The Army of Despair


(ARTICLE No. 2.)


By Fred Isler, Chicago.

EXTRA-From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the cold weather, penny soup at 671 South state street. If carried away, one cent per quart.

The above sign is displayed above the door of the Salvation Army Hall on South State Street. Bread is included with the soup.

Inquiring of one of the men who patronize this particular soup kitchen, I was informed that when the weather takes a turn to the cold, as high as 175 men take advantage of the opportunity to get “for a penny, a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread as big as this.” And he illustrated the dimensions of the food with his hands.

A penny looks big to some of the unemployed. It would be laughable if it was not such a tragedy; but even for that miserable penny they will get something that will temporarily fill a stomach that is eternally crying for food.

Another penny restaurant is operated in the heart of the Jewish district and is managed by Jewish unemployed workmen, assisted by a few philanthropically-inclined Hebrews, who help with cash donations.

One is a doctor, who, when he came to Chicago a few years ago, was in the same predicament that many of the unemployed are in at the present time, NAMELY, BROKE.

Two meals are served daily. The size and quality depend on what supplies come in.

Jewish stores located in the neighborhood donate the edibles. Although the place was primarily opened for the benefit of the Jewish unemployed, both Jew and Gentile members of the Army of Despair are fed. No distinction is made. All fare alike.

An average of five hundred men are fed daily.

Some of the unemployed who frequent the place and who evidently belong to the radical type, have improved their opportunity by writing upon sheets of cardboard signs reading “WORK NOT CHARITY.” These few words represent the sentiments of a large majority of the unemployed.

They know, only too well, that charity, and especially the hypocritical brand, that covers a multitude of sins, and is so much in evidence nowadays, has a strong tendency to debase and degrade the recipient. The idea of becoming objects of charity is positively repulsing to them. Not only are they willing, but actually anxious to labor daily for a living, for they know that honest labor will give them a measure of independence and enable them to look the world square in the face. Work, not charity, proves conclusively that the self-respecting workingman will not meekly bow his head and accept the dole of charity before having exhausted all possible means of securing a job.

This speaks well for them and is evidence to show that the overwhelming majority of the unemployed will work and not shirk, as some of the know-nothings would like to have us believe.

Note. This is the second of a series of articles on the bo’s city life. Keep this story till you get then complete.