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

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 29. EUGENE VICTOR DEBS VISITS
OUR GARDEN. FUNERAL AT TERRE HAUTE

EUGENE DEBS was destined to die in Elmhurst, a quiet suburban town only a couple of miles to the east of Lombard. Carl Sandburg and I were his nearest neighbors. Until the end, Debs's one enjoyment was to flee the restraints of Lindlahr Sanitarium for what he termed my "paradisiacal garden."

Debs may or may not have forgiven Carl Sandburg for supporting World War I. He never mentioned the subject. But he continued to insist that Carl and I should

"understand one another better."
He was joyful the day the three of us managed to get together for a friendly session in Lombard.

We both knew that Sandburg had changed much more than either of us. Ten years previously he had voiced his abhorrence of capitalist war quite vigorously. More than once Debs had quoted his lines:

"When the farmer, the miner, the shopman, the fireman and the teamster have all been remembered with bronze memorials, shaping them on the job of getting all of us something to eat, and something to wear. When they stack a few silhouettes against the sky here in the park and show the real huskies that are doing the work of the world, and feeding people instead of butchering them. Then, maybe I will stand here and look at this general of the army holding a flag in the air and riding like hell on horseback ready to kill anybody that gets in his way, ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men all over the sweet new grass of the prairie."

Sandburg had just returned from the West Coast, where he made a number of personal appearances before liberal organizations and women's clubs. Wearing a cowboy hat and bandana, strumming his guitar, and chanting hobo songs, he was acclaimed as a

"poet of the people."

-340-

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