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The Voice of the people. (New Orleans, La.) 1913-19??, October 09, 1913, Image 3

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88064458/1913-10-09/ed-1/seq-3/

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Rejuvenation of Eugene
Iocal 88, Eugene, Oregon, is main
taining open headquarters at 57 East
Sixth St., has just passed through one
of the periodical skin-sheddings
Sti ich are events in the lives of all
yor,,d locals. The old covering of leth
argy and don't-give-a-damness has
been discarded and the local has
emerged resplendent in its new garb
of I)o Something. Workingstiffs are
cordially invited to call, Sincere wel
come and democratic atmosphere
guaranteed.
We maintain a surgical department
for the treatment of those unfortu
nates afflicted with scissorbilitis.
Back Numbers Wanted
All Locals or Individuals having
hack numbers o(f THE LUMBER
JACK and THE VOICE which they
can spare from their files, please for
ward same to us at once for filing pur
poses.
Tom Mann's Dates
PORTLAND
October 22 and 23, 1913.
At Socialist Hall, 1284 Fourth Street.
Under auspices 1. W. W. C. C. C.
SAN FRANCISCO
October 26, 1913.
At Dreamland Rink.
A Telephone Girl's Story
By Jane Street.
D)ear Mother-I don't know why I
am writing to you. Maybe lit's be
cause you're the only friend in the
world that I have. That word,
"friend," is a strange word. It means
loyalty and sympathy. Perhaps I
turn to you because in my little corner
in this big world, there is such a total
absence of loyalty and sympathy.
Perhaps though I'll never send this
letter to you. I love you too much.
Why should I cause you pain? Why
should I shock you, or dissappoint
you ? Why should I add to your gray
head the burden of your daughter's
sorrow? Maybe though it is my jus
tification-my defense against your
disapproval-against your denuncia
tion of those sentiments which are
the only thing that keeps my blood
warm in this cold blooled struggle for
existence.
Maybe it is better that you should
go on in darkness. You belong to an
other age. Maybe it's better that
you, and other people like you, should
go on condemning and misunder
standing me and others like me; and
that we should stand by with a smile
on our lips, silent, and bitter, and
headstrong. When people are ground
down to utter hopelessness, a new
hope bursts into being--the rebellion
against outrage-the abandonment
of battle. A new consciousness is
awakened in me, mother. I am con
scious of hating-of hating some
thing that ought to and must be hated
things-and people along with
things-for Principle is worth more
than People. All these revolutionary
ideas, mother, shock you. They are
in conflict with your church-going
ideas of peace. But forgiveness is a
sign of strength. With the last faint
glimmer of hope, forgiveness flees
from the human heart, These things
are not awful. They are glorious.
i)own into the deadness of my being,
lunknown to anyone, and into that of
thousands and millions of others,
there is a slow fire burning, like a
clhnker, that all but puts itself out,
waiting to be poked by some Master
IRebell into a great destructive blaze.
Whenever I think of youd mother,
1 think of love. (I wish someone
coild say that to me). M", ,nruth,
yom know, that I spent near you, was
all love. Those day dreams I used to
I :ve then were as pure as those un
found fountains of eternal youth. I
us('d to sit on your front porch and
build air castles-you know, people
then had houses. We had a little cot
t:ge then, you know, and a big yard
with trees and flowers in it, and ev
er;yone else in our neighborhood had
a little house of his own. Here in this
200 girls working, and not one that
I know of owns, or has parents who
used to sit on our front porch and
own, the house she lives in. Well, I
rock and look up at the patches of
blue sky through the leaves on the
trees in front of me, and build air cas
tles for the future. I used to picture
my lord of love and the home we
would have some time. I never
thought of the house we would live in.
I never got down near enough to earth
for that. Then I met Jim. Jim was
my lord of love. He was every thing
I wanted. You know, he was a print
er. Well, it bothered me at first that
'he should have dirty hands. Maybe
my judgment was faulty, to be living
in this twentieth century, but I didn't
let a small thing like dirty hands
stand in my way. He was a briiliant
boy. I couldn't understand it then,
but I have since found out that it
isn't ability that draws big wages.
His $18.00 per week didn't keep me
from marrying him. Perhaps the in
stinct of motherhood and vanity keep
pace with each other, and I was lack
ing in both. For that isn't enough to
raise a family on.
We found that out before the baby
came. And poor Jim used to work
overtime until 11 o'clock at night try
ing to save up money. But it cost
more than we had reckoned on and we
got into debt. Then Jim kept on
working overtime in order to get out
of debt. Debt is an awful thing. It
is a sort of volutary but unavoidable
bondage. And when poor Jim lay dy
ing, we were hounded by the furni
ture company to pay for the very bed
on which he lay.
You know a home, they say, is
wherever love is. Well, then we had
a home, I guess. It was a house we
were struggling for. We had been
buying a lot on which we hoped some
time to build a house. But we were
obliged to sell our equity in that lot
in order to be able to pay another man
to live in his house, and in order to
pay on furniture to put into that oth
er man's house. That's one of the
jokes of modern life-so ridiculous-
if it didn't come home to me. That
was ten years ago, and I have worked
industriously and economized shame
fully ever since, but I have never been
able to own even furniture.
I don't know why Jim died. They
say people get sick because they break
some law of nature. The only law
that he ruthlessly transgressed was
the law that requires rest for the hu
man body. He had been working
overtime for nearly a year when he
died.
And poor little Jim-he grew to be
such a round, rosy, roguish little ras
cal. It wasn't doctor's bills I worried
over, nor debts-for I moved into one
room. Money didn't mean nice
clothes to me, nor a good time. It
was a sort of independence I always
looked forward to. I felt as if we were
the objects of people's charity. Not
that I accepted anything for nothing.
But always, mother, always as long
as he lived, I had to have someone
take care of my own little boy. How it
used to hurt! I would pay them, of
course, what little I could. But I al
ways knew they did it because they
were sorry for me. You know how
children are. After awhile people
would get tired of him, and I would
have to get someone else.
It was the same way about living
in the house with people. After a
while he would worry them, things
were not pleasant, and I would move.
One time we roomed in a third flat
with some people and there was a
dingy little back yard for Jim to play
in. I had a dispute with my landlady
about that little back yard. I remem
bered how, when I was a youngster,
I used to dig worms in our big yard,
and put cracker crumbs on he ant hills
for the ants to carry in, and climb
trees, and pull weeds, and step in your
flower beds, and swing on he gates.
And how I used to long for a home for
him-yes, that's the right word after
all.
And, mother, there are lots of wom
en up here in the telephone office who
have children. And what is sadder
children, working, who have mothers.
Some of the women have husbands,
and are working-who knows?-to
get out of debt. I know of pregnant
women working here in this industrial
hell, going through all the strain and
torture of it, and taking the insults
of some uncaged she-hyena in the
form of a supervisor or chief opera
tor. But if she has a husband, she
has to lie about it in order to get a
job. Married women don't make good
wage slaves, the company found out
they are too apt to go home and rest
awhile.
And to give the impression that
they employ single women, they have
a rule by which every one is called
"Miss ," whether she likes
it ornot. The principal of the tele
phone school had the audacity to tell
me that the reason for such a rule
was so that the married girls would
not go around telling of their exper
ences in married life to their single
or unmarried companions. The -
Telephone & Telegraph Co. is very
conscientious and particular in look
ing after the morals of its women em
ployees, whom it is paying at the rate
of $1.10 a day. What a farce and
mockery and a hypocrisy it all is,
when it is thrown into your very face.
Some perverted mind, who regards
the necks and arms of women as im
moral things, even devised the rule of
having all of the instructors in the tel
ephone school wear high necked col
lars to their waists-those unhygienic
articles of clothing properly called
"chokers ;" and to wear long sleeves,
and todress their hair in as plain and
unfrouzeled a manner as possible, in
order to set a good example for the
students starting in on their career
as telephone operators at $1.10 a day,
so that the latter might not spend all
their earnings on foolish, vain, and
expensive clothings.
Well, I struggled along with little
Jim. You know you would have cared
for him if you had been with me. You
lived nearly across the continent, but
in these days of modern transporta
tion, you could have covered the dis
tance in 5 or 6 days. But we might
as well have been living in the Middle
Ages, for neither of us had enough
money to get to the other.
About that time I started working
for the Telephone Co., because it was
something I could work at at night
and be at home with the baby in the
day time. And I was not the only one.
There are lots of girls righ now in the
night offices, sailing along in the same
old leaky boat. I've seen them many
a time with their blood shot eyes and
drawn faces. Sometimes one would
say, "I washed to-day; I didn't get
only about an hour's sleep."
Poor little Jim I I did it for his
sake. And then, with my nerves all
unstrung, I used to be cross with him.
I was always such a sleepy head, you
know, mother. I thought I could
sleep through anything. But no. I
never, actually got sleepy at all (ex
cept sometimes at night). I would
simply go to pieces. In the morning
when we got out, sometimes the sun
would be creeping up over the house
tops-about the only chance we had
to see the sun-but more often it was
the fog we went out into, but it was
a dear, old, welcome fog, after the
night work, and the fresh air made
even me glad I was alive. Then I'd
go home and get the baby's breakfast.
And then after having worked all
night and been awake for over 18
hours, I'd stand, with wide open eyes,
staring at the bed, and argue myself
into performing the duty of going to
sleep. And I'd lie down like some one
who was living on a diet that he did
not relish.
One day I was startled out of my
sleep by someone where I lived prac
ticing on the piano. It was a series
of discordant noises that grated on
my uncovered and quivering nerves
like a rusty saw drawn over the tip of
one's tongue. I got up and wrung my
hands and cried from the sheer tor
ture of it. And yet-you know me,
mother-did you ever know a woman
less hysterical or nervous, ordinarily,
than I am? It was the loss of sleep
that made so.
The all night girls start work at 10
P. M., and quit at 7 A. M., and are
paid $1.40 a night-or $8.40 a week.
That is 9 hours. There is an 8 hour
law in this state. It is true that we
are given a relief period, but our time
during that period is not our own.
We are locked into the company's
building, are forbidden to sleep, for
bidden to play on the piano, etc. It
is usually too cold to read in the room
with comfort.
When I first went to work we used
to sleep during our rest hour. The
company had found it expedient to
provide couches in the rest room and
a bed in the hospital room. On New
Years and on election day, when there
is an extra special rush of work--lJke
speeding up an engine until it will rip C
right off the track--sometimes the C
girl's faint or go into hysterics and
have to be carried out. And they
have mild attacks every day in the
year. Well, as I was saying, at first,
we night girls made good use of these
"gifts" of the company. And that E
sleep that we'd snatch in the middle j
of the night was to us like a drink of
cold water to a lost traveler on the c
desert. Then a new rule came that i
we should not sleep. No one is allow- f
ed to question the why or the where
fore of the company's rules--or she t
loses his job. I know because I have 4
tried it. The night chief operator f,
said that those were the orders she b
received from the man above her, and c
that he said that the telephone com
pany was not going to run a lodging
house. I know he came into the office
late one night and stood with his
hands in his pockets and his neck
stretched forward, looking us over as
if we were so many animals under a
keeper. And while I watched him out
of the corner of my eye, unbeknown
to the chief operator. I reflected on
the success in life of deserving men; c
and it occurred to me that any man r
who would make that sort of rule, un
der the circumstances, respecting a
group of women, deserved to be tarr
ed and feathered-whether official or
paid hireling of the company.
You asked me once, mother, why I
didn't ever rise to any higher position d
than that of ordinary operator. Ad- it
versity has taught me many things. f
It has broken my spirit and made me
submit without protest to insult and
outrage. It has made an automaton o
of me. But it has never taught me
to be a toady. Those women over us
are eternally nagged at by people z
higher up, and they prostitute, for
the sake of a few dollars more a week, 9
what little sweetness of disposition ,
they may have had, along with their f
loyalty of heart to their sister slaves. f
And that word, "slaves," isn't an
exaggeration. Let me prove it. They
make us sharpen pencils at night for
the girls in the day time to use. One ii
night I sharpened 210 pencils. Out
side of the unpleasantness of the task t
itself, there are other objections to be v
raised. The building always gets cold i
in the early hours of the morning, and
most of the girls wear sweaters- o
some of the girls white sweaters. To v
sharpen pencils you must either get c
your sweater dirty or take it off and o
sit in the cold. And then you get
your waist dirty. And the time that e
it takes a girl to wash and iron her d
waist, she gives gratis to the compa
ny, over and above the nine hours for
which she is paid $1.40, all because li
the company that, it is said, makes
$4,000,000 a year off the people of
this city, is too penurious and greedy
to hire a janitor or office boy for a
few extra dollars a week. Every girl
knows this up here. Every girl
knows she was never hired to sharpen
pencils. She also knows it takes time
to clean her clothes and that she
needs sleep. And yet she will sit and
sharpen pencils by the hour and never t
open her mouth in protest at the in
justice of it. She dares not. Isn't
that a good deal like a slave?
And then again. The telephone
lately introduced an Employees Pen- t
sion Scheme-another "gift" of the
company-designed in reality to r
spare the company the damage suits
of the electrical workers. And the
girls in the night office, after having t
given to the company its illegal nine
hours, were obliged to wait from 7 A.
M. to 8 P. M. in order to hear that
wonderful and complicated scheme
expounded and to sign cards making
ourselves parties to it. And we wait
ed because we were told to wait and
knew that we would lose our jobs if
we didn't. Is it an exaggeration to
say we were slaves ?
You know what happened to little r
Jim, mother. I had a girl to sleep s
with him, but she was across the bay -'
and hadn't got in yet. There were
other people in the house but they
thought she was home, I guess. The
call came in to me that night-Park
4381--the Fire Department-and I
listened in. It was my own house
that was afire! I threw off my set
and ran down stairs. The door was
locked, and when I got it open and ran
home, the fireman was carrying him
out smothered, and scorched, and
dead! Mother! Mother!
LUCILE.
Terrible Accident to Olsen
Chicago, Ill., Oct. 2-A telegram
bearing the frightful news of a terri
ble accident that befell Felloworker
Olsen of Minneapolis, Minn., was re
ceived at general headquarters this
morning. Olsen was on his way home
from Chicago, where he was a dele
gate to the Eighth Annual Conven
tion. He left here last night, about
4 miles north of La Crosse, Wis., he
fell off the train he was riding, and
badly injured his left ~le, which, ac
cording to the telegram, will have to
be amputated above the knee.
SOLTIS.
For Free Press.
The action of some of the West
Coast locals in withdrawing their sup
port from the "Worker" is to me ab
solutely wrong. Then on top of this
comes the Minneapolis locals with a
reduction of their bundle order of
"The Voice" because that paper
stands for what they are pleased to
call "disorganization." Why don't
you take advantage of the offer of
"The Voice" and tell the membership
why centralization is organization and
decentralization is disorganization,
instead of withdrawing your support
from the papers? You evidently do
not believe in a free press.
Felloworkers, lets have a discussion
of the question in our papers, so that
we of the rank and file can decide
whether centralization or decentrali
zation is the most progressive form of
organization. Then lets vote on the
question and abide by the will of the
majority, thus settling the question
for the time being at least. If we
fight among ourselves, howinhell can
we fight the Boss? "The Voice" has
offered its columns, and I am sure the
"Worker" and "Solidarity=" will follow
its lead. Refusing to support our pa
pers and saying all kinds of sarcastic
things about each other will lead no
where but to disorganization, which
is just what the Boss wants. Surely
we can lose nothing by a discussion
of the question, and if we are imbued
with a spirit of fairness we will wel
come such discussion. Lets talk it
over and then vote. We must support
our press if we are to achieve success,
even in the distant future. It's a
damn shame the way some of us are
acting, and I am sure we will have
cause to regret such action. Let's act
like Revolutionists.
Yours for the I. W. W.,
W. H. LEWIS.
Law and Order at Moose
Jaw, Sask.
A new way of filling the coffers of
a bankrupt city just came to my light
the other day. Two men came into
the city looking for work in the har
vest fields. They went into the bar
and had two drinks, when two bulls
came in and hustled them out at the
back door and threw them into an au
tomobile that was waiting there for
them. They were fined $4.50 each.
They both happened to be dead broke
so they were handed over to the Em
ployment shark. The shark set them
to work on the Roman Catholic
Church at 30c an hour, to work off
their "fine" of $4.50, and $1.00 shark
fee.-A Canuck Rebel.
In Sending Stamps
DI)on't send them if you can possibly
avoid it but, if you cannot, please
wrap them in oiled paper, as this cli
mate down here would make a red flag
stick on Vic. Berger, much less post
age stamps to ordinary paper.

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