Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 320
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 320
 
very bad. As an example, Miss Mahoney’s life was a failure. When at her death it was discovered that she had bank-books representing a total of two thousand dollars, her nephew and only heir promptly knocked off work and proceeded to celebrate, which he did with such fervor that in two months he had run through it all and killed himself by his excesses. Miss Mahoney’s was the first bank account in the alley, and, so far as I know, the last.
  From what I have said, it must not be supposed that fighting was the normal occupation of Cat Alley. It was rather its relaxation from unceasing toil and care, from which no to-morrow held promise of relief. There was a deal of good humor in it at most times. “Scrapping” came naturally to the alley. When, as was sometimes the case, it was the complement of a wake, it was as the mirth of children who laugh in the dark because they are afraid. But once an occurrence of that sort scandalized the tenants. It was because of the violation of the Monroe Doctrine, to which, as I have said, the alley held most firmly, with severely local application. To Mulberry Street Mott Street was a foreign foe from which no interference was desired or long endured. A tenant in “the back” had died in the hospital of rheumatism, a term which in the slums sums up all of poverty’s hardships, scant and poor food, damp rooms, and hard work, and the

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