We began trying on coats, found one that suited us, and he said, “You might as well wear it home.” “Not on your natural!” I said. “Put it in paper or a box.” I didn’t think that coat was for me, for it was fifty dollars if a cent. Picture me with twelve dollars per month and three meals, and a fifty-dollar overcoat!
I went back to Mrs. Bainbridge, and she told me to try the coat on, which I did. Then she said, “David, that coat is for you, but listen, David; that coat is mine. Now I wouldn’t go into a saloon, and I want you to promise me that you will never enter a saloon while you wear it.” I promised, and that coat never went into a saloon, and I wore it for five years. Then I sent it to old Ireland, to my wife’s father, and perhaps he is still wearing it. I often see Mrs. Bainbridge, and she is always the same kind friend, God bless her! I have entry to the Dorcas Room when I need anything to help a man that I’m trying to put on his feet, and that’s often.
DELIVERING TELEPHONE BOOKS
It was coming spring and I was no longer needed at the furnace. I left with a recommendation for six months and a standing invitation from the cook for my meals, and she never went back on me. I don’t know where she is now, but if she reads this book I want her to know that I appreciated all she did for me when I started this new life and I am sure she will be delighted to know that she helped a little.
I got another job delivering telephone books. When you see a poor seedy-looking man delivering these books, give him a kind word, for there’s many a good man at that job to-day hoping for something better. This job was a hard one and you had to hustle to make a dollar a day, but I did not mind the hustling: I was strong, the drink had gone out of me, and I felt good. I was anxious to get a job as porter in some wholesale house, and delivering these books gave me a good chance to ask, and ask I did in nearly every store where I delivered a book. I always got the same reply, “No one wanted.” I stayed at this about three months, and was getting discouraged. It looked as though I’d never get a steady position.
I had only a few more days of work, and was just finishing my deliveries one afternoon. I had Twenty-second Street and North River as my last delivery, which took me into the lumber district and into the office of John McC——. I asked the young man in charge of the office if they wanted a young fellow to work. He asked me what I could do, and I said, “Anything.” Now it’s an old saying, “A man that can do everything can’t do much of anything.”
We went down into the yard and he asked me the different qualities of lumber and their names. I’ll never forget the first question he asked me, which was, “What’s the name of that piece of timber?” I said, “Oak,” and I was right. After testing me on the other piles he asked me if I could measure, and could I tally? I told him I could, and he said, “I’ll give you $9.00. Is that enough?” I said that would do for a starter, and he told me to be on hand at seven o’clock in the morning.