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article number 368
article date 08-12-2014
copyright 2014 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Life in the Big City, 1890s Chicago. Part 1: Voting, the Canal, Junk Shops and Sidewalk Merchants

Articles are from the “Chicago Record” between 1893-1900. This collection was produced by The Carton Club, Chicago, 1941. Illustrated by John T. McCutcheon and Others.

This article contains 4 separate articles from the ‘Chicago Record:’ ‘Some Instances of Political Devotion,’ ‘Old Days on the Canal,’ ‘The Junk-Shops of Canal Street’ and ‘Sidewalk Merchants and Their Wares.’

Some Instances of Political Devotion

ELECTION day was near at hand and the Monica lodging house was full every night.

“Tommy,” the proprietor, had all the men listed and tabbed. He was under contract to deliver them early on Tuesday morning at so much per head and he was largely depending on “Cinch” to help him.

“Cinch” was the “scrapper” of the house. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man with a frowsy head and a rough beard somewhat bleached from long marches in the sun. His enormous capacity for liquor, his ability as a fighter and his supreme antipathy to work made him a natural leader among the bleary guests of the Monica, who had been gathered together that they might exercise their rights as free-born citizens.

When a man came home raving full of stale beer it was the duty of “Cinch” to choke him until he was quiet and then jam him into one of the bunks.

If a member of the colony vent astray and threatened to desert before election day it was “Cinch” who went out among the barrel-houses until he caught the offender and brought him home in disgrace.

It was clear that “Cinch” had in him the making of a practical politician of great value. He proved this by selling out at the right time.

The news reached “Tommy” on the eve of election. The proprietor did not live at the Monica. He had rooms in another building farther to the north, on the dead line between the business houses and the lava beds. At least once a day, however, he came to his hotel to look after his business affairs and the herd of voters.

It was a wearing responsibility, for he knew very well that, as the voting hour drew near, the agents of the corrupt opposition would be among his followers, attempting to lure them away with drinks and bribes.

There can be no greater disgrace for a working politician than to lodge a man for two weeks before election and then lose his vote on election morning. He becomes an object of contempt, and in the next fight no money is “placed” with him.

“Tommy” believed that his forces were true to him. Here, on the night before election, most of the men were in the house, the others were almost sure to turn up before morning, and “Cinch” was full of hopeful promises.

“Tommy” sat apart from the others, smoking a long cigar vigorously, so as to kill the other odors, when he felt a hand laid on his shoulder. Turning about, he saw the small red face of “Bumpers.”

“Tommy, they’re givin’ y’ the double-cross,” said “Bumpers,” in a stage whisper.

“Is that so?” said “Tommy,” sarcastically. He was accustomed to get such reports.

“Yes, it’s so. ‘Cinch’ is t’e hull ‘ting in it, too. I see him talkin’ to Fatty, de fly-cop, a long time to-day, and to-night he passes each o’ de boys a buck an says, ”stay wit’ me an’ t’ere’s another one in it.” “In proof of his assertions, “Bumpers” produced a dollar from a rat’s nest, which had once been a pocket.

The sight of the dollar was enough for “Tommy.” He handed “Bumpers” another dollar and said: “Keep your face closed.”

* * *

It was the predicament of a statesman’s life. He knew that the lodgers feared “Cinch” and looked upon him as a leader. “Cinch” had money, too, and was evidently in a deep conspiracy to steal the entire vote of the house. What could be done? “Tommy” made up his mind after some deep thought.

Ten minutes later he and “Cinch” were leaning against a polished bar. “Tommy” was buying drinks, and “Cinch” was gulping them down with evident enjoyment. It was a first-class place and “Cinch” recognized a difference in the whisky.

After remaining there long enough “Tommy” carefully steered the traitor south toward the hotel and pulled him into a 5-cent place. “Cinch” had reached a condition in which the drinks are thrown in mechanically and without calculation of probable effect.

Took Him To The Lodging House.

When they reached the lodging house the office was swarming with colonists, and “Cinch” was deeply under the influence of the two kinds of red liquor. Every one knew that when he was in that state he would insist on fighting. They waited in terror.

This was the time for “Tommy.” He went behind the high pine desk and removed his hat, coat, collar and cuffs. “Cinch” was declaiming loudly and threatening death to all about him.

“Tommy” walked up to him and gave him a push. “Shut up, you big stiff, and go to bed.”

The little company of “hobos” was amazed. So was “Cinch.” He started in to kill “Tommy” but “Tommy” had put the drinks in the right place. “Tommy’’ butted him, upper-cut him, knocked him down, jumped on him, beat his head against the floor and finally sat on him slowly pummeling his face until “Cinch” cried “Enough.”

“Tommy” Improved The Opportunity.

Then he arose and said: “Is there any other bum that wants to throw me down?”

No one answered.

“To-morrow morning,” said “Tommy,” “1 want every one of you to go with me and vote. You needn’t be afraid of that guy I just licked. To-day I give him some money for you boys and I hear he was tellin’ around that it came from the other side. Are you boys with me? [Loud shouts of “Yes!” and “You bet!”] All right.”

When “Cinch” arose next morning he was weak, sore and humiliated. His prestige was gone. He fell in line with the others and marched over to the polling place. The precinct did more than was promised and “Tommy” handled “soft money” that evening.

Next day the lodgers were thrown out into the street and the regular rate of 15 cents a night was restored.

* * *

On the morning of the day last December when voters were choosing between Hopkins and Swift a very prominent republican politician, who was a member of the campaign committee, went into the 1st ward to quietly look for frauds. He pulled up his coat-collar, drew his hat forward and loafed around the polling places just to see what was happening and not to attract attention.

In the “Hinky Dink” precinct he was standing apart watching the barrel-house delegation put in enough ballots to offset the entire school-teacher vote. A man with a badge noticed him and called him aside.

“Have you voted yet?” he asked.

“No, not yet.”

“Come on over and have a drink.”

They went into the headquarters conducted by ”Hinky Dink” McKenna and the man wearing the badge stood treat. The two talked for a minute or two about the weather and the probable size of the vote, and then the prominent republican began to edge toward the door. But the other man followed him.

“Here,” said he, pushing a half dollar into his hand. “Don’t put it off any longer, but go and vote for Hopkins.”

The prominent republican was too much amazed to return the money. He began to wonder if he resembled a tramp. It was a good joke, but perhaps the joke was on him. At any rate he didn’t tell the story until some time afterward.

Told Him To Go And Vote.

* * *

Under the old wide-open system the “floater” was paid to vote a certain ticket which was placed in his hand and which was put into the ballot-box under the eye of the purchaser. Nowadays the only thing to do is to hire him to vote and to depend on his promise that he will vote a certain ticket.

At one of the late elections a precinct boss had been guaranteed $100 if he could get a majority of fifty for the ticket. The precinct had been well canvassed and at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, having checked off the voters, he began to fear that he needed a few more ballots.

Imagine his joy when he saw an even dozen members of his party lounging down toward the polls. He had been sending around for these fellows all day, but they had eluded him. And now, instead of marching up to the polling place, they halted in front of a saloon and began to sun themselves. The “boss” went over to speak to them.

“Boys, you’d better hurry up and vote. Polls close purty soon.”

“Aw, we ain’t in any hurry,” remarked the spokesman.

“You’re not goin’ back on us, are you?”

“We’ll vote your ticket if we vote any, but we don’t care much to vote.”

“How much do you want?”

“Five apiece, and there’s twelve of us.”

“You’ll not get it. I’ll give you a dollar apiece.”

“That’s all right. We won’t vote.”

For a quarter of an hour they wrangled, each declaring he would not give in. At the end of that time the “boss” gave $25 and it was divided among them, $3 to the spokesman and $2 to each of the others. Then they marked up and did their duty to the party, and the “boss” saved his $100.

* * *

It is a curious fact in municipal politics that the man who must be paid before he will vote always seeks an office in case his party is victorious.

At the latest important city election the democrats expended over $10,000 in the 1st ward in order to capture the “floaters,” the “bums,” the “lodgers” and the shoulder-hitters. They captured them by outbidding and outgeneraling the republicans, who were just as anxious to organize what Michael McDonald calls “the better element.”

The democrats expended considerably over $2 for each vote obtained in the ward. It was a “fair” price. As the daughter of the Texas congressman says in the play: “Thank goodness every voter was paid and father is under obligations to no one.”

Yet the story around the city hail is that after the 1st ward has been bought with hard money it demands other favors. It wishes to run all-night saloons, opium dens, crap games, gambling houses and prize-fighting clubs, all because it gave a majority! It wants to be paid twice.

As for the voters themselves, each one tramps the dim hallway of the city hall looking for some kind of an easy, restful job with a large salary attached.

* * *

Where these patient applicants are gathered together you may hear the tales of political ingratitutde.

One man had his head laid open while attempting to kill a Swede in the “ate” precinct, and yet nothing had been done for him.

Another marched every night and carried a flag, but they hadn’t noticed him since election.

The most pathetic story was by a young man who held up two battered hands for inspection. The twisted fingers had evidently been broken, as they were stiff and big and big at the joints.

“See them mits?” said he. “I got ’em that way playing ball for John P. Hopkins. Out there in Pullman he got up a ball team to go out and represent the town. I went out and played all summer and used up my hands. Now he throws me down. That shows how much a man cares for you after he gets in. I always thought John would do the right thing by me. I played good ball, if I do say it myself.”


Old Days on the Canal

IN THE good old days, before the town lay under a pall of smoke and the rushing trains bore down their victims at every crossing, life was happy along the “levee.”

The “levee” in question is not that part of State Street taken up by cheap theaters, saloons and pawn-shops, but it is and was the row of houses fronting on the Illinois and Michigan Canal just as it joins the south branch of the Chicago River. The “levee” lies just east from Ashland Avenue and would be on a line with 29th Street if the latter could only be extended through the diagonal streets and crowded dock buildings of old Bridgeport.

When the canalboats loaded with grain, came crowding one another up to the stone lock, when money was plenty and profits were big and an army of men found employment along the old Illinois and Michigan, the Canal House was crowded every night,. It was the long, frame hotel at the west end of the row and was called a pretentious hotel in its day.

Some big card games were played inside its walls, and the old captains still remember some of the fine dinners spread there. Along the row were saloons and groceries, the two being much the same in those days, where high revels, with some rough-and-tumble fighting, were of nightly occurrence.

The “levee,” the like of which is to be found in every canal or river town, had its rise and fall with the canal.

It began in 1848, when the canal was completed and the first boat came in tow from Lockport. That year Chicago spent over $400,000 in constructing canalboats. The “levee” grew with the traffic until 1866, which was the most prosperous year ever known.

But the epidemic of railroad-building which began just after the close of the war sent branch roads whip-sawing all through the canal’s territory. The roads began a persistent fight against the boats. The passenger business they had captured long before, and the war on freights is still waging.

The tolls decreased steadily from 1866, yet the canal is to-day an important waterway of which the late-corners to Chicago know very little and of which the older citizens have forgotten much.

Yet this is the same town that turned out men, women and children on Independence Day in the ‘30S to celebrate the first excavating.

Hundreds of persons marched down the old Archer’s Road to Bridgeport. Others rode in boats which were pulled up the Chicago River by horses. Speeches were made and a spirit of intense jollification marked the beginning of an enterprise which was amply fulfilled and which is now forgotten and neglected, as are the pathetic old buildings along the “levee.”


* * *

The Canal House leans wearily forward on its supports. Its windows have been torn out and the front doors are nailed over with boards. The warped clapboards have been worn black by wind and weather. Nothing is needed to complete the ruin.

Only a few years ago a man reopened the front room as a saloon. The old canalboats creeping by were surprised to find a new gilt sign on the dingy front, but they were not surprised when one day it disappeared and the boards were again nailed over the front.

Every square-fronted building in the row stands vacant, with rough boards nailed against the doors and windows. The open ground in front, once a busy street, has sparse bunches of grass overgrowing it. Sometimes for half a day at a time no living thing is seen along the deserted water front. A stone abutment spotted with moss marks the location of the old lock. The greatness of the “levee” lives only in memory.

The Illinois and Michigan Canal divides like a letter Y just before it joins the south branch. On the northern arm of the canal is the lock through which the boats must pass in and out.

On the other arm are the Bridgeport pumps, which make an earnest although somewhat futile effort to lift into the canal from the south branch enough water to cause the river to flow in from Lake Michigan, instead of sending its slow and filthy current out into the city’s water supply.

The pumps have never succeeded in purifying the river, but they empty enough black water into the canal to give it a current of four or more miles an hour and give it a level of several feet above the south branch.

One End Of The Lock.

* * *

There are about sixty canalboats now plying between Chicago and various points on the canal and the Illinois River. Of these about thirty handle coal from the quarries. The others are grain-boats, which, on the down trips, carry coal, lumber and various other supplies for which there is a country demand.

Until last year the ice-boats did a big business, but the drainage canal along the Des Plaines valley crowded some of the ice houses out of the way and the railroads competed so strongly that they captured the business of those remaining. The ice-boats are floating idly along the canal and a half-dozen big delivery wagons are lined up near the dock, showing all degrees of weather-beaten neglect.

One of the fleets which went down the canal recently consisted of a tug, a heavy stonebarge and one of the veteran ice-boats, roofed over and having little windows along the sides, so that it very closely resembled the pictures of Noah’s ark.

Inspector Mulcahy opened the gates at the east and the water ran out. The tug and the stonebarge crept into the lock and the gates closed behind them. The side gate was opened and the rush of water lifted them to the new level.

“What are you goin’ to do with the old hulk?” asked the inspector.

“I s’pose we’ll knock her into kindlin’ wood,” replied the mate, or bos’n, or something of the stonebarge.

An elderly man, very short and with iron-gray whiskers, explained that the Iceland was one of the oldest tows on the canal.

“All the old ones are going,” he said. “The business is nothing like it used to be, when we traveled with mules and lived, right with our families, on the boats. We could make money in those days. I’ve seen as many as 300 boats waiting at La Salle, and this country right around here used to be pretty lively, too. This spring I’ve made two trips to Henry for grain, but there wasn’t any money in it.

The railroads cut rates at every point we can touch with boats. But they can’t kill the canal, because the state takes care of it and keeps it dredged out.”

* * *

There was evidence of the state’s care, for two dredges were waving their wet arms just a few hundred yards below the lock and bringing up huge bucketfuls of the black and mushy sediment that had been pumped in from the river.

When a barge was full, a towline was thrown ashore and two mules, a boy riding the one behind, pulled the unspeakable cargo away. In the language of canal mariners, any two boats lashed together make a “fleet,” and even the mud-scows are given that resounding title when they travel more than one at a time.

* * *

West from the lock and hugging one another along the south shore are canalboats of all descriptions, some moldy with age, some kept bright with paint and having potted flowers in the windows. One flatboat has a house built on it. Here dwells a large and happy family.

The ancient captain who had been seen at the lock lives on one of his boats, and there were several where women could be seen through the cabin windows, busily setting the table for the noon-day meal. The cloth was white and the butter yellow, so that one rather envied them this continual camping-out kind of life.

Coming Out Of The Lock.

* * *

Just across from the “levee” a pug-nosed boat lay at rest and two men were lazily scrubbing her deck. The sunshine was bright and warm and the dull old row of houses seemed to sleep in the genial warmth. All the open ground was sprinkled with yellow dandelions.

Far to the left stood a brick building, once the home of the lock-keeper when he was a man of importance. The trees around the old house had filled out with light-green leaves. This scene was almost rural in its suggestion of modest quietude.

Then a tug came around the point to the east, lashing the water into suds and shrieking like a crazy thing.

The Junk-Shops of Canal Street

SOME one has asked the question: “What becomes of all the pins?”

The question has never been well answered, because there are no dealers in second-hand pins.

What becomes of the empty bottles, the tin cans, the rags, the broken stove-lids and worn-out copper boilers? They go to Canal Street, sooner or later.

That which is rubbish in a backyard becomes merchandise in Canal Street and some lean-fingered speculator converts it into bright money.

Canal Street is an object lesson in economy, a practical sermon on the value of looking after the pennies. A 3-cent bottle is not worth saving, but 100 of these bottles, gathered up by a shaggy gentleman carrying a gunny-sack pouch means a profit of $3, which sum counts very largely along Canal Street.

The junk-shop region of Canal Street lies south from Taylor Street and is being slowly pushed still farther to the south by new brick buildings.

For a block south from Van Buren Street the business front is most imposing, yet the site of these tall handsome buildings with their big windows and gilded signs was occupied only a few years ago by the same sort of tottering, aged and unpainted little structures which may still be found between 12th and 16th streets.

Even in this backward region an occasional brick building is showing itself, making the contrast with its neighbors something painful.

Tottering Aged And Unpainted Little Structures.

* * *

In this second-hand strip and along the overcrowded streets leading off to the west, reside many Russian Jews, new to American privileges, but half-recovered from the persecution which held them down for generations and compelled, by force of circumstances to exercise their commercial instincts in a modest way.

If frugality and untiring industry count for anything, this district will work out its own salvation. The second generation will do business in tall brick buildings like those up toward Van Buren Street.

In the very heart of this populous settlement stands the magnificent Jewish manual training school, a voluntary contribution by the representative Jews of Chicago to the children of their less favored brethren. It combines the common-school features with the modern methods of manual training for both boys and girls. Over 800 children attend regularly.

* * *

After passing 12th Street one could well imagine himself out of Chicago. Every shop sign is painted in the angular characters of the Hebrew alphabet, and even the play-bills in the windows are in Hebrew.

The queer little cheap stores, the comfortable manner in which whole families take possession of the sidewalk, the strange language of bargain and sale at the front of every grocery, and the heaps of faded merchandise exposed for sale, give to “Junktown” a character all its own.

The bottle dealer, the rag dealer, the scrap-iron man, the grocer. the butcher, the cheap store man and the saloon-keeper are the business magnates. There are also basement shoe-shops and a few blacksmithing places, one of them having Jewish workmen, certainly a hopeful sign.

One purpose of the training school is to encourage the poorer Jews to adopt trades and learn to work with their hands rather than become street peddlers and small dealers in junk.

* * *

Canal Street and its western outlets swarm with children, most of them streaked from playing in the street and, in warm weather, lightly clad with not more than one garment. Happy children they are, most of them plump and healthy, in the bargain.

They are always playing in the sun, for Canal Street is so wide and the houses are so low that there is seldom any shade. A bale of rags or a mound of scrap-iron is a famous playhouse, and there is always a prospect of hanging on behind some slow rag-wagon. The horses on Canal Street are too deliberate to run down any children.

There are thousands of bottles packed in barrels and boxes, which lean against the dingy fronts. A nervous man who dreads contagion will surely hold his breath when he passes one of the rag warehouses. It is a musty and mothy odor that hangs around the ramshackle place, and one doesn’t like to stop and think where all of those soiled and tattered things came from.

It seems that all the “played-out” and worthless odds and ends of the town have been dumped on Canal Street.

The rusty scrap-iron lies around in tangled masses. Decrepit wagons are lined up between the houses. Burned-out boilers are strewn on the vacant lots. The crockery exposed for sale at the cheap stores is dusty and cracked, the suits of clothes are ready to fall to pieces from shoddiness.

As for the vegetables, they seem to keep away from Canal Street until they are withered and spotted and consequently cheap.

Decrepit Wagons Are Lined Up Between The Houses.

* * *

The buildings themselves do not stand erect on their foundations. At one corner saloon the bareheaded children go down-hill to get their buckets filled, as the venerable structure seems to have settled back on its haunches. The fences around the scrap-iron yards are propped up from outside.

It is a terribly second-handed neighborhood, and it is no wonder that the eye longs for something new—a new coat of paint on a house, a new dress on a woman, a new “Rags Bought” sign. But everything is picturesquely dull and smoke stained.

At every breath of wind the dust is gathered in clouds and blown into the stuffy little second-story bedrooms, from the windows of which the heads are always sticking out.

* * *

It may be found, upon investigation, that, considering what these poor people get in the way of home comforts, they pay more dearly than the families on a boulevard.

Sidewalk Merchants and Their Wares

HE WAS a beautiful example of patience and long suffering. There under the shelter of the corner and free from the currents of humanity which met at right angles he stood all day long, holding out his merchandise for the inspection of an indifferent public and chanting, “Shoe strings—5 cents a pair.”

From the ninety and nine he received not so much as glance.

Perhaps one in a hundred turned his head at sound of the appealing voice, but did not slacken his speed.

About one of a thousand stopped to look at the strings or perhaps to chaff the mournful dealer.

And let it be supposed that one in 10,000, either moved by charity or suddenly reminded of a need, bought a pair of shoestrings and tucked them away in a back pocket.

The dealer always met the buyer with rare self-possession, as if a customer were not a novelty.

He gave no evidence of excitement when a man bought two pairs, and there was no change in his hopeful attitude when a prospective customer broke away without buying. He had the quality of equipoise, so rare in business men.

The bunch of shoe-strings was always the same size and the greasy cap was always set at the same vagabond angle on his gray head. The coat and vest had once been of gay check and were of juvenile design. The coat, for instance, was short behind and slashed away from the third button in front.

At one time there had been silk facing on the lapels, but it had worn down to a few threads. The vest was double-breasted, and there were pins to mark the former location of buttons. The baggy and stained trousers had once been braided down the sides.

These wrecks of cheap gentility were in harmony with the narrow, bony face, which was stubbled with gray beard, while the eyes seemed to have lost all expression except that of tired indifference. The flesh had a dead pallor, for it is a curious fact that whereas whisky will cause one man to puff and redden it will draw the blood from another and eat him from within until there seems to remain only an ashy parchment over the skeleton.

The Aristocrat Of His Class.

* * *

“Shoe-strings—5 cents a pair.”

This quavering cry seemed to have become a habit with him, for sometimes he repeated it over and over when the corner was quiet in the lull of an afternoon and there wasn’t a possible customer within hearing distance.

Where did he live how did he live? Suppose he sold as many as five pairs of shoestrings in a day (large estimate). His total receipts would be 25 cents, but not more than half of that would be profit. How could he live for 12½ cents a day? Did he ever eat?

What had been his life? A man who begins early to be a “bum” and drunkard doesnot live to be 60 years old.

Another thing: Any man of 60 can remember well-dressed days of prosperity. Did the shoe-string man remember such days, and if so what must have been his reflections as he stood on the corner all day, starving for liquor?

It would seem that one who has the patience to stand and offer goods could find something more salable than shoestrings. But the sidewalk merchants do not think so, for one sells the 5-cent strings, another cheap handkerchiefs, another collar-buttons and another pocket combs.

Did you ever see any one buy of them?

* * *

Not all of these penny speculators are old and physically disabled.

In a city where manual labor has always commanded a fair remuneration, the broad-shouldered immigrant prefers to take his chances hawking collar-buttons. He would rather make 25 cents a day and be in “business” than work for $1.50 a day.

The rush of immigration is responsible for the unloading in the streets of Chicago of the cheap and picturesque ragamuffins to be found in the poverty districts of European cities. Five years ago the Italian children who played and sang on the street corners were regarded as novelties. Now the streets swarm with them and they are as bold and bothersome as English sparrows.

They tag at coat-tails and beg for pennies. With noisy concertinas and capering dances they infest saloons. The smallest girls have learned the vulgar dances of the day and the larger ones sing bad parodies on popular songs.

Most of the flower girls come from this same class. The flower girl is a thing of beauty on the stage, where she wears bangs and a pink dress and does a neat song and dance.

The flower girl of Clark Street, at the hour of midnight, is a frowsy young creature, who goes from one basement drinking place to another. She fastens flowers in the button-holes, then says: “Give me whatever you please.”

Saucy, forward, and with a frightful knowledge of the things which children should not know, she is interesting in her way, but it is not a promising way.

* * *

In the alley where the newsboys gathered there is a ceaseless competition for pennies. The Italian at the end of the alley gives a spoonful of ice-cream on a piece of brown paper for 1 cent. His country-man near by sells hot sausage at 2 cents a link.

In a basement stairway is the waffle boy. Further along is the old woman who offers and enormous sweet cake and a mug of “pop” for 5 cents. Then there is the man who sell popcorn balls at 1 cent each, and if his receipts were all profits he couldn’t become rich.

These alley establishments do a lively business at certain hours of the day.

Popcorn Ball A Cent Apiece.

* * *

It is not supposed that all the street merchants belong to a class with the shoe-string man. Many a fruit stand does a business which would be creditable to a retail shop, and the young gentlemen with their show case full of cut roses and sweet-peas come very near being public benefactors.

But the straying “barker” who jingles his collar buttons before you and the frayed mortal who holds out the speckled combs—these are the pitable evidences that Chicago is becoming a metropolis. In order to sustain one feature of metropolitan life, a large number of people must expose either their misery or their helplessness.

* * *

The arch—fiend of the sidewalk business men is he who sells the 50-cent umbrellas and the only mitigating circumstance in his case is that the purchaser might have known that he couldn’t get an umbrella for 50 cents.

The umbrella man comes out of hiding every rainy day and you may find him at a down-town corner howling vociferously and holding a real umbrella over a grain sack stuffed full of the alleged umbrellas which he is offering for 50 cents apiece.

Happy is the man who goes home in the rain without yielding to the entreaties, for this is the story of one man who purchased.

The handle was made of varnished pine and the ribs of telegraph wire. It opened with a creak arid assumed a dumpy shape, one side being much depressed; but the owner thought it would answer the purpose. It had the general appearance of an umbrella.

He started out in the heavy rain and the canopy of thin black stuff gathered water like a sponge.

He felt his hand getting wet and discovered that a dark stream was trickling down the pine stick. Then a drop of something fell on his arm and left a stain like a drop of ink.

It would have been bad enough if the umbrella had simply leaked.

But the rain which came through washed out the cheap dye and spattered it over the unhappy man underneath.

He should have thrown away the thing, but he hadn’t the courage, because the rain was driving so hard. He kept the umbrella over him and endured the shower bath, but when he reached shelter he was polka-dotted from head to foot.

The umbrella had washed out to a dirty gray color, and the handle seemed covered with mucilage.

He tried to close the thing, but it bagged out fearfully, so he threw it out of the window, and some unsuspecting person stole it and was doubtless punished in due time.

Hokey-Pokey Penny Ice-Cream.
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