Warren, 100 Years Ago: Loafers and alchemists
Taken from the pages of the Warren and Barrington Gazette this week in October 1912:
Whatever the matter was with the town Saturday night is still a conundrum. The fact that there had been a ball game in Bristol on Saturday afternoon had nothing to do with it. The town simply broke the leash Saturday night, broke the good record it had been holding the past few weeks and went over. It had held in check so long that there seemed nothing else to do, and away it went like sheep over a wall, in the one, two, three, order until the place down stairs where they keep the weary and unfortunate was full; according to the tell of some of the officers on duty they could have filled it up again. It was an interested crowd that stood about the street on Sunday morning waiting for the JUdge to put in an appearance in order that they might learn the fate of the unfortunates. And when he came, about noon, everything was ready. There had been plenty of time to secure all the assistance that was necessary. Five men were brought before his Honor, all for the same offense, revelling and drunkenness. And in each instance they were given the same sentence, except one, $3.60 and costs. Warren would have rivaled the Bowery on Saturday evening, or at least Main street would have for a time, in fact it was worse; for the vulgarity, the boistrousness and the like were bad. It was not confined to any one class or crowd, but seemed to be sort of a contagion that had struck the crowds. The police force was not to blame and it did its best to quiet things down without making itself conspicuous or laying itself pen to fault or criticism. What took place simply had to come. Men would not move when requested; they would not keep still; and the result was that some had to be taken under cover until dawn. The force had its hands busy from early evening until the wee small hours. Those gathered in were Fred Roy, whom the Judge sentenced for six months, as a common drunkard; Andrew Crepielan, F. Urban and Lucke Rublin, who were captured on Child street for reveling; and Maison who fell into the clutches of the law on Main street for the same offense.
Loafers and alchemists
Somehow or other, there seems to be a lot of able bodied young men drifting about town these days who haven't any visible means of support. They are not in the class called vagrants nor are they in the class that needs to work. Perhaps they have discovered, not the fountain of youth sought by the celebrated Ponce deLeon, but the fountain of perpetual support. We wish they would ante up some of their overtime and come around and show us the trick. For a long time the old set of philosophers, called schoolmen, tried to prove that it was possible to make something out of nothing. And surely by algebraic process it is possible to prove that two equals nothing. But some of this efficient young manhood that is ambling around our streets can (to use a very slang phrase) put it all over schoolmen and algebraists, for they have discovered the secret of apparently living on nothing. Get a hunch on, some of you boys and get out and dig. It is far more honorable in life to work than it is to shirk. If theses "chappies" don't see it now, they will some time. Still if they have discovered that mine of useful information that teaches them to live without it, would they mind getting under cover and out of the way of those who haven't found the secret and still must work, for they are only in the way.
Had it not been for the presence of the police two Italians less would have been the record, and the job would have been the undertaker's instead of that of the Judge of the District Court. The story that John Vitullo told on Saturday morning before the court would have made the public weep with sympathy for his deed of fellow kindness had it not been for the offset given it by that of the police, and who at the time were rather the more responsible parties and better able to narrate the incidents of the affair. A call came in to the station that two men were in an irresponsible condition on Railroad avenue and the police went down. They got there just in time to pull John Vitullo and Simmie Sociel away from the tracks and save them from being ground up by the cars. Simmie had been taking too liberal portions of the ardent spirits. John was not so bad. Both needed assistance, and received it. They were locked up on the charge of drunkenness and disturbance of the peace and dignity of the state. All night they spelt on the cold hard benches, surrounded by cold stone walls and kept fast by iron bars. All night they dreamt of sunny Italy, mayhap of that Naples, some one has said, "See Naples and die"; of Sicily, "It is the Pearl of the Mediterranean." It is strange what thought these dusky sons of that foreign land bestir in some minds. But that is another question. Saturday morning led forth from their dungeon cells, by the chief, they appeared before the stern arm of the law to answer for their misconduct. A familiar saying of their own people was in their minds as they stood awaiting its decree. "Bell, arti parrari picca." Which by the way means, "in the presnece of law, silence is a duty." The charge was read. Now John could understand somewhat, and it befell him to explain to Simmie, why it was that they had thus been deprived of their freedom, made to sleep on hard benches, and called upon to answer for the happy hours of good fellowship just passed. John knew, but he was not to blame, he said. They had been out for a lark and his comrade had taken a little too much of this harsh American wine. He was only helping him home. He had but tasted; he had not taken more than he should have; but poor Simmie had insisted on taking a little more, and just one more; until, well, he was taking him home, and the police they came to help.