After reaching New York we went to mother’s house and stayed there until we got rooms, which we did in a few days. Mary’s brother got work in a lumberyard. I hunted as usual for a job, praying I wouldn’t get it. I went hustling lumber and worked two days, leaving because it took the skin off my hands. Finally I could not pay the rent, was dispossessed, and then went to live in “Hell’s Kitchen,” in Thirty-ninth Street, where my son was born. Our friends thought the baby would bring Mary and me closer together, as it sometimes does. But what did I care for a baby!
I got work on Jake Sharp’s Twenty-third Street cars, and Mary would bring me my dinner and do everything she could for me. But when drink is the idol—and it was mine—what does one care for love? Nothing. I certainly led Mary a hard life. At last I came home one night and she and the kid were gone. The baby was then two months old, and I never saw him again until he was a boy of nine. I was not sorry at their going. I wasn’t any good in those days. I imagined I was “done dirty,” as they say, but I knew the girl couldn’t do anything else for herself and baby. I sold out the little furniture the rooms contained, got a few dollars, and jumped the town.
I started out with every one’s hand against me and mine against every one’s. I struck Marathon, N. Y., and had quite a time there. I worked in Dumphy’s tannery, got a few weeks’ pay and a few other articles, and jumped out for fear of being arrested. I reached Syracuse and struck a job in McChesney’s lumberyard, at $1.35 per day.
I stayed in Syracuse quite a while and learned a little of the lumber business. I had quite a few adventures while there. I had struck up an acquaintance with a New York boy, and one evening after work we were sitting on the grass in front of one of the hotels, and seeing the patrol wagon passing, I made the remark, “Some poor bum is going to get a ride,” when it pulled up in front of us and we were told to get in. I tried to argue the point with the captain, but it was of no use. We were taken to the station, and the others were sent below while I was kept up for examination. They put me through a light “third degree,” measuring me and noting the color of hair and eyes, size of feet, etc.
Finally they stopped measuring and asking questions, and I waited. I saw my friend come up and go out of the door; he did not take time to bid me good-by. I asked the captain if he was through with me, and he did not know what to say. He apologized, and explained that I had been arrested because I looked like a man that had escaped from Auburn.
I felt rather sorry for the captain, not because I was not the escaped prisoner, but because he was so nervous. I could not leave him without a jolly, so I said, “Captain, if you’ll come up to the corner I’ll treat,” patting my pocket in which I had a few pennies. He thanked me and said, “No.” I met the captain every night taking his men as far as Salina Street, and we always saluted one another.