Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 236
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 236
wave of the Lexow reform, on purpose to measure the distance from the school door to the nearest saloon. They had been told that it should be two hundred feet, according to law. There were schools that had as many as a dozen within the tabooed limits. It was in the papers how, when the highest courts said that the law was good, the saloon keepers attacked the schools as a nuisance and detrimental to property. In a general way Jacob sided with the saloon keeper; not because he had any opinion about it, but because it seemed natural. Such opinions as he ordinarily had he got from that quarter.
  When, later on, he came to be tried, his counsel said to me, “He is an amazing liar.” No, hardly amazing. It would have been amazing if he had been anything else. Lying and mockery were all around him, and he adjusted himself to the things that were. He lied in self-defence.
Heading off the Gang. Vacation Playground near Old Frog Hollow.
  Jacob’s story ends here, as far as he is personally concerned. The story of the gang begins. So trained for the responsibility of citizenship, robbed of home and of childhood, with every prop knocked from under him, all the elements that make for strength and character trodden out in the making of the boy, all the high ambition of youth caricatured by the slum and become base passions,— so equipped he comes to the business of life. As a “kid” he



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