatic curling tongs, 
the same shifty young men always surrounded 
me. The rank and file of the unemployed never 
invaded this field. They left it clear to the 
unfortunate persons whose specialty it was. 

72 



The Groom's Story 

I want to drive home, if I can, the utter 
chaos which I encountered in the field of 
information. Nobody knew how many un- 
employed there were, or what the industrial 
possibilities were, or what the harvesting pos- 
sibilities were, or where to go to get informa- 
tion. A great darkness reigned over the whole 
question. 

I cannot begin to express the help and aid 
that a Government Labor Exchange, equipped 
with reliable information, would have been to 
both Margaret and myself. One pictures a 
spacious, airy office, where one receives cour- 
teous attention (as they do in Germany) ; where 
attendants preside over neat files and forms; 
and where, best of all, definite information re- 
garding the situation as a whole, intrastate and 
interstate, is available. What a Godsend to the 
crowding, pushing, battered mass that chases 
one will-o'-the-wisp after another through an 
almost fathomless night! More information, 
facts, knowledge, these are the primary and 

73 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

urgent needs in pursuing the struggle against 
unemployment. 

After labor exchanges we must have unem- 
ployment insurance as it has been successfully 
applied in England and Germany. These meas- 
ures, together with regularization of industry, 
government works in non-competitive fields 
such as afforestation, will go very far toward 
eliminating the problem of unemployment. 

There are to-day approximately four million 1 
jobless men in America, the great majority of 
whom are eager, even desperate for work. 
Even in the best of times this army will number 
well over a million. Men are not out of work 
because they are shiftless. They are out of 
work because modern industry demands a 
roving, mobile, easily liquidated working popu- 
lation. It is this requirement that is respon- 
sible for most of the resulting shiftlessness. 
Consider the harvesting period, for instance. 
Hundreds of thousands must be mobilized for 
1 This was written in the spring of 1915. 

74 



The Groom's Story 

a few weeks to gather the crops. But when 
winter comes, what are the thousands, now 
idle, to do ? Some will go to the lumber camps, 
but this again is a seasonal occupation. With 
the coming of the spring, where are the winter 
workers to go? What kind of a family life can 
such a wanderer have ? What chance has he to 
form habits of steadiness and thrift? On and 
on he wanders. There is no regularity in mod- 
ern industry. Seasonal changes throw literally 
millions out of work. Fashions are responsible 
for vast labor fluctuations. Christmas rushes, 
summer shut-downs, spring trade, fall trade, 
all mean enormous pay-roll variations. A mo- 
ment's reflection upon industry as it really is 
should convince any one, outside of an insane 
asylum, that the chaotic disorder of American 
methods of production, rather than the per- 
sonal character of the American workman, is 
to blame for unemployment and its ensuing 
evils. 
The unemployed, instead of being bums and 

75 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

loafers, are in reality the saviors of American 
industry. Without their spasmodic help in the 
busy seasons, we should be unable as a nation 
to produce a half of what we now produce. 
We have to face, in my opinion, either these 
self-evident facts or a revolution. There is a 
limit to human endurance. 

I append a table showing a statistical sum- 
mary of my search for employment. 

Summary of Employment Campaign 
Jobs applied for In person By letter 

"Men wanted" n 4 

Clerks 7 18 

Farm work 5 

Bookkeeper 4 3 

Newspaper work 4 2 

Laborers 3 

Bell boy I 

Pin boy 2 

Motorman I I 

Waiter I 

Janitor I 

Detective I 

Dishwasher . I 



The Groom's Story 

Soda-fountain clerk 2 

Exposition work 2 

Bakery 2 

Hotel clerk I 

Usher in movies I 2 

Clothes model I 

Theater supe 2 

Furniture moving 2 

Chauffeur 2 I 

Office manager 2 

Advertising work I 

Window trimmer I 

57 35 
Total applications for specific jobs, 92. 

It must be remembered that not all of these 
jobs were open. In many places I walked in 
at random and inquired for work. 

"Business opportunities" investigated: 

Insect destroyer. 
Milk-shake-patent process. 
"Liberal Weekly." 
Shoe store. 
General merchandise store. 

77 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

" Agent " work investigated : 

Real-estate lots. 
"Book of Facts." 
Crayon portraits. 
Insurance. 
Patent washers. 
Patent specialties. 

Institutions visited: 

(1) All the employment offices. 

(2) Young Men's Christian Association. 

(3) United Charities. 

(4) City Hall. 

(5) Teachers' Agency. 

(6) Civil Service Commission. 

(7) Chamber of Commerce. 

(8) Business Exchange. 

(9) Salvation Army. 
(10) People's Mission. 

EMPLOYMENT 

I did get work finally and I saved my 
pride. But I did not get it by applying for it: 
quite the reverse. A friend whom I made in 
the boarding-house approached me one day and 
asked if I would look over his accounts. I did 

78 



The Groom's Story 

so, and he ended by giving me charge of his 
books at twenty-five cents an hour. It was 
spasmodic labor. In all I earned about forty 
dollars, or an average of less than five dollars 
a week for our entire stay. Not much, perhaps, 
but when I came to go, I was rewarded by 
my patron's telling me that he had planned to 
"keep me busy all winter" at steadier rates. I 
had found a niche in the industrial order, but, 
strangely enough, it had come to me as a per- 
sonality; I had not gone to it as an applicant. 
I saved my pride, but I did not succeed in get- 
ting the kind of work I had anticipated. I 
might have remained months longer, and still 
not have succeeded. I happened to fall into 
this fortuitous opportunity, and I realize now 
how lucky I was to get anything at all. 

AND FINALLY 

In the midst of our adventure we were forced 
to leave it. We had come to the end of even 
the most generous honeymoon allowance. We 

79 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

had stayed over eight weeks and it was well 
on into the fall. Our room was often uncom- 
fortably cold. We used to boil hominy on the 
gas burner, filling the place with steam in an 
endeavor to keep warm. One day, when Mar- 
garet was working, even this heroic method 
failed to keep me from shivering as I wrote, 
and finally in desperation I left that clammy 
little room and went to the railway station, 
and sat for hours on a bench reveling in the 
public warmth ! I can never see a dirty, cold- 
looking man pushing into a station waiting- 
room without remembering that day and 
sympathizing with him. 

On the morning before we left we sat down 
quite soberly to talk it all over. You have no 
idea how difficult it was to get a perspective upon 
the whole matter. We had been caught in such a 
pressure of immediate personal circumstances. 

"Let's not go home," said Margaret, gazing 
ruefully at her "going-away" trousseau suit, 
hung on the gas jet in readiness for departure. 

80 



The Groom's Story 

"Let's stay here and be free and unconven- 
tional and and human for ever and ever!" 

"In this room," I asked, "for ever and ever? 
Could you stick it out?" 

"No," said Margaret soberly; "I don't sup- 
pose I could stick it out in this room for 
ever and ever." 

Our eyes wandered over the battered furni- 
ture, the peeling plaster, the stained ceiling, 
the unwashed tin dishes. 

"How long could we stick it out?" I mused. 

We debated that. We faced the facts frankly, 
discounted for the touch of romance and ad- 
venture that had borne us through, and con- 
cluded as follows: 

If we had been genuinely faced with the 
necessity of living through an indefinite future 
in the same manner that we had lived for the 
past six or seven weeks, we should undoubtedly 
have chosen not to live at all ! 

We, a fairly tolerant, fairly democratic 
woman and man, not oversensitive as to sounds 

81 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

or smells or dirt, should have chosen to cease 
to live rather than to go on living as the aver- 
age American must live ! Robbed of the spirit 
of adventure (and what adventure is there for 
the Average Citizen?) that living would have 
degenerated for us into a long, horrible night- 
mare! Perhaps this flat statement will dimly 
suggest the tragic difference between the way 
some of us are brought up to live and the way 
that most of us apparently must live. 

But it is all so ridiculous ! 

People do not have to live like that. There 
is no inexorable law to which they must con- 
form. There is enough and more than enough 
to go 'round. The whole population of the 
world could live in the State of Texas and give 
half an acre to a family. The whole world could 
be fed on Canadian wheat-fields alone. The 
earth is groaning with the good things of life 
waiting, yearning to give them to us. Only we 
do not understand how to distribute them. 
To him that hath, we satiate the more, and to 

82 



The Groom's Story 

him that hath not, we continually take away, 
and the result lies smouldering there in Roch- 
ester. 

When are the intelligent educated people of 
this country going to cease sermonizing about 
the unworthiness of the lower classes, cease 
burying their heads in the sands of charity and 
relief work, and sit down like rational human 
beings and help the poor to think their way out 
of this idiotic breakdown in the machinery of 
distribution? Some of them, fortunately, have 
made a beginning. Henry George was one of 
the pioneers. If we had the Single Tax in full 
operation to-day, in twenty years I believe that 
there would not be such a thing as a problem 
of poverty remaining in America ! 

We said good-bye to our friends (our land- 
lady wept), and half sorrowfully, half gladly, 
boarded the train that was to carry us back 
to the old ordered way of living. We sat quite 
silently in the coach watching the remembered 
streets and squares and buildings flash into 

83 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

view and fade into the distance of what was to 
be only a half-exhilarating, half-tragic memory. 

Suddenly Margaret looked away from the 
fading city and met my eyes. I remember so 
well the earnestness of the question that came 
from her: 

" Do you think we can ever make them under- 
stand all this?" 

"We'll try," I said. 

And we have. 



Part II 
The Bride's Story 



Part II The Bride's Story 

I BELIEVE that the most significant and 
the most impersonal moment in my life 
occurred some three years ago, when a state- 
ment of cold statistical fact quietly intruded 
upon my rather conventional, and decidedly 
comfortable, view of life. The fact was this: 
Ninety-two per cent of the women in the 
United States do their own housework. Only 
eight per cent of them are financially able to 
employ servants! 

The atmosphere in which I had lived, visited, 
and done my thinking, represented less than 
ten per cent of the national point of view! To 
be sure, I had often been told that half the 
world does not know how the other half lives. 
But to have one "half" jump to ninety-two 
per cent and the other half dwindle to eight per 
cent! Gradually there crept into my startled 
consciousness, driving, insistent voices. The 
Average Family wage in America is six hundred 

87 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

dollars. You spend that amount on your mere 
personal wants. Sixty per cent of the wealth in 
your United States is owned by two per cent 
of the people. There are always a million men 
out of employment in your prosperous country 
often more For the first time in my life 
I began to think. 

Now, the Bride's story is not so very different 
from the Groom's story. Mostly it was an 
experience of glorious comradeship and equal- 
ity. But there are situations in which the eight 
or nine million working-women find themselves 
which do not always exist for their brother 
workers. And it is those problems in employ- 
ment and unemployment which I wish to try 
and make a living reality, for the women (and 
men) who have been so unfortunate as to know 
life from only one angle. 

TRAMPING THE STREETS 

I had always rather pitied the women who 
had not known the protection of a father, or 

88 



The Bride's Story 

a husband, or an income. And in shopping I 
had been vaguely uncomfortable at the marked 
abyss between my leisured buying and the 
often tired and listless selling on the part of the 
girl across the counter. Sometimes, as I waited 
for a package, and heard her mechanically an- 
swering her next customer, 

"No, ma'am they're not guaranteed color 
fast," 

"Three aisles down on the left," 
I used to try to imagine myself facing the 
monotony of it, six days a week, fifty weeks 
a year, for the reward of six or possibly eight 
dollars a week. My imagination had never been 
able to encompass the relentless necessity of 
it I simply could not conceive myself facing 
that dull sameness day in, day out, year in, 
year out. Meanwhile the greater tragedy of 
desperately needing, but not procuring the op- 
portunity, to work, had not occurred to me. 

I remember so well our first morning at the 
boarding-house breakfast table. We opened the 

89 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

daily paper and turned immediately to the 
"Help Wanted" column. When we heard our 
landlady's steps approaching, we rustled hastily 
to the war news. We were ashamed to be 
caught looking for work! By surreptitious 
peeping, however, I found an advertisement 
inserted by a paper-box company. "Girls 
Wanted" and I took down the address, de- 
termined to make this my first application. 

I was a little breathless when I said good-bye 
to Stuart, but my hopes ran high. I made my 
way across the park with its burdened benches, 
and so on to Main Street. A fat and kindly 
policeman directed me to one of the more dingy 
side streets. I walked between innumerable 
workshops and factories, and only came to my 
number when I had reached the very end of 
the street. I kept wondering whether the peo- 
ple I passed knew that I was going to get a job 
in a paper-box factory! It seemed as though 
my whole being flamed with the information ! 

I passed before a dim and ancient door with 

90 



The Bride's Story 

a sign over it from which two letters were miss- 
ing. I paused and stared at the number. That 
first entrance took courage! I started up the 
winding wooden stairs which led to some still 
more narrow and creaking, and those to an 
even more fire-trap flight ending in the Paper- 
Box Factory. I entered the work-littered quar- 
ters, a chaos of glue and boxes and scurrying 
women. At first no one seemed to notice me, as 
I stood waiting, apologetically. Then a brisk, 
sandy-haired man, evidently in authority, ap- 
proached, and I ventured to tell him that I had 
come in answer to an advertisement in the 
paper. 

"Have you ever worked in a box factory 
before?" 

"No, I have n't, but " 

"Nothin' doin'" he turned away. 

"But I " I was talking to a vanishing 
back, and exit was the only cue. By the time I 
reached the street, philosophy had restored my 
courage, and I boldly entered two other box 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

factories on my way back to Main Street. In 
each I was told briefly that no help was needed, 
and for a few blocks I allowed myself to feel 
that I had done my job-seeking duty for the day. 
After a little more trudging and silent argu- 
ment, however, I entered a laundry office ; only 
to be turned away when I admitted that I had 
done merely "private washing." Then I 
bearded the manager of a spectacle factory in 
his den an office fairly bristling with effi- 
ciency and found that all dens are not in- 
habited by lions. He was a very pleasant per- 
son, and hospitable enough to assure me that 
it was "very dull times." I can still remember 
my gratitude for that little personal overture. 
But now the excitement and novelty of my 
situation were beginning to wear off, and I was 
feeling a little weary under the pressure of my 
effort. The term "sheltered woman" was be- 
ginning to signify new and unsuspected things, 
but I shunned its appeal and forced myself on. 
When at last I met Stuart at the appointed 

92 



The Bride's Story 

restaurant for luncheon, I had several other 
adventures to describe to him, visits to a dirty 
grocery store, duett's attractive factory, and 
a cheap clothing store: all to the rhythm and 
dawning realization of the meaning of those 
words "Tramping the streets." I was al- 
most too tired to eat. 

In the next two weeks I was to apply for 
ninety-two positions, covering everything from 
floor-scrubbing to clerical work in offices. For 
instance I answered an advertisement inserted 
by a cutlery factory one morning, with the fol- 
lowing success : 

"I am answering your advertisement in the 
paper." 

"You should have been here an hour ago. 
The places were all taken at six-thirty." 

The next morning I saw the same advertise- 
ment, and supposing that more girls were 
needed I spent another ten cents for car fare. 

"Are all the places filled, which you adver- 
tised in this morning's paper?" 

93 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Yes, they were all filled yesterday, but we 
always run the 'ad* three days!" 

I answered one laundry advertisement at six 
o'clock in the morning, and received the in- 
formation that they had decided not to take the 
names until the next day. The gruff manner 
of the boss made me quite determined to inves- 
tigate further, and the next morning I forced 
myself out of bed at five o'clock into the rain 
and out again to the laundry six miles away. 

"I've come again to answer yesterday's ad- 



vertisement." 



"Well, I filled the places yesterday don't 
need any more of you now." 

That twenty-cent car fare and those two 
wasted mornings did not mean to me food, or 
clothing, or rent. But they meant, nevertheless, 
a very real resentment, and a new glimpse up 
the road of social unrest. 

Of the employers with whom I came in con- 
tact, perhaps their axiom was summed up for 
me by the manager of a moving-picture show. 

94 



The Bride's Story 

He was very portly, very suave, and very, very, 
wise. As we sat in his unkept little office, he 
eyed me knowingly, and I can see now the 
amused smile which amplified the fat creases 
in his face when I told him that, because of my 
musical education, I thought I should be worth 
ten dollars a week as accompanist. His answer 
was terse: 

"It is n't a question of what you are worth. 
It's a question of how much you'll work 
for." 

I give this phrase without comment as an 
answer to certain modern employers who in- 
sist that they always pay their help what they 
are worth. 

My unemployment lasted for two weeks, al- 
though there were in that time several jobs 
which I might have had, had they not pre- 
cluded themselves for my particular situation. 
For instance, I could have been "help girl" in 
a bakery. Its foulness, its fly-covered wares, its 
suffocating stuffiness are still indelibly photo- 

95 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

graphed on my mind. And the greasy, perspir- 
ing woman in charge the incredible dirtiness 
of the apron she wore ! 

"How much do you pay?" I asked. 

"Five a week." 

"Are the hours long?" 

"Seven in the mornin' till seven at night." 

"Saturdays, too?" I inquired meekly, almost 
apologetically. 

"Saturdays and Sundays. This is a bakery, 
not a pleasure reesort." 

I came away gasping. 

I could have been an accompanist for a trav- 
eling circus troupe, who lived under canvas 
during the country-fair circuit and offered me 
eight dollars a week. 

"You gotta play all day two days a week. 
The rest of it ain't so bad." 

I feel that I ought to make it clear at this 
point that my contact with employers was for 
the most part in smaller and less well-known 
concerns. In Sibley, Lindsay & Curr's, for in- 

96 



The Bride s Story 

stance, they were discharging rather than em- 
ploying help and all that I was able to do 
there was to make out an application blank. 
At Eastman's Kodak Factory it was the same 
story. But I did have there a pleasant inter- 
view with the shrewd and capable business 
woman who engages the hundreds of women 
employed every year in that gigantic, well- 
lighted plant. I went to her, recommended by 
a personal friend of hers, a doctor, with whom 
I had become acquainted, and received a most 
distinct impression of a firm giving fair treat- 
ment to its employees. To my disappointment, 
however, I was unable to talk with any of the 
employees themselves. 

In the daily round of interminable applica- 
tions, the few opportunities available did not 
seem very important, or very encouraging. 
Mostly my interviews ran like this : 

"I Ve come to answer your advertisement for 
packing shoes in boxes." 

"Ever done it before?" 

97 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"No, but I know how to use my head and 
keep it." 

"We want experienced help/' 

"I could learn very quickly, and perhaps 
soon do better than '' 

In all the countless times I made that plea 
for mental capacity, only one employer ever 
seemed to consider the possibility of inexperi- 
enced hands, with brains, becoming shortly 
more efficient than experienced hands with less 
brains. Constantly I felt that what the em- 
ployer wanted was not brains, not potential 
skill, but a human machine who would do 
the work at less than a living wage. 

If only I might convey, to those who have 
never experienced it, one thousandth part of 
the utter weariness, the discouragement, the 
sense of worthlessness which comes with this 
unsuccessful "Tramping the streets." Here 
was I, not dependent for subsistence on the 
outcome of my search, yet victim to a sense 
of beaten, subdued futility, a sense of inferior- 

98 



The Bride's Story 

ity, of uselessness in the whole industrial world. 
I had not realized how completely my self-confi- 
dence had been submerged, until one day I did 
what I must always do in any city I went to 
the Suffrage Headquarters. There I offered my 
services while I was out of work, and I was sent 
to speak at a meeting outside of Rochester. 
For the first time in ten days or more, I was no 
longer a nonentity I was again a personality 
with something in me which I could give out 
to other people. I cannot even suggest the re- 
lief which came to me. 

. Is it any wonder that after weeks and months 
of discouragement, the "unemployed's" pride 
and initiative are killed ? That the unemployed 
becomes unemployable ? 

"If a man gets out of work, he goes 'round 
getting shabbier and shabbier, until people say 
he 's a bum, and he can't get back," so one of 
my subsequent fellow employees summed it up. 
A vicious circle: unemployment breeding shab- 
biness, shabbiness breeding unemployment. 

99 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

IN THE EMPLOYMENT OFFICES 

I went faithfully to the various private em- 
ployment offices, and, with one exception, re- 
ceived decidedly questionable treatment. The 
bureau I visited most often gave me, upon the 
deposit of a dollar, three cards to situations 
which had already been filled when I applied 
for them. I called at the office ten consecutive 
days (having left the boarding-house telephone 
number the first day), and at the end of that 
time I asked for my dollar back, according to 
the agreement, when no position was obtained. 
To my astonishment the woman in charge re- 
plied : 

"You remember that first restaurant I gave 
you a card to?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, they telephoned me right afterward 
that you refused to take the job." 

"You know that's not true," I challenged. 

She shifted her attack. 

100 



The Bride's Story 

"Well, anyway, I've done fifty cents' worth 
of advertising for you." 

"Where have you advertised?" 

"In the papers," fiercely. 

"In what paper?" I insisted. 

" In the papers, I tell you." 

I observed that I had seen no such adver- 
tisement, and I had watched closely every day. 
And then she turned on me : 

"See here, I'm not going to be questioned 
by the like of you. You can take fifty cents or 
nothing at all, and you can take it now and get 
out. . . . Give me that receipt." 

" But this receipt is for one dollar." 

"Give it to me or you won't get even fifty 
cents, and I will have you put out in a minute." 

Trembling with anger I gave her the dollar 
receipt. I was too enraged to think of anything 
else to do. Angry as I was at the individual in- 
justice, my real and abiding anger has been for 
the helpless job-seekers whom that trick has 
deprived of the actual necessities of life. 

101 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

At another employment office I found that 
the far from irreproachable person in charge 
made a practice of extorting two or three dol- 
lars from both employee and the employer 
when she filled a position. Not a moderate 
charge, but at least a frank procedure. Usu- 
ally her next step, however, was to inform the 
maid who had filled the position for a week 
or more that a very much better position was 
now open to her. By dint of which Mrs. Bohn 
received another fee from the maid, and an- 
other pair of fees in refilling the first position. 

I can see rows and rows of those victims now 
those job-seekers their hopeless, discour- 
aged, subdued faces. And I can hear the trem- 
bling voice of one old man, not a day under 
seventy-five years of age, as he held out his 
emaciated hands to the office manager 

"Can't you give me something to do? Any- 
thing, I '11 do anything." 



102 



The Bride's Story 

SECOND-MAID INTERVIEWS 

For a time I applied for second-maid posi- 
tions, and could have had two of these or any 
number of general housework places. I wished 
to learn, at first hand, the attitude of women 
who employ servants toward those servants. I 
confined myself to interviews only, for I felt 
that I should not be justified in making my 
would-be employer show me her ways for the 
very limited time I could serve her. 

The most fair-and-square and really delight- 
ful treatment which I received in an interview 
was in a Jewish household one of the posi- 
tions I might have had. The daughter of the 
house answered the bell when I rang. 

"I saw an advertisement for second maid in 
this morning's paper," I said, a bit tremulously. 

"Oh, yes- - Mother," she called, "there's a 
young lady here to see you." 

A pleasant-faced, genial woman came into 
the room. 

103 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"How do you do don't stand, please. 
Have you walked way out here?" 

"No, I took a car, ma'am." 

"And have you done second work be- 
fore?" 

I handed her my shameless self-written rec- 
ommendation. 

"That 's a very nice recommendation , Mar- 
garet; and now I want to tell you about our 
household." 

She sketched a very normal and not unrea- 
sonable plan of work, adding that she paid five 
dollars a week. 

Clearly I could not have inconvenienced such 
a frank and charmingly democratic person, even 
had I been so determined. 

"I'm sorry," I said perspiringly, "but I 
don't feel I could work for less than six dollars 
a week." 

"I'm sorry, too, Margaret, for I should like 
to have you stay here with us. I can't pay 
more than five dollars, though, so I am afraid 

104 



The Bride's Story 

we shall have to part. Before you go would n't 
you like a glass of water, or milk it 's so 
hot?" 

Out on the street again I found myself ru- 
minating if all women treated their servants 
as she did me, there probably would n't be a 
servant problem. 

But all women do not. I really enjoyed more 
the interview with a certain handsome, steely- 
eyed woman who treated me as only an under- 
bred, overdressed person can. She asked me 
questions with that delicacy of feeling which 
the horse-trader displays in examining an ani- 
mal whose merits he doubts. 

"You're not very tall, are you ! My rooms 
are high, and the ceilings have to be cleaned 
regularly." 

: "I'm stronger, perhaps, than I look," I re- 
plied. 

I then asked about the wages and was told 
that they were five dollars a week, in view of 
which munificence, only one afternoon every 

105 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

other week was allowed "off." Apologetically 
I inquired about the second maid's room. 

"You have a room all to yourself," she said 
with a defiant stare. 

"Is it well lighted?" I asked. 

"It has n't many windows," she admitted. 

"Has it any windows?" I ventured. 

"No but you can just leave the door open 
and get plenty of air from the hall and the room 
opposite." 

Perhaps these conversations will serve as the 
two poles between which my interviews varied. 

In my experience the balance was, I try to 
think, about even, between those who met me 
on a respectful and unhumiliating ground, and 
those who frankly treated me as an inferior. 
And yet granting the fairest treatment there is 
ever that indefinable mental atmosphere, that 
perhaps unconscious admission of a stigma at- 
tached to the position of "servant." 

"Well, if girls really want to work, they can 
always get general housework. I don't under- 
let 



The Bride's Story 

stand why girls prefer to work in factories 
when they can have a good home and domestic 
work." 

How often we have heard this. 

My answer is Try both kinds yourself and 
learn why. I submit that not only would the 
factory be my preference, but it would be the 
preference of the normal woman, with the hu- 
man qualities of self-respecting independence 
and liberty, bred in our American life. There 
are comparatively few families in my personal 
range of acquaintanceship for whom I would 
willingly perform domestic service. There are 
none to whom I would give up my entire time 
with the exception of one afternoon a week, and 
to whom I would sacrifice my evenings, my 
Sundays, and my opportunity for social inter- 
course. 

Until "housework" recognizes the factors in 
industrial work, which make the latter so much 
more attractive than domestic labor as it is now 
arranged, the best workers will continue to 

107 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

sacrifice the advantages of that much empha- 
sized "good home" for the greater rights, priv- 
ileges, and freedoms of women in industry. We 
may be loath to admit this at first (and perhaps 
for some time), but come to it we must. I only 
ask that one open-mindedly consider the pres- 
ent disadvantages of housework as summed up 
by C. Helene Barker in her most helpful little 
book, "Wanted Young Woman to Help with 
Housework." How many of us have considered 
them as applied to our own individual case ? 

Enforced separation from one's family. 

Loneliness. 

Lack of promotion. 

Unlimited hours of work. 

No day of rest each week. 

Non-observance of legal holidays. 

Loss of caste. 

I do not for one moment belittle the real im- 
portance and honorable usefulness of domestic 
service, as it ought and is to be in the future. 
The solution need not be the exodus of young 

1 08 



The Bride's Story 

women permanently into the factories. The 
question is solved when to housework are ap- 
plied those business principles and privileges 
with which householders are now competing. 

Living outside place of employment. 
Housework limited to eight hours a day. 
Housework limited to six days a week. 
Extra pay for overtime. 

I realize that we are on the brink of an un- 
questionable and momentous change in the 
status, training, and treatment of domestic 
wage-earners. They will, of course, be intelli- 
gent, scientifically trained, professional women, 
as much respected and as much specialized as 
their sisters in medicine, nursing, stenography, 
and the other trades to-day open to women. 
My argument is not with domestic work per se, 
but with the mental attitude conscious or 
unconscious of the average family to-day 
employing servants. 



109 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

EMPLOYMENT 

"Say, you ain't been tellin' 'em you ain't had 
experience when you Ve been askin' for work ? " 

I nodded my head. 

"Aw, say, you'll never get experience until 
you say you've had it." 

These words of wisdom, delivered with great 
feeling by one of the talented young ladies in 
the boarding-house, opened for me the door of 
employment. 

They would not employ me because I had 
never "done it before." I decided that I was 
in Rochester to sound the industrial game. If it 
had to be played why, I should have to play 
it, that's all. 

So the next time I asked for work I was pre- 
pared for the manager's question 

"Have you ever been salesgirl before?" 

I crossed my ringers, and strove to hold in 
mind the many occasions when I had presided 
at bazaars and fairs, and answered him : 

no 



The Bride's Story 

"Yes, I have been a salesgirl in a little 
town outside of Boston." 

Fortunately for me the place was a Saturday 
job and the manager, being in need of ex- 
tras, asked for no recommendation. I went 
away with the amazing vibrating command : 

" Come at noon to-morrow." 

My First Job Salesgirl 
The following noon found me on hand at the 
Blank Five and Ten Cent Store. I was told to 
leave my things in the "Girls' Room" down- 
stairs. There in the cramped and not too clean 
quarters I hung my coat and hat, donned my 
apron, and waited my turn at the dingy mirror. 
I remember wondering why I did not feel more 
excited; and then, quite naturally, I followed 
my chattering fellow salesgirls out into the 
basement where I was to taste my first em- 
ploy eeship. The boss put me at the glassware 
counter. From twelve until ten (with one hour 
out for supper) I sold cheap, inexcusable, de- 

iii 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

grading junk. To be sure, there were many use- 
ful articles, but all over-ornate and entirely 
lacking in simplicity or artistic feeling. Cheap. 
And cheap people, mostly, came to buy. Cheap 
because their wages were, and they had never 
had any chance to know or buy anything but 
cheap goods. The rag-time which floated down 
from the other end of the store was cheap so 
was practically everything except the ventila- 
tion. That was very dear, indeed. 

I believe I have never known nine hours 
equal in length to those nine, their utter 
weariness and uninspiring monotony. To be 
sure, my initiation into the cash-register world 
was stimulating for a while ; my talks with the 
girls, in between customers, were far from dull ; 
and my amusement at the brusque superiority 
of those who came to buy helped to relieve the 
weary sameness. But all this could not coun- 
terbalance that aching tiredness of incessant 
standing. In that nine hours there were eight, 
out of perhaps one hundred and fifty customers, 

112 



The Bride's Story 

who spoke to me personally, or treated me 
otherwise than as an automaton two of 
them were men who would have been more con- 
siderate in not speaking at all. I had never be- 
fore realized the power of the customer over the 
salesgirl. Against those two men's remarks I 
was utterly helpless. 

My fellow salesgirls, however, gave me a 
quite different relationship. Their friendliness 
and their cheerfulness amazed me. They helped 
me with the cash register, they beamed upon 
me, patted me, told me about their families, 
their beaus, and (when I asked them) about 
their wages. They were getting between three 
and five dollars a week! 

The girl at the next counter, I noticed, had 
not sat down once in the five or six hours I had 
been there. I asked her if she was n't tired. 

"Oh, yes, but you get used to it. I'm so 
used to being tired I never think about it now." 

"Why don't you sit down now, while you 
can?" I asked. 

"3 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

She looked around before speaking. 

"Take this from me you don't want to be 
seen sitting down too much." 

In a moment or two the boss young, alert, 
and raucous-voiced came to my counter. 

"See here, girlie, you can't register written 
orders without my O.K., see? wha'cher do 
that for, anyway? And don't you know you 
can't leave your counter without asking me?" 

"I I only went to the wash-room," I fal- 
tered. 

"Sure, I believe you," he said, not unkindly; 
"but it don't make no difference where you go. 
You ask me, girlie. See?" 

Finally at ten, the four official bells rang for 
closing up. Our cash registers were emptied, 
our counters put in order and covered, and we 
wearily put on our things to stand in line for 
our pay. The "extras," of course, were given 
their envelopes last so I had plenty of time 
in which to review my day's sensations, as I 
stood waiting for my dollar. 

114 



The Bride's Story 

I had received two "call-downs" from my 
boss; I had learned all I cared to about base- 
ment ventilation ; I had known the futility and 
weariness of selling unbeautiful, taste-degrad- 
ing things; I had done up every conceivable 
shape and size of bundle (and had longed for 
some implement with which to cut string) ; I 
had been called "Dearie" by the floor-walker; 
I had learned all I needed to about the hours 
and wages of the girls. But best of all I had 
become genuinely fond of some of them, in our 
brief interrupted talks. I had sounded the un- 
limited reservoirs of their good-will and friend- 
liness. 

Waitress 

My second job was as waitress in a fifteen- 
and twenty-cent hash-house. One entered the 
somewhat dilapidated door into the restaurant 
itself, and ate one's meals either at one of the 
(not always inviting) tables or at the counter 
at the side of the room: that is, if one were a 
customer. But if one happened to be the wait- 

"5 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

ress, one came at six o'clock in the morning and 
stayed until two in the afternoon, when Susie, 
the other waitress, relieved her. It is not diffi- 
cult to imagine how many of the fifteen- and 
twenty-cent customers gave tips, and the 
wages were four dollars and fifty cents a week 
fifty-six hours a week, the state law fifty-four 
hours, and besides that, one was never through 
at two ! There were always the ketchup bottles 
to be filled, the salt, sugar, or coffee utensils to 
be replenished, the bread and butter to be cut 
for the following day, or the mirrors and coun- 
ter to be cleaned after hours. I think that 
the thing I most resented, however, was the 
constant interruption during one's own at- 
tempted meals. After the first meal I began to 
count interruptions, and reached a minimum 
of five, a maximum of fourteen. 

Also I did not always enjoy those meals, 
even between interruptions. The kitchen was a 
dingy little room perhaps eight by twelve feet 
opening off the restaurant; a room without 

116 



The Bride's Story 

windows, without ventilation, and without hot 
water. And there I learned many facts about 
the preparation of food in public places. I 
learned that one never throws away food merely 
because it drops on the floor; that all utilizable 
"remains" on the dishes from the restaurant 
are used again either in the same or in altered 
form. And in the realm of meat (mostly cold 
storage) well, there is an unwritten law 
against discarding any meat, no matter what 
its. condition. Soda, I found, is an entirely in- 
dispensable requisite in restaurant kitchens. 

But my waitress experiences were not all of 
this somber hue. There were two very bright 
spots in those days of "dish-slinging," Bob, 
the chef, and Cy, the dish-washer. My heart 
warmed toward Bob for the kind, helpful way 
in which he instructed me in my duties. Very 
fortunately I was assuming them on a Sunday 
an off-day for the Imperial Restaurant, so 
the demands on my capacity were not only far 
less, but it devolved upon Bob rather than upon 

117 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

the manager to give me my first instructions. 
The boss, Bob warned me, was a very difficult 
person to please, and he was likely to be rather 
abrupt and critical. But I was told that I must 
not get "fussed up" by it. 

Between Sunday customers we discussed all 
the problems of the world ; Bob told me about 
his girl, or rather girls; and Cy entertained us 
with tales of his world-wide travels. Once he 
turned to me and said : 

" Say, Margaret, suppose you was a rich 
man's daughter and never had to work. 
What'd you think it'd feel like?" 

"What makes you ask that, Cy?" For a 
second I thought he suspected me. 

"Oh, I dunno, nothin' special. Say, what 'd 
you do, if you was?" (No, he was entirely in- 
genuous.) 

" I 'd try to help the people that were n't so 
fortunate as I was, Cy. And then you see I'd 
have time to work all I wanted to for woman 
suffrage." 

118 



The Bride's Story 

The joy and unhampered freedom of those 
talks their human realness and value ! I have 
searched in vain for a social gathering of previ- 
ous years to balance them. 

On Monday the boss appeared. And al- 
though I had learned to accost each customer 
with cutlery, three slices of bread, butter, and 
an "Order, please," I had, alas, not learned to 
carry more than two large and loaded plates in 
one hand, and two "bird bathtubs" in the 
other: three was the requisite. Indeed, the first 
notice that was taken of me was when the boss 
discovered that I could only carry two. He had 
not felt called upon to answer my "Good- 
morning" at his first appearance, but he 
shouted with righteous indignation when he 
discovered my deficiencies in plate-carrying. 
The customers were not nearly so startled as I. 
For two days I struggled to keep my temper 
under the lash of his insolent superiority. 

On the third day of my service I slaved as I 
believe I had never slaved before or since, sit- 

119 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

ting down thirteen times in eight hours, five 
times during "breakfast," eight during the 
noonday meal. It was just about time for me 
to leave the insufferable heat of the little kitchen 
when the boss appeared in the doorway. 

"You ain't needed here any more," he in- 
formed me. 

Bob's "Well, I'm damned!" relieved the 
situation. 

My first impulse was to take my dismissal as 
most employees would have taken it silently. 
It is incredible that a person not dependent 
upon the wage involved one naturally in- 
dependent should have been as intimidated 
as I was by that overbearing misuse of em- 
ployer's power. And yet it was only by a 
supreme effort that I forced my sense of justice 
to overcome my sense of intimidation. In those 
few tense seconds I realized how helpless the 
average wage-dependent employee must feel 
against that employer's power. 

I fought against it enough to ask why I was 

1 20 



The Bride's Story 

being dismissed. Quite evidently such a ques- 
tion had never before been put to him, and 
there was an amazed instant before he turned 
back into the restaurant. I followed him there 
and reinsisted : 

" I would like to know why my work is unsat- 
isfactory." 

He retreated into the kitchen I in digni- 
fied, if determined, pursuit. Again he took 
refuge in the restaurant, and there, finally 
cornered, he turned on me fiercely: 

"You ain't no good, you ain't experienced, 
and I could n't learn you." 

I started to remove my apron and replied: 

"No, I don't believe you could learn me, 
or rather I should say, teach me, because I feel 
that I could be taught only by a person of good 
breeding. Good-afternoon." 

Rag-Time Clerk 

"Wanted Girl to play piano." 

I copied down the address, and within an 

121 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

hour I was sight-reading for the manager of 
another of Rochester's five and ten cent stores. 
Rag-time is not my forte, but it was even less 
that of the frightened girls who floundered over 
the keyboard before my turn came. 

" I want some one to play for me on trial to- 
day," he said, nodding as I played. 

It was Saturday, my lucky day. 

I was inserted on a little platform between its 
protecting brass rail and the piano, with barely 
enough room in which to operate. And I was 
expected to pound, bang, and thump rag-time 
from eight-thirty until six, with a ten per cent 
commission on all music which I sold as a result 
of said pounding, banging, and thumping. 
That was if I made good. Fortunately for me, 
as a Saturday "try-out" I was to receive a flat 
one dollar, and found myself at six o'clock with 
but three dollars' worth of sales, and a conse- 
quent " seventy cents to the good." I did not 
feel the seventy cents unearned. 

On the contrary, I left that store with the 

122 



The Bride's Story 

shattered feelings of the mother of a delicately 
nurtured child, who has been paid to watch her 
child beaten into insensibility. Not only had I 
been asked to play as loud as possible "to get 
customers in off the street." Not only had I 
been told, "Don't push the new things which 
sell, anyway; play the old stuff that don't go. 
Get it out of stock." But all this I had to do in 
competition with a phonograph playing thun- 
derous records at the other end of the store ! 

There had, however, been one compensation. 
A brilliant and benevolent idea had seized me. 
For several years I have been interested in 
Music Settlements, as the means of giving to 
people who could not otherwise have lessons, 
high-rate music at low prices. It seems to me 
that one of America's greatest needs is more 
music. It is the one universal language for all 
races and all kinds of people. Here, then, was 
an opportunity to attempt a little musical uplift 
upon my working-girl associates a little sur- 
reptitious Music Settlement Work. I watched 

123 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

my chance when the manager was at the other 
end of the store, and I began playing, in my 
most rag-time touch, the Soldiers' March from 
"Carmen." I was feeling quite helpful and 
quite virtuous, indeed, when suddenly I heard 
a voice from a near-by counter: 

"Aw, say, would you mind playing 'Did You 
Ever Hear of Anybody Dying from a Kiss' ..." 

There had never been a Music Settlement for 
her. 

As for my boss, he reminded me that I was 
there to sell what they had in the store. " Clas- 
sical stuff's too expensive and too much 
bother." At the end of my day of musical 
prostitution the following conversation ensued : 

"It's no use, Mr. Sanford, I can't stand rag- 
time all day long." 

"No, I guess you've been used to playing a 
little different, a little well " reluctantly 
"a little better kind of music." 

"Yes," I replied; "the last place I worked I 
did n't play rag-time." 

124 



The Bride's Story 

"No, you ain't got the rag-time touch." 
I thanked him, assuring him that a "rag-time 
touch" was no touch at all. With that I de- 
parted, both of us mutually satisfied: he that 
the future might hold for him some one who 
could make more noise; I with the knowledge 
that his girls received between three and five 
dollars a week, and that Music Settlements 
were more necessary than ever! 

The Chemical Shop 

My fourth job was in a chemical shop where 
I found the one exception to the employers with 
whom I came in contact. I found an employer 
who did not superimpose upon me the feeling 
of his superiority and power. I could not ask 
for a nicer relationship than Mr. Borden gave 
me. To be sure, I received only five dollars a 
week, but, on the other hand, our weekly hours 
were six and a quarter less than the fifty-four 
hour law. 

I sat, or stood, at one of the long tables in the 

125 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

packing-room, weighing and measuring pills, 
bottling them, labeling and sealing the bottles. 
Sometimes I filled bottles from huge vats of 
liquid compounds, and then corked them, la- 
beled, boxed and re-boxed them. There was 
only one other person in the packing depart- 
ment, a reserved, sallow, listless girl whose 
weariness I began to understand after one day 
of chemical fumes. The odors from the labora- 
tory and the fine dust from the pills we handled, 
resulted for me in a headache most of the 
time I worked. I realized at least one of the 
causes for that almost universal tired-eyed fa- 
tigue of factory girls. Very seldom does one 
meet an efficiently healthful woman who has 
been long addicted to factory work. 

And yet that job could hardly be called fac- 
tory employment. The room was a large, spa- 
cious one, and except for the disadvantages of 
the work itself was a fairly pleasant place in 
which to labor. Then there was the delightful 
informality of Mr. Borden's comings and goings, 

126 



The Bride's Story 

such as would be impossible, of course, in any 
except very small industrial concerns. 

The Cravat Factory 

The contrast between Mr. Borden and my 
next employer was extreme. I applied, a few 
days later, at a cravat factory in answer to an 
advertisement I had seen in the newspaper. 

"Wanted Bright young girl." 

I was interviewed by a huge, burly, bear-like 
man the kind of boss one reads about in 
books. He chewed an enormous cigar, expec- 
torated with extraordinary regularity and effi- 
ciency: in short, he was not a person one cared 
to know intimately. And yet I must give him 
credit for being the one employer who in my 
interviews seemed to take notice of my stock 
phrase, "I know how to use my head and keep 
it." I did not arrive that morning until seven 
o'clock, so the position advertised had already 
been taken and he was about to turn away 
when that phrase arrested him. 

127 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Can you write?" he demanded. 

"I'm willing to show you my handwriting," 
I said. 

He gave me paper and pencil, and watched 
me as I wrote. I waited for him to speak, but 
he seemed lost in the reflective joys of chewing 
his cigar. Finally he mused : 

"Well, I was n't thinking of this job this 
morning, but if you want to make out checks 
I '11 let you have it to-day." 

"What would the pay be?" I ventured. 

He looked at me appraisingly. 

" Six dollars a week." 

"And what are the hours?" I managed to 
ask. 

"Seven-thirty in the morning until six at 
night. An hour out for lunch." 

I cannot express how difficult it was for me 
to ask even those entirely just and pertinent 
questions. Contrary to every instinct in me, I 
found myself forced to a sense of humility, of 
subdued appeal, with an overpowering feeling 

128 



The Bride's Story 

that to ask for more than was offered was to 
lose what was offered. I shook myself out of 
the insistent psychology and inquired : 

"That's not very much pay, is it, for such 
long hours?" 

"You can take it, or leave it." 

I took it. 

At seven-thirty Mary, my more immediate 
boss, arrived, a typically weary example of 
"the woman who toils," her buoyancy and her 
vitality gone, become by the nature and reason 
. of her work an automatic, monotoned machine. 
We left our hats and coats in a little cupboard, 
at the end of the big cutting-room where we 
were to work, and Mary listlessly directed me 
to a high wall-desk near the stock-tables. I 
perched myself upon one of the tall stools in 
front of a formidable pile of papers, and felt 
very clerical, indeed. I was, I found, to make 
out recording checks from the salesmen's sheets, 
for the cutter, the band-stitcher, the operator, 
the labeler, the boxer, and the finisher. In 

129 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

brief, I was the connecting link between the 
selling and the producing end of the business. 
To be sure, I was merely an automatic cog in 
the machine, but "automatic" does not mean 
that work is not concentrated and wearing, I 
was to find. One slip in a figure or a number 
might mean a dozen or a gross of neckties cut 
wrong, and also a generous cut in one's salary. 
It was a relentless sort of a job, mechanically 
responsible, but uninteresting, uninspiring. 

Yet indistinct, illegible, and bewildering as 
were those salesman sheets, they were as 
charted maps when compared with the indis- 
tinctness and confusion of the manner in which 
Mary explained the system to me. She thought 
of and told me things quite casually, quite un- 
enlighteningly, with an astounding disre- 
gard of the intimate connection between causes 
and effects. In consequence I was forced to ask 
innumerable questions, which she answered in 
a manner plainly inquiring, "Don't you even 
know that without asking?" Mary was be- 

130 



The Bride's Story 

coming a martyr. I began to hesitate to make 
inquiries, with resultant mistakes, which Mary 
handled somewhat after this fashion, for the 
benefit of the rest of the room : 

"Say, Margaret, you did n't put down that 
this was a special order." 

"How would I know that it was special?" 
I asked. 

"By the color of the order sheet," laconi- 
cally an item Mary had neglected to men- 
tion to begin with. 

A moment later: 

"And here youVe got order I375A instead 
ofi 57 5A." 

I went over to investigate. 

"That salesman's order certainly looks like 
1375 to me, Mary." 

"Yes, but we have n't got a style 1375," she 
added, with an air of triumphant finality. 

When the lunch hour arrived, I was given a 
card with my name, address, and department 
registered, and this I inserted into the time- 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

clock which records one's arrival and departure 
morning, noon, and evening. We streamed out 
into the glaring noonday sun, and I found my- 
self beside one of the girls who worked in the 
cutting department. 

"It's even hotter out than it was in there, 
is n't it?" she offered. 

"That's saying a good deal," I said. 

"T ain't as bad as it has been, though." 

"Have you been working there long?" I 
asked as we walked along. 

"No; I'm not there a week yet. Don't even 
know yet how much I 'm going to get." 

"What do you mean?" I inquired. 

"Why, none of us that was hired last week 
could get the boss to say how much he'd pay 
us. And we all wanted work so bad we just 
took the jobs and we won't know till Saturday. 
I hope it'll be enough to pay my board." 

She turned in at a dilapidated boarding- 
house. 

"See you later," she nodded. 

132 



The Bride's Story 

For two days I stuck to the nervous con- 
centration and automatic responsibility of my 
" clerical " work. But owing to the contrariness 
of Mary and the weather combined, I felt that 
I was perhaps taking more out of myself than 
was consistent with our vow against health 
sacrifice. I went to my boss a little appre- 
hensively. 

"Mr. Goldstein, I'm sorry, but I can't stand 
the strain of that work from seven-thirty in 
the morning until six at night. I have to get 
my own breakfast before I come, and my sup- 
per when I get home, and then I 'm doing 
my own laundry," I added apologetically. 

"Those are our hours," he replied gruffly, 
"and I guess we can't change 'em for you." 

"I'm not asking you to, Mr. Goldstein, 
I'm just telling you I can't stand them." 

He grunted a "sorry" the enormity of 
which admission encouraged me to proceed. 

"Mr. Goldstein," I faltered. 

He lit his cigar. 

133 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Mr. Goldstein," I plunged in again, "I 
think in doing that work that I've earned a 
living. And yet you're paying me six dollars, 
and that's two dollars a week less than the 
Minimum Wage Commissions say is the very 
least a girl can live on!" 

He consigned the commissions to a place I 
shall not mention here. 

"Commission or no commission, those are the 
wages we pay. We pay what a girl is worth." 

"You mean what the people on top who want 
to make their fortunes say she's worth," I re- 
torted. 

"Why, I was n't getting but six dollars a 
week, a few years ago, myself," he said. 

I fear that I was not duly impressed with the 
finality of his argument. I seized the opening. 

"Well, for that very reason, don't you want 
to help make it easier for the rest of us and 
for the people that come after you ? " 

He did n't have time for "them social prob- 
lems." 

134 



The Bride's Story 

" But why not make it an individual prob- 
lem ? Here *s your chance to give all these people 
a square deal." He seemed dazed. 

I went on, now, quite relentlessly: 

"Mr. Goldstein, they've just passed a law in 
Oregon saying that no female employee shall 
receive less than $8.25 a week. Now, what do 
you think of that law?" 

He showed his versatile knowledge of New 
York legislation by inquiring: 

"Have we got that law here in New York?" 

And there was my opportunity! 

"Good Heavens, no have we equal suf- 
frage in New York?" 

"No, and it will be a damn long time before 
we will have it!" 

I agreed that we have against us the liquor, 
the vice, and the propertied interests, and that 
those are, indeed, strong in New York. 

The woman suffrage interlude more or less 
closed our impersonal conversation, but as we 
walked away from the factory, he told me con- 

135 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

siderable of his personal hard luck, the falsity 
of his very best friend, his consequent financial 
failure and struggles: all with a dogged sense of 
his individual misfortune, but with no realiza- 
tion of the necessity of cooperative rather than 
competitive effort ; no glimpse of the need for 
banding together with other unfortunates. 
Unintelligent though he was, smoking, expecto- 
rating, for all that, as I said good-bye to him I 
had a strong, warm feeling of sympathy and 
liking for his great, rough, uncouth personal- 
ity. Perhaps if he had had a chance 

Piano-Play er at the "Movies" 
My last job was as piano-player in a moving- 
picture show, for one endless, excruciating, 
terrible day. Of course, much of the wear and 
tear for me sprang from the fact that I had 
never done it before, and I had to play as if I 
had ! But aside from the extenuating character 
of my personal dilemma, there is an undoubted 
strain in the work of the moving-picture ac- 

136 



The Bride's Story 

companist. My piano was directly under the 
glaring, ever-changing picture-screen my 
head was tilted back at an angle of forty-five 
degrees; but hardest of all I think were the 
dizzying new demands made upon my eye- 
sight. 

The drummer boy put my impressions into 
words for me in between reels. 

" Pretty tough on your eyes," he observed. 

"It is rather, is n't it?" I agreed. 

"The last girl was here three years she 
just left last week, and she's just about blind. 
Got nervous prostration, too. Too bad," he 
nodded; "she was supportin' herself and her 
mother." 

It was time for us to play again. But as I 
thumped away, first in march time, next in 
waltz, and then in chords of tragedy, there 
drummed in the back of my mind the relentless 
rhythm of "Three years, nearly blind, health 
gone, no support." That night, weary in mind, 
body, spirit, and eyes, I sought the manager, 

137 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

after the performance. He made no move to 
pay me. 

"I came for my pay," I suggested. 

"Oh, you want to be paid, do you?" 

"Yes," I said. 

Without a word, he gave me one dollar, 
turned to his companion and went on talking. 
... A silent dismissal and a new sympathy 
for my predecessor. 

Her job had been "specialist" work. Not 
only is it precluded to all people who do not 
play the piano, but to all who cannot improvise 
and transpose with sufficient rapidity to break 
into the " Star Spangled Banner," when Presi- 
dent Wilson jerks across the screen, and in the 
next breath to greet the Kaiser with " Die Wacht 
am Rhein." For three years she had performed 
this specialized work, from ten in the morning 
until ten-thirty or eleven at night with one 
hour out for both meals. Seventy-two hours a 
week! Her reward had been nervous prostration, 
partial blindness, and seven dollars a week ! 

138 



The Bride's Story 

Summary of Employment Campaign 

Jobs applied for In person By letter 

Paper-box companies 3 

Laundries 4 

Cravat factory 2 

Spectacle factory I 

Cutlery factory I 

Shoe factory 3 

Kodak factory 2 

Chemical factory I 

Ketchup factory I 

Perfumery factory I 

Bakery 3 

Five- and ten-cent stores .... 4 

Grocery stores 3 

Department stores 4 

Clothes store 2 

Moving-picture company.. . . I 

Theatrical agency 2 

Waitress 7 3 

Piano accompanist (moving- 
picture shows, etc.) 13 2 

Shoe packing 2 

Hat trimming I 

Floor-scrubbing 2 

Chorus girl 2 

Second maid 9 3 

Salesmanship 4 I 

Clerical 4 i 

80 12 
139 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

At last I had swung into the field of employ- 
ment. By displaying a certain amount of nerve 
and ingenuity I found that I could get work 
from time to time. I had to get up early. I 
had to be persistent. Sometimes I had to be not 
altogether truthful. But I found that a woman 
could get work of sorts. Meanwhile Stuart 
was having a terrible time securing any sort of a 
chance to work. Unquestionably it is easier for 
a woman to get a job than it is for a man. The 
reason is very simple. There are in industry 
considerable numbers of women who do not 
have to live on what they earn. They are able 
to accept less than a living wage, and their sis- 
ters are consequently forced to. A man usually 
must be paid enough to keep alive upon. Hence 
the demand for women, particularly in the un- 
skilled trades, is very much greater than for men. 

"Besides," we hear it argued, "many of 
these industries could not exist if they paid a 
living wage. And then a great many of the girls 
live at home anyway/* 

140 



The Bride's Story 

Suppose a girl does live at home, is that any 
reason that her family should subsidize her em- 
ployer by paying the difference between what 
she earns and what it costs her to live ? On the 
contrary, no business which cannot pay a living 
wage to its employees has any moral right to 
exist. Every human being born into the world 
has a right to live has a right to a living, pro- 
vided he or she works. 

THE WHITE-SLAVE PROBLEM 

No one who has read Kaufman's "House of 
Bondage " can wonder at the number of girls 
who finally drift into an immoral life, after their 
disheartening struggle against an insufficient 
wage and the inducements to a more remunera- 
tive life so constantly proffered to them. While 
I was at the Imperial Restaurant I came into 
personal contact with that lurking danger 
which awaits the working-girl. 

I was punching a customer's ticket one day, 
and heard him ask quietly, - 

141 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

"Do you know any young lady that vants 
vork?" 

"No, I don't happen to," I replied. 

"Good vages, nine dollars a week, pouring 
perfumery into bottles." 

"Nine dollars a week? Why, I only get 
four dollars and fifty cents here." 

"Vould n't you like the place yourself?" he 
suggested. 

"Oh, no, it would n't be square. I've just 
come here and I could n't do that." 

"Veil, think it over. Come and see me this 
afternoon," he urged, handing me a piece of 
paper from his wallet. 

I saw that he had given me his name and ad- 
dress, and I put the paper in my apron pocket. 
Later, I went out into the kitchen and said to 
Bob, 

"Say, Bob, I had a sort of funny offer just 
now. A man offered me nine dollars a week 
pouring perfumery into bottles." 

Bob's excitement was colossal. 

142 



The Bride's Story 

"That's where I seen that man before," he 
exploded; "that's where! Say, girlie, I used 
to keep a restaurant in Syracuse and that man 
used to come and make dates with all my girls. 
Used to give 'em little nickel knives shaped 
like boots Well, I guess we had him looked 
up and he was a nice kind of a man, he was! 
We got him arrested outside the restaurant door 
and he got t'ree years Say, that's where I 
seen him before!" 

I was rather excited myself, and I said, 
"He'd be a good sort of a person to investi- 
gate, would n't he, Bob?" 

"M yes, if you take your husband along." 
That afternoon, Stuart and I, after due con- 
sideration, made our way to the address which 
had been given me. We found ourselves on a 
narrow side street, in the most dilapidated part 
of town, gazing at a rambling, shabby house, 
whose piazza steps gave ominously under our 
cautious footsteps. Guardedly we rang the 
doorbell. The man himself opened the door! 

H3 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

Evidently he was in alliance with the landlady. 
His expression, when he saw me with a male 
escort, was worthy of C. D. Gibson, but he 
played his part shrewdly and ushered us into 
his "reception-room." The furniture included 
a bed, bureau, some chairs, and a table. With 
a gesture he designated a very specious and 
dubious-looking array of perfumery bottles, 
arranged on the table, an array quite evidently 
gathered from a near-by drug store. There was 
no sign of vats from which perfumery might be 
poured, no hall-marks of a workshop. Very 
suavely and very profusely our host asked us to 
sit down, and I noticed that the hair around his 
temples he did not take off his hat was 
closely shaven. He talked as rapidly as it is 
possible for a human being to talk sketching 
out a very plausible explanation of the perfum- 
ery business which he was trying to establish 
in various cities. 

"The last place I put it through vas in Syra- 
cuse," he said, "and now I vant two young 

144 



The Bride's Story 

girls with heads, vhile I make a business in 
Rochester." 

He turned to Stuart. 

" I vant to tell you, young man, the minute 
I saw your vife I knew she had a head. I have 
been in many restaurants, but I have never seen 
any von who can sling the dishes the vay she 
can. And you vhen you have not got vork, 
and you vant to come here and read your news- 
paper, it vas all right sure." 

He hardly seemed to stop for breath, so eager 
was he. 

"Of course, vhen ve start to vork these furni- 
ture vas taken out into the next room and this 
vill be made like an office. All these things vill 
be taken out," he repeated. 

It was finally arranged that he should appear 
at the restaurant the next day, and if I wanted 
the job, I should say "Yes," if not, "No." At 
this point he offered to let us smell his perfum- 
ery, and there we feel we made a false step. 
Fearing the possible consequences, we refused, 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

and, of course, must have put him on his guard 
if he had not been already suspicious. His 
manner when we started to go was not at all 
regretful, but was distinctly evasive when I in- 
quired about some nickel knives which I sud- 
denly noticed on the table. 

"Oh, just little souvenirs what ve give our 
customers," he said. 

It was an oddly shaped knife, and, we 
thought to ourselves, easily describable by the 
excited Bob's "boot-shaped"! 

Outside on the sidewalk again, we compared 
suspicions, and after a few minutes' walk and 
consultation we decided to go to police head- 
quarters. But as we mounted the stone steps, 
we stopped short. 

" Suppose they should ask us who we are ! " 

"Well, we've certainly got to report this 
man, whatever happens," said Stuart. 

So we went in. 

We told our story to a much interested offi- 
cial, who waited until we had finished, and then 

146 



The Bride s Story 

told us that the detective we wanted was up- 
stairs. At last we were ushered to the appro- 
priately important person. 

That gentleman neither removed his hat from 
his head, his cigar from his mouth, nor his feet 
from his desk. He seemed not only uninter- 
ested in our tale, but distinctly suspicious and 
skeptical of us. In spite of it we told our story 
and his manner gradually changed. To our 
surprise, however, his interest seemed to be in 
us, rather than in the "case." He thought it 
too bad that a nice girl like me could not earn 
more than four dollars and fifty cents a week. 
We steered him back to our story. Quite casu- 
ally he took down the description of the man, 
still more casually he called an officer, and there 
seemed to be nothing more that we could do. 

" I will send around and investigate the man," 
he said. 

"Could n't we all go together?" I asked. 

My suggestion did not meet with favor. So 
with a final plea that the investigation be made 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

immediately on account of the man's probable 
uneasiness due to our visit, we left, powerless 
to do anything else. 

On telephoning to the headquarters we 
learned that the police had been sent only the 
morning of the next day. Charles Hoffman had 
left, bag and baggage, within one hour after our 
departure from his room ! 

ANOTHER PROBLEM 

"Yes, but if girls did not invite the advances 
of these men, they would not receive them." 

How often I have heard women indulge in 
that comfortable dismissal of the subject. My 
life in Rochester taught me what I had dimly 
realized before that there are two distinct 
attitudes of the average man toward women. 
There is his attitude of mind and manner 
toward the protected woman, and his attitude 
toward the unprotected woman. I wish you 
would walk down the main street of Rochester 
with me and listen to my little second-maid 

148 



The Bride's Story 

friend. I have never met a more genuine and 
sensitive nature. 

"Mrs. Chase, I'm so discouraged I don't 
know what to do. I have been looking for work 
for four weeks now." 

"Four weeks?" I exclaimed. 

"Yes; and now I can't take cars to my inter- 
views any more, I 'm getting so low on money. 
I just walk and walk and get so tired. What 's 
a girl to do?" 

" Do you mean you have n't had one chance 
for a position in four weeks ? " 

She hesitated. 

"Well, there was one place I could have had. 
But, you see, I 'm pretty particular." 

We walked on, and I waited for her to con- 
tinue. 

"But it does n't always do you much good 
to be particular. The last place I went, such a 
nice lady engaged me. And when I got there 
the man of the house well he made it im- 
possible for me to stay. It's pretty hard, is n't 

149 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

it," she broke out, "when you see the girl that 
is n't decent always getting the best chance ? 
And when you do struggle along, and keep de- 
cent, and earn your little five dollars a week 
what is there to live for ? " 

There are so many shapes and forms of this 
danger which await the unprotected girl. The 
risk of answering newspaper advertisements is 
in itself considerable. How many girls, in need 
of work, would sense a note of warning in the 
advertisement, "Wanted Bright young girl, 
for light work. Good pay." One of the girls in 
our boarding-house had answered such an ad- 
vertisement. Her parents, unfortunately, had 
equipped her with the arms of Ignorance, deem- 
ing it equivalent to Innocence. She had no 
sense of premonition as she was led upstairs for 
her interview, in fact, not until she found 
herself in a bedroom with the door locked. 

"You can't imagine how queer I felt," she 
told us, "when the handsomest man I ever saw 
came into the room. He came in just as if he'd 

150 



The Bride's Story 



always known me just as affectionate and 
familiar like." 

"Were n't you suspicious then?" we asked 
her. 

"Well, I was when the woman motioned him 
to go away. Then she told me that the work 
would be selling a wash for eyeglasses, and she 
asked how old I was." 

"What did you say?" 

" Something told me not to let her know I was 
only twenty years old and just like a flash I 
found myself telling her that I guessed I could 
n't do the work, because it would take too much 
time from my husband and my three little 
children." 

"How did you get out?" we asked excitedly. 

"Why, she was just so stumped at that hus- 
band of mine and the three children that she 
unlocked the door, kind of in a dream. You 
bet I did n't let any grass grow under my 
feet!" 

By some miracle the psychology of her 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

quick-witted story had been successful. Those 
less clever girls whom we never hear about ! 

And yet, what are we doing for those girls 
whom we do know about ? I had often heard of 
cases in our Boston stores, in which the employ- 
ment manager has suggested to girls an easy 
and lucrative means of supplementing insuffi- 
cient wages. But we are not likely to be more 
than passively disturbed about these "cases we 
hear about"! Imagine yourself, rather, talking 
to a very average, everyday girl, while you wait 
in an employment office. You have talked with 
her for some time about jobs (their scarcity), 
and wages, and Rochester, and the moving- 
picture shows, and the parks. And you ask her 
if she has tried for work at Blank's, quite the 
most important and respectable department 
store in town ? 

Immediately she is alert, startled and chal- 
lenging. 

"Yes; did you get it put up to you, too?" 

"What do you mean?" 

152 



The Bride's Story 

"Oh, I thought perhaps you meant some- 
thing, when you asked." 

"I don't understand," puzzled. 

"Well, when I asked for work at Blank's I 

was offered six dollars. And I told Mr. 

that I could n't live on six dollars I could n't 
make both ends meet." She stopped. 

"What did he say?" I invited her. 

"He said he guessed I could find some friend 
to help pay my board. That's what he said." 

A few weeks later another girl told me the 
identical story, and again the employer's name 
came out scornfully, unmistakably. Girls with 
some grievance, or some axe to grind ? Strange, 
then, that the same accusation came volunta- 
rily from the head of a charitable organization 
and from the wife of a prominent Rochester 
minister ! 

I believe that the time must come, if it has 
not already come, when our attitude par- 
ticularly the attitude of the "protected" wo- 
man must change toward the girl who has 

153 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

succumbed to temptation temptation that 
often comes, as I have shown, from the top 
down. It is all very well for those of us who 
have not the remotest conception of that temp- 
tation to say, " I would rather starve than sell 
myself," but not one of us knows of what stuff 
we are made until the test is applied. Some day 
we women will have a word to correspond to 
the man's word "fraternal." 

AND FINALLY 

During those eight weeks in Rochester I had 
applied for ninety-two positions. I had held 
six; the hours ranging from forty-eight to sev- 
enty-two hours, the wages from four dollars 
and fifty cents to seven dollars per week. I 
had felt the sure, gradual killing of individual 
initiative under the forces of mechanically 
automatic work and employee subservience. I 
had felt the powerlessness of the woman in in- 
dustry, her helplessness as an isolated bar- 
gainer against the cruelly insufficient wage sys- 

154 



The Bride's Story 

tern. I had found that some employers give 
their employees easy hours, rest-rooms, read- 
ing rooms, and hygienic places in which to 
work. But everywhere I had found the unwil- 
lingness to give a living wage. I met personally 
and heard incessantly of that particular and 
inexcusable misuse of employer's power, forcing 
the girl to give up her job or her good name. 
And in spite of having attacked my industrial 
life in the best of health (with a six weeks' rest 
and vacation behind me), I had come to feel 
the beginnings of that weariness which char- 
acterized many of my fellow workers. 

The efficiency experts are agreed that in in- 
dustries requiring concentrated effort, the max- 
imum of efficiency is reached in an eight-hour 
day. This admission of human endurance is 
based on the maximum amount of output ob- 
tainable, not on any theory of justice for the 
laborer. But the inferences in regard to the 
laborer's health and endurance are significant. 

In all my six jobs I worked over eight hours 

155 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

a day (Saturdays excepted), and in all these 
jobs I received less than a living wage. I came 
to realize, as never before, the crying need for 
protective legislation for women in industries 
the need of shorter hours, minimum wage 
laws, and factory inspection (enforcement as 
well as laws). To be sure, the State of New 
York has a fifty-four-hour law, and some States 
have forty-eight-hour laws, for their women. 
But that limits the number of hours for the 
week, not for the day. And an employer may 
demand twelve hours of work one day if he so 
desires just so long as the week's maximum 
is not exceeded. There is no limit in New York 
to the insufficiency of wage which one may be 
forced to accept. 

If I were destined to enter the industrial 
world permanently, or for any length of time, 
I should make every possible effort to go to one 
of the States where suffrage has been granted to 
women. If I were to work in Colorado, Cali- 
fornia, or Oregon, I should have the protection 



The Bride's Story 

of both an eight-hour law for women, and a 
Minimum Wage Commission. There are only 
five States in the Union which have an eight- 
hour law for their women and these five are 
equal suffrage States Colorado, California, 
Oregon, Arizona, and Wyoming. Of the seven 
States which have an effective Minimum Wage 
Commission, five are equal suffrage States 
(Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, and 
Utah). And Kansas, a sixth, has a Wage Com- 
mission Act. It is also not irrelevant to remem- 
ber that the greatest number of women in in- 
dustry are found not in these States, but in the 
male suffrage States! For every hour that I 
worked over eight hours a day, I became that 
many thousand degrees more a Suffragist, for 
I have proved, in those Rochester weeks, that 
a disenfranchised class tends to become an 
exploited class. 

It is impossible, of course, for those who have 
not burned their bridges behind them ever to 
know the real and bitter struggle of the men and 

157 



A Honeymoon Experiment 

women whose earning power is all that stands 
between them and starvation. And yet in those 
few weeks I caught significant glimpses of the 
sternness of life for the rank and file of our citi- 
zens, which no amount of previous " sympathy" 
had ever suggested to me. More nearly than 
ever before I was the unprotected woman. I 
felt somewhat her handicaps and her weak- 
nesses, but more keenly than anything I felt 
her strength and her possibilities. I learned 
to know and to love her. For a brief time I knew 
the weariness of working all day, and then com- 
ing home to housework at night. My old life, 
with its round of friendships, visits, traveling, 
and personal interests, took on a new and an 
almost trivial aspect. I began to realize that 
heretofore I had been playing with existence, 
and I do not think that I can ever go back alto- 
gether to the old life. There will aways be a 
little part of me wandering there in Rochester. 
Finally, I realize that perhaps many people 
are shaking their heads as to the wisdom and 



The Bride's Story 

gallantry of a groom in sharing with a bride 
experiences of so unsheltered a nature. The 
"stalwart oak and clinging vine" idea of ro- 
mance does not favor independent thinking 
and action for women. But to me that utter 
equality and comradeship in the midst of 
life as it is for the many, not as it is for the few 
-is chivalry in reality. You see, we shared 
everything. To me it was the most complete 
tribute which any man could pay to any woman. 



THE END 



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