The Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist/Chapter 6
Life at Hard Labor—The Hopi
July, 1947 – 1949
(Phoenix – San Francisco)
I met Chester Mote, my Hopi conscientious objector friend, in Winslow on the third of July of 1947. I had looked for work on farms but could not find any; likewise in Flagstaff. I had just enough money left to get to a suburb of Phoenix, Glendale, with a penny left in my pocket.
Chester told me of an old Catholic priest who had spent many hours talking to his father years ago. He was a good man but Chester cared for no other missionaries. The Hopi believe in God just as the white man does he said, but their God does not tell them to go to war. The Hopi are not sun worshippers. When they look at the sun they think of God, just as the Christians are supposed to look at the Cross and think of God, (but they think of money, Chester thought.)
All tradition is handed down, not written. When Chester was a child, he was told that the white man had gone across the water to war twice and that the next war would be when other white men would come across the water to the white man and give him what he had handed out. When this war was finished there would be but one man and one woman left in the world. This was not meant literally. There would be many, here and there, but each couple would think that they were the only ones left.
Chester had 400 sheep and the government wanted him to reduce the flock to 40. He would not do so and was put in the jail in Keams Canyon for three months. They killed all of his sheep and gave him a check in payment but he refused to accept this blood money. It hurt their bookkeeping minds. Later when the Hopi were drafted for war, they were told that if they registered they would be deferred as CO's. The Hopi did not believe the white men but decided to try them out. So all of them who were radicals decided to refuse to register but Chester registered. All of them got the same time in prison.
I walked around that morning asking for work at each farm. Around noon a Japanese farmer gave me as much watermelon as I could eat. Later on I ate some peaches at another farm, and ended up by eating cantaloupe. Just about dark I met a young Molokon who had read my Tolstoy "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" booklet, while in conscientious objector camp. I put my sleeping bag under the trees in his yard. Next day I worked for his uncle in the harvesting of beet seed. It was very hot and I drank plenty of water and had only melon for breakfast. After three days I worked on a farm in the middle of the desert cleaning ditches for ten hours a day, at sixty cents an hour. Then I walked for miles seeking another job. Finally I got a job in a dairy. After I had worked two months, the farmer sold his cows, so I had to look for another job.
I slept at the home of a friend in Phoenix and got up early before daylight, went down to the slave market at Second and Jefferson, and jumped on the first truck going out of town. I did not know if I was going east, west, north, or south. I worked in a field for a big produce company and at night asked where I could find a cabin to stay. Shacks were only for Mexicans and not for white men. I walked down the road and met a Molokon who said he had a shack up the road which I could live in, free of charge. I was soon sleeping on an old spring mattress. I got an old stove and fixed the place up. I worked day by day for the produce company at sixty cents an hour.
I worked at different kinds of weeding in the fields, and one Saturday the man across the road asked me to cut wood at seventy-five cents an hour. One day I was working with an old man over seventy years of age. He was illiterate and when we signed our names to our checks he made an X mark. When he saw another fellow mark his check with an X he thought his signature was being forged. He asked me, "Have you got the mark of the beast?"
I knew what he meant by this question but asked him. "Has the gov'ment got your number; did you give them your name and get a number on a social security, ration or draft card? For if you did you have the mark of the beast which in these last days seeks to corrupt all of God's children."
I answered that I had used a social security card for three months, but since a tax had been withheld from my pay I had stopped working where it was necessary to have a social security card; that was the reason I was now working on a farm. I had used a ration card for a time, but had refused to register for the draft and did not intend to take any old age pension.
The old man answered; "I have nary a card. Guess they thought I was too old to register for the war and didn't bother me. All of my family made blood money during the war and now my wife and brothers have the mark of the beast again, for they accept old age pension. I will work until I drop before I take money from the beast; from the gov'ment that makes bombs!" And he added "Yes, in these days they number the babies in hospitals when they are born; get boys, and even girls, numbered up for war as they grow up; pester them with numbers when they die. The Mark of the Beast is everywhere. The Bible says that people will be divided, for folks who witness for the Lord can't be a part of numbering and voting and war. If their families prefer blood money then such as I have to go where we are not numbered and do not get The Mark of the Beast. I'm sure glad to find a fellow who only has two marks against him."
"You are a better man than I am," I answered.
Having a few free days after the winter lettuce season at the large vegetable ranch where I had worked I went early in the morning to Phoenix where the bonfires were burning, at Second and Madison. Here Mexicans, Indians and Anglos, most of the latter being "winos," were waiting to select the truck in which they would go to work. Just now there were only cotton trucks, there being a lull in citrus picking. Cotton pickers carry their own 8 to 12 ft. sacks, fastened with a strap around the shoulders and dragging behind them like a giant worm. There were eight trucks and several pickups. Most of them were shaped like the traditional covered wagon with canvas. There were benches on either side and in the middle. I walked around searching for someone I might know, but my friends of the lettuce fields were wary of cotton picking, considering this the hardest job to be had and one to be taken only as a last resort.
"Last call! Take you there and bring you back. Three dollars a hundred. All aboard gentlemen!" shouted a good-natured Negro in a bright mackinaw. The truck to which he pointed was box shape, of wood veneer, with a short ladder leaning inside from the rear. I entered and found a seat between a colored woman and a colored man. After a few more calls the doors were shut, and we could see each other only as one would light a cigarette. Later on the truck stopped, and we were joined by a large group of laughing Negroes of all ages. There were three whites besides myself, and one Indian. Our destination was nine miles beyond Buckeye, which is about thirty miles west of Phoenix. After several sharp turns, when all in the truck were thrown this way and that, we came to the field. The Indian and I did not have sacks, so we rented them from the boss for a quarter. This was tall cotton, and harder to pick than the small variety. The field was a quarter of a mile long and a mile wide. A young white man worked in one row, then the Indian, then myself. I had never picked cotton before. The Indian, a Navajo, said this was to be clean picking, he understood. Where the cotton was fluffy it was easy to grab, but where the boll was partly open it was difficult to extract and hurt your fingers.
As we worked along the row from the far end of the field toward the weighing scales and truck, my Navajo friend said that he was learning a lesson which he sadly needed. Now he had just enough money from day to day. Before this he had spent money freely and never had to count his pennies. He paid a dollar a night for a cot in a cheap hotel in Phoenix. He had an older brother who had been quite wealthy before the depression and was a big shot among his people because of his holdings in cattle. Now with the "plowing under" and rationing system of the government he was a poor Indian indeed.
In speaking of the Navajo he said that they had always been poor in these last years, but that the suffering was no greater than last year. If left to themselves, they would be able to get along in sheep and cattle raising and in growing corn. But the government restrictions as to grazing made havoc with the Navajo. These restrictions came about because the best land was owned by the government and let out to wealthy white cattlemen. According to the government treaty, a school was to be provided wherever there were thirty children in a community; but not a fifth of the children were given schools. All this spare time made for shiftless living in the cities. The recent provision of half a million for food from Congress was coupled with three times that amount to "rehabilitate" the Navajo. This was another word for jobs for white bureaucrats to feed on the misery of the Indian with boondoggling experiments.
Navajos do not eat fish, bear, pork; in fact any animal that does not eat grass is not "clean" to them. They will not kill a coyote for the bounty, as do the whites.
After we had worked three hours, we took our cotton in to be weighed. I had thirty pounds and he had forty-two. The white men near us had eighty-five. In talking over this discrepancy we found that we had been picking only the clean white cotton, while the more experienced pickers picked the bolls along with the cotton and more than doubled the weight.
As we waited our turn for weighing our cotton, groups were shooting dice in the roadway. A Negro woman served coffee, chili, pie, wieners, etc. at reasonable prices. Some of the truck drivers sold food to their passengers.
Returning to the field we picked in more of an orthodox fashion, and in the total five and a half hours the Navajo picked eighty-two pounds and I picked sixty-two. Before we left I gave him the CW to read, with my letter about the Hopi refusing to go to war.
The next morning I met my Navajo friend beside the bonfire at Second and Madison. The truck of Negroes did not go out on Sunday. One truck took only those who had sacks. I got in a small pickup which headed westward about thirty miles to Litchfield Park. Several young girls kept us merry with songs. When we arrived at the field my Navajo friend arrived in another truck. We happened to get sacks at different times, so did not work together.
An old man said that the rule here was "rough picking," which meant everything that had white in it, but no stems or leaves. When I emptied my sack I had fifty-four pounds. The man next to me seemed to work rather expertly, and I asked him what time they quit on Sundays here. He replied that he only came on. "Make $1.25 an hour at my job in town and time and a half for overtime." I commented that unless a person had a large family that was a good wage. "I don't work here for the money," he continued. "I just come out here so I can keep sober. I was drunk from Christmas until yesterday—ten days. I can keep sober if I am working, but I can't stand to be quiet or loaf. And as I have eight kids, I have to keep working."
There was not much cotton left to pick in this field, and the word went around that we would quit about 2 p.m. At that time my sack weighed thirty-one pounds, which, after paying rental on my sack, netted me $2.23. My Navajo friend had not done so well, picking only sixty-eight pounds. He said he had liked my reference to the Hopi in the CW. As we were going into town in the truck the man who picked cotton to keep sober was discussing the merits of different brands of liquor with another picker. This man was telling of going to a town upon receiving a paycheck as a "gandy-dancer" on the railroad, going to the police and asking how much the fine was for being "drunk and disorderly." They said it was $17.50, so he paid it at once, for he intended to get drunk and disorderly.
I did not hear the rest of the story, for the truck soon passed lateral twenty, near where I lived. I proceeded homeward with $3.93 for two part-days spent in the cotton fields. Later in the day, sitting in my doorway resting, I was asked by a man who drove up in a car to work for him for a week, irrigating, at $7.20 per twelve-hour night. Gladly I was willing to let this two part-days of cotton picking suffice. Good pickers can make from $8 to $12 a day, but I was not in that class.
In May of 1948 the Freedom Train came to Phoenix. I felt that as they had invaded "my territory" I ought to say something about the lack of freedom for conscientious objectors, Negroes and Indians. I made some signs and went forth with CW's. About 5000 people were moving inch by inch in the crowded blocks. Shouts of "Communist," "How much does Stalin pay you?" etc. came at me. "Hello, you Communist s.o.b." said one man. My reply was "I'm not that kind of a s.o.b." The crowd laughed and no one was hurt.
Toward the afternoon the American Legion was handing out copies of a forty-eight page comic book put out by Catholic fascists calling names at the Communists. I felt a surge of hatred towards me. One man came up and said "I could knock you down." I answered quickly "You have the right to knock me down and I have the right to picket: that makes us even." Many students asked me questions. An ex-chief of police asked me what I was trying to do and I said that I was trying to prove this was a free country.
About 7 p.m. the police stopped me and said the police captain wanted to see me. After a crowd had gathered and I waited he said that the captain had changed his mind, so I continued my picketing. Later a Franciscan priest told me that the police had phoned him at 7 p.m. that evening asking about my picketing and giving out the CW. He told them that the CATHOLIC WORKER was a good paper and this was a free country so why were they arresting me. The next Sunday he praised my picketing, at mass, in the big St. Mary's church and we became good friends. He had spoken at the Freedom Train but I had not seen him.
When I was sixteen years of age, I had written a page entitled WHAT LIFE MEANS TO ME. I had used this title because my favorite author Jack London, had written a pamphlet with that title. The substance of my belief in 1916 was: On with the Revolution; there is no God, Churches are opium for the people.
Now on June 1, 1948 I wrote a page listing my attitude on life. Following are the issues that seemed to me most important:
- Courage is the most important virtue, for, as Johnson said to Boswell, if you do not have it you cannot practice the other virtues.
- Voluntary Poverty, the fundamental means of the Catholic Worker and Tolstoy, keeps the radical from becoming bourgeois and selling out.
- Pacifism and the Sermon on the Mount I had learned in solitary and they provided a basis for a worthwhile personal life and for a philosophy upon which to meet all other social problems.
- Anarchism is the negative side, but necessary to keep one from the treadmill of politics.
- Decentralization is needed, of course, so that the above principles might work to best advantage.
- Vegetarianism, which includes no drinking, smoking, gambling or medicine, is necessary to live healthily and to be efficient; otherwise with one hand you are pulling one way and with the other hand you are pulling the other way. Keep well.
- Reincarnation seems a more reasonable theory than the heaven and hell of orthodoxy, although it may be just a deferred heaven that we have to earn.
A while before this I had been called to the tax office and told that I should pay something down on my bill. I replied that I did not intend to pay anything, as per my notice to them. The tax man was a Catholic veteranthought I was a Communist. He said that I would have to go to jail if I did not pay. I told him that I had been there before and was willing to go again.
"Do you think you are right and every one else is wrong?" he asked. "Just about!" was my quick reply. "How could that be?" he queried. "I already have figured it out; it is up to you to figure it out," I replied. "What kind of a country would we have if everyone thought like you?" he asked. "We would have a fine country; no government; no war; no tax man; no police; everyone living according to Christ and the Sermon on the Mount!" was my answer. At this he became angry and said "If you don't like this country why don't you go back to Russia?" "I like this country; it is my country; I want to stay here and fight you fellows who are trying to spoil it," I replied quickly.
At that time I was working for the big produce company so the tax man said he would garnishee $10 of my wages each week to pay for my taxes due. I told him I had quit my job. He wanted to know when, and I told him "just now" in order that he could not garnishee my wages. He wanted to know where I would work tomorrow and I told him that I did not know yet; that God would see that I got work. When I first came to Phoenix I received a letter which had been written to me in Albuquerque from an atheist who had bought a CW from me in 1941. He was in Phoenix and I went to see him the next day, and started to work in a date grove where he lived and worked part time. So my propaganda work for the CW lead directly to a job which I needed just then.
One Sunday I went down the lateral several miles to the Molokon church. About thirty families of this Russian sect live in this vicinity. Not many younger folks were there. The men sat around a table on benches and the women sat in the back of the room on benches. They have no musical instruments but do a lot of singing in Russian. As each one enters the church all present get up and bow. There is a short sermon and all kneel on the floor to pray. When this is finished each man kisses all the other men on the lips and each woman bows before each man and he in a stately manner puts his arm around her and kisses her. Then each woman kisses all of the other women. The preacher here is a farmer who gets no salary. He hears confession but it is not obligatory. Any one can place money on the table for the poor if he likes. They keep the Jewish holidays and do not eat pork or lard. They are pacifists who do not go to war, but they do own land and pay taxes. Many of them are friends with families of Doukhobors in Canada whom I knew when I was there in 1941. Molokon means "milk-drinker" in Russian.
Helen Demoskoff, who had been my interpreter on my visit to the Doukhobors, took part in the burning of homes of patriotic Doukhobors and was given time in Kingston, Ontario prison. In Russia the Doukhobors first burned ikons as a symbol of their escape from the Greek Orthodox Church. Then in 1893 they burned all firearms and weapons publicly as a protest against militarism. Since coming to Canada in 1899 they have burned schoolhouses which mean to them the inculcation of militaristic principles. The government took over the community property and turned it over to the patriotic Doukhobors while the radicals were in prison protesting the war. This seemed a desecration, for these "bad" Doukhobors now ate meat, drank and smoked and defiled the homes formerly unused to such evil practices. The radicals called on their patriotic brethren to repent; gave them notice they would burn these houses down; and then for good measure burned down their own. Those in the world who still approve war and the A-Bomb have no need to condemn these Doukhobors. Despite what I might call her misguided zeal Helen Demoskoff is a fine woman.
About this time, the Bank of Douglas, in Phoenix, had an ad in the paper telling of old times in Arizona and showing a picture of the I.W.W.'s being deported from Bisbee in 1916. I wrote to Frank Brophy, the President of the bank, asking why he, a parasite, had the audacity to slander good I.W.W.'s. I mentioned the CW and my activity with it. He was not sure about his information on the I.W.W. and he already knew of the CW. We met and became good friends.
"Hennacy, fellows like you remind me of Arnold Winkelreid 600 years ago when, 'in arms the Austrian phalanx stood; a living wall, a human wood... he ran with arms extended wide as if a dearest friend to embrace' and by his brave death made an opening for his followers to rout the tyrants who sought to enslave the Swiss. The only difference today is that your sacrifice is almost useless for you have no followers and Winkelreid had enough to break the Austrian line."
Thus spoke the Old Pioneer, Lin Orme, one of my employers, as I was on my knees in the hot Arizona sun sawing a tree which had fallen in the driveway. He knew that I had quit a good job for this "Life at Hard Labor" that I had sentenced myself to when I chose to work at day jobs. I replied that my work was not that of an organizer but of a Sower to sow the seeds. If people preferred death and payment of taxes for their own destruction that was their lookout.
Mr. Orme had been head of the Parole Board of the State for 14 years and was now President of the huge Water Users Association which furnished water and power to Central Arizona outside the big cities. In 1916 he was a member of the Rotary Club in Phoenix when the I.W.W.'s were driven out of Bisbee. He resigned from the Club in protest over their approval of this outrage, saying, "If they can drive I.W.W.'s out of Bisbee they can drive Ormes out of Phoenix." I had worked for him off and on and now he invited me to live in a three room cottage to the left of his house. It was back from the road and quiet. Only an oil lamp, but there was running water. I got the rent free in order that I would give him first chance on my employment, such as mowing his lawn, chopping wood, cutting weeds, etc. He was not a Catholic, but was a nominal Episcopalean who did not go to church. He was also head of the Old Pioneer Association and appreciated the ideas of Jefferson and his life on the land. His 160 acre farm was rented out to the big company I had first worked for. He knew of my radical ideas and read the CW.
"The bourgeois get the cream for a thousand years. The time will come when there will be a change," spoke my Yugo-Slav fellow worker, quoting his grandfather in Yugoslavia, as we hewed the jungle of offshoots around the date trees.
"And now Tito has given the peasants the land," he continued. "In my home town when the Nazis came to kill the Partisans the village priest pointed in the opposite direction from which they had gone, but the big priests stood always with the land owners and bourgeois."
"Leo, you talk like a Communist," I remarked.
"Maybe in Yugoslavia I be a Communist," he replied, "but not in this country. I hear Bob Minor speak in Phoenix and he gave good talk and I raise my hand and give a ten dollar bill in the collection, and also a ten dollar bill for my friend who has no money with him. But I find the Communists in this country are chickenhearted. I have a friend who talks communism and one day another friend, a Hindu rancher, heard him and said, 'You been in jail?' The answer was 'no'. 'Then you are no Communist; you are a bourgeois,' the Hindu said." Leo was an expert who knew how to place the huge wedge to dislocate the shoot without spoiling the roots. These date shoots were set out according to variety, and were watered twice a week. There were about 800 in all that we removed from the sides of the big date trees and they would sell from $2 to $6 each.
The man who had left when I commenced to work at the date grove had already tied male pollen in each of them from 8 to 16 bunches of potential dates in the female trees. Three male trees furnished all the male pollen needed and some was sold to other growers who lacked pollen. My job for the next month or more was to saw off limbs that were dead or in the way of picking later on, and to tie each bunch to a limb above, with wire, in order that it would not become too heavy and break. I also clipped out every other string of dates—they were now the size of a pea, thus giving the tree strength to make larger dates of those remaining. Although I cut off thousands of "ice picks" I found later when picking dates that there was always a stray one to pierce my hand or arm at an unexpected time. Some of the trees needed a ladder extended 20 feet and others were younger and smaller. The big ones were 28 years old.
Early one spring morning, having no work in the date grove or for the Old Pioneer where I live, I walked down the lateral. I went toward the carrot field of the big company for whom I had worked before the tax man caused me to quit in order not to have my wages garnisheed for my share toward the Bomb. This carrot work was piece work and workers were paid as the crates of carrots were filled, so I would have no trouble with Caesar today. Soon my Basque friend picked me up in his truck. Even then I was late, for scores of Mexican families were singing, laughing and working. Around the holidays and later when I worked for this same company cutting lettuce and broccoli at Deer Valley in the sandy ground on the edge of the desert, I had passed the Navajo village and noticed the brightly colored velvet of the Indians as they tied carrots. A friend who had been in the store at noon noticed that the grocer charged a Navajo more for the same article. I had noticed this practice among grocers in the deep south 25 years ago when Negroes purchased anything.
A mechanical digger went ahead and loosened the carrots. The foreman gave me a "claim," a space three rows wide and thirty steps long. I pulled up the carrots and laid them in a row. I was checked out with four bundles of wire covered with tough paper, which cost 4 cents a bundle and was used to tie 4 to 8 carrots in a bunch, depending upon the size. Larger carrots were put in one crate and medium ones in another. Crooked, broken, small, or deformed carrots were discarded. Farmers came and got them by the truck load for their cattle, free of charge, (truck loads of culls were also hauled away in lettuce, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli fields where I worked. Mormon farmers can make much of this waste and make juice from grapefruit and orange culls and trade all this for apples and other waste products from Utah, the church in Salt Lake City paying the freight. Other people could do the same thing, but it seems that they would rather hold revival meetings and play bingo. I mentioned this idea of using culls to several priests but they were not interested.)
By noon I had five crates full, which netted me $1.04, after paying for my wire. Then because of the heat (which was around 95 and would wilt the carrots) we had three hours for lunch and came back and worked until dark. Here the carrots were of a good size, but the next day there were too many small ones and it was difficult to make time. The Mexican parents bought soda pop and ice cream at 10c for their children without any coaxing. The children played but when they worked they worked fast and got much done. Several families of Anglos were working in the field and there was a continual haranguing on the part of the parents to get their children to work. They made more commotion than the whole field of Mexicans and they were the only ones who cursed their children. In three and a half days I made $8.48 and did not go back to get my last 96c, as I had work the next day at the date grove and on my way home saw that the carrot crew had disbanded. Mexican families with a dozen working could make $30 or more in a day, but for a slow, single man like myself the only value in such work was a deflation of the ego.
Every Monday morning I walked four miles down the road to hoe for a farmer. I noticed the same men in the same cars passing me on their way to town, but never offered to give me a lift. I never met anyone else walking. For a few days I hoed maize for a farmer. I worked with a family from Oklahoma. This farmer was away on a vacation for several Sundays so I got up before daylight and milked his five cows before going to Phoenix to sell CW's near Catholic Churches. For several Saturdays a young Mexican boy and I dug out and sawed tamarind trees that were interfering with nearby buildings. This was for the Old Pioneer.
Much of my time in August was spent in putting paraffined cloth bags over the new large branches of dates. This was so that the June bugs and birds would not destroy them, also in case it rained they would not become wet and spoil. The dates ripen a few at a time. Generally the ones most exposed to the sun ripen first, although a few on the hot inside of the huge bunch would also ripen. The bag was slipped over the top and the whole bunch explored from beneath for ripe dates which were put in a small basket and then emptied into wire trays that were carried three at a time to the date room to be sorted and then placed in cold storage until tourist trade came in November. This date picking began the first day of September. A canvas was placed under the tree to catch the dates that would fall. All over-ripe or mashed dates were supposed to be placed in one corner of the tray to be used for date-butter. However, most pickers threw these mashed dates out of sight in the grass rather than bother with them. Here I was paid 62 1/2 cents an hour, although in most groves pickers were paid so much per pound.
In all of the farm work that I have done this problem comes up. In one lettuce field that I know of the men were paid so much a row to thin the lettuce. The work had to be done over four times as it was not done thoroughly at any time. Most workers if paid by the hour would loaf and soldier on the job. Yet I worked for one farmer who gave me such weedy rows to hoe that I was really paid but 25 cents per hour, although he had promised to pay extra for these bad rows and did not do so. Another time we were paid $1.50 a row, but when more men came the next day for this good wage the boss laughingly said "supply and demand" and cut the rate to a dollar, although the rows were much more difficult. It is necessary to hoe large fields in a short time in order that they can be irrigated again. Thus large crews are necessary to do the work and a foreman cannot watch all of the men all of the time. One employer who paid low wages said it was difficult to get a worker whose mind was concerned with the work all of the time. Did he want both mind and body for $5 a day? Aside from the natural greed of the bourgeois one reason for the importing of Mexican Nationals was the difficulty of getting sober white men by calling for them at daylight at the slave market in Phoenix. With employers passing a "Right to Work" law in Arizona and church authorities refusing to back up labor it would seem that the worker should not worry about the work problems of the boss. I see no solution of this problem under capitalism. At Tempe the other Sunday a very old priest who was visiting asked me to explain this "Right to Work" Bill. I did not know very much about it in detail and as I hesitated the priest said: "Are the bankers for it? If it is good for them then it is no good for me. That's the way to tell about it." We both laughed then for we knew the bankers were for it.
The small farmer seems to have the same vice of greed that the big corporation has as a reason for existence, but without the efficiency of the latter. In September in the midst of date picking I was called to interview my third revenue officer at the Post Office. This man, unlike the other two, who had been courteous, was a go-getter. He wanted to know if I really meant that I would not pay my income tax; that this was a very serious matter. I agreed with him that it was a serious matter to help pay for the war and the Bomb. He felt that I did not do my share in helping the government; that I got all the gravy. I told him that as a Christian Anarchist I had no share in the government, for I did not vote, accept subsidies, pensions, social security or ration benefits from the government, nor call upon the police, believing rather in turning the other cheek. He asked for the names of my employers saying that as long as I lived in his district he would get the tax money. I suggested that he follow me around in my daily hunt for a job and see just how much "gravy" I was getting. He jumped up and said it made him angry to talk to a fellow like me. Unlike the tax man contacted by my friend Caleb Foote, who felt no personal responsibility of right and wrong and compared himself to his desk, this man gave quite a bit of energy to a defense of the war system. (Caleb was head of the FOR in Berkeley California; went to prison as a conscientious objector.) The head tax man here is a Quaker. No one has to be hangman; no one has to be a tax man. The next day I mailed this tax man a letter explaining in detail my ideas and also marked a copy of the CW. In over two months I have not heard from him but the red tape of bureaucracy moves slowly.
In early November, date picking is nearly finished and lettuce harvesting is commencing. I live in the mist of hundreds of acres of lettuce but the big company for whom I previously worked is hiring mostly Mexican Nationals by the week. Until they hire men by the day I can have no work in the lettuce. I took a cotton bus west to the cotton fields on election day. I did not make much: only $1.88, as they quit work to vote at 2 p.m. The next day I missed the cotton bus and walked 11 miles until I found a field in which I could work. I did a little better. Several fellow workers wanted to know how I voted. I told them that I voted every day practicing my ideals against war and the capitalist system which caused war, and did not bother to choose between the rival warmongers who sought to run the country. Each day that week it happened that I got a different cotton truck. The next Monday I disced and harrowed in wheat and alfalfa with a blind mule and a deaf mule for the Old Pioneer (The mules belonged to a neighbor a mile down the road who loaned them to us). The next day I rode 40 miles west, beyond Buckeye, to a cotton field. I was the only white worker among Negroes. Here the cotton was of fine quality and I earned $4.30.
In a few days I learned to pick cotton with both hands and reasonably fast so that by the end of the week I was picking 200 pounds and making $6.00. I bought a 12-foot canvas sack rather than rent one each day for 25 cents. While a sack will hold 100 pounds I found that to put 65 pounds in it was enough to carry up the ladder and dump in the truck. Time went fast in the open air. I walked the two miles to the highway by 6 a.m. and stood with my cotton sack over my shoulders in the dark so the cotton truck would not miss me. In the truck it was chilly, and each of us was wrapped like a mummy in his sack and wobbled like a pin in the bowling alley when the truck swerved corners or hit bumps. In the center of the truck was a dish pan with sticks of wood burning and smoking. If we ever were upset we would all burn before we could get untangled from our cotton-sack-cocoon. By 10 a.m. I had taken off my shirt and coat and tied them around my waist in the fashion in the fields. One morning I thought I was doing fine as I was keeping up with the man next to me. Looking closer I saw that he was doing two rows to my one and did not seem to work any harder. The man who weighed the cotton and who paid us before we emptied it in the truck was paid by the farmer to supervise the work. He received so much per picker also for bringing us to the field. His mother cooked and sold soda pop. One evening as we were riding home we stopped for groceries in Buckeye. Moving on homeward a young Negro was drinking two cans of beer, being kidded meanwhile by an older Negro who was a teetotaler, and who at the same time was eating a pie and a huge ring of sausage. The young Negro remarked that he had a cold, and never seeming to have heard of starving a cold, he had eaten 7 hamburgers, a bowl or chili, 6 soda pops, a bottle of milk, and now this beer. He did not come to work the next day.
The next day I missed this truck and rode 50 miles near Arlington to a desert cotton ranch which employed none but white people. The man next to me in the truck had recently come from California and said that after a strike last year cotton pickers were now receiving $4 and $4.50 a hundred there. There the union allowed all races to belong. In the packing sheds here I am told that no good paying job is given to a Negro or a Mexican. As we passed a church this man said; "These folks are just playing at church, same as lots of unions just play. They don't mean business or we wouldn't be in the fix we all are." Here the cotton was not as easy picking and I only made $4.26. They did not pay by the day but when the truck was full or cotton, so I will have to go that 100 miles again to get my pay. (Later I discovered this is a common trick and that most people never did get their pay.) It is generally 7 p.m. by the time I get home. One effect of this work is the enjoyment of a rest at night.
Working for the big company last year I had to work Sundays when there was work. This year I determined not to work on Sunday but to sell CW's at Phoenix churches. Since I have free rent it does not cost much to live. I make enough to send my daughters, in college, a substantial sum each week, and while this day work takes a lot of extra time running around, the work varies and I enjoy it. One Sunday I went to the suburb of Scottsdale. Here I met Father Rook, who is an admirer of the CW. I had heard of him but had never met him; he is assistant pastor in the nearby college town of Tempe. He says mass at Scottsdale and the Yaqui Indian village of Guadalupe in the desert. He took me there that morning. He showed me the addition to the old church that the Indian had built with their own hands in this hot weather. They had not asked for help from the whites but had taken a second collection at mass for the materials. They had never thought of having a bingo party or raffle and in proportion to their income did much more for their church than did their white brethren in Phoenix.
On another Sunday I was standing in front of a large Mexican church when the priest came out and upon seeing the CW smiled and said that he had met Peter Maurin in Chicago years ago. He told me not to be bashful but to shout my wares. This priest is pro-Franco and not a radical but he likes the CW. That very same morning I was chased from a big Catholic church by the priest who disliked anything that was critical of war and capitalism. When waiting for a bus downtown I stand in front of the bus station of Walgreen's store and shout "Catholic Worker." Many Catholics who are not radical greet me kindly as they like to see something other than the Watchtower of the Jehovah's Witnesses sold on the streets. Radicals from over the country also stop and visit with me.
One evening I attended a meeting in town where some visiting Quakers spoke. They knew Dorothy and were glad to know that CATHOLIC WORKERS were being distributed in this far away part of the country. Many years ago I had read and studied all kinds of Yogi and psychic ideas but for several years I had not had a thought about such subjects. Over thirty-five years ago, in broad daylight, a feeling came to me, on two different occasions, that two certain friends who lived at some distance from me were in trouble; and in my mind I saw that trouble and wrote to them about it. At that very same instant they had felt my thoughts and had written to me about it. At other times I have had friends much closer to me who were in greater trouble and I had no communication or thought about it. While in solitary I had a gradual enlightenment of mind and spirit but nothing spectacular. In Albuquerque the morning after we knew about the Atom Bomb explosion I was impelled to write a few paragraphs about my conception of what an Isleta Indian would think of it. Now, shortly before daylight, about four hours after I had been asleep coming home from that Quaker meeting, I awoke and saw a blue flame burning in the middle of the room. I went to it wondering, for I knew that there had not been a fire in the stove for 12 hours, and this was not near the stove. The fire burned and yet I couldn't see that there was any wood or coal or anything to provide the fuel for the flame. I put my hands in the flame and while it was warm it did not seem to burn or scorch me. I was awed and knelt and prayed silently, shutting my eyes, but keeping my hands in or around this flame. Perhaps this took three minutes and when I opened my eyes the flame was gone. The floor was not a bit scorched although it was warm. I went back to bed and slept for about an hour and then it was daylight. I looked at the spot where I had knelt and there was no mark on the floor where I could tell the exact spot, although I knew about where I had knelt. Before I made any breakfast I sat down and wrote the following blank verse. Bob Ludlow printed it in his CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR magazine. Here it is:
- I have seen the Holy Fire.
- I have seen that great Pillar of Flame reaching heavenward,
- Burning without fuel, smokeless and brightly blue.
- I knelt before it, worshipping.
- For the first time in my life I was devoid of all thought of self,
- Of worry over causes and events,
- Of concern with persons and things.
- I approached this Fire humbly, in reverence;
- I had not known how or when I had cast my clothing aside,
- But unconsciously it seemed I had
- Appeared naked before this Divinity.
- Today I go about my work;
- I write letters to friends and receive letters in return.
- I have a tolerable peace of mind.
- Yet now after having knelt before this Flame
- I know that wars and famines can come and go
- And I shall not be moved.
- I have seen and felt and been a part of this Holy Fire.
- For as I knelt it seemed to envelop me
- Without burning my flesh
- (Or was I in the flesh or in the spirit?)
- Henceforth my faith in the good, the beautiful, the true
- Is strengthened.
- For I have caught some of that Holy Fire.
- That Inner Light has been rekindled.
- For I have seen God.
"Is that all your education amounts to?"
"Better lay up some money; who will take care of you in your old age?"
"You with your crazy ideas; how many followers have you got?"
"You write books that no one will print; and articles that no one reads except fools like yourself; you all spend time converting each other."
"Don't be more Catholic than the Church."
Such are the barbs that come from relatives and friends. To have to argue with Christians that God would take care of those who seek first the Kingdom; to have to try to prove to a priest that Jesus really meant the Sermon on the Mount; to have to tell so-called metaphysical leaders that their Mammon worship was not important and that "all things work together for good to those that love God"—all this might seem superfluous but it is part of being fools for Christ's sake; part of trusting in God rather than in the social security and old age pension of a war-making state; it is part of that "Life at Hard Labor."
Recently I had letters from two anarchists-one a young man who had been a 4F in World War II (a 4F is one excused from military duty because of ill health or deformity.) He now had intellectually made the jump from this position to that of anarchism. The other is an old man much past the four-score-and-ten, who had given up any hope of educating any portion of the masses against the coming war. Both suggested emigrating to some tropical country away from the materialistic world, where a few of us who knew better could cooperate and survive. These two comrades lacked that which I had lacked before finding the spirit of Christ in solitary. Truth is eternal and as Tolstoy says, no sincere effort made in the behalf of Truth is ever lost.
Wells and Toynbee may write of the significance of history; Churchill may boast of his part in contaminating it; and Hutchins may o.k. the bomb with his right hand (whether he approved of the use of the bomb he stayed there while it was being worked out) and issue the Great Books with his left hand—but all this cannot hide the fact that there once lived a man who faced this issue; who refused to be banished to an island where he could not propagandize the truth, but who instead drank the hemlock. This Socrates tells us:
"Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you... O my friend, why do you, who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth? O men of Athens, I say to you do as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whatever you do, know that I shall never alter my ways, not if I have to die many times. I would have you know that if you kill such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you injure me."
I have tramped in all of these United States. As I write I look on the fields of waving grain, the huge cottonwoods that line the laterals, and the jutted stretch of seeming cardboard-like mountains at whose feet live the Pima and Maricopa Indians. In and out of prison I have refused to honor the jingoistic Star Spangled Banner. Truly America the Beautiful means much to me. I refuse to desert this country to those who would bring it to atomic ruin. It is my country as much as it is theirs. Despite Bilbo I think of Jefferson; despite Edgar Guest, Bruce Barton and Dale Carnegie, I think of Walt Whitman, Vachel Lindsay and Edwin Markham. Despite the two warmongering Roosevelts and Wilson, I think of Altgeld, old Bob LaFollette and Debs. Despite the Klan and Legion vigilantes I think of the old-time Wobblies, of Sacco and Vanzetti, and of Berkman and Emma Goldman. Despite the warmongering churches I think of the old-time Quakers who paid no taxes for war and who hid escaped slaves; I think of Jim Connolly and Ben Salmon. Despite the warmongering Lowells and Cabots, I think of William Lloyd Garrison and Henry David Thoreau. It was hard work which built this country. Despite the bourgeois philosophy of the go-getter we worship that machine which now enslaves us. Our military training will not corrupt EVERY youth; a few will appreciate the path of manual labor, economic uncertainty, an absolutist stand against war and against the state whose main business is war.
"You can't cheat an honest man." This saying of the late W. C. Fields was quoted to me by one of my day-to-day employers, in discussing his predicament when he had a building erected by a Phoenix contractor and found that this contractor had not paid $5,000 to sub contractors, so there were liens on his property when he came from the north to live in it. He found some property hidden away by this scoundrel and was able to come out even on the deal. The contractor was a professing Christian. Next time he got a Mormon contractor who was more honest, it happened.
Thinking back over the employers for whom I have worked a sufficient length of time for me to know them; from the Ohio pottery in 1912 where I was told to sort small porcelain fixtures and put the good one in a barrel for shipping and then was scolded because I didn't shovel them in without looking (this was when I belonged to the I.W.W.), to the orchards where I worked in the southwest, where I was told to place the big apples on top and the inferior ones beneath, each trade has snaky tricks peculiar to itself. Leo, the Yugoslav, whom I meet at the date grove, would say that this was all caused by the capitalist system and in a measure he is right, although I have a feeling it will take something more positive than the changing of the system to uproot trickery from both worker and employer. I have worked with but very few "white men" who are honest and efficient workers.
One of my employers who had himself played many tricks—and lost his fortune in a bank failure—told me that the dishonest and greedy man was the easiest to cheat, only you had to be one step ahead of him. An honest man was not looking for easy money. I have had one honest employer. He is not an active church member but he believes that it is foolish to build up a reputation of dishonesty. This is the Old Pioneer. He told of the custom in the old days in Arizona, when in order to secure a homestead the rancher had to produce five witnesses who would swear that he had occupied his claim continuously for the required time to prove it. Most ranchers were away working on the railroad and had no immediate neighbors who ever saw them, so a group of men who were loafers and hangers on around the court would swear for all and sundry who approached—for a monetary consideration. These were called "Affidavit men." And in later years to call a man "An Affidavit Man" was the worse insult. One of the most wealthy men of this valley based his fortune on staking any roustabout to a claim and then gathering in the claim for a few more bottles of liquor, when it had been legally acquired by this fraudulent homesteader.
Broccoli here in Arizona comes as near to looking like a tree among vegetables as you will find. Huge green leaves which, even in this dry country, always seem to be wet. Around Thanksgiving work commences on the broccoli. It is four to five feet high and in between the big leaves the succulent broccoli shoots up. Scores of rubber boots and aprons are in the truck. The morning is cold, so I pick out what seems to be boots which are not for the same foot, and an apron, and so over to the fire to try them on. The frost is now off the leaves and two of us get on each side of the cart and two behind. Each armed with a big knife with which we cut the ripe shoots, which are discerned by their purple color. The right way to do is to keep going straight ahead and not turn around for then you will get wet from the leaves. Hands are cold at first and the feet never really do get warm. There is little stooping as in lettuce and the work is not hard, except for the coldness. By the time the field is covered it is ready to be worked over again, for new shoots come up constantly. As long as the price is good cutting continues often until March. I had broccoli for supper while I worked there. The workers are nearly all local Mexicans and a jolly crew to work with.
The week before Christmas it rained for the first time in months, so I took several days to make copies of my tax statement and write to friends, for there was no work in any of the fields if it rained. Going home one evening from the date grove I was selling CW's while waiting for the bus. I had gone to a corner where I had never sold before. A young man bought a paper and asked if there was a CW group in Phoenix. I replied that there was not and that I was not a Catholic, but sold the paper because I thought it was the most Christian and the most revolutionary one printed. He was not a Catholic either but had met followers of that paper in Oakland, California. He wanted to know if there were any Tolstoians in this vicinity. I told him that I had not found any. He asked if there was not a Tolstoian, an Irishman who had come from New Mexico and who had not paid taxes—he couldn't remember his name. I wondered if the name was Hennacy. "That's the fellow," he exclaimed. It was thus that I met Rik Anderson who was to be my right hand in getting out leaflets in the next few years. He had read the CW and CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR in Civilian Public Service Camp, and had formerly been Socialist organizer in Arizona but was not anarchistically inclined. He invited me to his home to meet his wife and children.
Christmas morning was cloudy but no rain as yet, so I picked the scattered dates on a few palms. Last night upon entering the store I met my colored boss of the cotton truck who asked if I was coming back to work when this rain was over. I told him I would meet him some morning at Lateral 20 as usual. I gave him a copy of the December CW which told of my work with him. From about Dec. 10 to 20 was a busy time with the dates. My job was to pack the processed dates in containers holding a pound and cover them with cellophane kept in place with a rubber band. If packed too far ahead they would dry out. These were shipped in special containers by customers who bought them for friends in the north and east. The best eating dates were those which could not be shipped. They were brought as needed from the cold storage room. The nice dates you pay a good price for in the stores are generally processed with gas and are therefore not so pure as the ones which may appear wrinkled but have been processed with more natural heat.
"Nonsense, you can't 'catch cold' any more than you can 'catch hot'," said my boss at the date grove when informed that a fellow worker had not come to work because he had "caught cold." This boss is a vegetarian and the fine dinners which are my portion each noon I work there are something to write home about.
Several months ago a young man who had been picking fruit all summer in California knocked at my door one evening. He had grown a full beard and I did not know him at first. He had written four letters to President Truman as he had traveled in his work, saying that he was refusing to register and giving his home address as Phoenix. He said that in thinking over the life and death of Gandhi he was ashamed to do anything else than refuse to register, although he had been exempt last time because of heart trouble and would likely be exempted this time if he registered.
The day before, I had visited a young Mexican in the county jail but was not allowed to see him as the only day for friends to call was Wednesday. I sent up a note, candy, and a CW for him. (He had refused to register for the draft.) My bewhiskered friend, Joe Craigmyle, offered to visit him the next Wednesday as I could not leave some special work which I had promised to do on that day for a farmer. Later in the week I saw that Joe had given himself up and was placed in the county jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. The paper referred to him as a "draft evader." I wrote to the paper giving these definitions:
- "Evade—to get away from by artifice; to avoid by dexterity, subterfuge, address or ingenuity."
- "Resist—to stand against; to withstand; to stop; to obstruct; to strive against."
I asked them why they did not call things by their right names, but of course they did not print it. I sent a copy to Joe by mail and in due time he received it. I also sent him a blue-covered copy of the Bhagavad Gita, but the ignorant authorities would not allow him to have it as they thought it was Communist propaganda. The next Wednesday I visited both Joe and the Mexican. The latter liked the CW and said that if he had known he was not alone and that there was a group of Catholics opposed to war he would have stuck. He asked for more "good Catholic papers." A patriot from the draft board came up and asked Joe to register rather than go to jail. He asked him how he would like to have the Russians come over and destroy his church. Joe replied that he was an anarchistic vegetarian and did not belong to any church that had a building so the Russians nor any one else could not destroy his church or the truth which he believed.
After much protest by the pacifists in the southwest Joe was released on $500 bail. He at once put signs on his truck reading: "GOD'S PASSIVE RESISTER TO WAR AND THE DRAFT SENT TO JAIL." and toured the town with his truck. A patriot saw him and called a cop, saying, "Arrest that man!" The cop laughed and replied, "This is a free country; have you never heard of the freedom of the press?"
The Monday after Christmas Joe was to have his trial for refusing to register. As the papers tend to hide or distort the witness which he was making against war we thought it would be a good idea if I picketed the Federal Building during his trial. It was drizzling rain that morning and the wind was blowing so that my 2 1/2-ft. by 3-ft. home-made sign took my two hands to keep it steady. It read:
- "HONOR TO DRAFT RESISTER BEING SENTENCED TODAY"
- "YOUR INCOME TAX FIGHTS THE POOR OF INDONESIA"
Underneath one arm I displayed the current CW. Passersby read the sign to one another and employees in the Federal Building read it from the windows. Half a dozen people stopped and asked questions in a sympathetic manner, some of them youngsters who had never heard of the term Conscientious Objector. To them and to the reporters I gave copies of the CW. The young recruiting officer across the street, out of the rain, came across and read my sign and smiled good naturedly and shook his head, not his fist. What a change from World War I when I was to be shot for refusing to register and for agitating less openly than this! No one openly said a word against my action. One reporter who said he was from an outside-of-the-city paper took my picture. I thought at the time he was from the FBI, and later found this to be true.
The young reporter of the evening paper took half a dozen pictures and questioned me sympathetically about the purpose of my picketing. That night the headline read: "DRAFT RESISTER ADMITS GUILT AS FRIEND PICKETS COURT". Note that Joe was called "resister" instead of "evader." Some of the facts of Joe's history and mine were twisted in the report but the essential quotation as to our purpose was correct. "We are governed by the Sermon on the Mount which tells us to return good for evil. But courts and governments return evil for evil. That's why we would abolish them and let every man be governed by his own conscience."
I should know better at my age than to wisecrack to a reporter, but to his questions about Indonesia, after I had given him a lengthy explanation and he still looked curious, I said I knew that name because I knew how to spell it, but as my friend Byron Bryant says of Bill Ryan and myself "fighting the whole world of pipsqueaks," it does not do to become too serious. The reporter must have understood our emphasis for in describing my work in the vegetable fields he coined the phrase "spiritual independence" as the reason for my vocation. The next day the same paper carried a picture of myself and sign.
The Judge postponed the sentence until the following Monday and asked Joe to speak to the probation officer who was in court. This officer asked him if he knew the man who was picketing outside, and tried to argue with him that there was no such thing as a Christian Anarchist. Joe replied: "Well, Tolstoy and the CATHOLIC WORKER and Hennacy says there is, so it must be so." "Do you want probation?" the officer asked. Joe answered: "If I go to jail to witness against war and then accept probation or parole I would then be witnessing only for my own comfort. Tell the judge to do his part; I have done mine."
My anarchist friend Byron Bryant, home from Stanford for vacation in nearby Wickenburg, came down for the trial. He had registered and was granted Conscientious Objector status. (None of the local pacifists showed up although several of them were ministers who had this Monday off.) Bryant came out with Joe at noon and each carried the sign for a few steps as "token pickets." We went to a cafeteria where Bryant stood treat. Then Joe drove us in his truck with his signs on it, to Tempe where we were fortunate to find Father Rook home and had a pleasant visit with him.
On the next Monday I picketed the court again from 10 to 12. Joe's lawyer, furnished free by the Progressive Party, came out and told me that Joe had received a sentence of one year, so my picketing had not hardened the judge. The paper again quoted the import of my sign as it reported Joe's sentence. Thomas Acosta, the young Mexican who had refused to register but who had afterward been frightened into registering because he knew of no pacifist group, got 6 months. In 1944 the Federal Judge in Santa Fe, N.M„ sentenced Jehovah's Witnesses to 5 years and bemoaned the fact that he could not hang a Mexican who had refused to register.
I gave Joe a copy of Dorothy Day's On Pilgrimage to read in jail. In discussing non-registration with Bryant before this he felt that if one refused to register nothing would come of it, but the picketing had placed the issue dramatically before the people, where otherwise there would have been but a small item about it.
About this time I sent the Collector of Internal Revenue the following letter, which was later printed in the CW.
- I am writing this preliminary statement of my reasons for not paying my income tax ahead of time, as I was recently informed by your office that I would be imprisoned for my constant refusal to pay taxes. Upon my arrest I will give you the correct report of my earnings to date in 1948.
- My belief in the iniquity of government, which exists primarily to wage war, has been stated this last six years in my statement to your department when I refused to pay any tax, and also in articles in the CATHOLIC WORKER. To briefly sum them up again for your possible edification:
- 1. As a Christian anarchist I refuse to support any government, for, first, as a Christian, all government denies the Sermon on the Mount by a return of evil for evil in legislatures, courts, prisons and war. As an anarchist I agree with Jefferson that "that government is best which governs least." Government is founded to perpetuate the exploitation of one class by another. In our case it is the exploitation of the poor by a parasitic owning class living on tariffs, subsidies, rent, interest and profit, and held in power by crooked politicians, subservient clergy, blinded educators and scientists, and a prostituted press, movie industry and radio.
- 2. Jesus said "forgive seventy times seven. " We make retroactive laws and hang our defeated enemies.
- Jesus told His Disciples not to call down from heaven to destroy those who would not listen to His gospel. We have no concern with any gospel but the dollar and with our atom bomb bring fire, not only to destroyed enemies, but to whoever is in the way. Jesus said "Put up thy sword for he that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword." In peace time we draft our boys and prepare for more terrible wars.
- 3. World War III, run by the same Big Brass, will destroy rather than save us. Every country which has depended upon conscription has drawn defeat to itself; a country prospers by justice and not by robbery and force.
- 4. Warmongers tell us that Russia will invade us. We invaded the Indians, Mexicans, Central and South America with our dollar diplomacy, Europe with blockbusters, Japan with the atom bomb. We should talk! Russia wants security. We need not fear Communism for it will fall by its own weight of Bureaucracy and Tyranny of Power.
- 5. In our Civil War no country openly helped either side. In the Spanish Civil War we refused to help the cause of Freedom, but today in China, Greece, and wherever the common people seek freedom we take the side of the Fascists—and do so with hypocritical mutterings of being a "peace-loving nation."
- 6. Capitalism is doomed. It cannot work. With man producing tenfold more at the machine than formerly when free land was available, it is now increasingly impossible for the worker to buy back from what he receives in wages more than a portion of the goods produced. Hence depression or the selling of goods on foreign markets ensues. But there are no markets so we have a Marshall give-away plan to get rid of the surplus. Capitalism is doomed despite erratic efforts of that demagogic Santa Claus in the White House with his bankers and generals bribing quotes with subsidies pensions and false promises. And, as in the days of Wallace, we destroy crops.
- 7. The Remedy is clear, but the trend today is deeper and deeper in the mire of government paternalism and war, and the distraction of the public by radio give-away programs, bingo, witch hunts, and escapist Youth for Christ, World Government, and such delusions. Decentralization of society with each family unit or cooperative group living simply on the land! Self-government and individual responsibility! Mutual credit and free exchange! Freedom instead of government! A realization that you cannot make people good by law and that the Sermon on the Mount surpasses all codes and dogmas!
"Have a cigarette?" said the young driver of the cauliflower cart, as I, was loading the heads chopped off by the men in boots, amid the tall, wet deep green foliage.
"No thanks, I don't smoke," I replied.
"I noticed you didn't shoot craps with us as we were waiting for the frost to get off this cauliflower. You must be that guy I heard the boss tell about that don't get drunk, eat meat, pay taxes for the war, or even go to church." "Say," said he laughing, "just what the hell do you do to get any fun out of life?"
"I'm that guy alright. What the hell else do you do? I replied.
"Oh, I like to read stories," he said, as we reached the end of the row.
"Did you ever think that the one who writes get as much fun out of writing as the one does who reads it? I do writing for my enjoyment. Here's a CW with an article of mine."
Coming to the end of the next row I saw a hat propped up, in the damp irrigation ditch and upon looking closer found that it rested on the tousled head of Big Tony. Then I remembered how he came to a group of Anglos that noon and said "Here's a dollar that you 'can't throw sixes.'" After about half an hour with his own loaded dice—he had every cent from his opponents, so he mockingly tipped his hat and said:
"Thank you gentlemen. Now I'll go to Tolleson and get a bottle."
The good natured Mexican foreman had done Tony's work for him that afternoon.
The next day I was told to work in the dry packing stand at the other end of the field. Here the cart loads were dumped and sorters quickly discarded the small, broken, and discolored heads. They threw the good ones on the table where four packers put them in crates and slid them to the cutter-the crates going over rollers—who with an enormous knife, cut off the tops even with the crate. The man at the end of the slide put on the tops, and several fellows loaded the boxes on the truck. An inspector looked at a crate once in a while and if he found culls he would take them back to the sorters and admonish them to be more careful. My job was to fork the culls away so new cart loads could be emptied. Farmers came and got these culls for their cattle. The mystery which I never did get explained, by boss or workman, was why the packers, who had the easiest job of all with no stooping or even skill of sorting out culls, were paid from $18 to $40 a day and the rest of us got 85 cents an hour. It was a custom for the packer to get more was all the answer I could get. I worked here for three weeks, and as the Indian lives off the country wherever he may be, this vegetarian had the one dish of cauliflower every night for supper. A one-track mind and a one-track stomach. I found a combination of cheese and jelly made good sandwiches for dinner.
Lettuce is the main crop in the part of the valley where I live. The efficient farmer discs, drags, scrapes and floats his land over and over until it is really level. In this southwest everything runs southwest. The field is separated into "lands" about 35 feet wide. Often rye or other green grass is planted and then sheep graze at 4c per head per day. It is irrigated again and again as the sheep graze. Then it is disced and the remaining green and the sheep manure add to the value of the soil. When once water is ordered, it generally takes a day and a night to irrigate a large field. I have irrigated by myself at night in this fresh ground. No matter how careful you may be, the water will tend to furrow in on one side or the other and miss the opposite side. Mormons and Mexicans are the best irrigators. The expert knows just where to put the "checks," extending out like arms from each side to divert the water so that no dry land remains. You may have from two to six lands running at once depending upon the volume of water. First you put a "tarp" of canvas across the ditch, leaning it against sticks and banking it around with dirt making a dam; and generally, further down the ditch, it is well to put a second tarp in case the first one leaks or washes out.
Walking around in this mud to make new checks or to plug up a gopher hole where water is going in the wrong direction, your shins become sore with the rubbing of the boot tops against them. The shift is generally 12 hours at 60 to 70 cents an hour.
After the ground has been soaked, vegetation, which includes the weed seeds, is thus given the chance to grow and then is disced under. When the weather is just right for planting special machines make straight, level beds about 2 feet across, with irrigation runs in between. The lettuce comes up on the very edge of each side of this bed. First come the thinners who generally work by contract and thin out the lettuce to one head every 14 inches. Afterwards it is found that in many places there are two heads or what is called "doubles." These are then thinned. All this is done with a short hoe; handle about 2 feet long. A worker on the end of a long handle tends to get careless and chop anything in sight if the lettuce is small. Later, when the lettuce is bigger, long hoes are used to cut the weeds and grass. The reason hundreds of people have to work at this job is that the weeds have to be removed before the next irrigation, and then you have to wait a few days until the ground is dry. Meanwhile, at daylight or dusk when there is little wind, an airplane dusts the field to kill bugs and worms. Every season some of these dusters are killed and the planes are wrecked. A liquid fertilizer in tanks is emptied gradually in the irrigation water at the intake. The advantage of having a large farm is that at times the run-off water from one field is used on the next field—or in some cases far out in the desert it is saved in reservoirs. Otherwise the water runs back in the lateral and is sold to another farmer.
When a good proportion of the lettuce has solid heads, and especially if the price is high, the long, yellow trailers are at the end of the field. Three men line up on each side of the trailer and two behind it and it is pulled slowly by a small tractor or, if the ground is wet, by a small caterpillar. The tool used to cut the lettuce is about one and one half inches wide, sharp, and curved a bit. The handle is about one and a half feet long. First, you feel the lettuce with your left hand and see if it is hard and, if so, you cut it with the knife in your right hand and throw it with your left hand in the trailer. I generally work on the outside row and, if possible, get the side away from the exhaust, for it would soon give you a headache. This means throwing further but there is less likelihood of there being a collision between human and lettuce heads. At times I have steadily cut lettuce without straightening up for the quarter of a mile row. Generally there are enough immature heads to give you a rest in between. This work pays from 75 cents to a dollar an hour depending upon how many hours you are able to work in the day, for at times there is frost until noon. When there is no frost you can commence at daylight, but when it is hot in the afternoon it is best not to handle the lettuce. If touched when frosty it leaves a black mark on the lettuce. No portal-to-portal pay in this agricultural work as there is, when you enter a mine and pay starts is at the time of entrance. You stand around shivering and waiting on the frost to melt and if it is not too hot you work until dark.
The lettuce is hauled to the packing sheds—two trailers at a time which are in town or in sheds along the tracks. Here the lettuce is wet packed in crushed ice. It is dumped in huge hoppers; one person cuts off the excess leaves or discards unfit heads. Another places paper in the boxes at the head of the belt line. Another keeps him supplied with boxes. One hands the packer the heads and another tops the crate. When the price is high and the crop is coming in heavily, the big money is made in these sheds with overtime. Many make $30 a day. Here the packers get more than the others. The union books are closed and it is difficult for a newcomer to get work in the sheds. If the price remains high the lettuce will be worked over and over again to get all possible good heads of lettuce. We worked half of Christmas. As the saying is here: "When there is work you work night and day, Sunday and Christmas morning." In the midst of the season crews of Filipinos come from California. There are about 45 in a crew. They man a huge combine. As far as I can make out this is the system they use: a crew goes ahead and cuts lettuce in the rows where the combine travels. This combine looked like an airplane. These heads are placed to one side. A truck with empty boxes keeps pace with it on one side, and one on the other to take care of the full crates. Lettuce heads are tossed on the wings of the combine and worked over just as in a dry packing shed. The girl who lines the boxes with paper, the cutters, the sorters, the packer, and the man who nailed the boxes, all ride on the machine.
They sure ate up the field. They had huge lights and worked most of the night if necessary. The only drawback was rain which would bog down the heavy machine. They worked as a crew and each man received a more-or-less equal share of the 55c a crate the owner paid. These workers are very quick and sober and dependable. I know of a case where a Filipino leased land and raised lettuce, hiring men of his own race. Some Anglos grumbled about it and so he built a shed and hired Anglos also. This was dry packing of lettuce in the field. He found that the shippers had to repack most of the crates of lettuce which the Anglos had packed. And in the hoeing, the Filipinos could hoe twice as fast as the Anglos and much better. I will admit I would not speed up the average of the Anglos myself.
One morning the boss told us to get in the closed truck and we would all go to the sheds. I had never been there. I found there was broccoli to pack. We finished all there was in a few hours. Meanwhile, I had heard the conversation of the workers and had picked up a bulletin of the union and found that there was a strike of the shed workers. The fields are not organized. I then looked outside and saw the pickets. The foreman told us he would take us home early for dinner and pick us up and pack lettuce until late that day. I told him that I was not working in the shed that afternoon because I did not want to be a strikebreaker. He said "you are already a strikebreaker." I replied that because I was dumb I did not have to stay dumb. Here the pay was about $1.25 an hour but in the fields where I worked from that time on it was 85c and at times 60 cents.Afterwards they never asked me to work in the sheds, and did not discriminate against me because of my refusal to scab, although the foreman would at times, jokingly refer to me as a strikebreaker. Two I.W.W.'s, one of them a Mormon, also refused the next day to scab. The strike finally lost and the head of the union resigned and started a tavern.
One cold morning about fifty of us were cutting weeds out of the beds of small celery. This was done with a paring knife and was tedious work. Next to me was a fellow who had not been there before. He was sympathetic to the I.W.W., and as the work was slow we had an opportunity to talk. I had not found anyone for a long time who knew the meaning of radical phrases and who even quoted Veblen and Plato. He had never heard of the CW and was glad to know of such a paper. I always had an extra one in my pocket. At noon one of the winos who could not help hearing our conversation asked me what I had been drinking. In my younger days I would have uselessly argued with the man but now I only said "I don't drink." In his mind he was right, for what business did educated people have coming to these fields and talking a lingo which the others did not understand. The foreman and a few of the more sober workers knew that I was doing farm work in order not to have a tax for the bomb taken from my pay. I did not have the time nor the inclination to explain this to every newcomer. So, maybe to this man, I did appear "drunk."
All that season a man was in the crew who, upon hearing the person in the next row say anything would immediately begin mumbling a long line of semi-Biblical babble. This was not meant to be a part of the conversation which he was interrupting for he never looked up as he mumbled but this was just an habitual "aside" on his part. I might say to my partner "I don't eat meat." Immediately this man would mumble: "Meat—now there is all kinds of meat: cow, pig and horse. Then fish is meat and so is chicken. I don't rightly know if an oyster is meat. The Lord said to Peter "Slay and eat; so it must be o.k. Jesus ate fish but what kind of fish did he eat? That is a question. Samson was a strong man and he didn't eat meat. The elephant is the strongest animal and eats grass. Now I eat meat—when I can get it—but I was never really very strong—meat, meat, meat." If he would hear the word whiskey from Provo that would start a long dissertation on that subject with never a period or a comma between the meat and the whiskey.
Now in the fall the 80 acres of lettuce had not matured to full heads because of the unusually hot weather; and the price being low it did not pay to harvest the crop. So the sheep man fenced off any open places along the line with the roll of fine meshed, three feet high wire, rolls of which were a part of his standard equipment. This kept out the dogs and coyotes and kept the sheep inside. Among the several hundred were the two black sheep, (There isn't that proportion of us radicals to the general population of sheep-like followers of authority.) During the day the sheep roamed over the field, always keeping together but running wildly in one direction or another for what would seem like no reason whatever. Toward evening the shepherd brought them towards the windbreak formed by the tall eucalyptus and the spreading china berry and pomegranate foliage near the cottage where I live. The Mexican who herded the sheep had a small tent nearby. He did not speak English, the Old Pioneer, who spoke Spanish, told me. So, in my limited manner, I spoke in Spanish to him of the weather, the sheep, the lettuce, and the few words that I knew in addition to the morning and evening meetings. He replied in Spanish, most of which I could understand, but I was at a loss as to proper verbs to use to carry on the conversation.
In the old days if a sheep was missing no attention was paid unless three were gone, for at a dollar a head sheep were plentiful. Now at around $15, each sheep was accounted for. Yesterday as I was gathering some wood for my stove I noticed the Mexican cutting the hide from a sheep that had died. I asked him the reason but he did not know. So the shepherd is always warm in his tent with sheepskins. Herding is a 24 hour per day job, with sleep to be taken when quiet prevails. The pay is around $140 a month with food, stove and cooking utensils furnished. Some ranchers complained that the herder invites countless relatives for meals, but if the shepherd was a good one this overhead was taken—if not with a smile—for a good one is difficult to find. Basques who settled here many years ago make the best herdsmen. When I lived in the shack of the Molokon across the road last winter, the man who herded the sheep was a married Mexican from Glendale. In the summer the sheep are taken to the mountains near Winslow and Flagstaff. A year ago I worked one night irrigating with a young man who had been cook for a sheepherder in Idaho. Each was paid $175 a month and food. He said it was work for an old man and not for a young fellow who wanted to be in town nights.
The lettuce fields to the north of my cottage had been planted earlier and a fair crop was taken from them. One field to the far south was spoiled by the salt marsh caterpillar. Some say that the DDT used previously had killed the bug that ate the caterpillar eggs, but the DDT did not harm the woolly caterpillar. The big company had imported Mexican Nationals and now did not have work for them every day, but according to contract was obliged to feed them. Of course no local day labor was needed so this meant no lettuce or cauliflower work for me this season.
I like to saw wood. You breath deeply and at times think deeply. During the winter after I had refused to scab I did not have steady work. Ordinarily Mexican men will not chop wood and it is up to the women to do it. The Mexican neighbor women were scabbing at the sheds so had plenty of money and did not feel that they should chop wood, so they asked me to do it. I did it for several days off and on while the men sat by laughing at an Anglo working for them. Some of my pipsqueak friends accuse me of pride but if they could see me chopping this wood they would not see much pride. Although, really I am glad and proud to do useful labor.
It was 24 degrees above at 8 a.m. the other day when I started sawing. Within an hour I had taken off my coat, sweater and shirt, but my feet were cold. This is the work to do in cooler weather. The pungent odor of the wood and the growing pile of cut wood provides a satisfaction of itself. This work is not entirely brawn, for some intelligence is needed to properly judge the grain in splitting chunks of wood. The Old Pioneer has cooked in camps and always provides a wholesome dinner. This wood goes in the kitchen stove of the Old Pioneer. Since I fell and got an ugly gash in my arm last spring I have learned to be careful. A small piece of iron tied to one end of a rope and swung over the outstretched limb, attached to a block and tackle, will pull the limb in the direction desired. Also, learning the proper place to notch a limb is a trick in itself. The Old Pioneer has taught me the value of a bright shovel and a sharp axe.
While doing landscape work for a neighbor the other day I noticed that his small dog was being frightened by nearby children shooting blank cartridges and going through the antics of Wild West thrillers they had seen. My boss of that day had been a salesman most of his life and understood psychology. Instead of telling his boy and girl not to emphasize these shooting escapades he took them downtown and bought them each binoculars in a pretty leather case. It was not long until the other youngsters were waiting in line to look at distant Camelback mountain.
It is March of 1949 and I have sent in my tax report. I did not work Sundays this year. I worked for nineteen different farmers and made $1,569. With free rent and often free meals where I work and with simple one dish vegetarian food my actual living cost has been less than $200. I filled out my report accurately, not wishing to have my non-payment of taxes confused by any other issue. In the space listed "AMOUNT OF TAX DUE" I wrote "not interested." The tax man told me six weeks ago he would have me arrested for continual non-payment of taxes, but would wait until the last minute as he disliked to cause trouble. I told him that he should do his duty; that there was no hard feelings on my part, for he had always treated me courteously. Now with Truman calling for universal conscription and the U. S. winking at Dutch imperialism in Indonesia there is less reason than ever for paying an income tax. If I am arrested I am doing time for a good cause, for, paraphrasing Thoreau, a prison is the only house in a war mad world where a Christian pacifist can abide with honor. If I am left free I will continue to be non-tax payer, sell CW's, and aid my daughters. I win either way.
On March 14th, 1949, I carried signs saying that 75%, of the income tax goes for war and the bomb and that I have refused to pay taxes for seven years. Right away a squad car came up and I was taken to the police station to see Captain Curry.
"Do you know there is an ordinance saying you can't picket?" he asked.
"Do you know there is a Supreme Court that says in the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses that it is o.k. to picket?" I replied.
"You're a smart guy, eh!"
"Sure, it takes a smart guy to deal with the cops," I answered.
"Smart fellows like you; we take you upstairs in jail and give you 30 days for not registering as an ex-convict," he said.
"O.K. take me up. You got me," was my reply.
Not being used to this moral jiu jitsu he said he would have to go upstairs and see the mayor for further instructions. He came back and in a confidential tone said:
"I fixed it up for you. Just go home and rest and don't picket and we won't give you 30 days."
"I don't feel like resting. I feel like picketing. Go ahead and give me 30 days upstairs or arrest me for picketing; whatever you like," was my reply.
"I have to confer with the authorities some more" he said as he left me. Coming back later he said rather glumly, "Alright; smart guy. You know the law, go ahead and picket, but remember if you get in trouble we will pinch you for disturbing the peace."
"I'm not disturbing the peace. I'm disturbing the war" was my rejoinder.
"You will be on your own" the Captain said.
"I've been on my own all my life; I don't need cops to protect me," I answered.
"If you get knocked down we will pinch you for getting knocked down, was his retort.
"You would!" I said, as I went out to my picketing.
After an hour of picketing the same cop who pinched me before came along and said, "You here again!"
"Captain Curry said I could picket," I replied.
"To hell with Captain Curry" was his answer.
"That's a nice way to talk about your boss" I told him. He advanced to me roughly and said that unless I got a written permit from the City Manager he would put me in solitary. There is a time to talk and there is a time to walk, so this was the time to walk. I went with my signs to the City Hall. The Mormon Mayor, Udall, had offices to the right and he was not on good terms with the City Manager Deppe, with offices to the left. I sat in the waiting room or an hour while their secretaries sent notes or phoned back and forth as to the procedure in my case. Between them, this Pilate and Herod finally came forth with the wisdom that I was to write a letter to the City Manager asking permission to picket and in three days I would get an answer. I wrote the letter and said that in three days all the taxes would be paid and picketing would be of no avail; that I was going out at once and deliberately break the law and they could do as they liked. I did so and was not bothered. Soon the papers had a picture of myself and sign, and were joshing the police for arresting me twice and letting me go.
"Hennacy, do you think you can change the world?" said Bert Fireman, a columnist on the Phoenix Gazette.
"No, but I am damn sure it can't change me" was my reply. He put this retort in his column the next day. Since then I have become acquainted with him and although we do not agree on most issues I like him as a man. Since then he has had weekly broadcast on Arizona history and has not hesitated to give the truth about the despoiling of the Indians by the whites and to praise the peaceful Hopi.
Many people called me "Commie" as I picketed. A man asked me who was paying me. I told him "no one." He asked to what organization I belonged and I replied "None." He next wanted to know how many there were who believed as I did. I told him "Dorothy Day, Bub Ludlow and myself; that makes three and maybe there are more. What the hell difference would it make if there were four?" I gave away CW's to those interested.
In Milwaukee I had been on friendly terms with the American Legion leaders. My experience proved that they were men like other men and that it was not impossible for them to understand the radical viewpoint whether they agreed with it or not. Accordingly when the Legion in Phoenix advertised a conference on the problem of Communism I wrote to them saying that I would be outside handing free copies of the CW to those who might be interested. In the letter I reviewed my contact with the Legion in Milwaukee, in public debates with them on the subject of pacifism and anarchism. Drizzling rain all that day did not prevent me from standing with raincoat and umbrella on the sidewalk. The meeting was not open to outsiders. Few men would accept the CW but among those who did were some Negroes and Indians. At the close of the session I went inside and introduced myself to the Commander, an Irish Catholic, and gave him copies of the CW. He was nominally civil but did not discuss the matter.
In Feb. of 1949 the American Legion had the renegade Communists, Ben Gitlow and Elizabeth Bentley speak at a mass meeting in the downtown High School Auditorium. I came early and shouted loudly that I had "The CW, Catholic peace paper; Catholic radical paper" for sale, and I sold fifty. Here I met Frieda Graham, wife of the local Communist leader Morris Graham. She was handing out leaflets telling of the time two years before when the local police beat up Communists for handing out leaflets at a meeting. I spoke with her at length and found her to be that sincere, intelligent and courageous type which is a credit to any movement. I had met her husband before, when I picketed the Freedom Train. He felt that after we had the Dictatorship of the Proletariat then would be the time for anarchism. He knew my idea that the state would never wither away. This evening I listened to Gitlow bellow forth the terrible danger of The Communist Manifesto (written in 1847 and to be read in any library). Miss Bentley was more demure in her accusations about Communists, but it was plain that neither speaker presented any trace of idealism. The $300 which it is said each received was wasted money on the part of the Legion, for they could not convince any of the danger who did not already believe in the Red Menace, and who were not already entangled in the Red Network.
The one event for which I am ashamed and which received its punishment in advance occurred when a chance acquaintance gave me a card inviting me to a secret meeting held in a lodge hall by Gerald L. K. Smith. That night I was at Rik and Ginny's for supper. I was ashamed to admit that I would go to hear such a demagogue, so instead of frankly admitting it I said during the meal that I had to leave early, but hid my reason from my very good friends. My stomach was a better guide than my conscience, for when the meal was nearly finished I excused myself and went to the bathroom and vomited. I was not sick either before or after, and wondered at the time why this had happened. When next I met Rik and Ginny I told them that I had deceived them and how I couldn't "stomach" the rabble rouser. I listened with distaste to Smith's Jew-baiting and hate-mongering, and when the meeting was over I told him that I disagreed with everything that he had said. I asked his opinion on war. He said that he and his office manager both opposed this certain war (World War II) but that he was not a "philosophical pacifist." His mockery of religion by using the word Christian over and over again to bolster his hatred was sickening. No wonder my stomach couldn't take it.
President Truman announced the sale of Opportunity Bonds on May 16, 1949. Rik made some signs for me and I wrote to the City manager saying that I was picketing the Post Office that day and asked for a permit to picket; saying if I did not get one I would picket anyway. I was downtown the Saturday night before and strangely did not have a CW to sell as the papers were late in coming in. I had a few I.W.W. papers, and stood on a street corner trying to sell them when a young policeman came up. He used my pacifist technique against me and won his point. He looked over the wob paper and said with a smile: "I wish you wouldn't sell that paper on my corner." I knew that I had a right to sell the paper on any corner but I would be foolish to argue the point and be in jail on a Monday morning when I had greater worlds to conquer, in my picketing of the Post Office. Accordingly I replied: "I have a right to sell papers on this corner but as you are so nice about it I will go to another corner."
My signs the next Monday read:
And on the reverse side:
On the reverse side:
I gave out CWs and did not have much trouble. The usual calls to go back to Russia and the inquiry of how much the Communists were paying me for my picketing occurred. Many people who had seen me before stopped and asked questions.
During these years several dozen people had refused to pay part or all of their income tax. Ernest Bromley, near Cincinnati, Ohio correlated the publicity on this subject and published the names of those refusing to pay taxes. Most of these were well-meaning Quakers or pacifists who kept their money in banks and had it taken by the tax man. Not being real radicals that was about the best they could do. Others refused once and then decided it was too much trouble to continue the effort. Others earned less than the $600 and so did not have to pay any tax.
Later in the spring Peter Maurin, the founder of the CW, died. I had met him a few times in Milwaukee, but had not seen him since I had been in the southwest. He is the other great man, besides Alexander Berkman whom I have known personally. He was that rare combination; a hard worker and a brilliant thinker and writer. He was the most "detached" person I have known. He did not at all care for material things but woe to the person who tried to trifle with ideas around him; he would put across his "point" no matter what happened.
The same week my old friend Larry Heaney died. He was at that time on a farm west of St. Louis with Marty Paul. In the old days of the Milwaukee CW there was a drunk by the name of "One Round Baker" who had been a prize fighter of sorts. He delighted in picking out a new cop and spitting on his shoes and before the cop could strike him he would knock the cop down. He always was locked up in jail but he delighted in the sport of knocking down cops. He would come in the CW House and loudly shout that he would knock down any priest. Larry would take him quietly by the arm and walk him around the block and he would be pacified. No one else could tame him.
I had been a vegetarian since 1910. Along with this idea and with my attendance at Christian Science Church from 1922 to 1934 there had been a skepticism about the need for medicine. In fact I took none during that time nor since. The regular vegetarian papers and societies contained such a collection of freaks and frauds that I was repelled from emphasizing this portion of my belief. But to others who saw me refuse meat three times a day it seemed the most important of my ideas. The HYGIENIC REVIEW edited by Dr. Herbert Shelton of San Antonio, Texas—himself a vegetarian of anarchistic inclinations—seemed the best magazine along these lines. Rest and fasting was all that was needed when a person felt ill. Illness, such as colds and fevers were nature's way of cleansing the system of impurities. A radical druggist friend told me of the immense profit made from vitamin pills and of the obvious patent medicine frauds on the market. As we were sitting on the bus one day he pointed to a beautiful girl nearby and said: "See that unnatural look in her eyes. She has been taking that so-and-so medicine for reducing and it is playing hell with her kidneys." Of all the phony moves the silliest was when Symon Gould, super-professional vegetarian, nominated himself for vice-president and two other men at different presidential elections, for president. He predicted a vote of 3,000,000 for peace, because vegetarians do not kill animals.
In late August Rik and I took a bus to Leupp's Corners, on our way to the Hopi Snake Dance. We had been invited by two Hopi friends. No bus runs to the Hopi so we started hiking the 70 miles to Hopiland. It was a fine clear, morning and although we each carried a medium sized bag, we cheerfully walked northward. After about three miles a woman in a nice car stopped and asked us to get in. She was on vacation too and lived in Baltimore. As Rik and I knew most of what the books said about the Hopi, and as Rik had lived with an aunt for eight years on a reservation where she was a government nurse, our conversation on Indians in general and in particular proved interesting to her. Naturally we told her that our point of contact with the Hopi was the fact that we were conscientious objectors. She was of a liberal mind and seemed to understand what the words meant. Before we reached the Hopi I had given her my current tax statement, a CW and my green card summarizing my tax refusal stand.
Small cornfields appeared bordering in the distance the Washes where water sought its level when it did rain. Red buttes glistened in the sun, and finally the brown mesa of thousand year old Oraibi appeared right before us. From our view we could not see the stone houses which formed the most ancient of settlements on this continent. The brown sandstone homes at the bottom of the cliff which formed New Oraibi were scattered here and there. Patches of corn, beans, melons, and trees of peaches and apricots surrounded them. The whole pueblo was an organic part of the desert, with the exception of the white Mennonite church (with white outhouses that could be seen for twenty miles) Rik worked in an architects office and he shivered at this violation of taste. Both Eric Gill and Frank Lloyd Wright would have squirmed also at this monstrosity. If they had to have a church couldn't they have painted it brown?
Chester was working a few miles away in his cornfield, but another Hopi Conscientious Objector friend welcomed us. He had gone to college and on coming home was given the best paid job an Indian could get in the office of the agent, at nearby Keams Canyon. It took him several years to see that the inefficiency, graft, and favoritism to Indians who would blindly follow the whims of the officials was undermining the old Hopi responsibility and character. When the war came he did not register, and was let out of employment. After several visits by the FBI and other officials he finally got a year in Tucson road camp, and later a three year sentence for his second refusal to register. The constitution says that a person cannot be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb for the same offence, but the constitution means nothing to war mongers.
Upon his release he studied the Hopi traditions given by Dan of the Sun Clan of Hotevilla, Adviser and spiritual leader of the real Hopi. Now he is the interpreter of the traditions of the Hopi—of those who do not take old age pensions or assume the rice-Christian status based on gifts from the whites.
Massau'u, the Hopi name for God who rules the Universe, permitted two men to come to this world from the Underground where they had lived previously. Each was given a stone map upon which were inscriptions. This stone is at Hotevilla under the care of the chief of the Spirit Clan. God first made the sun which gives light and warmth to all living things; then the moon which is covered with a deer skin and gives a dimmer light; then the stars; and lastly the great Bird or Eagle which scours the sky awaiting the devouring of the refuse and offal of the earth.
Among the Hopi the wicked or evil one is said to have two-hearts. We might say a split personality. Symbolically speaking the hard hearts of mankind through the ages piled up and piled up until they formed great glaciers. Likewise the white man, hopping around after money, produces the great hordes of grasshoppers which did not exist before the white man came. The Hopi, like Atlas, hold the world upon their shoulders. Every good deed makes for harmony of nature, not only on this earth but in the universe. Every bad deed makes for storms, drought, earthquakes, wars and misery. Prayers accompanied by eagle feathers and proceeding from one who is not a two-heart can overcome evil. As with Gandhi, all true deeds make towards a build-up that is invincible. In fact one good Hopi can save a pueblo from destruction, which the Hopi have predicted from old time will soon come. The prediction reads that the purification of the world by fire and the destruction of evil-two-hearts will be accomplished by white brothers coming from across the water in what we would call World War III. Somewhere in this turmoil the White Brother who has the replica of the Sacred Stone will appear with it, and when the two are compared and found the same, then peace and brotherhood will begin and a New world with no armies, prisons, government, courts, or Indian Bureaus will cover the earth.
When a bad Hopi dies (and God is judge of what is good or bad—not the Indian Bureau) he still has the feelings of his old time body and its personality, but he cannot be seen by others. From the place where he is buried he can take but four steps a year toward the supiau: the hole in the bottom of the Grand Canyon ninety miles away which is the entrance to the Hopi Underground. Meanwhile he reviews his life of wasted effort, of wickedness, greed or whatever his especial sin may have been. The Good Hopi goes at once to the Underground. When this Third World War has cleaned the world of all two-hearts then the bad Hopi will be judged by "the God of the Hopi" who will push him into a pit of fire if he has not been purified by his four steps a year. Only the feeling body is burned. No soul ever dies. Then all the souls of both good and bad Hopi will be reborn into this new peaceful world. (Babies who die before they are initiated into the clan when 20 days old are at once reincarnated into the same Hopi family.) This Deferred Reincarnation, with its allied Purgatory of four steps a year, and its life in the Underground of the Grand Canyon is a mixture of the tenets of many otherwise dissimilar religious—all of course unknown to the Hopi.
The real Hopi should not live in town and cater after the fleshpots of the white man. He should not strive for big cars, go in debt or be obligated to any one in a manner which would make it difficult for him to be a true Hopi. He should live from day to day with confidence that God will not let him starve, spiritually or physically. He should not send his children to the devil worship of the public school, accept rations or gifts from the government, register for the draft, vote, or pay taxes to the war-making state. Preferably he should work hard with his hands and be ready to live or die at any time for the True Hopi Way of Life—knowing, that perhaps he alone might be left to save the city when destruction comes and he cannot save it or himself when his mind is chasing after the dollar.
The Hopi are different from any other Indian tribe, inasmuch as they do not have a tribal chief who can sell them out to the whites. Chee Dodge, former head of the Navajos for many years, died worth several hundred thousand dollars. Each of the eleven Hopi pueblos is sufficient unto itself. They practice the anarchistic principle of secession whenever a group disagrees. Over twenty clans have chiefs in various villages with authority only in their own clan and village. Thus it is difficult for the government to bribe so many chiefs.
Some years ago the government placed most of the young educated Indians away from the pueblos in a work project for a few weeks. Then they scurried around and put across the Tribal Council idea among the older folks who did not understand what it was all about. But now that the real pacifist Hopi have explained that the Council is a scheme to put over government policies of exploitation under the false front of democracy, only a few government employees belong to it and it is not recognized by Washington as a factor.
Quakers, pacifists, and other well meaning people do not understand this setup, and so have been unwitting aids to the war-making government. Thus the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Quakers called a convention of Indians in Tucson in 1948, led mostly by Quaker Indian Bureau employees of that vicinity, seeking to get cooperation of Indians with the Government. With organizations it is easy to bribe the leaders for oil and uranium leases and other million dollar boondoggling dear to the hearts of Bureaucrats. This year the convention was held in Phoenix under the same auspices. Will Rogers Jr., the Governor of Arizona, the head of the Legion, and other politicians were leaders of the Conference. The real Hopi came down and Dan read the now famous letter to President Truman in which cooperation with the government and its war making Atlantic Pact was denounced.
Last year the Quakers established themselves in the comfortable headquarters of the Government school at New Oraibi. They fraternized with the stooge Hopi and never went near the real Hopi who had behaved like Quakers are supposed to behave: They had gone to prison against war. This year they went to work and got as far as the roof of a recreation house. The Hopi have plenty of recreation in their dances and ceremonies; they do not need outsiders to build houses for them. The real Hopi say the government is just as likely to use it for a jail for recalcitrant Hopis as not.
A meeting was called right after the Snake Dance where the young Quakers, Dan and James and other real Hopi, Rik and myself attended. One of the Hopi explained all this very diplomatically and told how the peaceful Quakers had unwittingly been the means of Hopi who were government stooges putting unethical pressure upon the real Hopi to help in this so-called good work. The Quakers took this criticism gracefully but I doubt if they got its full implication.
One Hopi Conscientious Objector had suggested that I say a few words, so I told them the story of those who asked "Where were thou when thy Lord was crucified?" and the answer, "I was attending a meeting protesting against crucifixion." This was done instead of carrying the cross. In like manner today those who build schools for the devil worship of a war-mad state, and cooperate with the government, are crucifying the true Hopi. (Later I stopped at the Quaker headquarters in Pasadena. They seemed to be aware of this predicament but did not know what to do about it, still having the illusion of the state and being unaware of the history of the early Quakers who paid no taxes to a war-making state.)
Hopi Indian Nation,
March 2, 1950
Honorable John R. Nichols,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington 25, D.C.
- We have received your letter dated February 13, relative to the Navajo–Hopi bill. Mr. Viets Lomahaftewa has kindly referred to us for reply. Accordingly we held a meeting in Shungopovy village at which our highest chief, Talaftewa, of the Bear Clan, was present. We have read your letter carefully and thoughtfully.
- As village advisers of Hotevilla, Shungopovy we speak for our respective head-men and for these villages that are still following the traditional form (self) government.
- You know as well as we do that the whole mankind is faced with the possibility of annihilation as it was done in the lower world because of greed, selfishness, and godlessness. People went after wealth, power and pleasures of life more than the moral and religious principles. Now we have floods, strikes, civil wars, earthquakes, fires and the H Bomb! To the Hopi these are but the smoke signals telling us to set our house in order before our "true white brother" comes. Whom will he punish, a white man or an Indian?
- Because we know these terrible truths and facts we the religious leaders of the Hopi people have been continuously opposing the $90,000,000 long-range program. It will not solve these larger issues for us. It will only destroy our moral and spiritual foundation thereby destroying the peace and prosperity of the whole world. This the traditional law of this land. It cannot be changed because it was planned by the Great Spirit, Massau'u. He has given us these laws and Sacred Stone Tablets which are still in the hands of the proper leaders of Oraibi and Hotevilla villages, Shungopovy holds all the major altars and fetishes, being the mother village and which represents the true Hopi.
- You stated that the $90,000,000 "will be of real assistance to the Hopi people, but it cannot succeed without their understanding and wholehearted cooperation in achieving these desirable goals."
- Yet the Land Claims Commission, we understood, will deduct these "helpful assistances" when and if the Indians file their land claims and win their cases against the government. No, we do not want to be indebted to the United States government at the present time.
- In a letter to Dan Katchongva of Hotevilla you mentioned the fact that, "you stated that the money is not needed by the Hopi Indians, although you admit that the Hopis have been made poor by the reduction of your land and livestock... the reduction of your stock was forced upon you by the severe droughts of the
- Suppose you had spent most of your life working hard to accumulate large stock and land only to have someone come to you and force you to reduce your hard-earned stock and land because of "severe droughts". Wouldn't you too say that you have been made poor?
- How would you like to have someone make laws and plan your life for you from afar? Pass laws without your knowledge, consent and approval? This Navajo–Hopi bill is being passed by the Senate and House of Representatives without our approval and against our will. Therefore whatever happens in the future the Hopi must not be to blame but the government of the United States.
- We are not children but men, able to choose and decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad. We have been able to survive worse droughts and famine in the past. We do not fight drought and famine with money, but by our humble prayers for more rain and forgiveness for our wrongdoings. Our land will bloom again if our souls are right and clean. No, we are not going to sell our birthright for a few pieces of silver such as the $90,000,000. Our land, our resources and our birthright are worth more than all the money the government of the United States may have. We are still a sovereign nation, independent, and possessed of all the powers of self-government of any sovereignty. King of Spain recognized this long ago. Government of Mexico respected it, and it is still recognized by the U. S. Supreme Court. Now why, in the face of all these facts, are we required to file our land claims with the Land Claims Commission in Washington? Why are we required to ask a white man for a land that is already ours? This whole western hemisphere is the homeland of all the Indian. To this fact all Indian people should know.
- Now, by what authority does the government of the United State pass such laws without our knowledge, consent nor approval and try to force us to relinquish our ancient rights to our land? Is it only for money? We do not want money for our land. We want a right to live as we please, as human beings. We want to have a right to worship as we please and have our own land. We don't want to have someone plan our lives for us, issue us rations, social security or other dole. Our plan of life have all been laid out for us long ago by our Great Spirit, Massau'u. This is our traditional pact we must travel now.
- Now if you truly and seriously want to help the Hopi people and honestly want us to understand one another we demand that you come to us who are the religious leaders of the Hopi tribe. This is the only way we can settle any problem. We must come together. The white people seem to be at a loss as to what to do now in the face of the terrible H-Bomb. Why don't you come to the most ancient race who know these things to learn what is to be done? We must meet together so that the common man may have his freedom and security. We want everlasting life; so do you. We are both aware of the fact that we are coming to the same point. To the white man it is a Judgment Day or the Last Days. To the Hopi it is the cleansing of all the wicked forces of the earth so that the common man may have his day.
- The Hopi Tribal Council is being reactivated today but to us religious leaders it is not legal; it does not have the sanction of the traditional head-man. And it is composed of mostly young and educated men who know little or nothing about Hopi traditions. Most of the men supporting it are Indian Service employees, men who have abandoned the traditional path and are after only money, position and self-glory. They do not represent the Hopi people.
- These major issues must be settled by the highest traditional leaders of the Hopi people and the proper leaders in Washington. It is time we get together peacefully and seriously to settle these matters now, If we fail to do this our lives are in very grave danger of being totally destroyed. Because we do not want this to happen to us or to our people we again demand that you come. Should you fail to come we shall be forced to bring this matter before the United Nations which we understand is for the purpose of settling matters of this nature. Our life is at stake so let us meet together.
Hermequaftewa, Blue Bird Clan, Shungopovy
Dan Katchongva, Sun Glan, Hotevilla
Viets Lomahaftewa, Shungopovy
Chester took me in his car the two miles to the top of Old Oraibi. Here I met his relative Don, author of Sun Chief, edited by Simmons of Yale, which I had read several years before in Albuquerque. I had written to Don and he remembered my letter. He spoke English and was an educated, although not an especially pacifist Hopi. He did not need to cooperate with the government, having done well enough by himself by cooperating with Yale. Chester was helping him build a room. Several very beautiful Hopi women graced the doorways as we passed by. The face of the Hopi resembles that of the Hindu rather than the heavier physiognomy of other tribes. Water must be carried to the top of this ancient ruin. I helped Chester attach an oil drum on his car to haul the water to mix the plaster and concrete for his work in helping Don with the room.
Later in the day Dan came over and told me through an interpreter much of the Hopi history. The Hopi do not know the meaning of English radical words yet they have the personal responsibility and the right of secession which are basic principles of anarchism. Thus in 1906 about half of the Hopi in Old Oraibi left to form the pueblo of Hotevilla, seven miles to the northwest. This secession was because they did not wish to cooperate with the government as the others in Old Oraibi did. Today Hotevilla is the chief of all the villages in size and in opposition to the whites. As we left Old Oraibi we saw the village chief have his picture taken by white tourists for pay and selling kachina dolls to them. The real Hopi feel that this is making a monkey of Hopi life and traditions. Coming down again we saw small gardens and orchards in the sheltered places.
Some of those who seceded from Old Oraibi in 1906 wished to go back but they were not welcome so they formed the village of Bacobi to the north of Hotevilla. Today they fly the flag of the conqueror and are subservient. At Moencopi, 40 miles northwest of Hotevilla and two miles east of the Mormon dominated Tuba City, just outside the Hopi reservation, are two villages: upper and lower. The former have cooperated with the government idea of a Tribal Council while those at the bottom have remained true to real Hopi tradition. As the Hopi were never at war with the whites, as were the Navajo and Apache, they were included by the treaty at the close of the Mexican War in 1845, as given citizen rights, ownership of land, and the right to non-interference in their customs and religion. But the U. S. Government has broken this treaty as it has all other Indian agreements. These villages so far outlined speak one dialect and occupy the Third Mesa and beyond, westward. (This reminds me of Thoreau, who was asked on his death-bed by an orthodox relative if he had made his peace with God. His reply was characteristic of his whole life: "I never quarrelled with Him.")
The Second Mesa is ten or more miles eastward. Here is where we attended the Snake Dance at Mishongnovi, situated on a Mesa towering 400 feet over the valley below. Here the sun is greeted in early morning. Shongopovi and Shipolovi are the other villages here. In each of these villages are many of the true Hopi who have not succumbed to old age pensions and government bribes. They often speak a different dialect derived from the Tewa Indians who came from the southwest after the Great Rebellion of 1680, at the foot of the mesa. According to Hopi custom when any people come and ask to live among them they are asked what especial prayers or abilities they have to give to the Hopi. The Tewa said they would stay there and "protect" the Hopi from invaders. There are no battles on record but the Tewa were good naturedly allowed to remain.
The First Mesa is further east and a little to the north toward the shadow of the Indian Bureau at Keams Canyon. Real Hopi look upon these pueblos as an outpost of Hopiland and hardly a part of it, for they have intermarried with Navajo, Mexicans and whites, have commercialized their Snake Dance, and have taken on the vices of the white man along with his watered-down religion. (The Mormons, Mennonite and for part of the money for the Hopi. Of course they represented only themselves. The real Hopi will not lease oil or uranium lands to the government or apply for settlement of land claims. They say the land is theirs without any "claims." They say that while they are poor and work hard they do not want any of this 90 million; that maybe the Indian Bureau is poor; for by the time they bookkeep this money it will have been the main source of income for needy Democrats. The Hopi reservation occupies a spot roughly 37 miles by 100.subvert the Hopi. No Catholic missionaries have been among the Hopi since the Great Rebellion of 1680 when the church was torn down; a result, many say, of the cruelties of the Spaniards when great beams were carried on the shoulders from the distant San Francisco mountains. I saw one of these beams near Don's home in Old Oraibi. Hano and Walpi are the villages of the First Mesa. The post office is called Polacca. Recently when the Bureaucrats were trying to put over their $90,000,000 budget for the Navajo they got the bright idea of getting the rice-Christian Hopi Agency interpreter, and some other subservient Mormon Hopi to Washington and have them apply
Our hostess on the road slept in her car under the shade of a tree. About 3 p.m. we went toward the Snake Dance, Chester leading the way in his car. We parked among hundreds of cars at the bottom of the cliff and walked up the cliff this way and that until we reached the narrow area way between the two-storied houses of the village. Here several thousand people were already assembled waiting for the Dance. I could tell a Navajo man or woman here and there among the Hopi. No cameras were allowed. Our friend from Baltimore feared the snakes so asked us to accompany her to a roof-top right across from the leaf bower which held the snakes. She paid 50 cents for each of us. The sun was in our eyes but we had hats so it could have been worse We looked around for the sight of friends: noticed a few of the young Quakers, but could not locate George Reeves and Dave Myers who were supposed to have driven in from San Francisco that day to witness the dance. Likewise we did not see the pretty student nurse from St. Monica's in Phoenix who was returning to her native Hopiland for the dance. We had met her on the bus and gave her a CW and a copy of the letter of the real Hopi to Truman which Rik and I had varityped and mailed for the Hopi.
I will not try to explain all the details of the Snake Dance. If I remember rightly, men and boys of the Antelope Clan danced around the small space in front of us throwing sacred blue cornmeal on a certain spot on the ground and stamping there with one foot. After a few rounds of this dance with a certain chanting, in came the men and boys of the Snake Clan. They were fiercely painted, each symbol meaning some very definite thing to them. Each reached in the brush tent and was handed a snake by the Indian within. This was at once placed lightly in the mouth, about eight inches from its head. With each snake dancer went another dancer with a feathered stick to draw the attention of the snake away from the man who had it in his mouth; although the snake could easily have bitten an ear or cheek. Scientists have examined these snakes after the dance and found them with fangs and with poison; not having been milked out, as some skeptics aver. Several boys roamed around ready to catch the snakes when they were momentarily released, and coiled or glided along the groups to the screams of the audience. Never did a snake get away for these boys grabbed them quickly. I only saw a rattle on one snake, but there may have been rattles on some I did not see. Many were what is called the super-agile and poisonous side-winders and several were bull snakes. They have to catch whatever snakes they can get in the desert. I expect there were 60 snakes in all, and after each dancer had gone around a certain number of times he would take the snake out of his mouth and put it in his hand and get another one, so that each dancer had six or more snakes by the time he finished. One small boy stood at the end of some dancers and an Indian handed him a huge snake nearly as long as he was tall. The boy held it bravely in front of him, very close to the head of the snake. I fancied I saw a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes, but he held on.
Finally a circle was drawn in the sand and marks were made dividing it to four corners. This was done with sacred cornmeal until the whole circle was covered. Then all dancers threw the snakes in this circle and the small boys threw them back if they tried to get outside. They danced around with a certain chant for a time and then each Indian dancer grabbed a handful of snakes and ran—some to the North, some to the East, some to the South and some to the West. Then these snake-brothers of the Hopi would go in these directions and give notice that the Hopi desired rain for their corn and other crops. And woe to the white man who did not bring an umbrella, for soon the rain came. Once a stranger in a new car was caught in a flood that came thus after a Snake Dance and his new car remains yet in the vast middle of Oraibi Wash.
Don tells in his book about the time when he was young and was lying under a tree. A rattle snake came up and touched his foot and then went away. Came again and crawled up to his knee and went away; then up to his cheek and went away. Don tried not to allow fear and he said to the snake, "Dear brother snake; I know I have not been a very good Hopi; but really in my heart I mean well. Please do not hurt me. Look into my heart and see that I am good." The snake came up again and coiled around his neck and kissed his cheek and went away. Don then said a prayer of thanks, for brother snake had looked into his heart and found him good.
I had not seen my daughters since that few minutes around Christmas of 1945. They were now mature enough to understand that conversation with their father was not a sin, so they asked me to meet them around the first of September in San Francisco. I left on the bus from the Snake Dance and met them at the home of my friend Vic Hauser with whom I was staying. Vic is a kind-hearted, rattle-brained, half radical who had read the CW and had written to me. Carmen and Sharon were beautiful and somewhat bashful. They had been attending a meeting of their cult at Mt. Shasta and were going back to Northwestern University to continue their musical education. They knew that I considered their cult simply a scheme for its founders to get easy money out of the uneasy consciences of the rich, by their super-denunciation of radicals and labor leaders. This cult, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, claims to use the blazing sword of God to destroy mortal enemies on earth whenever the time comes. My girls appreciated the emphasis on love and the whole Rosicrucian vegetarian, non-medical discipline which I felt was a cover up for the luxurious life of the avaricious founders of the cult. They figured that my anti-tax and anti-war activity was good enough but hardly in the class of the super-prayers which went forth from the cult. However they were sincere, and the materialism of the cult had not made them mean-minded and hateful. Vic drove us up and down the steep hills and over to Berkeley and we had a picture taken on Delaware Street, in front of the house where my wife and I had lived in 1924–25.
Vic took me to an I.W.W. outdoor meeting where Tom Masterson, a vituperative atheist held forth. Tom introduced me and I presented the CW ideas for nearly an hour. Tom asked me if I was selling the CW and thus started others buying the paper. I spoke over the pacifistic radio station in Berkeley about my anti-tax ideas and my Christian anarchist ideals. I also attended an anarchist meeting and met readers of the CW. Paul Goodman spoke at this meeting and typified the traditional anarchist excuse for doing nothing in his speech. Some of those present asked my opinion so we had it back and forth most of the evening. To hide away instead of openly opposing the war or the government seemed to be the prevailing anarchist attitude. I pointed out that this was not the program of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman. Paul Goodman wrote in an anarchist paper RESISTANCE which I pointed out did everything else but resist. They just talked about it.
Vic knew the Carota's at Aptos and we visited there for a few hours. This exciting young couple had adopted seven babies and had a veritable nursery in their mountain home. I had read about them in the CW, and although they seemed too religious they at least did something more than talk about it.
George Reeves had come to visit me for a few hours in Albuquerque when I worked in the orchard. He was born not far from my home town in Ohio. He shuttled back and forth between gardening and teaching. I had an interesting visit with him and his charming wife. I had corresponded with Max Heinegg, a vegetarian who had quit his job in San Francisco as a commercial photographer at the beginning of the war, as about all the work he did had something to do with war work. He is the first vegetarian per se whom I have known, other than Scott Nearing, who really works. I had heard Nearing speak at Ohio State in 1915; he was my teacher at the Rand School in 1920; and my wife baby-sat his son John, while Nearing debated with Clarence Darrow on the subject Is Life Worth Living? I had met him each year when he came to Milwaukee. He had visited Sharon in Evanston in 1946 and came to see me in Albuquerque later. I do not agree with his emphasis on World Government but admire him as a down-to-earth man.
During the summer I ran out of work to do, so walked south and east along the highway asking each farmer for a job. Finally about eleven o'clock and four miles away a young farmer, James Hussey, a reserve officer, told me I could cut Johnson grass if I liked. After that I worked for him now and then. On Thanksgiving day I carried but one small sandwich thinking that James would invite me for dinner, but he went to his folks for dinner and I had this small amount of food and cold water. I was digging twelve holes in the middle of a hard driveway for the planting of rosebushes. One of the vegetarian arguments is that people eat too much, and that when the belly is full of food there is not much blood left to work the brains in the head. About 4:30 in the afternoon my brains were going on all eight and I evolved the following philosophy which I wrote down when I got home that night:
- "Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as with the ordinary church member. Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier. Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual. Therefore one who has love, courage and wisdom is one in a million who moves the world, as with Jesus, Buddha and Ghandi."
My friend Helen Ford printed this on a card for me for Christmas. Later I raised the ante from a million to a billion. Nearly all of my philosophy is a rehash of what I have gained from Jesus, Tolstoy, and Ghandi. But this once it seems that an original thought got through. Looking back over great radicals I think that Debs showed great love and courage, but all Berger or Hillquit had to do was to say, "Sign here, Gene, it's for the cause," and Debs showed his lack of wisdom by signing. Any amount of radicals, including myself, have great courage and a fair amount of wisdom, but are nearly totally lacking in love. Many pacifist leaders have great love and a fair amount of courage but are so gullible when it comes to being stooges for do-good schemes of no-good politicians that it is pitiable. It seems to me that Dorothy Day alone today has the love, courage, and wisdom of which I speak.
Joe Craigmyle was doing time in the prison at La Tuna, Texas. They told him that the milk from the farm was used for a regular hospital in town. When he accidentally saw a voucher showing that the milk went to the Navy he walked away from the farm. The government is notoriously a liar. Countless times have boys in Civilian Public Service been told that certain work was non military, only to discover later that it was military. The FBI came to see me, asking if Joe was hiding around my place. I told them that he was not here and if he was here I would not tell them. I had given the same answer to FBI men who had twice come to me in the orchard in Albuquerque asking about an anarchist who was in hiding. Joe was caught soon afterward and given extra time for escaping. The judge asked him if he believed in "overthrowing the government by force and violence." Joe answered: "I believe in overthrowing the government without force and violence."
Ginny Anderson has a son Keith by her first marriage. While the conversation around the house between Ginny and Rik and myself was pacifistic, Keith read wild west funnies, carried a toy gun (a gift from relatives) and acted like the ordinary product of our breakfast-food box-top culture. The following conversation occurred the other day:
- Keith—"Mamma, the radio says they are going to practice throwing bombs again. Who throws those terrible bombs that kill people?"
- Ginny—"Governments throw them, my son."
- Keith—"Where do they get the money to make them? Must cost an awful lot!"
- Ginny—"The government takes the tax out of the pay check and people can't help it."
- Keith—"Why do the people allow the government to do this? Why don't they refuse to have money taken from their checks?"
- Ginny—"Fathers and mothers must work to get food. They must have a job."
- Keith—"Does my Daddy help pay taxes for the bomb?"
- Ginny—"No, he doesn't make enough."
- Keith—"Does Uncle help pay for the bomb?"
- Ginny—"No, he does not have steady work. He does not make enough."
- Keith—"Why don't we get in a car and go around and tell people what a bad thing they are doing to pay taxes for the bomb? Maybe they would stop."
- Ginny—"We have to work to get food and if we did that we would get in jail."
- Keith—"They give you food in jail, don't they?"