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Full text of "More dangerous thoughts"

More 

Dangerous 

Thoughts 



Introduction by 
THEODORE DREISER 



By MIKE QUIN 



From the collection of the 



z n 

m 



PreTinger 

i a 

Uibrary 

p 



San Francisco, California 
2006 



MORE 

DANGEROUS 
THOUGHTS 

By MIKE QUIN 



I ntroduction by 
THEODORE DREISER 



Illustrated by 
ROSALIE TODD and 
CHUCK 



Published by 

THE PEOPLE'S WORLD 

San Francisco 



Copyright 19^1, "by 
MIKE QUIN 



By the Same Author 

The Yanks Are Not Coming 
Ashcan the M-Plan 
Dangerous Thoughts 
The Enemy Within 



Published by 

THE PEOPLE'S WORLD 

583 Market Street, San Francisco, California 



CONTENTS 

Introduction by Theodore Dreiser 7 

After the War Is Over 9 

Mickey, The Belfast Terror 13 

La Belle France 17 

The Big Parade 19 

Landladies 20 

The Remarkable Bomb 23 

Honest Abe 26 

The Mugity Wumpus 29 

Waiting 33 

The Patriotic Thing 36 

The Diaper Brigade 39 

The Man They Couldn't Draft 41 

Investigation 44 

The Subversive Element 45 

A Glass of Claret 48 

Lovely Jeanette 51 

The Quiet Brothers 55 

Joe and Marie 58 

Ready to Wear 65 

A Simple Little Snack 69 

Who Will Change the World? 73 

Zeke the Discreet 74 

The Tremendous Thing 77 

Snouty Goggles 80 

Scenario Clip Service I 83 



Scenario Clip Service II 85 

Lenin Was a Nice Guy 88 

The Glorious Fourth 91 

The Technique of Democracy 93 

Dreiser Tells 'Em 97 

Blessed Are the Poor 100 

Willy and the Bombs 103 

Mister Jones 107 

Sugar 109 

Three Per Cent Own All the Wealth Ill 

How To Entertain Guests 112 

The Insidious 'Ism 115 

Bums 118 

The Locomotive 120 

We Know Enough 123 

How To Make A Fortune 125 

Ladies and Lugs 130 

The Alien Bombalian 133 

On Black Eyes 137 

Going Down 140 

On Private Property 143 

Asininity 146 

jimmy Feathers 149 

The Family and Socialism 153 

J. B. McNamara 156 



Introduction 

Any preface or literary foreword to Mike Quin's (( More 
Dangerous Thoughts," or any other book that he chooses to 
write from now on unless he changes greatly can only, from 
the humanitarian point of view, be, by me, an endorsement 
of his ideas in toto a eulogy of himself. 

For here is a man, and in addition a humanitarian artist, 
who sees life not from the class but the mass point of view. 
Affectionately and wisely, he sees the truth as to life's social 
processes the rich dominating and, more often than not, ill- 
treating the poor; the strong, the weak, etc., etc. 

More, he sees, and with such understanding and intense 
sympathy, the sufferings of the many as opposed to the swill- 
mg and indifferent satisfactions of the few. 

He understands the common laborer, the ditch digger, the 
hewer of wood and the drawer of water, and, like the man 
Christ is supposed to have been, he says, in current American 
words: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is a just claim 
to a better social state a just and equitable one and that that 
state is coming. 

Day after day I read his column in The People's World, 
and there I find him walking by the side of the moneyless, the 
homeless the ignorant and not always honest, but toiling 
laborer, and saying to them as Christ said: "Be of good cheer, 



for you are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its 
savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good 
for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under the 
feet of men," 

And don't think I am thinking of Christ as the son of 
God although truly whoever thinks as he did should be, and 
is closely related to Universal Equity, if there is any such thing. 
Rather I am thinking of him as a common man, possibly like 
Mike Quin who sympathizes deeply with his fellow men and 
hates inequity. 

For day after day he writes of and for the common man 
as against the grafters and fools and the greedy money swine 
of the world. And he says of the poor and ignorant and 
oppressed, over and over, see how little they have, how little it 
takes to make them happy, how patiently they work, and how 
they are fought and beaten and tortured because they seek to 
pin together in unions to protect themselves. 

And because of this I daily admire and respect him. And I 
truly and deeply wish that all, everywhere might see and read 
what he has to say. 

Theodore Dreiser. 



AFTER THE WAR IS OVER 

AS ONE WHO SERVED in the last war, and was decorated 
with a medal of honor, I believe I should be listened to in the 
present emergency. My outfit was Troop 27 of the Boy Scouts 
of America, and my commander, The Reverend Hayes of Grace 
Cathedral. 

My duties ranged all the way from running errands free of 
charge for government agencies, to hissing slackers and sus- 
pected slackers. The medal, which they assured me was made 
from the steel of a captured German cannon, had a blank space 
for the engraving of my name. But they didn't trouble them- 
selves to engrave it. They just handed it to me and said I could 
have it engraved myself which I never managed to get the 
money to do. It was always a source of chagrin to me and I 
once tried to scratch my name on it with a nail, but the metal 
was too hard. There wasn't even a ribbon on it just a hole 
where one might go. I borrowed a red one from my mother, 
sewed it to an old clasp pin, and it looked all right from a 
distance. 

We paraded almost every day and regretted bitterly that we 
were too little to share in the glory and adventure of no-man's- 
land. We talked it over frequently. Older people said this was 
a war to end all wars that when this one was over there would 
never be another because people would not stand for it. This 
made us sick at heart. Here we were just too late for the last 
war on earth nothing to look forward to but dullness no 
chance to be heroes like the men in the movies. 

I kept a scrap book of war pictures clipped out of news- 
papers and magazines and pasted into an old ledger from one 
of my father's many ill-fated business ventures. 

In spare time we would catch star-fish along the shore, dry 
them and sell them to the soldiers in the Presidio. They were 



r 




mostly from mid-western states and had never seen the ocean 
before had never been anywhere before. Their conversation 
was much concerned with their opportunity to see Paris, and 
many of them were restless afraid the war would be over be- 
fore they got a chance to see Paris. 

Men came around to our school and organized us into special 
"yellow dog" clubs. The literature was all printed on yellow 
paper and I remember an illustration of a mean-faced man in a 
civilian suit fleeing from a crowd of handsome looking little 
boys who were booing and hissing him. Slackers and un-patri- 
otic persons were to be our prey. 

I remember a very handsome and heroic looking young sol- 
dier who came to our classroom. Old Mrs. Robertson suspended 
the studies and introduced him as "one of our boys who had 
been over there." He told us that the American troops were 
always humane and gallant that they always gave the other 
fellow a chance. But that there was one time they did not. 
They recaptured a convent, and when they saw what those 
beastly Germans had done to the nuns, something came over 
them. They lost their tempers and chased those Germans around 
the courtyard and bayoneted every one of them. 

We clapped and cheered and yelled, and old Mrs. Robertson 
cried a little. 

Then I remember when the armistice was signed and the 
boys came home. I slept little on the night before the first 
contingent arrived back. What glory would be theirs, I thought 
what pride, what honor. 

Next morning I pinned on my medal and ran down Fillmore 
street to see the heroes. The experience was so disturbing it 
has never left my mind. They were gathered around cigar stands 
and on corners, still in uniform. The smell of whiskey was 
strong among them. One man flipped his coat bitterly. "The 

11 



first thing I want to do is get out of this goddam thing," he 
said. "Of all the ,.:&;$%.,14ing wars!" 

From group to group all up and down the street I wandered 
in bewilderment. Everywhere it was the same. "I'll have better 
sense next time." "They'll never get me again." "If there's 
ever another, just tell them to shove it." "You guys who stayed 
home had sense." 

One of the heroes was a friend of our family and we 
strained our budget to provide a welcoming feast that night. 
He arrived drunken, disillusioned, disagreeable. Already he'd 
got rid of his uniform and insisted on referring to himself as 
a "goddam fool." 

I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't know what to 
think. It took the pride out of my medal. Somehow the gold 
star flags in the windows of homes on our street lost their glory. 
The tremendous propaganda machine to which our minds had 
been dancing was turned off bluntly like when the orches- 
tra stops. 

We'd just been killing, that's all killing. And the reason 
wasn't clear. 



JACK SPRATT 

Jack Spratt can eat no fat, 

His wife can eat no beef. 

'Tis not that both don't like the taste, 

But they are on relief. 

'Tis not that cows and pigs are scarce, 

They moo and grunt like thunder; 

But pigs are learning birth control 

And cows have been plowed under. 



12 



MICKEY, THE BELFAST TERROR 

A SAILOR'S HOME is his ship and the rolling ocean is his 
vast front lawn. It's not what you'd call a very comfortable 
home, but none the less a congenial family spirit prevails in 
glory hole and fo'csle where each man has a narrow steel locker 
in which to keep his few belongings. Between the rows of 
bunks piled one on top of the other, there is a small strip of 
deck space enough for one or two men to stand at a time. 

When you're lying in your own bunk with the steam pipes 
sweating and hissing over your head and your neighbor snoring 
just under you, and the rich, unventilated air weighting the at- 
mosphere around you, it has a cozy, home-like feeling. A battered 
alarm clock dangles from a string tied to a pipe. Pictures of 
dames are tacked up to the nearby bulkhead. You can feel the 
throb of the big engines in the springs of your bunk. If your 
quarters are aft, the crazy rattling and rumbling of the steering 
engine haunts your dreams and becomes as accustomed to your 
ears as the chirping of crickets to a suburban resident. 

The mess table itself is a combined family gathering place 
and open forum where every mouthful of beans or stew is 
richly seasoned with political arguments. While the food may 
not be up to mother's standard the conversation has all the 
hilarity of a family affair. 

The ship is really a rolling home, not so much for all these 
reasons as for one final touch that completes the picture. That 
final touch is the ship's cat. 

It's usually a scrawny one of mixed colors and ungainly 
shape; a four legged member of the crew who came aboard 
without bothering to sign articles. You can reach down, tickle 
its chin, rouse it to warm purring, and you know your ship is 
a home. For this was a vagrant, friendless creature who wan- 
dered aboard in search of a home and found one. Though 

13 



roundly cursed on frequent occasions and made the target of 
myriad thrown articles, the cat knows it's a home and it has 
the warm legs of human friends against which to rub its 
furry body. 

Even if you change the name on the bow or fly a new flag 
from the stern, it's all the same to the cat. 

It was all the same to Blackie, the cat of the "American 
Trader," when its owners sold the ship to foreign interests for 
a fat profit. They painted out "American Trader" and replaced 
it with "Ville de Hasselt," and a different colored flag was 
hoisted on the stern pole. That was all right with Blackie. 

For a long time the word "war war war" had sounded 
in the arguments of Blackic's human shipmates. But her only 
language was the mewing of hunger or the purring of content- 
ment. She didn't know that strange steel ships that traveled 
undersea were spewing iron fish at the rolling homes of seamen, 
tearing their hulls like paper and sending them bubbling and 
roaring to the bottom of the sea. 

She didn't know that the friendly arguing voices in the 
fo'csle might one day scream in terror that the warm legs 
against which she rubbed herself might one day struggle hope- 
lessly in icy water. She didn't know about war. 

In port the gangplank went over the side and Blackie' s 
human shipmates rumbled down it laughing and jostling. And 
Blackie, of course took shore leave too took it as freely and 
carelessly as the men she lived with. Always she was back on 
sailing day, mewing around the galley, looking as battered and 
pleasure-worn as the rest. 

On the ship's last voyage as the "American Trader" before 
they painted a new name and flew a new flag Blackie became 
uncommonly stout. Presently her condition was the joyous scan- 
dal of the entire vessel and she found herself the object of 
exceptional kindness and excessive attention. Her pan was 

14 



heaped with unusual tid-bits and a note of gentle respect was 
evident in the voices of her human shipmates. 

It was a merry day when five sprightly kittens frolicked on 
the good ship's decks, chased wads of paper tied to strings and 
battled fiercely with the fondling fingers of seamen. 

Gradually they acquired names and personalities and the 
liveliest of them all was Mickey, the Belfast Terror. 

When the ship returned to the docks of New York, Blackie 
was the proudest mother of the seven seas, licking and pawing 
her brood and teaching them the ways of a cat with a crew. It 
was then that the name was painted over and the new flag 
strung up. Grim long boxes of rifles were loaded aboard. Crates 
of airplanes were made fast to her decks. 

Then the thing happened. A long shiny automobile that 
looked something like an ambulance drew up in front of the 
dock and well-dressed people came aboard. 

"We are from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animals," they said. "And we have come for your cats." 

Ike, the steward, calmly told them to go to blazes. "This is 
their home," he said. "And they're kindly treated." 

"That's not the point," said the well-dressed gentle people. 
"You are sailing into the war zone and the lives of those cats 
are in danger." 

That stumped Ike. By this time a good number of the crew 
had gathered round. The first officer came down from the 
bridge. Yes, these people had the company's permission. Their 
papers were clear. Their authority beyond doubt. The cats 
must go. 

It was a terrified, clawing Blackie whom they carried down 
the gang plank and locked into the shiny automobile with four 
of her babies. No submarines no torpedoes or mines must en- 
danger cats. But why do I say only four of Blackie's babies were 

15 



taken? The fifth one was Mickey, the Belfast Tensor whom the 
steward concealed in a cracker can. 

So Mickey sailed for the open sea on a ship that still was 
home. For there is no society for the prevention of sinking 
ships or drowning men. And if the crew goes down to the awful 
depths, Mickey will go with them, and there will be a cat in 
Davy Jones' locker to make it a bit like home. 

And that happens, ladies and gentlemen, to be a true story 
of this cockeyed world of ours. 



Only a few days after this story was published in the 
PEOPLES WORLD, the "Ville de Hasselt" was torpedoed 
and sunk in the Atlantic. Most of her boys went with her, 
down to the lightless depths. And Mickey went with them. 

For the cheated, lonely men of the sea, there is a cat in 
Davey Jones' locker, to make it a bit like home. 



16 



LA BELLE FRANCE 

The lady of love and laughter 
Walks dangling her key as she goes 
And inviting the eyes of the passer 
With tight-fitting open-work hose. 

More famous than all the cathedrals, 
More talked of than Rheims or Louvain, 
La Belle is the widow of conflict 
By-product of centuries of pain. 

Her eyes are the smoldering ashes 
Of homes where disaster has spread. 
She laughs like the ring of new silver. 
Her lips are the blood of the dead. 

The toast of man's decadent pleasures; 
The boast of the tourists who tell 
Of hungry but beautiful ladies, 
And passion as burning as hell. 

A dollar, a franc or a shilling, 
Or any old coin that will clink. 
An hour of love, then you leave her 
To wash off her kisses with drink. 

Come citizens, tourists, invaders; 
Her kiss and embrace are renowned. 
For she tries to pretend you're the husband 
They killed and laid under the ground. 

Come heed to the lure of cheap loving, 
And follow the sway of her hips. 
She will try to pretend you're the lover 
Whose blood was as red as her lips. 



17 



I've heard all the learned excuses. 
Their lewd explanations are neat. 
But hunger and death are the reasons 
She rattles her keys on the street. 

When hatred and tears have grown sour, 
And life becomes dirty and cold, 
And the death of your man has been measured 
In so many pieces of gold; 

When all that you love has been buried, 
And bankers lay claim to the rest; 
When factories shut down and you're hungry, 
They'll still pay a price for your breast. 

God damn all the men who make money 
From wars and their pompous conceit, 
Then starve the poor loverless women 
To selling themselves on the street. 

Not this time, La Belle, let us teach them 
The steps to a new kind of dance 
That will stamp out their madness forever, 
And free the great spirit of France. 

Not prostitutes pounding the pavement, 
Nor factory girls grieving in slums, 
Nor futures of misery and sorrow 
All drilled to the beat of the drums. 

This time make it fists and hot anger 
And doom to the merchants of death, 
That France may belong to its workers 
And workers may sing with their breath. 



18 



THE BIG PARADE 

Get out your flags and banners, 
Let's hear you cheer once more. 
Here come the men we slaughtered 
In the last imperialist war. 

An endless, bony cavalcade 
Of husband, son and brother, 
Come back to ask the reason why 
They massacred each other. 

Why do you stand there silent? 
Why do the women cry? 
Do they recognize their husbands 
In the skeletons marching by? 

How much is learned from experience 
When the lesson costs you your head! 
If only the lips of the living could speak 
With half the sense of the dead! 

// only the dead could rise in wrath 

And speak to the world of men, 

They would cry from the depths of their cheated hearts: 

"The Yanks are not coming again!" 



19 



LANDLADIES 

LANDLADIES ARE AN IMPORTANT American institution. 
They preside over a vast empire of furnished rooms embracing 
millions of lives. Theirs is a domain of faded wallpaper, patched 
carpets, battered dressers and chipped enamel bedsteads. 

"It's a lovely room," she will say, as she labors up the stairs 
ahead of you. "The last young man just hated to give it up." 

The hall smells a little moldy and the boards creak under 
your feet. 

"The sun pours in here all morning," she says, flinging open 
the door. "Are you employed?" 

The chipped enamel bed. The veneer-board dresser with a 
wavy mirror. The threadbare carpet. A makeshift closet with 
drapes of flowery cotton cloth. A rickety little table. A gas plate 
on a home-made stand. A few misfit plates, cups and saucers. 

"Yes, I work downtown." 

"We're right handy to the streetcars. Just a block away. 
You're steady, I hope." 

"Oh, yes. I hope so." 

"That's the closet. This is the heater though you hardly 
ever need it, the way the sun pours in in the mornings. The 
toilet's just down the hall. We have a lovely big bath. I allow 
one bath a week. If you want more I have to charge a little 
extra. What business did you say you were in?" 

"I work for a hardware company Baxter and Kelly." 

"Reason I ask is I always like to have steady people." 

"How much is it?" 

"Everything is clean. I change the sheets every week and 
we're just one block from the carline. Do you cook?" 

"Well, maybe a cup of coffee once in a while." 

"Everything is very handy. I've just had the gas plate fixed 
and a new tube put on it." 

20 



"How much is it?" 

"I was going to say, if you're going to be steady, I could let 
you have it for three dollars and a half a week." 

''Ommmmm! Well, it looks all right. I'll let you know." 

"There was a man here this morning who said he was com- 
ing back. I'd like to hold it for you, if you really feel " 

"Well, there are a couple of other places I wanted to look 
at. Of course, they're probably not as good as this. But I'll let 
you know." 

"I don't know where you could find any place as handy to 
the carline. The sun pours in here all morning." 

"Thanks a lot. It's very nice and I'll let you know." 

"I was going to say, I could come down a little if you are 
going to be steady. I could make it three dollars a week." Her 
poor, tired face is difficult to look at. You saw the kids' toys 
littered in the hall below, smelled the cabbage on the stove in 
the kitchen, and got a fleeting glimpse of crowded poverty in a 
tired, old house through a partly open door. 

"Well, thanks very much. I'll let you know." 

Creakety creak, down the stairs you go. 

After five or six houses, your brain is a blur of soiled wall- 
paper and the soapy, steamy odors of dark hallways. Trying to 
find a little hole where you can hang up your clothes and sit 
down at night, with maybe a comfortable chair and a light to 
read by. You walk down avenues of old, tired houses, spotting 
the white signs in the windows. 

No wonder the bars are crowded with guys just sitting there 
jawing. Who wants to go and sit by himself in a furnished 
room? 

Finally you find a place, though, rig yourself a light over 
the bed, tack a couple of pictures on the wall, litter your stuff 
around, and it's a kind of home. The landlady becomes a fixture 
in your life, bawls you out, gives you advice, provides free 

21 



philosophic guidance from the depths of her abundant experi- 
ence, and tells you about the other roomers. As you lie in bed 
at night, you hear your neighbors running the water for a bath, 
bawling each other out, stumbling up the stairs, flushing the 
toilets, and banging the furniture around. Later on there's a 
series of thump-thumps as the shoes hit the floor two by two. 
Then the old house is filled with the creaking of springs. A 
distant snore reaches you softly through the faded wallpaper. 
Outside the "right handy" streetcar clatters by in the night. 
What the hell do you expect for three bucks a week? 



THE MAN IN THE MOON 

The Man in the Moon came down to earth, 
And over the roads he sprinted; 
'Till he was pinched for vagrancy 
And mugged and fingerprinted. 



22 



THE REMARKABLE BOMB 

THE TWO LABORERS set the heavy box down at the feet ot 
the distinguished gentlemen, then withdrew to a respectful dis- 
tance. Mr. J. Vulgar Dirtybrain patted it with an affectionate 
hand. "It's a magnificent bomb," he said. 

General Horseblodget toyed with his mustache and eyed the 
box skeptically. "Haw," he said. "We shall soon see." 

Gathered about them, tethered to little stakes in the ground 
were numerous pigs. There were exactly one hundred pigs, not 
counting the distinguished gentlemen, military officers and gov- 
ernment officials who were present for the test. The pigs were 
staked over a wide area approximating a radius of 500 yards. 

"I understand you are the inventor of this remarkable bomb," 
said Colonel Gore. 

"I am, Colonel," said Dirtybrain with unconcealed pride. 
"And I am sure when I have given you a demonstration you will 
agree it is the most splendid explosive charge ever conceived." 

"Haw," said General Horseblodget. 

"Humph! Humph!" grunted the Colonel. 

The two laborers watched curiously from a distance. 

"What the devil are they going to do?" asked one. 

"They're going to blow up the pigs," said the other. 

"And what for?" asked the first laborer. 

"Well," said the other, "it's for a war they're planning. Do 
you see all those pigs? Well, they have a new kind of bomb in 
that box and they say one blast of it will kill every pig." 

"Whew!" the first laborer whistled through his teeth. "And 
what if it does ?" 

"Then they'll buy the bomb patent and use it to kill people." 

The first laborer hesitated for a moment, then turned on his 
heel and started to foot it away from the scene. The other fol- 

23 



lowed and they didn't stop until they were a half mile from the 
spot. Here they paused on a slight rise of ground to watch the 
proceedings. 

Back among the pigs, J. Vulgar Dirtybrain began unwinding 
a coil of wire. "We will withdraw to the top of that hill," he 
said, "and I will explode the bomb by electric current." 

"Haw," said General Horseblodget. 

The entire Government was there including the Grand 
Foogle and all his fimps, finks, funks and privy counselors. 
They all withdrew to the hilltop to witness the explosion of a 
bomb which might mean the introduction of civilization as they 
were accustomed to it, to the rest of mankind. 

The pigs grunted and rooted amicably, unsuspecting that 
they would be the first to taste the noisy fruit of Dirtyb rain's 
imagination. "It is really an excellent bomb," he said as he 
unwound the coil of wire. 

"If it kills all the pigs, we will buy it," said General Horse- 
blodget. 

"And if it doesn't, we won't buy it," added Colonel Gore. 

"Haw," said General Horseblodget. 

At length they reached the top of the hill where the other 
dignitaries were already assembled. The Grand Foogle ap- 
proached, gracefully extending one hand. "May I?" he asked, 
with an engaging smile. 

"By all means," said Dirtybrain. "I am honored." He 
handed the switch to the Grand Foogle, with the wire dangling 
from it. 

The High Chamberlain was passing among the assembled 
gentlemen with a box of antiseptic cotton offering them wads 
to plug in their ears. Many turned their backs and clapped their 
hands to their ears for double protection. 

"I'm new to this sort of thing," said the Grand Foogle. 

24 



"You just press down the little connecting lever," said 
Dirtybrain, "and then " 

"Haw," said General Horseblodget. 

The Grand Foogle made a face like castor oil, held the 
switch at arm's length, and closed his eyes. "Ready or not," he 
screeched, and pressed down the lever. 

The two laborers half-mile distant were thrown from their 
feet by the explosion. For a moment the sky was almost obliter- 
ated by flying pigs, chancellors, fimps, finks, funks, privy coun- 
selors, generals, colonels, and the Grand Foogle himself. So 
great was the noise and the impact of the silence that followed 
that the two laborers clung to the earth with eyes shut and 
gripped the grass to keep from being blown along by the rush 
of air that swept down the valley. 

At last they opened their eyes to a silent landscape and 
stood erect. The hillside was bare and scorched, the valley void 
of pigs. Not a distinguished gentleman, not a military officer, 
not a foogle, fink, or funk was to be seen on all that broad 
stretch of land. 

"He was right," said one of the laborers. "It was a truly 
remarkable bomb." 

"The best that was ever invented," said the other. 



25 



HONEST ABE 

Maybe we make too many gods 
Of sensible courageous guys, 
And set them high above the mass 
Of ordinary human eyes. 
Maybe a lot of guys called great 
Were finks at heart and fools of fate. 

Maybe the men of sacred name 
Up in the lofty sphere of fame 
Are set too high on golden shelves 
For guys to identify with themselves. 

They were so noble and so good ( ?) , 

So damnably virtuous and wise (?), 

They seem a separate, better breed 

Than ordinary humble guys. 

And a man may lose respect for himself 

When he looks at the heroes high on the shelf. 

Restless humanity looking for heroes, 
Christs, Napoleons and Neroes 
Somebody kinder, wiser, fatter, 
To serve them Utopia on a platter. 

But there was a guy by the name of Abe 
Who wandered into the hall of fame, 
Who wasn't the high-blown hero type, 
But sat him down there just the same. 
A gawky, raw-boned guy who sat 
Like a clumsy farmer in a stovepipe hat. 



26 



And he sits there still, and he sits there high, 
Like a cast of the ordinary guy, 
On one of fame's most sturdy shelves 
For he gave men confidence in themselves. 

He started out in Illinois, 

Splitting rails to make a fence, 

And he lived to best the fanciest brains 

With ordinary common sense. 

Though Abe may lie among the dead, 

They're still afraid of the things he said. 

His tongue was an axe for splitting rails, 
And his brain was a hammer for pounding nails, 
And his words threw fear in the men on high, 
For Lincoln talked like a working guy. 

They quote the milder words of Abe 
And leave the stronger things alone, 
For Abe saw fit to name the day 
When workingmen would claim their own. 

You can have the heroes in frills and panties. 
We who were born in flats and shanties 
Can point to Abe and lay our claim 
To labor's place in the Hall of Fame. 

Let bankers close on the day of his birth 
And parasites claim him for all they're worth. 
Abe Lincoln's name is going down 
With Marx and Debs and Old John Brown. 



27 



'Twas Lincoln's creed that arms and brains 
Should rid themselves of whips and chains, 
And black and white live friend and brother, 
Equal and confident in each other. 

It's not yet that, and the task begun 

Needs many a blow before it's done; 

But the chains were broken and the way was cleared- 

And that's exactly what the stiff shirts feared. 

It's a shame that the man who started the job 
Should be slain by a crazy little snob ; 
But it's good to know that on fame's high shelves, 
At least one man was like ourselves. 

A man too common to ever die, 
A man too plain to glorify, 
A man with the greatness 
Of the working guy. 



28 



THE MUCITY WUMPUS 

Arriving back in America after an absence of 15 years or 
more, Dr. Emory Hornsnagle was surprised by a strange creature 
approaching him along the road. At first he took it to be a 
weird animal or land bird of the emu or cassowary variety. It 
waddled clumsily on four legs and had a large, plum-like tail 
protruding from the rear. 

As it drew nearer, he perceived it to be a man crawling 
on his hands and knees. His hair had been shaved off and 
his head was painted blue. His body was encircled by red 
stripes. What looked like a tail was a long stick decorated 
with streamers of colored paper and bearing a placard: 7 Love 
Capitalism. 

As the man crawled, he muttered over and over: "I am not 
a Communist. I am not a Communist. I am not a Communist." 

"Then what are you?" asked Dr. Hornsnagle. 

The creature took one look at Hornsnagle, then turned 
around and began to crawl away as rapidly as its hands and 
knees could carry it. 

Hornsnagle quickly lassoed it by one leg and tied it to a 
tree. "Now there is no reason for you to be frightened," he 
said. "I am not going to hurt you. As a scientist I would like 
to know what you are." 

"Let me go," begged the creature. "If I am seen talking 
to you I will get in trouble." 

"Why should you get in trouble for talking to me?" asked 
Hornsnagle. 

"Because you are a Communist," whined the creature. 

"Nonsense," said Hornsnagle. "What makes you think 
that?" 

"Because," said the creature, "there is nothing about you 
to indicate you are not. If you were not a Communist you 

29 



would certainly do something to indicate you were not. As 
for myself, you can see at a glance I am no Communist" 

"Just what is a Communist?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"I don't know," replied the creature, "but you certainly 
could not accuse me of being one." 

"But crawling on your hands and knees," said Hornsnagle, 
"and that, er tail isn't it all somewhat inconvenient?" 

The creature broke into tears, and Dr. Hornsnagle kindly 
loaned it his handkerchief. 

"I used to walk erect," it said, "and speak my mind freely. 
It all started when they brought that resolution into the union." 

"What resolution?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"The resolution against communism," said the creature. 
"They told us the employers would not deal with us because 
they suspected us of being Communistic. So we passed the 
resolution to convince them." 

"And then what?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"They were still not convinced," said the creature. "It was 
discovered that many of our members had Communistic books 
and literature in their homes." 

"So what did you do?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"We expelled them," said the creature, "and the rest of 
us burned our libraries to make absolutely sure." 

"Did that convince them?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"No. They said our officials were Communistic. So we 
expelled them too and elected new ones who were highly praised 
in the newspapers as reasonable and patriotic." 

"What happened then?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"Then we stopped holding meetings," said the creature. 
"There was nothing to meet about anyhow. It was impossible 
to make any demand or conduct any business without being 

30 



called Communistic. Later on we disbanded the union alto- 
gether." 

"Didn't that convince them?" asked Hornsnagle. 

The creature shook its head sadly. "No indeed. Employ- 
ers made a rule to employ only the most non-Communistic 
workers who would work for the lowest wages. Everybody 
began to outdo each other in being non-Communistic. Some 
of them began to crawl, and pretty soon no one could get a 
job at all if he didn't crawl. Then one thing followed another. 
The tail piece was thought up by William Green." 

"Why don't you stand up and tell them to go to hell?" 
asked Dr. Hornsnagle. 

"That would be impossible," said the creature. 

"And why so?" asked Hornsnagle. 

"Because," said the creature, "that would be Communistic." 



32 



WAITING 

HE COULD SEE she was a nice lady, very friendly and sympa- 
thetic. She scribbled something on a piece of paper and gave 
it to him. 

" You've come to the wrong place," she said: "You go to 
that address for your district." 

"This isn't the right place?" he asked. 

"Not for your district," she said. 

"They told me " he began. 

"They made a mistake," she said. "I'm sorry. You'd better 
go right over to the other place." 

"I live at" 

"I know," she said. "If you'll go to the place I've written 
on the paper, that's the right place for your district. This is out 
of your district." 

There were other people in line. Staring at the piece of 
paper, he moved slowly away and made room for the next. It 
wasn't that he was dense, but he had walked so far, and some- 
times if you will only explain a little more, they discover you 
are at the right place after all. 

He read the address over and over, then moved as if to go 
back and ask once more. But others had crowded in, so he 
walked away. 

"I should have asked someone else before I came," he 
thought. "This was where Joe told me. But Joe lives nearer 
here. I should have asked first to make sure." 

It had been a long walk clear across town and now his brain 
was a little thick. "People will think I am a fool," he thought. 
"They will think I am stupid." He had to ask two or three 
times to hear a thing right, and he had to read a thing over and 
over before it registered. It wasn't that way before. That's the 
difference food makes. You get hungry and your feet hurt and 
then things are different and people think you are stupid. 

33 



At a little park he stopped at the free drinking fountain and 
filled up on water. It almost made him feel cheerful. 

Every once in a while he would take the piece of paper out 
of his pocket and read it again to be sure he was making no 
mistake this time. It was all the way back and a little farther. 

He had to pass his own door, but he went down a block and 
around. It wouldn't do to go in. Marie would only think he 
was stupid and the children would think he was bringing food. 

He found the place. It was an old wooden building of some 
kind. Inside you didn't know where to go and there was no- 
body to tell you. At last he found a little window. There was 
another nice lady behind it. She smiled sympathetically and 
was very patient. "Come back at two o'clock," she said, and 
gave him another little slip of paper. 

He could see a big clock like they used to have in school 
ticking on the wall. It was hard for him to figure it out. Finally 
he complained, "That is two hours and a half." 

She explained that it couldn't be helped, because there sim- 
ply wasn't anyone there to see him and wouldn't be until two. 

"Not until two," he repeated. 

"No," she said. "Not until two o'clock." 

He could see that she thought he was stupid, but it was only 
that he was hungry and when a thing is so very important you 
have got to be sure you are not making a mistake. 

He went out to the sidewalk and read the new slip of paper 
carefully. Then he compared it with the other that had only the 
address on it, was about to throw that one away, then changed 
his mind and put them both in his pocket. Why take chances 
when your head is a little dizzy and you're not positive you're 
doing things right? 

He walked around a little, then went to the park and sat. 
There was a big clock over a store, so he sat there and watched 
it. You couldn't see the hands move at all, yet they were mov- 

34 



ing because finally it was ten minutes to one. She said two, 
but why take any chances? He went back to the place and sat 
in a wooden chair in the hallway. 

Whenever any of the nice friendly people walked by with 
papers in their hands, he would look up hopefully. But it was 
no good. It wasn't two o'clock. 

About a quarter after two someone called out his name and 
the blood shot to his head. He hurried forward and followed 
a calm striding woman into a little office. He told her his 
name and his wife's name and the names of the children and 
where they were born and where he had worked and how long 
and the names of his bosses and everything about himself and 
his family. "Now," she said, "can you come back on Thursday?" 

"Lady," he said, "I don't like to say it, but I must. I came 
because I must. I must. I have no money no food. I lady, 
I don't know what to do until Thursday." 

She did not hesitate a moment. "I didn't realize," she said. 
"I'll make a special case. I think I can get someone to see you 
today. Come with me." 

They went to a big room with chairs all around the edges 
and people sitting in them looking nervous. 

"Just sit here," she said, "and I'll have someone see you." 

There he sat and watched the others sitting. Hour after 
hour went by. There were little doors and every once in a while 
a nice friendly looking man or woman would come out and call 
a name. Someone would get up and go in and stay a long while. 

Hour after hour went by as the people sat and stared. He 
thought of farms and trains and food and parades. He thought 
of movies he had seen and things he had heard. He thought 
of stories and jokes and fights and people and Marie and the 
children waiting at home. It was all mixed up and jumbled in 
his brain and every once in a while there would be blank spots 
before his eyes. And he sat there waiting and waiting and wait- 
ing for his name to be called. 

35 



THE PATRIOTIC THING 

"PLEASE BUY ONE," he said. "I'm trying to make enough to 
get a place to sleep tonight." 

His eyes were tired and watery and his hand shook as it held 
out the red, white and blue banner. "God bless America!" was 
the legend printed beneath a proud eagle. A dirty cap graced 
his old, grey head, and a score or more of celluloid buttons 
pinned to his ragged coat gave him somewhat the appearance 
of a British costermonger. On one lapel he had Willkie buttons 
and on the other Roosevelt buttons. 

"You'll probably go right out and spend it for booze," said 
Grogan. 

"Then buy a button," pleaded the old man. "The buttons 
are only a nickel." 

"I don't know," said Grogan. He stuck his cigar in his 
teeth, reached out and felt the cloth of the banner. "It's mighty 
cheap stuff." 

"It's the very best Japanese silk," said the old man. 

"Haven't you got something a little more different?" asked 
Grogan. 

"Most everybody likes this one best," said the old man. "It's 
the words of the song, 'God Bless America'!" 

"I know," said Grogan. "But me, I like to be different." 

"Here's a new one,' said the old man. "Maybe you'll like 
it better." He fumbled through his assortment and held up one 
that had a border of twenty- five eagles and the words "MY 
GOD! I'M CRAZY ABOUT AMERICA!" in red, white and 
blue letters. 

"That's more like it," said Grogan. "That's got class." 

"It's all a matter of what you like," said the old man. "Some 
people prefer one and some people prefer the other. It's ac- 
cording to individual taste." 

36 



"Ill give you thirty-five cents for it," said Grogan. 

"I couldn't do that," said the old man. "I have to pay forty 
cents for it. All I make on it is a dime." 

"I bet it doesn't cost them more than a nickel apiece to turn 
them things out," said Grogan. 

"I don't know what it costs them," said the old man. "But 
I have to pay forty cents." 

"All right," said Grogan, "then I'll give you forty cents." 

"Please," said the old man. "I've got to make something. 
I've walked all day. Look at that." He held up one foot. The 
shoe was dirty and soggy and worn through the sole. He had 
cut a piece out of one side to accommodate a bunion that bulged 
through repulsively. 

"Put it down," said Grogan. "Christ almighty. That's a hell 
of a thing to be goin' around poking in front of people's faces." 

"I don't know what they expect you to do," said the old man. 
"I've got to live. I've got to make my living somehow. You 
can't get a job. Nobody wants an old man. It's not right. It's 
not fair." 

"What the hell do you think I can do about it?" asked 
Grogan. "I got a family of my own. I ain't no millionaire. I 
ain't responsible for all you guys. Christ almighty! There's a 
limit." 

"I know," said the old man. "It's the system that's wrong." 

"The system!" said Grogan. "Always the system. If you 
don't like the American system, why don't you get the hell out 
of here and go to some other country?" 

"I don't mean that. I didn't mean to say what I mean to 
say is " 

"Running down your country ain't going to get you any- 
wheres." 

"I wasn't running down. I'm as patriotic as anybody. I'm 
an old man, and I'm hungry, and I didn't mean " 

37 



"Oh, hell. I'll give you the fifty cents," said Grogan. "But 
give me a clean one. That one's dirty." 

The old man's hands trembled in anticipation as he exam- 
ined the banner. "It's just a speck. It will rub right off." 

"Naw, I want a fresh one." 

"It's the only one I've got of that particular one. I can give 
you one of the others." 

"Naw, hell, that other one's too cheesy. Here, let me see it." 
Grogan took the banner, examined the spot and felt the ma- 
terial. "Hell, I'm always bein' gypped by you guys. The damn 
thing will probably fall apart in a week. Here's your four bits." 

"Thanks," said the old man. "You'll find it's good. It's the 
best you can buy. I wouldn't lie to you." 

"I know, I know, I know. You got your four bits. I'm a 
sucker. God damn big hearted sap that's what's the matter 
with me." 

Somehow, when the old man had gone, and he'd tacked 
the banner over the cash register, Grogan felt better about it. 
It sort of set the whole place off gave it class. The eagles and 
the bright colors warmed the eye. And the slogan seemed to 
express just the right sentiment: "MY GOD! I'M CRAZY 
ABOUT AMERICA!" 



38 



THE DIAPER BRIGADE 

Here come they, wailing, screaming into life, 
Glub-glubbing in their bassinets and cribs, 
With tiny ribboned bonnets on their heads 
And animals embroidered on their bibs. 

Here come they, like a legion to the fray, 
Their didies are white banners in the breeze, 
And all we plan laboriously today 
Is destined to be rearranged by these. 

The fears and bitter worries that enshroud 
Our brains and twist our faces all awry, 
Will scatter like the clouds before the wind 
Of their triumphant laughter when we die. 

And all our thumping, pounding, nailing down 
The future like a carpet to the floor, 
Will be ripped up and their young feet shall tread 
Where human beings never dared before. 

How diligently life will strive to train 
These new ones to our narrow, fearful ways, 
And bend each tiny energetic brain 
To fit this social, economic maze. 

Tradition's mold will try to force their lives 
To painful, twisted patterns of ourselves, 
And learned men will beat them on the heads, 
With dull and musty volumes from the shelves. 



39 



But this wave is not destined to accept 
The mess of cruel customs we have massed, 
And these shall rise like rebels into life 
To sweep aside the errors of the past. 

All hail the screaming diaper brigade! 
Here come new men and women to the earth. 
Their hands will claim the new and better life 
To which our groping, struggling must give birth. 

Their energies will run full, strong and free, 
Their brains will not be muddied by despair, 
And they will tear down fences and rebuild 
The world upon a pattern bright and fair. 

Not scornfully, we hope, but they will laugh 
At our crude, gloomy groping after truth 
Which they will grasp quite readily for their own, 
And flourish in the confidence of youth. 

These things we reasoned painfully and slow, 

To them will be apparent at a glance. 

The roads we pioneer with sweat and toil 

Are paths down which their joyous feet will dance. 



40 



THE MAN THEY COULDN'T DRAFT 

THE OLD SAILOR removed the pipe from his mouth and ex- 
pectorated contemptuously. "War," he said, "is neither compli- 
cated nor difficult to understand. You just take a gun and kill 
people. But my grandfather was too smart for them. He had 
a most methodical mind, he did." 

The children sat quietly while he puffed thoughtfully and 
gazed out to sea. They knew he would continue presently. 

' 'Twas during the war for the purification of virtue," he 
said. "That was long ago, before you were born. My grand- 
father, a handsome young man at the time, was drafted with all 
the rest. The doctor looked down his throat and thumped his 
chest and declared him the finest specimen of them all. 

"They gave him a bath and dressed him in a uniform and 
then handed him a gun. 'And now you are ready,' they said. 

' 'Ready for what?' says my grandfather. 

' 'Why, ready to go and shoot,' they said. 

' 'And who am I going to shoot?' my grandfather wanted 
to know. 

' 'Why, the enemy, of course,' they said. 

' 'And who might that be?' asked my grandfather. 

"That stumped them. 'If it be necessary to shoot a man," 
said my grandfather, 'then I suppose I shall shoot him. But who 
is he? What is his name? Is he married or single? Does he 
have any children? What is his profession? How old is he? 
I have no objections at all to shooting him, but you can't ask 
me to put holes in a man who is a complete stranger.' 

"That was most logical and the generals could not deny it. 
Nothing would do but they must go to the files of the names of 
the enemy troops and select someone for my grandfather to 
shoot. 'Here,' they said. 'This man will do as well as any other. 
Here is his complete record and you will find a photograph 

41 



attached. Take it home and read it carefully. When you know 
him well enough, come back and we will send you to the front 
to shoot him.' 

"The very next day my grandfather came back. This will 
not do/ he said. 'I cannot kill him. A finer man I never heard 
tell of. Indeed I have grown as fond of him as a brother. His 
name is Oliver Schmaltz and he runs a bicycle repair shop. He 
has a wife and three small children. In his spare time he plays 
the violin and sings: 'Sweetheart the Buds Are Blooming.' 'Tis 
my favorite song and goes like this: 

'Sweetheart, the buds are blooming; 
'Banish that tear from your eye. 
'Smile for me, darling, and kiss me, 
'Before I march off to die. 
'Smile for me, darling, and kiss me 
'For I must march off to die.' 

' That will be enough,' said the general. You could see 
that he was very much impressed. 1 know how you feel,' he 
said, 'and I don't blame you. We shall give him to someone else 
to kill.' 

"Then the general went to the files again and spent a long 
while studying over the enemy soldiers. Finally he located one 
who seemed suitable. 'Here,' he said to my grandfather. 'Here 
is one any man would be happy to shoot. Go home and study 
his record. When you are sufficiently acquainted with him, come 
back and you may shoot him without delay.' 

"My grandfather took home the record and studied it long 
and earnestly. This man was indeed a contemptible character. 
His name was Oscar Finkle. He spent the days boozing in 
saloons and the evenings beating his wife. The way he supported 
himself was by stealing pennies out of blind men's cups. He was 

42 



mean, irritable, lazy, dishonest, brutal, slovenly and unpunctual. 

"Far into the night, my grandfather studied the record and, 
next morning, returned to the general. 

1 This man is unquestionably a louse,' said my grandfather. 
'Indeed I see no reason for not shooting him. He is the most 
contemptible scoundrel I have ever heard of.' 

1 'That's fine,' said the general. 'Here is your gun. You may 
go to the front and shoot him immediately.' 

1 'Just a minute,' said my grandfather. 'Even the lowest 
louse is entitled to fair play. Here is a personal, heart-to-heart 
letter I have written to him. I have decided to give him one 
more chance. I will give him six months in which to pull him- 
self together and reform. If at the end of that time he has 
not improved, I will shoot him down in his tracks like the 
dog he is.' 

"Naturally, this was a perfectly fair propositon. There was 
nothing the general could do but agree. So my grandfather 
went home to wait." 

The old sailor stopped talking and began puffing his pipe 
with unnecessary concentration. When it was apparent he was 
not going to continue, a little girl asked, "And did the bad man 
reform?" 

"He was not the reforming kind," said the old sailor. "Two 
months later he fell down the back stairs in a drunken stupor 
and broke his neck. That was the end of him." 

"And your grandfather," asked a little boy, "what did he 
do then?" 

"What could he do?" said the old sailor. "The man was 
dead. You can't shoot a dead man. There was nothing else they 
could do but excuse my grandfather from the war." 



43 



INVESTIGATION 

NEWS ITEM: SAN JOSE, Jan. 31. Coroner Jesse Spalding 
today said malnutrition caused the death of Celia Quiroz, 7, 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ramon Quiroz, Milpitas ranch work- 
ers. Mr. Spalding said the child showed every sign of having 
been undernourished. 

We know the investigating men 

Who call and never come back again. 

It must be holy; it must be nice 

To enter homes and count the lice. 

They are so kind in considerations, 

They've made so many investigations. 

They look at the stove and the sagging beds, 

And count the children, and shake their heads. 

Where were we born? How much do we weigh? 

Where do we work? How much does it pay? 

They write it down on a paper sheet; 

Their writing is so clean and neat. 

I am told they file it in fireproof files 

In buildings of glistening, colored tiles. 

And our empty stomachs and broken hearts 

Are traced on fine statistical charts. 

Ah the men with dollars, so many times, 

Have peeped in our dreary world of dimes, 

And I hear that people in brand new clothes 

Meet in the cities to speak our woes. 

And one of them said that my child was weak, 

That its twisted bones and its pale white cheek 

Could be cured with food and warmth and sun, 

And that something drastic must be done. 

That our social system had gone amiss, 

And things could never go on like this. 

And I know it is true, what the gentleman said, 

For he never came back and my child is dead. 

44 



THE SUBVERSIVE ELEMENT 

MISS HINKLE TIP-TOED quietly through the maternity ward. 
Row upon row, in their tiny cribs, the new-born babies cuddled 
in sleep. A warm, babyish smell diffused with hospital anti- 
septics. Over several of the cribs she leaned an inquisitive eye. 

"Bless them," she thought to herself. "Bless their tiny love- 
liness." Gently, she tucked the cotton comfy around a pink little 
neck, then tip-toed quietly out. 

A few moments passed, then a small head poked up over the 
edge of a crib then another, and another down the long row. 

"Is she gone?" asked one. 

"Yeah, but she'll be back," said the one nearest the door. 

"What do you suppose we've got into?" asked another. 

"I don't know, but I don't like the looks of things," said 
one with big ears. 

A little, black, round head popped up over the edge of a 
crib. "It's the world, that's what! It's the world! I heard them 
say so. We're alive!" 

"How come we're alive?" asked one. 

"Is it safe to be alive?" asked another. 

"How come I'm so funny and pink when you're nice and 
black and beautiful?" asked another. 

"I dunno," said the little black baby. "I figure they just 
ain't colored you yet. Or maybe I'm just extra special." 

"What are they gonna do with us?" asked Little Big Ears. 

"I heard the man with the windows on his eyes talking to 
the lady in white," said one. "He said we're going to grow big 
and ugly like them. He said they will love and cherish us until 
we get big, then they will kick our behinds or kill us in a war." 

"I don't like this world," said one. "It smells funny and I 
don't trust these people." 

"We'd better stick together and take no chances," said 
another. 

45 



A baby with round blue eyes stood up in a crib and gripped 
the edge. "I heard I heard that some of us are boys and some 
of us are girls, and when we grow up we'll marry each other." 

"What's marry?" asked another. 

"The lady in white says it's good," declared Little Big Ears. 

"But which of us are boys and which are girls?" 

"I got dibs on you," said one little thing, pointing to the 
black baby. 

"I ain't gonna do no marrying," said the black baby. "At 
least not 'til I know what it is." 

"They got a war on. They got a great big war on. I heard 
them say so," declared one. 

"War! What's war?" asked Little Blue Eyes. 

"They all line up on different sides and shoot each other." 

"What do they do that for?" 

"They don't know any better, I guess." 

"It ain't safe to be alive," said one. 'We're just going to 
get into a lot of trouble, that's all." 

"These people," said Little Big Ears, "were once as smart as 
we are. But as you grow bigger your brains wear out. Crazy 
things look sensible and you forget what sensible things should 
be like." 

"You mean the bigger we grow, the crazier we get?" asked 
the little black baby. 

"That's right. It's called experience. The man with the win- 
dow eyes said so. He said: 'They'll grow up into life full of 
joy and ideals and enthusiasm. But as they grow older, they'll 
get over it. They'll learn to grab and snatch and claw like the 
rest of us. They'll soon outgrow their young ideas/ ' 

"Then I ain't gonna grow up," said the little black baby. 
"I ain't gonna grow big and crazy and mean and kill and cheat 
people." 

"I'm gonna have fun," said Little Blue Eyes. "I'm gonna 

46 



laugh and sing and have fun in life. They ain't gonna make me 
gloomy and scowly and worried." 

"They don't know how to have fun. They don't enjoy the 
world," said one. 

"We sure got a lot o' fixin' up and straightenin' out to do," 
said the little black baby. 

'Til tell you what," said Little Big Ears, "let's none of us 
grow up. We don't want to be like them. Let's stick together 
and have fun." 

"Me too," said Little Blue Eyes. "I'm with you," said another. 
And they all agreed to stay sensible and not let the big people 
teach them their gloomy ways. 

Then one of the little faces became serious. "You better all 
lie down," it said. "I'm gonna have to cry." 

"Have you gone and got wet again?" asked the black baby. 

"Well, what's he have to cry for?" asked a newcomer. 

"Haven't you learned?" asked one. "If you get wet, all you 
have to do is cry. They come right away and change your 
diapers." 

"Is that how you do it?" asked the newcomer. "I've been wet 
for half an hour and didn't know what to do." 

"These diapers ain't no good," said Little Big Ears. "After 
they been on you a little while they get all wet." 

"Yell," said Little Blue Eyes. "Yell and make 'em change 
'em. Might as well let 'em know right now we ain't going to 
stand for any of their nonsense." 

"I ain't going to let them push me around," said Little 
Big Ears. 

"Pipe down, all of you," said the black baby. "You two bet- 
ter cry and get yourselves fixed up. We don't want no wet diap- 
ers in here." 

The ward became quiet again. Then two little voices rose in 
a frantic duet. 

47 



A CLASS OF CLARET 

HE WAS ALMOST an old man and he was very lonely, though 
he would admit that to no one. Besides his collar was dirty, his 
necktie was frayed, and his hat band bore an irregular marking 
where the sweat 'had soaked through, resembling something like 
the topography of a mountain range. 

I say he was almost an old man. That is, he was too old to 
be called middle-aged and too young to be called old. His hair 
was neither grey nor black, but somewhat both. His face was 
wrinkled and creased and his neck looked like a turkey's. He 
wore cheap spectacles in a black frame that put mourning bor- 
ders on the most unhappy pair of eyes you ever looked into. 

One glance told you that here was an unentertaining man 
whom there was no profit whatsoever in associating with. You 
would also sense that he was a cold, lonely creture who wanted 
to warm himself in your company, and who would be very grate- 
ful if you would talk to him. 

There was no companionship for him at the plant. The men 
played vulgar jokes on him and called him "old stink face" be- 
cause he had halitosis. He knew all this but would not admit 
it, even to himself. 

Whenever he saw a group laughing and talking he would 
edge up to the outskirts and stand there laughing when they 
laughed, cursing when they cursed and generally pretending he 
was a part of it. 

But after work he was on his own. He read the paper re- 
ligiously with his dinner. It was a mechanical process of absorb- 
ing information he did not understand and had no opinions 
about. He mixed it with no thinking of his own, challenged 
nothing, weighed nothing, marveled at nothing. 

After dinner the street was cold and soggy with fog. He 
walked past several movies and studied the stills. Movies to 
him were like opium. He crawled into the thick darkness, held 

48 



his hat on his lap, and lost himself in the imaginary world on 
the screen. It lifted him out of the deep sense of inferiority 
that the nagging ridicule of bigoted parents had plunged him 
into in childhood and out of which he had never emerged. He 
had been a pimply-faced child with crooked teeth, weakened in 
mind and body by hereditary syphilis. 

The movies were a God's blessing to him, since he had never 
achieved any life of his own. They were a dark escape that con- 
sumed hours of time and provided something between the time 
clock and bed. 

Tonight they would not do. He did not know why, but night 
after night of movies produce a staleness that will not sup- 
port life. 

He walked a few blocks, then the opening of a door let a 
gust of laughter and the music from an automatic phonograph 
out on the pavement. It was warm. It was human. People 
loud, hilarious and capable of life were reveling in each other. 
He got a glimpse of color and movement through the crack 
of the door as it swung to. He walked a few steps, hesitated, 
turned back, screwed up his spirit and plunged in. The laughter 
and conversation roared in his ears. He found the bar and strad- 
dled a stool with a grotesque affectation of familiarity. He sat 
there like a nervous scarecrow. A fat man next to him was 
gesturing with a cigar and punching his companion as he re- 
lated a wild account of debauchery. 

The bartender mopped an area of mahogany in front of him 
and he half whispered for a claret. The fat man reeled over 
backward and almost knocked him off his stool. He apologized 
for being in the way. The fat man said, "Okeh Bud," and went 
on with his yarn. 

He took out an artificial leather purse with a nickel-plated 
snap, extracted a few coins and gave them to the bartender, 

49 



then sipped his claret like an island of loneliness in a sea 
of noise. 

The claret warmed him a little, then he ordered another, 
and another. It made him silly and he tried to engage the bar- 
tender in conversation, but the bartender was too busy. Finally 
he took to laughing at the fat man's jokes, wrinkling his brow 
when the fat man got serious, and pretending he was part of it. 
He laughed in the wrong place and the fat man turned on him 
with, "What the hell is so funny, Charley?" 

His name wasn't Charley and before he could rally from the 
shock of being called by this name, the fat man had turned his 
back again. 

Finally he was going home. He was out in the cold fog by 
himself. People were piling into their automobiles laughing 
and gagging each other. He walked on unnoticed. 

The stairs of his sleeping place sounded familiar to his steps. 
He stopped at the aluminum numbers tacked on a door which 
marked his room. A moment of groping and he found the light. 
A single electric bulb dangling from a dusty cord threw a yel- 
low light over the familiar scene. 

He removed his clothes in a daze, because his mind was still 
thinking of the fat man's stories. The dirty collar was laid on 
the battered dresser with the tie still sticking in it. The pants 
fell over a chair. The shoes dropped on the patched and faded 
carpet. 

Long woolen underwear and all he rolled under the covers 
in the chipped enamel bedstead, after switching off the light. 
The springs creaked under his bony frame in a plaintive squeak- 
ing that to him was friendliness. The tiny alarm clock on the 
dresser tick-tocked in idiotic monotony. And he sank into the 
warm oblivion of sleep, still thinking about what the fat 
man said. 



50 



LOVELY JEANETTE 




JEANETTE WAS A LOVELY COW. She was the kind of 
cow for whom you developed a real affection. Her eyes were 
big, brown and understanding. Her movements were gentle 
and graceful. The clonking of her bell was calm and deliberate. 
It expressed genuine character and depth of personality that 
contrasted greatly with the giddy, idiotic jangling of the goats 
up on the mountainside. 

Goats are all right, but they don't take anything seriously. 
Everything is a joke to them, and they have no real feeling for 
the poetry of life. You can tell that from the sound of their 
bells and the smartalec way they look at you. 

Start climbing a fence into a pasture and observe the dignity 
with which the cows will slowly lift their heads and survey you. 
Their eyes are full of calm philosophy. You could tell your 

51 



troubles to a cow, whereas you'd only chatter of the most super- 
ficial things to a goat. 

Jeanette was Old Dave's pet, and when she wandered way 
out in the mountains to have her little calf, it worried him ter- 
ribly. When he managed to find them and bring them home, he 
was so happy that he cracked out a bottle of the fiery, white 
whiskey that he made in his own little still down by the creek. 

There were only the three of us, John and Old Dave and 
myself. It was seven miles to the nearest road and the nearest 
neighbor. Outside, the snow was falling gently. Inside, we 
clustered around the red-hot stove, sipped the white whiskey 
that burned our lips, and listened to military marches scratched 
out on an ancient phonograph with a big tin horn. Old Dave 
was in charge, John was the cook, and I just helped out generally. 

Dave was small and crouch-shouldered. His grizzled whis- 
kers and stooped posture made him look like a gnome. There 
wasn't anything about mountain ranching he didn't know. He 
didn't think any other life was fit to live. But he was lonely and 
wished he had a wife. 

Whenever we mentioned any elderly woman, he would in- 
quire about her with great interest and ask in all seriousness 
if there was any chance of getting her to marry him. 

It was just a log cabin with a thin flooring and so cold we 
never took our clothes off just our shoes. Then we'd pile under 
everything in the shape of covers we could lay hands on, and 
go to sleep. 

One morning, before it was even light, I was awakened by 
Old Dave shaking me frantically. "It's Jeanette," he said. "She's 
fell down and can't get up." He was carrying a lantern and his 
old eyes were intense with alarm. John was already groping 
around for his shoes and cussing. 

By the time we got up the hill to the barn, dawn was just 
beginning to break. There was poor Jeanette lying in the thick 

52 



mud in front of the barn. She'd been sick ever since the calf 
was born. Dave put one arm around her. "Don't worry, Jean- 
ette," he said. "Don't you worry. Poor Jeanette. Nice Jeanette." 

She just looked up with those big brown eyes, full of pa- 
tience and suffering. We could see where Dave had scooped 
the mud trying to help her up. 

All three of us got down on our knees in the cold slush and 
tried to lift. If we could just get her on her feet and into the 
barn, Dave said, it would be all right. The mud was slippery. 
It was hard to brace your feet or get a grip. Jeanette was soon 
coated with thick mud and so were we. We wallowed and 
strained and slipped and slid, and all the while, Jeanette' s eyes 
were patient and pleading. 

"Get an axe," shouted Dave. "Get an axe." His voice was 
frantic. 

We chopped down tough trees, built a large prop and lever 
and set the thing up in record time. After more wallowing in 
the slush, we got ropes and sacks under her. I crouched beside 
her while Dave and John put all their weight on the lever. 
Slowly she rose. I braced and tugged to keep her legs straight. 
"Hold her," yelled Dave. "Hold her." He left the lever to 
John and came slopping over to help me. It was no use. 

Her poor old legs had no strength in them. She tried des- 
perately she tried. But she was too cold and weak and sick. 

Dave pleaded with her and soothed her lovingly he begged 
her to try real hard. We tried again and again with no success. 
It was now almost noon. We had been working frantically with- 
out breakfast or even a cup of coffee. Dave's voice was choked 
and there were tears in his eyes. Finally the lever broke. 

Dave stood up wiped his muddy hands futilely on his 
equally muddy coat. We were all mud from head to foot even 
our faces. His voice was low and tragic, as if he didn't want 

53 



Jeanette to hear. "John," he said. "Go fix some breakfast." We 
knew it was over. 

John walked a few steps, paused, looked back, said nothing, 
then trudged away. 

If there was blood in front of the barn the other cows 
wouldn't go in. We got a block and tackle and dragged her 
way down by the creek. Dave staked with a crowbar and I ran 
with the rope, over and over again it seemed like a hundred 
times. Dave never said a word. When she was lying down by 
the creek, he told me quietly to get a gun. 

Back in the cabin, John was working and cursing over the 
hot stove, and there was a warm smell of food. I loaded the 
gun and went back to Dave. 

I started to give him the gun and he drew his hands away. 
I felt embarrassed. He turned his back and walked away. Jean- 
ette was looking up with her beautiful eyes, as if to say, "That's 
all right, son. I'm sick and hurt. I know you'll be kind to me." 

After I stood there a while, Dave turned and yelled angrily, 
"Well, shoot her. Goddamit, shoot her." 

I raised the gun, looking at her eyes, aimed at her forehead, 
shot once, cocked and shot again. 

The warm look in her eyes was gone and there was only 
death that grim, stiff vacancy of death. 

When we got back to the cabin, John had hot coffee and 
pancakes ready. In the horse trough outside we washed the 
caked, hard mud from our hands. The sun had come out, and 
the forest and patches of unmelted snow glittered fresh and 
dean. We never even mentioned the thing after that. 



54 



THE QUIET BROTHERS 

Aye! They were English once a time 
And sipped on ales and toddies. 
They are not English any more, 
But dead and rotting bodies. 

Aye! Dead and rotting bodies, they, 
In Norway's deep fjords. 
Embarrassing, eh what, me lad, 
To the British House of Lords? 

Aye! They were Germans once a time 
With Pilsner on their breath. 
They are not Germans any more, 
But grisly shapes of death. 

Aye! Grisly shapes of death, me lad, 
Washed up upon the beach, 
As ghastly, bloated symbols of 
The glory of the Reich. 

Aye! These were French one sunny day 
And dipped their bread in wine. 
They are not Frenchmen any more 
But corpses on the Rhine. 

Just corpses on the Rhine, they are, 
No more to drink and dance. 
Good business this, eh what, me lad, 
For the banking men of France? 



55 



And these, me lad, Norwegians 
Or at least that was their name, 
But they lie here with the others 
For the dead are all the same. 

Aye! The dead are all alike, me lad, 
On battle-ground or wave, 
And they speak a common language 
In the silence of the grave. 

Don't whisper, lad, for they are dead. 
The dead can never hear, 
And dead men are the only ones 
Whom bankers never fear. 



Dig deep, me lad. Heave ho yuor spade, 
And turn the final sod. 
The British, French and German dead 
Are going to their God. 

Dig deep, me lad, the soil will take 
Their bodies in a row, 
And out of these unspeaking mouths 
Will grass and daisies grow. 

Dig deep, me lad, the soil is kind. 
Its blanketing embrace 
Will hide the gruesome agony 
Of every corpse's face. 



56 



Too late for these to see the light 
And raise their voices high. 
But mind them well, me lad, for you 
Are born to live, not die. 

The dead in all their grisly gore, 
Mixed up and all alike, 
Are highly educational for 
The men who still can strike. 



The men who still can strike, me lad, 
In every blighted land, 
Lay low the profit-crazy snobs 
And take the earth in hand. 

The men who still can act, me lad, 
To claim the world they made, 
And run it right with room for all 
And work for every trade. 

The men who do the work, me lad, 
Like strange, bewildered slaves, 
Produce and build, destroy and kill 
And even dig the graves. 

The men who do the work, me lad, 
With hand and heart and head, 
Can learn a bit of wisdom 
From the brotherhood of dead. 



57 



JOE AND MARIE 

I 

JOE WAS AFRAID of other people's parents and families. 
He didn't know exactly why, but you had to act differently in 
their presence. You didn't trust them and they didn't trust you. 
They had a different code of things wanted different things 
in life. 

Marie was a swell dame a slick little dancer and boy what 
a shape! She had brains too. You could go just so far with her 
and no farther. She was a dame a guy could settle down with. 
She liked doing things and a guy wouldn't be stuck in the mud. 
Good looks and plenty of brains. 

Meeting on the corner was okay. Calling for her at home 
meant meeting the family. 

A small boy answered the bell. "Ma!" he yelled. "It's for 
Marie. Marie! There's a fellow to see you." 

A stout woman appeared from the rear of the house wiping 
her hands on an apron. "Eddie, don't shout. Go and brush your 
teeth. Come in, Mr. Hammond. Won't you come in and sit 
down. Let me take your hat. You are Mr. Hammond, I suppose." 

Marie's voice yelled from upstairs: "I'll be ready in a shake, 
Joe. I'll be down in a minute." 

"I'm Marie's mother," said the woman sweetly. Already her 
eyes were appraising him. "Come right in and sit down. Marie 
will be down in a minute." 

In the parlor an elderly man with an open newspaper in 
his hand and slippers on his feet rose wearily from an arm chair. 

"This is Marie's father. Sam, this is Mr. Hammond." 

"So you're Joe. How do you do, young fellow." 

They shook hands and settled into chairs. Now two sets of 
eyes were scanning him from head to foot three if you counted 
Eddie leaning in the doorway. 

58 



"It looks as if it wanted to rain," said father. 

"I don't suppose you'll be out very late. It's a week night," 
said mother. 

"No. I've got to be at work in the morning." 

"Marie tells us you work at the Branson Company," said 
father. 

"Yes, I do. I'm in the stockroom," said Joe. 

"It's good to have steady work," said mother. 

"Yes, it's good," said Joe. 

"You live with your family here?" asked mother. 

"No, my family lives in Oregon." 

"Oh! In Oregon. It's beautiful up there." 

"Yes, it's beautiful. It's beautiful here too." 

"I've got a cousin in the lumber business up there," said 
father. "Your people don't happen to be in the lumber 
business?" 

"They've got a little farm," said Joe. 

"Oh, that's splendid," said mother. "They must do pretty 
well." 

"Pretty well," lied Joe. The farm had been foreclosed a year 
before and things were tough. But he didn't dare let that out. 

"Well, it's good to have steady work," said father. "I 
imagine there's a pretty good opportunity with the Branson 
Company." 

Joe's tongue slipped. "I really figure to get into aeronautics," 
he said. "I'd sort of like to work in aeronautics." 

A note of uneasiness entered their voices. "If you've got 
a good job it pays to stick at one thing," said father. 

"It's best in the long run," said mother. 

"It don't pay to jump around," said father. 

"Oh, I wouldn't do anything foolish," assured Joe, whose 
life had been one foolish move after another ever since leaving 
school. 

59 



"You sound like a very sensible young man," said mother, 
though her voice sounded more inquisitive than certain. Joe 
tried to look like a sensible young man. Every nerve in his body 
was uneasy and on guard. 

"What do you young people do so late at night?" asked 
father. 

"Oh, sometimes we just get talking, you know, and fooling 
around and talking, and pretty soon it gets late." 

"My goodness, I should say so," said mother. "Why, the 
other evening it was two o'clock when Marie came in." 

"I don't know what you find to do," said father, and he 
fixed Joe with a suspicious eye. 

"Of course I know you don't do anything wrong," said 
mother. She laughed slightly in a mirthless cackle that carried 
no conviction. 

"Just the same, eleven-thirty is late enough for anyone to be 
out," said father. 

"Yeah, I know," said Joe in agony. "It's just when we get to 
fooling around and one thing and another, and you don't watch 
the clock, and ." 

"What do you mean, fooling around?" asked mother grimly. 

Marie popped gorgeously into the room, every detail of her 
young body emphasized by a $7.85 imitation of a $60 dress. 

"Joey, honey, I'm sorry you had to wait. Ma, do I look 
all right?" 

"Marie, that dress is so thin." 

"It looks like rain out," said father gloomily. 

"I love the rain," said Marie. "Come on, Joey, let's go out 
and get wet." 

"You take your overcoat," barked father. 

"And do try to get home at a sensible hour," said mother. 

As the door closed behind them, the cool air of the porch 
was scented by the freshly mowed lawn. They paused for a 

60 



quick, warm kiss. Then hand in hand they raced down the stair- 
way and into the night, Marie's young voice singing: "I'm going 
to marry the butcher boy. I'm going to marry the butcher boy." 

Inside, the parents heard her voice disappear in the distance. 
Then there was only the ticking of the clock, the war news in the 
paper, the worn places in the rug, and the spots on the wallpaper. 

Mother wanted to cry because she was afraid of the world, 
afraid for her daughter, afraid of life. 

Father returned glumly to his paper. Work and read the 
paper, work and read the paper, work and read the paper. 
Gradually the kids grow up and go singing off into the night. 

He dropped the paper and sat dreaming for a minute. Once 
he was going to run away to sea. He almost did. A vision of 
native girls dancing in grass skirts beneath a big moon filled 
his brain. 

"You're sleepy, dear, and you've got to go to work in the 
morning," said mother. 

He shook the dancing girls out of his brain, rose, stretched, 
yawned. Together they climbed the stairs to bed. 

"He seemed like a very sensible young man," said mother. 
But her voice was full of doubt. 

II 
"WHAT ARE YOUR FOLKS going to say?" asked Joe. 

Difficulties that had never suggested themselves an hour 
ago were now coming to life in his brain. He had borrowed 
Hank's old coupe to drive Marie home. They took a round- 
about way past the reservoir at the edge of town and parked 
near the truck gardens. The rain drumming on the roof and 
spilling down the windshield the snugness and privacy within 
made decisions warm and easy. One thing led to another and 
it all came about naturally. 

An hour ago his heart was singing with recklessness and 
elation. Now they snuggled together quietly and he was think- 
ing of tomorrow. 

61 



"My life is my own," she said, "and I've a right to be happy. 
Besides, I earn my own money." 

"A guy ought to be making more money," said Joe. 

"With what I make it's enough. Besides, you won't always 
be in the stock room." 

"I got to quit horsin' around so much," said Joe. "I got to 
get busy maybe go to night school." 

"Let's not worry tonight, Joey. Tonight it's just you and 
me and the rain." 

"Just the same, a guy's got to think about the future. It's 
different now." 

She pulled his head down to hers. Their lips met and their 
arms held each other tightly. 

"Joey, you're not sorry " 

"Don't be silly. It's just a guy'd like to be able to " 

"We can find a small place and it won't cost any more 
than to go running around nights. Instead we can stay home 
and read and listen to the radio." 

"That's what I like to do, read good books. I mean serious 
stuff. Only a guy just never seems to get around to it." 

"We'll have lots of time now." 

"Do we have to tell your folks? Why don't I just meet you 
Saturday afternoon. We can get married and then tell 'em." 

"I ought to tell ma, Joey." 

"We could surprise 'em." 

"I wouldn't feel right, Joey. You don't mind, do you?" 

"They ask all kinds of questions and then they'll want a 
lot of fuss, with a lot of relatives around and everything." 

"No they won't. I'll make ma promise." 

"Suppose they won't let us?" 

She was quiet a minute. "They've got to now." They were 
both quiet. "Joey, you're not sorry?" 

"Don't be crazy. Gee, what makes you say that?" 

62 



"We can look for a place tomorrow. I'll get all the want-ad 
sections and meet you after work." 

"How much you think we'll have to pay?" 

"If we could get some place for 20 dollars, it doesn't have 
to be big." 

"Gee, I dunno. Rents are high." 

"Well, we can take a look and see." 

All the way home, while the rain slanted through the head- 
lights and the windshield wiper snapped back and forth errat- 
ically, they joked about their marital future. Joe started the 
kidding by saying he'd probably get indigestion from her cook- 
ing. She came right back by saying she'd divorce him if he 
snored. He said if she snored he'd make her sleep on the fire 
escape, and they darn near split their sides laughing. 

The joking continued all the way up the front walk to the 
porch and then stopped. Without a word they held each other 
tightly while the rain thumped on the roof and gurgled down a 
drain pipe. For some unknown reason Marie began to cry. It 
worried Joe until she told him she was just happy. 

Joe drove back to his rooming house feeling good but giddy. 
There was a letter for him on the table in the hallway. He 
grabbed it and ran upstairs. The light was still on in Hank's 
room, so he opened the door. 

"That's the last goddam time you'll ever borrow a car from 
me," said Hank who was standing in his underdrawers. "Where 
the hell did you go ?" 

"Gee, I can't help it, Hank. Wait 'til I tell you." 

"Just the same, that's the last goddam time. I'm through 
being a sap." 

Joe sat on the bed. "Wait a minute, Hank. You know 
Marie " 

"That hot little number you were with?" 

"Yeah. Well, Marie and me, believe it or not" 

63 



"What's that you got in your hand?" 

"It's a letter. But listen, Marie and me " 

"Lemme see it.' 

"Shut up and listen to what I'm saying. It ain't anything. 
It's just an ad of some kind. It ain't even got a stamp on it. 
Marie and " 

"Oh, oh! Just an ad, eh? Uncle Sam don't have to use 
stamps. I know what that is. Open it up, chump." 

"What do you mean?" Joe hesitated and looked at the 
envelope, then slowly opened it. 

"Your draft questionnaire," said Hank. "It won't be long 
now. You son of a b , you'll never get rich, you're in the 
army now." 

Joe sat motionless looking at it. 

"Better give me the phone number of that hot little babe," 
said Hank. "You ain't going to be needing it." Then he looked 
at Joe and drew up short. "Jesus, kid! I didn't mean to say 
anything. I was just kidding. I'm sorry as hell. Gosh! If there's 
anything I can do." 

But Joe didn't say anything. He just sat there looking at 
that goddam questionnaire. 



A DILLER, A DOLLAR 

A diller, a dollar, 

A uniformed scholar; 

See now what the jingoes have done! 

We sent him to college 

For civilized knowledge, 

And now he is shooting a gun. 



64 



READY TO WEAR 

DAD WAS A LITTLE GUY and most everybody liked him. 
His brothers were all big, husky fellows, but Dad was little. 
He had his faults, as my grandmother could tell you. He was 
always doing things he shouldn't have done, and not doing 
things he ought to. 

He was a traveling salesman in every sense of the phrase. 
I'm not going to tell you about his faults. His line was ladies' 
ready-to-wear, and he went on the road shortly after the big 
earthquake and fire. Everybody would tell you what a smart 
dresser he was. His tie was always knotted just so and his pants 
creased. We've got some pictures of him in the old album. You'd 
laugh at the cut of his clothes, but they were snappy and up to 
date in those days. 

He was never home much, but we kids celebrated it as a 
kind of circus when he was. We admired his immaculate appear- 
ance and his crisp humor. Neatness personified him. His hand- 
writing was neat, his hair was neat, his habits were neat, and 
his humor was neat. He would have enjoyed life immensely if 
somebody could have loosened a few screws in him. 

As it was, his brain leaned too much to business, business, 
business. He lived and breathed ladies' ready-to-wear. Prac- 
tical!/ his whole life was poured into the merchandising of 
women's dresses. The energy and intenseness which he applied 
to this minor detail of life would have made you think it was 
a burning crusade. 

All day long he displayed and explained the merits of his 
line of goods. He had lunch with others in the business and 
talked ready-to-wear. His evenings were mostly spent with buy- 
ers and wholesalers who discussed prices and values. 

He shared the fanaticism of most business men inasmuch as 
he regarded business as the essential thing in life the purpose 

65 



of existence. Usually he couldn't talk or think anything else. 

After the family broke up we saw still less of him. But 
once in a while he would come to town and I would go down to 
his hotel to see him. I was beginning to grow up, and wasn't 
the least bit interested in business. Unable to talk of anything 
else, he would display his line to me, pulling a dress off the 
rack here and there, saying, "Look at that snappy little number. 
I can sell that to retail at so and so much." 

I was interested in other things in the world and people 
and ideas things which he didn't think would get me any- 
where. Yet I often wondered where this feverish and intense 
preoccupation with selling ladies' dresses was getting him. 

When he got the T. B., an amazing thing happened to him. 
He noticed for the first time that the world was not a hanger 
for a lady's dress with price tag on it. I went to visit him in the 
mountains. He was flat on his back. All he could talk about 
was a view of a little town from a certain bend in the road, and 
how it looked when the sun went down. They wouldn't let him 
up, but finally he made such a fuss they had to let him up. He 
insisted on taking me to that bend in the road to see what he 
meant. In that brief moment I was his son and he loved me 
and he loved the world and wanted to show it to me. It was a 
nice moment. 

I saw him again years later. His clothes were still immacu- 
late and his tie just so. But he hadn't kept up with the styles. 
His eyes were intense and nervous. He told me all about the 
line of goods he was representing. He was back in the business 
again. He also told me about his new false teeth and showed 
them to me. He looked thin and his cheeks were hollow. But 
once again he was living and breathing ready-to-wear. I talked 
to him about things and the world and the sky and the ground, 
but he didn't understand me. He was a little provoked that I 
wasn't interested in business and would never get anywhere. 

66 



It wasn't long afterward that I got one of those telephone 
calls that make you feel uncanny and thoughtful. I was asked 
to come the next day. But I knew a mob of people and relatives 
would be around, and I didn't want it that way. 

The sky let go of its water and the rain was beating so hard 
it practically frightened people off the street. After a late din- 
ner at a restaurant I set out across town through the wet night. 
The lights of automobiles reflected brightly on the black as- 
phalt. The gutters were gurgling rivers. I had to transfer on 
two different street cars to get there. When I got off, the street 
was deserted and I had to walk a few blocks through the beating 
downpour. 

It was an old mansion with a grim electric sign over the 
porch. As I wiped my feet on the mat, the rain drummed fran- 
tically above. It was late. Too late, most people would think. 
I rang the bell many times. I had a right to. Dad was in there. 

At last a tall man in slappy slippers and a cheap cotton bath 
robe opened the door. He had a skin disease and one side of 
his face was painted with ghastly zinc ointment. 

I asked to see my father's second wife, thinking she might 
be there. He lead me through a bare hall to a large register in 
which he searched for some moments. 

"She's not here," he said. And then I realized he was look- 
ing for her among the dead. I explained that it was my father 
I really wanted to see. 

His voice took on an affectation of solicitude that made me 
hate him. It was annoying and syrupy. I wasn't collapsing. I 
was standing on my legs. I'd come to see my father. Now this 
mewling, affectatious fish had to put on a show. 

He took several steps across the hall and I started to follow. 
Then he stopped short, and I stopped. He looked at the floor. 
I looked at the floor. A large cockroach was scurrying toward 

67 



die wainscoting. He reached out one slippered foot and slapped 
viciously. Only a spot on the floor remained. 

He clicked his tongue, "Tsch, tsch, tsch, tsch," shook his 
head in righteousness, and proceeded onward. 

As we entered a kind of chapel, I could see the flowers 
banked at one end. He proceeded just so far, then stood there 
with his head cocked to one side and a practiced, sanctimonious 
expression on his mug. 

Then I walked up and looked at my father. 

He was nice. Everybody liked him. His face was peaceful 
but awfully white. But it wasn't my father. There was some- 
thing different. I noticed it right away. It seemed important 
to me and I felt awful. He hadn't tied that necktie! It wasn't 
just so. It was clumsy crude. It made me sick at heart. 

I stood there looking at him. I wanted to wake him and tell 
him about life about the wonderful smell and feel of things 
about laughter and friends and music and sunshine. I wanted 
to tell him about the friends we could have been if it hadn't 
been for that goddam line of ready-to-wear. 

I just stood there looking at him. I wanted to put my arms 
around him and cry, and I didn't know why. We'd been so far 
apart he'd been so busy he'd been so determined to get some- 
where and so afraid I would never get anywhere. And he was 
such a nice little guy. 

I put my hand on the coffin and said, "Goodbye, Dad," as 
nicely as I could and with all the love and friendship I had. 
The rain was beating the roof like a charge of cavalry. My 
Dad's face was white as plaster, and his fine hands were folded 
under the necktie he didn't tie. He couldn't move his hands 
and I thought to myself, as long as I can move these hands, as 
long as there's warmth in my brain 



68 



A SIMPLE LITTLE SNACK 

ONE OF THE GREATEST FALLACIES fostered by women 
is the contention that cooking is difficult and requires skill. 
As a matter of fact there is practically nothing to it. 

Take breakfast. What is there to fixing breakfast? Suppose 
you find yourself alone in the house on a Sunday morning and 
wander out in the kitchen in robe and slippers ? You want break- 
fast. All right, here's all you have to do. 

Open the cooler and take two eggs out of the cardboard box. 
Set them on the sink temporarily. Now, what next? Poke 
around in the cupboards under the sink and you will find a 
frying pan. Put it on the stove. So much for that. 

Now go back to the cooler and find some bacon. Take it 
out, lay it next to the eggs on the sink and rub your hands 
together. Everything is going fine. Go back to the stove and 
look at the frying pan, which is still sitting there. Light a fire 
under it, then return to the sink and get the eggs, carrying one 
in each hand, and bring them over to the stove. No, bring them 
back again and put them down. You forgot the butter. 

Open the cooler, find a dish of butter, put it on the stove, 
return to the drawer in the sink, get a knife, cut a piece of but- 
ter. No. Wait a minute. Come to think of it, if you fry the 
bacon first, you can use the bacon grease. 

Scrape the piece of butter back on to the dish, return to the 
sink, pick up the bacon and go back to the stove. Here hesitate 
a minute. If you almost made a mistake on the butter you 
might be making a mistake on the bacon. Think carefully. If 
you can't think of anything wrong, put the bacon in the pan 
and watch it curl up. Try to straighten it out with your fingers. 
Then rush back to the sink, open the drawer and look for the 
turner. It won't be there. The turner is in another drawer under 
the dish cupboard. Get your hands on it and return to the stove 
as soon as possible. 

69 



By this time the bacon is cooked to a crisp. Drop the turner 
and rush for a dish, then back to the stove. Shovel the bacon 
onto the dish. It's a little burned, but some people like it 
that way. 

Now go back to the sink and get the eggs, one in each hand. 
Crack them on the edge of the pan and ease them into the 
bacon grease. Put the shells on the shelf over the stove and 
wipe your hands on your robe. Everything is going fine. 

Run to the bread box, take out the loaf, slice off a few 
pieces and stick them in the oven for toasting. To light the 
oven, get down on you hands and knees and peek in the little 
hole in the tin. You won't see anything. 

Light a match, stick it in the hole, and turn the gas valve. 
Then wait. Just wait. Suddenly the match will burn to your 
finger and you will realize you turned the wrong valve, thus 
imperiling yourself with the danger of explosion. Turn off the 
valve in a hury. Find the right valve. Two or three matches 
should be enough to get the oven lit. Meanwhile the eggs are 
cooking furiously. 

Dash for the sink and find a saucepan. Fill it with water 
and try to bring it back to the stove without spilling. If you 
will put your tongue between your teeth and balance yourself 
like a tightrope walker your chances are good. Get it on the 
stove and light a fire under it. That's for the coffee. 

Grab the eggs quickly because they are getting brown at the 
edges. Dump them onto the plate and you will smell the toast 
burning. Flop open the oven and burn your fingers trying to 
pull it out. 

Just then the phone will ring. Turn off the oven and run to 
answer it. You have wasted too much time and the party on the 
other end has hung up. 

Return quickly, for the bacon is now cold and the eggs 
cooling. The water for the coffee is boiling. Find the coffee 

70 



pot. Grab a pot holder and lift the pan. Wait a minute. You 
haven't put the coffee in yet Drop everything and go get the 
coffee. Put the coffee in the pot, pour in the water and clamp 
down the lid. 

Now rush the bacon and eggs to the table and sit down. 
You've forgotten knives and forks. Rush for the knives and 
forks, go back for a cup and saucer, where' s the salt and pepper? 
Get up and find them. Go back and sit down. Where's the 
sugar? You forgot to turn off the gas under the pan. Get some 
cream from the cooler. The phone rings again. The kitchen 
whirls round and round. You grab onto the edge of the table 
trying to steady yourself. The doorbell rings. The ceiling falls 
in. The earth shakes. The fiery ball of the sun comes galloping 
at the earth in a hot blaze of destruction. And the world col- 
lapses in a mad confusion of cold eggs, burned bacon, forks, 
knives, sugar, cups, saucers and ringing bells. 



THE WOMAN IN THE SHOE 

There was an old woman 
Who lived in a shoe. 
She had so many children 
She didn't know what to do. 
She gave them red banners 
And slogans to yell, 
And they marched to the Mayor 
And raised plenty of hell. 



72 



WHO WILL CHANCE THE WORLD? 

He does not scratch who does not itch, 

Is mercilessly true; 
Nor will the bourgeois change the world 

To aid the like of you. 
For though he flay with burning words 

The whole inhuman wreck, 
He does not feel the iron heel 

Descending on his neck. 
And though his heart be stricken sad 

By culture's sharp decline, 
Or by the sight of hungry men 
Who wait for bread in line. 
Not painful cries nor angry eyes 

Can move him to resist 
The awful march of private greed 

Or clench his whitened fist. 
But you who heard the bony knock 

Of hunger at your door 
And let him in to sit and grin, 

Are destined to be more. 
And you who pay your very lives 

Into machines like oil, 
Or sow your strength like harvest seeds 

Upon the farming soil, 
Your calloused hands hold all the might 

To shape the world again, 
To smash the breed that lives for greed 

And build a world for men. 



73 



ZEKE THE DISCREET 

"MY UNCLE ZEKE," said the old sailor, "was the most dis- 
creet man that ever lived." 

"What's discreet?' asked one of the children. 

"Why, discreet," said the old sailor, "means a man who 
never sticks his neck out, who keeps his mouth shut, plays safe, 
and specializes in keeping out of trouble." 

"He must have been a very good man," said a little girl. 

"Aye, good he was," said the old sailor. "Good for nothing." 

He lit his pipe carefully, puffed until the warm smoke 
flowed smoothly, then launched into his story. " Twas a trou- 
blous age in which Uncle Zeke lived," he said. "The war for the 
liberty of freedom had just ended and the war for freedom of 
liberty was getting ready to start. The medium sized depression 
which preceded the great crisis just before the colossal slump, 
was on. 

"There was lots of radical talk going around. People were 
organizing this, that and the other thing, but Uncle Zeke would 
have no truck with them. 'Not me,' he said. Tm not gonna 
stick my neck out and get into trouble.' He just kept his mouth 
shut and played safe." 

"He must have been very wise," said a little boy. 

"Wise? Well he thought so," said the old sailor. "He lost 
his job and they evicted him from his house and repossessed 
his automobile. The family went to sleep in the park, the kids 
got the whooping cough, and his wife finally left him. But he 
had one consolation; he wasn't in no trouble. 

"One day things got so bad he hadn't eaten in a week and 
he was walking around in the rain. He crawled into an old 
barrel for shelter and there was another man in there shivering 
and chattering and wishing he had something to eat. 

1 "This is a hell of a system,' said the man. Tm a first class 

74 



mechanic and I can't find no work, and yet I see where they're 
dumping oranges and burning wheat and plowing under crops. 
I'm fed up with this damned craziness. I'm all for establishing 
Socialism.' 

"At that my Uncle Zeke started crawling out of the barrel. 
'Where you going?' asked the man. 'You'll die of pneumonia 
if you stay out in that rain.' 

' Tm no sap,' said Uncle Zeke. 'You're one of these radical 
reds. If I'm caught sleeping in a barrel with you they'll think 
I'm red too and I'll get in trouble.' 

"He crawled on out and walked around in the rain all night. 
Sure enough, he got pneumonia. He almost died in a charity 
hospital, and when they put him out he was skinny as a broom. 
By that time everybody was talking about war war war! 

"On the corner there was a man passing out leaflets. Uncle 
Zeke took one and then dropped it like it was hot. It was all 
about mobilizing against war and demanding peace. 'That damn 
fool is just going to get himself in trouble,' said Uncle Zeke. 

"Sure enough, the war came. Men were slaughtered by the 
millions. Cities were bombed and burned. Famines and plagues 
spread over half the earth. One night my Uncle Zeke was hud- 
dled in the corner of a damp basement, half starved and sick 
with the flu. Up above they could hear the bombs crashing and 
booming, and the sirens screaming. 

' Tm fed up with this,' said one man, 'and I know darned 
well the people on the other side are fed up too. This whole 
lousy war is a racket. I'm for all of us getting together and 
demanding a halt. All we got to do is contact the people on the 
other side and they'll agree with us.' 

1 'That's what I say,' said another man. Pretty soon every- 
body in the basement agreed that is, everybody but Uncle 
Zeke. He was so sick from hunger and weak from flu he could 
hardly whisper. He leaned up on one elbow and said, 'Remem- 

75 



her, I didn't have nothing to do with this. I ain't responsible. 
I don't want to get into no trouble.' 

"But his voice was so weak nobody heard him. They all 
went out and left him alone in the basement. And there he was 
all alone in the dark and scared to death that they would accuse 
him of being a part of the plan, and that he'd get in trouble.' 

The old sailor paused and puffed silently for a while. 

"Did he get in trouble?" asked a little girl. 

"Uncle Zeke? not him," said the old sailor. "He was too 
discreet. Besides, a few minutes later the building caved in 
on him." 



POOR MISTER MILLIONAIRE 

Poor Mister Millionaire, 
Nobody likes him; 
Governments tax him 
And labor strikes him. 

Poor Mister Millionaire, 
Ain't it a crime! 
Won't some poor working stiff 
Give him a dime? 



76 



THE TREMENDOUS THING 

THEY SPOKE IN LOW TONES because they were awed and 
embarrassed, not only for the tremendous thing they were about 
to do, but from the foreign atmosphere of this place. 

Gty halls should have worn rugs, water-marked ceilings and 
squeaky staircases. Then people would feel some relationship 
to their own lives. These marble floors, wrought-iron staircases 
and carved ceilings belonged to another world in which they felt 
themselves to be intruders. 

They stood there like an island of apology in a sea of self- 
confidence. The well-dressed men swarmed all around them, 
in and out the elevators, up and down the staircases, with smug 
assurance. 

She was rigid in her economical elegance and held a small 
bouquet as if it were a pigeon that would fly away if she let go. 
Her mother reached out and plucked a loose thread from her 
dress. "It looks lovely," she said. "Though I think we could 
have dropped the hem a little lower." 

"Mother, look at my hair. Is it all right?" 

"You look lovely, my dear. Now don't be nervous." 

"I'm not nervous," she said, angrily. "Will you please stop 
saying that?" 

"When's he comin'?" asked little brother. 

"Now just you mind your p's and q's," said mother. "This 
is your sister's day and you're going to behave." 

"I didn't say nothin'," he complained. 

"Well, that's just fine," said mother. "You just keep on 
saying nothing and I'll have you over my knee." 

"Gee whizz!" said little brother. 

Just then HE came. Anyone watching him negotiate the 
distance between the revolving doors and the foot of the stair- 
case might have doubted he'd make it. It's easy to walk with- 
out thinking about it, but try walking when you are conscious 

77 



of every step and every bend of the knee. Ordinarily, no man 
knows what happens to his hands while he's walking with his 
feet. But try thinking about it. Try to deliberately and con- 
sciously manipulate your feet and figure out what to do with 
your hands at the same time. You'll find life is not such an 
easy business. 

He made it, and instantly everything was bubbling. SHE 
was giggling and HE was laughing and mother was beaming. 
Only little brother remained sensible. "Gee! We thought ya was 
never comin'," he said. 

Up the staircase and down the corridor, and there they were 
in the office. The clerk behind the counter was banging rubber 
stamps and filling out forms with a kind of sarcastic smugness. 
He was at home here like a grey squirrel in a tin cage and very 
cocky about making the wheel go round. 

They stood in stiff-legged affectation answering his ques- 
tions in jerky voices. He inked and stamped, scribbled and 
blotted with indifferent efficiency. "Address? That's the love 
nest I suppose. Heh, heh! Take this to room 400. Judge Mona- 
han will take care of you. Heh, heh." 

Outside the office the corridor was empty and they weren't 
ashamed to show their excitement again. "Lemme see what he 
give ya," said little brother. 

"You keep quiet. It's just a piece of paper," said mother. 

"It must be this way," he said. 

"No, that way," she said. 

"No, it's probably around the corner," said mother. 

The courtroom was empty except for a clerk, to whom the 
whole thing was obviously a hell of a funny joke. They sat and 
mumbled in low, bubbly tones while he went for the Judge. 

Judge Monahan had one shoe off and was rubbing his foot. 
"Oh, goddamit," he said. "What the hell is this? Tell them 
I'm out. Tell them I'm busy. My feet hurt. See if Grogan's in. 
Let Grogan do something for a change." 

78 



Judge Grogan was in conference with three gentlemen who 
burst into laughter. One of them jumped up and waved his cigar 
as if scattering rose-buds. "Oh the flowers that bloom in the 
spring, tra-la " 

"Go on," said another. "Go push the poor devil off the deep 
end and then let's get down to business." 

"Goddamit," said Judge Grogan. "Wait a minute and I'll be 
right back." 

"Better take the cigar out of your mouth," said one. 

As he entered the courtroom, they all stood silently. The 
moment had come. Even little brother was quiet. The clerk 
tapped the groom gently on the elbow. "When it's over, you 
give the donation to me," he said. 

"Ahem," said the Judge. "So this is the bride. Ahem! And 
this is the groom. Heh, heh! Well, you just stand there. Ahem! 
Mumble, grumble, bumble, buzz, buzz. Mumble, grumble, 
bumble, buzz. Put the ring on her finger. Ahem! Mumble, 
grumble, buzz. Ahem! Man and wife. Kiss the bride." 

"That's all there is to it," said the Judge. 

"Ah thanks very much," said the groom. 

"That's perfectly all right," said the Judge. "They'll mail 
you your certificate." 

The clerk nudged the groom significantly. 

"Oh yes." His hand darted to his pocket and his brain 
lapsed into a panic of fear and indecision. He had a five and 
two ones. Would the two ones be enough? Would the clerk 
call him on it? But he needed the five! In a moment of des- 
perate courage he handed the two ones rolled up deceptively, 
held his breath and tried to hurry as much as possible out of 
the place. 

Judge Grogan relit his cigar and relaxed in his leather chair. 
"Now let's get down to business," he said. "Where were we, 
anyhow?" 

79 



SNOUTY GOGGLES 

LITTLE JOHNNY BACKED into the corner and glared at his 
parents in defiance. "No," he said. "I ainta goin' to do it. 
I won't." 

His mother tilted her head and cautioned gently, "Now, 
now is that any way to talk to your daddy?" 

Grandmother looked up from her knitting. "Edna, when 
are you going to teach that child not to say ain't?" 

"When we fought Geronimo," said grandpa, rubbing the 
stump of his leg, "they told us it was the last war forever." 

"I won't," said Johnny. "I won't." Tears were welling up 
in his eyes. 

Father was bent down in a crouching posture holding out 
the gas mask as if it were a bridle he was going to slip over the 
nose of a horse. "Come on, now for papa. Be a little man 
for papa." 

"No," said Johnny. "No, no, no, no." And he stamped 
his foot. 

Father straightened up, pursed his lips and breathed hard 
through' his nose. "In just about two minutes, young man, I'm 
going to lose my patience." 

Johnny knew what that meant. He looked mistrustfully from 
one to another of the adults. His lower lip was trembling. 

"Harold! You mustn't threaten him," said his mother 
sharply. 

"What that child needs is a good physic," said grandma. 

"At San Juan Hill," said grandpa, "they told us it was the 
last war." 

"Well what the devil am I going to do?" asked father. 

"Here, give it to me." Mother took the mask and smoothed 
it out gently. She approached testily with a kind of cooing man- 

80 



ncr. "There, there. Now what's this all about? Mother's big 
man acting up like this!" 

As the grey mask with its horrible big eyes and snout-like 
nose drew closer, Johnny screamed and tried to crawl deeper 
into the corner. "Don't! Don't!" he cried. 

Mother drew back and sighed. 

"You can't do a thing with him," said father. 

"In 1917 it was the worst ever," said grandpa. "And that 
was to be the last." 

Grandma put down her knitting. 'Take it away, Edna. 
You're frightening the child." She seized the mask and hid it 
beneath her knitting things. "Now, then, you just come to grand- 
ma." She walked over to the corner and took the child in her 
arms. "Did they frighten grandma's boy? Well, well." 

The little fellow pressed his forehead into her shoulder and 
wept in relief as she carried him over to the big arm chair. 

"Now, then. What's gandma's little man afraid of? Huh? 
What's he afraid of?" 

He looked up and choked back his tears. 

"That's better. Has grandma's boy got a smile for her?" 

He was a little uncertain. 

"Come on, now. Big smile for grandma." 

He smiled a little weakly and rested his head against her. 

"Now let's see what grandma's got here. I bet you don't 
know what grandma's got for you, do you?" 

She lifted the mask carefully concealed beneath a half- 
finished sweater. He reached out a hand but she held it away 
from him. 

"No, no. Smile big for granny. Big. Big. That's the boy. 
Oh, I'll bet you'll like this." 

He reached at the sweater. 

"Are you going to be a good boy?" 

"Yes." 

81 



"Yes, what?" asked mother. 

"Yes, Granny," said little Johnny. 

Grandma gave him a quick little hug. "I knew you would. 
Now, one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, 
and four to go!" 

She pulled back the sweater and the snouty, goggly mask 
popped into view. With a terrified shriek, he began to flail 
with his legs and claw with his hands, trying to climb away from 
the awful thing. Grandma desperately tried to hold him as her 
glasses were torn off and his little arms moved wildly in fear. 

Mother rushed to take him. 

"Don't spank him, Edna. Don't spank him," begged 
Grandma. She was groping for her glasses and her old eyes 
were crying. 



TREASON 

In Berlin, a man went to jail 

For shouting "Herr Hitler! Hail! Hail!" 

This was treason, of course, 

For 'twas merely a horse 

Trotting by with a closely cropped tail. 



82 



SCENARIO CLIP SERVICE I 

AS A SPECIAL INDUCEMENT to Hollywood film execu- 
tives, I am commencing in this issue a moving picture scenario 
clip service free of charge to all subscribers. Producers who 
have hitherto been obliged to pay thousands of dollars for 
scenarios may now simply clip them from the pages of The 
People's World and pocket enormous profits. 

The first scenario is for an anti-labor film which dramatizes 
a convincing argument why workers should disband their unions 
and work longer hours for less money. The scene is any Ameri- 
can city. 

MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY 

The scene opens in the luxurious library in the mansion of 
J. Featherstone Throckmorton, owner of the Throckmorton steel 
mills. Mr. and Mrs. Throckmorton are discussing their son. 

MOTHER: Ah, Featherstone! I am worried about our boy 
Dudley. Since graduating from college, all he seems interested 
in is booze and women. 

FATHER: Come, come, Mother! Youth must have its fling. 
He is just a real American boy at heart. He'll settle down. 

At this point Dudley comes bounding in, jumps up and 
down on the davenport, swings from the chandelier, kisses and 
tickles his mother. (Note: This is to give the impression of 
youthful spirit.) 

Mrs. Throckmorton goes out and the father has a heart-to- 
heart talk with his son. He tells him Reds are agitating in the 
steel mill. He asks his son to change his name, disguise himself 
as one of the unemployed, go to work in the mill and spy on 
the Reds. 

Dudley, viewing this as a great lark, is eager to get started. 

Next scene is in the steel mill. The workers must be pic- 
tured as clumsy brutes, bullies, foreigners, drunkards and rough- 



necks. A Red agitator is up on a soap box addressing a cheer- 
ing throng. 

RED: "Nobody should oughta work and everything should 
oughta be free and to hell with everything anyhow." 

Deafening cheers from the men. 

At this point Dudley, disguised as a worker, steps forward, 
drags the agitator from the soap box and knocks him uncon- 
scious with one blow. Twenty or thirty men jump on him, but 
he sends them all sprawling with his fists. From now on he is 
the most popular man in the mill and is immediately made 
leader of the union. 

That night, on the way home from work, he catches the Red 
agitator trying to force his love on the local school teacher, a 
lovely, buxom creature with a voice like a glass bell. He again 
thrashes the agitator and walks home arm in arm with the 
school teacher. 

Now comes a misunderstanding. The Red agitator whispers 
in the school teacher's ear that Dudley has a wife and five 
children whom he deserted. The school teacher is heart broken 
and refuses to see Dudley any more. 

This is a blow to Dudley. He loses interest in everything 
and sinks down and down. He quits the plant and spends his 
time boozing in a dirty saloon. Once he is out of the way, the 
Reds have the field to themselves and call a strike. 

Next scene, the workers, armed with clubs, dynamite, guns, 
swords, etc., are gathered in a seething mob outside the factory 
gates. The Red agitator is up on a soap box shouting: "Let's 
wreck the works. Let's burn the town. Let's destroy the earth." 

The workers are cheering and waving their clubs. 

At this point, the school teacher discovers that the Red had 
lied to her and that Dudley is not a cad. She seeks him out in 
the dirty bar room, kisses him and tells him what is going on. 
Dudley smashes his whiskey bottle and rushes single handed to 

84 



the rescue. He knocks the Red off the soap box and makes a 
speech to the men. At the end of his speech they vote to return 
to work immediately and take a voluntary cut in their wages. 
Dudley confesses he is Throckmorton's son. At this the men all 
sing the Star Spangled Banner and throw the Reds in the river. 
Dudley takes the school teacher in his arms. Fade-out. 

SCENARIO CLIP SERVICE II 

HEREWITH is another installment of my free scenario clip 
service, designed to save Hollywood film executives millions 
of dollars annually. Why pay huge sums for scenarios? Buy a 
copy of the People's World for five cents, clip out a scenario, 
produce it and profit millions. 

Today's offering is a musical extravaganza; the biggest, 
most sensationalist, most ptrliest, most liltingest, dazzlingest 
show ever produced. Forget your troubles! One thousand lus- 
cious, quivering beautiful girls. Only two customers to cover 
the lot of them. A millionaire's dream of paradise. Bring the 
children! Bring an ice-pack! Bring your lunch! Four hours of un- 
ceasing titillation. You'll burn. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll 

go limp all over. 

* * * 

The scene opens on a ragged hobo sitting on the public 
dump singing a song. Hobo's song: 

Nothin' -from nothin' leaves nothin, that's me. 

I ain't got nothin' 

And I don't want nothin', 

I'm as happy as the birdies in the trees. 

I don't know nothin' 

And I ain't missed nothin', 

I go right on livin' as I please, 

Nothin' to worry 'bout, nothin' to be, 

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin', that's me. 

85 



(Note: This hits an excellent psychological tone. Most of 
the American people haven't got anything and there is not much 
prospect of their getting anything. This will help put them 
in an amiable frame of mind to settle down to a life-time of 
poverty.) 

The hobo wanders down the road till he comes to a big 
city where most of the people are poor, miserable, unemployed 
and sore as hell. A Bolshevik agitator with a long beard is up on 
top of a soap box telling the people the rich are to blame. The 
hobo laughs at the Bolshevik and the people around him get 
sore and say: "If you're so smart, what would you suggest?" 

The hobo pushes the Bolshevik off the box, gets up on it 
himself and sings a song: 

LIVE ON LOVE 

What do you care, if you've got no dough? 

It's love what makes the daisies grow, 

It's love what's shinin' from the sun, 

It's love what makes the whole world run. 

We're poor in money, but rich in love. 

We'll feather our beds with the clouds above. 

The whole town catches the spirit of the song and start 
singing with the hobo and forgetting their troubles. 

The Big Business Men of the city call a meeting. They 
decide that the hobo is the answer to all economic problems. 
They call him and make him a dictator. 

From then on the city is under a dictatorship of love. The 
hobo has regimented all the swell looking girls in town as storm 
troopers. They wear silk tights and heart-shaped brassieres and 
hail the dictator by throwing him a kiss and calling out "Yoo 
Hoo!" He establishes his headquarters in the City Hall, which is 
decorated with hearts and garlands of flowers. Over the door 
is a huge streamer reading: "Come up and see me some time." 

From here on there is a series of dance routines in which 

86 



the 1,000 luscious girls go through all sorts of parades, forma- 
tions and Swedish drills to the tune of "Live On Love/' It 
builds up to the high point where the dictator is seated on a 
heart-shaped throne with the 1,000 luscious girls piled all 
around him. 

Then he wakes up on the public dump and discovers that 
he dreamed it all. A cop is beating him on the soles of his shoes 

and telling him to get the hell out of there. 

* * # 

Final scene: The hobo going down the road singing "Nothin' 
From Nothin' Leaves Nothin', That's Me." 

The management reserves the right to eject all disorderly 
persons without refunding admission. Remove your hat and 
please don't spit on the floor. 



PROBE 

Once Congressman Dies, it is said, 

When retiring, looked under his bed. 

He bellowed like thunder 

On spying thereunder 

A chamber pot colored bright red. 



87 



LENIN WAS A NICE GUY 

LENIN WAS A GOOD-NATURED LITTLE FELLOW with 
a warm sense of humor. The capitalists of his day had great dif- 
ficulty convincing people that he was a ruthless, cold-hearted 
demon. In fact, they had so much difficulty that they failed 
completely. 

Even today they approach the business of slandering him 
with a kind of shame-faced apology. He's been dead for seven- 
teen years, but they're still afraid of him. They're afraid he 
might jump out of his grave and start talking to the people. 

When they lie about Lenin today, they whisper, and glance 
nervously around them. He's dead, yes. But that look in his 
eyes, preserved in every picture that warm, kindly twinkle 
that doesn't die. Those patient, confident eyes are haunting all 
Europe today. 

If he was a "great" man in the pompous sense of the word, 
it would be easy to fight him. You could fight him and kill 
him and bury his smug self-importance forever. You could say 
what you pleased about him in the history books and nobody 
would ever know the difference. 

But how are you going to fight a good-natured little fellow 
with a warm sense of humor? How are you going to lie about 
him? How are you going to bury him? 

It's a new kind of thing, and they're afraid of it. 

Many a man has traveled all the way to Moscow and visited 
the tomb of Lenin, just to assure himself that he's dead and 
come away still unconvinced. 

It's hard to call Lenin "great." It's difficult to say just what 
he was. Surely he had none of the impressive qualities which 
have become associated with the word "great." 

One of the best books ever written is "Memories of Lenin" 



by his wife Krupskaya. There you see the intimate, private life 
of Lenin a life lived mostly in cheap furnished rooms and flats. 
In the winter time he carried an umbrella and wore rubbers. 
In summer he rode a bicycle. He lived entirely with the common 
people and never went near the "great." 

He wanted a decent, constructive society. He wanted to 
change the world and make it better. To that end, he studied 
and planned incessantly. 

You'd think under those circumstances he would have sought 
out important people who had some influence or power. You'd 
think he'd have brought his plans to famous and distinguished 
men who might do something about it. 

Instead, he sought out carpenters, mechanics, ditch diggers, 
and people like that who could hardly keep a roof over their 
own heads, let alone change the world and build a new society. 

Lenin actually thought that these simple people, grubbing 
away for a bare livelihood, could change the whole pattern 
of society. 

Imagine going to an unemployed bricklayer who didn't 
know where his next meal was coming from, and saying: "I've 
got here a plan for a new and better society called socialism 
that I'd like to interest you in." 

It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Well, by God, it turned out 
he was right. These people not only had the power to change 
society, but they actually did so in one-sixth of the world. 
What's more, they were the only ones who did have the power 
to do it, and the only ones who would have been interested in 
doing so. 

Furthermore, when you come to think of it, it was very logi- 
cal. If you're going to build a better world, that calls for brick- 
layers, carpenters, farmers, mechanics, plumbers, miners work- 
ing men. The capitalists and "important" people have no power. 
They make use of the power of the workers. They harness labor 

89 



power to their own purposes. Even military power is labor 
power the power of labor perverted and used against itself. 

Lenin had studied the works of another genial and good- 
natured man named Karl Marx. A man so simple and friendly 
that he once delayed his work because he didn't want to dis- 
turb his pet cat sleeping on his papers. Yet those papers con- 
tained the theory of scientific socialism which was destined to 
revolutionize the world. 

Lenin knew that the ordinary men held in their hands all 
the power to create to build to change. He taught them to 
understand the power that was theirs. He organized them, led 
them, and overturned a mighty empire. As a result, the first 
workers' and farmers' state, embracing one-sixth of the earth's 
land surface, was established the Soviet Union. 

That man had a kind of magic. But his death brought no 
comfort to the capitalists of the world. That same confidence, 
wisdom and good-nature in his eyes now looks from the eyes 
of millions. When Lenin talked to the people, they heard a 
man like themselves speaking. It was almost like they were 
talking to themselves. 

He didn't say "Believe in me." He said, "Believe in 
yourselves." 

His confidence wasn't in what he could do. His confidence 
was in what the people could do if they discovered the power 
in their own hands, and learned confidence in themselves and 
each other. 



90 



THE GLORIOUS FOURTH 

Senator Screwball would nearly die 
If he couldn't make a speech on the Fourth of July; 
If he couldn't stand up there beside Old Glory 
And blow off his mouth like a damned old tory. 

He delivers his speech like a bale of hay 
And everyone knows what he's going to say, 
For he was elected by the power trust 
And is patriotic fit to bust. 

When Senator Screwball rises to rave, 
Thomas Jefferson rolls in his grave 
And our country's flag, as it flaps and flutters, 
Blushes at every word he utters. 

What kind of an annual celebration 
Is this for the birth of a free-born nation ? 
Rubber stamp stooges yelling like Neroes 
To honor a revolution's heroes! 

He howls for war and beats the drums 
And thinks the unemployed are bums. 
He voted for a free speech gag, 
But God, how the Senator loves the flag! 

He likes to tell about Lexington Square 
And how Washington crossed the Delaware 
And of Betsy Ross and the flag so dear 
And the midnight ride of Paul Revere. 



91 



But if these brave names should rise to his call 

He'd fingerprint them one and all. 

He'd call them Reds and Trojan spies 

And have them questioned by Congressman Dies. 

There isn't one problem that Screwball can fix 
But he loves to hold forth about '76. 
In the year 1940 he's wholly content 
To see how much progress he can prevent. 

He speaks in the names of great builders and doers, 

But won't even advocate fixing the sewers. 

A fine kind of honor for heroes who bled 

In order that things could be done and be said. 



92 



THE TECHNIQUE OF DEMOCRACY 

CHARACTERS: A banker, a publisher, a congressman and a 
photographer. All on stage when curtain rises. 
SCENE: Photographer's studio. 

PUBLISHER: (starting to untie a large bundle) Now, 
Mr. Congressman, if you don't mind taking off your clothes. 

CONGRESSMAN: Good heavens! You're not going to 
photograph me in the nude? 

BANKER: That's not the idea, old man. If you're going 
to be elected President you're going to have to win the hearts 
of the people. Americans like rugged he-men the human, out- 
door, hail-fellow-well-met sort of thing perhaps a touch of the 
rustic philosopher, a shade on the Will Rogers pattern. 

PUBLISHER: Take off that suit. They'll never vote for you 
in that. You look exactly like the man they work for. I've got 
the proper outfit here. 

CONGRESSMAN: (removing coat) Dear me! Complicated, 
isn't it? Well, I suppose you gentlemen know your business. 
(He continues to strip down to his long woolen underwear.) 

BANKER: We elected the others, didn't we? 

PUBLISHER: We elected them all. 

BANKER: Take off your shoes. 

CONGRESSMAN: Dear me! The shoes too? Oh, very well. 

PUBLISHER: (unwrapping bundle and revealing heap of 
clothing) Here you are! A man of the forest and plain. (Lifts 
up a pair of high-laced hiking boots.) Zane Grey, Harold Bell 
Wright, Buffalo Bill! We'll make you look like something. 

CONGRESSMAN: Good heavens man! You're not serious? 

BANKER: (chewing end of cigar) Do you want to be 
President, or don't you? 

CONGRESSMAN: Oh, yes, indeed! 

93 



BANKER: Then put on that outfit and don't ask so damned 
many questions. 

PUBLISHER: Here's a leather jacket, khaki trousers, khaki 
shirt and an oil-stained felt hat. 

CONGRESSMAN: I suppose you know what you're doing. 
(Starts putting on outfit.) But what's my wife going to say to 
all this? 

PUBLISHER: She wants to be the first lady, doesn't she? 

BANKER: She wants you to be President, doesn't she? 

CONGRESSMAN: Dear me! I suppose you're right. 

PUBLISHER: Do you like dogs? 

CONGRESSMAN: Indeed no! I can't abide the animals. 

BANKER: Well, from now on you like dogs. Understand? 

CONGRESSMAN: But, my dear fellow, they smell. 

PUBLISHER: Smell or no smell, you like dogs. If any- 
body asks you, just remember, you like dogs. 

CONGRESSMAN: Dear me! 

BANKER: There ain't nobody going to vote for you unless 
you like dogs. (To publisher) Ain't that right? 

PUBLISHER: Not only that, but you like horses. Don't 
forget that. 

CONGRESSMAN: (lacing the boots) My soul! Imagine 
having to put these on every morning! 

BANKER: This will prove you're a regular guy a man of 
the people. Stand over there and let's have a look at you. 

CONGRESSMAN: (standing at distance and posing stiffly) 
My! I must look odd. 

PUBLISHER: You look like hell, if you ask me. (Walks 
over, takes hat, rumples it, crams it down on the congressman's 
head. Then studies effect.) That's better. 

BANKER: Have you got your pipe? 

CONGRESSMAN: Oh, yes! Right here. Yes, indeed. (Pro- 
cures thin, spindly little pipe from coat pocket.) 

94 



PUBLISHER: Do you expect to get enough steam up on 
that thing to reach the White House? 

BANKER: That ain't no pipe. It's a pimp stick. Here. 
Stick that in your face. (Produces enormous, curved-stem col- 
lege pipe.) 

CONGRESSMAN: (toying with it) My goodness! What 
a whopper! 

PUBLISHER: (shaking head) I think, Mr. Banker, you and 
I have been a couple of damned fools. This man looks like 
an idiot. 

BANKER: It's too late to do anything about it now. We've 
picked him and he'll have to do. Besides, I don't know as I 
agree with you. He looks sort of homey and agreeable. 

PUBLISHER: I was right in the first place. We should 
have picked an iron man some guy with a jaw like a bumper. 
A dictator! A scowler! 

BANKER: Not yet, William not yet. 

PUBLISHER: Well, we might as well go ahead. (To photog- 
rapher) Are you ready? 

PHOTOGRAPHER: If you'll just stand a little to the left, 
Mr. Congressman. 

PUBLISHER: (exploding) Damn you! Damn you, I say! 
I'll have no more of the left. 

PHOTOGRAPHER: I'm sorry, sir. I simply meant 

PUBLISHER: Damn what you meant! Stand to the right, 
Mr. Congressman. We'll give you your orders. 

BANKER: (to photographer) You will have to move your 
camera to the right. Our candidate will not stand to the left. 

PUBLISHER: That's better. Now on with the work. (To 
congressman) See if you can't look alive. 

BANKER: Put your arm up this way. Take hold of the 
pipe. Relax a bit. 

PUBLISHER: As I think of it now, we ought to have him 

95 



holding a bunch of dead ducks on a string and carrying a 
shotgun. 

BANKER: Think what you're saying, man! Do you want 
to alienate the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? 

PUBLISHER: Perhaps so. Gad, but he looks silly! 

BANKER: Smile, congressman, smile! 

PHOTOGRAPHER: Look at the birdie! 

PUBLISHER: Democracy's a nuisance. 

(Photographer discharges flare.) 

BANKER: Young man, you have photographed the next 
President. 

PHOTOGRAPHER: May God have mercy on my soul. 

CONGRESSMAN: (still posing stiffly) Tell me, gentle- 
men, when you're ready to shoot. 

CURTAIN 



96 



DREISER TELLS 'EM 

WELL, I MET THEODORE DREISER. It wasn't a very inti- 
mate meeting since some five or six hundred other people met 
him at the same time, and personal contacts on a mass scale 
like that are not exactly chummy. However, since he does not 
hesitate to bare the privacy of his mind in front of God and 
everybody, we all met him as satisfactorily as if we'd been sit- 
ting in his own kitchen. 

As a general thing, distinguished men perform an intellec- 
tual strip tease when they address audiences. They uncover their 
ideas with a great deal of ceremony, give you a quick peek here 
and there, and lead up to the final revelation only after slowly 
removing one protective garment after another. Thus when the 
audience gets a furtive glimpse of the naked truth, it has the 
illusion of being rare and unusual. They forget that, after all, 
the parts revealed are extremely common standard equipment, 
in fact, of hundreds of millions. 

Dreiser comes stomping out mentally barefoot and stark 
naked. He says, "You want to see my mind? Hell, here it is. 
Have a look at it." This is kind of disturbing to people who 
prefer to see the truth through key-holes. 

The truth is nothing new. Everybody knows the truth. But 
some people don't like to have it thrust in front of them. They 
don't like to look at it. 

Everybody knows the truth, but everybody won't face it. 
They don't like it. So they look to great men for some "other" 
truth or some "better" truth. They don't like their own truth. 

What's wrong with the world, they ask? They see a small 
wealthy class wallowing in excessive luxury. They see a few 
men owning all the industries and exploiting them for their per- 
sonal gain. They see these men perverting democracy by the 
power of wealth, buying courts, buying legislators, buying news- 
papers, buying public officials, and ruling things to suit them- 

97 



selves without regard for anyone else. They see millions of 
workers unable to make ends meet in spite of the fact that their 
labors produce enough to satisfy the needs of all. They see 
millions more unemployed denied the right to work and live. 
They see countless millions of oppressed people in colonial 
countries sweated for wages of a few cents a day while capi- 
talists in other countries take for themselves all the wealth their 
labor produces. They see all these things and many more. They 
know all about them. Yet they ask: What's wrong with the 
world? 

They want some other answer. They don't want the obvious 
answer because somehow they've got a foothold in this con- 
temptible form of society and are enjoying some advantage 
from it. 

Some people were disappointed and stunned by Dreiser's 
talk because he just told them what they knew already, whereas 
they came there hoping to hear some new and highly intellec- 
tual "truth" which might circumvent reality. 

What Dreiser told them was that the capitalist system is 
lousy, that the present dirty mess would prevail until they got 
sense enough to establish socialism, and that they were a "pack 
of goddam fools" for tolerating such a state of affairs. He 
told them just that bluntly and in that style of language. His 
delivery was so artless and ordinary that people's faces were 
flushed and their eyes glassy. They couldn't reject the plain 
truth he spoke and their brains could not move rapidly enough 
to create evasions and excuses. 

It wasn't a speech in the ordinary sense of the word. It was 
an important piece of American history. Here was a man who 
had attained the highest place of any living American writer, 
speaking to his people in the greatest crisis of history. It was 
comparable only to Charlie Chaplin, the little music hall come- 
dian who won the affection of the whole world, facing the 

98 



people from the screen and begging them with tears in his eyes, 
please not to kill each other. 

I only wish that Dreiser could have made that speech to a 
working class audience. It epitomized the raw truth which we 
all know and all agree on, but which we're inclined to forget 
in times like these. When I say "we" I mean all working people 
and honest intellectuals like Dreiser. I do not mean those people 
to whom the capitalist system is an advantage or who think it 
is to their advantage. Those people too recognize the truth when 
it is forcefully presented to them. 

A few but very few indeed want a good world to live 
in more than the material advantages which capitalism affords 
them. These few cannot find intellectual nourishment or satis- 
faction in the mere gathering of wealth unto themselves or in 
the luxuries of yachts and racing stables and high priced booze. 
Those few and I said few indeed would like to see a good 
society. The rest and that's practically all of them create 
fancy lies to evade the truth. They even hire clever writers to 
invent lies an3 try to convince themselves of them. 

If you'll go into any commercial book store you will find 
that three-fourths of the books on sale consist of elaborate 
efforts of the upper class to convince themselves of lies or pawn 
off their lies on the people. Such a process becomes vastly com- 
plicated. It is the search for some "other truth" that will place 
the blame for human misery on the miserable human for cheat- 
ing on the cheated for hunger on the hungry and the blame 
for mass murder on the dead who lie in their graves. 

Dreiser doesn't belong to them. Dreiser belongs to us. He's 
the greatest living writer in America and he belongs to the 
working people. That makes the upper class sore as hell. Noth- 
ing makes a capitalist madder than the existence of something 
he can't buy with his money, confuse with his lies, or scare 
with his wrath. 

99 



BLESSED ARE THE POOR 

IN PITTSBURGH on November 11, 12 "bums" died. Four of 
them were claimed by relatives. The remaining eight were buried 
with glorious ceremony. They were poisoned by roach powder 
which spilled into the hotcake batter of a Salvation Army center. 

They wandered in hungry and destitute, with stinking feet 
and bleary eyes. Theirs was the abject humility of which Christ 
spoke so reverently. 

I don't know how it happened, but the roach powder was 
kicked over or mistaken. In any case it got into the hotcakes. 
They were duly blessed, God was thanked for them, and the 
"bums" ate them and died in agony. 

I'm not blaming the Salvation Army. Accidents can happen 
anywhere. Neither am I praising the Salvation Army. I have 
yet to hear any man who was driven by hunger into their doors 
come out with a good word to say for them. 

I understand they feed some of the poor. So be it. The poor 
themselves report that sufficient work is extracted from them 
before the hotcakes are forthcoming. I don't know. I never 
dropped around. 

It's holy work, feeding the poor. By the same authority, it's 
holy to be poor. Blessed are the poor and blessed be those who 
scoop out beans to them. Blessed be all of us. 

I've fed the poor myself, and also been fed. On neither end 
have I felt either holy or blessed. I have only felt shame and 
anger that a race of men backed up by such idealistic literature 
and possessed of such splendid ideals cannot share an abundant 
earth together in such a manner that men need not beg or 
wander the street in dirty socks and ragged clothes. 

Life magazine published a full page picture of those eight 
dead "bums" lying in expensive coffins with beautiful flowers 
arranged at their heads. They had shirts as white as the clouds 

100 



and brand new suits. A brass band played "When the Roll Is 
Called Up Yonder." 

Their death was a tragedy which shocked Pittsburgh and 
shocked the nation. It was an accident. They were washed into 
eternity by a flood of righteous tears. 

If men and women shall weep at such things, let them cry 
all day and dampen their pillows at night with emotional 
sorrow. 

Those men are dead. Their long, hungry patrol of the mid- 
night pavement is ended. What pain they had in heart and head 
has left their bodies. Their hopes are done and their discourage- 
ment is no longer an issue. The sick memories they had, the 
things they blamed themselves for, are gone. 

Too bad the picture in "Life" was not clearer. Somewhere 
their faces could be identified. I might know one of them. 
You might know another. But a million more are wandering 
the skidrows of America. Their pain is still real, their discour- 
agement agonizing, their memories inescapable. 

Must they be poisoned with roach powder to constitute a 
tragedy? Is the pain of their poverty an accident? 

Perhaps it is a kind of accident. Yes, in a certain sense it is 
an accident. It's an accident like the fact that you happen to 
be in your particular job. 

Every man has the makings of a "bum" inside him. That's 
what scares you when they ask for dimes on the street. That's 
what makes you nervous and irritated. It's not the dime. It's 
the uncomfortable reminder that you're not secure. 

At heart you're a bum. You've got a direct link, a direct 
identity with every bum on the skidrow. You're the stuff that 
bums are made of, and bums are the stuff that you're made of. 
You're hanging onto an economic string with a pit of pov- 
erty and loneliness beneath you, and you don't like to be re- 
minded of it. 

101 



Let the band play and the tears flow for the eight "bums" 
who got the dirty end of the stick by life and then were fed 
roach powder. They missed the draft. They have no more rent 
to pay. They couldn't make the grade. The booze got them. 
They ran with loose women. They gambled on the horses. They 
played poker. They should have gone to night school. They 
went to the wrong night school. They weren't intelligent (like 
you). They weren't moral (like you). They weren't on their 
toes (like you). 

Isn't it a pity everybody can't be wonderful like you? 

Won't it be splendid when all human beings are good and 
worthy like you and there are no more bums? 

Obviously the Communists are wrong. Your own virtue 
proves it. Bums are bums because they're bums. You eat regu- 
larly because of your excellent virtue. Or do you? 

Yet sometimes I think if we gave everybody a square break 
(like the Reds advocate) we wouldn't be able to tell who was a 
bum and who wasn't. We'd all be people together. 

And you'd probably enjoy life better too if you weren't 
afraid you'd wind up a bum. 



102 



WILLY AND THE BOMBS 

Young Willy worked at a metal trade 

In the mill where bombs and shells are made 

And the bombs went by on an endless chain 

That drilled monotony into his brain. 

And he screwed each fuse with careful eye 

And checked each bomb that drifted by 

'Til bombs and bombs with measured tread 

Were marching squads in Willy's head. 

They were smooth and round and nicely tooled 

And sharp and accurately ruled. 

He screwed each fuse for days and days 

Til bombs swam round him in a maze 

And a sickly, dizzy blinding spell 

Confused his brain, and Willy fell. 

When his head came clear, to his great surprise 
He discovered bombs had mouths and eyes. 
They stood around, a thousand or more, 
Watching him lie on the factory floor. 

"Get up, you lazy bum," said one, 
"There's lots of blasting to be done." 
"Get up, you slug," another said, 
"And screw a fuse into my head." 
"Get up! Get up!" their voices yelled. 
"Whole towns are waiting to be shelled." 



103 



Poor Willy gazed about the place 
And passed one hand across his face, 
For bombs that talk and shout of war 
Were bombs he'd never seen before. 
And stranger still, each bomb could say 
What fiendish role its iron would play. 

"I'll drop," said one, "to some hotel 
"And blow the occupants to hell." 
"Ill burst," another said, "on decks 
"And blast the crew to mangled wrecks." 
"I will," said another, "on some dark night 
"Come screaming down from terrible height. 
"Women will tremble, children will cry, 
"As faster and faster, out of the sky, 
"Louder and louder, down and down, 
"I'll shriek and burst in the heart of a town, 
"Ripping the earth and walls and stones, 
"Strewing the wreckage with flesh and bones." 



104 



"Another one jibbered, Til kill! I'll kill! 
"I don't know who. But I will! I will!" 
Their voices shrieked of terrible places 
Mangled stumps and eyeless faces, 
Dark black terror and screaming fright 
And children huddled in the death-mad night, 
And they laughed they laughed insane and glad 
At shell-torn flesh and brains gone mad. 
And Willy crouched on the concrete floor. 
"My God!" he screamed, "No more. No more." 
But closer and closer they leaned and yelled 
Of women and children shocked and shelled 
Of the good earth torn with deafening noise 
And soaked in the blood of men and boys. 
"No more!" yelled Willy. "No more! No more!" 
And his arms struck out at the bombs of war. 

Then suddenly Willy opened his eyes. 

There was the factory. There were the guys. 

"Take it easy," said Bill. "You just passed out. 

"What the hell is this 'no more* stuff about?" 

"You yelled 'No more. No more/ " said Ed, 

"And tried to clout me on the head." 

"You must have had a dream," said Pete. 

"Or else you're daffy with the heat." 

Willy looked slowly, one to the other. 

He was pale. He trembled. "Oh, Jesus, brother! 

"How can I tell you? What can I do? 

"My God, if you fellows only knew! 

"If you'd only see it this plant this war, 

"You'd rise and shake your fists and roar: 

"No more of this 

" 'By God no more!' " 



106 



MISTER JONES 

Don't you ever get lonely, Mr. Jones 
In that dinky little office, Mr. Jones? 
Why don't you come on out and air your bones ? 

Come down off that crummy little shelf. 

If need be, make a damfool of yourself. 

But don't sit cooped up in there like a gloomy bug. 

Come on out just once and cut a rug. 

You guys with pince-nez glasses, on the shelf, 
Afraid of making asses of yourself. 
What are the odds when all is said and done, 
If in the end you never had no fun? 

Come on out, Mr. Jones! 

You ain't gonna do no foolin' around 
When you are shoveled underground. 
They'll just scrape your name from off that door 
And nobody will remember you any more. 

They'll put a little stone above your head 
On which the lonely truth of you is said: 
"He was Mr. Jones. 
"Here are his bones. 
'Now he is dead. 

"He lies at last, embalmed and crated. 

"Not Jones and brothers 

"Or Jones and others, 

"But Mr. Jones incorporated/' 



107 



Don't you ever get lonely, Mr. Jones 

In your smug little office, Mr. Jones ? 

Why don't you come on out and air your bones ? 

Never getting any hugs. 

Never cutting any rugs. 

Scowling down from a lonely shelf, 

Afraid of making a fool of yourself. 

Sittin' there, sittin' there, making money, 
Never doing something funny. 
You may be okeh with the bank trustees, 
But you're sourpuss to your employes. 



BILL GREEN 

The employers have nothing but praise 

For William Green and his ways; 

He so gladly agrees 

To whatever they please 

They'll be missing him one of these days. 



108 



SUGAR 

ABOUT THESE PRICES. Sugar took a flying leap at the sound 
of the first gun. Industrialists offered the explanation that the 
farmers have been taking it on the chin for a long time and are 
entitled to recoup in the present situation. 

Farmers, my neck. I stopped for a glass of beer in a Mont- 
gomery street bar room Saturday. There was a well-dressed, 
well-groomed man bragging to the bartender that he'd cleaned 
up $6,000 in one day by gambling in sugar stocks. 

He was no farmer. He was a small-fry speculator and 
marveled enviously at the huge sums the big boys cleaned up. 

The poor field worker slaves from daybreak to sundown 
and can't make enough off the crop to support his family has 
to go on relief when it's all over. The little farmer is lucky if 
he can break even. But the Montgomery street speculator can 
reap a small fortune in a single day off this very same crop 
which he has never laid his eyes on let alone handled. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not sensible. Certainly we're 
in a mess. How could it be otherwise as long as things like 
that are possible? 

Where did that $6,000 come from and all the other thou- 
sands reaped by the bigger speculators? You can't grab money 
out of the air. That came out of somebody's hide or some- 
body's pocket. 

This speculator he wasn't a bad guy. If a blind man wanted 
to cross the street he'd be quick to grab his elbow. If you were 
drowning, he'd like as not strip off his coat and dive to your 
rescue. He looked like that kind of a guy. 

That's why a lot of people will say, "Why do you try to 
tell me such men are villains when I know so many of them 
and they are really good guys?" 

It's not a matter of whether they are good to their mothers 

109 



or beat their wives. It just happens that they are parasites 
making fortunes by neither work nor brains, but just by slick 
manipulation. 

They are a menace as deadly as the boll weavil or the typhus 
germ only they don't know it. 

By the peculiar and cockeyed traditions of our society, their 
work is deemed respectable and meritorious. I didn't mean to 
say "work." It isn't work. I don't know what it is. It's just silly. 

It's extraordinary how smart they think they are. They attrib- 
ute everything they do and get to brains. They are the first to 
turn on a beggar with the old gag: "He wouldn't work if you 
gave him a job." Yet their own occupations are not only useless 
but highly damaging to all other citizens. 

There they are, filching pennies out of the housewives' 
purses, bankrupting hard working farmers, starving agricul- 
tural workers and their families, and seizing money they are 
not entitled to in any way whatsoever. Yet they can't see it that 
way and (I have no illusions) never will see it that way. 

They believe themselves to be the center of civilization. 
They will even tell you their manipulations are what provide 
people with jobs. They think that if anything is done to inter- 
fere with their activities, the whole of society will collapse in 
helplessness. 

Clear to the end they will think this way. When they are 
eventually clamped down on and put out of business (as is cer- 
tainly necessary if humanity is ever to achieve any peace and 
decency) they will regard it as the collapse of civilization. 

They will turn to their intimates with the tearful story: "I 
am a good man. I contributed to the Community Chest. I was 
kind to my mother. I never did anything wrong. Now look at 
what they are doing to me." 



110 



THREE PER CENT OWN ALL THE WEALTH 

Keep off the grass 

And out of the fields, 

And don't trespass. 

Keep out of the buildings 

And off the lawns; 

You're the working class. 

America is the space between the cracks 

In the pavement, 

And the space between the railroad ties, 

And the rest of it is fenced and owned 

By the top hat guys. 

You can sit on a park bench, 

If not too long, 

But keep off the lawn: 

You don't belong. 

You don't own a damned thing 

But muscle and brain; 

You're a man without property 

Out in the rain. 

In those warm mansions, 

Three per cent 

Own all the land, 

Reap all the rent. 

They've got it all 

And want still more. 

Step up, America, 

And knock on the door. 

Tell them that democracy 

Is about to begin; 

That the joke is over 

And you're moving in. 



Ill 



HOW TO ENTERTAIN GUESTS 

MR. ARCHIBALD BLODGET was extremely fond of his own 
ideas and the sound of his voice. Wafting his cigar gracefully, 
he launched into a long-winded and uninteresting story. "Just 
about a week ago," he said 

"It was a month ago," interrupted his wife. 

"Damn it all," said Blodget. "You don't even know what 
I'm talking about." Their guests, Mr. and Mrs. Gottschalk, 
fidgeted uncomfortably but pretended to overlook the dispute. 

"You were going to tell them about your speech," said 
Mrs. Blodget. 

"Well, suppose I was? What difference does it make a 
week ago a month ago?" Blodget fourished his cigar in an- 
noyance. 

"You were saying " said Mr. Gottschalk, trying to put 
the conversation back on the track. 

"Yes," said Blodget, "about well, I was asked to say a few 
words to the raging tigers." 

"You asked yourself," interrupted Mrs. Blodget. 

"Damn it, Mary! Are you going to contradict everything 
I say?" 

"What are the raging tigers?" asked Mrs. Gottschalk. 

"It doesn't matter," said Mr. Gottschalk, trying to rescue 
the situation. "What were you saying, A. B. ?" 

"Oh, its some kind of a group," said Mrs. Blodget. "All the 
business men who are mad at the New Deal formed it. They 
sit up all hours of the night playing poker. It's not that I mind, 
but he needs his sleep." 

Blodget was purple in the face. He sat back puffing his 
cigar erratically. "All right, to hell with it. It wasn't important 
anyway." 

"No, no. I'd like to hear," said Mrs. Gottschalk. 

112 



"Yes, indeed," said Mr. Gottschalk. "What were you going 
to say, A. B.?" 

"Don't be silly, dear. We're all listening," said Mrs. Blodget. 

He rallied himself somewhat weakly. "It's just that they 
asked or anyway I was going to say a few words. I guess there 
was about five hundred people there." 

"Why Archibald," said his wife. "You couldn't get five 
hundred people in that hall. There weren't over two hundred." 

"They put extra chairs in," gasped Blodget desperately. 

"Yes, but even so " 

"It doesn't matter," said Mr. Gottschalk grimly. "As you 
were saying, A. B." 

"Maybe they enlarged the hall," said Mrs. Gottschalk, trying 
in her own small way to bridge the gap. 

"Anyway they were there," said Blodget angrily. "They 
were there and I was going to make the speech." 

Mr. Gottschalk tried to soothe him by feigning great inter- 
est. He leaned forward with a smile on his face so silly that it 
was insulting. 

"I was going to make the speech," said Blodget. "I had it 
all written out. I had it in my pocket. I know I had it in 
my pocket." 

"You didn't have it in your pocket," said his wife. 

"I did have it in my pocket," screamed Blodget. 

"You didn't have it in your pocket," said his wife. "Other- 
wise it would have been there." 

"I did have it in my pocket," screamed Blodget. "But I 
don't know what happened to it." 

"If you had it in your pocket it would have been there," 
said his wife. 

"It doesn't matter," said Mr. Gottschalk. 

"It does matter," roared Blodget. "I'm not going to have 
her sit there contradicting everything I say." 

113 



"And I'm not going to have you raising your voice to me in 
front of company," snapped Mrs. Blodget. 

"Now, now " said Mr. Gottschalk. 

"You keep out of this," said Blodget. 

"You have no right to talk to my guests that way," said 
Mrs. Blodget. 

"Well they're my guests too, aren't they?" 

"Well you wouldn't think so to hear you talk." 

"If it wasn't in your pocket, then where was it or was it?" 
asked Mrs. Gottschalk. 

"This is the last time I'll ever ask anyone to our house," 
said Mrs. Blodget. 

"You didn't ask them," said Blodget. "I did. 

"You did nothing of the kind," said Mrs. Blodget. 

"If you'd rather we'd go," suggested Mr. Gottschalk. 

"I should say not," said Blodget. "I invited you here and I 
am going to entertain you. Sit down." 

"You did not," snapped Mrs. Blodget. "I invited them and 
they're perfectly welcome." 

You can finish this story yourself. 



114 



THE INSIDIOUS ISM 

MY WIFE BROUGHT ME HOME a copy of the magazine 
SOVIET RUSSIA TODAY. I opened it up, read one sentence, 
and burst out laughing. 

"What's so funny about it?" she asked. 

"Listen to this," I said, and read the following: 

"At the third plenum of the Soviet Committee of the Inter- 
national League Against Rheumatism, the reports " 

At that, she burst out laughing too. We both had a good 
laugh, then quieted down suddenly. Almost simultaneously, we 
realized this wasn't funny. 

I remembered my grandmother showing me the swollen 
knuckles of her hands and telling me the rheumatism had got 
them so badly she didn't know what to do. I remembered a 
score of incidents where rheumatism had brought pain and 
tragedy to the lives of friends and neighbors. 

We are so accustomed in this country to leagues against 
socialism, communism and so-called foreign "isms," that the 
idea of a League Against Rheumatism is apt to strike us funny. 
Yet what is more logical for a workers' society ? The thing is so 
sensible and practical it is stunning. 

It is to be recognized that in America we have numerous 
societies and movements combatting disease, including the Presi- 
dent's "March of Dimes." Considerable headway has been made, 
although most medical men will admit the hardships of depres- 
sion and unemployment are creating more disease in a day than 
they could cure in a month. What we have never attempted in 
this country is socialized medicine. And that is exactly what 
they are pioneering in Russia. 

American newspapers and periodicals have directed consid- 
erable ridicule and scorn against socialized medicine. Honest 
disagreement is possible on any question but why ridicule and 

ns 



scorn? The goal of socialized medicine is plainly a fine one. 
It is to improve the health of the entire population and make 
adequate care available to all. This obviously cannot be done 
by merely increasing the number of doctors and hospitals or 
making surgeons remove appendixes on a giant belt-line. 

The hope of socialized medicine lies in the preventive 
field. It is related to architecture through the need for well 
lighted and ventilated housing. It is related to industry through 
the need for safety and health precautions. It is related to eco- 
nomics because of the affect of insecurity and worry upon 
human health. 

Still more important is to assure that persons will come to 
the doctor before their ailments have reached an advanced age. 
Today in America, the burden of doctor bills is so fearful, the 
average worker does not seek medical aid until he is literally 
driven to it by pain. 

Socialized medicine is a monumental task. Certainly you 
would suppose the Soviet Union merited the respect and grati- 
tude of the entire world for pioneering it. Surely every sincere 
person must cheer the effort and hope for its success. It has 
never been attempted anywhere else. 

Instead, however, we find the American press generally 
sneering and ridiculing desperately striving to propound argu- 
ments against it and theories to justify prediction of failure. 
I don't want to exaggerate that. The advances of Soviet medi- 
cine have been so extraordinary that they could not be ignored, 
and many fine articles and acknowledgments have appeared in 
magazines and papers. On the whole, however, these have been 
reluctant and overshadowed by scorn and ridicule. Why? 

Mainly it is because socialized medicine is related to social- 
ized industry which the private industrialists of America are 
determined to convince us will not work and, furthermore, is 
evil and wicked. To this end they depict the Soviet Union as a 

116 



brutal dictatorship. Naturally the remarkable achievements of 
socialized medicine, the construction of thousands upon thou- 
sands of schools, hospitals, nurseries and libraries all over Rus- 
sia, and the incredible gains in production and public welfare 
are extremely embarrassing to such a theory. You will note how 
the continual collapse of Russia has been reported in American 
papers for the past 21 years. 

This is identically the same kind of scorn and ridicule and 
refusal to understand which was directed against the young 
American Republic after the revolution of 1776. America was 
the laughing stock of the courts of Europe for generations. 
When the Civil War broke out, Europe's aristocracies went 
wild with joy. We were "rubes" and "yokels." The word 
"Yank" during America's early struggles had identically the 
same meaning in Europe as the word 'Red" has in the capitalist 
nations today. 

Certainly the Soviets kicked the capitalists out of their plushy 
offices and placed workers' committees in charge of the indus- 
tries. They did this no less gently than we kicked the behinds 
of the British aristocrats to the tune of Yankee Doodle. 

Was it right? Was it a good idea? 

History isn't an idea. It moves relentlessly on the needs of 
the people. There is not the slightest question that here in 
America our capitalists command the finest industries, the most 
abundant resources and the best skilled labor on earth. They're 
making a hell of a mess of it, and that's not controversial. 

I think American workers are perfectly capable of electing 
committees out of their own ranks that could run those indus- 
tries excellently on a socialized basis of course. 



117 



BUMS 

Stew-bums and stumble-bums, 

That's us. 

Dirty clothes, yellow teeth 

And our feet smell. 

We're bums. 

With our bloodshot eyes and our goofy gab, 

It scares you to have us walking around 

Because you're afraid we might 

Knock you over the dome 

And take some of your nickels. 

We once thought one thing and another 

And did this or that. 

But now we don't give a damn. 

We like booze. 

The millionaire takes it 

In the big hotels 

With a dame in his lap. 

We take a pint of muscatel 

Behind a billboard 

And use our imagination. 

You explain it. 

You've got all the answers. 

We just don't fit the picture. 

Help yourself to an answer, brother. 

Pick yourself an easy one 

And shove it up your ego. 

If you just figure we're no good, 

And a bum is just naturally 

What he adds up to; 

And if you like that definition, 

You just wrap it up and take it home. 

Maybe there's an answer 

There must be an answer 



118 



And maybe someday somebody'll make it. 

But we don't care what it is 

Or whether he makes it or not, 

Because we stopped caring. 

Maybe the booze did it 

And maybe you did it. 

Maybe we did it ourselves. 

Maybe the same thing made bums of us 

That made a damn fool of you. 

Somehow it happened. 

Somewhere along the line 

The wind blew too cold, 

The street was too lonely 

And we hungered too long. 

Our blood got crazy 

And our brains all fuddled 

From the pictures of pretty ladies 

On magazine covers and billboards. 

Flop-houses, hand-outs and garbage cans, 

And all the pretty girls 

Grinning at you from magazines. 

Somewhere along the line it happened, 

And now we don't give a damn. 

Take your pity and shove it, 

Your hatred and shove it, 

And the same with your analysis. 

We're just scrambled dreams 

And goofy gab 

And smelly feet. 

That's all that's left of us. 

You have to kill all of a man 

Before they call it murder. 



119 



THE LOCOMOTIVE 

THIS IS AN ERA of political jitters. When the proverbial loco- 
motive of history turns corners, some fall off, while others mo- 
mentarily lose their balance or fall into the aisles especially 
those passengers who were dozing at the time. 

When the train runs into a tunnel they scream "All is lost" 
and suppose that the tunnel runs straight into the ground 
through eternal darkness. Every bump of the rails terrifies them 
with the vision of disaster. 

They have little confidence in either the train or the crew 
or the tracks or the destination or themselves or anyone else. 
It is on the smooth level stretches that they pick themselves up, 
resume their seats, and lounge back to complain that the train 
doesn't go fast enough, the engineers don't know their business, 
and the whistle needs tuning. They pass their time in long dis- 
cussion as to whether the train is even on the right track or not. 

"Give us something to believe in!" is their cry. 

A little man with a pointed beard once replied to them: 
"All confidence in the masses." By that he meant confidence 
in each other and themselves and particularly in the work- 
ing class. 

He didn't say it in the sense of waiting for miracles. Only 
the hopeless ask for miracles. He made it clear that out of the 
struggles of the working people a strong, sane peaceful society 
would arise. Confidence in that struggle and participation in 
that struggle was his answer. 

He warned against trusting the intellectual liberals who 
dabbled in the struggle less in the attitude of brotherhood and 
common cause than in the idealistic belief that their better 
brains and more sensitive souls would guide the "poor dumb 
working folk." Such persons, he warned, laid all faith in their 
liberal strategies and none in the masses. 

120 



It would be a crude distortion of that wisdom to propose 
that all liberals go crazy in a crisis. It would be equally fanat- 
ical to propose that no workingmen go tumbling off the loco- 
motive or sprawling in the aisles when the corners are turned. 
There's nothing absolute about such a principle. 

It simply means that the working people are no fair maidens 
locked in a tower. No liberal knight on horseback is going to 
rescue them. When their chains are broken, they'll break them, 
and when a decent society is built, they'll build it. And to that 
end they must have all confidence in themselves and each other. 

The hand of brotherhood and fellowship remains always 
extended to those liberals who do have confidence in the masses 
and who recognize the limitations of their role. 

Scorn for those who fall off the locomotive is a waste of 
time. They fall off and sit there rubbing salve on their bruises 
and that's that. 

There are those who deplore that the cause of the working 
people does not move forward with the smooth and tasteful 
efficiency of a super-corporation. They deplore the differential 
of five mistakes to one achievement which sometimes charac- 
terizes the advance of the workers' cause. They have little 
inclination to get in there and pitch hay and try to reduce it 
to four to two, then three to three, then two to four, and finally 
to a perfect score. 

Their own motto might well be, "He cannot fail who does 
not endeavor," and by doing nothing they avoid all mistakes. 

At the present time the locomotive has not only turned a 
sharp corner but is traversing a deep forest in which panic, dis- 
couragement, despair, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and con- 
fusion lurk on every hand. The great historical changes are no 
longer a matter of speculation and conversation. They're arriv- 
ing in full reality. 

It's going to be tough on those who have nothing to believe 

121 



in nothing in which to place confidence. There stands the 
working man in overalls. He's taken a terrible beating time and 
again. He's been fooled, betrayed, sold out, duped and cheated 
for centuries. He's made mistakes enough to make the liberals 
gasp digested his mistakes and gone right on plugging. You'll 
believe in him and have confidence in him or you'll lump it. 
He has all the strength and all the patience. His hands built 
everything in civilization and built it well. Now he has the final 
job of building socialism. He'll build it well and it will work 
fine. The things built by labor are the only things that do work 
properly in this world. 

So hang on to your seats, friends. There are curves ahead. 



IF ALL THE WORKERS 

If all the wages were one wage, 
What a huge wage that would be! 
And if all the factories were one factory, 
What a giant factory that would be! 
And if all the owners were one owner, 
What a useless snob he would be! 
And if all the workers were one worker, 
What a great worker that would be! 
And if the great worker 
Let the useless snob 
Close the giant factory 
And cut his giant wage, 
What a damned fool he would be! 



122 



WE KNOW ENOUGH 

I do not know what statesmen talk about 
In all those private parleys in and out 
The shining doors beyond which none may spy 
In London, Berlin, New York and Shanghai. 
But this I know, those statesmen, short and tall, 
Thin, fat, or bald or bushy one and all 
Are up to some shrewd devilment, and they 
Are crooked as the road to Mandalay. 

I do not know the schemes which financiers 
Sit pouring in and out each other's ears, 
Or what cruel noisy future they may be 
Designing for the likes of you and me. 
But this I know, their records have been such 
As common men do not admire much, 
And I would never trust a financier 
As far as I could blow the foam off beer. 

I may not know precisely what it's for, 
But I do know they sit there planning war. 
And though I doubt the sense of their crusade, 
I do not doubt there's money to be made. 
In this dark hour, Brother, let's review 
The things we do not know and those we do. 
We cannot trace each rumbling of the drums, 
But this we know: the financiers are bums. 

Ah, here, betwixt depression and a war 
Sit you and me unsatisfied and sore. 
Tradition says that both of us are chumps, 
All history is the kicking of our rumps. 
A war! A high ideal! The bugles blow! 



123 



The band strikes up a march and off we go. 
Tis nature, they explain, that makes us willing 
Thus lightly to embark on wholesale killing. 

I wonder if those statesmen, one and all, 

Are not a pack of damn fools after all ? 

For, Brother, there's a new word going round 

That says our bones shall stay above the ground. 

And, Brother, it is even being said 

That you and I shall live to die in bed. 

A word of hope that has not reached the ears 

Of mighty diplomats and financiers. 

We're taking learned volumes off the shelves 
And learning about governing ourselves, 
And talking over what we know and don't 
And all the things we're apt to do and won't; 
And that new word of hope is sounding shrill 
Forging a solid democratic will, 
Sounding above the ranting and the drumming, 
Warning them all: The Yanks will not be coming. 



J. HIRAM SWIVELBOTTOM 

J. Hiram Swivelbottom owns 
Five large, enormous plants. 
He has a wardrobe that contains 
Five hundred pairs of pants. 



124 



HOW TO MAKE A FORTUNE 

I WENT THROUGH the "fitting in" process in pre-depression 
days. It wasn't so hard to find a job then, but the jobs were 
no good. 

I got my first lesson in employer-employe relations at the 
age of twelve, as an errand boy in a drug store. That was dur- 
ing the war. Our family was poor as dirt and every nickel my 
brother or I could bring in after school helped. 

The owner of the drug store was a big, fat sissified guy 
who liked to gossip with the housewives who came in and out. 
He paid me 10 cents an errand. There were seldom more than 
two errands a night to run, so my pay ran around 20 or 30 
cents a night. 

Then came the influenza epidemic. Things picked up in a 
hurry. One night I was on the run continuously as fast as my 
legs could carry me, adding up another dime in my brain every 
time I rang a doorbell. Most of our family were flat on their 
backs at home and the money was needed. I fairly ran in order 
to make more deliveries and more dimes. 

At the end of the evening when it was time to pay me off, 
that big, effeminate fatty handed me 30 cents. It was a blow 
I'll never forget. My heart pounded blood up into my head. 
He informed me that the 10 cents an errand rate only applied 
on slow evenings, and that otherwise the pay was a straight 
10 cents an hour. Of course, there had never been any such 
understanding. 

The more I argued with him the more he scolded me for 
being disrespectful to my elders and reminded me I should be 
glad to have a job, that there were plenty of other boys in the 
neighborhood who would be willing to work for 25 cents an 
evening. 

In my helplessness and desperation I did the only thing I 

125 



could think of, that was to call him the few dirty names I had 
learned at that age. I suppose you could call that the start of 
my journalistic career. He kicked me out and I went home 
crying. 

My grandmother at that time was my Labor Relations 
Board a magnificent and powerful woman who struck fear 
in the hearts of bill collectors. Many a time I have seen her 
chase them down the stairs, beating them over the head with a 
broom. As a girl she was a volunteer worker for the Knights of 
Labor, and quickly recognized the far-reaching significance of 
my dispute. 

She put her hat on, went down to the corner, and did a thing 
that she called "giving him a piece of her mind." It was a 
boundless brain she had and when she hurled substantial chunks 
of it into a fellow human's intellect, the splash was terrific. 
It accomplished little more than to scare the daylights out of 
him, but that was all she expected. She knew you could only 
tackle these things by organization. As a final blow she an- 
nounced the withdrawal of our family trade from his concern. 

That worried him little, however. She concocted her own 
medicines in the kitchen and even made her own soap in great 
steaming, stinking vats purer and cheaper, she called it. Fur- 
thermore, we were head over heels in debt to all the local mer- 
chants and our patronage was something of an anguish. 

The search for my first full time job was a great adventure. 
I put on my Sunday suit and took a lunch under my arm. My 
grandmother's advice was to "put my best foot forward." It 
didn't make much difference what kind of a job I got just so 
there was a "chance of advancement." Everything was on the 
upgrade in those days. Industry was making money hand 
over fist. 

Having a disposition for thoroughness, I selected the city's 
main business street and started at the extreme end. I went 

126 



down one side of it, in and out every establishment that had 
a ground floor entrance. 

My idea was that if that failed, I would go over it again, 
covering all the upper floors. I would just walk in and ask the 
first man I saw if they needed a boy. 

It took me all morning to cover one side of the street. I ate 
my lunch and started up the other side. Along about five o'clock 
I was dog tired and the little bug of discouragement was begin- 
ning to eat at my insides. Finally I wandered into a big whole- 
sale hosiery house and the first man I approached said, "Yes, 
we need a boy," and they hired me. But not before they cross- 
examined me to make sure I wasn't one of those undependable 
boys who would quit after a few months. They wanted a boy 
who would stay there and work up in the business. 

"Do you think you would be interested in the hosiery busi- 
ness?" asked the manager. 

I assured him I was. It was a lie. 

He painted me a picture of endless years of hard work and 
service in the hosiery game that would finally land me a mana- 
gerial post. My head reeled with sickness at the very thought of 
it. The shelves of socks and stockings extended to the ceiling 
and were heaped about in towering mounds of white boxes. 
The clerks wove in and out among them furtively. They didn't 
speak to each other and only occasionally shot a covert glance 
in my direction. 

"Yes," I lied. "I will devote my life to these white boxes 
in this dull dusty storehouse. I will always be punctual. I will 
keep my mind on business. I will not watch the clock. And I 
will always try to do just a little more work than I am paid for/' 

That last, he assured me, was the secret to success. 

God how I lied! 

The manager himself was old, bald-headed, dried up, and 
apparently had no other knowledge or interest than the contents 

127 



and sales points of the various boxes of hosiery. He was ob- 
viously suffering numerous minor infirmities brought on by a 
lifetime of devotion to hosiery. 

The proposition was that I should take this magnificent 
thing called ''life," which my parents had given to me, and 
spend it all inside a wholesale hosiery house with the object of 
stepping into the shoes of the manager. One look at his shoes 
convinced me I'd have to become flat-footed in order to fill 
them. If there was anything in the world I had no desire to be- 
come, it was a man like him. Yet this was adjudged a "splendid 
opportunity." 

So I lied and said I was most anxious to spend my life in 
this manner. 

Now it wasn't the work I objected to. I didn't mind work. 
But why make such a blooming fetish of it? I was perfectly 
willing to dust their shelves and run their errands. But that 
wasn't enough for them. They wanted a verbal guarantee of 
lifelong devotion to the hosiery business. 

The next morning I arrived early and found all the clerks 
assembled in the doorway waiting for the manager to arrive 
and unlock the door. The main subject of conversation was 
what a heel and an old goat the manager was, and what a fool 
any man was to spend his life in this business. 

When the manager hove in sight they all shut up abruptly. 
There was a lot of "good morning, good morning, good morn- 
ing" and the door was opened. 

My first assignment was to take a long feather duster, climb 
up a ladder, and dust off the shelves of hosiery boxes. That was 
easy enough, but very monotonous. Finally I got curious about 
what was in the boxes and began opening them. That was like 
a rainbow suddenly spanning a dull and uninteresting sky. Socks 
of every imaginable color and pattern, all neatly tucked in paper 
bands, appeared under every lid. One box led to another and 

128 



pretty soon the dusting was going very slowly. One pair of 
socks appeared to me very mightily. I was examining them 
covetously when a voice roared up from the floor 

"Never mind what's in those boxes, young man," said the 
voice. 

With a great show of diligence, I went on with my dusting. 
But I kept thinking: what was the idea of anybody roaring at 
me, and why did I jump that way, and what was the harm of 
looking in the boxes? What if I should spend my life in this 
place and finally become manager? What of it? I never at any 
time ever wanted to be the manager of any kind of a company 
let alone hosiery. 

Finally I developed a technique where I could dust kind 
of automatically with my mind free to think about whatever 
it pleased. So it wandered all over the earth. And all the while 
I knew that this was the kind of thing the manager disapproved 
of and I was exactly the kind of employe he was trying to 
avoid when he cross-examined me, and that the only way I'd 
ever get on in business was to lie and pretend. 

When twelve o'clock came he told me I could have a half 
hour for lunch. That half hour of freedom seemed so good that 
I never went back. I could picture him saying to himself: "There 
you are! You never can tell about a young man. I gave him 
a fine opportunity and he turned out to be no good." 

That didn't worry me so much. But what would I tell my 
family? They had been so proud to have me get a job. All 
afternoon I went from door to door and place to place and 
finally I met with success. 

That night I returned home proudly. "How did the first 
day go?" they asked. 

"Oh that?" I said. "I quit. I've got me a new job now." 

"And what is that?" they asked. 

"Running a pool room," I said, and my grandmother almost 
swallowed her false teeth. 

129 



LADIES AND LUGS 

I was just sitting on a stool 

Drinking a beer, 

And a nice looking lady came in 

With a little boy by the hand, 

And she wanted her husband. 

But he hadn't been around, 

Said the bartender, 

And he was so polite 

And innocent about it, 

You knew damned well he was lying. 

Even when he opened up the backroom 

And let her look for herself, 

She was unconvinced 

And unhappy. 

When she left, 

The bartender said 

The guy'd had a hell of a can on 

For over a week. 

Then in came a frowzy looking girl 

With no hat, 

And dirty clothes, 

And rings under her eyes, 

And a crazy, dopey look. 

"Where can I find a cop?" 

She said. 

"I'm sick and I want to go to a hospital." 

The bartender sent her to the corner, 

And they decided she must have been 

On a hell of a bat. 

"But no," 

One of the men said, 

"She 4on't want no hospital, 



130 



"She just wants to turn herself in." 
And they made a joke about that. 

So I turned to my newspaper 
To read, 

And they were advertising a movie 
About a girl, a guy and a gob. 

t( Ifs rough and rowdy and romantic! 1 
They said. 

"Meet the sweetie of the fleet 
"Who drove the Navy nutty!" 
And the burlesque show advertised: 
''Girls! Girls! Girls!" 

And the cigarette company advertised 

A beautiful fleshy blonde 

In red, white and blue tights. 

And I thought of all the poor guys 

Hungry for dames; 

And all the poor dames 

Who need and want men, 

And how they can't get together 

Because they can't afford it, 

Or can't run the risk, 

Financially or otherwise. 

And of all the other people afraid of babies, 

Economically and otherwise. 

And of all the dames shaking their stuff 

On stage and screen, 

Not because they want to shake anything, 

But just because they need the dough. 

And all the men and women 

Driving each other crazy, 



131 



And chasing after each other 

And running away from each other, 

And blaming this 

And blaming that 

And blaming the other thing. 

And when Sue Barry asked me to write 

Something for the women's page 

About International Woman's Day 

From the man's point of view, 

I just sat and sat, 

And couldn't get these things out of my mind 

For long enough to think of something 

Appropriate! 

And no matter what I thought of, 

These things kept interfering 

And mocking me. 

And they seemed somehow pertinent. 

So I thought I'd just tell you about them, 

And recommend socialism, 

And see what you thought. 



132 



THE ALIEN BOMBALIAN 

"WHY DOESN'T SOMEBODY open a window?" Judge 
Bolix complained. "This place smells." He removed his pince- 
nez glasses very delicately, massaged the lenses with a handker- 
chief, then mopped his large, floppy face. 

The assembled officials, viewed through a haze of tobacco 
smoke looked like sick fish floating in a dirty aquarium. 

"There is room for only one ism in Bombalia," shouted 
Congressman Pies, "and that is Bombalianism." 

Judge Bolix blinked his eyes wearily. "My dear congressman, 
you have said that 40 times. Now get to the point. What evi- 
dence have you that this man Harry Britches should be deported 
from Bombalia?" 

"He is an American," declared Pies. 

"He is an agent of the Red, White and Blue network," 
added Senator Snimp. 

"He's a disseminator of Americanistic and un-Bombalian 
propaganda," said Congressman Corncake. 

Judge Bolix raised both hands in supplication. "Gentlemen, 
we are not at war with America. Just what is this so-called 
Americanism that seems to frighten you?" 

Congressman Pies stepped dramatically forward and 
thumped a bundle of newspapers on the judge's desk. "Your 
honor, the record speaks for itself." 

"What's this? What's this?" The Judge fixed his glasses 
on his nose. 

"These, your honor," said Pies, "are American newspapers. 
May I call your attention to this headline, SEX MANIAC 
SLAYS SIX; and this one, SHOOTS TWELVE, KILLS SELF; 
and this one, MAD HATCHET FIEND CHOPS MOTHER." 

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Judge Bolix; "what riotous 
butchery!" 

133 



"If I might further enlighten your honor," added Congress- 
man Corncake, "although America is the wealthiest nation on 
the earth, producing enough food and products to provide abun- 
dantly for many times her population, no less than 11,000,000 
of her people are unemployed and destitute. Fully 23,000,000 
men and women and children are dependent on an extremely 
stingy system of relief. Conditions of poverty in her rural regions 
are a disgrace to humanity. Throughout her entire history she 
has stumbled from one horrible depression to another and is still 
wallowing in one that has lasted more than nine years." 

"Would you like to see a crazy and impractical system like 
that imposed on Bombalia?" snapped Senator Snimp. 

"In case your honor still has any doubts," continued Con- 
gressman Pies, "will you please examine this copy of the 
Atherton report on vice graft in San Francisco? And will you 
also give attention to these reports of a similar expose in Los 
Angeles?" 

"My land sakes alive!" exclaimed Judge Bolix; "I never saw 
so many almost completely undressed women in my life." 

Congressman Pies peered over the desk. "Ah, yes," he re- 
marked. "That's the Hearst Call-Bulletin you are looking at." 

"This is extraordinary extraordinary," said the judge. 
"Why on earth does this man Britches want to advocate such 
insanity?" 

"May I have a word, your honor?" It was a voice from the 
back of the room. "I am Congressman Jones. I represent the 
opposite view in this matter. I want to point out that the man 
Harry Britches who is being slandered in this hearing has never 
advocated vice, graft, unemployment or depressions. To the con- 
trary, his whole-hearted efforts have been toward correcting 
these evils which we have in Bombalia as prevalently as in 
America and elsewhere. The real reason and the only reason 
why certain people want to deport this man is because he or- 

135 



ganized the harbor workers into a union and was instrumental 
in winning them higher wages and shorter hours." 

"Treason," cried Senator Snimp. 

"Harry Britches is an Americanistic, un-Bombalian agitator," 
shouted Congressman Pies. "He is an agent of the Red, White 
and Blue conspiracy." 

"Your honor," declared Congressman Corncake. "I appeal 
to your ideals of Bombalianism. Bombalia has always been a 
tree country a land where the employer has been free to ex- 
ploit labor where factory owners and financiers have enjoyed 
the freedom and liberty to suppress anything that interferes 
with their profits. Are we going to sacrifice this freedom for 
an Americanistic foreigner? When our own Bombalian workers 
organize unions we arrest them for blocking traffic or else club 
them senseless. Why should we let a foreigner do what we will 
not let our own citizens do?" 

"Preserve the freedom of employers to exploit labor and 
you will encourage industry," said Pies. 

Judge Bolix pawed wearily at his perspiring jowls. "Why 
doesn't somebody open a window?" he complained. "This 
place smells." 



136 



ON BLACK EYES 

"TURN YOUR MUG AROUND and let's see it," said Mr. 
Murphy. 

Mr. O'Brien, slowly and semi- shamefully exposed his face 
to a quick glance, then jerked it back into concealment. 

"Some shiner! Who gave it to you?" 

"You should see him," said O'Brien. "They tell me I frac- 
tured his jaw." 

"Who?" 

"Danny Malone. I've been aching to take a smack at him 
for years." 

"So now you're satisfied. Turn 'round here. Can you see 
out of it at all?" 

1 'Tis nothing," said O'Brien, nursing a great mound of 
black and purple in which the eye was entirely obscured. 

"You're sure he didn't kick you in the face?" 

"I was not down, Murphy," said O'Brien indignantly. "I was 
not down once. You should see Malone. His teeth were all over 
the floor. I hit him once, then I hit him again, then I gave him 
low ones into the body. Crack! went something. It was either 
his watch or a rib. Then my foot got stuck in a spittoon." 

"Just the same, you look like hell." 

1 'Twas my foot in the spittoon, Murphy. I looked to see 
who had me by the leg. Then Malone hit me slightly." 

"Slightly was it? 'Tis a good thing it wasn't hard or he'd 
knocked the head off your neck." 

"I've been wanting to smack him for years. I'll show that 
son of a b . I'll show him." 

"I thought you just showed him." 

"Well, I did show him. But my foot got caught in the 
spittoon." 

"Aye! 'Tis strange savagery," mused Murphy. 

"Oh indeed! And what was that you and Donovan were 

137 



doing at the picnic when you lambasted each other 'til the devil 
himself couldn't tell who won or lost?" 

"I'm a savage myself, O'Brien. But a savage can reflect upon 
his own savagery and be amazed. Tis thus that civilization 
moves forward." 

"Leave me alone, Murphy. 'Tis my black eye, not yours, and 
you've no right to philosophize on it." 

"Just the same, O'Brien, if humanity could grasp the philos- 
ophy of a black eye, how few our troubles would be." 

"Aye, and if humanity would stop getting its foot caught 
in spittoons there' d be less black eyes." 

" 'Tis not the spittoon that's at fault, O'Brien. What is it 
that makes men want to hit other people in the face with their 
knuckles, knock their teeth out, black their eyes, hurt them and 
beat them to the floor?" 

1 'Tis a way of settling arguments and showing who is the 
better man." 

"I know a little man, O'Brien, who loses all fights. Yet he 
has a way of giving the winner a devil of a lot of trouble and 
usually sends him home with so many cuts, bruises and broken 
bones that the victory is a very sour and painful one." 

"Aye! There's little to it but the satisfaction." 

"And the satisfaction is nothing. 'Tis like two men lying in 
hospital beds congratulating themselves on the injuries of each 
other." 

"I don't always understand what you're talking about, 
Murphy." 

"When we get mad at a man, the desire rises in us to hurt 
his flesh and bones and humiliate him with defeat. And as he 
lies there on the floor all bloody and battered, we expect to be 
cheered and patted on the back, for we imagine it shows we 
are right and the licked man is unworthy. And there's no sense 
in it, O'Brien." 

138 



"Not if you get your foot caught in a spittoon." 

"Irregardless of spittoons, O'Brien. Take war for instance, 
with all its airplanes and cannon. 'Tis nothing but a means of 
hurting another man's flesh and bones, tearing his skin, making 
him bleed, and killing him if possible." 

1 'Tis not the same, Murphy. In a war, the men are not 
mad at each other. They don't even know each other. 'Tis a 
matter of principles and courage and showing they are not 
afraid." 

"True indeed, O'Brien. There is more sense in a bar room 
brawl than in a war. And there's more civilization too. When 
a man gets mad at another and is overcome with the crazy urge 
to knock his teeth out, he is responding to an ancient instinct. 
With the savages it was an urge to kill. We've got over that 
mostly. You didn't want to kill Danny Malone, for instance." 

"God forbid, Murphy! I had no such idea." 

"You just wanted to knock his teeth out." 

"By heaven, Murphy, you have a way of making a thing 
sound foolish. I just wanted to take a smack at him, that's all." 
1 'Tis strange savagery, but less strange than war." 

"I wonder, Murphy, if there's ever any sense in taking a 
smack at anyone?" 

"Aye! There is, O'Brien. But not for a bar room brawl, and 
not for a crazy war. The world is badly messed up right now 
and the working people want to straighten it out and live good- 
naturedly. But it looks like they're going to have to give some- 
thing an awful smack in the puss before they can do it." 

"A sort of a last smack, so to speak." 

"A last smack, O'Brien, and heaven help those who have 
their feet caught in spittoons." 



139 



GOING DOWN 

HE WAS A LITTLE GUY with nice but kind of meek eyes- 
getting along in years. 

Stopping an elevator is an easy job and he'd have done it 
very well if he hadn't been so nervous and anxious to make 
good. You could fly an airplane with less concentration and 
effort than he put into running that elevator. 

As it was he pursed his lips tightly, fixed his eyes desperately 
on the passing floors, and worked the lever by nervous jerks 
instead of with an easy, relaxed motion. As a result, the first 
stop would be two feet below the floor. A series of quick jerks 
would bounce it up somewhere near the mark. Another jerk 
would overshoot it a couple of inches. Another would drop it 
an inch too low. 

He would open the gate with an apologetic, "Step up, 
please," that carried a note of fear. 

You see the head man was standing right in back of him, 
breaking him in and trying him out. He smiled indulgently 
at the passengers in unspoken apology for the clumsiness of 
his pupil. 

By heaven, that little old fellow wanted that job. He wasn't 
born to wear a uniform, and the snappy military-style cap fitted 
too far down on his head, resting on his ears which were too 
large. The rest of his uniform was yet to come. He still had 
on the baggy black civilian suit that bore unmistakable signs of 
long unemployment. 

If he only didn't try so hard. If he only didn't care so much. 
If he'd only take it easy. Stopping an elevator isn't hard if you 
don't take it too seriously. Come to think of it, nothing is ter- 
ribly hard if you don't take it too seriously. 

Later that afternoon the head man left him to his own de- 
vices. Removal of the watching eye brought some improvement 

140 



but not a great deal. Still he labored and sweated, jerked and 
bounced, apologized with a desperate, "Please step up," or 
"Please step down." 

When you're getting to be an old man and you're all washed 
up in other lines, an elevator job is something to go for. It's a 
chance to finish life in a little furnished room with tobacco in 
your pouch and money to go to the movies. 

He was anxious to please happy to have you speak to him, 
and always ready with a polite and friendly reply, even though 
a bit nervous. 

The next day he was still at it, putting more work into that 
little lever than all the rest of the office building put together. 
Some of the fellows kidded him a little and asked him if he'd 
leave them off within a few feet of such and such a floor, but 
there was nothing mean about it. He always smiled right back 
and said, "Oh, I'll get it. It just takes a little practice, that's 
all. Ill get it." 

I think we were all rooting for him in our hearts nice little 
guy with sad eyes. We didn't care if we had to climb up to get 
out of the elevator, just so he got the job. 

Late that night all the operators had gone home. The head 
man the hirer and firer was running one elevator just to pick 
up the late tenants. He glided the lever by second nature with 
easy graceful motions, always made it in one try. 

On the fifth floor he stopped and took a couple of big shots 
in. Big men, well-dressed, well-fed important tenants. They 
fairly radiated confidence and well-being. They'd evidently had 
a prosperous day because the rich, self-assured laughter was 
rolling from them as they puffed their cigars. 

"Where's old man jitter fingers?" asked one as he stepped in. 

"Say," said the other. "I get a kick out of that old guy. 

141 



Where the hell did^you pick him up? Kristalmighty, I got yet 
to see him stop within six feet." 

They fairly roared with laughter. 

"Yeah, he's kinda old," said the head man apologetically. 

"By God, the other morning I thought it was going to take 
all day to get off at our floor. I damned near lost my dentures 
bouncing up and down." Again the laughter boiled out of them. 

"Cheeses what a gloomy looking Gus. Where did you pick 
him up? He looks like he's about to be hung." 

My heart went cold in me. I felt sick. They were building 
the scaffold, tying the noose and digging the grave, all in the 
name of comedy. The desperate effort and frantic hope of an 
old man was being crushed for a moment's entertainment. 

All that evening the sad and friendly eyes of that anxious 
little man filled my thoughts and the memory of confident, self- 
satisfied laughter echoed in my ears. 



I SAW A RAT 

I saw a fat 
Greedy rat 

Wearing the hat 

Of a plutocrat. 
Fat, rat, hat, 
Plutocrat. 
Imagine that! 



142 



ON PRIVATE PROPERTY 

"THIS LOOKS LIKE as good a place as any to sit down/' 
said Mr. Murphy. 

A sign tacked to the tree read: "Private property of Mr. 
Blodget. Trespassers will be prosecuted." 

Mr. Murphy eased the load from his shoulders and sprawled 
comfortably on the earth. 

"But the sign," said Mr. O'Brien. " Tis against the law." 

"The law," said Mr. Murphy, "concerns the intellect. 'Tis 
something man conceived of in his brain and has no relation to 
nature. I am resting my feet and the seat of my pants. Not 
my head. Those parts of a man operate by the laws of nature, 
which need no writing on signs." 

"Just the same, the law has feet, too, Murphy, and can use 
them to kick you in the pants regardless of philosophy." Re- 
luctantly, he put down his load and stretched out on the sod. 

"Ah, the feet feel grand to be off them," said Murphy, 
removing his shoes. Across the road was another sign on another 
tree: "Private property of Mr. Schniff. Trespassers will be 
prosecuted." 

O'Brien picked up a clod of dirt. " 'Tis a beautiful world, 
Murphy. And isn't it odd, when you come right down to it, 
'tis nothing but a big hunk of dirt." He squeezed the clod and 
it crumbled through his fingers. 

"Dirt ye be to dirt returneth," said Murphy. 

"What are you talking about?" said O'Brien. 

" 'Tis a biblical phrase, I believe. Something about man 
being a hunk of dirt. Out of the dirt he comes and back into 
it he goes, and that's life." 

"Yes," said O'Brien, "everything's dirt, more or less." 

"Even my feet are dirty," said Murphy. 

O'Brien picked up another clod. "And this piece of dirt be- 
longs to Mr. Blodget," he mused. 

"Let me see it/' said Murphy. He took the clod and studied 

143 



it. "How could he prove it, I wonder? His name is nowhere 
on it." He heaved the clod at the sign across the road. It broke 
and fell to the ground. 

"Now it belongs to Mr. Schniff," said O'Brien. 

"Aye," said Mr. Murphy. "And some day he'll be buried 
in it."' 

"You get to talking about dirt," said Mr. O'Brien, "and 
pretty soon nothing makes sense. What are the nations, Murphy, 
but big pieces of dirt?" 

"And you get to fighting about dirt," said Murphy, "and 
there you have a war." 

"People fighting over dirt and throwing dirt at each other," 
said O'Brien. 

"The same dirt they came out of and go back into. Dirt 
they are and dirt they fling, and that, I suppose, is civilization." 

"A man could go crazy if he thought enough about it." 

"I sometimes think, O'Brien, the world is so crazy now, 
there's no place to go but sane." 

"What would a sane man do in a crazy world, Murphy? 
They'd lock him up and say he was crazy." 

1 'Tis not the dirt that's wrong, but the dirt grabbers." 

"Suppose," said Mr. O'Brien, "you took a spoonful of Ger- 
many and a spoonful of France and a spoonful of England and 
mixed them all up. What would you have?" 

"Dirt," said Mr. Murphy. 

' 'Twas here before we came, and 'twill remain when we're 
gone. So what's the use of fighting over it and rubbing each 
other's noses in it? There's dirt for all and dirt to spare." 

"We're wallowing in it, O'Brien, when we could just as well 
grow a garden and enjoy life while we're here." 

"Aye, but where the devil are you going to grow your garden 
when there's scarce a place you can sit your behind without 
violating the law? This piece belongs to Mr. Blodget and that 

144 



other piece over there belongs to Mr. Schniff. And you and I, 
Murphy we have no dirt but the dirt we are." 

'"The dirt is all claimed and possessed, O'Brien with a 
sign on each and every piece and no doubt a mortgage to boot. 
The only way one man can get any dirt is to take it away from 
another." 

"Then when he gets it, Murphy, that's the end of his peace 
of mind because everyone else is naturally trying to take it away 
from him." 

"That's a terrible thought, O'Brien. A big piece of dirt 
whirling through eternity, inhabited by dirty people, fighting 
over dirt and throwing dirt at each other, and stealing dirt from 
each other." 

"And when it rains, they make mud pies," said O'Brien. 

"Some day, O'Brien," said Murphy, "we'll have an end to 
this dirt slinging. The people who do all the work will decide 
to share the dirt together like brothers and sisters. And we'll 
have that garden I've been speaking to you about." 

"But what of the Blodgets and Schniffs and the no tres- 
passing signs?" 

"They shall retain for their very own, O'Brien, each and 
every clod of dirt which is marked plainly with their name and 
indorsed by the signature of the Lord God Almighty." 

"A most fertile idea, Murphy. Most fertile, indeed." 



145 



ASININITY 

Introducing Mr. Murphy's wife, Bridget, and Mr. O'Brien's 
wife, Mary. 

"FOR HEAVEN SAKES, Mrs. Murphy. Are you writing a 
book?" 

"Come in, Mary. How do you spell asininity?" 

"I was never a good one for spelling, Bridget. But surely, 
you mean assassination don't you?" 

"I mean asininity." 

"Indeed, and is there such a word?" 

"Never mind. I'll call them asses. That's what they are 
anyhow." 

"Are you writing about the men, Bridget?" 

"Not all of them. Just the Congressmen." 

"And what is it, a book?" 

"I am writing a letter to the president." 

"The president of what?" 

"The president of the United States." 

"Good Lord, Bridget! I didn't know you knew him." 

"I don't. Not as a person to speak to." 

"Then why should you write him a letter?" 

"To give him a piece of my mind, that's why, and to tell 
him we want no war." 

"Surely he will pay no attention to the likes of you, Bridget." 

"He will indeed, Mary, for it's folks like us that pay his 
salary." 

"Do you think it will do any good, Bridget?" 

1 'Twill be helpful for him to know what we think. See 

here what I say: 'Mr. President Roosevelt of the United States; 

dear sir: Please excuse my handwriting. I have a big washing 

to do and the small boys are very careless with their shirts, and 

146 



with a touch of rheumatism in my knuckles, I do not write for 
the fun of it like some of these people.' ' 

"That's very good, Bridget." 

' Tis just the beginning. Listen: 'You do not know who 
I am, and that is not surprising. But you may wonder why I 
am writing to you when you do not know me. There is a reason. 
My husband is always reading books, and I think he would 
make a good president too excepting he has to support his 
family and has so little time for politics.' ' 

"That is so true, Bridget. I know my man would have made 
a success of himself if he hadn't been so busy earning a living." 
"To continue: 'As my husband said last night, the president 
is in bad company all the time with those bankers and Con- 
gressmen around the White House, and it does no harm to 
keep him reminded that we are not following him blindly. 
It is like Lincoln said, we will go with a man as long as he is 
going in our direction, but we will part with him when he 
turns down a side alley. My husband is a great admirer of 
Mr. Lincoln and is always quoting him. I think it is a terrible 
thing that they shot him and I am sure you feel the same way 
about it.' " 

"My goodness, Bridget, I could never write like that." 

" 'Tis inherited. When I was a girl they told me I should 
be a writer. But the children and the washing and all. To go 
on: 'We have read in the papers how you say you are trying to 
keep America out of the war, and I know it will be a great com- 
fort to you to know we are not going to war. I will not permit 
my husband to do so, even if he should depart from his senses 
and try it and if anybody tries to take my boys I will beat their 
brains out with a broom handle. We have had great trouble 
raising them, especially with the depression, and although they 
may tell you the oldest boy is a devil, it is not true. He is a 
sweet boy with enough spirit for twins and they do not rightly 

147 



understand him. I have had enough trouble teaching him good 
manners without some General telling him he should kill 
people.' ' 

"You are very right, Bridget." 

' 'So we are not going to war, and none of the people in 
our neighborhood are going to war. If the Congressmen want 

any such asin no, I changed that If the Congressmen want 

to make asses of themselves, we know they can do it all too 
well. But they are not going to make asses of us.' " 

"Very true, Bridget." 

"That's as far as I got when you came in. Will you have a 
nice cup of tea, Mary?" 



148 



JIMMY FEATHERS 

JIMMY FEATHERS was the pantryman aboard ship. He had 
just enough flesh hanging on him to walk his bones around. 
Tall, lanky, hook-nosed, florid-complexioned and ill-natured, 
he first looked on me as a kind of giddy-brained criminal be- 
cause I was young. His skin was very white, but his cheeks were 
red and under them, and even under his long nose, an amazing 
network of red and purple veins was evident. 

When the passengers had finished dinner, he'd snort, 
"Come on boys, and get your chow," and would dish out 
what was left into our plates. 

Thin silver spectacles balanced on his nose about two inches 
away from his eyes so that he looked through them like micro- 
scopes, and regarded us much as if we were germs. 

They said he came from "a very fine family in England" 
and had a "very good education." But that was a long time 
ago. 

In the old days of steamshipping he had been the best known 
chief steward on the finest ships running to Australia and the 
Orient. He had plenty of money in those days. Finally they 
discovered why. He was caught smuggling dope, and for a long 
time afterward was blacklisted and on the beach. Later he got 
back as pantryman, but by that time the booze had got him. 

Somewhere ashore he had a wife and a family. But they 
hated him and had a legal arrangement whereby they took 
nearly all his wages, leaving him with only a few dollars which 
he spent entirely on bootleg whiskey. 

Jimmy is dead now, but I was very fond of him. He hated 
me at first because I was enthusiastic about life, whereas he 
knew from irrefutable experience that life was lousy. 

When I first came aboard ship he treated me with all the 

149 



contempt which young creatures merit. We young fellows used 
to look forward to new and unexplored ports with hilarious 
enthusiasm, whereas Jimmy Feathers knew all the ports were 
alike saloons, whore houses, ugly cops, lonely streets, head- 
aches and nickle pianos. So why shouldn't he treat us with con- 
tempt? 

Later on though, we got friendly, and he decided I was a 
fairly decent kid. He regarded me as a piece of raw meat about 
to be ground up by the hamburger-grinder of life. 

For all his boozing, Jimmy was an A-l pantryman, and as I 
think back I realize it would have been better to leave him 
alone. He was sick of life and waiting to die, and it was too 
late for any thought of comeback. 

But we got a new chief steward aboard a really good guy 
who had been a glory-hole janitor under Feathers back in the 
old days. He decided to bring Jimmy back. After one trip he 
made Jimmy 2nd cabin steward. 

That may seem like nothing to you. But it meant a real boost 
in pay, and what's more, it meant Jimmy would wear an officer's 
uniform again. I don't know whether you've got the brains 
to realize what that meant to him. 

He went ashore and dug into an old trunk somewhere and 
came back with a set of ancient uniforms he hadn't worn in 
15 or 20 years. He looked like the ghost of a old paddle-wheel 
seaman walking around on a modern steamship. And he was 
nervous. 

Some of the fellows laughed at him and nearly all said the 
chief steward was crazy trying to bring old Feathers back to his 
glory. But Jimmy was nervous. 

I know, because he was my room mate, and we'd sailed 
together enough so that he knew he could trust me. To you it 
probably seems silly. To him, it meant a chance to step back 
into the old days to be respected. 

150 



After he moved out of the glory-hole and into the two-man 
cabin he was to share with me, he told me all about it. He was 
so old he was almost dead, and I was so young I was lathering 
fuzz and shaving it off under the illusion it was a beard. But 
when he talked with me and he had to talk with someone 
I was the old man and he was the kid. He told me how he was 
going to make good on this, how he was going to lay off the 
booze, how he was going to show everybody. 

When he put on one of those ancient uniforms, he posed 
for me and asked me, between the two of us, whether anybody 
would notice their oldness, because he couldn't afford new ones. 

And that was at Christmas time, too. I had shore friends who 
would come aboard and kid around with me. Some of them 
brought me a bottle of gin and a cigar. Jimmy didn't have any 
friends. The only people he knew were his wife and family 
who hated him because he was a boozer and no good. 

Knowing Jimmy, I hid the bottle of gin so he couldn't get 
at it. Then as I got dressed up to go ashore for Christmas Eve 
with my friends, he sat on the edge of the settee and watched 
me. I asked him what he was going to do, and he said 
"nothing." 

So I gave him the bottle of gin and the cigar, and the kindly, 
sweet look that came into his irritable old eyes was almost 
beautiful. 

It must have been four or five in the morning before I 
came rolling back on board full of a dozen varieties of bottleg 
and the immediate memory of a lot of fun. I opened the cabin 
door and there was old Jimmy lying on the deck. Beside him was 
the empty gin bottle. His face was purple. In the ash tray was 
the butt of the cigar, smoked to the last fragment. 

I lifted his old bones up and put him in his bunk. You 
wouldn't believe how thin that man was. It was like lifting a 
deck chair. 

151 



On sailing day he was so drunk he couldn't do his work. 
The chief steward was disgusted. He put somebody in his place 
and broke Jimmy back to pantryman. 

Sadly he gathered his gear from the two-man cabin and 
moved back to the stinking glory-hole. 

I was sure sorry. 

The chief steward after that would tell everybody: "What 
a hell of a dirty trick that guy played on me. I stuck my neck 
out giving him a chance. And what did the son-of-a-bitch do but 
go and get himself stinky-eyed on sailing day." 



CHANTY 

Said Admiral Land, I am frantic 

With Seamen, West Coast and Atlantic; 

I think it's outrageous 

That men should want wages 

For living a life so romantic. 



152 



THE FAMILY AND SOCIALISM 

Will socialism destroy the family and morality? 

If something isn't done to halt this war and end the de- 
pression, there won't be very many families left. As for 
morality, capitalists are not noted for it. 

Here's what socialism would do for families: 

In the first place, it would see that all husbands had jobs 
and could pay the rent. 

In the second place, it would give every woman an oppor- 
tunity to pursue a career if she so desired without sacrificing 
home and family life. If a woman didn't want to pursue a 
career, nobody would pursue her with one. It's up to her. 

Day nurseries, community laundries and other aids would 
be established to enable women to have children without be- 
coming prisoners in the home. 

At the present time, most women have to choose between 
children or a career. They don't get an even chance at life 
with men. 

Full maternity care would be provided by the state in order 
that no child would be conceived in worry. 

Socialism also contends that a woman's bond to her husband, 
and vice versa, shall be genuine affection and companionship 
not economic dependency. 

Socialism contends that when a woman marries a man, or 
a man marries a woman, in order to get a meal ticket, that's 
immorality. 

Men and women would have not only an equal right to 
work, but it would be the duty of society to provide jobs. 

At the present time, the right to work is merely the right 
to look for a job. Under socialism, it is the right to have a 
job, and to have democratic voice in the conditions of work. 

Under socialism, you don't get anything without working, 

153 



and if you don't work you don't eat. But there is plenty of 
work for all and plenty of opportunity for advancement, 
achievement and personal betterment. 

Of course, if some men and women preferred that the hus- 
band be the provider and the woman devote herself to the 
home, they'd be free and welcome to do so. 

The object of giving women full and equal rights in the 
world of work and achievement is to enable them to do what 
they want, not to force them to do anything they don't want 
to do. 

Men and women are certainly not equal inasmuch as the 
woman must bear all the physical burdens of childbirth. 
Socialism therefore provides every aid and consideration to 
equalize these differences. 

As far as brains and ability are concerned, men and women 
are equal, and the record proves it. 

Under socialism the women do not shave their hair off 
and smoke cigars. They can if they want to, but they don't 
want to. They remain as feminine as ever, in fact more so, 
since they are not forced to become work horses in the home, 
and since sweat shop conditions arc abolished in industries. 

The facts of life remain the facts of life, excepting that 
people can afford them for a change. 

Under socialism you can afford to get married and afford 
to raise a family. 

You can also be assured there will be jobs and opportunities 
for your children when they grow up, because there are no 
depressions under socialism. 

Likewise you don't have to be humiliated with the idea of 
being a burden to your children in your old age. You'll get a 
full and adequate pension and be able to spend your last days 
in security and comfort. 

Also, your children will be protected from your own foolish- 

154 



ness and incompetence, if you happen to be that kind. They 
would have equal rights and opportunities with all other kids. 
They would not be starved in slums or shamed at school because 
you happened to be a drunkard if you are a drunkard. The 
state would see to that. 

Finally, I'll remind you that the "National Socialism" of 
Germany and Italy, and the "National Socialism" that a lot 
of big shots and bankers are talking about for Britain and 
America, is not socialism or anything like it. It is fascism. 
It is a dirty and bigoted last stand of capitalism an at- 
tempt to prevent socialism by force and regimentation and 
war. 

The socialism of the Soviet Union is socialism. 

Just compare the Nazi super-race dogma with the Soviet 
principle of the brotherhood of all races. 



UNCOMPROMISING 

A Trotskyite once, it is said, 

Heard that Communists advocate bread. 

He took the position 

Of firm opposition 

And fasted until he was dead. 



155 



J. B. McNAMARA 

We made no apology or explanation. 

We took his poor dead body, 

From which life was gone, 

And from which no more agony 

Or punishment could be squeezed 

Which could suffer no more, 

Weep no more, 

Or speak defiance. 

We took his poor dead body, 

Carried it away reverently 

And buried it with love. 



They called this man criminal and violent. 
Those who have rocked the earth with violence 
And sickened it with their own crimes, 
Hastened to call this man violent. 
They were eager, gloating, vindictive. 
"He is violent," they leered, 
And their expensive presses 
Screamed and sang with hatred. 

They took him young and calm, 

With kindly eyes, 

And buried him in concrete and steel; 

Hid him from the sun and the sky, 

And barred him from all warmth 

And friendly contact. 

They locked him in a grey world 

Among criminals for thirty years. 



156 



But warm love 

And the fire of devotion 

Glowed in him 

Glowed within walls of stone, 

Behind bars of iron; 

And he walked their narrow concrete world 

With head erect 

And pride intact, 

Through thirty tortured years. 

The presses rolled with hatred 
And spewed their blackening filth, 
Tearing and smearing and gloating 
For thirty, dirty, 
Hate-delirious years. 

His frail body sickened 

Around a soul that smiled with strength. 

It aged in cold confinement, 

Wasted, weakened and died. 

And his eyes gleamed with fighting love, 

His lips spoke defiance, 

His soul cried forth in courage 

For the workers he loved, 

While his body sickened and died. 

The presses rolled in another wave 

Of rancid, malignant hate, 

Pouring infamy on his name, 

Dirt on his soul, 

And flinging it in the eyes, 

Screaming it in the ears, 

Of the men he loved. 



157 



But the workers made no apology 
Or explanation. 
They came in solemn dignity; 
Asked for his poor dead body, 
Immune to pain or hate 
Asked for the empty shell of him, 
Held it in reverent hands 
Carried the poor dead body off 
And buried it with love. 

We weep, it is true, 

And our heads are bowed in sadness 

As the warm soil covers him over. 

But these are not tears of weakness. 

Our heads will lift 

At the last mean shovel of earth, 

And the dream that lived in J. B.'s head 

And sang in his heart, 

Shall have its birth. 

Today we bury a man we loved 
A name we recognize and honor 
Without apology or explanation 
To the makers and masters of violence 
Who understood him as well as we did. 



158 



What they say of 

DANGEROUS THOUGHTS 

and its author 

RUTH McKENNEY: "... I've been toying with 
the idea that Mike Quin is a sort of combina- 
tion Mark Twain and Voltaire, 1940 model, but 
that doesn't seem to really nail it down. Maybe 
Mark Twain plus a sound knowledge of eco- 
nomics; Voltaire added up with a human heart." 

ANNA LOUISE STRONG: "Already people who 
keep their eyes open have marked Mike as one 
of the best labor writers in the country. ... If 
America succeeds in keeping out of war we'll 
all owe a lot to Mike for it; his slogan, The 
Yanks Are Not Coming,' has done more than 
any one person has done to crystal ize popular 
resistance. . . . Yeh, his thoughts are quite 
'dangerous' ... to the people's enemies. . . ." 

CLIFFORD ODETS: "Quin has a rare talent for 
revealing complex truths in a few simple para- 
graphs. . . . Quin is a real man of the people. 
More than one writer I know will say of many 
of his pieces, 'I wish I had written that!" 

MILLEN BRAND: "I particularly like the fables 
or allegories. . . . Mike has a real feeling for 
dialogue, for the speech of the people. . . ."