December 4, 1908


Cash for Services Rendered Should
Be Given Then Every Saturday
Night -- A Banquet of
Bread and Water.

"Come to order," Chairman James Eads Howe of the Society of the Unemployed said as he took the ruler's seat on the platform. He was addressing about 100 hoboes, tramps and four women, who had gathered in the hall of the labor headquarters building yesterday afternoon. The constitution of the society was then read, and changes were made in the several articles.

Suggestions were made by the unemployed as to the stand they should take regarding the change in vagrancy laws. Howe, the tramp by choice, said he would abolish the vagrancy laws entirely, but that at present he wanted protection from the hold-up of vagrants. His position was attacked by one of the hoboes, who said the vagrancy law was only a big stick in the hands of the millionaires to beat them down.

The same hobo spoke in favor of the municipalities paying every prisoner in the workhouse in actual cash. A municipal lodging house was discussed. One tramp wanted to know if the one here would be like the Chicago shelter, where all hoboes were arrested and sent to the Bridewell when they applied for lodging.

"Awr, chee, that place is fierce; they fumigate yer clothes and hand you supposed coffee and stale bread," J. LeRoy Sands, a Chicago visitor put in.

Mrs. Charles Ferguson requested that sands be added to the municipal shelter committee, because of his experience. Comrade Sands also suggested that the organization favor that every boy tramp that had left a good home be given transportation back.

The popular expression among the tramp fraternity present was that society owed the hoboes a living, and if society did not provide it, the tramps should force it through the ballot boxes.

The good-natured Howe ran the meeting, even against the wishes of the hoboes, and seemed to enjoy his business. Many of the unemployed muttered objections against the women voting on the matters before the convention, and were only pacified by the invitation to attend a banquet at the Poor Man's mission in honor of Mr. Howe. The menu consisted of cold water and pure bread. Mrs. Ferguson, however, captured the King Tramp and gave him a spread at a vegetarian restaurant.

Occasional flashes of wit and humor were given during the meeting by several of the hoboes, and a tramp glass blower did the following for the price of a "pony":

Hunger and want and grim despair
Faces haggard and worn with care,
Crowding and jostling, full of dread,
Pushing each other in search of bread.

The bread line -- the dead line --
The line of deepest want --
The bread line -- the dead line --
Hungry and ragged and gaunt.

Miserable beings in filth and rags,
Children and women and wrinkled hags,
Young men, old men and beauty fair,
Shoving and standing like beasts in their lair,
Driven together by hunger and care

Chorus --

Thieves and crooks from the cookeries --
Beggars and vags from the slums--
The honest poor man from the tenements,
Workers and boys and bums.
All are mingled together,
Shivering in nameless dread
Trembling and faltering and stumbling,
In search of a piece of bread.

Chorus --

--Comerade Thos. Spade of Cincinnati