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Bread and Roses, Too

BOOK: Bread and Roses, Too
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Bread and Roses, Too
Katherine Paterson

Clarion Books • New York

Clarion Books
a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
Copyright © 2006 by Minna Murra, Inc.

Designed by Michelle Gengaro-Kokmen.
The text was set in 11.5-point Berkeley Book.

All rights reserved.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book,
write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South,
New York, NY 10003.

www.clarionbooks.com

Printed in the U.S.A.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Paterson, Katherine.
Bread and roses, too / by Katherine Paterson.
p. cm.
Summary: Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely
friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and
Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
ISBN-13: 978-0-618-65479-6
ISBN-10: 0-618-65479-8
[1. Strikes and lockouts—Textile workers—Fiction. 2. Labor unions—Fiction.
3. Survival—Fiction. 4. Textile workers—Fiction. 5. Immigrants—Fiction.
6. Emigration and immigration—Fiction
7. Lawrence (Mass.)—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.P273Bq 2006
[Fic]—dc22 2005031702

MP 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

For Karen Lane, Barre's extraordinary librarian,
with gratitude and affection

and in memory of Vermont's premier labor historian,
Dr. Richard Hathaway

and in honor of all those in our society who,
despite their labor, receive less than a living wage

"This was more than a union. It was a crusade for
a united people—for 'Bread and Roses.'"

—Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography

Contents

One ♦ Shoe Girl 1

Two ♦ "Short Pay! All Out!" 6

Three ♦ The Best Student 14

Four ♦ For the Needy 27

Five ♦ Joe Ettor Comes to Town 37

Six ♦ Songs of Defiance 49

Seven ♦ The Return of Rosa's Rat 62

Eight ♦ Bread and Rosa 78

Nine ♦ The Beautiful Mrs. Gurley Flynn 87

Ten ♦ Anarchy 95

Eleven ♦ The Day Hell Breaks Loose 100

Twelve ♦ Who Killed Annie Lopizzo? 106

Thirteen ♦ An Unexpected Bath 116

Fourteen ♦ A Proper Caller 127

Fifteen ♦ The Card 136

Sixteen ♦ The Train 148

Seventeen ♦ At the Labor Hall 162

Eighteen ♦ The Gerbatis 173

Nineteen ♦ New Clothes and New Problems 184

Twenty ♦ Rossi and Gerbati 198

Twenty-one ♦ Word from Home 210

Twenty-two ♦
Tumulto
and Treachery 221

Twenty-three ♦ The Bargain 233

Twenty-four ♦ Home at Last 250

Historical Note 267

Acknowledgments 273

Shoe Girl

The tenements loomed toward the sky on either side of the alley like glowering giants, but they'd keep the wind off. There was plenty of trash in the narrow space between them. It stank to high heaven, but, then, so did he. He began to burrow into the heap like a rat. A number of rodents squawked and scrambled away.
Hell's bells!
He hoped they wouldn't bite him while he was asleep. Rat bites hurt like fury For a moment he stopped digging, but the freezing air drove him farther in. He tried to warm himself by cursing his pa. The words inside his head were hot as flaming hades, but they didn't fool his hands and feet, which ached from the cold.

He'd heard of people freezing to death in their sleep. It happened to drunks all the time. He sometimes wished it would happen to his pa, although he knew it was wicked to wish your own pa dead. But how could Jake be expected to care whether the brute lived or died? The man did nothing but beat him.
Dead, he wouldn't beat me
or steal all my pay for drink—and then beat me for not earning more.

He was keeping himself agitated, if not warm, with hateful thoughts of the old man when he heard light footsteps close by. He willed himself motionless.

It was a small person from the sound, and coming right for his pile.
You can't have my pile. This one's mine. I already claimed it. I chased the rats for it. I made my nest in it....
He began to growl.

"Who's there?" It was the frightened voice of a child—a girl, if he wasn't mistaken.

"What do you want?" He stuck his head out of the pile.

The girl jumped back with a little shriek.

Stupid little mouse.

"Who are you?" she asked, her voice shaking.

"It's my pile. Go away."

"I don't want your pile. Really, I don't." She was shaking so hard, her whole body was quivering. "I—I just need to look in it—to find something."

"In here?"

"I think so. I'm not sure."

He was interested in spite of himself. "What did you lose?"

"My—my shoes," she said.

"How could you lose your shoes?"

"I guess I sort of hid them."

"You
what?"

"I know," she said. He could tell she was about to bawl. "It was stupid. I really need new ones. But Mamma said Anna had to stand up all day on the line and she needed shoes worse than me. I thought if I lost mine ... It was stupid, I know." She began to cry in earnest.

"Okay, okay, which pile?" He stood up, old bottles, cans, and papers cascading from his shoulders.

She put her left foot on top of her right, to keep at least one stockinged foot from touching the frozen ground. "You smell awful," she said.

"Shut up. You want help or not?"

"Please," she said. "I'm sorry."

They dug about in the dark. At length, Jake found the first shoe, and then the girl found the other. She nodded gratefully, slipped them on her feet, and bent over to tie what was left of the laces.

"You didn't lose them so good."

"No. I guess I knew all along I'd have to find them." She gave a little sigh. "But thank you." She was very polite. He figured she went to school even in shoes that were more holes than leather. "You can't sleep in a garbage heap," she said.

"And why not?"

"You'll freeze to death is why." Somehow with her shoes found, she didn't seem like a scared mouse after all.

"I done it before. Besides, where else am I gonna go?"

"You might—you can sleep in our kitchen." She blurted the words out, and then put her hand quickly to her mouth.

"Your folks might notice," he said. "Besides I stink. You said so."

"We all stink." She grabbed his arm. "Come on before I change my mind."

They went in the alley door of one of the buildings and climbed to the third floor. "Shh," she said before she opened the door. "They're all asleep."

She led him between the beds in the first room and then into the kitchen. There was no fire in the stove, but the room was warmer than a trash pile.

"You can lie down here," she said. "We don't have an extra bed—not even a quilt. I'm sorry."

"I'll be okay," he said. He could hardly make out her features in the dark room, but he could tell that she was smaller than he and very thin, with hair that hung to her shoulders.

"I'll be up before your pa wakes," he said.

"He's dead. Nobody will throw you out."

Still, the first stirring in the back room woke him the next morning. A kid was crying out and a woman's voice was trying to shush it, though Jake reckoned it to be a hunger cry that could not be hushed with words.

He got silently to his feet. There was a box on the table. He opened it to find a half loaf of bread. He tore off a chunk, telling himself they'd never miss it. Then he stole back through the front room, where someone was snoring like thunder, and out the door and down the stairs and on down the hill to the mill and to work. No danger of freezing there. He never stopped moving. Why, even on these frigid winter mornings, he was sweating like a pig by ten o'clock.

Later he remembered that he hadn't even asked the girl her name or told her his.

"Short Pay! All Out!"

"Short pay!" It was one of the Italians. Halfway back
h
n
the line waiting for his pay envelope, Jake felt a thrill of fear or excitement, he couldn't have said which. All week the men had talked of a strike. The Italians had passed around a petition. If you signed it, you were promising to walk out if the threatened pay cut came through in Friday's envelope. None of the Irish, who were mostly management or skilled, nor any of the other native-born, had signed it. But Jake had put his X on it, mostly because his pa had threatened to kill him if he went out on strike "with those wops," and Jake, as usual, had been furious with him. The sot had drunk up all of Jake's last pay envelope so that he had had to spend the past two weeks stealing food and sleeping in garbage dumps just to stay alive.

At first the non-Italian workers seemed confused. Should they walk out or stay put? Several started back toward their stations, then changed their minds and followed the Italians. Paddy Parker, the Irish floor boss, had planted himself at the head of the escalator, trying to block anyone's attempted exit with his huge body. Billy Wood, owner of half the mills in town, was uncommonly proud of that escalator. It got the workers from the ground floor to the upper stories of the mill in record time. That, with the speeded-up machines, was swelling the profit margin at the Wood Mill.

"Strike! Strike!" another worker cried, racing back and forth between the rows of spindle frames. Someone pulled a switch, and the belts slowed and stopped.

"Strike! Strike!" And then, pandemonium. Jake heard his own voice join the roar. "Short pay! All out!" He heard the sound of wood shattering and saw knives slashing across the great belts. He grabbed a fire bucket and threw the filthy water on the gleaming white thread. The smell of wet wool filled his nostrils. He took the empty bucket and heaved it against the line of spindles, breaking three of them. The power of it filled him like cheap wine. He smashed three more, then another two before someone—Angelo Corti, as it turned out—grabbed him by the back of his shirt. "Come on, boy, everyone's getting out!"

Jake bashed another three or four spindles before dropping the bucket. The big man's hand still held tight to his shirt. He tried to shake it away, but Angelo yanked him the length of the floor, past Paddy Parker, and down the nonworking escalator. Someone had obviously broken Mr. Wood's pride and joy, or at least shut it off.

The iron gates to the mill yard were locked—it was only eleven forty-five in the morning—but several large Italians found the gatekeeper and persuaded him, none too gently, to unlock it.

"Short pay! All out!"

It was spitting snow. Jake had no jacket, and his thin cotton pants and shirt were no protection against the wind. Once outside the gates, he planned to hightail it east for the shelter of his shack near the river. He could have easily weaseled his way through the chanting mob. Angelo had let go his shirt the moment they passed the big front doors, but he couldn't make himself leave.

"Short pay! All out! Short pay! All out!"

He crossed the bridge as though hypnotized and allowed himself to be carried by the mob from the Wood to the other mills—to the Ayer, the Washington, and on to the Atlantic and the three Pacific mills—gathering men and women and children strikers at each place. The city riot bells had commenced a frenzied clanging, and whistles screamed at them from the top of every mill as they passed. The workers chanted louder to drown out the panicked alarms of the authorities.

As storm winds gather power, so did the mass of strikers. There must have been hundreds of them—no, thousands—all chanting, "Short pay! All out!" And the workers were pouring out of the mills as they passed each gate. Not only the Italians but all those strange people from other parts of the world—Poles and Lithuanians and Russians and Syrians and Jews and Greeks and Portuguese and Armenians and countries and languages he'd never heard of, taking up the cry, in maybe the only words of English they knew: "Short pay! All out!"

He patted his pocket. His pay envelope was still there—less twenty-five cents, the cost of a week of beer for himself. But enough to pay the rent on the shack and buy him food for the next two weeks if he could keep it away from his pa. Or he could just give the old man half and tell him that short pay meant half of what he got last payday. Maybe on the way home he should stop by and buy a bottle. If the old man had a few swigs, he might believe the lie.

Pa would be raging mad about the strike. Best not to tell him he'd joined up. It couldn't last long—probably be over by Monday or so. Nobody could afford to stay out long in the wintertime. They'd freeze before they starved.

"How you feeling, Jake?" It was Angelo, slapping him on the back, treating him like a man, something his own father never did.

"Swell," he said, joining the chant again: "Short pay! All out!" Kids were hanging out the schoolhouse windows staring at him—envying him, he reckoned. He stood up straighter and chanted louder.

When the marchers got to the Plains neighborhood, where most of the workers lived in mill-owned tenements, they began to separate. Some of the men were talking of forming a picket line around the mills to keep scabs from returning after the dinner hour. Others were talking about strike meetings that night to plan strategy, but Jake could catch only the English words dropped into the foreigners' talk—words like "scab" and "strike." Angelo turned to him. "I guess you native-born got no strike organization," he said, a big smile on his face.

BOOK: Bread and Roses, Too
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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