The Protest of an Onlooker


By Justus s. Reeve, Harvard ‘16.

Police Refuse to Let Hoboes Eat Their Own Food-A True Story From Boston.

The hardships which the “Hobos,” in convention assembled, experienced in trying to conclude their Saturday meeting with a “banquet” would have been laughable had they not been so pitiable.

Dr. How had secured the use of an empty fruit stand in Faneuil Hall square. This proved an unfortunate location, on account of the crowds of marketers. The preparations for the all fresco lunch seriously interfered with traffic. Two policemen ordered the commissariat to decamp. Hastily gathering up the bread and jars of jam which had been laid out on the stand, the men turned the corner into Corn lane.

There was no traffic here, and hence no reason in commonsense or humanity why they should not have been allowed to distribute the eats. A blue-coated interpreter of the law decided otherwise. He would not let them stop in a public way. When they attempted to go into the private way of Corn lane, he prevented that, too.

Meanwhile Dr. How was protesting to the officer, Dr. How is a tall, consumptive-looking man, with a gentle voice and an infinity of sadness in his face. His request that they be allowed to peacefully hand out the supplies was denied with a domineering brusqueness, which was in sharp contrast to Dr. How’s almost apologetic manner.

Once more the unfortunate banquet was moved. A Six-footer carried the bundle of bread. Another lad flourished a murderous-looking carving knife, while a third swung a pail of rapidly-cooling coffee. They turned down Exchange street, followed by the hungry delegates.

“We’ll put of this feed if it takes all night,” shouted Leo Lipра.

Half way down Exchange street a halt was called in front of a restaurant, from the windows of which the diners gazed out curiously. A line was hastily formed and an attempt made to distribute the food. In the hurry a bundle of cut bread spilled in the gutter. The way those men fell on that bread must have been a revelation to the well-fed diners in the restaurant.

Again the “bulls” were upon them. The next stop was on Congress street. All attempts at an orderly distribution were abandoned. Police interference would not allow that, Men grabbed what they could. Again the “bulls.” Next stop, Postoffice square. Here Dr. How began distributing pennies from paper rolls to those of the delegates who had tickets. Before he was through he was told to move on. At last he took refuge in the Postoffice, where the division of the pennies was finished.

Mr. Editor, things like this split through, and give the lie to our creed of brotherly love and equality. If this had been a convention of rich men the freedom of the city would have been theirs. Being homeless, unemployed, they had nowhere to go but the street. By the same token they should have received the assistance and protection of the police

Consider, please, what misdemeanor Dr. How was guilty of to be persecuted as he was. He was trying to distribute food and money to the hungry and penniless. What treatment was meted out to him? What treatment would be meted out to another one, who many centuries ago went about doing good, should He return and try it in Boston today? It is my sorrowful belief that He would be hounded from street to street, and bullied from corner to corner. The people of Boston would stand by with amused grins on their faces; and the morning papers would have a witty account of the whole affair.