I. Boyhood days
II. First steps in crime
III. Into the depths
IV. “Saved by grace”
V. On the up grade
VII. The mission in Chinatown
VIII. Bowery work
IX. Prodigal sons
“Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by.
Men that are good and men that are bad, as good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.”
I have often been asked the question, “Why don’t you write a book?” And I have said, “What is the use? What good will it do?” I have thought about it time and time again, and have come to the conclusion to write a story of my life, the good and the bad, and if the story will be a help, and check some one that’s just going wrong, set him thinking, and point him on the right road, praise God!
I was born in Hudson City, N. J., over forty years ago, when there were not as many houses in that town as there are now. I was born in old Dutch Row, now called Beacon Avenue, in a two-story frame house. In those days there was an Irish Row and a Dutch Row. The Irish lived by themselves, and the Dutch by themselves.
Quite frequently the boys of the two colonies would have a battle royal, and there would be things doing. Sometimes the Dutch would win out, sometimes the Irish, and many’s the time there was a cut head and other bruises. Sometimes a prisoner would be taken, and then we would play Indian with him, and do everything with him except burn him. We were all boys born in America, but if we lived in Dutch Row, why, we had to be Dutch; but if, on the other hand, we happened to live in Irish Row, we had to be Irish. I remember moving one time to Irish Row, and I wondered what would happen when I went to play with the old crowd. They said, “Go and stay with the Irish.” I did not know what to do. I would not fight my old comrades, so I was neutral and fought with neither.
We had a good many ring battles in those days, and many’s the fight we had without gloves, and many’s the black eye I got, and also gave a few. I believe nothing does a boy or girl so much good as lots of play in the open air. I never had a serious sickness in my life except the measles, and that was easy, for I was up before the doctor said I ought to get out of bed. Those were happy days, and little did I think then that I would become the hard man I turned out to be.