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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, June 09, 1914, NOON EDITION, Image 7

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1914-06-09/ed-1/seq-7/

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"IF IT WASN'T FOR THE CHILDREN" WHAT CRIM.TRAGEDY MIGHT
FOLLOW THIS WOMAN'S DISCOURAGEMENT '
BY JANE WHITAKER
The laughter of children, carefree, blissfully ignorant of the darker
side of life, believing it just to be a time bf play, came to us as we went
around to the rear of a house where stood" a frame cottage.
A happy little girlie of about nine looked at us shyly out of large velvety
. brown eyes. Her hair curled about her shoulders and she was wonderfully
pretty.
"Ph, yes," she said, in answer to our inquiry. "That is my mamma.
She is home. It is the first floor of the cottage."
I looked doubtfully at the frail wooden stairs that seemed threaten
ing to collapse without any weight upon' them at all, and then I mounted
them and knocked at a door.
A woman who must once have been very pretty looked curiously at
me, then she recognized my friends who had been good to her and her face
wreathed in smiles. i
"Oh, it is an honor that you should visit me," she said to my friends.
"It is so good." I
They explained to her that they wished her to tell me her story, and
the joy faded from her eyes and a fierce, hard, battling light took its place.
"We are at the place of desperation," she said. "My husband is out
tnis morning gathering rags. He makes maybe fifty cents in a day, ust
enougn to buy his eggs, and milk that
he must have. He will come home
soon and he will be so weak that he
, must lie down.
"He has worked so hard. In the
sweat shop he inade twelve coats
every day and if he did not finish
twelve but only eleven and a half, the
boss said: 'Maybe you don't like your
job, maybe you are too good for this
job.'
"And then he got sick, and he gave
up the sweat shop and got a horse
and wagon and peddled truck. And
when he would come home with may
be some potatoes that were not so
good left, or some other vegetables,
I would take them in a hasket myself
and go out on the streets 'and sell
even those so that he might not think
we were a burden to him.
"Always I have worked. For four
teen year I worked in the sweatshops,
making the day and night seem all
the same with the hours I worked.
"Thenhe got worse and we had
nothing and we appealed to the chari
ties to help us. They had him ex
amined by a doctor and the doctor
said it was tuberculosis, but that it
was just the beginning and, there was
a chance for him.
"He was sent to a sanitarium, but
later they sent him away, and the
charities told him he was able to
work and he must get work. They
would not help us when he was able
to work.
"But he cannot get work. If we
had a horse and wagon again, he
could peddle or he could sell rags and
paper, and I would go with him, but
we cannot get the horse and wagon.
"If he could get out in the coun
try, all of us, my husband, my chil
dren and myself, perhaps we would
get well there, but it is so hopeless to
plan." i
'You have five beautiful children,"
I said to her, as five darkreyed little
laddies and lassies ranged about us
and wondered what it wassail about
"Yes," she said, "but they are too
young to help yet. My oldest is
eleven. In a few years he will be a
comfort to us if we can but get
through those few years, but there
is nothing a boy of eleven can. get to
do, even in his vacation.
"Oh, I sit and think and think until
my brain is. almost turned, but I cao-
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