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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, July 23, 1911, Image 5

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The San Francisco Sunday Call ,
O. H. Heyneman
JIMMIE O'BRIEN was the practical
Joker of the local police depart
ment. His escapades were as
numerous as the hues of the rainbow.
Hardly a day passed that one of the
officers did not become a victim of one
of Jlmmie's pranks. Jlmmie's repu
tation as a courageous and efficient
officer was firmly established. He
was a sterling chap, well educated
and possessed of a winning smile and
magnetic personality that endeared
him, in spite of his mischievous
tendencies, to every member of the
department. None of O'Brien's Jokes
were malicious. He had the genuine
spark of Irish humor and his whole
being radiated health and happiness.
Jimmie was restless in his idle
moment's, his brain eager and ready to
concoct some practical Joke that
would cause the tongues of the entire
department to wag merrily. When
Jimmie was detailed on any serious
matter that required skill and brains
he became at once the alert, shrewd'
and clever police official. At such
times practical Jokes were unknown
quantities and he gave his entire time
and attention to the matter on which
he was detailed.
One morning Jimmie sauntered into
the main office of the chief of police
with hfe hearty good morning and
cheerful smile. Jlmmle's piercing
black eyes radiated mischief. The
clerks and the men off duty Intuitively
felt that Jimmie needed watching.
O'Brien picked up the morning pa
per and read aloud an article which
recited the heroic rescue by one of
his brother officers of a young woman
from a fire. The newspaper also com
mented on the fact that by the valiant
and heroio conduct of the officer both
life and property had been saved, and
that the officer deserved the highest
commendation, not alone from the cit
izens but from his superior officers,
for his gallant and meritorious con
Jimmie dropped the paper. His
eyes twinkled. Straightway he took
himself to his typewriter and wrote
a letter. The men tried by every
ruse to get a glimpse of the epistle.
They rang Jimmies bell to report to
the chief. But Jimmie was far too
clever for them. He removed the let
ter from the machine together with
his 206 pounds of flesh, as he an
swered the summons.
% He spent half an hour composing
this mysterious document ? The men
were more than curious. There was
a plot being hatched and they all
wanted to be In it. But Jimmie
kept his own counsel.
The following morning the heroic
. officer, Dennis Slattery, who had been
bo highly commended. in the news
papers for his meritorius act walked
Into headquarters. He received the
well deserved congratulations of his
fellow officers. A benign smile of
happiness overspread his ruddy moon
face. The chief extended his own
hearty congratulations, as did all the
superior officers. It was a proud mo
ment for Denny Slattery. ' Jimmie
O'Brien was effusive in his congrat
j ulations.
oL__ "Shake hands, Denny, old boy," he
said, grasping Slattery's hand with a
firm clasp. "I'm proud of you, old
chap, and there ought to be promotion
In It for you."
How People Scheme to Get the Popular Author’s Signature
NEXT to the self-corisoious little per
son longing to be put into a story
or who fancies his own experiences
those exploited In the book, the sharp
est thorn In the successful author's
flesh Is the autograph collector. The
subterfuges resorted to In the hope of
eliciting a pen scratch from a writer
would be discouraging to any one who
tries to keep his faith in his fellows,
The fact that he is not looking you in
the eye when he , ask* you for your
signature enable* a man to lie blandly
and politely, robbing you of your
natural weapons of , defenae. Conse
quently a collection of well known
autograph* is: not merely, an aggrega
tion of something " for the exchange of
money like any other collection; Its
accomplishment.' presupposes > certain
special qualifications, for this fad, like
any other, .leads astray the soul . not
anchored by Inflexible principles of
honesty. So many requests > are *~ met
with silence *on the part of ' the ' author
that the* crafty, name stalker resorts to
"ways that are; dark and; tricks that
are vain" In order to accomplish •". his
end. -•'
On/the other hand there ;are, many
frank appeals drawn from Interest in a
writer's work | that warm th c cockles of
the overworked writers heart {and are
usually answered i promptlyrf* i compli
ment from the reader and a courtesy on
Denny's "smile widened. "Jimmle,"
he whispered, glancing cautiously
around so that no one might overhear
what he said, "come on outside. I
want to tell you something."
The two men walked out arm In
arm. They entered a saloon in the
neighborhood and sat down In the rear
room. Denny pulled a letter from
his pocket -and handed it over to his
friend. This is what Jimmie read:
"Mr. Dennis Slattery, care of the
Police Department manager of
the Insurance company desires
to express his sincere thanks for your
acts of heroism at the flre the other
evening. ; The company was heavily
interested in that section, and through
you and your promptness,, consider
able property was saved. The man
ager wishes to congratulate you per
sonally, and would ask that you call
upon him In person at 2 p. m. today,
when he would like to present you
with a suitable check commensurate
» with the great service rendered.
"Again thanking you, I beg to re
main, very truly yours,
"A. B. DANIELS, Secretary."
_ *"Oh, you lucky mick," said O'Brien,
"I wish I were in your boots. I'll
bet that'll be good for at least 800
simoleons. You'd better keep mum
about this, Denny, for If the rest of
the bunch get wise it'll cost you a
few pennies to go up the line." ..';■•:•
' Denny winked knowingly.
"11l tell you what I'll do, Jimmie,
old * boy. You meet me here at 4
o'clock and you and I will Just have
a quiet little time together. Do you
think I'd better submit the matter to
the chief first? You know It's against
the rules to accept presents—and
yet-" . ,
"No, you rummy, don't be a mut
torihead," advised Jimmie, _ "if you
speak about it to any one there'll be
a 'cut up* coming, and as long as you
did the heroics and the manager sees
fit to reward you for saving the com
pany a pot of money, it's no one's
business but your own."
The men separated.
Jimmie O'Brien shadowed his friend
that afternoon direct to the Insurance '
district of the city. He saw Denny
take the letter out of his pocket arid
glance at the numbers In the street. j
He saw Denny shake his massive head
doubtfully. Again and again Denny-!
would look at the letter and glance at
the office building to compare the
number. He strolled up and down the
block some dozens of times, then
walked across the street.
' O'Brien hid in a doorway and
laughed until the tears literally rolled
down his cheeks. He was doubled
up with' mirth. Wiping the tears from
his eyes he again glued them upon
forlorn looking Denny. Denny was
scratching his ponderous head, scratch
ing for an inspiration. He shook his
head mournfully. He was sorely per
plexed, severely troubled.
He "walkM up the stairs of a large
offlce. O'Brien again; burst forth in
a gale of laughter. The passersby
stopped to stare at him. but Jimmie
was Impervious to public opinion.
His mirth' increased as he saw his"
friend Denny come slowly down the
steps some 10 minutes after :he had
mounted them, a look of grim disap
pointment and bewilderment on his
face. He glanced around the block
the part of th* author which make the
world spin round more ' merrily for
both. The success _of the . autograph
collecting fad attests the author's effort
to comply with these requests as far as
possible, but he has to learn to sift the
tares from the wheat as his name gains
weight. ■:.,,,
. A note lying on my desk this morn
ing Is a fair sample of , the dark and
devious ways resorted to In order to get
an autograph letter. :■; It ; is' written -on
heavy blue paper; bearing a monogram
that suggests a conventionalized banyan
tree and Is redolent scent "D**r
sir," it runs, IT, am greatly Interested in
hearing that your story. 'Double Track,"
haa recently been published with an en
tirely different £ ending i from ■■-. th* *, first
editions. I have ! asked • for :It at every
book store in town, but can not find It.
I Inclose a 1 stamped, aelf-addreaaed en
velope; will . you ■ kindly tell/ me the
name of the publisher of the new ending
so I can ; get it?" This, of .course,"l la a
pitfall for,the unwary. The only thing
for the : author J, to /do ; is, 1 naturally," to
disclaim: all ? knowledge ";' of ; this * impos
sible: new edition with the different
ending and / sign »• hi* : name /on ii the I in
closed banyan ', tree paper. 5 Jlt-( la not *a"
clever : ruse,? but I the. thought ' expended
In' it* perpetration 1* worthy .; of an an
swer,* its .very deep ; laid qualities Indi
cate a determination on the part of the
Bender that would lead her to adopt the
; ; ••follow-up": system' if ;it \ were \ not 1 an
swered promptly, ao It la going to be
attended to at'' once."./^|___n_gHtaHß___{
Another much more elaborate ruse
again and entered another Insurance
office, with the same result as.before.
. Only, now the look of disappointment
had given way to anger.
He began to grow suspicious; he
. smelled the mouse. Once ribre he
i pulled the letter from his pocket and
.-. compared it with the numbers on the
street. For two solid hours Denny
paced up and down that block, enter
ing every insurance office on both •
sides of the street.
O'Brien having the time of hlB
life. Never had he laughed so much
as , while shadowing his friend Slat
- At 4 o'clock Slattery and O'Brien
met. There was a look of bitter dis
appointment on Denny's face, a look
hard to fathom. Whether he felt that
he had ; been deliberately bunkoed or
whether there might be the _slightest;■
possibility of a mistake^ and that there
might still be hope, was hard to dis
"Well, Denny, how much did the
guy slip your' asked Jimmie, his eyes
feigning -genuine 'eagerness, '' ' '
Denny looked /Jimrialem the eyes,
endeavoring to find in his friend's face
some conclusive evidence that O'Brien
was the perpetrator or the author of
the letter ;he : had ; received.
. But Jimmle'a face portrayed only
acute desire to know; not a smile
. comes from one In whom the author
forebodes a possible rival in fairy, tale
fiction some day. "My dear Mr. - —,*I
have : Just read your delightful book.
To say . I am deeply interested in it;
.goes i i; without saying, but 17am /still
more interested f In" your name; because
.It; is such -an / unusual '. one. I- am an '
orphan . and ; know nothing T of _ my
■ mother's family, except; that ? her ; name'
:. was "'. ■■.*; the; same" as yours, and - that
; her people were originally Indian fight
era In j, Kentucky. Can you tell me'
whether I am connected with your fam
ily? I am trying to get , Into*"* the
Daughter* of the j Confederacy and am'
anxious to : learn -/something of ray
mother's , people. Please *. be so good
a* to help me If you can."
The simple hearted: author thereupon
took 1; a » good I hour I from / his \ busy day'
:to give this; young aspirant for confed
erate distinction enough data and ques
tions :to 1 bring ' another; note, but: noth
ing ;on which to * base a claim of rela
tionship. , Here _ in';: turn /was a pitfall'
for her.». If. the writer ! of; the note had
been sincere in her effort to trace her
fighting 1 anceetryj a ; second ': note i Would
have ibeen';imperative/^ But that / was i
the last of the Indian fighters* descend
ant. The signature ".was, achieved • and:
the - seal . for i membership among tho
Daughters i of i, the" Confederacy abated.
This is the capsheaf on my, signature
getting pile, ; for it", involves* yso 1 many
different .kinds j of. craft arid guile, * aside
from an unusual fertility of ' imagina-'
The pathos of th* unclaimed or
The Joke the Humorist of the San Francisco
Police Department Played on a Brave Patrol
man Who Was Willing to Accept His Due
crossed his features, not the flicker of
an eyelash as the two men looked Into
each other's eyes. -
"Jimmie, the manager had been
called out on an important matter
and the secretary Instructed me to call
tomorrow at 2 o'clock," lied Denny.
"Sorry, old man," replied Jimmie,
"will see you tomorrow at the same
time, eh?"
At 2 o'clock the following day Denny
Slattery repeated his open „ air per
formance of the proceeding day, Jim
inle O'Brien stood In the same door
way. The passersby stopped In open
mouthed wonder, laughing heartily at
the infectious laugh of this man
whom they: probably deemed an es
caped lunatic. '
Jimmie howled and screeched,
standing first on one foot and then on
the other, ; laughing until he felt the
danger, of a stroke" of apoplexy. For
two hours the unfortunate Slattery
kept up the relentless, unceasing
search i for his Justly earned reward.
He mopped his brow. He strolled
up and down the street, he entered of
fice after office, the perspiration* pour
ing from his • forehead. _ Presently ', he
gave up the tiresome,' profitless search.
Slattery. walked ' direct ,to the meet
ing place. There was a dangerous
gleam ■in ' his ; eyes. He was now as
sured ■, tttat ;he \ had ■ been the victim
Well Known Author
phan's appeal was calculated to reach
the author's ; heartwhich it did. The
: mention'of service ; done i by ,* her ; Ken
tucky ancestors! in wresting the coun
try from the redskin' urged a claim no
patriotic American citizen could well
deny and • the : ambition": to / become '• a
member of . a /society,;*the object :of
; which ;■ la .the; care of, disabled veterans,
was such a laudable one the unsuspect
• ing t author was j instantly. won j and was
prepared to render; all the assistance
. possible •■ in : establishing; her - right * to
membership. -'" The 1 perpetratorj of this
note being s a woman " may. develop i into
nothing worse than 'a writer of fiction
herself, g but '..' if «it ] had been ': a -.' young
man the world /-.would « probably n have
held one more embryo safe cracker.
; Not quite so shrewd in execution, but
equally successful In*/ results was '< a
note ; signed "Your i loving t wife, - Rita.',*
■ Being at i the time I blessed 'with a lov
: ing .'/wife; named/Margaret* the author
did not ;' atop to weigh ■«"the„- possibility
of this being ; merely .'^a*; rise to elicit
an explanation, plt wit a mighty nice
- little "s note, the \ author was / bound **•' to
'admit,'and much more affectionate than
' those '*. the /calm souled Margaret was
wont to Indite. V "My own darling," it
began, "I arrived safely.;, this : morning
l and 5 found' your dear letter waiting
, me. All % the /boredom*: and | fatigue _of
my Journey ; dropped 'i away /as; I \ read
that ;my .-• blessed * boy is ; safe ■ and ■' well
and not '.too;tired to go •to the Carrs'.
■ I;; ; can never .be happy myself, you
of a practical joke. Of that fact there
was ;no furthere ' room : for doubt. v
"O'Brien," he said, "I don't \ know
who is responsible for this Intelligent
bit of humor that's been handed! trie.
m ririiit-i^iiiTin-iTniiTiii<iir" ■«"nini«i l ri-Tiift,i,iiii,
know, ,when I ' feel 5/.you are . lonesome
or unhappy. /.: ; But, never - mind, X two
more weeks of this stupid visit and the
world is " ours 'again.*', :,i After 'i several
pages lof outpouring of heart and soul
the fourth page.was signed by the duti
ful Rita, followed by a: postscript say
ing, "I go to visit Aunt Kit; tomorrow,
so direct' my. next! letter to: me ,In care
of Mrs. James -— ~,'!s. giving, the'street!
and number. ;,' The answer was writteni
and 1 posted ' before I the * ink :: was I dry/ to
assure | the warm : hearted * little j Rita (of
her mistake and prevent any more such
missives I fluttering into the domain of
Margaret? the monopolist. It was-not'
until the : after ' dinner calm had ' taken
possession of his soul that the guileless j
wrlterman suspected in Rita a giggling
boarding : school | girl winning |at wager
on the 1 signature "of / the author >of
. "Double ;Trac]C*-HnßVWß*l*fla,sat/v '
In contrast to : these unscrupulous
methods of working upon the poor
writer's credulity is this note from the
bottom of i the ■ pile. \ /■ It t came *"early fin
the -, writer's * career, and :]-, is :". therefore
dear to • his • heart as' one /of the < first
1 straws that showed him the wind was
setting "i from the / fame \ quarter. ; /The ■
writing is in a bold masculine hand, and
runs: "My dear sir: Will you write your
name on the Inclosed^ slip and return
it jto X me? ,-.-;;; I \ am '{ a * collector of ," auto- ■
graphs, my father was before me, and
our - collection Is one of < the j largest ex
tant. I 1 have read both your, books, "and
while i: can not, say I think they are
particularly / interesting, .do „ predict
very < much better things from you in
It listens' and smells and acts just
like a man called Jimmie O'Brien. If
I ; discover that, it was '■ you .who', did
this, you and -1. sever friendship. for
the rest- of our lives. Do you get
the future if you fulfill the promise you
give.:,' It ils ; for . this i reason * I am". re
questing your signature, and think that
in 10 or 15 years it will be a good one
to have; f then,/ however, 'you will :be '"'a.
much 1 busier :man and' it ! will be harder
■to get" '."-'"//'
' After weathering;' the, - storm and
stress of the first few years of a.writ
er's I experience and finally arriving |at
the point' when - hi* ; signature 'is worth
having; 1t..; is only the /unique: appeals
,that tescape.l the waste basketthose
exceptional because of . their . simplicity
or duplicity here Is one that "was
answered with a hearty good iwill','and
haa often been read' In the Interven
ing years when courage/ebbed low. v It
came In ,i a yellow envelope, addressed
In a cramped, .painstaking", hand, and
there is no mistaking the sincerity and
good ; faith 'of the - writer. - -"'-" * 1
_ "My ; Dear; Sir: I-'am * not going to
ask you for money. I am not an ob
ject of charity, thank \ God! -1, am " only
asking a favor as ; man :to man. I have
had jto give up my work this winter
and; during the hours I am able 'to use
my hands"- (rheumatism), I; am /trying
to lighten the burden of my expenses
in what, ways I can. I am now asking
wellT/ known :',' people • for their signa
tures, and, if -* It get•■ enough to make
it worth awhile/; after Easter, when
the • parish'; fair *. Is held, / Father Hogan
1* i going *to raffle fhem _ off • for-' me. * If
you will /be: so good as to /write me
your name .; you • .will be helping to
lift 'a;heavy. load from the • shoulders
of an unfortunate *Bhutin.'£jffiHfifflHß
that? I think It's a scurvy, dirty, mean
trick, and ; I'm i going to make it a
point to find out who my witty friend
Is. And if I do-^—" The gleam in his
eyes portended no good to the jester.
'Jlmmle's face remained imperturb
"Why, old boy," he grumbled at his
friend, "you've evidently been taking
some foolish powders. I'm more keen
ly disappointed than you are. To tell
you the truth, Denny," and Jlmmle's
eyes moistened and his voice sank to
a tragic whisper, "I'm up against It
awfully,* and if you'd received that
$500 I was going -to make a touch of
$100. ' Gosh, but I'm sorry, Denny;
sorry not alone for you, Denny, but
for myself, too. It's a rotten, despic
able joke, and I'd brain' the man who
perpetrated It"
Jimmie took out his handkerchief and
wiped'; some crocodile tears from his
eyes. ° Slattery was genuinely affected.
' "I believe you, Jimmie," he said with
evident emotion, "and you'd had the
$100 sure if I'd received it B'long,
Jimmie." * r
-..:♦'.' •; • ' . • .'. ,•" ";;•'/
Every once in: a while Denny Slat
tery gets an anonymous typewritten
letter asking him how the disposed of
the ■ reward he received from the in
surance : company. He and Jimmie
O'Brien are still friends.
Here was a fine, strong spirit bat
tling against poverty/and pain, and I
have teni recalled, this , Incident as an
argument that there is never a time
when = one Justly %ay "I can't".' It
has ';" always '' done I, me * good '/■ to :■ recall
this brave old * soul's effort to make
his expenses from an Invalid's chair.
It was: a simple : thing to ask, a still
easier thing to do, - and I could wish
it had been a company of Mlltons and
Shakespeares to whom he had appealed
instead of: the humble author ,of
"Double Track" and his Ilk.
*.-' There is one class: of .' letter writers,
however,. always free"; from suspicion
the children who slip away from grown
up eyes and tell the author, of their
favorite .**. story they '.*. think .he, la ."all
right" or, his story;ls: "great"; and they
wish he would write a "whole lot more
just like It* ■'■'■^WSSmtaWBBnB^
/ There Is probably not an author. In
the -.world whose heart Is not touched
; and warmed •by these ; occasional . notes.
Their effort /.to 'conceal their , burst of
'confidence *,to i the . author is '"; evinced by
the blots and: misspelling. Nobody; has
helped with the composition, either, 5 and
a boy is pretty sure to tell the writer
his story "bully" If It has ;earned his
unqualified approbation, a little girl
usually says somewhere In her letter
that the story, Is just "to luvly for eny
-1 thing." One or two. such/notes "in a
lifetimeand '- they do J riot /come/ fre
quently—are enough to redeem 5 the rest
of the* world; from t" suspicion, and I
doubt If one has ever,' gone unanswered
without grave and weighty reasons. < s- -*■'■

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