Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
JUST A COUPLE DOLLARS' WORTH OF CLOTHES
STOOD BETWEEN THIS MAN AND A JOB
fc BY JANE WHITAKER ,
"It seemed a pity!" The man who was talking to me had a sym
pathetic note in his voice and I settled down to listen.
"I was in a restaurant, had dropped in because I happened to be hun
gry in that neighborhood and I just saw in passing a sign in the window
that a counterman was wanted.
"Then'the young fellow came in. The first thing I noticed about him
was that he took Off his hat and his hair was plastered down as if he had
taken some pains smoothing it out. Then I saw that his face had a shine
and a redness that evidenced a good scrubbing and his hands were just as
shiny and clean and then I noticed his clothes.
.. He hadn't any collar or tie; his coat, that was pitifully shabby, was but
toned close; his trousers bagged and needed pressing and his shoes were
hopeless, not only down at the heels, but broken.
" 'Begging a meal,' I told myself and leaned forward to hear what sort
of a whine he would put up.
" 'Need a counterman?' he asked the. cashier, and his boyish face was
wreathed in what was meant to be a winning smile.
"The young lady appraised him in a single glance that seems to en
able women to remember afterward if the man had a hair on his coat or
was shy a front tooth and then she
. said: 'I don't think you will do.'
"The sheer impudence of it stun
ned me, but not the young fellow.
",'I know the business,' he insisted.
'Worked in St. Louis two years in the
" 'I don't think you'll do," the
young lady repeated, 'but I'll call the
"The manager was called, and as
he came forward he sized the young
fellow up in almost the same way,
and the boy began to lose some of his
" 'We have a man,' the manager
said, interrupting the first few words.
"The young fellow knew that the
manager lied, and I knew that he
lied, but the look of desuair on the
face of that boy he wasn't much
more has stayed with me.
"I cannot help wondering what will
become of him. Will he keep on try
ing until it dawns on him that the
struggle is hopeless because of his
shabby clothes, and will he turn to
crinfe in his desperation or just be
come a bum?
"Funny, how a thing like that
catches hold of a man. I never paid
any attention to clothes before that
is, to clothes as justclothes, but the
rest of the day I have been looking
at clothes, the inanimate things
hanging up in doorways along Hal
sted street and in the shop windows'
on Milwaukee avenue, and I figured
out how little it would cost to outfit
that boy so he would be presentable.
Just a matter of a couple of dollars
standing between him and a job.
"Why doesn't some charity do a
thing like that? It would be a big
thing, If a solicitor came to me and
told me he wanted my contribution
for their department to equip friend
less jobless men so they would have
a chance I would double my subscrip
tion." "Why make it a matter of char
ity," I asked. "Why are business men
not big enough to look beneath the
surface and see the real man apart
from the clothes that he sheds at
night and dons in the morning?"
"You are asking something too
ideal," the man retorted. "We have
to judge by the external appearance
first. Clothes make the man. That
is the only guide a business man has