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SUBSCRIPTION? Make Your Own Price


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Mory Bertnan

I realize how hard it must be for those who live in fear. Most people are over afraid of that spark: courage, which smoulders in every human being. But few dare to blow the ashes away and kindle the only thing which destroys fear. The rest of the cowardly lot whimper and shrink until they reach their imagined heaven.

A few questions I am usually asked:

"Why are you on the road with your kid?" Because I am not a mediocre human ox, because I like fresh air and a change of scenery and mainly because I like to go away from petty slaves, slave-drivers, and spiritual shysters.

"How do you manage to get by?" Where I can't get by, I cheerfully float around, giving the snare a wide berth.

Don't you get tired travelling so much?" Yes, I am getting tired from stupid questions more than from anything else.

"Don't you go through hell with a kid on the road?" Yes, but I manage it, and to watch her dance is a pleasure.

A few more stupid questions: ...."Are you going to vote for Hoover?" Why, no, I am going to vote for Nero.

"Do you not think, we have reached the bottom of this depression?" No, not quite, but capitalism is slowly and surely collapsing.

"Do you think that a new administration will restore good times again?" Yes, for human insects.

"Does not your kid need a kindergarten?" Why no,

not at all. She is already going to college. .

Liberia, La., Oct. 1932.—Having dwindled into a mere spectator, I can now lean on my oars, gaze wistfully before me and float like a phantom. One sees through everything, when one is no longer a slave to anything. Therefor a fourth dimension's distance then and there spreads a gorgeous panorama, free from man. Alone and content to be so. Even those are heavy who long to fly from themselves. He who roams, reflects, and best of all, he learns to be silent, providing the free spirit is maturing him.

Company: I have had my little daughter, Miriam, wivh me for the last fourteen months. She is now four years old—a healthy, cheerful little bird. We have roamed through most states in the Union and we are forever drifting into fresh channels. She is alert and she senses people quicker than I can manage at my best. I have decided that there shall be no alien influence in her plastic years. Many hands were stretched out offering her a home, but I knew that her sprouting wings would be clipped, and that should not be. For her there is only one home, and that is wherever we are together, regardless, under what circumstances. Let her sup in the love of freedom. A fig, for all smug security and another one in the face of obstacles. We wander without money and that is not to be sneered at. It often takes the full speed of my wits to manage things. We have hitch-hiked about eighteen thousand miles in the last five months.

HOBOES: I have chatted with many hoboes on the open road—hungry fellows, badly in need of food and clothes, but more so in need of the light which understanding brings. They have merely grasped the fringes of mankind's plight, and are in the thrall of proclivities, in spite of abounding time to observe, and to connect the Why, and the Wherefor. Most of them are sluggish brutes, and it will take a long time for the master's whip to penetrate and to sting properly. For a steaming plate of pork-and-beans fills them up and they snore soon after. A slave who is not a rebel, is a snail doomed to be stepped on and crushed. Once a slave. rebels, he reaches upwards. I am doing all I can to enlighten them when we meet. Light is net denied those who climb. Let those who submit, crawl in the mire. A bone is the goal of a dim„ shrivelled soul. They should at least be fed and clothed properly—they are harmless and there is more than enough, why torture them? But a leech must suck and swell until is bursts. The class-conscious worker stands up and demands. I like the spirit which inspires him with courage. Well, lone eagles do not roam in packs.

RICHMOND, TEXAS, Main Street. A greater caricature man could not have created out of waste matter for the amusement of the Satirist: Bible spiders, pick-pockets, fake healers, fortune-tellers, and crooks* Main Street is the market place of the nation's spiritual poverty. It surely is a veritable paradise for nocturnal creatures. Woe to him that haggles here for a living in this twilight-world of buzzards. Main Street lingers in the memory like a mocking imp 'til laughter relieves loathing. Only he who can dance through the mire without getting filthy, should venture here. It is a coiled cobra at night, and a shark in broad daylight. It should be fenced in with barbed-wire. Visualize the rest according to your methods of extermination. No conscience and scruples are needed here.

HOTELS: We have slept in various places. Yes, there is much poverty, dirt and ignorance in this world.

RESTAURANTS: How can mankind be well, when it consumes so much garbage?

BOX CARS: Have you ever travelled in that royal push-car of the down-trodden? How it shakes, dreams into oblivion, how it drains the energy of the hopeful one. One surely rides to the dumping ground in this infernal contraption of modern transportation, unless you are very robust. You will do well not to ride in it too often. I saw many young boys wrestling for dear life with this octopus. Hunger, dirt, weariness, loneliness, and worst of it all, they are going nowhere. Lost, dispaired, branded for life with ugliness, bespattered with scum! Have you ever been to the bottom and seen a few things?

VICTORIA, TEPCAS. Best I like the silent man on the road. Like a ghost he passes, and soon he vanishes; a glance his greeting, and a smile his farewell. His is a kindred soul. I gather the chrystalized thoughts which he scatters on desolate roads. He smiles to me like a tender child and I know his infinite patience, his love which only death will singe. Such a man is not a victim, but a victor. How I wish there were many more like him. There are few, far too few to spread warmth over the bare and dismal roads —devoid of thinking man.

ECCENTRIC TRAMPS. Now and then I meet and talk to a solitary eccentric individual, a forlorn and forever homeless man, near or over the half century mark. He is like grape juice turned to vinegar. He shrivelled before he ripened. I console him as though I were his older brother and as if I knew what he fears most. He fears to die like an animal on the open road or starve to death like a hounded beast in its cave. One such fellow carried a tool box with him. He sharpens knives and scissors. Between little jobs he eats little and seldom at that. With him he carried Walt Whitman's, "Leaves of Grass." He was a German without a trace of the goose-step within him. "I know," he said, "that I am lost—still Heinrich Heine should have taken a longer walk and Wolfgang Goethe (he then smiled significantly) that man should have taken a good walk too. Every thinker should go over the road for a few years, at least. As for myself," he continued, "I have staid on the road a good few years too many." And now he can't get off the road, 60 that his freedom has turned into oppression. 4iI am its slave and I lost my friend. Good day, and do not feed vultures." I felt his woe, my eyes were moist and Miriam tried to cheer me up that day.

CITY PARKS AND PUBLIC SQUARES. Now and then we take a day off and loaf—a flve-cent bag of roasted peanuts and squirrels keeping Miriam busy, while I look over the human wrecks; each one a cracked vase, seldom a well-balanced one. However, I had my surprise in Mobile, Alabama. A young fellow in corduroy pants walked up to me and without preliminaries introduced himself as Nietzsche's monkey.

Well, he was keen-witted and soon we were busy dissecting Leonardo da Vinci and afterwards we were playfully pummeling a few modern writers, (he calls them cheap punks.) I was minus a quarter when we parted, but it was a good race while it lasted.

ON THE BEACH AT MIAMI, FLORIDA. A fellow accosted me pretendedly for a match, actually for a discussion. This lasted a whole day. He was a bit too tense for me, otherwise I liked him very much, although his fruit grew on the north side of the tree. It was edible, anyhow, even if not luscious. He has yet to learn how to support the heavy limbs with laughter, lest they break.

A RTJBBER-NECK DYSPEPTIC. Here is a fellow who is miserable between horse-shoe games. He comes up to me and wants to know point-blank, whereto I am travelling. "Oh, my dear fellow, that is a question which only concerns me, but, if you insist, I am on my way to Jerusalem. Yes, sir, I am leaving this country." "Her mama, is she dead?" he questioned. "Well, there you are again. Now, she is not dead, but in China, waiting for irie. We are to meet there to enjoy a good plate of rice." "Is that so, well I'll be darn—folks surely travel now-a-days." "Yep," I said, "they sure do. Well, so long, and good hick to you. Good day, sir!"

DUST. In the shade of a tree I saw a bundle of rags. On closer inspection I found a remnant of what was once a man; a grimy traveler with one eye—his shoes wide open all over. A layer of dirt served him as clean linen, socks he wore none and had none. He was muching a piece of white bread, the crust was a dirty brown. "Look here, brother, I have a thermos bottle full of hot coffee. Will you have some?" "Will I, son, just pour some out for me." I did, a first, second and third cup. "Are you long on the road?" I asked him. "Yes my lad, since I remember myself. Why? I wanted to know. "Ah," he said, "I don't want to lie to you. I did not think I was much good for anything else, and so it went up to now." "Well, good day, Old Timer." "Good luck, my lad, and thank you."

CHAINS: There have been tense months in my young life. Times in which I longed to roam and yet could not be free. I take good care to remove or avoid all approaching obstacles, so that the road will be open hensceforth. Yes, to anchor for a while, now and then, and leave the harbor whenever stale odors invade it. I shall conclude with the remark that there are kind people and lots of people who mean well, but do not know how. And you can even find a profound man though you may have to travel from one end of the country to the next and that this is not the worst world for a gadfly to live in. If you do not think so, please, let me know why.

COMING AND GOING. As I travel about in search of a place where to settle and rest I find that where it is favorable I cannot stop more than a night and at the most a day or two for they are continually busy keeping the door bolted against hunger. My friends are hard-pressed or would they be my comrades were it otherwise? Every morsel of food given to me and my child is a noble sacrifice. How can I then stay much longer? Therefor always the farewell handshake, forever relieving them in their barracks where they are fighting tooth and nail against this monster which is clawing away at the breast and throat of mankind in its frantic effort to exist. This money system against which we must all of us prepare a grave, is dying.

MY SONG ON THE ROAD. I see a car coming. We get out of the way. The next thing we pray that he gives us a ride because it is getting late and we are weary. At last we reach town, but now what shall we eat. In this cursed system, Chow dogs are fed and bathed, but our share is rotting away on the fields or in warehouses, or is wasted in other ways. We don't know a soul in this town and where shall we sleep?

What a song if I may say so myself.

Write to me:



417^ East 25th Street, Los Angeles, California



417}4 East 25th Street, jj Los Anoblbs, California'