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There are now about twelve thousand English-American Gipsies in the United States and Canada. In the last few years most of them have abandoned the old mode of travel, and are using motor-lorries and large cars instead of horse-drawn tent-wagons. And just as their means of transportation, their horses, were formerly the object of their trade, so to-day most of these Gipsies deal in secondhand automobiles. They are just as clever in selling automobiles as they were in selling horses and are as good mechanicians of a sort as they were veterinaries. Not long ago, while near Cleveland with one of the Smith tribes, I saw an old Ford car in the morning become a Chevrolet at noontime, a Pierce-Arrow before nightfall, an hour after breakfast the following day it was a RollsRoyce, and the evening of the same day a Ford again! The four or five operations of trading which these changes necessitated netted my friend Smith over five hundred dollars. And he still had a Ford! Sam Smith was not the only trader of his camp. There were five other men on the road with automobiles. He had eighteen different bank-accounts in banks in the principal cities from New York to the Pacific coast. The smallest of these accounts was eighteen hundred dollars, and the largest, ten thousand dollars. The women of Smith's tribe did no trading, fortune-telling, or bas
ket-weaving. They took care of the kitchen and children. They dressed in gaudy colors, and the heavy braids of their lustrous hair, parted in the middle, were plaited with gold pieces. Their necks were virtually covered with chains of white gold and pearls. They wore twenty-dollar shoes and fourdollar stockings and believed in the "Good Book," which they quoted malapropos very frequently. I have seldom seen women treated with more consideration by their men. The cheek-bones of the females of the tribe were just a trifle higher than those of the men, and there was a curious tinge of blue in their lips and about their nostrils.
From Terna O'Hara I learned that the Smiths, who belonged to the original transport of Gipsies from Glasgow, had Indian blood in them. Some great Indian chief who had sinned against the law had come to live in their fold. I am inclined to believe Terna this time, for she does not think much of the Indians and she hates the Smiths.
Every other year the O'Hara clans of Gipsies meet somewhere outside of Atlanta, Georgia. There in a privately owned cemetery they bury their dead. dead. No matter where an O'Hara man or woman dies, the body is prepared and shipped to an undertaker in Atlanta, who keeps it embalmed until the general meeting of the clans. No amount of coaxing could make any of the O'Haras tell me the reason for this curious custom. Not even after I had pointed out that a good deal of their common earnings was given to the undertaker would they tell me any reason for the custom. But one day Terna told me the secret: John O'Hara was buried
there. John O'Hara is looked upon by the rest of the O'Haras as a sort of prophet. And all those buried near him, the version is, will rise together with him on the great day when all
the dead are resurrected. Then, as all the O'Haras will be together while the people of all the other nations will be scattered all over the country, the O'Haras, as the strongest, will rule the world.
A few days later I told the story to a man of the O'Hara tribe. He became very angry and told me that I had mokered (spoiled) our friendship and had forced out of Terna's vusta (lips) lavs (words) she had had no business to tell me. "Dik abri!" ("Look out!") he called after me in warning. "You know too much." Whether what Terna told me was true or not, it has cost me my friendship with that particular O'Hara tribe. But the beauty and simplicity of the story are worth even that price.
The old accusation against the Gipsies, the stealing of children, probably rests upon the fact that whenever Gipsies stop anywhere, the children
of the neighborhood, their nomadic instinct being awakened, are so attracted to their camp that they follow the caravans, frequently hide in their wagons, and, becoming alarmed, very soon return home with the tale that they had been stolen by the Gipsies and had made a miraculous and heroic escape. The romantic and nomadic instinct of children in general has cost the Gipsies much blood and is responsible for a good deal of the persecution against them the world over. Sometimes a mother, during a child's absence, raises the cry that the Gipsies have taken her child away. It sometimes happens that the older and more adventurous children do follow the camp for a length of time, but I know of only very rare instances both here and in Europe in which the Gipsies did not do their utmost, and succeeded, to dissuade those adventurous spirits from staying with them. The Gipsy families are usually so numerous that they have no need of the children of white men. Children are an encumbrance, a nuisance, and useless mouths are not desirable in caravan life.
A curious instance of mob hysteria was witnessed by me some time ago. A band of Gipsies had camped near Plainfield for a few days. On the morning that they left, in fact within the hour that they had left camp, a woman keeping a general store in the village had raised the cry that her little six-year-old girl had been stolen by the Gipsies. In less than five minutes all the neighbors were on the road with pitchforks, axes, and shot-guns, intent upon following the Gipsies and punishing the misdeed. No one seemed to know the direction the caravan had taken. Each one
took a different route at top speed. All the time the child was standing near the pump in front of her own home. Nearly every one, including the mother, had passed her by! But so hypnotized were they by the old belief that Gipsies kidnapped children, they did not see her, although she was making quite as much noise as the rest of the people. "I thought it was Lisby standing there," the mother explained when the child was shown to her; but Lisby was fully four years older and was herself one of the mob.
While the Brazilian and the Rumanian Gipsies living in this country travel continually and are as likely to be found at a certain period of the year in Florida as in California, in Colorado, or in New York, the EnglishAmerican Gipsies are more insular. They frequently keep within one State for years at a time. Indeed, the Louisiana Gipsies seldom go out of their State, and I have met several tribes of French Romanichels around Providence who had for generations been camping within a radius of fifty miles, and were as well known in the neighborhood as the baker's deliverywagon. Everybody knew all the Gipsies and called them by their first names. This particular tribe traded in cattle with the farmers and had become so commercialized and modern that they even offered credit and held notes from the farmers. They owned houses and farms, which they rented to others while they themselves lived in tent-wagons. One of them, Jan Defour, had sent his daughter to college and had ambitious plans for her. He wanted her to become a teacher, claiming that she had the best sherro (head) in the world, and that this was to be his bitchapen (contri
ism, Defour believed in Periani, the bearer of thunder, and was as afraid of Lilith, the mother of all goblins, as any other Gipsy I ever met. His daughter, too, was very superstitious and believed she failed at her exams because she had stepped out of the room with her left foot first. But this should not be counted for much against Defour and his tribe. It should be remembered that blessed candles were sold in one of the churches in Philadelphia as late as 1880, and the buyers of those candles were assured by the clergymen that they would cure all disorders of the throat.
While European Gipsies are frequently polygamists, and I have occasionally met polyandric tribes, the morals of the English-American Gipsy are as conventional as those of the rest of the world. The young
duduye (girl) of the English-Amer- of the time these words are really not ican Gipsy seldom marries before eighteen. She is not at all like her Brazilian or Rumanian sister, who is with cavo (child) before she is twelve years old, and looks like an old woman before she has reached twenty.
If we were to look at the Gipsy from a certain point of view, we might say that the English-American Romany is a more civilized being. But as Gipsy he is below par. His poetry, as shown in his ballads, is artistically far below that of any other Gipsy. His musical ability is absolutely nil. The English-American Gipsies neither play any instruments nor sing. They have perhaps much more wit and a better sense of humor than other Gipsies, a twinkling repartee and flash very much like the Irish, but of poetry and music there is hardly any trace. They are very good traders, but very bad story-tellers. They are personally much cleaner than the zingara, but much less picturesque. They have an eye for the practical. The men dress as inconspicuously and as conventionally as possible. The love of color and adornment is still to be found with the women, but lately very sober gray and Scotch plaid have taken the place of the multi-colored, richly pleated skirts. The guli romni is in the process of becoming a lady.
The old trade of silversmith has almost completely died out among American Gipsies. The ornaments that the women now wear are bought in the five- and ten-cent stores or in the jewelry-shops of the villages they pass. Some sort of Romany is still spoken by the older ones. The younger generation uses only a sprinkling of Romany words in their English. Most
Romany at all, but, as I have previously shown, inversions of English and international slang. In Toledo, Ohio, and that neighborhood several of the women have recently gone to work in shops and factories.
Yet one need not think that the Gipsy is disappearing in America. On the contrary, if the nomadic life is the essential of the Gipsy, the number of people living such life is increasing daily. One meets on the highroads from New York to the Pacific coast freshly formed caravans of recently arrived immigrants of all nationalities taking to the road. I have met whole families of Jewish peddlers living the Gipsy life as they traveled and sold their wares. I have met several ambulant Italian barbers and their families traveling from village to village, plying their trade as they went along; a number of tinkers, welders, coppersmiths, and a good many for whom the eighteenth amendment has opened the purses of villagers and farmers. While in Ohio recently I found one morning a camp of negroes who traveled in a big motor-lorry. The men were dancing cake-walks on the street corners for the amusement of the villagers and for pay, and the women were attempting to tell fortunes and sell baskets and amulets. When I questioned Sandro, telling him that I had never before seen colored people camp outdoors in that fashion, he answered with pride, "We is n't colored people any moh; we is Gipsies."
Some of the Croatians and Slavonians who came here years ago to work in the mines have, after a year or two of that existence, changed their mode
of life and have returned to the making of rat-traps, bread-baskets, and other domestic necessities, which they fashion out of steel and copper wire, hawking their wares as they travel through village streets and farming regions. A few families get together, purchase two horses and a rickety wagon, and with a milch goat tied behind, a dog running alongside, with a few rolls of wire, a few pincers, the family is provided with food and shelter.
During the first year or so these freshly formed Gipsy tribes do not go out of the State they happen to be in. Frequently, it is only because they want to be near their church, to be certain of proper baptism and proper burial. But soon a more venturesome spirit takes the lead, for even the smallest and the newest Gipsy tribe is not without its chief,-and the sphere of action is widened. Superstitions take the place of religion. A woman, remembering a few incantations, which she combines with the strangest remedies, takes the place of the doctor. The words they pick up on the road from the occasional tribes of Gipsies they meet are incorporated into their language; an intermarriage with a colored man or woman who joins the tribe, and a generation later we have a new kind of Gipsy. Once this form of life has been tasted and tested by people who formerly lived in the open, by people of more recent emergence from primitivity, they can never again go back to work in mines and factories.
The number of Gipsying people is increasing from year to year. Especially is this the case where families have gone from the East to the Pacific coast because of their health. The ease with which one can travel now
because of automobiles, and the possibility of making a living while on the open road in peddling different things, have made this sort of life more and more attractive to a greater number of people who never would have thought of it before.
Life in the open has a tendency to breed curious customs, some of which hark back to the days of paganism, and some of which are invented by the more imaginative members of traveling families for purely poetic
Other customs are imitative ones. While visiting recently with a Gipsy tribe which had come here from England only a few years ago, I remarked that one of the women was blessing candles every Friday night and making a number of mysterious passes with her hands over them while so doing. The candles were then allowed to burn overnight, and what remained of them was carefully preserved. Upon inquiry I discovered that one of the women had at one time been a wet nurse in a Jewish family where she had seen the custom of candle-blessing on Friday. Suspecting that it was probably some means of propitiating the evil one and calling down the blessings of the Great One, as she put it, she brought the custom to her people.
Every year a greater number of Gipsies immigrate to this country from Europe. Every year a greater number of them cross the Rio Grande into the United States. Every year a greater number of people take to the road. A certain fusion among all these people living the same manner of life is inevitable. of life is inevitable. A beginning of that can already be seen. Truly, only a very slight beginning, but a beginning nevertheless. With the