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Newspaper Page Text
JUST THE STORY OF THE LIFE OF A BUM WHO
COULDN'T GET A JOB ANYWHERE
BY JANE WH1TAKER
He was just one of the advance
guard heralding the approach of cold
weather when he-and his kind are
driven from the construction camps
and the harvest fields to the inhospit
able cities. He slouched along ahead
of me and his trousers were not only
frayed at the bottom, but one leg
was torn and through the rip his
naked leg showed, while his feet, as
he lifted them from the pavement
with each weary step, must have
touched the cold sidewalk through
the holes in his shoes.
"Dear God, so soon!" I caught my
self murmuring, and I quickened my
pace in the hope that if I passed him
slowly his plight might cause him to
ask me for help, so that I might ques
As I came up beside him and fitted
my step with his, he looked at me
curiously and half-sullenly, but he
made no effort to "brace" me for a
loan and, anxious to talk to him, I
said, half under my breath: "Need
Into his eyes came a curious ex
pression half hope, half fear, or per
haps it was neither it might have
"No, tanks," he said. "What's de
"No game," I said. "You look on
your uppers and I thought I might
give you a lift if you need it. If you
don't why, all right"
"Do you know where I kin git a
job, lady? I beat me way from Sout'
Dakota. I bin out to de harvest
fields, but, hell, I couldn't get nuthin'
dere. De stiffs was turnin' us guys
"Didn't you make any stake at
all?" I asked him.
We stopped at the corner of Adams
st and Ashland blvd., in the shadow
of the church there. It was Sunday
afternoon, and the people who pass
ed, middle-class but comfortably j
clothed and well-fed, gazed at him
curiously. He looked such a piece of
driftwood such a forlorn, God-forsaken,
human, not yet past 35 but al
most ready for the discard.
"If de cops see me standin' on de
corner wit' you dey'll say I'm bracin'
you and I ain't on de stem yet. I got
four bits before I'm on me uppers.
What's de game?"
In as few words as I could I told
him what I wanted to talk to him
He laughed. "Say! I beat it to
Kansas when de federal employment
bureau sent out to de papers dat de
harvest was open and dey needed
men. I ain't a six-footer and I ain't
had a steady job for free years, so I
ain't got de strengf of de big guys,
but I kin do me bit with de oders. I
beats it slow to Kansas 'cause the
railroad dicks has got it in for de
guys dat beats it and I gets frown off
and lays up free days wit me anklp.
When I gets to Kansas dey says dey
got too many guys dere already and
dere ain't no work anyway, cause
de weaf er's bad and I better beat it
out of de state 'cause dey don't wan t
no loafers, so I makes me way to Ne
braska. "Dere's a lot of guys beatin' it like,
me to get a stake to pull 'em f rough"
de winter and dey gives me de dope
dat de farmers is playin' de same old
game sendin' out for a f ousan' men
when dey needs a hundred, so dat
when de big gang gets dere de guys
works for half of what dav finks,
dey'll get so dey gets somethin'.
"In Nebraska I lays around and I
gets a job de first week in August. I
works free days from free in de,
mornin' until de moon went down an'
den I caves in, 'cause me belly ain'tt
strong on de grub I been gettin' andT
I lays off dat job wid seven bucks for
me free davs.
al tries to ge a place-where deyfr