The Army of Despair


(Article No. 5.)

By Fred Isler, Teamster, Chicago.


“Have you got the makins, Pal?”

“No, just bummed this pill from a guy who was next to me at the flop,” replied the man questioned, taking a couple of whiffs at a cigarette, almost consumed.

“Let me have the butt. I’m dyin’ for a smoke and snipes are gettin’ kind o’ scarce nowadays” urged the first man with a look of envy directed at the other’s cigarette.

“Here, have it if you want it so bad.”

“Say, pard, things are pretty rotten when a man can’t even get a lousy nickel to get a pack of ‘Bull Durham,’ answered the man while placing the remnant of the cigarette to his mouth, and with the skill, born of long practice, taking a few whiffs at the short butt without burning his lips.

“You bet yer life ol’ man, and since I have nothin’ to do before it’s time to bum my next feed, I’ll take a mope around and shoot a snipe or two. You know tobacco is the hardest thing to bum.”

A man who has acquired the habit of smoking will often go hungry and spend his last nickel for a smoke and deprive himself of coffee and rolls. Many men will not complain and will even forget the pangs of hunger if they can get a chew of tobacco.

Like other men in more fortunate circumstances, members of the Army of Despair seem to find consolation and rest while watching the smoke pouring from their old corn cob or clay pipe. To be deprived of the joys of smoking makes them feel their misery more keenly and generally plunges them into deep melancholy.

No money, no tobacco, no chance of getting any on credit at the store, there remains but one way to get it. Simply to pick it or “raise” it on the street. And while roaming the thoroughfares, the down-and-out never overlooks an opportunity to pick all the “juicy.”


“I have just been reading the Constitution of the United States.”


“And I was really surprised to find out how many rights a fellow really has.”