Puslapio vaizdai

py New Year! Happy New Year!' institutions, Russian was taught secame faintly above the other sounds to cretly in the Hebrew schools. The Hemy room. What had the past year brew teachers were not allowed to teach brought to me, and what will the New Russian in their schools without a speYear bring? Like a curse, the wishes cial license, which they could seldom rang in my ears.

obtain. I taught Russian in my father's Everything began to mingle before school. My own small school of sixteen me. All the experiences of the past year girls was also without a license. chased through my brain: my home, My education I received from priRussia with its persecutions, my de- vate teachers because I had never been parture, my journey, my arrival, first able to get a chance to enter a Russian

a experiences in a factory in Canada, my school. Jews are permitted to form arrival in New York, five weeks of only five per cent of the total enrollwork in a factory in New York, and ment of pupils in public and high then the nine weeks of searching for schools, and a decreasing percentage in work. The memories crowded my the higher institutions. Once, when I brain and benumbed me with their was ready to pass my examination, my hopelessness.

application was rejected: the list of Home, home! How I wanted to be possible applicants was full. Another there, in that spacious living-room with time, the examination was made so diffour windows all opening on the street; ficult that out of sixty girls only fourat that long table with the elder chil- teen passed — nine Russian and five dren seated round it, each busy doing Yiddish; the rest, all Yiddish, failed. his or her own work; mother seated Questions absolutely out of the course near the brick oven, bending over a were put to us. The majority of us boxful of goose feathers, separating the knew the prescribed course thoroughly down, preparing pillows for her daugh- because we were aware of the difficulters' future homes; all awaiting my ties the government created for Jewish father's return, who after the hard scholars and were prepared for them. day's work in his school gave private Still, we failed. lessons in the evening, in order to keep Those long years of struggle for an up his 'small’ family. The younger education! At fourteen, I already gave children, playing joyfully on the floor, lessons to beginners, so as to earn the delighting to play tricks on us, called money to pay for my books and teachfrom time to time, There's father!' ers, that I might be less a burden to my and laughed gleefully when they suc- father. His highest ambition was to see ceeded in making us raise our heads, in : me get my teacher's certificate, so that vain, to greet our self-sacrificing bread- we could open up a licensed school and winner.

stop paying graft to the chief of poHome! To be back in the warm lice, who threatened us continually. home under mother's devoted caresses; Many a time he and his guards would to be at home, sitting with father like a disturb us in the middle of the day, intrue comrade, discussing with him new terrupting our work and frightening the plans and methods for the success of children, who feared the uniforms as if our school, where I was his assistant for they concealed devils. Each visit of more than two years!

that kind meant a precious twenty-fiveMy father was a Hebrew teacher. As dollar bill. My father had paid fines only a small proportion of Jews gained several times for my school because I admission into the Russian educational was under age; and even with a license,



I could not teach until I was twenty- dark, so dark to me, I have been thinkone, so that my father bore all the ing and I have decided that that responsibility.

I— shall go

to America.' With my second failure to obtain a Thunderstruck by my last words, certificate, all our hopes, cherished for they all looked at me. The first to so many years, began to vanish slowly. break the silence was my mother. The chief of police assailed us more 'Are you mad? A young girl — alone frequently; we were less and less able - a far country!' to fill up his bottomless pocket. After She trembled, tears flowed from her each visit, days of misery followed. eyes; she felt insulted that I should Many and many a time my father and think of leaving home. I sat through the night, thinking and Father sat silent, his head hidden in thinking how to better our present con- his hands. The youngsters were crying dition, what future to provide for the with mother. children. But nothing could be done. Never let me hear that nonsense Members of the universe, people with again.' brains and ambition, we were not citi- ‘But, mother, I shall go finally. I do zens, we were children of the cursed not want to sacrifice my life. I don't Pale, with our rights limited, the dis- want to be condemned to eternal limitricts in which we could live and the tations! I want to be free. I shall go to trades and professions we could follow, America, to a free country, where everyall prescribed for us. What would be body gets free education. Imagine, come of us? What could we expect? free education! I shall work to earn Fight for liberty? For equal rights? my living and study in the free evenThe persecution was so terrible--for ing schools; and when I have firm

- I one free word one found a home in ground under my feet, I shall help you prison.

all. Think of the children going to 'O father, it is suicidal!' I would free schools, growing up free citizens!'

My mother would not listen, nor He sat downcast, as if guilty in hav- would my father. Except for my ing given life to children whose fate like younger brother, I had no one's approhis was to exist within the Pale, be in val. But my determination was strong the hands of the government dogs, fear and my fight began. the least drunken moujik who, influ- For many days, my mother's tears enced by the priests, would so often would not dry. She would tearfully make a sudden attack on the property picture to me all the hardships in a far and sometimes the lives of the Yiddish country. people. They say that they considered ‘No matter how bitter life is here, it a virtue to rob and kill the enemies of still there is no place like home. There Christ.

will be no one to look after you there. I

I Freedom, freedom!

shall live in constant anxiety. I shall Freedom I wanted. 'Father,' I once not sleep nights thinking that you may said, when our family was seated not have a warm place to sleep, that around the table ready for the Sabbath you may not have a meal in time, nor meal, ‘father, I have been thinking your laundry washed, nor your clothes of myself and of you all, thinking hard mended.' for the last three weeks. What will be- Poor mother! Her sensitive heart come of me and of all of us if we remain perceived beforehand all the misery in this hole? The future appears so that life prepared for me when I found

often say.


myself on the other side of the globe. before us, sleeping in their clothes and

‘But, mother, I am no more a baby; often in their kojucks, had left inI have passed eighteen and am big sects behind them which made our enough to take care of myself, where- lives miserable. My clothes were full of ever I am.'

them when I arrived at Libau. I im“Think of mother and me! What will 'mediately sought out a bath-house become of us? Do you know what it and cleansed myself from the parasites; means to part with a child? In sorrow but the emigration houses where we or in gladness we must all be together,' stopped were equally infested. Emifather would say.

grants are treated worse than prisoners, Not succeeding in persuading me to not only in Russia, but in England. We remain, he declared that he would not were driven from one bad place to angive me a passport, and without one I other still worse. In London our bagcould not leave Russia.

gage was opened, our clothes thrown Weeks passed. I failed to get their carelessly together with those of the consent. As a last resource I tried de- other passengers, to be disinfected by claring a hunger-strike.

steam, then replaced in our trunks, all When, after three days of hunger, rolled up and wet. Everything was so tired and weakened, I still refused to mussed that I had not even a shirteat, father brought me a passport. waist fit to wear on the voyage. The

Then preparations began. Sewing food in the emigration houses was not and packing all dipped in mother's fit for animals; but we were only emitears. Then the day of my departure, grants. that forever memorable day! Mother

III fainting, the children crying, father madly walking back and forth across On the steamer, we traveled steerage the living-room, the house full of neigh- to Canada, together with unwashed bors who had come to say good-bye. Russian peasants, and Germans only My pupils, all in line, with flowers, a little cleaner. We - only two of us, were there to say farewell.

a girl friend and myself - were lost When I was already on the stage- among them like little wrens among a coach, my father jumped up, clutched flock of crows. me in his arms and bit rather than kiss- It was impossible to sit with them at ed my cheeks. That last scream from the table; not used to forks and knives, my mother's wounded heart still rings they would dip their hands into the in my ears; a scream from a heart torn, platter and grab all the food. We begit may be forever, from its dearest and ged the interpreter to bring us some best beloved!

food to our rooms, but he said it was I left all behind me with regret, and against the rules. For two days, I took yet with no regret. Oh, the weary days nothing but a glass of tea. in the train! Each third-class coach We dreaded to eat with them, and was divided into sections, with eight spent most of our time on deck. On the hard benches, four upper and four low- third day, I became seasick and did not er; each bench planned for two passen- leave my berth for four days. Our apgers to sit, but no place to sleep. Dur- peals to the interpreter for food in our ing those three days, until we reached room were always met with the laconic the sea port, we slept sitting or leaning

1 A loose gathered overcoat lined with lambon our baggage. The great unwashed

skin; a splendid hiding-place for all sorts of vermass who had occupied those benches min. — THE AUTHOR.

reply, "Them orders is orders. You In truth, I was full of fear all the way cannot get anything in your rooms.' to New York a girl all alone in the I would have starved had not a gen- great city, not knowing the language. tle Englishman from the third class ‘Nonsense, I am old enough to take brought me an orange occasionally. care of myself.' I tried to quiet my own With his help we tipped the interpreter fears as I had tried to quiet mother's. and waiter, and then Them orders is When I stepped out of the train at orders,' was forgotten; we had our food the Grand Central Station, not then in our room.

completed, a few middle-aged ladies, On the seventh day, I recovered, and travelers' guides from the Y.W.C.A., spent the remaining seven days on stopped me, asking if I wanted assistdeck or in the third class with the Eng- ance; but I looked at them, not knowlish people — they were all British in ing them, with distrust. I went out on the third class - who arranged concerts the street carrying my heavy suitcase, there each evening.

and made my way through the various Some hours before our arrival at porters who offered their assistance. Quebec, we were held up by quarantine Seeing my suspicious look, they showed officers. A man in the steerage had me their badges so as to reassure me; contracted typhoid fever, and all pas- but I went to a policeman, who put me sengers in the steerage and third class on a street car, and I found the office on were kept in quarantine for another Delancy Street, where a few members two weeks. We were held prisoners and of the staff received me kindly. fed with meat filled with worms.

Luckily, I soon found a job in BrookThat also I left behind me, and took lyn in a knitting-mill. I was to sew my first step on the other side of the pockets on sweaters, the same work I globe full of hope and ready to stand had done in Canada. It was the height against anything and everything. of the season. Ten dollars a week was

From Canada, where I had been considered good money. I found a room fairly prosperous, I ran because of on Eighth Street, also a room-mate. I its provincial mental atmosphere. My managed to live on five dollars a week restless mind sought something to in- one dollar for


share of the roomspire me, to interest me, to absorb me. rent, three dollars for food, and one My second stop, Chicago, was also un- for general expenses. The other five I satisfactory, and I decided to try the began to save. I wanted to save enough much-feared New York.

money for a ticket for my brother, so 'New York, the devil's nest!' How that he might come, and together we people warned me against it, trying to might bring the rest of the family. keep me back! 'A girl with no trade, All went smoothly. I joined the preno relations, will soon get lost. Youth viously mentioned Dramatic Club, satfades there so quickly,' they would say. isfying one of my first ambitions — to

If my people could not keep me from act. Lectures, readings, all were open coming to America, strangers surely to me. The only thing that bothered could not keep me from going to New me was my shop. It was so different York. So in the last week of Septem- from those in which I had worked beber, 1912, I arrived in New York, with fore. The atmosphere seemed so comeight dollars in my pocket and just one mon and vulgar. In Canada, I had address, given me by the Socialist- worked with girls whose language I had Territorialist party- that of their New not understood, while here I worked York headquarters.

with Yiddish girls. Their frankness in


6 25 20


manner and speech would often make I not better off now? Had I not preme blush, and I became the object of pared myself to face the worst, to fight their teasing. The forewoman, an old patiently? With a wealth of twentyshrivelled scold, would open her mouth five dollars I should not have to starve. ornamented with a set of golden teeth. I quickly sat down to plan my expendi

a 'Looks as if you was only yesterday ture, including my food menu for the out of short skirts. Hm! hm! Still following weeks. waters run deep'; and she would follow

Car fare

60 cents me with such a hateful look. She saw

Newspapers the foreman paying respectful atten


Butter tion to me and envied me.


14 I had no time to take any notice of

Milk her spiteful remarks. Nothing exist

Sugar ed but the pursuits to which I gave my

Total $1.52 evenings. From my entrance into the shop in the morning, I waited for the Plus $1.00 for room rent, $2.52 per clock to strike six, when I left the shop week, subject to change as soon as I and all in it behind me. Eating my find work. dinner in haste, I would hurry to the The next thing was, what should I Dramatic Club, or some place where I look for? I knew no trade, the season could have companionship with people for sweaters would not begin for some who had similar interests.

time. I bought a paper and looked Five weeks passed, five happy weeks. through the advertisements. It was too I had already twenty-five dollars saved. late to go to look for a job that day, 'I shall soon be able to buy a ticket and so I spent the day at home, reading. send for my brother,' was my constant My room-mate, a young Russian of thought.

twenty-five, worked on dresses at that But Fate decided differently. On time. She earnestly advised me to learn the Monday of my sixth week, when I that trade, because the workers were came into the shop, my forewoman beginning seriously to organize themcame over to me and announced, 'It selves into a union, and expected to bethas got slow; there will be no work for ter their condition the next season. you. But what do you care for work!' The next day, I began to look for she added laughingly. She left me with work. Day in, day out, I would go out no further explanation.

and measure the city from north to I went over to the foreman to ask south, from east to west, in search of for a reason. He explained to me that work. I did not fail to apply at one of work had turned slow; the boss kept the advertised places, but in vain. I only the quickest and cheapest hands, could find no job at dresses, because in and the forewoman was the one to select the slack time no learners were taken them. So I unexpectedly lost my job. on. In general, learners were seldom

What was I to do now? With my taken in that trade. I tried straw hats. lunch, two rolls and some butter, in my The papers were full of advertisements hands, I returned home. New York for workers in that industry, but I with its slack season, New York and would have to pay twenty-five dollars starvation, stared me in the face. and work a month without pay. Flow

I refused to be discouraged. I came ers, corsets, box-making, everything to New York with eight dollars in my was tried. As time passed, my courage pocket. Now I had twenty-five. Was lessened with each vanishing dollar.

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