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Newspaper Page Text
. power -of -coal, on. which he was
spending all he. could pare.
e-. Yes, it was drab. I used to carry,
6 a pail along the railroad track and
I pick up the coal that dropped from
tthe trains, and one fireman grew to
,know me,, and perhaps to pity me,
for he always threw a couple of large
I chopped .pine trees down in the
-woods; I picked strawberries by my
mother's side for two cents a box,
all -through a red hot day, and be
cause I was nimble fingered and it
hurt mother to stoop, I sneaked some
- of ' my boxes over to her pile. I
stripped pea- vines for five cents a
. basket; I stood in line for charity
clothes and then when mother had
made them over and sent me to Sun
day School I sweetly thanked my
teacher when she told me, in the
. presence of all my classmates, that
they would give some more clothes
away the following week.
I knew it all even then and I was
by that time just twelve.. And father
. was still being'paid$14' a week. And
the powder he had manufactured
would riot sell because he could not
I had stopped school- at nine at
twelve my faiher began to teach me
shorthand-and typewriting and what
elements of spelling he could make
me master. And lots of nights he
would bring home his books and he
and I would sit up all night trying to
find out- why a trial balance didn't
balance. You see, they wanted so
much for that $14 that he did not
dare waste the time to hunt up the
wrong entry during business hours.
A few months after I was thirteen
I I was sent to work. And I had been
transformed , in a night from a girl
with short dresses and her hair down
her back into a woman with a long
skirt arid a high coiffeur. .
My firstiposition was with, a type
writing company who paid me seven
dollars a week because I wasan ex
ceptionally rapid typist. I won't go'
though with, all 6f-tfiat struggle-
what is. the use ? It isrthe same story
as your own. I -kenl only somuch
money as would cover, my lunches a
week-, figured on a basis of 15 cents
a day. I wanted candy. I wanted
pretty clothes. I wanted amusement.
I was working as hard as many
women, who were having, all of these
things, but, you see, I was. a beginner
the apprentice stage.
Yet, vhen I had been but four
months at the work the company had
a call for a twelve-dollar-a-week girl
for a month's position and I was sent
to fill that position, the while I turned
back five dollars each week to the
typewriter company. )And the. presi
dent of that company is a philan
thropist and the man for whom, I
worked at twelve dollars a week is
now Philadelphia's mayor.
I will omit -a great deal of it. What
I want principally to tell you is of
the fight I put up myself to make
a living wage. While I lived at home
L did not know whether 1 supported
myself or whether my parents "were
Finally, however, the doctor decid
ed that-1 was not strong enough to
stand the long' walk, and the journey
to and from home and advised that
I live in the city. I was making ten
dollars a week then;and was between
nineteen and twenty.
I paid $3.50 for my little attic room
and two meals a day and yet I soon
found 1 could not live on $10 alone.
I did not dress any better than an
office environment forced me to do,
and I made all of my own clothes,
and made them by hand, and-still I
couldn't get along. I began to get
shabby. I tried harder to cut down.
I even swallowed the lump in my
throat and told mother I couldn't help
her out when she came to me for
three dollars to pay "a bill.
I began to figure what. I could do.
The"easiest way"had.not crossed my
path in any inviting guise; the .only
men who had paid any attention to
me. were men as poor as. myself , and
poor men inyariahly respect women.