By Dorothy Day
New York Call Sunday, March 4, 1917, page 1
“Huh!” sneered the tired working girl, and hurled the paper she was reading away from her. It was the Evening World of last night.
“Will you look at that?” she asked. “Anne Morgan has condescended to be interviewed by Nixola Greeley-Smith and she says that patriotism is the only thing worth while. She also says: “There are thousands of girls making $15 a week who have everything necessary to their own needs and no thought beyond them. And they are to be commiserated. They are poorer than if they earned $6 or $8 a week and had a vision. If comfort and personal ease and safety are all we have, we have nothing.”
“What does Miss Anne Morgan know about a girl who lives on $15 a week? Has she ever lived on that amount? So we have ‘everything necessary for our own needs,’ and ‘comfort and personal safety.’ Huh!”
She Gets $12 and Knows
It was the working girls’ afternoon off, and the parlor of the working girls’ home on 22d street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, was full. The name of the girl who gave the above discussion may not be divulged. Call her Annie, if you want.
“I don’t make $15 a week,” she went on. “But I know a heap more about it than Miss Anne Morgan does. I get $12 working at Hearn’s, and that’s a lot more than most. I know that if I got $15 I wouldn’t have everything necessary to my needs and comfort and personal ease and safety.
“We pay $2.50 for our room, and, if we sit with our feet on the register, our toes are warm, but that’s all. And we are only supposed to take a bath once a week, according to the hot water we get. Call that personal ease and comfort? I don’t.”
“Eats” Are Also Scarce
“And then as to eats. Do we ever really, honestly get enough to eat? Don’t we always have to look at our purses carefully before we order? And don’t we have to order baked beans instead of pork chops? Maybe, if we didn’t have to be thinking of our purses and needs and safety, we would have more time to think about patriotism and some of those other deep things that Miss Anne Morgan talks about.
“My roommate got $15 a week, as I said. And it was because she didn’t have everything to her comfort, personal ease and safety that she stole from Hearn’s and Eric’s and other places where she was working. Some of the things she stole to use herself, like stockings and handkerchiefs. And other times she stole silverware and toilet articles and sold them to her friends who had more money than she had.
“If we all had nerve, we’d do just as she did. I don’t know whether she got away with it or not. After she left I lost track of her, and, for all I know, she’s in the penitentiary now.
“We have only ourselves to support. But think of all the girls who have to bring money home and support a family on the $15 they make!
“Fifteen dollars a week, and everything necessary to our needs, personal ease, comfort and safety? Huh!”