The Project Gutenberg EBook of Bowery Life, by Chuck Connors

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Title: Bowery Life

Author: Chuck Connors

Release Date: April 24, 2014 [EBook #45476]
Last Updated: March 15, 2018

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Widger from page images generously
provided by the Internet Archive


By Chuck Connors

Mayor Of Chinatown


Richard K. Fox Publishing Company Franklin Square, New York City







$1,000,000 TO SPEND







Chuck Connors, popularly known as the Mayor of Chinatown, is without doubt, one of the best known of the many New York celebrities.

He was the original “Chimmie Fadden,” a character in a series of stories and plays which have proved a gold mine for one enterprising writer on a New York daily. He is picturesque, and if there was such a thing as an American Coster Chuck would be the true type.

He is a philosopher as well as a story teller. He has been a prize fighter, and his appearances on the stage have been successful ones. When he fought, he fought well, as he does everything, and in the days when he was in his prime, and everything went, he put away many a man who was a great deal bigger than he was.

He has learned to read and write during the past few years, and has added those accomplishments to his many others.

“It was a pipe,” he says, “to get next to doin' de act wid a pen an' ink, an' as fur de readin' gag, oh, good night. I wuz Johnny on de spot wid dat. But wot got me goin' was telling de time. On de level, it took me t'ree months before I got next. Wot twisted me up wuz the little hand always sneakin' by de big hand. Say, it was like a race between a thoroughbred an' a piker. But I'm on now, all right.”

No tough boy in Gotham can equal his mannerisms and talk. His is the original tough dialect untouched by education.

Chuck's distinction is attributed in a manner to his style of dress. A blue flannel shirt, a short coat with white pearl buttons, a white tie and a very small hat; that makes the character you read about. In fact, his dress is as famous on the Bowery as himself.

It is in his talk that the remarkable qualities of the man are revealed. Men of all stations in life are held by his wit, his originality, the honest, forcible character of his mind, the uncompromising manner he knows best. The life of the Bowery, “de lane” he calls it, the streets he loves, he could not be torn from.

He is the supreme interpreter of Bowery slang. “De real ting,”

“Ah, forget it,”

“Go in under the table,” and “Oh, good night” are phrases that Chuck invented.

His popularity with the Chinese is remarkable, and his honesty has never been questioned for a moment by anyone.


He has many strong personal and influential friends, who keep in touch with him through correspondence, and among them may be mentioned Sir Henry Irving, the actor, Israel Zangwill, the author; Count Albert De Sichtervelt, of Bulgaria; Sir Thomas Lipton, Chauncey Depew, Admiral Von Dietrich, of the German Navy; Hall Caine, author of “The Eternal City,” and Nat Goodwin, the actor.

He has escorted them and hundreds of others through the Chinese quarters, with which he is more familiar than any other man in that section of the city.

He is a famous character, and in the following pages you will find him at his very best. Read what he says, for it will be interesting, and you will find a lot in it that will give you something to think about.

$1,000,000 TO SPEND

A man who was seeing the sights in Chinatown one night, under Chuck's guidance, said to him as they stood in front of the altar in the Joss house:

“What would you do, Chuck, if you had a million dollars?”

“Nuttin',” replied Chuck, “fer I wouldn't hev to, see?”

I wuz out wid a bloke, showin' him de sites uv de Reservation, an' he asks me wot I'd do if I had a million bones. It nearly took me bre'th away t'inkin' uv it, an' I ain't got over it yet. Dat's a swell bunch uv money fer a guy to hev, an' dat ain't no mistake, either. Every time I t'ink uv it it makes me take a long bre'th, an' if I had it—say, en de level, I don't t'ink I'd ever be able ter get me bre'th at all.

But I guess blokes like Carnegie and Rockerfeller hez got more dan a million—I t'ink dey must hev two millions ennyhow. But if I had dere cush I wouldn't be buildin' no readin' rooms, en libraries, en t'ings like dat. Nixey, dey ain't no good. A guy wot's hungry can't eat de cover off a book, kin he, an' if he's out uv work how is a brown-stone front goin' ter put him next?

Dat's wot I want ter know.

An' besides, wot's de use uv holdin' on ter de coin. Yer can't only spend it wunce, an' w'en yer die, yer can't take it wid yer, kin yer? Dey ain't invented doze kind uv Mother Hubbards wid pockets in 'em yet.

Look et a rich bloke wot's bin workin' like a longshoreman all his life, pilin' up de dough. He's bin so bizzy gittin' it dat he ain't had no time ter hev fun—yer know, take it easy. An' de more he gits, de harder he hez to work—'cause he hez ter watch it fer fear sum odder bloke wot ain't bin so lucky, or ain't worked so hard, will put up er job on him an' trim him—yer know, rob him. And dere yer are.

Dere's nuttin' ter it; furst dey work fer it, den dey watch it, an' den dey die, an' den de surkus begins, fer everybody hez a mitt out ter git er grab ez soon ez de hearse leaves de house. An' de poor, rich bloke goes ter de same kind uv a hole in de ground dat ennybody else doz, an' it's a hundred ter one shot dat erbout half uv de stuff he had ter leave behind is goin' ter buy wine in de swell dumps fer a bunch uv stage Tommies.

Are yer on?

If I had it I wouldn't hev ter watch it, 'cause I'd be blowin' it in so fast dat it wouldn't need watchin', an' dat's no pipe dream.

De furst t'ing I'd do if I had a million would be ter go ter de Waldorf-Astoria an' hire er sweet uv rooms—yer know, er bunch uv dem. Den I'd give er dinner ter all de mob, wot u'd cost er hundred bucks er plate, an' after I'd got dem all paralyzed wid real wine, I'd send dem home in autermobiles. Den I'd go ter de guy at de desk, an' tell him I wuz goin' ter turn in, an' I'd say:

“I want er good, strong bloke ter cum up an' call me at 7 o'clock in de mornin'.”

An' den in de mornin', w'en he'd cum up an' pound on de door, I'd let him hammer his nuckles fer erbout ten minutes, an' den I'd say:

“Git out o' dere, yer Skibboreen harp—I don't hev ter git up.”

I'd hire de parks every Sunday, wid Eyetalian bands ter play “Every Day'll be Sunday By an' By,” an' I'd hev der swellest tallent you'd want ter sit down an' listen ter.

Dancin? Sure. All de workin' fellers could hev der steadies an' twist ter a knockout, an' if a bundle got freckles in her t'roat—you know, got dry, see—I'd hev coon waiters ter bring her a couple uv tubs uv milk so she could drown de freckles out. De fellers could hev everyt'ing en de bill uv fare, 'cept cigarettes—I wouldn't stand fer dem.

I notice dere ain't no statues on de Bowery. Well, dere ought ter be, an' I'd hev statues of Carrie Nation, Dowie an' Dr. Parkhurst put up, an' I'd hev 'em decorated wid crape.

An' I wouldn't hev nobody carryin' de banner, 'cause I'd hev free sleepin' cribs on every block. W'y should a bloke wot's poor hev ter pay fer sleepin' ennyhow?

Me headqua'ters would be de Waldorf, but I would hev a telephone station in Chinatown, so I could git a hot chop suey w'en I wanted it quick. Ev'ry mornin' at 10 o'clock—or near dere—I'd call up me Chat'am Square agent an' tell him ter give cologne ter der gals an' segars an' free lunch ter der gorillas. Ev'ry bloke dat wuz hungry would have a feed bag an w'enever he wanted it. How does dat crab yer?

I'd give out coupons ter all der mob ter go an' get a bath, a shave, a shine, a hair cut, an' a shampoo, so dey would be all polished up like a door knob, waitin' fer yours truly in his autermobile wid de Chinky chaffer.

An' dis gag erbout art galleries. W'y, dat gives me stagnation uv me liver an' I'll pass it up. Dere'd be no art galleries in mine. I'd hev two or t'ree tons uv corn beef an' cabbage an' a hundred blokes wid pitchforks ter shovel it out. If yer want ter git to der gang, give 'em sumthin' ter eat an' not sumthin' ter look at—not on yer tin-type. A bloke w'ot's hungry ain't stuck on listenin' to a long talk by a feller w'ot's just filled in wid everyt'ing, from soup ter pie, an' a ham sandwi'ch is better to him dan a t'ree t'ousan' dollar cromo.

Young Rockerfeller hez a class uv fellers in a Sunday school, an' he slings a few t'ings at 'em, but he don't stake 'em ter nuttin' except chin music, an' I could do dat meself, an' w'en he gives 'em a dinner he makes 'em pay fer dere own grub. No wonder he's got er million dollars—he ought ter own de earth, if he lives long enuff—I mean, if his father does, cause dere's w'ere de cush cums from in dat family, an' it ain't on der level, either, 'cause no bloke ought ter have more dan he kin earn.

Between you an' me dere's strong arm guys in odder places dan de Bowery, only dey work diffrunt. Stow dis in yer nut, cull, an' t'ink it over. Dere's sum good laws in dis country, but dey needs fixin', an' dere just about ez good ez a growler w'ot's full uv holes—de beer runs out an' de froth stays in. See?

I'd have de Board uv Health go round ter every joint an' see dat all de reg'lars is gittin' de right stuff from de guy behin' de fence. I'd cut out de horse show, 'cause de horses git show enuff. I'd give de people a show fer a change, and I guess by de time all dis would be done I wouldn't have enny more uv me million, an' I'd spend me life in bein' happy, wid nuttin' on me mind ter worry me.

Dat's de only way.

De poor bloke is de best after all, fer he kin be a king wid a ten spot, an' he ain't got nuttin' ter lose.

If he gits wet w'en it rains he knows he'll git dry w'en de sun cums out, an' if he's tied up ter a bundle an' has kids, dey couldn't look enny more like him if he had enuff coin ter make Goold look like a piker.


Just listen ter me fer er minnit, will yer, cos dere's a lot on me mind dat I'm goin' ter dump right here. I ain't got no kick cumin' ter nobody but meself, an' w'en it cums to er show down I kin see w'ere de Mayor uv Chinatown didn't even git a run fer his money.

Dat's me.

It ain't no use uv fergit it dis time, cos I can't. Dere's sum t'ings er bloke can't git out uv his nut fer er long time.

Wun uv dem, is w'ere a bundle he is stuck on gives him de merry laugh—yer know, de t'row down, de dinky-dink.

De odder is w'ere he gits up agin a new graft wot looks nice an' easy, but wot cums ez hard ez gittin' er ten-case note out uv er Chinkey idol.

Dere's er mug in dis village wot wears his hair long an' is stuck on his shape. He's wun uv dem guys wot's been gittin' all kinds uv cush out uv de fisical culture graft, an' it cum in so fast dat his flippers got sore countin' de coin.

He ain't satisfied wid gittin' coin dat way, but he t'inks he'll cop sum uv de long green wid de grub racket—start restrants, are yer on?

So he goes out an' hires er few joints an' paints all w'ite on de outside, hires er lot uv bundles ter wait on de tables, an' bunch uv good lookin' dames ter be cashiers an' nail de cush from de blokes w'en dey go out, an' den he's ready.

But he's got er good nut on him, in wun way, fer pickin' out dem gals ter sit on high stools behin' de desk an' give de mugs er smile w'en dey pay up. Dere's a hull lot uv people wot'll fall fer dat kind uv graft, an' dey'll steer fer er joint wot hez er han'some gal in front just like er sailor heads fer de Bowery ez soon ez he gits his liberty an' six months' pay.

Dat's wot a cupple uv red ribbons an' er cupple uv rows uv ivory will do to er bloke, whether he's er kid gittin' $3 er week for carryin' bundles, er a big mug down in Wall street wot kin put his feet on de desk w'enever he feels like it.

Well. I sees wun uv dese joints an' I t'inks dat de next time I feel like puttin' er feed bag on dat I'll give it er try out. I'd been better off if I'd let it go at dat an' stuck ter de Irish turkey—ah, corned beef, ain't yer on?—what Her Nobs hands out reg'lar.

Ennyhow, wun fine dav in I blows an' cops out er seat at wun uv de tables. Pretty soon a gal in er w'ite apron cums erlong an' hands me er bill uv fair.

I turned it inside out lookin' fer er fisical culture stake, but dere wuzn't enny meat on it, an' it wuzn't Friday, neither.

Den I pipes off sum uv de blokes wot wuz bizzy feed-in' dere faces. Gully gee, dey wuz shovelin' in corn an' stuff wot looked like de sawdust wot cums out uv er doll, an' drinkin' milk. On de level, half uv 'em looked like dey wuz croakin' wid do ol' con.

“Ha,” sez I ter de bundle, “ain't ver got nuttin' ter eat in dis joint?”

“Sure,” sez she, “look on de bill uv fair.”

“Dat's fer horses,” sez I. “Gimme sumthin' wot er bloke like me kin eat. Ain't yer got no chop suey, er no spuds?”

“Nix,” sez she.

Well, wot d'yer t'ink uv dat. A feedin' crib widout no spuds. Puttin' in er lunch dere wuz like fightin' er coon in er dark alley at nite—you've got ter shut yer eyes an' take er chance. So I sez to der gal: “Ha, sis, I got two bits in me clothes; bring me enny old t'ing.

“Two bits?” she sez. “Wot's dat?”

“Ah, er quarter,” sez I, an' I flashed me coin so she could see I wuz on de level. So she sets her feet agoin' an' went down de line ter de back where dey dig up dat funny chuck.

Dere I sat, like er mug wot had got in de wrong pew an' wuzn't wise ter wot wuz coinin' off de next move an' t'inkin' dat everybody wuz pipin' me off. But de most uv 'em wuz too busy puttin' away de dried hay an' mattress stuffin' ter pay much attention ter yours truly. While I wuz waitin' I got a good chance ter look eround, an' I saw er cupple uv signs which said dat de bloke wot owned de joint wouldn't make good on a guy's lid or ulster if it wuz copped, unless it wuz locked up in de safe, or sumthin' like dat, an' after I read dem I wuz glad I kept mine on, an' I wuz wishin' I had er string ter it, den it would be er cinch.

Well, pretty soon de bundle dat wuz waitin' on me cum back wid er little tray wid erbout five dishes on it, an' each dish had sumthin' on it—but not much.

“W'ere's de knife?” sez I.

“Wot d'yer want er knife fer?” she sez. “Dere ain't nuttin' ter cut.”

Dat wuz er good wun on me, so I tipped her er wink, grabbed er spoon, an' cut loose.

Good nite!

De first jump out uv de box I got er mout'ful uv stuff dat wuz like oats. I chewed it until I wuz near dead fer er drink, den I give me t'roat er twist—just like de strangle hold—an' got it down.

“Say,” sez I, ter an old bloke wot sat next ter me, “how long does er mug live after he gets er bale uv dis in his sistem, or does he live ter git ez much ez dat down him?”

He handed me er tuff look—it couldn't hev been worse if I wuz wun uv dem strong-arm guys wot wuz after his super—yer know, his watch.

“Ain't yer got no mouth on yer?” sez I. “Or do yer only use it fer eatin' hay?”

“Sir,” sez he. “Wuz yer addressin' me?”

“No,” sez I. “I wuz only speakin' ter yer. I wuz askin' yer about dis funny grub. I ain't used ter it. It's er new graft fer me, an' it kinder hurts me face. Are yer on?”

“It's grate,” he sez. “It saved me life, an' I can't speak too much about it. Six months ago I weighed only 103 pounds, an now I weigh 104.”

“Ez much ez dat?” sez I. “I suppose in erbout six years more you'll weigh 105.”

“Sure,” sez he, “an' mebbe I'll be up ter 106.”


“Well, old pal,” sez I, “why don't yer try my graft. I'll put er feed-bag on yer dat'll make yer look like Jim Jeffries.”

“Ah, indeed,” he sez. “Yer interest me. An' wot may dat be?”

“A big chunk uv corned beef an' cabbage, t'ree times er day, an' erbout sixteen scuttles uv slops at Barney's.”

Say, on de level, I t'ought dere wuz goin' ter er riot, an' I wuz t'inkin' I'd hev ter fite me way ter der door, w'en de old t'rush got w'ite around de gills. I t'ought he wuz goin' ter drop dead w'ere he sat, but he hopped ter his pins like er cricket, an' made er lam fer de frunt door.

I could hear de bell ringin' ter de last round, an' I made er quick finish uv de stuff on de plates, collared de check an' waltzes up ter Miss Handsome, wid er pompydor ez big ez er sofa piller, sittin' on de high stool.

“Here's yer two bits,” sez I, layin' down me coin wid er pain in me heart, fer it wuz like chuckin' it erway.

“T'anks,” sez she, ez she nailed it wid her t'umb an' first finger.

“No t'anks erbout it,” sez I, “but I want ter put yer wise ter sumthin'. Do yer know wot I'm goin' ter do now?”

“No,” sez she.

“Well, I'm goin' out ter er joint w'ere dey has real grub, an' git sumthin' proper to eat. See?”

“Is it ez bad ez dat?” sez she, wid er smile dat would take de buttons off yer vest.

“Worse,” sez I. “So long.”



Some of dese blokes w'at wants ter be fiters gives me a pane in me slats, an' I t'ink dey ought ter be in de surkus, or else wearin' blue and pink wrappers, wid lace around de neck.

If dere's any fite in a guy it's goin' ter cum out just like de measles, or any old t'ing he has in his system.

Look 'em over an' see w'at you t'ink of dem.

An' anudder t'ing. As soon as dey wins a cupple of fites an' gits dere mug in de papers, dey wants ter go on de stage an' look pritty, an' be among de actorines all de time.

How kin a knuckle-pusher be an actor?

Nix, cul, nothin' doin'.

He's either goin' ter be a good actor an' a bum fiter, or a good fiter an' a bum Willie boy w'ere de footlites grow.

I say, if yer got a good graft, stick to it, an' don't try an' butt in on sumbody elses puddin'.

But I wuz talkin' about trainin'.

I ain't never told how we used ter train, an' we didn't wear no fancy bat' robes in de ring in doze days, an' we didn't have no trainin' quarters either, unless yer kin call de back room of a mixed-ale joint trainin' quarters, an' w'en we wanted ter take on weight we got two beef stews, an' w'en we wanted ter take it off we had a t'ree-cent Turkish bat'.

But I'll tell you w'at happened at de Reserwation last nite.

Here's de way it cum off:

“Say, Chuck, I hear you ust to be a prize-fighter,” said a wise guy with one of them bum wise winks.

A prize-fighter? Well, I'll tell yuz I ust to be a fighter, but I don't know if I wuz a prize-fighter. No, I don't t'ink I wuz a prize-fighter, for I'll tell you why. Every time I went into dat graft yuz call prize-fighting de best I got wuz only for de odder fellow.

Say, I'll tell yuz something about de time when yours truly wuz in de graft.

I ust to hang out in a joint in Chinatown. It wuz a gin mill, and de bloke dat run it, he ust to deal in bum booze and dat class of prize-fighters. We ust to call him de manager, see.

Well, dis bloke I'm telling yuz about; de manager? Yes. Well, dis bloke ust to get all de fights for de bunch, see, and he'd pick out one of de bunch and say to him:

“Say, how much do you weigh?”

De nuckle-pusher he'd look at himself in de glass and say:

“Oh, about 180.”

Den dis bloke, de manager, he'd trow his oyster on de nuckle-pusher and say:

“You're too heavy. I want a mug about 118.”

Den he'd go in de back room and he'd weigh up de bunch dat would be sleepin' on de chairs, an' he'd shake de chairs and wake de talent, you know, de nuckle-pushers.

“Aw. w'ot are yer talkin' about? If dere's enny fite in a bloke, it's got to come out, just like de measles.”


Well, he'd say: “How much doz any of yuz mugs weigh?”

Well, dey would all begin stretchin' and gappin', and den some of dem would say, with a gap and another stretch:

“What weight do you want?”

Den de manager he'd say: “I want a 118-pound man.”

“Say, Jim,” one of de bunch asked, “what's de weight?”

De whole bunch jumped to dere feet with: “Say, Jim, I kin do dat.”

“Well, come here. Let me smell your breath.” He'd take a smell and say:

“Go and sit down, you bung-hole.”

Then he'd pick me out and say:

“Ho, Chuck, come here. Kin you make 118?”

“I don't know, manager,” I'd say. Den he'd take me over to de scales and make me get on, and I'd shove de ring up to 135.

“You can make it all rite,” he'd say, an' then he'd horse me over to the Sheeney t'ree-cent baths and leave me dere fer twelve hours wit' nuttin' to eat and nuttin' to drink.

Well, I wuz talkin' to one of de blokes dat wuz bringin' in de soap an' water to me an' in comes de manager hollering murder watch. He comes taring over to me in de swet room an' sez:

“Say, wrot's de matter wit' you?”

“Wot's de matter?” I sez.

De manager sez, “Say, how is yuz goin' to get down to weight talkin' all de time?”

Well, to make a long story short, I sez:

“Manager, I got to talk to make meself believe I'm alive, fur on de level I've been livin' on suspission for de last t'ree weeks, an' now your feedin' me on de extract.”

“Extract of what?” asked de wise guy, showing his crockery wid a gas laugh.

“Oh, extract of suspission, of course,” I sed, an' I gave him a smile dat dazzled his eyes an' put freckles on his neck, an' I waltzed away to de tune of 'I don't care if you never come back.'

Trainin'? Oh, good nite. Dat manager could train a bloke up an' down in a minnit. He could take it off an' put it on so fast dat de scales would keep jumpin' around like a Dago fruit peddler wid his cart upset. Dere ain't no manager like him no more, an' it's a good t'ing fer de nuckle-pushers dere ain't, 'cause de coin would be all goin' one way—an' dat way would be de manager's.



I know dis ain't de rite time ter hand out a New Year's gag, but dis is wun I had in me nut a long w'ile, an' dere's many a time w'en dere ain't nuttin' doin' dat I t'inks uv it. Dis is wun uv doze stories wot's on de level, an' it don't take enny fancy writin', because it just cums itself, like enny t'ing else dat's real.

I wuz standin' on de corner las' New Year's eve, an' de mob wuz cumin' down in droves, like a bunch uv gorillas—lafin', singin', hollerin' an' blowin' dere horns. Everybody had a happy feelin' an' a glad smile, an' dey wuz goin' t'ru de Reservation ez if dey wuz doin' a cake walk wid chow chop suey an' mushrooms fer a prize. Nuttin' wuz botherin' dem, an' dey wuz grabbin' dere bundles an' singin' “W'en Katie an' I Wuz Coinin' T'ru de Rye,” ez if dat wuz all dey had on der minds. Dey didn't care nuttin' fer us blokes, 'cause we are only a side show fer such as dem. An' me standin' dere alone widout a drink in me sistem, an' no wun ter cum along an' say: “Happy New Year, Chuck.”

But, say, old pal, ain't dat alwuz de way? Ain't it a case uv laff an' de world laffs wid yer?

Well, I takes a slow walk down de lane, w'ich wuz like a looney factory wid dat mob pushin' t'ru, an' I wuz feelin' ez if I didn't have a frien' in de world, w'en I meets Peg Dillin wid a can. She wuz goin' ter Barney's fer er pint an' her New Year's bottle. She stops me in front uv Hung Fan Low's store, an' sez: “Hello, Chuck.”

“Hello, Peg,” sez I. “Wot's der word?”

“All ter de bad,” sez she, “all ter de bad.” She begin shufflin' her feet on de sidewalk and changin' de growler from one hand ter de odder. She acted like she had sumthin' on her mind, an' wuz afraid ter let go. I wuz on dat dere wuz sumthin' de matter an' I begin ter scratch me nut an' wuz t'nkin' ter meself, “Will I, or will I not?” Yer know how a bloke feels w'en he sees a gal down-hearted like dat—he don't want ter touch her troubles. But dis wuz a case w'ere I had ter dig in an' find out who wuz who, an' wot wuz wot. So I gets me gall tergedder an' puts me hand on her shoulder, an' sez:

“Say, Peg, on de level—give it ter me straight—wot makes yer look like a dead one? Yer don't want ter be like dat on New Year's eve, or yer won't be ripe w'en de summer cums agin.”

She gives a kind uv little shiver, just ez if she had er kind uv a chill, an' sez:

“Well, I tell yer how it is, Chuck. Poor Kitty Mock Shue is layed flat on her back, an' down an' out wid de gallopin' con, an' de doctor sez she ain't got much time ter fix up de insoorance papers.”

Say, cull, she wuz just like a guy wot had got a wallop on de jaw an' wuz half out. She went inter Barney's an' got her pint, an' w'en she cum out, she sez:

“Chuck, Kitty wants ter see yer about sumthin'. Cum on up ter de house. Mock Shue won't mind—he likes yer ever since he went ter de t'eatre an' saw yer on de stage wid de bunch.” An' so I digs up wid her ter see Kitty.


De room wuzn't no swell joint, an' it wuzn't no Waldorf Astoria dump, but it wuz jes' poor an' plain. Dey had a fine place before de Reformers closed up Mock's t'ree fan-tan joints, an' w'en times wuz good den his luck would run up inter de t'ousands on sum nites. His game wuz known ter be de squarest in Chinatown, an' no wun wuz ever trimmed by him. Chinkey traders and laundrymen from all over de country didn't feel rite w'en dey cum ter New York if dey didn't have a rap at one uv Mock Shue's games. Dem wuz de good days, an' I t'ought uv dem ez I stood in dat little bum room. Doze wuz de days w'en Kitty wuz a belle, an' wore seal-skin saks an' di'monds an' jewelry by der ton, an' dere wuz all kinds uv coin in her kick.

Now it wuz a case of Mock bein' lucky if he could cum ter light on der lan'lord's birthday—yer know, pay de rent.

I looked over at wun end uv der room an' saw er bunk. At de odder end wuz a stove wot had seen better days, an' dere wuz a couple uv pots an' kittels wot Mock cooked his grub in, hangin' on nails. An' nixey fer de bed—if a good healt'y bloke went ter sit on it he would send it ter de floor. On wun side wuz a Joss alter, wid a picture uv Joss hangin' behind it, an' a bunch uv Joss sticks burnin' in front, an' a sweet oil lamp, an' a couple uv tea cups on each side, full uv tea, fer Joss ter drink w'en he wuz t'irsty.

Nobody sez a word. Mock an' his pal, Chin Wee, wuz on de bunk, hittin' de pipe; Lizzie Brennan wuz leanin' agin de end uv de bed an' Big Annie wuz sittin' on er soap box alongside. De room wuz full uv smoke like de Nort' river on a foggy mornin' from de pipe de Chink wuz hittin', an' it smelled like taffy candy a burnin'. You know, dat's de way de hop smells. De floor wuz pritty clean fer a joint like dat, fer Peg wuz after scrubbin' it on account uv de Chinese doctor bein' expected. I went over ter Kitty, an' I sez: “Happy New Year, Kit.”

She looked at me, den shut her eyes, dropped her head on wun side uv de pillow, an' sez:

“It's a Happy New Year fer you, Chuck, but it's tuff on me.” She tried ter wet her lips wid her tongue. Den she looked eround an' sez, agin: “Put yer hand under me back, Chuck, an' lift me up.”

So I lifted her up, an' stuck a bunch uv pillows behind her, an' she brushed her hair back an' looked eround de room.

“Well, Kate, old gal, how are yer feelin'?” sez I, 'cause I had ter say sumthin'—I couldn't be standin' dere like a dead wun.

“Net very good, Chuck,” she sez. “Mock brought up de Chinee doctor an' he give me sumthin'—it's med'cine—it's dere in de stone jug, an' it's got me Head a-reelin'. I t'ink dere must be sumthin' in it dat makes me feel rocky.”

I see she wuz gettin' kind uv nutty—yer know dat Chinky med'cin' is funny stuff—so I tol' Peg ter turn out der beer an' give Kitty a glass ter take der taste uv der med'cin' out uv her t'rottle. So we all had a glass an' I tuk a glass over ter Mock an' asked him ter drink fer Happy New Year, but he sez:

“No, Chuck, I no dlinkee now; too muchee solly; you sabe. Kitty too muchee bimeby die.”

“Not on yer life, Mock,” sez I. “Kitty ain't goin' ter die. She's all ter de good. She looks like er boilermaker goin' ter work.”

“Me no t'ink so, Chuck,” he sez. “She too muchee dlink, an' too muchee smoke opium. Now she makee die.”

“Ah ferget it,” sez I, “she'll be all rite. See, she's laffin'; don't yer see her?”

De odder monk didn't screw his nut wunce w'ile we wuz chinnin'; he kep' rite on cookin' de opium pill over de sweet oil lamp fer anudder smoke, fer he didn't care if de w'ole worl' wuz on de bum, an' he wuz de Commiss'oner uv Char'ties an' got his graft. He lost sight uv us in de last pill he smoked, an' his lamps went out on him. Den Mock went up again de pipe himself an' went over to de foot uv de bed. De two bundles went out, an' I wuz sittin' dere like a tombstone, fiddlin' wid me fingers, an' t'inkin' w'ot a grate time de mob wuz havin'. Mock's pal went out lookin' as if he'd played de dead man's gig wid forty cents in stage money, an' in anudder minnit Mock was stretched out snorin' like a steam engin'. I got kind uv dopey meself, sittin' dere wid nobody ter chin ter, an' I played off inter a snooze. I don't know how long I wuz asleep, but de fi'st t'ing I knows, I woke up wid Kitty shakin' me. I t'ought she had a fit de way she wuz glarin' aroun' de room.

“Listen, Chuck, listen,” an' she grabbed me by der shoul'ers wid a grip like Jeffries.

Dere wuz a mob goin' past in de street singin' dat ol' song, “I Dream't Me Dear Ol' Mudder wuz er Queen.”

“Do yer hear dat, Chuck,” sez she, an' I couldn't say nuttin'. Den she broke out cryin' an' falls back on her piller. Say, on de level, she made me feel kin' uv spongy meself.

“Cheese it, Kit,” sez I. “Don't do dat; ferget it; dis is New Year's Eve.”

“I wish I could be dat way again, out on de street wid de mob, havin' a good time,” she sez, “but I know I'm all in. I've had mine, I guess, an' de finish is almos' here, but listen Chuck,” she sez. Den she reached aroun' under de mattress an' pulled out a little package, an' she begins pullin' off de papers, one sheet after anudder, all de time cryin' as if she wuz never goin' ter stop, an' w'en de las' piece uv paper cum off she flashed er gold ring. She looked at it fer a minnit an' den she sez as she held it up:

“Chuck, do yer see dis? It's me weddin' ring, an' dat's why I keep it so dear. But it's turned agin me like all de worl' has, an' dat's w'y I tol' Peg Dillon ter tell yer ter cum up. De rent is due tomorrer, Chuck, an' we ain't got a nickel, an' we can't make a touch from no one. Yer know w'en yer down yer ain't got no friends.”

On de level, I could feel a wrinkle cum in me heart.

“It's de same ol' sayin', Chuck, w'en yer got it ev'rybody will stick ter yer. I've hocked ev'ryt'ing dat would bring in a dollar, an' dis is de las' t'ing I've got. I kept it ter look at an' ter make me t'ink uv long ago. Take it, yer know what ter do wid it.”

Say, I don't of'en get dripple, but I wuz near it dat time. Yer know dere's some t'ings wot' gits ter a feller, no matter w'ot kind uv clothes he wears. I wouldn't stan' fer her lettin' her last piece uv junk go.

“Soak it away agin, Kitty,” sez I, “an' I'll go out an' give de road a dash, an' if I kin dig up enny uv dem swell cream cakes from uptown, w'ot's down here ter see de sights, yer kin bet yer sweet life dey won't get away dis time from yours truly, an' de lan'lord will git his coin.”

Dere ain't no finish ter dis, but Kitty didn't croak after all.

P. S.—De lan'lord got his rent all rite, an' dere wuzn't no kick cumin' from him.


I wuz uptown wunce w'en I had de time uv me life. Dere's a good many uv de mob around de Reservation wot ain't never been uptown. Dey never travelled an' don't know nuttin'. Yer kin rend t'ings out uv books an' papers but you've got ter see 'em if yer want ter git next rite.

Dat's de only way.

Well, dis is de way dis trip happened.

A bloke wot lives uptown an' knows all erbout it an' who's er kind uv er pal uv mine on account uv me knowin' him so long cum down wun nite an' tips me off dat he wants ter take me an' me gal up to er swell dump w'ere dere's er racket. I wuz afraid dat I would have ter dig up wun uv dose funny suits uv clothes wid er white shirt, but he said nixey, dat it wuz all rite ter go just as I wuz. So I hussies around and digs up Slats—me bundle, yer know—an' off we start.

“Cum on,” sez de swell bloke, “let's take er car.”

“No,” sez I, “let's do de Dan O'Leary—walk, yer know—an' blow in de car far fer er cupple uv mugs uv ale.”

It wuz like goin' ter China fer Slats, fer she always stuck to de block, an' by de time we got ter Fourteenth street she wuz hancin' on ter me right wing like.

I give her a waist hold wot almost took her off her pins. “Dis guy hez got us uptown here an' if yer ain't careful he'll switch an' drop us in an ice wagon an' give us er freeze out. So keep dat kisser uv yours barricaded an' consider yerself stuffed 'til yer git back.”

Just den de bloke we wuz wid handed me er segar dat wuz er beaut. It must hev cost ten cents, enny-how.

Den Slats opened up ag'in.

“Say, Willie,” she sez, “yer ain't got er cigaret, hev yer?”

“Sure,” sez he, an' he hands her er box uv 'em.

Well, she copped de whole bunch an handed him back de empty box.

De bloke looked at me an' I looked at Slats an' she looked at de cigaret's. Wot do yer t'ink uv dat fer gall?

W'en I got er chance I whispered:

“Say, w'ere's de bloke's cigaret's?”

“Wot bloke's cigaret's?” she sez.

“W'y de bloke wot brought us up here.”

Den she gives me de old gaserline smile and sez:

“Ah, fergit it.”

“I won't fergit it, an' wot do ver tink uv dat?” sez I.

“Well, try an' fergit it,” sez she.

Dat took all de asbestos out uv me fer a minnit, so I sez:

“All rite me old bundle, I'll put de kibosh on you w'en we git back ter de Reservation.”

By this time she wuz gittin' kinder used ter de lights, an' I could see she wuz gittin' fresh. So I t'ought dat maybe I'd hev ter hand her wun just ter keep her in her place, w'en we pulled up in frunt uv er big joint.

“Wot dump is dis?” sez Slats.

“Dis is er hotel,” sez he.

Wid dat Slats give me er nudge wid de elbow an' wun uv dem bum winks.

“Whoever heard uv er hotel ez big ez dat?” sez she an' she wouldn't stand fer it fer er minnit.

In de front dere wuz er lot uv swell bundles wid all kinds uv togs on an quarries—yer know di'monds—in dere ears. I wuz takin' dem all in an' Slats wuz pipin' in der frunt winders at der guys wid de feed bags on, w'en de bloke we wuz wid hustled us erlong, but she went back ter git anudder look an' de first t'ing I knew she wuz hollerin':

“Ha, Chuck, Chuck, cum here.”

So I goes back an' dere she wuz wid er laugh on her face dat went from her ears ter her eyebrows, “Say,” she sez, “pipe de clothes dis mug hez got on. Dat's grate, ain't it?”

“Dat's er bell boy,” sez de bloke.

“Bell boy, nix,” she sez. “Under de table fer yours. Wot are yer tryin' ter do, string me? Yer might call him er bell boy, but I don't seen no bells about him. I t'ink he's er ringer.”

Well, we dragged her away before she got pinched, an' den we landed in de place w'ere de racket wuz. We took it all in from plush ter creem cakes, an' we hadn't been dere twenty minuits w'en sum swell mug copped Slats an' took her away from me. But dat didn't faze me, fer I went down to de fence wid sum uv de mob an' got t'rowin' booze inter me sistem an' smokin' dem Hennery Clay butts. After erwhile I sez to meself: “I guess I'll go an' dig up Slats.”

I wuz lookin' fer her so long dat, on de level, I t'ought I'd get nearsighted, an' w'en I got er flash uv her w'ere do yer t'ink she wuz? Over in er corner wid er bloke dat had er lace curtain on his Mulligan—yer know, whiskers on his face.

I tares over to her an' sez:

“Cum on, Sis, dere's er bloke over here wot wants yer ter give him er twist.”

“Tell de bloke ter send over his card,” she sez. “Mebbe I don't know him.”

“His wot?” sez I.

“His card,” sez she. “Yer ain't no boiler-maker. Yer heard wot I sed.”

Ain't it funny de way tarts will fall fer er new graft. Slats wuz rite in line, an' wuz actin' just like doze swell bundles wot give er guy de frozen face w'en dey don't like de way he combs his hair. Take it frum me, cull, it takes er woman ter git next quick. Put 'em enny-where's, an' yer'd t'ink dey'd lived dere all dere lives.

De old bloke pulled out er pair uv gig-lamps an' put 'em on, an' den he give me er grate sizin' up. Den he turned ter Slats, an' sez:

“Who's yer friend?”

Well, dat got me goin', an' I sez: “Me? Why, I'm Chuck Connors, de Mayor uv Chinatown, an' how do yer feel after de shock?”

He wuz goin' ter say sumthin, but I cut him off, an' I told Slats she had ter cum out on de floor an' give me er twist.

“Not on yer tut tut,” she sez. “Yer out uv it.”

“Are ye sore on me because dis mug yer wid hez got er super an' is all dressed up like er flat on de instalment plan?”

“Shove off frum me an' me company,” sez she.

I give her er look, an' bein' strange ter de place, I didn't know wot ter do, so I t'inks de safest t'ing is de best, an' I screws me nut fer de Reservation, leavin' Her Nobs wid old boy Whiskers.

I hit de feathers somew'ere's about 2 o'clock, an' de next mornin' er cupple uv de mob cum up ter tell me dat Slats wuz pinched fer sluggin' two Chinks an' stoppin' er trolley car on de Bowery, an' fer givin' de cop er fight w'en he tried ter take her in.

Dere wuz only wun t'ing fer me ter do, so I takes er walk over ter de Tombs, an' dere I seen her wid er bunch uv de talent in de pen. She looked kind uv rockey. I went over and sez: “Wot's de matter wid yer?”

“Nuttin,” sez she. “Pay me fine an' don't leave me here wid dis bunch.”

“Pay nuttin,” sez I. “I ought ter give yer a wallop in de kisser. I guess yer fergit last nite, don't yer? Yer ought ter git er good thumpin'.”

“I wouldn't kick if I did,” she sez. “But say, Chuck, yer wouldn't hev de heart ter leave me here, would yer, wid dis bunch uv bums?”

Just den wun uv de bundles wot wuz sloughed up dere—wid er peach uv er black eye an' er t'ree-months thirst—butted in wid: “Excuse me, Miss, are yer referin' ter me? Fer if yer are, I want yer ter understand dat I'm none uv yer cheap Chinatown tarts, I ain't.”

“Mebbe yer ain't,” sez Slats, “but yer kin drink all de bum roof paint dey got in Chinatown, an' yer needn't put on enny lugs in dis joint.”

It made me feel kid uv good ter hear Slats hand it back like dat, so I sez: “Cut it out, Sis, an' lissen ter er wise crack. Will yer be nice if I pay yer fine?”

“Will I?” she sez. “Just you put up de dough, an' den watch me do de minuet out uv dat door.” So I went ter de bloke behind de desk, an' sez: “Say, have yer got Slat's name in yer album?”

“Nothin' doin',” sez he.

“Well, hev yer got Kitty McClinchy dere?”

“Sure,” he sez. “Ten dollars.”

So I digs down in me kick an' cums up wid er ten spot.

“De best uv friends must part,” sez I, ez I let go uv it, “an' it don't grow in er mug's pocket like grass in de country. Cum on Slats,” I hollered, an' we heads fer Chinatown. “Uptown may be all rite, but it costs coin ter git wid dat swell push. Are yer goin' ter be good, now?”

She didn't say nuttin' but chucked her arms around me neck, an' dat wuz wort' $10 enny day.

Dat nite we buried de hatchet in four cans ov Barney's Best.



I wuz tellin' a story to a guy about Chinatown and I says to him: “Dere wuz t'ree of us when a chaw butts in.” “What's a chaw?” says he.

“Say, don't you know what a chaw is? He's a mug wid a sponge in his mout' you know; a flannel-mout' bloke. Well, dere wuz t'ree of us when de chaw came in, 'n he bangs his toot'pick on de bar. Toot'pick? Why, dat's de iron hook dey use to handle freight and cases. He bangs his toot'pick on de bar 'n says, 'Line up 'n t'row in.'”

“What's dat? Say, you're a' undertaker.” Dat's 'n invitation on de Reservation. He says, “Line up 'n t'row in.”

So we line up, de t'ree of us, 'n says mixed ale. De boss, he says he'd smoke a ham. Aw, say, forget it. I t'ink dey could ring a peter on a mug as slow as you. Smoke a ham? Why, dat's a torch. Don't you know what a torch is? Well, up in de Tenderloin dey call it a cigar. Peter? Oh, run away Chawley, some bloke'll steal you. Peter? Dat's a drink dey call Mr. Snyder. Say, is you gettin' rats in de nut? Didn't I tell you that a peter is a Mr. Snyder and a Mr. Snyder is a peter, 'n dat's on de dead. Why, it's a knockout, see. Say, do ye t'ink ye kin kid me? You don't know dat a Dago's 'n Italian, 'n a Monk's a Chink. Say, your dead ratty. A Chink, why dat's a Chinee. Well, as I wuz tellin' yer, de boss says he'd smoke a herrin'. De mug behind de fence. Aw, say, you give a pain in de neck.

De mug behind de fence, dat's de barkeep, he twists out four scuttles an' a torch. Say, on de level, ye got me dead leary. What did we tell de mug behind the fence we wanted mixed ale for, ha-? Well, den you ought to know dat a scuttle is a mixed ale, see? De mug behind de fence, he twists out four an' a torch. De chaw he says:

“What do yer want?”

De mug behind de fence he says: “Toity, toity.”

“What,” says de chaw.

“Toity cents,” says de mug behind de fence.

De chaw he counts.

“Wan, two, t'ree, four 'n a torch is foive. Twenty-foive,” he says.

“Toity, ye chaw,” says de mug behind de fence, reaching fer de convincer.

“Toity hell,” says de chaw. “Foive foives is twenty-foive.”

De boss he says: “I smoke ten cent torches ye know.”

“Phat?” says de chaw. “Tin cints fur a cigar? De ye t'ink I'm a good ting?”

De boss, he says: “Well, I wanted a good smoke.”

“Good smoke,” says de chaw, “good smoke, is it ye want?” an' he dives down into his pocket an' brings out his poipe an' terbaccy an' hands it at him.

“Here,” he says, “take me poipe. Tin cints fur a cigar.”


Well, what do yer t'ink of dat? 'N he wouldn't put up d' toity. What happened him? Aw, say, forget it. Dere was a collar outside when he landed. Collar? Say, on d'level, you're stuffed. Collar? Why a collar's a cop. Well, dere was a collar outside when he landed, 'n I t'ought he was goin' t' sneeze him. Say, you may be a dead fly mug in de Tenderloin, but you're a peter here. Sneeze him; what does a cop do when he nails a mug, but sneeze him. But he didn't. What did he do to him? Say, forget it. I bet d' chaw ain't sat down since. Say, I thought dey'd need a rattler to move him. Rattler. You gilly, what do they cart a chaw off in when a collar gets tru beltin' him, generally? A rattler is a patrol; dat's what. Well, I thought dey'd need a rattler to take d' chaw off. D' boss he never turned a hair. He tells us to t'row in wit him, 'n we t'rowed in, an' he lights d' herrin' d' chaw didn't pay for. Say, d' boss is d' levelest bloke on de Reservation. Say, he'd stand at a bar 'n blow his brains out wid yer.

What become of the chaw? Aw, say, what become o' last winter's snow? But I know about a week after dis big harp goes into a Chinese laundry for his wash wid anudder harp named Clancy. De Chink dat ust' own de laundry sold it to another Chink, see. Well, in goes dis big harp. His name was Dugan. He t'rows down de ticket for de laundry. De Chink wuz ironing, an' sed:

“No goodie tickie, just now,” and kept on ironing. “Phat's that you say?”

The Chink after a while said:

“I talk you, tickie no goodie.”

“No good, eh?”

Well you ought to see dem two harps. Dugan looked at Clancy and den at the Chink and said:

“Say, you funny-eyed devil, if you don't give me phat belongs to me—that's me overalls and jumper—be the holy smoke, I'll bate your dirty, yellow puss till there's more wrinkles in it then there's in a washboard, you dirty washie, washie,” and he makes a grab at de Chink. But de Chink jumped out of de way, and grabbed a flat-iron to soak him. Then Clancy, de udder harp, grabbed de Chink be th' neck and soaked him in de features wit his right, and trowed him down, and de two of dem started in soakin' him all over de laundry, when another Chink came out of de back room wit a club. When Dugan seen him he made for him. De Chink seen the size of Dugan, he dropped de club, and grabbed a fist full of wet starch out of a pail and soaked Dugan between de lamps wit it. While Dugan was tryin' to get it out uv his eyes de two Chinks kept on wallopin' him wit de clubs till poor Dugan had to take it on a jump tru de door, and left Clancy to be thrown in a wash tub and drowned wit a half dozen pails of dirty water. Well, say, when Clancy came up out of de laundry his head and kisser wuz all covered wit blue, and he wuz leakin' like a bloke dat had water on de brain. And dere wuz Dugan up de street, tryin' to get de starch out of his lamps wit his fingers. When Clancy spied Dugan, he walked down to him and grabbed him by de arm. Dugan looked up, and thinkin' Clancy wuz de Chink, de way he wuz covered wit blue, wuz just goin' to go at him again, when Clancy yelled: “Hold on there, Dugan, hold on; it's me, Clancy.”

Dugan looked up at him, still trying to get the starch out of his lamps, and every now and then saying: “Say, Clancy, how did you come out?”

“Take it from me, them Chinks are bad blokes te monkey wid.”

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