Idly we glimpse faces that pass us in the procession that meets ours. We pass them and are never the wiser for the struggle and tragedy that may be going on behind their show of brave masks. A man clutching his last dime and wondering whether to spend it for rolls and coffee or coffee and rolls. A business man absorbed and a lady pondering deeply some detail of her dress. A young girl with soft un-massaged chin hurrying to keep a tryst with her “friend,” and country folks, their feet sore on the unaccustomed pavements, glad to be going home soon.
It is such an orderly procession and although they all seem to be walking along forever, there is an order in their going and each is on his way. Each one is free to go to his own place and yet no one is free. No one is free to leave the procession once he gets into it. Once a man is born he’s done for.
Let him veer one iota from that procession and soon there will come rumbling up to the curb a big black Maria and off he’s whisked away from his fellows. Let him but get into the wrong house or take the wrong overcoat or chuck the wrong person under the chin — Pff! Let him forget where the long procession leads and wander about a free spirit and his wanderings will lead him to the madhouse.
I love to be one of the procession that marches forever up and down Market street, such a brave procession.
Where the Centuries Meet
She was a tourist and she had just finished Sing Fat’s. As she passed out of the door she said smugly to her companion — “I don’t see anything so wonderful here.”
I was standing right there and said I: “Madame, if you have been through Sing Fat’s and have failed, to see anything wonderful then you should go home and give yourself the Benet test which is used to test the intelligence of children.” Oh, of course, I didn’t say this so that the lady could hear. The bravest speeches we humans make are never aloud. Then I continued: “Madame, you may travel far in mileage but you will never take anything back to Dingville, Kansas, richer than a souvenir ash tray.”
Why, just to take a trip from Sing Fat’s to the White House is a tremendous journey if one has the perceiving faculty. In Sing Fat’s a bit of old Cloissonne, tiny pieces of enamel on silver, done with infinite pains by hand labor, perhaps centuries ago, grown beautiful with age. In the White House georgette flowers, exquisite things made for the passing minute, a whiff and a whim and off they go. Just in these two there is a meeting of the centuries, Handcraft Days and the Machine Age — B. C. and A. D. — the oldest civilization in the world and the newest.