By Dorothy Day
New York Call Sunday, November 12, 1916, page 2
“We are two bums, two jolly old bums,
And we live like royal Turks.
If we have good luck
A-bumming our chuck,
Tuh hell with the guy what works.”
Upon hearing the above ditty, I turned around in my chair, where I was chewing my pencil and gazing soulfully at the picture of Carrie Rand, and confronted the songsters. “I know you,” I said; “Won’t you please sit down and tell me your adventures? We females, you know, have to be contented with the tales of adventures-not the adventures themselves. And all my life long I have wanted to be a slinky, Theda Bara, adventuress.”
Mr. Michelson and Mr. Ross both felt sorry for me, so they sat down, one on each side, and poured into my willing ears the tale of their hardships. Mr. Ross had been forced to shovel coal, once when caught on a freight, while the train was pulling through the Rocky mountains, and it was so hot that his hair all crisped and turned curly, and it has been so ever since.
Keeping a Diary
He kept a diary, he said, during the whole trip, and covered about ten (or was it 20,000?) pages. I had visions of him and Mr. Michelson sitting before a fire out in the wild and woolly West, mournfully chewing their shoe leather to still the pangs of hunger and from time to time jotting down inspired bits in the diary. Thus, perhaps: “Had I foreseen what was to befall me when I left my happy home, I would have rued the day. Coises.” But I’ll soon get a chance to see, for Mr. Michelson is going to bring his volume down to The Call office and I am going to peruse it at my leisure.
They had been in jail, again and again, and the jails were for the most part far better than the average boarding house. The one in Pensacola was a regular palace. Remember that, girls, when you go bumming. Aim for Pensacola. And, then, most thrilling of all, Mr. Michelson took a dare, once, and started to row across the Gulf of Mexico, to reach a twenty-mile distant town, and the tides carried him out, and, lo and behold, there he was with “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” They were three days without food, and, though they prayed the Lord to change the seats in the rowboat, in lieu of a stone, into manna, nothing happened.
She Meets the Lees
My attention was distracted at this point by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Algernon Lee, and, as Mr. Lee had a tiger-skin coat over his arm, I thought that any minute there would be charade and I would see Mr. Lee on the floor in the role of a tiger. But he disappointed me, and no such thing occurred. Mrs. Lee had on a very vivid waist, extremely cheerful. Had I only known that she was a dentist I should have gone to her and her cheerfulness last week and been saved many pangs.
I talked for a while with a Cosmopolite, a real one, not such a one as O. Henry pictures. At least, he said he was a real one. He had chased kangaroos when a boy in Australia, he had chased stories on London newspapers, and now he was chasing knowledge at the Rand School.
The Guy With the Red Tie
A whimsical fellow with a flaming red tie told me of a midnight adventure that he had once had, while walking off a fit of insomnia. Three policemen stopped him and asked what he carried in that little black bag. Being in the neighborhood of the Rand School, they suspected at once that he had nihilistic, anarchistic, revolutionary designs on the neighborhood. I’m going to try that sometime; a small suitcase, a quickened step, an eager eye, a bright red bandana around my neck – time, midnight, and I’ll be run in.
There were five bobbed heads there. I counted them with envy. And all were curly. I was strongly reminded of Samuel Merwin’s recent book, “The Trufflers.” I’ll bet that since reading that book every girl within six miles of Washington Square has had a sneaking desire to have her hair short.
She Hears Dr. Nearing
Later on in the evening, Dr. Scott Nearing regaled the assemblage with a short and very informal talk on Americanism. I must confess that I didn’t hear an awful lot of it, for I was busy phrenologizing and thinking of that poem he wrote:
“I’d be a better Gawd meself;
I’d lay no man upon the shelf
Who had an ounce of manly grit,
Or half an ounce of manly wit,
To earn his keep.”
There were a lot of other noted people present, and, though they were noted, there was a great amount of informality and good fellowship. I saw some of them doing the Highland Fling! I’m not mentioning any names, in connection with the dancing. I only state that the following persons of renown were there: Mrs. and Mr. Berman, Mr. Heller, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lichtenberg, Mrs. Matzer, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin C. Gruenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Warshaw, Mr. and Mrs. A. Braunstein, Max Shonberg, Elmer Rosenberg, Sadie Oxhander, Rose Weiner, Jack Kartz, Charles J. Ball, Mrs. Bertha M. Mailly and all those whose names were previously mentioned.