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In September a handful of citizens called a mass meeting to discuss measures to prevent a recurrence of such a water famine. The small hall was hardly filled. Several speeches were made, but only one contained practical suggestions and made a reasonable appeal. The others reflected illy concealed bitterness, echoes of political battles, and partisanship. The meeting was a failure although a propertyholders' committee was appointed and a feeble attempt made to form a civic league. The committee inspected the water plant and recommended the construction of two additional reservoirs for the storage of water from easily accessible streams which are now running to waste. Its report also says:
* Water is being sold by the Community A Water Company (private) to some of its large consumers at the rate of 10 cents per thousand gallons. This is paid to a company that furnishes its water by gravity. This price is not unreasonable, as is proven by figures from other towns. If Community A received for its water 10 cents for each thousand gall furnished, it would receive on its duplicate $58,000, while as a matter of fact we are receiving now less than $27,000.
There are now on our borough line 3,026 families paying $6 per year for each family; 133 saloons, paying $6 yearly; 75 beer pumps, paying $6 annually; and there is some water being sold to the breweries by meter at 10 cents per thousand gallons. If the parties using the beer pumps paid at the rate of 10 cents a thousand gallons, as the breweries are paying, then the annual revenue from each beer pump would be about $55, instead of $6, as it is now. We are losing about $4,000 a year on a total of 75 beer pumps used in the town.
The expenses of our water plant are as great as the receipts of the water plant. In other words, we are not receiving any money on the original investment, much less any to set aside to make improvements, and nothing to meet the interest charges on the water plant.
This report was presented to the borough council. It received only partial adoption and stands small show of effecting much improvement in the water supply of the borough.
The average traveler in Community A would be struck by two apparently contradictory facts—the omnipresence of the saloon (about 35 to each of the 5 wards) and the throngs of churchgoers on a Sunday.
Another striking characteristic is the condition of the streets. Only a few of the main streets are paved. The rest are muddy and poorly guttered. Outside of the central portion of the city—especially in the foreign sections-open sewage, tin cans, rubbish, decaying vegetation, manure, and foul odors are frequently encountered.
The sidewalks are broken and uneven, in bad repair, and in some places lacking. Street signs are only partially supplied.
The fire department seems to be quite efficient, but the police force, composed of 4 Lithuanians, 2 Poles, 1 German, 1 Irishman, is far below the standard. Robberies and holdups have at times been so frequent that it was not considered safe for a well-dressed person to walk through the foreign sections after dark. The practice of going armed at nighttime is common among all classes, especially on pay days.
A prominent local criminal lawyer expressed his opinion of the police force as follows:
We have a police force that can't speak English. Within the last few years there have been six unavenged murders in this town. Why, if there were anybody I wanted to get rid of, I'd entice him here, shoot him down in the street, and then go around and say good-by to the police.
During the recent squabble for the possession of the Lithuanian church property it was necessary to bring in the state constabulary.
But after all these detractory observations are made, a fair notion of the community life is not given unless it is added that the reputation it made early as a town whose boom had never collapsed is still maintained. Animation, bustle, enterprise, and happiness abound on all sides. Life in the community may not run on a very high plane, but it is full-blooded and vigorous.
According to the testimony of local justices of the peace and prominent attorneys, it is very rare that a foreign-born person has been convicted of a crime done after premeditation with a larcenous intent. Such crimes, with but few exceptions, have all been committed by the English-speaking races.
Acts of violence, ranging from assault to murder, done under the influence of liquor and in fits of anger or jealousy, are very common among the immigrants. While there are no exact data upon the point, local reputation ranks the races in the following order, as respects the tendency toward offenses of this character: Lithuanians, Polish, South Italians, Slovaks, Ruthenians.
Among the Italians, violence is more often the result of quick temper than intoxication. But for the marked tendency of the Italians to hide and protect their own criminals, this race might very possibly take first rank on the score of criminality. None of the other races in the community show any marked disposition to hide their criminals. At the same time, neither do any of them exhibit much activity in helping the officers of justice to run down fugitive criminals.
The only well-defined criminal peculiarities noticed among the local races may be summed up as follows:
(1) The Italians resort most frequently to the use of knives in their acts of violence.
(2) The Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks and Ruthenians resort to revolvers, fists, or the missile nearest to hand in their assaults.
(3) Thievery and other crimes against property are more notice able among the English-speaking races than among the immigrants.
In the community there are two justices of the peace, an Irishman and a Lithuanian. The former hears about 250 criminal cases in six months and the latter about 300 in the same period. In addition to his magisterial duties the Lithuanian justice conducts a real estate, insurance, and steamship business. Inquiry failed to discover any evidences of corrupt practices, or illegal encouragement of litigation on the part of these justices. One prominent race leader said, however, that in the earlier days there used to be a tendency to bring in trumped-up charges and to mulct harmless foreigners upon slight pretexts.
A form of graft was at one time practiced by a burgess and the policemen of Shenandoah. The latter would make wholesale arrests of wedding parties in which there were any signs of boisterous conduct and the burgess would impose liberal fines upon the convivial immigrants, which were not turned into the treasury but shared with the policemen.
Advantages are not taken of the immigrants at present by public officials in the community because they form a predominant element, and their votes are in demand.
The native-born sons of immigrants have occasionally been convicted of murder, robbery, burglary, and petty theft, though not to the same degree as among the English-speaking races and the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The agents employed by the coal and railroad companies to guard their outlying properties complain very bitterly about the petty larceny practiced by the boys of the community, among whom are found many of foreign parentage. An official of the police of one of the large mining companies stated that Lithuanian boys were especially troublesome, although his arrests included persons of all nationalities.
The gradual withdrawal of the better classes has resulted in an apparent growth of crime and immorality among the English-speaking classes in addition to that which has come directly from association with the uncultured, unrestrained immigrant. The children who are born into such an environment can not escape the display of viciousness, no matter what their innate tendencies may be. So far, there is no evidence in Shenandoah to the effect that those of foreign-born parentage are any worse than their parents, or than the children of native stock; nor are there any indications of racial differences in the ethical tendencies of the second generation.
HEALTH AND SANITATION.
In Community A there are no diseases to which the immigrant races are peculiarly subject. Trachoma and favus are unknown among them; tuberculosis appears occasionally, but it is so rare that it can hardly be said to have any noticeable effect upon the public health. Veneral diseases are perhaps more common among certain of the immigrant races, especially the South Italians, than among the natives. Among the other immigrant races, the Poles and Lithuanians, veneral diseases appear to be less common than among the natives. The earlier immigrant races, such as the English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, German, Hebrew, Slovak, Syrian, and Ruthenian are not noticeable for the prevalence among them of venereal diseases.
In general, the immigrant races appear to be more healthy than the natives. "In spite of the unsanitary conditions among which most of them live," said a member of the board of health who is a practicing physician, “the immigrants seem to be less liable to sickness than the Americans.” “There is much less disease among the immigrant races than among the natives,” said another physician.
As a community, however, Community A has a high death rate, the responsibility for which must be attributed partly to the unsanitary conditions prevailing and partly to the accidents in the mines.
There is a general laxness in Community A in regard to the observance of health regulations. Whether this is due to the large immigrant population and the consequent familiarity with unsanitary conditions, or whether it results from the carelessness of a corrupt borough government can not be said with certainty. The presence of a large number of immigrant inhabitants, and the extent of unsanitary conditions in the foreign quarters of the borough, have apparently brought about a callous sentiment toward filth. In the foreign colonies heaps of refuse, ditches of foul water exhaling offensive odors, and hogs rooting in streets and alleys are common sights.
There appear to be few definite health regulations. Beyond those requiring hogs to be kept off the streets, which are not enforced, dry closets to be cleaned out when they get “bad,” and providing for a garbage system, it would be difficult to say just what the health regulations are. A copy of them could not be obtained.
"We can't enforce the health regulations,” said a member of the board of health, "and the foreigners aren't the worst either. It's harder to get the Americans to keep their hogs out of the street and clean out their closets than it is to get the foreigners. When you tell a Pole or a Lithuanian to clean up, he usually does it, but some of the Americans don't pay any attention to you.” From which it would appear that while in general the immigrant races live amid more unsanitary surroundings, they are more prompt to obey specific individual orders to “clean up.'
The main weaknesses of the board of health consist in a lack of sanitary inspectors and the requisite power to overcome the indifference shown by both immigrants and natives toward unsanitary conditions.
The immigrant manner of living has evidently reacted upon native modes of thought to such an extent that a continuance and growth of unsanitary conditions have been made possible. With proper sanitary supervision the borough could be largely freed from its present bondage to filth. The immigrants will “clean up" if compelled to do so, and what is needed is the energy to exert the compulsion.
The records of the local directors of the poor do not cast any light upon the subject of public relief of the immigrant races other than that they are all pretty frequent applicants. The recent widow is the most common supplicant. Races, like the Italian, which bring few wives to this country, are little seen in the almshouses or about the public almoner's door.
There are no charity organizations in Community A among either the Protestant or the Roman Catholic churches. The former are too weak to attempt anything of the sort, and among the latter the care of the afflicted and impoverished is systematically provided for through the large number of beneficial societies which are supported. In exceptional cases one of the church societies will sometimes give more than the stipulated indemnity, but the additional fee usually takes the form of voluntary donations from individual members.
Both the Lithuanian and Polish priests expressed the view that when persons needed charity in the community it was usually their own fault, and they were treated accordingly. The easy opportunity of securing the family from immediate hardship and want which is offered the immigrants in Community A by the beneficial societies acts in withholding assistance from those who fail to make such a provision. The Syrians and Jews being brought closer together by their fewer numbers than any other races give more careful attention to their unfortunates, although among neither race is any charitable organization maintained.
Fraternal and other organizations—Churches.
FRATERNAL AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
Among the Americans, English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish, and Germans in Community A are found the following societies: Patriotic Sons of America, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Free and Accepted Masons, Knights of Pythias, Junior Order of American Mechanics, The Elks, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The women of these races belong to the following societies: Daughters of America, Daughters of Liberty, Rebeccas, Women's Relief Corps.
In addition to the above-named organizations the Welsh have a society called the Reformed Order of Ivorites, and the Germans one known as the Washington Benevolent Association.
Among the societies peculiar to the Lithuanian race are some 20 or more organizations of a beneficial and religious nature. Their members are bound to an observance of the rules of the church, but their chief purpose is to provide life insurance and sick benefits. The monthly fee in all the societies is 50 cents. During sickness a benefit of $5 a week (some omit the first week) is paid. At death a sum of about $25 is paid for funeral expenses, and each member donates 50 cents (in some societies $1) toward the support of the bereaved family. One or two of the societies are of the nature of straight life insurance, paying a fixed sum, usually $1,000, at death, but no sick benefits. Membership in these societies is usually limited to males, but the Lithuanians also have several organizations, in which the religious features are more pronounced, made up of women.
Among the Polish there are about a dozen beneficial societies and half as many more which are mainly religious in character. The benefits, insurance features, and organization are practically the same as described in the case of the Lithuanian societies. There are seven religious-beneficial societies among the Ruthenians and three or four among the Slovaks.
As yet there are neither fraternal nor beneficial organizations among the Italians, Syrians, or Hebrews. The latter have a Young Men's Hebrew Association which resembles in its workings the Young Men's Christian Association. The Syrians have what is called the Syrian Christian Association, but it is mainly social in practice.
Among the recent immigrant races there are also several political societies. The Pulaski Citizens' Society and the Lithuanian Citizens' Club are only open to fully naturalized Lithuanians. The Polish