Showman (1937)

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SHOWMAN languages fluently and educated me on Shakespeare, which he knew from end to end without book. When we struck New York his California political connec- tions landed him a job in the immigration office at old Castle Garden—now the Aquarium. No Ellis Island then—the immigrant was just looked over and turned loose without complications. Still precautions weren't so necessary then, because the dregs of southern Europe hadn't yet started the big rush for America. That job didn't last father much longer than the $10,000. In the end he took to free-lance writing at space-rates—$ 1 o a column from the old Herald was the highest pay with $3 at the bottom. On occasion he was as brilliant a newspaperman as there was in the country, known, liked and admired. But most of his temperament and some of his habits made those oc- casions less and less frequent. Some weeks we did fine —other weeks were total washouts. During the off- weeks, it was up to me to keep things going as we slid and wobbled down the skids. Little shaver that I was, I had to sally out of our shabby room on East Broadway and Catherine Street, in the heart of New York's East Side, and rustle whatever cash was rustleable. I never met the late Horatio Alger, Jr., but he would have liked to meet me. I was no such high-flown prig as his newsboy heroes—I'd have shied a brick at one in real life—but if anybody ever went through the whole mill of the traditional how-to-get-along-on-the- cold-streets-of-a-great-city racket, I was that somebody. 14