Wobbly, the Rough-And-Tumble Story of An American Radical

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 31. FLORIDA AND AN INTERVAL
OF GROWTH. SOVIET FRONTS

IT TOOK over two days to burn up the labor newspapers and publications which had accumulated in the attic of our cottage during the fourteen years we lived there. Several boxes of rare items and duplicates were forwarded to our old friend Agnes Inglis, who for many years had been in charge of the Labadie Collection, the labor library at the University of Michigan. Into that strange assortment of handbills, charts, theses, and correspondence had been poured the idealism, courage, and folly of a generation of men striving for a better social order. Some of this material, we were told, might be of value to future labor historians. We gave away many of our books and most of our furniture. A storage van called for what remained.

The house was empty now. We didn't want to be there when the new owner arrived. Edith, Schlitz, and I piled into the overloaded Ford, and we shoved off, without turning to look back.

We had reared our son in that cottage and built our hopes for a more orderly future into the black soil of our garden, rock by rock and plant by plant. Tearing ourselves away from it was like uprooting a living thing. But no other course was possible. Lombard had grown up; taxes were increased heavily and incomes cruelly reduced. The depression had finally caught up with my trade. Weary of talking to the pathetically hopeful remnants of the once dynamic I.W.W., I had walked out of the Industrial Worker office to make room for a less impatient editor.

My doctrinaire exclusiveness was now discarded forever. As one of the great mass of common Americans, I wanted to talk to them in their own language. As a man of labor, with the best interests of labor at heart, I wanted to share with my fellow-work‐

-366-

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