Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 235
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 235
 
thing had the right ring to it. Roosevelt preaching enforcement of law was from the first a “lobster” to him, not to be taken seriously. It is not among the least of the merits of the man that, by his sturdy personality, as well as by his un-yielding persistence, he won the boy over to the passive admission that there might be something in it. It had not been his experience.
  There was the law which sternly commanded him to go to school, and which he laughed at every day. Then there was the law to prevent child labor. It cost twenty-five cents for a false age certificate to break that, and Jacob, if he thought of it at all, probably thought of perjury as rather an expensive thing. A quarter was a good deal to pay for the right to lock a child up in a factory, when he ought to have been at play. The excise law was everybody’s game. The sign that hung in every saloon, saying that nothing was sold there to minors, never yet barred out his “growler” when he had the price. There was another such sign in the tobacco shop, forbidding the sale of cigarettes to boys of his age. Jacob thought that when he had the money he smoked as many as fifteen packs a day, and he laughed when he told me. He laughed, too, when he remembered how the boys of the East Side took to carrying balls of cord in their pockets, on the

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