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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 col
onies 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
Independent Democratic Club and the White Eagle Polish Patriotic Club are open only to citizens, and both maintain club rooms for reading, the study of politics, and Polish and American history. The White Eagles also have a chorus and an orchestra. There is also a Lithuanian brass band.
Among the ephemeral and occasional political organizations may be mentioned the American-Lithuanian Alliance which came into life during the last campaign. When, however, the Lithuanian priest tried to swing the members into line for the Democrats the society split up and soon went to pieces.
Social life forms a very small part of the immigrant organizations, and they show few evidences of a fraternal spirit. Their meetings are held solely for the purpose of transacting the necessary business in connection with the sick and death benefits. The only show of sentiment occurs on the occasion of the death of some member. The funeral is attended by the society in a body, who march with much ostentation before the hearse to the limits of the borough. This manifestation of feeling has the very solid basis of a fine in case of default, and so general is the custom of turning out at every funeral that the operation of a colliery is frequently crippled by a succession of deaths among the employees.
Undoubtedly one of the best results of the extensive organization for beneficial purposes is the minimization of the amount of public relief for the poor and afflicted families. The money received from the societies enables the widow to pay the funeral expenses and keep body and soul together until she can again marry. The prevalence of these beneficial societies probably accounts for the almost entire absence of distinctly charitable organizations in the community.
Membership in the societies is general on the part of all the races in Community A, except the Syrians and Italians. The numbers of the societies indicate their popularity.
Practically none of the more recent immigrant races or their children have found their way into the American fraternal organizations. Even if racial prejudice did not hinder their admittance, it would be discouraged by their churches.
The United Mine Workers of America have 10 locals in this community. Three of them are mainly English speaking, while the Lithuanians, Poles, and Italians each have one where their own languages are generally spoken. The Slovaks and Ruthenians have one together, and there are three others in which the races are mixed. The members of one of the latter unions belong exclusively to one colliery and its business is done mainly in English. It is said that the Lithuanian union has about 2,300 members and about $9,000 on deposit.
The majority of the mine employees who are not members of the union have only recently arrived or else are boys just beginning to work about the breakers as slate pickers. The exact membership of the various unions is very hard to secure on account of the common practice among all classes to let their membership lapse through the nonpayment of dues. While technically such are not on the rolls of the unions, they are potentially still trades-unionists and the approach of a strike generally finds them back in the ranks.
Mine bosses and English-speaking miners voice the opinion that there is very little difference between the races in their attitudes
toward the union. All make zealous unionists, especially when it is necessary to make a show-down of strength.
The attitude of the unions toward the immigrant races is decidedly sympathetic and solicitous. Their membership is facilitated in every way possible. One of the members of the national board is a Lithuanian resident of the community. In their public meetings the officials of the union have one or two of the speeches given in the language of the foreign members. In the anthracite coal region the United Mine Workers of America could show very little power without the assistance of the immigrants, who do such a large part of the work in the mines.
The churches which now exist, or have existed, in the community are as follows:
One of the most pretentious church edifices in the community is the magnificent, twin-steepled, brick and carved stone structure known as St. George's Lithuanian Church. Its value is estimated at from $150,000 to $200,000. The organ is valued at $4,500, and the chimes are worth $5,000. Adjacent to it is a handsome brick rectory, which involved an expenditure of about $11,000.
This congregation, which is composed of about 6,000 souls, runs a printing and publishing house, which publishes, in addition to religious pamphlets and other Lithuanian literature, a weekly paper known in the Lithuanian tongue as "The Star," which has a circulation of about 4,500.
A part of the church was formerly used for parochial school purposes, but the school has been given up because of the difficulty experienced in securing teachers who spoke English and who could offer advantages equal to the public schools.
In consequence of trouble which resulted upon the change of priests the Lithuanian congregation of St. George's Roman Catholic Church is now largely attending St. Kasimir's, a Polish Catholic Church, and has threatened to resort to the courts to recover the property which was created out of its contributions if the matter is not satisfactorily adjusted by the church authorities.