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Newspaper Page Text
WHITE HAIRED "MOTHER"WHO PREACHES TO "DOWN AND OUTS"
ON WEST SIDE IS A HUMANITARIAN
By Jane Whitaker
"Dear Miss Whitaker Would you
please write an article in The Day
Book about the white-haired mother
who preaches afternoons at the cor
ner of West Madison and Jefferson
streets and who gives money and
coffee to the hoboes? I have often
noticed her and wondered as to her
history and her mission to the down
and outers. May Blossom."
Since receiving this request, I have
endeavored in vain to separate
from the mass of fiction surrounding
Katherine Drury the true story of her
"mission," but since she will not talk
herself, since she will not answer
personal questions, it has been an un
She has been an institution in Chi
cago for a great many years. Some
of the boys say she started about
twelve years ago. I do know that she
has lived where she now resides for
all of twelve years and that she never
speaks to anyone in the house even
Tvhen she pays her room rent.
She seems to be very adverse to
talking to women. About three years
ago she interested me so greatly that
I attempted to talk to her and was
compelled to retreat in dismay.
As is always the case with a mys
tery, there are many romantic stories
circulated concerning "Mother"
Drury, but even if I knew that one of
these stories was true I would not
care to publish it just because the
romance in one's life belongs sacred
ly to oneself and not to the world.
Of her work more can be said and
truthfully. You will see her very
frequently on the street cars with a
basket of apples on her arm, and lat
er you will find her distributing them
to the men who are down and out the
while she may talk anarchism, so
cialism or religion, varying as the in
tensity of her mood varies.
Again, she will beg pennies from
the very men that yesterday she fed
and spend those pennies buying milk
to feed homeless cats.
Not long since she wore a sign ask
ing help for the unemployed and she
spent the money she collected buying
coffee and rolls for hungry and cold
There isn't any doubt, whatever
may be true story of her life, that she
has a splendid fundamental educa
tion which may have given rise to the
tale that she was at one time a school
And no matter upon what subject
she converses, whether it be conserv
ative with her mood or violently rad
ical with her mood, she is a very in
She is always listened to with the
utmost respect It sometimes seems
truly marvelous that men who are
rough with the roughness that hard
living has brought are always re
spectful to "Mother" Drury, even
when she is advocating a philosophy
that they long since discarded.
I have often wished I might know
her welL To me she is intensely in
teresting. Whatever may be the rea
son she chose this method of spend
ing her life there isn't a doubt but
that she is a humanitarian. She
does considerable material good and
perhaps some of her philosophy falls
on fruitful ground.
But sjie has an antipathy toward
women. I don't think she trusts
them very much. I don't think she
believes in their sincerity and I am
quite positive she has considerable
contempt for them as very shallow
creatures. With her it is not "my
children," it is "my boys."
And somehow Lhave felt compelled
to respect her reticence and have not
tried to penetrate it once I saw she
did not wish to be questioned.
After all, does it matter what mo
tive inspires humanitarians? Isn't
the only thing worth considering the
fact that they humanitarians?,
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