Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 271
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 271
 
town laughed and poked fun at the “white wings”; but no one went to see them who did not come away converted to an enthusiastic belief in the man and his work. Public sentiment, that had been half reluctantly suspending judgment, expecting every day to see the colonel “knuckle down to politics” like his predecessors, turned in an hour, and after that there was little trouble. The tenement house children organized street cleaning bands to help along the work, and Colonel Waring enlisted them as regular auxiliaries and made them useful.
  They had no better friend. When the unhappy plight of the persecuted pushcart men—all immigrant Jews, who were blackmailed, robbed, and driven from pillar to post as a nuisance after they had bought a license to trade in the street—appealed vainly for a remedy, Colonel Waring found a way out in a great morning market in Hester Street that should be turned over to the children for a playground in the afternoon. But though he proved that it would pay interest on the investment in market fees, and many times in the children’s happiness, it was never built. It would have been a most fitting monument to the man’s memory. His broom saved more lives in the crowded tenements than a squad of doctors. It did more: it swept the cobwebs out of our civic brain and conscience, and set up a standard of a citizen’s duty which, however we

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