A Story From Cleveland.
by Fred Isler.
You pessimistic calamity howlers-you unpatriotic wretches-and particularly you chronic kickers. Have you ever taken into consideration or even given a thought to the fact that “patriotic, public spirited, and especially philanthropically” inclined persons whose generous hearts bleed for the sake of wandering hoboes are to be found in our midst.
Furthermore, do you know or really care to learn those eminently respectable persons of high standing in the community, have the welfare of the hoboes, so much at heart, that they are willing to devote part of their most precious and valuable time to devise schemes for the ‘redeeming, uplifting and general happiness’ of the lost, wandering and homeless tribe, known as migratory workers.
Now if you want to know where some of those persons are located, also learn of the latest “plan of salvation” for the hoboes, turn your eyes in the direction of Cleveland. When you do so you will feel like shouting in glee and thank the gods at the fact that in this city, we are blessed with a committee, composed of such benevolent persons who are connected with various charitable organizations, “welfare” work, “godly” missions, the most “charitable” United Charities, the Salvation Army and the Y. M. C. A. Several ‘Reverends’ are also part and parcel of it and to give it a touch of the official, the department of Public Welfare, as well as Corrections of the city, are well represented.
Needless to state, that workingmen are conspicuous by their absence. Moreover, the sponsors of the committee completely forgot to invite hoboes to participate in the deliberations of such a select assembly of worthies. No doubt the reason is, that although the members of such a committee, are as a rule, absolutely ignorant of the problem in question, they seem to labor under the delusion that they are better able to deal with it than we, who have had actual experience and all the opportunities under the sun to be conversant with it.
The committee had its first session at the Chamber of Commerce Building and the subject under discussion was the “solution of the hobo problem and the elimination of the chronic vagrant.”
Judging by the number of speakers who unburdened themselves of some surplus hot air and “good” advice, a regular gab feast stunt must have taken place.
Conspicuous among the speakers was “Brigadier” Samuel Whiters, of the Salvation Army, who said: “The men who do not want work but who prefer begging, are attracted to Cleveland by railroad facilities and Cleveland reputation for charity.” This coming from the lips of the “holly’ mam, leader of the tambourine humming brigade of Cleveland, made a hit and Supt. Wright, of the City Hospital, carried away by the ‘wise’ words, got up and with all the dignity and decorum due to the momentous occasion, unburdened himself as follows: “If we quit advertising free coffee, a bread line and comfortable lodging houses and advertise instead a municipal rock pile, the hoboes would soon quit coming to Cleveland.”
The above came in the light of a revelation. It settled the discussion. At last the problem was solved and the solution was found in the sublime words of the distinguished’ and “far seeing” apostle of the rock pile.
The majority of those present agreed to it, a sub-committee was elected to carry on the glorious and patriotic’ work and the whole business will be referred to the committee on crime prevention of the Welfare Council for final approval with the recommendation that building roads and breaking stones were suitable jobs to ‘cure’ tramps and hoboes of their chief fault, laziness.’ Then satisfied with the great work accompanied at the memorable session, the assembly adjourned for a well-merited rest.
Now if the recommendation goes through, a new field of municipal endeavor will see the light of day in Cleveland and passing hoboes will be initiated into the art of making little ones out of big ones.
The advocates of the rock pile ideas are under the impression that it will be a great help to the hoboes. They claim that when a man is out of work for a while, he generally loses part of his industrial efficiency, his muscles become flabby for the want of exercise, his joints soften and a long-enforced rest has a tendency to cause him to shirk in terror from the effects of hard work.
No doubt they think that the establishment of a rock pile will enable the hoboes to get an opportunity to practice physical culture. Moreover, the beneficent effects of handling a sledge hammer for a few days or months for the benefit of the city will no doubt keep their muscles hardened. As a result, after a period of training on the patriotic institution, they can start to work for some driving contractor and not feel stiff at the end of a day’s work.
You hoboes ought to feel thankful for the institution of a rock pile. Don’t you realize that such institutions are brought into being for your benefit. If you only understood that the persons who advocate municipal rock pile in cities, are simply doing it from altruistic motives, you would immediately fall on your knees and humbly thank them for their noble efforts on your behalf. Yes, let us be thankful for the many good things, handed down to us by our “betters.”
All hail the rock pile as an “intelligent” solution of the hobo and jobless problem.