Title: Anarchist Voices
Subtitle: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
Author: Paul Avpick

    Cover Flaps

    Title Page

    Publisher Details Page

    List of Illustrations

    Preface and Acknowledgments

    Part One: Pioneers

      Introduction

      Oriole Tucker Riche

      Beatrice Fetz

      Helena Bailie

      Laurance Labadie

      Alexandra Kropotkin

      John J, Most, Jr.

      Mary Schwab

      Henry R. Schnaubelt

      Milton W Thorpe

      Grace Umrath

      Elmer B. Isaak

      Marion Bell

      Brigitte Hausberger

      Fermin Rocker

    Part Two: Emma Goldman

      Introduction

      Freda Diamond

      Luba Stein Benenson

      Jeanne Levey

      Pauline H. Turkel

      Hilda Adel

      Roger N. Baldwin

      Albert Boni

      Gabriel Javsicas

      Ida Gershoy

      Arthur Leonard Ross

      Kate Wolfson

      Ora Robbins

      Millie Grobstein

      Ahrne Thorne

    Part Three: Sacco and Vanzetti

      Introduction

      Spencer Sacco

      Gemma Diqtalevi

      Jennie Paglia

      Ralph Piesco

      George T. Kelley

      Beltrando Brini

      Lefevre Brini Wager

      Concetta Silvestri

      Jenny Salemme

      Catina Willman

      Joseph Moro

      Bartolomeo Provo

      Vincenzo Farulla

      Sebastiano Magliocca

      Sara R. Ehrmann

      Art Shields

      Fred J. Cook

      George Vaux

      Harry Richal

      Louis Tarabelli

      Charles Poggi

      Febo Pomilia

      Florence Rossi

      Galileo Tobia

      Elide Sanchini

      Oreste Fabrizi

      Alberico Pirani

      Valerio Isca

      John Vattuone

      William Gallo

      Guy Liberti

      Hugo Rolland

      Esther Travaglio

      Vincenzo Ferrero

      Dominick Sallitto

      Lino Molin

      Mark Luca

      Frank Brand

      Attilio Bortolotti

    Part Four: Schools and Colonies

      Introduction

      Amour Liber

      Revolte Bercovici

      David Lawson

      Manuel Komroff

      Benjamin G. Benno

      Maurice Hollod

      Rose Goldblatt

      Gussie Denenberg

      Charles Plunkett

      Moritz Jagendorf

      Morris Beresin

      Harry Melman

      Emma Gilbert

      Richard Gilbert

      Magda Schoenwetter

      Ray Shedlovsky

      Eva Bein

      Mary Rappaport

      Anna Schwartz

      Hugo Gellert

      Lillian Rifkin Blumenfeld

      Suzanne Hotkine Avins

      Anatole Freeman Ishill

      Ben Frumkin

      Siegfried Rolland

      Esther Walters

      Rina Garst

      Mollie Albert

      Molly Bogin

      Lallah Blanpied

      Dorothy Rick

      Jacques Dubois

      Henry Fruchter

      Nora Horn

      Jacob Landa

      Jo Ann Burbank

      Ben Lieberman

      Jacques Rudqme

      Lydia Miller

      Eva Brandes

      Nellie Dick

      Macie Pope

      David Dadisman

      Pearl Pottu

      Radium Lavene

      Philip Trupin

      Louis a. Gittelman

      Ellis Grosner

      Aaron Rockoff

      Eleanor Litwak

      Shaindel Ostroff

      Emanuel V Conason

      Beatrice Markowitz

      Dora Keyser

    Part Five: Ethnic Anarchists

      Introduction

      Sam Dreen

      Rene Shapshak

      Lena Shlakman

      Julius Seltzer

      Joseph Spivak

      Rebecca August

      Ida Lehrer and Sonya Tucker

      Zalman Deanin

      Sonya Deanin

      Paul Rose

      Ida Radosh

      Clara Larsen

      Bessie Zoglin

      Sonya Farber

      Isidore Farbiash

      Israel, Ostroff

      Abraham Blecher

      Clara Halpern

      Morris Schulmeister

      David Babich

      Victor Lynn

      Wanda Swieda

      Morris Ganberg

      Morris Greenshner

      Mark Mratchny

      Johannaboetz

      Leon Shapiro

      Boris Yelensky

      Marcelino Garcia

      Sirio Esteve

      Jose Hernandez

      Louis G. Raymond

      Juananido

      Marcelo Salinas

      Gustavo Lopez

      Joachin Edo

      Federico Arcos

      H. L. Wei

      Red Jones

      Bella Wong

    Part Six: the 1920s and After

      Introduction

      Sam Dolgoff

      Sarah Taback

      Jack Frager

      Abe Bluestein

      Louis Genin

      Louis Slater

      Clara Solomon

      Sidney Solomon

      Mark Schmidt

      Franz Fleigler

      Irving Sterling

      Audrey Goodfriend

      David Koven

      Bronka Greenberg

      Daniel Guerin

      Dwight Macdonald

      Robert S Calese

      Richard Ellington

      Fred Woodworth

      Anne Mcvey

    Notes

    List of Periodicals

    Further Reading

    Back Cover

Cover Flaps

ANARCHIST VOICES

AN ORAL HISTORY OF ANARCHISM IN AMERICA

Paul Avpick

“This collection of anarchist stones told in their own inimitable words truly constitutes an important oral history of the movement in America. It is a triumph of preserving the irreplaceable

— Richard Drinnon, Bucknell University

Through his many books on the history' of anarchism, Paul Avrich has done much to dispel the public’s conception of the anarchists as mere terrorists. In Anarchist Voices, Avrich lets American anarchists speak for themselves. This book contains 180 interviews conducted by Avrich overa period of 30 years, interviews that portray the human dimensions of a movement much maligned by the authorities and contemporary journalists. Most of the interviewees (anarchists as well as their friends and relatives) were active during the heyday of the movement, between the 1880s and the 1930s. 'They represent all schools of anarchism and include both famous figures and minor ones, previously overlooked by most historians. Their stories provide a wealth of personal detail about such anarchist luminaries as Emma Goldman and Sacco and Vanzetti.

The interviews are grouped in six sections organized around individuals or major aspects of the movement Each section begins with an explanatory essay, and each interview with a biographical note. Avrich also includes a selected bibliography and a list of anarchist periodicals. This work of impeccable scholarship will be an invaluable resource not only for scholars of anarchism but also for those studying immigration, ethnic politics, the history of education, and legal and labor history.

By allowing the participants to speak for themselves, the author clearly aims to revise the exceedingly negative image of the anarchist that has been largely derived from a variety of hostile sources. Avrich has performed an invaluable service to the scholarly community7. Anarchist Voices stands as a unique documentary record of the personal side of a complex and highly controversial revolutionary movement ”

— George Esenwein, University of Florida

Paul Avrich is the foremost American historian of anarchism. He is Distinguished Professor of History at Queens College and the Graduate School, the City University of New York, and is the author of many works including Sacco and Vanzetti, Anarchist Portraits, and The Haymarket Tragedy, all published by Princeton University Press.

Title Page

ANARCHIST VOICES

An Oral History of Anarchism in America ♦

PAUL AVRICH

San Rafael Public Library

1100 E Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS ■ PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY

Publisher Details Page

1995 by Princeton University Press Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

In the United Kingdom Princeton University Press, Chichester. West Sussex

All Rights Reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in Publication Data

Avnch, Paul.

Anarchist voices: an oral history of anarchism in America / Paul Avnch

p cm

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-691-03412-5 (cloth: acid-free paper)

1 Anarchism—United States—History
2. Anarchists—United States—Interviews. I. Title.

HX843 A98 19Q4

320 57'0973—dc20 94-16620 CIP

This book has been composed in Electra

Princeton University Press books are printed
on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines
for permanence and durability of the Committee
on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity
of the Council on Library Resources

Printed in the United States of America

10 8 6 4 2 1 3 5 7


List of Illustrations

1. “The Anarchists of Chicago,” memorial drawing, 1894

2. Emma Goldman, St. Louis, 1912

3. Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, 1923

4. Will Durant and pupils of the New York Modern School, 1912 190

5. The Frayhayt Group, New York, 1918 314

6. The Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society, pamphlet, 1989 414

7. International Anarchist Press, 1975

8. Peter Kropotkin, Michael Bakunin, and Emma Goldman, Libertarian Book Club Catalog, Summer 1988


Preface and Acknowledgments

Over a period of nearly thirty years, between 1963 and 1991,1 conducted more than two hundred interviews with anarchists throughout the United States. The majority of the interviewees were of European birth (Jews and Italians being the most heavily represented) and had been active during the heyday of their movement between the 1880s and 1930s. Nearly all of the interviews were conducted in English, although a few were in other languages, or in a mixture of languages, since the interviewees, as they spoke, sometimes lapsed into their native tongues. The interviews varied greatly both in quality and length; some, indeed, were scarcely more than fragments and have not been included in this volume. Nor have I included informal conversations (which numbered in the thousands) or, with two exceptions (Mark Schmidt and Esther Walters), interviews conducted on the telephone. Regrettably, I came too late to interview the major figures of the movement (Emma Goldman, Benjamin Tucker, and the like), all of whom had long since passed away. I made no effort, moreover, to interview anarchists outside the United States, although I encountered more than a few during trips abroad and benefited from what they told me.

In all, there are 180 interviews in this collection, 5 of which have been previously published (details are provided in the notes). All schools of anarchism are represented, not excluding the terrorists, and there is a wide range of ethnic groups: Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Chinese, in addition to Italians and Jews. A number of individuals were interviewed more than once, some as many as four or five times. In such cases, I have combined the interviews into a single account for the sake of coherence and readability.

It should be noted that not all the interviewees were themselves anarchists. Leon Shapiro, for example, was a Menshevik, but he had been acquainted with a number of Russian anarchists (including Nestor Makhno and Alexander Schapiro), about whom he had interesting recollections. Similarly, Clara Halpern belonged to the Socialist Revolutionary Maximalists, an ultramilitant group that in some ways resembled the anarchists yet shrank from embracing the abolition of government. The rest include an attorney of Emma Goldman (Arthur Leonard Ross), two of her secretaries (Millie Grobstein and Pauline Turkel), two witnesses in the Sacco-Vanzetti case (Beltrando Brini and Lefevre Brini Wager), and a large number of relatives, friends, and associates of anarchists, among them sons of Johann Most, Rudolf Rocker, and Joseph Labadie, daughters of Peter Kropotkin, Benjamin Tucker, and Gustav Landauer, and a grandson of Nicola Sacco.

Of all the major movements of social reform, anarchism has been subject to the grossest misunderstandings of its nature and objectives. No group has been more maligned and misrepresented by the authorities or more feared and detested by the public. But who in fact were the anarchists? What kind of people were they? Why did they become anarchists? In what activities did they engage? How did they cope with popular abuse and official persecution and harassment? What did they want and what did they achieve? Did their views on anarchism change over the years? Did they have any regrets or disappointments?

Such are the questions addressed by the interviewees, and their observations and recollections shed interesting light on a range of subjects, from immigration, revolutionary agitation, and political repression to economics, education, and the arts. They differ, as will be seen, on many points, particularly on the questions of property, organization, and violence. Communists and individualists, revolutionaries and pacifists, they encompass a fascinating and sometimes contradictory variety of temperaments and beliefs. For all their differences, however, they are united in their rejection of the state, their opposition to coercion and exploitation, their hatred of injustice and tyranny, and their faith that people will live in harmony once the restraints imposed by government have been removed.

In bringing together these interviews, my object has been to make them available to students and scholars in an accurate and readable form. Editing has been kept to a minimum. All words are those of the interviewees. Nothing has been added or invented, though some repetition has been eliminated and the word order occasionally rearranged for the sake of clarity. To enhance the usefulness of the text, I have added headnotes, explanatory notes, and illustrations, as well as a detailed index that will allow readers with an interest in a particular individual, theme, or event—Emma Goldman, anarchist schools, the Sacco-Vanzetti case, for example—easy access to relevant material. In addition, a bibliography and a list of periodicals have been appended to supplement the index and notes.

In many ways I consider this work the most important that I have ever undertaken. For the interviews, taken together, comprise a unique oral history of the anarchist movement, preserving for posterity the story of the anarchists as they themselves have recalled it. As such, they add a human dimension often lacking in scholarly monographs, not to mention the accounts of journalists, policemen, and officials, and of other, for the most part hostile, observers.

This volume, I believe, will provide an invaluable source for all future students of anarchism. No one has previously embarked on a comparable venture, nor could such be undertaken in the years ahead. Most of the interviewees had already reached an advanced age when I interviewed them (they were born typically in the 1880s and 1890s; the oldest, Lena Shlakman, was born in 1872) and have since passed away. Oral history, however, is not a substitute for conventional history, which is based on documentary evidence. At best it constitutes a supplement, adding data and impressions recalled long after the event. Memory is often defective, and errors are bound to occur. Wherever possible, then, the testimony in this book should be checked against the available printed and manuscript sources, which are indicated in the notes and bibliography.

Apart from the interviewees and their families, I am indebted to a number of friends and colleagues who assisted in the preparation of this volume. I am particularly obliged to Richard Drinnon, biographer of Emma Goldman and Professor Emeritus at Bucknell University, and to Professor George Esenwein of the University of Florida, America’s leading authority on Spanish anarchism, for reading the entire manuscript and offering invaluable suggestions. My thanks are also due to Bill Laznovsky of Princeton University Press for his expert editorial assistance. Others who have aided me in important ways are Professor Pei-yi Wu of Queens College, Professor Richard Polenberg of Cornell University, Professor Abraham Ascher of the Graduate School of the City University of New York, and Professor Nunzio Pernicone of Drexel University, the foremost American authority on Italian anarchism. I am exceedingly grateful, in addition, to Queens College for granting me a Presidential Research Award for the Spring 1992 semester, which facilitated the completion of the book. The responsibility for its contents, however, remains my own.

New York City

May 1, 1993

Part One: Pioneers

  • ORIOLE TUCKER RICHE

  • BEATRICE FETZ

  • HELENA BAILIE

  • LAU RANCE LAB ADIE

  • ALEXANDRA KROPOTKIN

  • JOHN J. MOST, JR.

  • MARY SCHWAB

  • HENRY R. SCHNAUBELT

  • MILTON W. THORPE

  • GRACE UMRATH

  • ELMER B. ISAAK

  • MARION BELL

  • BRIGITTE HAUSBERGER

  • FERMIN ROCKER


1. “The Anarchists of Chicago,” memorial drawing by Walter Crane (Liberty, London, November 1894)


Introduction

By the early 1960s, when I began to interview the anarchists, the classical phase of the movement, bounded by the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Spanish Revolution of the 1930s, had long since drawn to a close. Though soon to experience a revival, anarchism seemed a moribund phenomenon, its adherents dwindling and ineffectual, its literature rapidly drying up. Without exception, moreover, its major spokesmen had passed from the scene. Among the most notable, Peter Kropotkin had died in 1921, Errico Malatesta in 1932, Benjamin Tucker in 1939, and Emma Goldman in 1940. Rudolf Rocker, the last of the great anarchists, passed away in 1958, and there was no one of comparable stature to take his place.

Rocker’s son, however, was still alive, and he readily consented to be interviewed. Also alive were the daughters of Tucker, Kropotkin, and Gustav Landauer, as well as the elder son of Johann Most, all of whom likewise submitted to interviews and provided valuable recollections. With the exception of Fermin Rocker, now in his eighty-sixth year, these offspring of pioneer anarchists have since expired, as have the son of Joseph A. Labadie (1850-1933) and the daughter ot Thomas H. Bell (1867-1942), whose interviews appear below along with the rest. Beyond this there are interviews with several other individuals who could recall the earlier days of the movement: children of associates of Tucker, who assisted him on his magazine Liberty; grandchildren of Abe and Mary Isaak, publishers of the journal Free Society; and relatives of the Chicago anarchists implicated in the Haymarket bombing of the 1880s, the major anarchist episode of the period.

All in all a wide range of views is represented: individualist anarchism, mutu- alist anarchism, collectivist anarchism, communist anarchism, and syndicalist anarchism, to mention only the most conspicuous. Johann Most, for one, adhered to the collectivist persuasion associated with the Russian anarchist Bakunin, according to which private property must be abolished and individuals rewarded in proportion to their labor. In the spirit of Bakunin, moreover, Most disdained conciliatory tactics as well as piecemeal measures of reform. Achieving limited improvements, as he saw it, would blunt the revolutionary ardor of the workers, weaken their will to resist, and delay the final destruction of capitalism. Again and again he underscored the futility of compromise and the need for popular insurrection to overthrow the established order. An ardent proponent of direct action, he argued that violent revolution was the only means of resolving the social question. He repeatedly urged the workers to arm themselves in order to exterminate the “reptile brood,” the “race of parasites,” as he branded all capitalists and rulers; and in his handbook Revolutionary War Science, published a year before the Haymarket incident, he furnished detailed instructions on the manufacture of explosives and the uses to which they could be put in the war of the poor against the rich.

Most’s flaming rhetoric roused his followers to a high pitch of enthusiasm. Not only was he one of the greatest radical orators of his time, but his newspaper, the Freiheit, which he edited for twenty-seven years, acquired a place in the front ranks of German revolutionary literature; and decades after his death in 1906 his powerful “Hymn of the Proletariat” continued to be sung by German-speaking workers of every radical denomination, in Europe as well as in America.

By the 1890s, however, Most was toning down his appeals to revolutionary violence, and especially to individual acts of terrorism. At the same time, he was evolving from Bakunin’s collectivist anarchism to the doctrine of anarchist communism, of which Kropotkin was the leading exponent. According to Kropotkin, any system of rewards based on an individual’s capacity to produce was merely another form of wage slavery as under capitalism. By drawing a distinction between what is mine and what is yours, he maintained, a collectivist economy rendered itself incompatible with the true ideals of anarchism. Collectivism, moreover, necessitated some central authority to measure individual performance and to supervise the distribution of goods accordingly, so that the collectivist order contained the seeds of inequality and domination.

Kropotkin regarded his own theory of communist anarchism as the antithesis of the wage system in all its forms. For the principle of productivity he substituted the principle of need: members of the community would be the judge of their own requirements and would take from the common storehouse whatever they deemed necessary, whether or not they contributed a share of the labor. Kropotkin’s benign optimism led him to assume that once political oppression and economic exploitation had been eliminated, all, or nearly all, would work of their own free will, without any compulsion whatever, and take no more than they needed for a comfortable existence. Anarchist communism, he believed, would put an end at last to every manner of coercion and privilege and usher in a golden age of liberty, without government or property, without hunger or want, a shining era of freedom in which people would live in harmony and direct their own affairs unimpeded by any authority.

In common with Most, it might be noted, Kropotkin was active in the protests against the trial of the Haymarket anarchists. Describing the Chicago affair as “a retaliation upon prisoners taken in the virtual civil war that was going on between the two classes,” he wrote to the American press objecting to the death sentences imposed on the defendants and, together with William Morris and George Bernard Shaw, addressed a mass rally in London against their impending execution. A year after the hanging he declared that “the commemoration of the Chicago martyrs has almost acquired the same importance as the commemoration of the Paris Commune.” The integrity and courage of the hanged men, he said a decade later, “remain a lesson for the old, an inspiration for the young.”1 And in 1901, during a visit to the United States, he placed flowers at the tomb of the men whose cause he had championed from the time of their arrest fifteen years before.

Deeply moved by the Haymarket tragedy, Kropotkin followed the development of American anarchism with special interest. Long before he visited the United States, he was corresponding with American anarchists, reading their books and periodicals, and sending them messages of support. He was familiar with the writings of both the individualist and collectivist schools, citing Tucker as well as Most in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article on anarchism. , For his own part, Kropotkin exerted an increasing influence on American anarchists, as well as on socialists and other reformers. Starting in the 1880s, his articles appeared in all the leading anarchist journals, including Tucker’s Liberty, Most’s Freiheit Abe Isaak’s Free Society, and Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth. By the turn of the century, the anarchist movement in America had become predominantly anarchist communist in orientation, owing to Kropotkin’s influence. “He was a prominent figure in the realm of learning,” wrote Goldman, “recognized as such by the foremost men of the world. But to us he meant much more than that. We saw in him the father of modern anarchism, its revolutionary spokesman and brilliant exponent of its relation to science, philosophy, and progressive thought.”2

Not everyone accepted this appraisal. Rejecting both Most’s collectivism and Kropotkin’s communism, the individualist anarchists, among whom Tucker was the foremost representative, exalted personal freedom over any cooperative arrangements and distrusted all organizations, economic or otherwise, that might harden into bureaucratic form. The individualists, moreover, opposed the revolutionary methods preached alike by Most and Kropotkin, favoring education and propaganda to achieve their libertarian goals. Influenced by the German philosopher Max Stirner, whose book The Ego and His Own was their testament, they resisted the claims of collective entities and demanded the total liberation of the human personality from the fetters of organized society.

For Most and his incendiary rhetoric the individualists had particular disdain. Indeed Tucker, for whom Most’s collectivism “logically leads to and rests upon authority,” went so far as to excommunicate him from the movement, repudiating “man, principles, and methods,” and denying him “even the name of Anarchist.”3 Towards Kropotkin Tucker’s attitude was more charitable. In spite of their philosophical differences, he counted the Russian prince “among the most prominent anarchists in Europe” and translated some of his essays for Liberty. He also had praise for Bakunin, placing him in “the very front ranks of the world’s great social saviors.”4 In 1885 he translated God and the State, Bakunin’s most celebrated work. The book sold well, becoming the most widely read and frequently quoted of all Bakunin’s writings, a distinction which, more than a century later, it still enjoys.

Tucker himself, by contrast, had no great book smoldering inside him. Nor, in contrast to Most or Emma Goldman, did he acquire a reputation as a speaker, being reserved and ill-at-ease before the podium. He was, however, an accomplished translator—of Proudhon as of Bakunin and Kropotkin. More than that, he was a first-rate editor and writer, one of the finest journalists American radicalism has produced. Of Liberty he had particular cause to be proud. It was meticulously designed and edited, with a brilliant galaxy of contributors, not least among them Tucker himself. Its debut in 1881 was a milestone in the history of the anarchist movement, and it won an audience wherever English was read. As a publisher, moreover, Tucker issued a steady stream of books and pamphlets on anarchism and related subjects over a period of nearly thirty years.

By the turn of the century, however, the heyday of individualist anarchism had passed. And in 1908, his storehouse of books and papers destroyed in a fire, Tucker departed for Europe, never to return. From that moment, Tucker abandoned his role as a purveyor of anarchist ideas. Although he retained the anarchist label, he had come to believe that free banking and similar measures, even if inaugurated, were no longer adequate to break the monopoly of capitalism or weaken the authority of the state.

With the passage of time, as his daughter relates, Tucker grew increasingly pessimistic. The “monster, Mechanism,” he wrote in 1930, “is devouring mankind.”5 By then he had outlived his reputation as a social thinker. His retirement, in Monaco, was virtually complete. Few people knew who he was or were acquainted with his work, and his death in 1939 passed almost unnoticed. He had lived to be eighty-five, and the global war that he had feared and predicted was looming on the horizon.

Apart from the collectivists, communists, and individualists, three additional groups deserve notice: the mutualist anarchists, who, influenced principally by the French anarchist Proudhon, hovered between individualism and collectivism; the anarcho-syndicalists, who, emerging at the turn of the century, pinned their hopes on the labor movement and called for workers’ self-management of the factories; and the pacifist anarchists (including Tolstoyans), who, while differing among themselves on economic issues, spurned all revolutionary activity as a breeder of hatred and violence.

Whatever their disagreements, these groups, along with the others, shared a common determination to make a clean sweep of entrenched institutions and to inaugurate a stateless society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals. All, moreover, foresaw the consequences of the Marxian brand of socialism and offered a continual and fundamental criticism of all forms of centralized authority. They warned that political power is intrinsically evil, that it corrupts all who wield it, that government of any kind stifles the creative spirit of the people and robs them of their freedom.

A final group, which bears mention if only because it is so often neglected, consisted of eclectic anarchists who drew on all schools of economic thought and refused to attach a prefix—individualist, collectivist, communist, syndicalist—to their anarchist label. Troubled by the bitter debates among their comrades, they called for greater tolerance within the movement, for an “anarchism without adjectives,” as some of them termed it. The rejection of all dogma, they insisted, was the very essence of the libertarian spirit. They held, as Rudolf Rocker put it, that individualism, communism, and the rest represented “only different methods of economy, the practical possibilities of which have yet to be tested, and that the first objective is to secure the personal and social freedom of men no matter upon which economic basis this is to be accomplished.”6

Rocker himself adhered to this position, as did his compatriot Gustav Landauer, whose daughter (Brigitte Hausberger) is interviewed in this section. Both men preached an undogmatic brand of anarchism that encompassed a range of theoretical elements. Landauer, whom Rocker called a “spiritual giant,”7 was at once an individualist and a socialist, a romantic and a mystic, a militant and an advocate of passive resistance. He was also the most influential German anarchist of the twentieth century, with the possible exception of Rocker himself. Journalist and philosopher, novelist and critic, Landauer was a versatile figure. He was in close touch with writers of the Expressionist movement, above all Ernst Toller and Georg Kaiser, and he played an active part in the avant-garde theater, being affiliated with the Neue Freie Volksbiihne from 1892 until his murder by right-wing soldiers in 1919. Beyond all this, he made his mark as a translator of both anarchist and non-anarchist writers, including Kropotkin, Proudhon, and Walt Whitman, of whom he was a lifelong admirer. His tragic and brutal death, poignantly recalled by his daughter, made him the principal anarchist martyr of the Bavarian revolution.

With Landauer’s removal from the scene, Rocker took his place as the foremost German anarchist. Friend of Kropotkin and biographer of Most, he edited a succession of periodicals, published a stream of books and pamphlets on diverse subjects, and emerged as one of the greatest orators of the movement, alongside Most and Emma Goldman. Rocker, although a gentile, became the apostle of anarchism to the Jewish workers of London in the years before the First World War. The story of how he came to Whitechapel and became a Yiddish writer and editor is one of the most fascinating of that period. A German by birth and upbringing, he had not so much as met a Jew until he was eighteen. Yet he settled among the Jews, took one of their daughters for his wife, learned how to speak, read, and write their language, and shared in their poverty and suffering. Alexander Berkman thought him “one of our very finest men and comrades.” His companion, Milly Witkop, was also “a beautiful character,” said Berkman,8 and their deep and abiding affection was one of the great love stories in the history of the anarchist movement.

Rocker spent the war years in a British prison camp, having been interned as an “enemy alien,” despite his opposition to German authoritarianism and regimentation. After the war he returned to his native country, accompanied by his wife and son. There he became the driving force of the German anarchist movement and the principal founder of the International Working Men’s Association, the so-called Berlin or Anarcho-Syndicalist International, established in 1922. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Rocker and his wife had to flee for their lives (Fermin had meanwhile left for the United States). Escaping to Switzerland on the last train out of Berlin, they became part of the great wave of refugees from Nazi oppression that enriched American life over the next generation.

Rocker spent the last twenty-five years of his life in the United States, speaking and writing for libertarian causes. Arriving in New York in September 1933, he undertook a number of coast-to-coast lecture tours, contributed countless articles to anarchist publications in several languages, and produced a series of books that made a permanent contribution to anarchist philosophy and history. His Nationalism and Culture, a powerful indictment of the state, was hailed by Albert Einstein as an “extraordinarily original and illuminating work,” while Bertrand Russell called it “an important contribution to political philosophy, both on account of its penetrating and widely informative analysis of famous writers, and on account of the brilliant criticism of state-worship, the prevailing and most noxious superstition of our time.”9

In 1937 Rocker settled at the Mohegan Colony in Westchester County, New York, renting a cottage from the anarchist bookseller Leon Kramer. He was later given his own house by the anarchists of the colony, to whom he was a venerable figure (see Part Four). While he took little part in the social or administrative life of the community, he was its dominant intellectual leader for the next twenty years. His death in 1958 marked not only the passing of the last great anarchist with an international reputation. It also sounded the death knell of the Mohegan experiment, the last of the major anarchist colonies in the United States.

Oriole Tucker Riche

Ossining, New York, January 21, 197310

Oriole Riche, born in 1908, was the only child of the individualist anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker (1854-1939) and his wife and fellow anarchist Pearl Johnson. Oriole, the wife of Jean Riche, a French-born chef, taught French at the Dobbs Ferry Middle School and lived on the site of Stillwater, a School of Living colony established in 1939 by Ralph Borsodi,11 similar to the one at Suffern, New York, in which Laurance Labadie (q.v.) lived. Across the road from Oriole lived Beatrice Fetz (q.v.), the daughter of Tucker’s associates George and Emma Schumm, while at the bottom of the hill stood the house of Margaret Noyes Goldsmith, a granddaughter of John Humphrey Noyes, the celebrated founder of the Oneida community. Oriole was a fine-looking woman with a youthful appearance and vivid memory, particularly where her parents were concerned. I looked forward to coming back at a later date in order to talk to her again about her father. But she died suddenly in June 1974, at the age of sixty-five, so that our conversation was never completed.

I was born in New York City on November 9, 1908, delivered by Dr. E. B. Foote,' Father’s friend and fellow libertarian. I was named after J. William Lloyd’s13 daughter, Oriole Lloyd. My parents had been hoping I would arrive on November 11, the anniversary of the Haymarket executions. After the disastrous fire in January 1908,14 Father had decided to move to France. He didn’t want to start all over again Besides, he loved France and always said he wanted to die in France.

He and Mother went to Paris in the summer of 1908 and rented a house in ..the suburb of Le Vesinet, near Saint-Germain. They came back to the U.S. to have me born here (Mother was expecting a difficult birth and wanted the family on hand). But by Christmas I was in France, aged six weeks old. And there I stayed. When I was three and a half, Mother and I did come to the States for a few months to see her family. After the war, though, we never came back as a family. In 1936,1 came by myself for three months. America had been as far away to me as the moon. It was a fairyland to me: Mother kept talking about it, tried to keep it alive, but to me all the names I heard seemed like people stepping out of mythology.

Mother—Pearl Johnson—was the daughter of a New England couple, Horace Johnson and Florence Hull, one of four daughters of Moses Hull, a minister of advanced views who became a well-known spiritualist. Pearl went to the Sunrise Club in New York and knew Bea Schumm. It was George Schumm15 who suggested her to Father to work in his bookshop a few years before I was born. One of Mother’s sisters was Dr. Bertha Johnson. Fred Schulder,16 who worked as a salesman for Liberty, was Aunty Bertha’s boyfriend. His son with Adeline Champney, Horace Champney, was the Quaker who sailed a boat to Vietnam a few years ago to protest against the war.

When Father’s mother died, she left him a nice sum of money. He put it in an annuity and had a comfortable income thereafter of $1,650 a year. In New York he lived pleasantly, though not lavishly, in a two-room hotel suite. Another reason he decided to go to France was that he and the family could live rather well there on his income. My parents, incidentally, were never legally married. Yet they were the most monogamistic couple I ever saw, absolutely devoted to each other until the end. Oddly enough, they believed in having separate rooms and, if one had the means, even separate houses, coming together when you wanted to. They couldn’t afford that though! I always liked the idea of my husband coming home at night and not having to plan and make a date to see him!

We lived in Le Vesinet the first six years, traveling a good deal The winter following the outbreak of the war we stayed with Henry Bool in England,17 and when we returned to France we moved into an apartment in Nice. We stayed there eleven years. But taxes were rising sharply in France, so we moved to Monaco, where we rented a nice house for thirteen years, and where Father died in 1939.

During the war Father was anti-German from the start. The German government, German militarism, German regimentation—he hated them with a passion. And he loved France. France was the only thing that counted—French food, French wine, French newspapers and books. He wanted to be buried there. He never came back to the United States, and never wished to. He didn t speak French very well, but he read it easily. He had a great admiration for Clemenceau,18 to whom he bore a close physical resemblance.

After the war, Father was afraid of trouble. He was afraid, as a foreigner, of being disturbed. He wanted to be left alone. There was no contact with Emma Goldman or Alexander Berkman, who were living in southern France. Father disliked both of them. Mother had been friends with Emma Goldman in New York, and once she saw them on the street in Nice but decided not to approach them. John Henry Mackay19 used to come down, and George Bernard Shaw came once for afternoon tea.20 When I was eighteen I gave French lessons to Henry Cohen’s21 sister. Pryns Hopkins,22 who was living in Nice, came over to visit, and some nephew of Tolstoy’s, but otherwise not many of Father’s old friends.

In France the whole family lived an anarchistic life. When I asked a question—like how in the world would we get along without police—Father would say look it up on page so and so of Instead of a Book.23 Mother, by contrast, would explain carefully. She was a born teacher and psychologist. But Father was a born non-teacher. He couldn’t speak to a young person. Mother always gave me sensible answers. He had it all worked out—it was very discouraging to talk with him—he always had irrefutable arguments, he always seemed right. And that turned me off. He made no allowance for human feelings and frailties. Just hew to the line and let the chips fall where they may. Mother, too, said he had no psychological understanding of people. He had great affection and respect for me, but we couldn’t discuss anything.

Father, incidentally, believed in contracts. We had written contractual arrangements around the house. When I was eighteen, he wrote a whole contract about my paying a share of what I made from giving piano lessons. That might seem cold and calculating, yet it made everything clear and simple. He never would have entered my room without knocking, even when I was a little girl. He was old-fashioned in many ways. He rode in a car two or three times in Paris. But he was scared stiff of them. He thought they were dangerous. As a result, I disliked them too and didn’t go in them for a long time.

Sometime during the 1920s Victor Yarros wrote an article on anarchism, virtually repudiating his whole connection with it, his whole past.24 This made Father furious. He wrote to him, and there was a bitter controversy. Around that same time, the Sacco-Vanzetti affair took place. That was the first blow to my good feeling about America. Father wrote a letter to an American paper blasting the travesty of justice that had taken place.

The Spanish Civil War came during the last years of his life. He was certainly against Franco, but he didn’t seem to get excited about it. He worried a great deal about the approaching world war, though. He thought we should escape to Denmark, where it was safe! We were scared stiff by Munich. Things got worse and worse. We didn’t know what to do—to uproot him and come to America and go to live at Aunty Bertha’s? It was really a blessing that he died when he did, you know. The very next day we packed up his books and papers. We came to New York on October 5, 1939. Mother went to Aunty Bertha’s farm, and I stayed with George Macdonald,25 a miserable isolationist to the nth degree!

In 1940 we took an apartment on Amsterdam Avenue. Mother died there in 1948.1 had married meanwhile. Mother died when my first daughter was six or eight months old. We came up here in 1948. My older daughter Marianne has a brain like her grandfather, yet with such sympathy and understanding for everyone. Now she is twenty-five and getting an M.A. in social work in Baltimore. Her sister, twenty-three, is studying dance >n Toronto.

Father’s attitude towards communism never changed one whit, nor about religion. He was very consistent all his life. In his last months he called in the French housekeeper. “I want her,” he said, “to be witness that on my deathbed I’m not recanting I do not believe in God!” I was interested, even sympathetic, in his ideas. But I was never really an anarchist. I don’t think it would ever work. Neither did Father at the end. He was very pessimistic about the world and in his political outlook. But he was always optimistic about himself, always cheerful, happy; he never sat and brooded, but was content to look out at the view and at his books. He sang hymns from Sunday School—the “Rock of Ages” and that sort of thing—and couldn’t keep a tune. He had a reputation as a cold person. But how he loved Mother! And he cried easily at anything noble.

Beatrice Fetz

Ossining, New York, January 21, 1973

Beatrice Fetz was the daughter of George Schumm (1856-1941) and Emma Heller Schumm (1856-1940), longtime associates of Benjamin Tucker, the foremost propagator of individualist anarchism in the United States. For twenty years George Schumm was proofreader and assistant editor of Tucker’s journal Liberty. He was also the translator of John Henry Mackay’s The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close of the Nineteenth Century, published by Tucker in Boston He and his wife, moreover, did many other translations for Tucker and in 1888 brought out a German-language version of Liberty under the title of Liber- tas. After Liberty expired in 1908, Schumm worked on The New York Post and then as chief proofreader for The Nation, until his retirement in 1930. His daughter Beatrice, eighty-eight when I interviewed her, a wonderful woman with an excellent memory and sharp wit, lived across the road from Tucker’s daughter Oriole (Riche, q.v.), on the site of the Stillwater Colony founded by Ralph Bor- sodi in 1939. She died in 1980 at the age of ninety-five.

Father was born of German parents in Galena, Illinois, on January 26, 1856, and died here around September 15, 1941. His father had gone to California in the gold rush but didn’t get much gold. Mother was born in Sauk City, Wisconsin, on October 1/1856, also of German parents; her father was a Forty- Eighter. She died here on March 29 or 30, 1941. Father went to work at thirteen as a printer’s devil, then became a compositor. He went to San Francisco at seventeen and worked as a printer. He published a little German paper, Der Wachter. He met mother in Chicago. She had graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1879 or 1880, where she roomed with Belle Case, the future Mrs. Robert La Follette.26 Father enrolled at Cornell around 1875, worked his way through, majored in philosophy. He became very interested in Karl Heinzen’s Pionier.27 One summer, while a student, he went to Boston and worked as a typesetter for the Pionier and became very good friends with Heinzen, whose granddaughter Rose, about my age, is still alive in Lewiston, Maine.

After Cornell, Father and Mother, who taught in Chicago, got together. They were married there and remained absolutely devoted to each other all their lives. William Salter28 said rhat father knew more about Nietzsche than anyone else in the world. Father and Mother established the Radical Review, which lasted about two years (1884-1885). I was born in Chicago in 1884. Father went up to St. Paul, Minnesota, to teach German in public school for a while. He could recite German poetry endlessly, from memory. With the Forty-Eighters and the Freie Gemeinde he was in a liberal milieu and evolved towards anarchism.

When I was three we went to Boston, drawn by Benjamin Tucker, to work for his Liberty. Tucker owned two crummy little houses in the Crescent Beach section. In one of them he published Liberty and Libertas. He lived upstairs. Victor Yarros also lived there. In the other house lived Sarah Holmes,29 and my parents and I lived upstairs. We lived there about three years, and I went to nursery school in Roxbury with Rose Heinzen. Tucker had a bellowing laugh, and we had to run away lest he laugh again. On the boat to Europe he was known as ‘Thomme qui rit,” after Victor Hugo’s novel of that title. Yet he was a terribly proper person. He wouldn’t be seen in his shirtsleeves for anything.

I was only a small child then, but I can remember a tremendous amount of talk about Haymarket. Father knew August Spies30 from Chicago. He had a very beautiful voice, and when taken to the gallows sang “Annie Laurie.”31 Father went to see him in jail and he said, “We had nothing to do with the bomb.” My impression is that they disliked Johann Most, but we never saw him.

Sarah Holmes was a clam. She stuck to our family. She lived in our house in a room in the attic. She and Tucker were sweethearts. She had been a telegrapher. She had met a Dr. Dyer, gone with him to Europe, had a child (Vega), and come back to Boston. She was gung-ho for women’s rights and didn’t do any housework. So Dyer went off with the child, and she cried her eyes out. She was an exceedingly self-centered person. She was a sponge. She did the dishes sometimes as a help to my mother. She’d dust a leg of the piano, go out and read some Browning, then dust the other.

Victor Yarros lived with a young lady named Rachelle Slobodinsky,32 who had come over with him from Russia. I was a girl of three, with a little white dress and a sash, and she objected to my mother that she overdressed me! She studied medicine and became a specialist in venereal diseases in Chicago. She and her husband lived in Hull House with Jane Addams,33 and she lectured there on venereal disease to groups of men whom they brought in off the street, as far as I can remember. We never saw them after they left the east He died in California not very long ago, in the fifties perhaps.

We moved to New York in 1899 or 1900. J. William Lloyd was the father of ' my best friend Oriole. They lived in Westfield, New Jersey, in a house with three or four acres of land. He wrote poetry, but didn’t do anything for a living, as far as I know. His wife had died. Oriole, I think, was born in Florida. His sister took care of her. Leonard Abbott34 built a little house on Lloyd’s property in Westfield. His son Morris came to my summer camp in Woodstock in the early twenties.

Max Baginski’s3’ wife Millie was Father’s sister. They lived in the Bronx for many years, but he spent his last years on a farm in Towanda, Pennsylvania. He considered me a conservative creep, associated with the Tucker school. He and Father never had much to talk about, though we were very good friends with Millie. In Chicago Baginski had been a member of Die Feuchte Ecke [The Damp Corner], a beer-drinking club. Mv father thought a great deal of Robert Reitzel,36 one of the names of my childhood, and we always got the Arme Teufel. Voltairine de Cleyre,37 whom my parents respected, was never very well because she had inherited syphilis from her father. Father and Rudolf Rocker visited each other often in Croton (we lived on Mount Airy) and Mohegan, and haci wonderful long discussions.

There were no real activities among the Tuckerites after 1908, no groups, no journals worth speaking of. Friends got together and talked but there was no movement. Father was a proofreader for the New York Post, then worked for The Nation as a makeup man for the last years of his life. My brother, incidentally, bought the small house in Ossining that Bolton Hall38 had given Emma Goldman. He sold it, and now it is part of an estate.

I was disgusted that my family hadn’t told me about the English cooperative movement. We got a cooperative going in Croton, and that seemed to me a good way of coping with the economic question, yet they never said anything about it. All that talk I heard, it seemed long involved sentences that led nowhere. I never thought that all those things they were talking about could ever work.

Helena Bailie

Freeport, New York, March 26, 1973

Helena Tufts Bailie, Professor of Sociology, Emerita, at Nassau Community College on Long Island, is the daughter of William Bailie (1866-1957), the biographer of the pioneer American anarchist Josiah Warren (1798-1874)39 and an associate of Benjamin R. Tucker, America’s leading apostle of individualist anarchism. Her mother, Helen Tufts Bailie (1874-1963), was likewise an anarchist, though not as individualistic as her husband, being a friend of Emma Goldman and involved in the Modern School movement inspired by the execution of Francisco Ferrer in 1909 (see Part Four). Professor Bailie, as she notes in her interview, was named after the anarchist poet Helena Born, a close friend of her parents and frequent contributor to Tucker’s journal Liberty.

I WAS BORN in 1914 and am a professor of sociology at Nassau Community College, with an A.B. from Radcliffe and a Ph.D. from Columbia. My parents were William Bailie, a member of Benjamin Tucker’s circle in Boston, and Helen Tufts Bailie, also a member of Tucker’s circle but a friend and admirer of Emma Goldman’s as well. Father was born in Belfast in November 1866, the son of a carpenter. His father died in an accident when father was eleven. So he had to go to work. He was apprenticed to a basket weaver. He left Belfast at eighteen for Manchester, where he married his landlady’s daughter and had children. He became interested in William Morris40 and Edward Carpenter,41 as well as Kropotkin. He was an avid reader, self-educated, and learned to read French and German. He was an early member of the American Economic Association. He came to Boston and established a wicker-basket firm. He met Tucker through Liberty. His lover, Helena Born, was close to Miriam Daniell, both from Bristol, both contributors to Liberty. Helena (I’m named after her) died of cancer in 1901, having turned Father over to Helen Tufts. Father was later active in the Ethical Society. He was basically a pragmatist and saw himself in the tradition of Jefferson. He opposed socialism because he thought it would lead to bureaucracy.

Mother was from an old New England family. She was a secretary in Louis Brandeis’s law office in Boston and later a proofreader for Houghton Mifflin. In 1928 she was expelled from the DAR42 chapter in Somerville, Massachusetts, for criticizing its Red-baiting activities (the chapter was named after her ancestor, Anne Adams Tufts). A typescript of her diary is in the Smith College Women’s Collection.

Father had respect for his workers as men and as craftsmen. He allowed them to decide their wages, according to the individual’s skills and experience. He himself had started his apprenticeship in Manchester by reading to the men and going out for beet He kept his business records in code. There was nothing shady about that, but part of his “Mind your own business” philosophy. Father s interests were much broader than anarchism, where Tucker was more concentrated on anarchism. Mother, like Pearl Johnson Tucker, had strong sympathies for Emma Goldman and the anarchist-communists.

One of my first memories of my parents was of their soapboxing in the street for women’s suffrage. Their friend, Adeline Champney, taught me to read by the Montessori method.45 I remember playing with those cut-out alphabetical letters. Letters and words became my friends. I still love to do word puzzles. Father died in 1957 or 1958, mother around 1963. (She was born January 9, 1874.) Mother was neurotic and unhappy. When mad she wouldn’t speak to us for weeks. My younger brother died at three of pneumonia he had caught from me, and she never forgave me.

Laurance Labadie

Suffern, New York, March 22, 1975

Laurance Labadie, born on June 4, 1898, was the son of Joseph A. Labadie (1850— 1933), the well-known anarchist printer and founder of the Labadie Collection of radical and labor literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Laurance, a tool maker and automobile worker in Detroit, learned to operate the small hand press that he inherited from his father, on which he printed his own essays and poems. He also inherited his father’s political views, being a great admirer of Josiah Warren, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker, of whom Jo Labadie had been a longtime associate. “To me,” wrote Laurance in 1935, “Tucker has done more practical work for the advancement of liberty than any other man, living or dead, with the possible exception of Proudhon.”44

When I visited him in 1975, Laurance lived in a little stone house in the woods, once part of a School of Living colony founded by Ralph Borsodi, a single-taxer who preached a back-to-nature philosophy. The house was filthy and had no source of heat except for a small potbellied stove. It was cluttered with books and journals, including an original set of Tucker’s Liberty. In addition, there were letters and photographs from Tucker and other anarchists, as well as Tucker’s big mahogany desk, complete with pigeon-holes and roll-top cover, given to Laurance by Tucker’s daughter (Oriole Tucker Riche, q.v.). Ill and alone—a “recluse,” he called himself—Laurance was a small, bearded man of seventy-six, agitated, cantankerous, and out of sorts. His mind wandered, at times he was incoherent, and he seemed to be anxious for rest. He died five months later, on August 12, 1975, one of the last of the old guard of individualist anarchism. His books and papers were deposited in the Labadie Collection by his niece, Carlotta Anderson.45

My father, as you know, was an anarchist in Detroit. Mother was a devout Catholic, but gentle and undomineering. Neither of them told me what to do or how to behave. They never said, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t do that,” but let me develop in my own way. Father never even spoke to me about anarchism; he thought it was not his business to indoctrinate me in anything. Around our house they were always talking about anarchism, Father with his visitors and friends. That was their life, their overriding interest. They talked about it all the time.

Father met Peter Kropotkin in Detroit in 1901 [actually 1897], in the engineering room of the waterworks. Kropotkin and Elisee Reclus,46 as I recall it, were building a papier-mache model of the world. Father wrote a note about Kropotkin and inserted it in a bound volume of the journal Truth, at a page with a drawing of Kropotkin [in the August 1884 number]: “Kropotkine was a small man, with a large head, bushy hair and whiskers, talked English very well, and his movements were quick, as tho surprised.”

James Martin wrote a good book about individualist anarchism,47 but it leaves out the human element; you don’t get .the feeling that these people knew each other.

I can see Mussolini being a Stirnerite: Every man for himself Stirner didn’t preach any morality. So Father was right in not taking a stand with Benjamin Tucker [in favor of Stirner’s individualism] rather than with Kropotkin’s communist anarchism, and that made Tucker angry.

The communistic principle is inherent in the very life process. A new-born child must be given according to his needs; the problem is to wean the child towards self-sufficiency.

What would you think if I told you that anarchism is a pipe-dream? But that’s exactly what I’ve come to believe.

Agnes Inglis48 was a “beautiful person,” to use the current language.

John Scott49 and Jo Ann Wheeler [Burbank, q.v] sent me the mimeograph machine from their Mother Earth. I repaired it and printed my paper Discussion on it.

Steven T. Byington’s50 translation of the Bible, The Bible in Living English, was published in 1972 by the Watchtower Society in New York, who bought the rights from his estate.

Alexandra Kropotkin

New York City, March 10, 1965

Alexandra Kropotkin (known as “Sasha”) was born in Bromley, England, on April 15, 1887, the only child of Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), one of the preeminent figures in the history of anarchism. She was named after Kropotkin’s brother Alexander, who had committed suicide in Siberian exile the year before her birth. When the tsarist order crumbled in 1917, Sasha accompanied her parents to their homeland, but she left after her father’s death in 1921, repelled by the Bolshevik dictatorship. Settling in New York, she supported herself by writing magazine articles as well as a Russian cookbook. Though not herself an anarchist, she cherished her father’s memory, lectured on him at the Libertarian Book Club (see Part Six), and kept in touch with his former comrades. She died on July 4, 1966, at the age of seventy-nine.

You’re writing a history of Russian anarchism? What are you trying to prove? There’s only one important thing: the Commie sons-of-bitches wanted power! And I’ll tell you something else: there were a lot of funny bastards among the anarchists too!

Father refused to see only one man during all our years in England. He would see everyone, from the Emperor of Japan to the most raggedy anarchist. That man was Lenin, who was in London for a conference during the early part of the century. The Bolsheviks took away everything, including our 90,000- desiatin estate in Tambov province [nearly 250,000 acres]. I hate politics and power-seekers!

My name, Sasha, was unpronounceable to the English. I was called “Miss Satchel.” I drank cow’s milk as a baby, and the cow was also called “Satchel.” I can dimly remember looking out the window from my crib and seeing the leaves on the trees. My English nurse, Nellie, a Salvation Army member, was shocked that I didn’t say prayers at night. She taught me, and Father did not object. Since then I have never lost my belief in a supreme wisdom.

Father taught me to fence with sticks. He believed that women should know how to defend themselves. I knew all the curse words, and Father relied on me for such information. We had a steady stream of visitors, including strangers as well as close friends, like Cherkezov.51 Diadia (Uncle) Cherkezov is what I called him, and soon all the anarchists called him Diadia.

Cherkezov and Father and Rocker spoke often at the Berner Street and Jubilee Street Clubs. Did you know that on his trip to America Father induced Booker T Washington to write his memoirs?52 Or that when I grew up they tried to marry me off to a Bakunin?

When the First World War broke out, Father was mad that he was too old to enlist in the French Army. When he returned to Russia in 1917, Kerensky55 offered him a government post as Minister of Education. Father replied indignantly, “Don’t you know that I am an anarchist?” Father later met Lenin (whom he wouldn’t see in England) at the apartment of Bonch-Bruevich. '4

Emma Goldman visited Father at Dmitrov.55 She was a frightful person! When Father died, Lenin offered a state funeral for him, with burial in the Kremlin wall. But I refused, and he was buried, with religious hymns, with his ancestors in the Novodevichii Monastery. The funeral procession passed the Butyrki prison, where the inmates shook the bars on their windows and sang an anarchist funeral anthem.

Did you know that an anarchist named Rubinchik organized the Kronstadi rebellion?56 I hid him out after it was over.

The Goldwater defeat57 made me sick. I haven’t yet gotten over it. Fanny Schapiro58 is very ill, but you ought to see her. She has a box or two of her husband’s papers in her closet. You ought also to see Mark Mratchny [q.v.]. He’s a psychoanalyst on Gramercy Park. I’ll call him up for you. You know, psychoanalysis is shit!

John J, Most, Jr.

Boston, October 28, 1979

John J. Most, Jr., was the elder of two sons of Johann Most (1846-1906), the leading German anarchist in America. A retired dentist, he lived alone in a small apartment in a Boston senior citizens’ project. I telephoned and wrote him a number of times in an effort to arrange an interview, but Dr. Most adamantly refused. In October 1979, after participating in a Sacco-Vanzetti conference at the Boston Public Library, I went to his apartment uninvited and knocked on the door. Presently Dr. Most appeared. He told me to go away; he was sick, needed rest, and had to take his pills. After a moment’s hesitation I walked inside, made him a cup of tea (which he drank with his pills), and stayed and talked for three hours. I parted as a friend. Over the next few years we exchanged a number of letters, and he repeatedly invited me to visit him. He was lonely, he said, and unwell. But I, to my shame, never went. He died of pneumonia on January 30, 1987, at the age of ninety-two.

I WAS BORN in New York on May 19, 1894, the son of Johann Most and Helene (with an “e” at the end) Minkin. I had a younger brother, Lucifer, who died at the age of fifty-four. I was eleven when Father died. I loved and admired him. He was a thousand years before his time, morally, mentally, and intellectually. But I hardly ever saw him, as he lectured and traveled all over and was very busy with his paper, Freiheit, which he edited on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge. So I hardly knew him. Yet I had great respect for him and his ideals. He was a very brave man, always being persecuted by the police. He was the most hated man in America.

We were very poor and lived in a series of basement apartments on the Lower East Side. The neighbors threw insults—and sometimes rocks—at us: “There go the filthy anarchists!” “There’s that anarchist rat family!” We were abused continually. Even now, in my old age, I’m occasionally accosted; once this happened in a neighborhood supermarket, where someone called me a “dirty anarchist.”

Once when Father was imprisoned on Blackwell’s Island, the police came and ripped up our whole apartment. And after the Haymarket incident they tried to kidnap him and take him to Chicago to be tried along with the others as an accessory. Teddy Roosevelt, too, was always denouncing the anarchists, and especially my father. Once in St. Louis Roosevelt was publicly criticizing Father, who happened to be in the audience. Father hollered out, “Halt Maul, Heisser Luft1.' (Shut your mouth, Hot Air!) He was arrested on the spot and kept in jail for five days until Teddy had left town.

Father felt that even his own anarchist friends had betrayed him—Justus Schwab,59 Max Baginski, and the rest. August Lott60 had an affair with my mother while Father was alive. Alexander Berkman was as phony as a three- dollar bill. Father thought him a hypocrite; he called Berkman and Emma Goldman “financial anarchists,” who made a living off the movement. He strongly disapproved of the three of them—Berkman, Goldman, and their artist friend [Modest Stein]—living together as a threesome. “Degenerates,” he called them. Emma had guts and brains but was lacking in character, he thought. He never forgave her.

Even Father’s death is an example of how his comrades let him down. He was lecturing in Cincinnati and staying with Genosse [Comrade] Weiss. He had a severe cold, probably pneumonia, yet he had to go outside to use the privy, a block away from the house. Maybe Weiss didn’t realize how sick he was. In his last years Father was very unhappy about his comrades and the way the world was going. But he never doubted his anarchism. That was his religion. At home Father spoke to us in English, but with a heavv accent, though he knew English well. He didn’t believe in circumcision, but I had an infection at the age of three and a half and had to be circumcised. It’s still an unpleasant memory. There were so many tragedies in our life. And my parents did not get along. (They were never, of course, formally married.) Mother was too young for him; she was nineteen and he forty-six or forty-seven when they got together. She was a midwife by profession, an intelligent woman who later wrote her memoirs in the Porverts. Though Jewish, she came to believe in the divinity of Jesus and thought that Moses was a tyrant. She died at the age of eighty, about twenty-five years ago. In Father’s last years things became worse and worse between them. He was growing old and getting impatient. They quarreled and threw pots and pans at each other when my brother and I were babies. Mother, I think, was unfair to him. She should have been more tolerant.

So you can see how sad our lives were and why I did not want to talk to you. I still share my father’s ideas. My son, Johnny Most the sportscaster,61 has no interest in anarchism whatever. But my grandchildren are interested, very much so. Your visit was an historic occasion for me. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you. God bless you—to use a crude expression!

Mary Schwab

Walnut Creek, California, September 26, 1981

Born in Russia in 1884, Mary Schwab emigrated with her family at the age of five and sold newspapers on the streets of Philadelphia. Moving to Peoria, Illinois, where her father had found work in a brewery, Mary left school at fifteen to become a factory worker. In 1911 she moved to San Francisco and the following year married Rudolph Schwab, the son of a defendant (Michael Schwab) in the Haymarket trial. Although she never completed high school, Mary enrolled in night classes at San Francisco Law School and graduated at the top of her class. She was also an accomplished artist and, during the Depression of the 1930s, organized an art class that became the center for Bay Area artists involved in the WPA. I interviewed Mary in the company of her sister Berta Rantz, a former teacher and an impressive personality in her own right. Mary died on March 30, 1983, at the age of ninety-nine.

I WAS born Manya Charsky on March 10, 1884, in Labinsk in southern Russia. My father, Leon Charsky, later took his wife’s name, Rantz, and was known as Louis Rantz. He was a distiller and the overseer of an estate, a very capable man who could do anything with his hands. He was born in 1831 or 1832 and had a liberal father who took him around the country when practicing his trade—a glazier, I think. Father became a socialist early in life and remained a humanitarian until he died.

We left Russia when I was five years old. I was a talkative, serious child, always asking questions, and they had to tape my mouth when we sneaked across the border to Tarnopol. We traveled steerage from Hamburg and it was awful—crowded, people relieving themselves where they slept, and so on. I went up on deck once by myself and found a bathroom—the first indoor toilet I ever saw—and got locked in. I had to shout until they came and got me out.

We lived in Philadelphia for a few years, in poverty. Father got a job in a brewery in Peoria, Illinois, supervising the yeast department, at twenty-five dollars a week, a very good salary in those days (the 1890s). When we went out there to join him he took us to a nice house he had rented. We opened the door and there was a rush of warm air—it had a furnace, the first we ever had. In Philadelphia we froze during the winter. We remained in Peoria for quite a few years. I went to school there and learned shorthand but never finished high school. Father meanwhile was kicked out of his job when someone left a valve open at the brewery and he was held responsible. He was reduced to night watchman at a salary of nine dollars a week.

I came to San Francisco in December 1911, when I was twenty-seven. In Philadelphia, where we had returned from Peoria, I had joined the Socialist Labor Party and read the Weekly People. I particularly admired the articles by an “Alexander Ralph” of San Francisco, and now I met him. He turned out to be Rudolph Schwab, son of the Haymarket anarchist Michael Schwab, a tall, handsome young man and fellow member ot the SLP We fell in love at first sight and were inseparable until his death. The whole family loved me, despite my being Jewish, and took me in, especially Mother Schwab—all except Rudolph’s sister Ida, who was not very friendly.

Rudolph and I got married. We took part in the Portland free-speech fight of 1913 (I have a whole valise of material about it). Girls picking berries were striking for higher wages, and we went up there to help them. We made "speeches, were arrested, spoke again, raised money, and gave it all to the strikers. C.E.S. Wood62 gave us his support and encouragement. It was an independent strike, not sponsored by the SLP, and we were kicked out of the party for it.

During the strike Lucy Parsons63 came to Portland and met us. She said to Rudolph, “You remind me of Michael and Maria.” Maria, Rudolph’s mother, was a lovely woman, also a member of the SLP in San Francisco and warm and friendly to me. Around 1915 she went to South America to see her brother Rudolph Schnaubelt, who had fled there after the Haymarket incident and set up a metals shop, I think, and did very well. He raised a family, which Mother Schwab met. She corresponded with them until Rudolph’s death, around 1927 or 1928. He never came back to the U.S. or we would certainly have known about it. Mother Schwab told us that they did not know who threw the bomb. She talked about the rigged trial and false testimony and how her husband was unjustly convicted and how she loved him. The case left him a broken man.

My husband Rudolph was a passionate reader, and he wrote articles and poetry. When we read Frank Harris’s The Bomb,64 an awful book, we decided to go to Chicago to do research on the case and write our own history. But we never did. Rudolph organized a jitney union in San Francisco (Alex Horr65 was a member), and he was on a police list of sixty men to be arrested after the Mooney-Billings affair.66 He went to Los Angeles to organize a jitney union there. I saw him off at the station. A few days later I got word tnat he had fallen ill with the flu—the great epidemic had broken out. I went down immediately and found him in the hospital. He was dying. His beard and mustache had begun to grow again, since he was unable to shave. “Beard and mustache returned”—those were his last words to me, spoken with a faint smile. That was in May 1917.

I was devastated by his death. It was as though I myself had died. At loose ends, I enrolled in the San Francisco Law School in 1917, though I had no high school diploma. The professor who interviewed me was impressed by my knowledge of economics, sociology, and the like, gleaned largely from SLP schools. I was graduated in 1921 and afterwards became the first woman assistant district attorney in San Francisco’s history.

Henry R. Schnaubelt

Stockton, California, September 24, 1981

Henry R. Schnaubelt was seventy-nine years old when I interviewed him in 1981. A retired baker, he lived alone in a small house in Stockton, California. In appearance he was tall and sturdy, with clear blue eyes and florid complexion. The Schnaubelt clan—Edward, Henry, Rudolph, Ida, and Maria (wife of the Haymarket defendant Michael Schwab), as well as their mother Rebecca—played an active role in the anarchist movement in Chicago during the 1880s. Rudolph, indeed, was (falsely) accused of throwing the Haymarket bomb. Fleeing Chicago, he made his way to England and from there to Argentina, where he prospered, raised a family, and lived out his life in peace. I asked Henry (son of Edward and nephew of Rudolph) if he had any documentary materials. “Well,” he replied, “I still have the old family picture book.” The words were music to the historian’s ears. Opening the album, he drew out a beautiful photograph of Rudolph Schnaubelt and his family in Buenos Aires, taken about ten years after the Haymarket incident. Henry Schnaubelt died on June 16, 1992, two weeks before his ninetieth birthday.

My Uncle Rudolph went to Buenos Aires and, as far as I know, he never came back to the U.S. He never got in touch with the family if he did, and that would have been very unlikely. I heard that he was raising cattle in Argentina and making a good living at it.

My Uncle Henry changed his name to Snowbelt. He became a deputy sheriff in San Francisco and was killed in a shoot-out with bandits. He’s buried in San Francisco.

My father, Edward Schnaubelt, came to California after the Haymarket affair. When I was a boy, he staked a claim in Trinidad, just north of Eureka, but was done out of it by an unscrupulous partner, a land speculator who hired armed guards to kick us off the land. We were gathering up our gardening tools—my father, my brother, and I—when the guards began shooting. My brother and I ran and got away, but Father was killed. That was in 1913, when I was twelve Father is buried in Trinidad. His gravestone reads, “Murdered by Capitalism.”

Milton W Thorpe

Hayward, California, September 26, 1981

Dr. Thorpe, a physician, was the husband of Johanna Altgeld Thorpe, named after Governor John P Altgeld of Illinois. Altgeld, in 1893, pardoned her father, Michael Schwab, a defendant in the Haymarket case, who had been serving a life sentence in prison. Johanna Thorpe grew up in San Francisco, where she became a doctor and a noted humanitarian, assisting in the rescue of Jews during Hitler’s persecutions. She died in 1972.

I was born in San Jose on January 6, 1901, and attended medical school at Berkeley, as did my wife Jennie. Her name was Johanna Altgeld Schwab, after the governor who had pardoned her father. We were married in 1927. Her mother, Maria Schwab, died soon afterwards, in the same year I think. She had come to San Francisco not long after her husband died. In Chicago she had remarried—a barber—and they all came out here. They were here when the earthquake and fire took place, in 1906.

My wife was a great philanthropist. She gave to the NAACP67 and other causes. She belonged to the Socialist Labor Party in San Francisco—the whole family did—and was a member of the Communist Party for a short time. She tried to save Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War.

Rudolph Schnaubelt was Maria Schwab’s older brother. He went to South America and made a lot of money down there. As far as I know, he never came back to the United States. He married down there and had children. My wife corresponded with them, but I no longer have the letters.

Grace Umrath

New York City, September 24, 1974; October 27, 1975

Grace Umrath is the granddaughter of Abe and Mary Isaak, pacifist Mennonites from Russia who became revolutionary anarchists in the United States, editing The Firebrand and Free Society and founding the Aurora Colony in California. Grace was a dancer in New York and then a librarian in California before marrying Heinz Umrath, a Dutch official at the United Nations, who died in 1987. I interviewed her in the New York apartment of her cousin Elmer Isaak (q.v.).

The Mennonites, as you know, originated in Holland and moved to Germany in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. In the late eighteenth century they were invited by Catherine the Great to colonize the Ukraine. They were good farmers and were granted freedom from military service in exchange for two years of forestry service. They never swore on the Bible. They spoke a low German dialect, a Plattdeutsch that resembled modern Dutch.

My grandparents, Abe and Mary Isaak, were born in the Mennonite village of Rosenthal, near Ekaterinoslav. Grandfather was born on October 4, 1856, and died at Lincoln, California, on December 10,1937. Grandmother was born April 5, 1861, and died in 1934. Grandmother’s father was the religious leader of the community. My grandparents were married according to the Mennonite rites, but their first child, Peter, had been conceived two months before, and when he was born seven months after their wedding Grandmother’s father, as religious leader of the sect, threatened to excommunicate them. Grandpa said that if you excommunicate me I’ll never come back, so Grandma’s father relented.

But Grandpa and Grandma left the colony for Odessa anyway. There he got a job in a bookstore and began reading revolutionary literature. He became an anarchist and never went back to the colony. When the tsarist police were about to arrest him, he sent his wife and three children to the colony and fled to Rio de Janeiro. He wrote to his family and told them to join him, but Grandmother’s father, who had promised to pay their fare to America, said no and insisted on the United States or he would not give them the money. So Grandpa went to Oregon, and his family sailed for New York and went right on to Portland to join him.

That was in 1889. They both went to work, and for a year left their children with an old Russian farmer with a homestead out in the woods, where they practically starved. By 1895 they had earned a little money and knew enough English to start The Firebrand. Grandma helped support the paper, and Free Society after it, by taking in wash. Then Grandpa bought an old farm outside Portland and published the paper there. They raised their own food, had a cow, lived on very little, and put all their money into the paper, which they edited with Henry Addis and A. J. Pope until 1897. That was when Grandpa and the other editors were arrested for publishing an “obscene poem” by Walt Whitman in the paper and sending it in the mail.68 One old fellow was not there when the police came and was so insulted at not being arrested that he turned himself in!

After Grandpa’s release, he moved his family to San Francisco and started the paper going again under the new name Free Society, as The Firebrand had been banned from the mails. They remained in San Francisco from 1897 to the end of 1900, and then moved to Chicago. (Pete, the oldest child, stayed in San Francisco.) They bought an old house and resumed publication of Free Society. Everyone who came through Chicago—Abner Pope, Emma Goldman, Voltai- rine de Cleyre—stayed in the house, though Voltairine moved in with Jake and Annie Livshis, who had a small dry goods store near the Loop and eked out a shabby existence. Mother said that Voltairine was very beautiful.

When Kropotkin visited Chicago in 1901, my grandparents and their children took the train to a station outside the city to meet him and have a chance to talk to him before he was swamped by an admiring crowd in the city. Mother worked for Clarence Darrow69 for a while, then enrolled in medical school. When my grandparents left Chicago for New York after the McKinley assassination,70 Mother wanted to stay, but Grandpa said she was too young and insisted that she go with them.

That year, 1901, Leon Czolgosz had come to see Grandpa and said he was going to kill McKinley and wanted to join the anarchist organization. Grandpa said we have no organization to kill anybody. He thought the fellow was an agent provocateur and published a warning in Free Society. Governor Warren’s "report on the Kennedy assassination71 mentions Czolgosz and Free Society but not Grandfather, and has the facts all wrong.

What happened was that after McKinley was shot the police came to the house to arrest my grandparents. Not long before, when a group of anarchists had tried to free Alexander Berkman from prison, they had corresponded with my Uncle Abe and he had kept all the letters. Now, when the police arrived, Grandma ran upstairs to get them and rolled them up into her skirt. As she went to the basement door a policeman tried to stop her but Mother grabbed him by the collar and started to talk to him quickly, long enough to allow Grandmother time to put the letters in the furnace. The police knew she had done something and ran downstairs and searched and searched but couldn’t find anything The letters weren’t burned but only mixed up with the rest of the trash in the furnace.

The police took them all to prison. Mother and Grandmother were released after one night, and Grandpa and Uncle Abe several days later. Mother was put in a cell with drunks and prostitutes, and it was quite a traumatic experience in her life. She always thought it made her timid--afterwards she would always lock up the house when she was alone, and so on. Grandpa was very proud of the incident and loved to tell the story. Darrow offered to defend him, but he and his son were released.

They moved to New York after the affair and kept the paper going till 1904 in a house Grandpa bought on Teller Avenue in the Bronx. He worked at Maisel’s bookstore72 to make ends meet. Around 1908 they sold the house to Saul Yanovsky73 and went to California to start the Aurora Colony. My grandparents were never at Home Colony [near Tacoma, Washington], but Mother went up there a few years later and married Franz Erkelens. (He had formerly been married to Grace Allen, the schoolteacher and a daughter of George Allen.) I lived there for a while. You ought to see Sonya Keene in Seattle. She was Sadie Edelstadt, and her parents, like her Uncle David,74 died of tuberculosis, so she was brought up in Chicago and Montana by her Uncle Abe and his wife. Abe was a shoemaker, then a shoe store proprietor, who sold boots to miners. They moved with Sonya to Home Colony. Mother, who had known them all in Chicago, went to visit, met Erkelens, and married him.

I met Alexander Berkman in San Francisco when he was publishing The Blast with Fitzi.75 It was shortly before the Preparedness Day bomb went off. I had read his Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist and idolized him. He was very nice and dignified but no longer young. I once asked “Zully”—Ben Zuller—if it was possible that Mooney and Billings were guilty of the bombing, and he said, “There’s a small possibility that they were innocent!” He advised me to ask Uncle Pete about it—Pete was also on the Mooney-Billings defense committee. I believe that Mooney and Billings were framed but that they were also guilty. The prosecutor knew they did it but, not having sufficient evidence to convict them, purchased false testimony and other fraudulent evidence.

I used to take piano lessons from Rena Mooney. She had a large copy of that photograph—with the clock—on the piano leaning against the wall. It was a phony picture, you know, a composite with the clock superimposed.76 The defense could never produce the negative in court. Berkman may also have been in on the scheme, but I have no precise knowledge about that. What happened, as I heard it, was that Billings had a suitcase rigged with dynamite, intended for a plant being struck. It was a Sunday—the day was chosen so that no one would be killed as in the Los Angeles Times explosion of 1910.77 Because of the parade, however, he was unable to cross Market Street. With the time bomb going, he panicked, put down the suitcase, and ran. Someone who knew him saw him and reported it to the police, who afterwards arrested him. Many of the comrades thought it a mistake to have used Billings, who had a previous record with dynamite. As for the photograph with the clock, it was never, as I said, produced at the trial by the defense, and everybody used to look at the picture and laugh at it. They all knew it was a fake.

I don’t know if Eric Morton78 was involved. He later became a heavy drinker, and after his young daughter—she was about seventeen—died of Hodgkin’s disease, his wife Anna (a sister of Esther Abramowitz Fox Foster) left him. He died, an impoverished alcoholic, in the County Hospital in San Francisco around 1930.

Grandpa, as I said, went out to California and bought this big piece of land near Lincoln, partly with money that Grandma inherited from her family in Russia and partly from subscriptions by prospective colonists. It had a big house and fine orchards. But the members came mostly from New York, Chicago, and other cities, they had no farming experience, and their idea of an anarchist colony was sitting under a tree with fruit dropping into your mouth. A few were Jewish doctors and dentists, and some accused Grandfather of being high-handed and anti-Semitic—which he wasn’t—during the bitterness of the breakup. Grandpa was the only real farmer, and he and Grandma did a lot of work on the place. Grandpa, by the way, preached and also practiced free love. He had affairs with all those names you mentioned. As a young man in Russia he was called “the kissing bug,” and only when a baby was on the way did he get married. He practiced free love except one time when a man looked fondly at Grandma, and then he didn’t practice it. In fact, he sent her on a trip to Europe with Emma Goldman to break it up. That was around 1900, and Grandma went on to Russia to visit her family.

At any rate, the colony broke up. The land was divided up, with those who had paid in large amounts of money getting twelve acres and smaller amounts six. The members drew lots after making a numerical grid of rhe land, and Grandpa drew a number for a good plot with the big house—called the Colony House—on it. But fearing accusations of shenanigans, he put it back, then picked a number with a plot of unimproved land. There were about thirty tamilies in the colony, including a Frenchman with a motorcycle named Bouquet. Grandpa cleared his plot, built a house, and lived there for the rest of his life. By the First World War his anarchist activity was largely over. He corresponded with many people but was no longer active in the movement.

But he retained his anarchist philosophy to the end. Pete had become a Communist, and when he came on visits they had violent arguments deep into the night, so that people on the next farm could hear them. When Abe Junior’s son became a Communist in the 1930s, Grandpa broke off his correspondence with them. Grandpa was not even a state socialist, let alone a Communist. He wanted a society with no government, no state.

Elmer B. Isaak

New York City, February 12, 1974

Elmer B. Isaak, an engineer who worked with Robert Moses, the New York urban planner, is the grandson of Abe and Mary Isaak, Mennonite immigrants from southern Russia, who were among the most active anarchists in the United States between the 1890s and 1920s, publishing the journal Free Society and founding the Aurora Colony in California (see interview with Elmer’s cousin, Grace Umrath).

I WAS BORN in 1912 and am a civil engineer by profession. My father was Abe Isaak, Jr., and my mother, Rose, who is Jewish, is ninety-one and still lives in Mount Vernon, New York, where my father died in 1953. My Aunt Mary, Father’s sister, is still alive at eighty-eight in Santa Cruz, California. She had lived in Home Colony for several years during the 1940s and 1950s, as well as some thirty or forty years before that, when she married Franz Erkelens, a fellow colonist. Her daughter Dorothy lives in Berkeley, California, and hei other daughter, Grace [Umrath, q.v.], in Amsterdam. Pete Isaak, Mary’s older brother, died in California in the 1940s; he had a daughter, Mildred, who died of cancer in her forties. Dad had me and my brother Harvey.

Abe and Maria (Mary) Isaak married in 1879 in a Mennonite colony near Odessa. Their three children were born there: Pete (1880), Abe Junior (1883), and Mary (1885). The family moved to Odessa, where Abe Senior became active in the anti-tsarist movement. He was about to be arrested in 1889 but was warned and left for America. He sent for his family the following year. They stayed in New York for a couple of years and then went to Portland, Oregon.

Father went to school in Portland. Their language, of course, was German. In school the teacher called the roll, and each student raised his hand and said “Present.” Father didn’t understand this, and when his name was called he held up his hand with a pencil and said “Pencil.” Another story that Father used to tell of Portland was that Grandfather went to take the trolley to work but forgot his fare and had to go home for it and caught a later car. The earlier one, it turned out, plunged over a bridge and many people were killed. The whole family helped publish The Firebrand and later Free Society. That’s how Father learned the trade of printer, which he was to practice for most of his life.

My grandparents were naturalized in San Francisco in 1899. The family founded Free Society there and moved it to Chicago and then New York, where they lived in the Bronx. Father remained in New York when the family went west to start Aurora Colony in Lincoln, California. He married Mother in 1911, which caused a furor among the anarchists. He worked as a compositor, then as a linotype operator, for the New York Sun and became chairman of his union chapel. He was always proud of that. He later went into business but paid his union dues till the day he died, and they, the typographical union, buried him.

By the 1930s Father had ceased to believe in anarchism. He never talked anarchism to me. He read The Nation and New Republic and became a good New Deal Democrat. He kept some of his contacts with the anarchists, though, and we used to visit Stelton and spent a few summers at Mohegan Colony in the 1920s. He was also deeply influenced by Henry George and the single tax and got me to read Progress and Poverty.79 And he and Mother, and especially my grandparents, spoke often of the Haymarket affair. Haymarket, with the big monument near Chicago, became real to me, and I had an emotional feeling about it.

Grandfather, by contrast, never abandoned his anarchism. He was always talking to me about it, from the first time we visited him at Lincoln, California, in 1920. The Aurora Colony had broken up by then, but some of the oldtimers were still there. It was a fruit farm, with peaches, pears, and marvelous figs. Grandfather clung to anarchism to the end. But he wasn’t dogmatic about it. For him anarchism was not just “no government,” but society would be organized into committees to produce goods and services. Anarchism did not mean disorganization; it meant simply no formal government. But he never convinced me that it would work. As an old man he still believed that there would be a social revolution some day. He died at the farm of rectal cancer in November 1937, an anarchist to the end. I was there when he died.

Grandmother, who died at the farm around 1934, used to call him “Isaak.” Once a month he got all dressed up in rural splendor, with a wide hat and a good coat, to attend meetings of the local irrigation board of the Nevada irrigation district in California, of which he was chairman. Then he would come home and mutter about the “damned fools” on the committee. So much for his future society of local committees!

Marion Bell

Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1974

Marion Bell (known as “Maisie”) was the daughter of the tall, red-bearded, Scot- tish-bom anarchist Thomas Hastie Bell (1867-1942), praised by Emma Goldman for his “propagandistic zeal and daring” and by Kropotkin as “a thoroughly honest and fully reliable man.”80 Bell’s wife Lizzie, a “lovely girl,” in Goldman’s description, was a sister of the well-known English anarchist John Turner, the first to be deported from the United States under the anti-anarchist law of 1903, adopted in the wake of President William McKinley’s assassination. Thomas Bell’s sister, Jessie Bell Westwater, was yet another member of the anarchist clan, as indeed was Maisie, though Maisie was never active in the organized movement. She did, however, have interesting recollections of such important figures as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Voltairine de Cleyre. In frail health when I interviewed her, Maisie died ot heart failure in 1979.

My father, Thomas Bell, became an anarchist as a young man in Scotland. He was later secretary to Frank Harris, the writer. He knew several languages well—but I believe you know this already. Mother, who had five sisters and six brothers, came from the Turner family of Bardfield, England. Her older brother John81 had a small grocery on Red Lion Street in London. He also worked as an insurance agent and organized the Shop Assistants’ Union. Mother worked in his store during the 1880s, met his friends, and became an anarchist. She got together with Father, and they were active in the London movement. They knew Louise Michel,82 Errico Malatesta,83 Peter Kropotkin (here’s a letter from Kropotkin, dated 1900, testifying to Father’s character), Cherkezov, Chaikovsky,84 Stepniak,85 Nettlau,86 and William Morris. They visited Louise Michel in Paris. She kept dozens of stray cats. She gave Mother her photo [Maisie shows it to me]. They lived not far from Kropotkin, and they lived in Whiteway colony87 for a while, where they were friendly with Rachelle Edelmann88 and liked her enormously. They knew Harry Kelly89 during his London years, and his wife, Mary Krimont, had lived with them in London. Mother—Lizzie Turner Bell—was a lovely person and far ahead of her times. She and Father never got married, yet her mother was very puritanical.

Uncle Jack (John Turner) came to the U.S. on a lecture tour in 1896. He got as far west as Denver. He met Voltairine de Cleyre in Philadelphia and was deeply impressed by her. He told Mother about her, and they were excited at the news that she was coming for a visit to England [in 1897]. When she arrived she and Mother became good friends. Mother fixed her hair with a little curl for the photographer [Maisie shows me a picture]. When she went to lecture in Scotland Mother went with her. Mother said she had such fun with her. After her return to America she wrote Mother [Maisie shows me the letter—it reflects the warm, humorous side of Voltairine].

Father came to New York in 1904, a year after Uncle Jack had been expelled from the U.S. in the wake of the McKinley assassination. Mother and I came in 1905 (Mother was then pregnant with my brother Tom). Father was living in Emma Goldman’s apartment when we arrived, and we stayed there too. I was two years old then. Mother thought Emma a good cook and a very accomplished person. Mother had been sick on the boat coming across and said that there was nobody like Emma, who took care of her and me. Stella Ballantine [Emma’s niece] helped too. That was around September 1905.

When I was three I had a birthday party—I was born on April 2, 1903, in Nice, where Father was working for Frank Harris—and they used it as an occasion to raise money for Mother Earth, which Emma was about to launch. Father worked as a translator for Cook and Bernheimer. Between 1906 and 1910, when we left for Arizona, I remember Voltairine de Cleyre visiting us quite often, and how my parents looked forward to her visits. We all did, in fact, because she was interested in us children—and she gave us cookies. I don’t have the same memory of Emma Goldman when she came to visit. In fact, she thought that Mother was crazy for having another baby after myself and Tom Junior. Mother said that for such an intelligent person Emma didn’t show such good judgment in picking men. But Emma felt the same way about Mother: she believed that Father, with his severe asthma, was not going to live very long.

I have no recollections of Alexander Berkman in New York, but we visited him in San Francisco in 1916, and though he was so busy with his paper [The Blast] and with the Mooney-Billings case he was extremely friendly and did everything to make us feel at home. We just had a wonderful time staying with Berkman and Fitzi. I was thirteen then, and I listened but didn’t do any talking. Berkman came in every now and then to chat with Mother. Oh, I was so impressed with him. Such a beautiful character! And Fitzi too—she was so lovely! When we got back to Arizona they had trouble mailing The Blast from San Francisco, so they sent them to us. We kids went around on bicycles mailing batches in different post boxes. The papers went to Argentina and many other places. I remember thinking how they were being sent all over the world, to people that Mom and Dad knew, like Netlow [the spelling that Nettlau used in England] and Malatesta in London.

Father talked a lot about Eric B. Morton, who also worked on The Blast, and especially about how Morton had tried to tunnel Berkman to freedom from prison. We visited Morton in San Francisco in 1925. He had a beautiful daughter. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She died—I think of cancer of the throat. Then his wife left him.

We had moved from New York to Arizona in 1910. We got a homestead and went on the land. Uncle Bert (Albert Turner) had settled in Colorado after living for a while in Canada. He had had a ranch and a mine, had been very wealthy, a speculator making money, losing money. We were supposed to go to Florida to a warm climate for Father’s asthma. The men in his office gave him hip boots for Florida as a going-away present. But Uncle Bert wrote and said come west. Father had been a sheep rancher in Texas when he was twenty-one years old, so he knew something about the country. So we all got together and settled on a homestead between Phoenix and Buckeye, where alfalfa was grown. The Roosevelt dam had just been built and that gave the prospect of plentiful water. Uncles Bert and Charlie met us at the station. But after getting horses from an Indian reservation and going around the area, they decided not to stay there. So the men drove the wagon over towards Phoenix, Dad with all his books and papers. They put up a tent on our homestead and slept through a rainstorm. There was just nothing there—no house, no other place to live. But we stayed there till 1921, when we came to live in Los Angeles. We were still on the tarm near Phoenix when we got word of Kropotkin’s death [February 8, 1921], I remember all three—Mom, Dad, and Uncle Bert—sitting there with tears rolling down their faces, all broken up about it. They sent a telegram of condolence to Sophie Kropotkin in Moscow.

After visiting Berkman in San Francisco, we came down by boat to Los Angeles. We met William C. Owen90 there. He had written a long letter to Father about the Magon brothers. Owen was feeling sick and was a bit crotchety, but i was very much impressed with his writing. He had edited the English page of Magon’s newspaper, Regeneration. In Arizona and California the people used and insulted the Mexicans so terribly, you know! Father would get Mexicans out of all kinds of trouble when we lived in Phoenix. One was put in a mental institution for talking back to the boss’s wife, and Father got him out. I saw Enrique Flores Magon many times after we moved to Los Angeles. He had married a widow with five or six children. He was a very nice person and talked quite a lot, but Father always said that Ricardo Flores Magon was the driving force of the movement. Enrique was cheerful, charming, and pleasant, when you’d think he’d be so bitter at the way they were treated. Cesar Chavez and his farm workers are like another Magon movement.

I have another letter from Owen to Charles B. Cooper,91 an oldtime anarchist in Los Angeles. Father had lived with Cooper in New York in 1904, before we arrived from Scotland. In Los Angeles Cooper visited us often. He was well-read and played the piano. He used to tell me not to read only anarchist propaganda but good literature too. The first time he came to visit us in Los Angeles he brought a list of names and questions to ask Father about, and I thought that was so amusing, his catching up on old friends and what had happened to them.

My parents knew the Isaaks in New York. Dad really admired old man Isaak. For years I had been hearing about “old man Isaak, old man Isaak,” so when I went to visit the Isaaks in Lincoln in 1925 (I went with Augustin and Clementine Laforge, a French anarchist couple) I got such a surprise! He was way up in years, but he looked so straight and healthy! He had a nice place and even grew oranges up there'. Isaak and Laforge were active in forming producers’ cooperatives. I enjoyed the evening with them, and when I went down to Berkeley I met the daughter, Mary.

We knew all the anarchists in Los Angeles—the Kropotkin Group, C. V Cook, Sprading, Swartz, Henry Cohen, HanS Rossner, Walter Holloway, Scar- ceriaux, Sanftleben.92 Dad corresponded with Sadakichi Hartmann,93 who lived on an Indian reservation east of Los Angeles and whom Mom and Dad had known in New York. He was a heavy drinker, quite an entertainer, a very odd sort of person. Scarceriaux was very dedicated and dependable, a stocky man and a nice, pleasant person. He translated part of Father’s Oscar Wilde book94 into French, but it was much too flowery and not at all like Father.

C. V Cook was raised in Iowa, went to Chicago, then came west. Sadie and C. V were just precious. Henry Cohen’s wife was twenty years older than he was, and I once made a great faux pas when I referred to her as his mother. Hans Rossner came from Chicago, where he’d been an anarchist since the Haymarket days. By the time we knew him he was bitter and pessimistic, but Father respected his opinion. One day Ollie Rossner (Hans’s wife) said, “I’m going to have a cousin visiting from Chicago, Lillian Harman.”95 Mother was astonished: “Lillian Harman? I took her around a bit in London!” [in 1898], Mother told me that Lillian was a nice person, “but of course she wasn’t like Voltairine!” Lillian came, and we had a wonderful time. Her daughter Verna Johnston came out here to live, and my brother Tom used to visit her son George when he lived in Los Angeles.

Sprading had a good forum before we got here. He used to blame the IWWs96 for breaking up the meetings. Cooper and Sprading were on the outs when we got here. And I didn’t care much for Sprading. He was an affected speaker, not natural. He, Rossner, and Cook all used the word “libertarian” rather than “anarchist,” while C. L. Swartz used the word “mutualist.” Rudolf and Milly Rocker were here in 1926. Rebecca August’s [q.v.] husband drove them down from San Francisco. There was an anarchist couple in Los Angeles with two daughters, named Emma and Voltairine.

We got acquainted with many of the anarchists at the Walt Whitman School.97 It was kind of falling apart when we got here. They still ran the day school and had lectures, but it was dwindling. The Communists were taking over and there was terrible quarreling. The same thing happened later in Mohegan. The school was near beautiful Hollenbeck Park. It had so many interesting people. William Thurston Brown98 had already left, and a man named Levine, a Communist, was director. At the meetings Father used to get up and ask, “Don’t you believe in free speech?”

Pryns Hopkins was lecturing at Claremont College during his later years. They brought much of his stuff from the Santa Barbara school [Boy Land] to the Walt Whitman School to use—books, specimens, scientific equipment. We met quite a few people in L.A. from Home Colony. Robert Turner, one of Mother’s brothers, had lived there, as had C. V Cook’s daughter, Evadna, and Radium LaVene [q.v.]. But Mother always said, “I never met anybody like our friends in New York or London or Whiteway.” I think she was right. The anarchists were a special kind of people.

Brigitte Hausberger

Philadelphia, October 28, 1976

Brigitte Hausberger was the youngest of three daughters of the noted German anarchist Gustav Landauer (1870-1919). Born near Berlin in 1906, she was educated mostly at home by tutors. Her mother, the poet and translator Hedwig Lachmann, died of influenza in February 1918, and her father was murdered by soldiers in Munich on May 2, 1919, during the Bavarian Revolution. Brigitte married a Dr. Peschkowsky in the late 1920s (he later changed his name to Nichols, after his father, Nicolai), and they had two sons, Mike Nichols, the theater and film director, and a physician. Brigitte left Germany in 1940 and settled in New York. After Dr. Peschkowsky died, she married Dr. Franz Hausberger, who had come to the United States after the war and was a research physician in Philadelphia, where Brigitte, who had a Ph.D., assisted him in his laboratory. She was tall, thin, and fine-looking, like her father. In her house hung beautiful portraits of her father and mother, painted from life in the early part of the century. Brigitte also had some books and photographs, but she had sold her father’s library. His correspondence and papers are housed in the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and in the Buber Archive at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

I WAS born in Hermsdorf, a suburb of Berlin, in 1906. My mother, Hedwig Lachmann, was Father’s second wife and the daughter of a cantor; that’s why he calls her “Judin” in some of his letters. My sister Gudula was born in 1902. Charlotte (“Lotte”), Father’s daughter by his first wife, also lived with us. Father dominated our home both spiritually and physically. He was six feet five inches tall and Mother five feet two. What a sight! When they walked together, people would turn and look. Then there was his fur hat, which made him even taller. But apart from his height, it was his constant seriousness that made me, as a child, regard him with awe. He was very strict, and his height made him all the more forbidding.

Father slapped me three times during my childhood. The first time was when I yelled “scheisse” [shit] at a playmate, a boy, who had spat at me. Father was on the balcony and heard me. He ran down and slapped me, then gave the little spitter quite a scolding. I got the second slap when we were having red- beet soup for dinner. I didn’t like it and said, “It tastes like sand mixed with soap.” Father did not allow any criticism of food. Food that was prepared had to be eaten. We had to finish it all. Gudula and I were not even allowed to take the film off boiled milk, but we found a way to do it without his knowing.

The third slap occurred somewhat later. In the meantime another lesson in behavior took place in Krumbach, where we spent the summers. It was in 1918, the year my mother died. A man used to come to the house selling mushrooms. He had a terrible stammer: “P-p-p-pilze,” he would say. When he left, I mimicked him and said that it took him half an hour to say Pilze. Father was greatly annoyed. Instead of laughing at my talent for mimicry, he put me on his knee, took his watch from his vest pocket, and told me to repeat Pilze with a stutter for half an hour. I kept it up for ten minutes before I had to stop. I then burst into tears. Father let me down from his knee, patted my head, and said nothing. But the lesson has remained with me to this day. Whenever I hear or read of an exaggeration, I recall the word Pilze.

But Father did not slap me that time. The third slap came when I was amusing my sister Gudula by imitating the Catholic prayers that I heard people recite in the street over their rosaries. I copied their sing-song intonation. Father came in and slapped me for making fun of these simple, pious people. Such punishments do not conform with present-day pedagogy, but they did teach me not to use vulgar language, not to refuse any dish at table, and not to make fun of any religion.

In our own house we celebrated Christmas every year and had a large tree, the biggest that Father could find, decorated with shiny ornaments. Father played Santa Claus and would read us a Marchen of Brentano. And Easter was also a big event. We would go to the woods and hide Easter eggs, and afterwards would all go on an egg hunt. Once I found a golden necklace in an egg left in our house. There was a note with it: “Dear child, Give this to your mother. The Easter Bunny.” I still have that necklace!

Those were the things he did, thoughtful things. We lived in a Jewish neighborhood in Hermsdorf, and I played with Jewish children, but we were the only ones who celebrated Christmas and Easter. We were known as freireligidse or “dissident.” At school I was the only child who sat alone while the others studied religion and recited their prayers. But I attended school only briefly, and Gudula had no formal schooling at all. Instead, Father hired private tutors for us and also taught us a lot himself.

In our home, as a rule, silence reigned. Mother, a poet and translator, was occupied with her writing, and we had to be quiet because she was at work. Yet I can recall how much I enjoyed cuddling against her arms, which were so soft. She was a very quiet person, and it was Father who helped us with our education. Father worked very late at night, but before he went to bed he would come into my room, put me on the “potty,” then back to sleep. He did that, not Mother. I was at that time no more than three years old, yet how vividly I can recall every sweet moment of motherly and fatherly affection.

There wasn’t the family “togetherness” that one finds so often today. We met at meals, but otherwise did little together as a family. Father and Mother were working, and we had to be quiet. Our main meal was at midday, with a light supper in the evening: blueberries and milk I especially liked! Father, by the way, was a good swimmer and an even better ice skater In winter we went ice-skating on Sunday mornings, which we all liked very much. He smoked a lot—cigarettes, Russian cigarettes, with large mouthpieces. In the attic in Krumbach where he worked we found a large trunk filled with these mouthpieces.

Every Sunday we had guests, such as the Bubers, Richard and Paula Dehmel, Julius Bab and his family, and other literary and artistic friends." We would play with their children and dance and laugh together. The evenings would often become musicales, with Mother at the piano. But we had no anarchist guests. Father met his anarchist friends away from home, which was far from downtown Berlin, and he spoke very little to us children about anarchism, though once he painted for us a picture of an ideal socialist village, founded on mutual aid, without money but with comradely affection, and where each would work freely and peacefully at his own preferred craft.

Father revered Kropotkin and called him “my great friend.” And one day a man in a tattered suit came to our house, and the maid told father that a “beggar” was at the door. Father came down and exclaimed, “Aber, es ist der Milhsam!” It was the anarchist writer Erich Miihsam,100 whom I liked very much. That was around 1915. One time when Father visited Willy Spohr101 he took me along, in 1912 or 1913. We went for a rowboat ride, and they argued about the coming war, so much so that they didn’t see a big boat in our path until I warned them, and we got out of the way at the last moment.

Speaking of the war, Bernhard Meyer, a wealthy furrier, told me that Father often said to him, “Herr Meyer, war is coming. Leave Germany.” So they went to Switzerland and missed the horrors of the war. Herr Meyer said, “He had the foresight to send us out of Germany.”

We ourselves were on a train when the war broke out, coming back from our summer vacation. During the summer we used to visit both my grandmothers, at Karlsruhe and at Krumbach. Now we were returning from Krumbach to Berlin. In the same car were some English tourists. Mother, who spoke and translated a number of foreign languages, conversed with these tourists in English. The train was stopped in Weimar. Mobilization had begun. I remember the hostility of the other passengers towards the English, who had suddenly become our “enemies,” and towards my mother who was speaking affably with them. Mother began to weep quietly.

That year we stopped exchanging gifts for Christmas. We still had a tree and candles and spent time together. But no gifts. Father didn’t want to celebrate in wartime, when people were suffering and dying. A nephew of Father’s, Walter Landauer, had been mobilized into the army. When he came home on furlough we went to meet him at the station. His train was late by several hours. It was cold and drafty in the station. Mother began to cough. That was the year of the great influenza epidemic, and Mother became very ill. Father did not leave her bedside through the whole week that she was sick. She died in our home in February 1918.

Father did not allow me to look at my mother’s body. “I want you,” he said, “to remember your mother just as you remember her now.” Many people came to pay their last respects. I overheard Father telling one of the mourners that I was his “only sunshine in those dark days.”.! took that literally and would not allow myself to show my grief. I was what he wanted me to be—sunshine. I tried so hard to be gay that my aunt scolded me: “Your mother just died, yet you are laughing.” I bottled up my grief, and did so forever after. Nor did Father take me to the funeral. Gudula went—she was sixteen—but I stayed home alone.

Mother’s death was a severe blow to my father. For he was bound to her in spirit, as he so eloquently expressed it in a famous letter to her. I recall how in 1915, in the very midst of the war, my mother composed an anti-militarist poem called “With the Defeated,” some lines and phrases of which Father helped her to polish. Father was so inspired by this poem that in a letter to her he wrote, “I thank you, Hedwig, you Jewish daughter and my dear wife.” That poem appeared later in the German paper Der Jude, and I learned to recite it by heart and remember it to this day.

I recall, too, how the First World War ended. My father plunged himself at once into the thick of the revolution in Germany, especially in Berlin. In those stormy days and nights he was seldom at home. Yet however busy or far away he was, in his letters he never ceased to concern himself with his children, and especially with me, his beloved youngest daughter. In his letters he would remind me to get plenty of fresh air, not to neglect my arithmetic and French, of which he himself supplied readings and examples in his letters.

That summer, the summer of 1918, Kurt Eisner’s102 children were with us in Krumbach. Father, who was then in Munich, sent us a telegram instructing us to take our valuables and go to Uncle Hugo in Merseburg, on Lake Constance. That was our last communication from him. Uncle Hugo (Father’s brother) owned a chain of department stores and had a big house there, at the village of Deisendorf above Merseburg. He picked us up in a horse and buggy and brought us to the house. There I had a traumatic experience which has remained with me all my life. Hugo’s wife was standing at the top of the stairs. “My God,” she said. “So much luggage! How long are you going to stay?” Even now I prefer to stay in a motel when visiting my son.

Not long after that, Uncle Hugo gave us a task. He had an old vineyard on a hill that was full of stones. He gave us—myself, his children, and the Eisner children—the job of picking up the stones and carting them away. I still remember how much it hurt to go barefoot on the freshly cut grass. While we were doing this, Uncle Hugo called me aside and quietly told me that German soldiers in Munich had murdered my father. I stood there bewildered. After standing there for a few minutes, I returned to gather stones with the other children. I did not tell them anything. Only at noon, during lunch, did Uncle Hugo tell the other children about my father’s death. I suppressed my feelings. Later I found an abandoned corner in the woods where no one could see me, and there, hidden from everybody, I made two small graves [she begins to cry, then says, “Well, I didn’t suppress them completely, obviously.”], two mounds of earth such as I had seen in the Catholic cemetery in Hermsdorf. On the two graves I put flowers and made a cross from, branches for each grave. No one knew anything of this. But for several days I stole away to my secret graves and placed fresh flowers there.

That fall the Eisner children went back to their mother, and we three Landauer children went to our grandmother in Karlsruhe. Life for the first time - became a little normal. Lotte went to the conservatory, met Dr. Max Kron- stein, and married him. They had a daughter. Lotte became pregnant again and quite ill. A doctor in Karlsruhe operated on her gall bladder in her apartment, then he and Max Kronstein drank to the successful operation—from which she never woke up. That was around 1926. Gudula, who became a professional musician, survived Hitler and the Holocaust and came to New York after the war. She was killed by a bus on Central Park West in 1948.

Fermin Rocker

New York City, January 26, 1972

Fermin Rocker, named after the Spanish anarchist martyr Fermin Salvochea, is the son of the great German anarchist Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958), biographer of Johann Most and author (among many other works) of Nationalism and Culture (1937), Anarcho-Syndicalism (1938), and Pioneers of American Freedom (1949). Fermin, a professional artist, studied at the Berlin School of Arts and Crafts and served his apprenticeship as a lithographer. For many years he lived in New York, painting, sketching, making prints, illustrating books, and working at an animated cartoon studio. In 1973 he returned to London, where he had been born in 1907 and about which he wrote a fascinating memoir of his childhood.103

When my parents came to the United States in 1933, they lived in the Amalgamated Houses on Grand Street on the Lower East Side. Father hated it: it was dreary, with few trees or parks. They spent the summer of 1936 on Mount Airy in Croton-on-Hudson. A few anarchist families lived there, but it was a development rather than a colony. There was no school but there were some cultural activities. George Schumm, Benjamin Tucker’s printer, lived there with his wife and daughter [Beatrice Fetz, q.v.], and Tucker’s wife Pearl and daughter Oriole [Riche, q.v.] used to visit them. Schumm was related to Max Baginski: Baginski was married to Schumm’s sister.

My parents moved to Mohegan the following summer and decided to stay all year round. Tney rented the cottage of Leon Kramer, the bookseller, and his wife Celia. By that time the school was already on its last legs. It was run by Robert Bek-Gran,104 a German, who gave fencing lessons. He was a very hearty chap and had affairs with the colonists’ wives.

By that time the anarchists at the colony were in a minority; the Communists and Zionists were much stronger and more effective. There were constant clashes. There were quarrels even among the anarchists themselves, between the hards (strong anti-Communists) and the softs. The hards included Joe and Eva Brandes [q.v] and their in-laws, Pat and Sophie Bannister, who were uncompromising in their anti-Communism. Bannister was a dour, cranky Englishman.

The colony had no working-class base. The inhabitants were largely middleclass, mostly faddists and eccentrics. Many of the women were health and food faddists, devotees of Dr. E. K. Stretch, an advocate of health foods. When Hitler’s troops were invading all over Europe, Lydia Gordon105 made up a jingle: “The soldiers march, because of starch.” (Starch was taboo among the Stretchites.)

I can’t think of one normal one among the bunch. All had some kind of quirk. There was an Englishman named Bill Stevens (like Bannister, he had a Jewish wife), a real crank, dour and taciturn. He’d meet you on a rainy day and gloat, “Lovely weather.” He had lived at the Whiteway Colony in England. He was a handy carpenter and a good farmer.

The nationalities at Mohegan were fully integrated. Most of the gentiles had Jewish wives. The French contingent, partly stemming from the Ferrer Center in New York, included Andre Miroy (he took his last name from his wife Anita Spiegel, meaning “mirror” in German; his real name was Herrault), a translator in New York, who avoided and scorned Romanic words in English, preferring pure American words, like “fuck” and “shit.” This was not for shock effect but for purity of language. Andre had a brother, Milo Herrault, a garage mechanic. The others were Andre Longchamp, also a translator; Jacques Dubois, a simple worker—his was the only full French family—his wife was French too; and Henri Dupre, a chef.

Many Moheganites came from the Ferrer Center or Stelton. The bulk were Russian Jews, with mixed occupations. The Russians of gentile background included Samusin, a dental technician, and Dodokin, who made orgone boxes for Wilhelm Reich,106 the psychoanalyst.

The colony was a very fertile place to raise funds—for the Spanish Civil War, for World War II refugees, and so on. Many musicians lived there and gave frequent concerts, especially during the summer, when cultural events—balls, concerts, lectures—were held every weekend, usually in connection with fundraising. The Spanish Civil War and Nazi-Soviet Pact had a shattering effect on the colonists. Moyshe Morris was a diehard anarchist and his wife a diehard Communist, though the family was somehow a going concern. But after the Hitler-Stalin Pact she left the Communist Party.

I myself was born in London on December 22, 1907. I had a half-brother, Rudolf, who was fourteen years older. Anarchism was not as central for me as for my parents, yet I considered myself very much an anarchist. I found Kropotkin the most appealing figure, though I adhered to the anarcho-syndicalist organization in Berlin during the 1920s.

I came to the U.S by way of Canada in 1929. By then I was no longer an anarchist, indeed no “ist” of any kind. Where “isms” make their mistake, especially the radical ones, is that society, with all its evils and injustices, has evolved very gradually over a long period of time and still has a great many virtues, so that to make a clean sweep and start all over again is merely a delusion. You would end up worse than before. Only gradual improvements are 'possible.

Another fact the anarchists must face is that the Communists at least have a workable program to seize power and establish a dictatorship. They are not bound by any scruples. Here is where the anarchists fall on their faces. On the one hand they are committed to revolution, but on the other they have done nothing to prepare for it. As a result, the Communists took over. Yet admittedly the anarchists could not have established their own dictatorship. What then was to be done? A dilemma. I can only point out to you what’s wrong. What s right is a different matter.

But I do have more faith in gradual than in revolutionary methods. Look at Britain: no revolutionary panaceas but much better than in my day. Contrast it with France, darling of Kropotkin, classic land of the revolution. True, it is one of the more inhabitable countries, but Britain is ahead in tolerance, humanitarianism, and social concerns. Britain has avoided falling into the downright reaction that has overtaken France from time to time.

But if I cannot accept the anarchist credo there are many wholesome things about it that have strong appeal—for instance that the emancipation of the working class must be accomplished by the workers themselves. That’s very sound. We must get away from expecting everything to happen from the top. There is more than a little truth in Kropotkin’s faith in small self-supporting regions, rather than immense industrial entities with intricate specialization and division of labor. Yet how far one can decentralize in a complex, modern society I simply don’t know.

The anarchist movement had its heyday prior to the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Basically there were two kinds of anarchists: the less intellectual kind, who were wedded to the idea of revolution for its own sake and who therefore found the successful revolution in Russia irresistible and became Communists, and those who were more thoughtful, who probed deeper—Kropotkin, Malatesta, Rocker—and saw the dangers of revolution. But the latter, after the Russian Revolution, were unable to make new converts. All through the 1920s anarchists were at best fighting a rear guard action against the spread of communism and fascism. Only in Spain did they increase in power, but that was the exception. In the United States, after Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were deported, the movement had few if any inspiring leaders. The old generation gradually died out, without a new generation to take its place. And so the movement itself died out.

From the 1920s onward the anarchist movement was already a relic, largely a leftover from the past, an immigrant movement that could not last beyond another generation. There was no indigenous movement left in the U.S., save for a few isolated figures like Leonard Abbott and Harry Kelly. Emma Goldman had been more successful in attracting native Americans to the libertarian cause than anyone else. In my father’s words, “Emma Goldman was made for anarchism,” at least for the period up to 1920. She had a particular blend of heartiness and aggressiveness that fit the American temper. She loved America and was never able to adjust after her expulsion. Then again, had she been allowed to return permanently during the 1930s, she might not have been able to adjust either, for the country was changing so quickly and so profoundly.

There are many individuals in the movement that I recall quite vividly. Hippolyte Havel107 had a good mind but was not very deep. He was incapable of any sustained intellectual effort. Modest Stein (the “Fedya” of Berkman’s and Goldman’s autobiographies) was a remarkable person, very independent and full of vitality to the last. He was a successful commercial artist who did illustrations for slick magazines. After the Russian Revolution he gravitated towards the Communist orbit. His daughter [Luba Stein Benenson, q.v] married a staunch Republican, Park Avenue people, friends of Thomas Dewey.108

I first met Max Baginski in the early 1920s in Berlin. He was one of those who were never really able to adjust to America. My father had an extremely high opinion of him and liked him very much as a human being. Baginski was able, articulate, and intelligent. Once a German judge had given him the maximum sentence because of his brilliance, on the grounds that he should have known better. He was a reticent person, a Silesian, like Augustin Souchy,109 and a good friend of the playwright Gerhart Hauptmann. He filled him in when he wrote The Weavers, as he knew the milieu very well. He had gone to Germany in the 1920s but could no longer adjust there either and so returned to the U.S. and lived in the Bronx. He was a man without a country, a frustrated person, in contrast to Father’s buoyant optimism.

Father hated Marcus Graham’s110 guts. Father had a vast number of devoted friends with whom he kept up a voluminous correspondence and close friendship even after their departure from the movement, when some had turned “bourgeois” and conservative. They were friends by moral rather than intellectual qualities; he brought out the best in them. He was tolerant and flexible in attitude towards non-anarchists, especially liberals and democratic socialists. Of all American cities New York was the one he liked least. He had a soft spot for Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, and in Canada for Winnipeg and Toronto. In Los Angeles one of the most active anarchists (of a very active group) was Bessie Kimmelman. They all used to congregate at her place. Hers was another case of a devout anarchist married happily to a devout Communist.

I always liked Alexander Schapiro,111 even as a child in London, and he was always kind to me. He was well-educated, intelligent, with a good scientific mind. He was close to the Kropotkin family. But he was flawed by a dogmatic streak and was rather intolerant, especially in comparison with my father. He did not suffer fools gladly. Father, by contrast, associated with intellectuals yet never lost his way back to simple, ordinary people if he felt they were honest and sincere. He was not at all a snob. Malatesta and Kropotkin were that way too, also Nettlau and probably Nieuwenhuis.112 But figures of the second rank—Schapno or Mratchny [q.v.J, for example—were far more self important, far more decisive and overbearing, and would antagonize people needlessly. Nor was Schapiro averse to getting rich. After World War II he got -involved with sending relief packages to Europe—as a business venture. The aggravations and complications that arose may have hastened his death.

For many anarchists America was still the land of opportunity, the place to get rich. How shocked I was when I came to the U.S. to find so many anarchists talking about their Wall Street holdings. Many were hurt by the stock-market crash Linder, Cohen, and Cohn113 lost their shirts. Schapiro had worked with the Bolsheviks for several years, long after others had broken with them, yet during the Spanish Civil War he was one of the sharpest critics of anarchists

I met Durruti when he came to our house in Berlin in the mid-twenties.114 He was a very nice, warm person, not at all the gangster type portrayed by James Joli in The Anarchists ,U5 I forged the passport that enabled him to live in Germany—the one thing I did for the anarchist movement. Once in Souchy’s apartment, Souchy’s companion Therese, a small, attractive French woman prone to hysteria, threatened to throw herself out of the window, and Souchy was wringing his hands when Durruti opened the French windows for her and said, “s’il vous plait.” Of course nothing happened, and she calmed down.


Part Two: Emma Goldman

  • FREDA DIAMOND

  • LUBA STEIN BENENSON

  • JEANNE LEVEY

  • PAULINE H. TURKEL

  • HILDA ADEL

  • ROGER N. BALDWIN

  • ALBERT BONI

  • GABRIEL JAVSICAS

  • IDA GERSHOY

  • ARTHUR LEONARD ROSS

  • KATE WOLFSON

  • ORA ROBBINS

  • MILLIE GROBSTEIN

  • AHRNE THORNE

2. Emma Goldman, St. Louis, 1912 (Paul Avrich Collection)

Introduction

From the end of the nineteenth century until her deportation to Russia in 1919, Emma Goldman was one of America’s most celebrated women radicals. A born propagandist and organizer, she championed a wide range of unorthodox causes, from women’s equality, sexual liberation, and birth control to labor activism, libertarian education, and artistic freedom. Strong in her opinions, hot in her sympathies, she was a powerful orator who toured the country restlessly, incessantly, selling vast quantities of radical literature and raising funds for the anarchist movement, of which she was a leading representative. “She always spoke with great inner conviction,” her comrade Rudolf Rocker remarked. “and one felt that she really meant what she said.”116 Her function, said the writer Floyd Dell, was that of “holding before our eyes the ideal of freedom. She is licensed to taunt us with our moral cowardice, to plant in our soul the nettles of remorse at having acquiesced so tamely in the brutal artifice of present day society.”117

Her passionate espousal of radical causes made Goldman the target of persecution. She lived from day to day in the steady glare of notoriety. Her defense of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley, brought down on her the hatred of the authorities. Feared as a sponsor of anarchy, of violence, free love, and revolution, she was vilified in the press as “Red Emma,” “Queen of the Anarchists,” “the most dangerous woman in America.”

Yet Goldman refused to desist. Maligned, abused, imprisoned, she continued to challenge accepted values and to defy conventional social and political standards. As her reputation increased, she became an international figure, known to governments and radicals throughout the world. With her exuberant and overpowering vitality, her audacity and physical courage, and her dauntless advocacy of unpopular causes, she emerged as one of the most influential women of her time. Her name appeared on lists of the world’s greatest women, beside those of Jane Addams, Annie Besant, Helen Keller, and Madame Curie.118 Anarchists and other dissenters named their daughters after her (among them Emma Gilbert, interviewed in this volume). Her life, said the novelist Theodore Dreiser, “is the richest of any woman’s of our century.” Frank Harris, the English writer, went even further. Her idealism and courage, he said, her integrity and love of truth, placed her “among the heroic leaders and guides of humanity for ever.”119

Goldman began life in 1869, the daughter of middle-class Jewish parents in Kovno, Lithuania, then part of the Russian empire. In December 1885 she emigrated to the United States, settling in Rochester, New York, where she worked in a clothing factory and attended meetings of a German socialist group. In May 1886 a bomb was thrown during a workers’ meeting near Haymarket Square in Chicago, killing and injuring a number of policemen. Although the bombthrower was never identified, eight anarchists were brought to trial and convicted of the crime, despite a lack of evidence against them. In November 1887 four of the defendants were hanged and a fifth committed suicide in his cell, while the others were sent to prison. The trial of the Chicago anarchists, prominently reported in the press, kindled widespread interest in anarchist personalities and ideas. The unfairness of the proceedings, the savagery of the sentences, the character and bearing of the defendants fired the imagination of young idealists, Goldman among them, and made numerous converts to their cause. The Haymarket trial, said Goldman, was “the decisive influence in my life.” It was the death of the Chicago anarchists “which brought me to life and helped to make me what I am.”120

In 1889, after an unhappy marriage to a fellow worker, Goldman moved to New York City and threw herself into radical activities. Almost at once she met Alexander Berkman, known as “Sasha,” her first real love, with whom she would remain associated for half a century. Through Berkman she became acquainted with Johann Most, editor of the anarchist journal Freiheit, “the man of magic tongue and powerful pen,” as she describes him,121 who became her ideological mentor. It was Berkman and Most who had the strongest influence on Goldman during her initial years in the anarchist movement In 1892, indeed, Goldman conspired with Berkman and other comrades to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, the union-busting manager of the Carnegie steel mills in Homestead, Pennsylvania. The conspirators, however, failed in their purpose. Though wounded by pistol and dagger, Frick made a quick recovery, while Berkman, his assailant, spent fourteen years behind bars, an experience hauntingly described in his Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, published six years after his release.

While Berkman languished in prison, Goldman emerged as the foremost anarchist in America, eclipsing even her mentor Johann Most. She too had a taste of incarceration, although brief in comparison with Berkman’s. In 1893 and 1894 she spent a year on Blackwell’s Island in New York for telling an audience of unemployed workers that it was their “sacred right” to take bread by force if their demands for jobs and sustenance went unanswered. Her prison work as a practical nurse led Goldman to arrange a lecture tour in 1895 that took her to England (where she met such famous anarchists as Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, and Louise Michel) and to Austria, where she studied nursing and midwifery at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna. On her return to the United States, where she began to earn a living as a nurse, she plunged herself anew into radical activity, beginning a series of cross-country speaking engagements that won her a national reputation. In 1899 she made a second European tour, returning the following year to her nursing and propaganda work in America.

In 1901 Goldman’s agitational efforts were interrupted by President McKinley’s assassination by Leon Czolgosz, a self-proclaimed anarchist who had attended one of her lectures. The authorities endeavored to establish her complicity, and though not a shred of evidence was found to connect her with the attack, she was hounded, mistreated, and briefly imprisoned. On her release, she adopted the pseudonym “E. G. Smith” and went into temporary seclusion.

By 1906, however, Goldman was back in the public eye, speaking and working for anarchism as before. Over the next dozen years she campaigned vigorously for free speech, birth control (which brought her a fifteen-day jail sentence), and libertarian education, among a variety of political and social causes. Her lectures on modern drama were especially well-attended, introducing such playwrights as Ibsen, Strindberg, and Hauptmann to American audiences. “No one did more,” said Van Wyck Brooks of Goldman’s efforts, “to spread the new ideas of literary Europe that influenced so many young people.”122 Nor was this all. In addition to pamphlets and books, including her own Anarchism and Other Essays (1910) and The Social Significance of the Modern Drama (1914), she published a handsome monthly journal, Mother Earth. Edited by Alexander Berkman, released from prison in 1906, it became the outstanding anarchist periodical in the country.

In 1917, when America entered the First World War, Goldman’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. As outspoken critics of the war, she and Berkman were arrested and charged with conspiracy to interfere with the draft Tried in federal court, they were speedily convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and a ten thousand dollar fine each. Goldman’s Mother Earth, along with Berkman’s new paper The Blast, was shut down by the authorities. On completion of their terms in prison (Goldman in Jefferson City, Berkman in Atlanta), they were held for deportation proceedings. In December 1919, at the height of the Red Scare, they were put aboard a military transport and shipped back to their native Russia.

Like radicals throughout the world, Goldman and Berkman had, from its inception, been enthusiastic supporters of the Russian Revolution, joining the chorus of praise not only for the overthrow of the tsarist order but also for the accession to power of the Bolsheviks. In 1918 Goldman had hailed “Lenin, Trotsky, and the other heroic figures who hold the world in awe by their personality, their prophetic vision and their intense revolutionary spirit.” The Bolsheviks, she had declared, “are translating into reality the very things many people have been dreaming about, hoping for, planning and discussing in private and public. They are building a new social order which is to come out of the chaos and conflicts now confronting them.”123

Once in Russia, however, their enthusiasm rapidly cooled. They were stunned by the suppression of dissent, the wholesale arrests of Russian anarchists, the dispersal of Makhno’s guerrilla army in the Ukraine, and the conversion of the local soviets into instruments of party dictatorship, rubber stamps for a new bureaucracy. The Bolsheviks, they complained, while ruling in the

48 INTRODUCTION to part two

name of the workers, were in fact destroying the popular initiative and selfreliance on which the success of the revolution depended (see interview with Roger Baldwin). The final blow came in March 1921 with the crushing of the Kronstadt rising, during which workers and sailors demanded freely elected soviets and free speech for all left-wing groups. Kronstadt’s suppression, lamented Berkman, marked “the beginning of a new tyranny.”124

In December 1921, their illusions shattered, Goldman and Berkman left Russia. After a brief stay in Stockholm, they moved to Berlin, from which they lashed out at Lenin’s dictatorship in a stream of pamphlets and articles, and especially in Goldman’s My Disillusionment in Russia (1923) and Berkman’s The Bolshevik Myth (1925), the first book-length denunciations of Bolshevik tyranny by revolutionaries of international renown. Granted a British visa in 1924, Goldman moved to London and labored to mobilize public opinion against emerging Soviet totalitarianism (see interview with Gabriel Javsicas). The following year she took up residence in France, first in Paris and afterwards in St. Tropez, where, assisted by Berkman, she worked on her great autobiography, Living My Life, published in 1931. Her only visit to the United States following her deportation occurred in 1934, when she received permission from Franklin Roosevelt’s labor secretary, Frances Perkins, to conduct a ninetyday lecture tour.

Berkman, meanwhile, had settled in Nice, where he was having a difficult time. Under constant threat of expulsion by the French government, he earned a precarious living by translating, editing, and occasional ghost-writing, which had to be supplemented by gifts from comrades and friends. By the early 1930s his health had begun to fail. In 1936 he underwent two operations for a prostate condition, which left him in chronic pain. Finally, in June of that year, suffering from his illness and unwilling to exist on the generosity of others, he shot himself to death in his Nice apartment. He died just three weeks before the outbreak of the Spanish Revolution, which, as Goldman suggested, might have revived his spirits and given him a new lease on life.125

Goldman herself, crushed by Sasha’s death, had only four more years to live. What saved her from utter despair was a call from Barcelona to come and help combat General Franco and advance the revolutionary cause. Placing herself at the disposal of her comrades, Goldman made three trips to Spain between 1936 and 1939, returning each time to London or Paris to act as a publicist and fundraiser for the CNT-FAI (Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo-Federacion Anarquista Iberica).

The victory of Franco in 1939 came as a staggering blow. Goldman, then seventy years old, went to Canada to raise money for the Spanish refugees. Living with friends in Toronto, she also launched a campaign to save four Italian anarchists from deportation (see interview with Attilio Bortolotti). It was her last battle against the state, and she won. In February 1940, however, Goldman suffered a paralytic stroke, from which she never recovered. She died three months later, on May 14, six weeks before her seventy-first birthday. Her body was removed to Chicago and buried in the Waldheim Cemetery, near the graves of the Haymarket anarchists, whose martyrdom had inspired her life

For a quarter-century after her death, Goldman was a largely forgotten figure. Since the 1960s, however, she has had a remarkable revival, which shows no sign of petering out. Not only has her face adorned T-shirts, posters, and mailing cards, but she appeared as a character in E. L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime and m Warren Beatty’s movie Reds, for which the actress who played her, Maureen Stapleton, won an academy award. Her story, moreover, has inspired a spate of plays, poems, and songs, to say nothing of biographies and documen- faries, while student circles, book stores, feminist groups, and birth-control centers have adopted her name, such as the Emma Goldman Women’s Health Clinic of Iowa City.

Goldman, it might be added, has come to figure in textbooks on American history and literature. Her own writings, above all Living My Life, have been widely reprinted and translated, and a veritable army of scholars, most of them women, have been delving into her life and career. In 1982 a writer in the New York Times, a paper that had maligned her repeatedly during her lifetime, referred to Goldman as “the great American anarchist and anti-war activist.” And in 1990 the fiftieth anniversary of her death was commemorated by her anarchist comrades in New York, a number of whom are interviewed in this volume.

The interviews which follow vary considerably both in content and scope. For the most part, however, they emphasize the personal side of Emma Goldman, her faults as well as her talents, her weaknesses as well as her strengths. Several dwell on her physical appearance and her powerful appetite for sex. “Emma was more than a little vain,” her friend Freda Diamond observes. “She thought she was the Queen of Sheba. She thought she was a very attractive, beautiful woman. She held herself that way. She dressed well. But in fact she was far from beautiful.” Millie Grobstein agrees: “She impressed me as an ordinary woman—short, heavy, and stocky.” This was especially the case after Goldman reached middle age, when she grew increasingly dumpy and unappealing. Yet she seldom lacked for lovers, often men considerably younger than herself. “Emma was always sexually inclined,” Julius Seltzer recalls, “always hugging and squeezing me.” “Emma loved young men,” echoes Gabriel Javsicas, himself an object of her affections. “At one point she suggested that we sleep together, but I demurred.” To her Chicago comrade Jeanne Levey, she was “an oversexed personality, and she made all sorts of advances to men. In fact, many men—including my own husband—would say, ‘Save me!’ She would devour them.” “She liked men,” remarks Ida Gershoy, “especially young men. She really liked the boys! She was very fond of my husband, and also of my older brother, who once came to visit.”

Goldman’s pleasures were by no means limited to sex. She smoked, drank, cooked, danced, and frequented the theater and opera. “Emma always liked the good things in life,” says Kate Wolfson, “and she had wealthy friends who supplied them. But that didn’t detract from her sincerity as an anarchist. She was a very physical woman; she enjoyed food, dancing, sex, and all the things that people should enjoy.” She was particularly fond of dancing, even in her later years. “She was very funny to watch,” recalls Ida Gershoy, “so short and squat and having such a time of it.” She was also an “excellent cook’ (Millie Grobstein), a talent of which she was justly proud. “Have some of E. G.’s coffee,” she would say. “Have some of E. G.’s pudding” (Ida Gershoy).

Goldman’s greatest talent, however, was public speaking. “She had an odd voice with a peculiar accent,” Freda Diamond recalls. “But she was a good speaker and made an impression.” Roger Baldwin remembers her as one of the finest speakers he ever heard. “Her lectures,” he says, “which I began to attend in 1911 while in St. Louis, opened up all kinds of new literature to me—Ibsen, Schopenhauer, the Russians. She introduced many people to a whole literature of protest.” She was also “very good at repartee” (Ahrne Thorne) and knew how to handle hecklers. And yet, for all her oratorical gifts, she suffered from stage fright. “She was extremely nervous before the lecture,” Millie Grobstein remembers, “ate very little, and before mounting the platform took a drink of whiskey and paced up and down. Yet the minute she got on the platform she was herself, in full command. She was at home. All her fears and anxieties seemed to disappear.”

In her relations with friends and comrades, Goldman receives a mixed appraisal. More than a few complain of her self-centeredness, her vanity, her obstinacy and domineering nature. The publisher Albert Boni found her “hard- boiled and too damn cocksure of everything she had to say.” “Emma was an awful person to live with, you know,” Ida Gershoy remarks. “She could be quite captivating, but also difficult—the worst bitch in the world!” For some she had an abrasive quality that Berkman, for instance, lacked: “I liked Berkman better than Emma. She was too self-centered” (Gussie Denenberg). “Emma was hard to warm up to personally” (Eva Brandes). “Though she cared about her family and friends, she was very self-centered—too self-centered for an anarchist” (Ahrne Thorne). “I didn’t like Emma Goldman as much as Berkman. She was too much I, I, I” (Sarah Taback).

Goldman’s secretaries, by the same token, found her often demanding and inconsiderate. “Emma was difficult to work with,” Pauline Turkel recalls, “impatient and strict.” “She would pile on the work so much,” says Millie Grobstein, “and the deadline was always so short!” To children at the New York Ferrer School (see Part Four) she seemed impatient and aloof. When classes let out, they would sometimes walk over to the offices of Mother Earth, a few blocks away, where Berkman always gave them a warm welcome. “Sasha was nice to us,” Magda Schoenwetter recalls, “but Emma was a pain in the ass. I couldn’t stand her red face and dumpy figure. She was busy and would chase us out.” “I detested Emma Goldman,” says Emma Gilbert, her namesake. “She was so repulsive and extremely domineering, extremely self-centered. There are people you meet whose eye engages you and you feel they are interested in you. Sasha was like that, but not Emma. She was completely egotistical. Of course, she had great capacity, but not on a personal level.”

Even Goldman’s most faithful admirers would admit to these defects in her behavior. And yet, whatever her faults and inconsistencies, they weighed little in the scale against her idealism and courage, her crusading spirit and devotion to her cause. “Emma had a strong character,” Lena Shlakman remarks, “too strong for some, but she was honest and fine, and I liked her.” “Emma was very vain,” says Jeanne Levey, “yet she was the greatest person that I have ever met in my lifetime.”

If at times she could be imperious and insensitive to the feelings of others, Goldman’s generosity and essential humanity shone through. She had an extraordinary capacity for establishing lifelong friendships and was always ready to offer assistance. “I once needed a doctor,” Ahrne Thorne recalls. “She recommended someone, and she asked me about it later. If a friend needed help, she would do everything she could, mobilize all available forces, go out of her way for you.” Thus when Millie Grobstein’s father fell ill with rheumatic fever, Goldman was the first to help. “She would come to the house every day—it was a three-story house—and trudge up those two flights of stairs, bringing him medicine, feeding him lunch, all to relieve my mother of part of the burden. She was so compassionate! It’s incredible that people thought the opposite of her.” Another case was that of Hilda Adel, for whom Goldman helped to arrange an abortion. “She told me what was to be done, whom to see, everything I needed to know,” Adel recalls. “She didn’t know me that intimately, yet she was concerned about me and determined to help—on the very day that she was thrown out of the country! So those who call her harsh or selfish can’t convince

I ”

me!

Few who remember Goldman can forget such examples of kindness, many more of which could easily be cited. Nor can they forget her other qualities— her unflagging energy, her indomitable spirit, her tenacity in the face of persecution. But above all, perhaps, they recall her sincerity and eloquence in promoting her ideas—on anarchism, feminism, and the rest. “She opened your mind and made you think about things you never thought about before,” says Freda Diamond. “That was her outstanding characteristic. She made people think!”

Freda Diamond

New York City, May 13, 1983

Freda Diamond, an attractive and dynamic personality, is a successful designer of lamps and home furnishings. For many years she was an intimate friend of the black actor and singer Paul Robeson.126 During the early decades of the century

Freda’s mother, Ida Diamond, was a close friend of Emma Goldman, whose brother Morris became her lover and Freda’s surrogate father. Freda has vivid recollections not only of Emma and her brother but also of Alexander Berkman (“Sasha”) and Ben Reitman, Emma’s longtime lover.

I WAS born in New York City on April 11, 1905. My parents were both born in Russia. My mother Ida was a successful dress designer, and we lived on Madison Avenue. She was also an anarchist, a reader of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, and a friend of Emma Goldman. Emma loved Mother. It was hard not to love her. She didn’t belong to any groups or organizations, but she was a real anarchist. My father left when I was three. We never heard from him again. He simply disappeared, leaving my mother and us children (I had a sister and a brother) to fend for ourselves. Moe Goldman, Emma’s younger brother, moved in not long after—we were then living in the Bronx, on Vise Avenue— and was my mother’s lover all the years that I and my sister and brother were growing up Moe became our substitute father, especially to my kid brother. He was warm and sweet and very affectionate. He helped us with our homework, took us on outings, and we all loved him.

Emma was often at oui place to see her brother and visit with us. Once when I was a little girl she and Ben Reitman127 took me to see Maude Adams in Peter Pan. I thought Reitman very handsome. He was tall, dark, attractive. He looked like a he-man, you know. He wore a black fedora hat, a bow tie, and carried a cane so big that it looked like the trunk of a tree. He was cutting a figure, and he knew it.

Occasionally Mother took us to Emma’s lectures. I once heard her talk on Ibsen. She spoke well. She had an odd voice with a peculiar accent. But she was a good speaker and made an impression. Emma was more than a bit vain. She thought she was the Queen of Sheba. She thought she was a very attractive, beautiful woman. She held herself that way. She dressed well. But in fact she was far from beautiful. She had a very bad figure, as I remember it. She didn’t have time for small talk. And yet she wasn’t pompous. We soon became friends, young as I was, though at first she was a little frightening. Not that she actually was. But she looked important, she acted important. She was an imposing figure.

It was easier to like Sasha than Emma. Emma treated us as people, not as children. Berkman was gentler. He had a sweet smile. What a wonderful man he was! He treated us with more tenderness. One incident with Berkman I’ll never forget. It was just before Thanksgiving when we were very little. It was not many years after Berkman got out of jail. He came to our house in the Bronx and brought a box of candy. On it was a chocolate turkey. “What’s that?” we asked. “It’s a bird,” answered Sasha. “Oh, what a funny looking bird,” I said. Then Sasha said, in a soft, tender voice, as if telling us a story: “I had a friend who was a bird. He was my best friend when I was all alone and had no friend. I would save part of my roll every day and put it on the window sill and share breakfast. And one day a very bad man came along and killed the bird.” We all cried. Much later I read the story in Berkman’s Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. It was the warden who had killed the bird and, Sasha later told us, he hit the warden with a stool.128

111 tell you another story about Berkman. It was during my first trip to Europe. I was very young, a stuaent at Cooper Union, majoring in design. (I am now an industrial designer, mainly of lamps and furniture.) I went to Paris— my aunt was living there. She took me to the home of the violinist Jan Ham- bourg.129 They were giving a party for Yehudi Menuhin—a hot chocolate party—who was about nine years old, a child prodigy.130 After a while I said I had to leave. Mrs. Hambourg asked me indignantly where I had to go. I said I had to have tea with Alexander Berkman. She turned white and said, “My father was the judge that sent him to prison!”131

When Sasha and Emma were released from prison [in 191.9] they returned to New York. Just before they were deported they took my mother and Leonard Abbott to a matinee to hear the first performance by Jascha Heifetz. Then everybody came back to our house. Before they departed for Russia, Emma left all her books in our apartment. They were stacked up in high piles. My sister and I, without Mother’s knowledge, packed them in boxes and brought them to Geffen’s Book Store near Cooper Union. One book, I remember, was The Great French Revolution, inscribed by Kropotkin to Emma. Another book, which we left in the apartment, was Emma’s copy of Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, inscribed by Sasha: “First copy off the press. To Emma, who helped to five my life and write it.”132 Geffen gave us twenty dollars. On the way home we met Mother on the street and proudly handed her the money. “Where did you get that?” she asked. We told her, and she cried. But she never reprimanded us. Some of the books remained in the apartment. I still have The Evolution of Sex by Patrick Geddes, with Emma’s signature in it [she shows it to me], and I have some of Emma’s and Sasha’s later works, including Living My Life (inscribed “Freda Diamond, Affectionately, Emma Goldman”) and What Is Communist Anarchism? (“Freda Diamond, Emma Goldman”). And I have a photograph of Sasha taken in Nice in 1935 [she gives this to me to keep].

It was through Moe and Emma that I got to know the Cominsky family— Saxe Commins,133 Stella Ballantine, “Beenie” (Louis), and especially Ruthie, who was my good friend. She was homely and unattractive, but later married and had a child, followed by a nervous breakdown. They were the children of Emma’s sister Lena, who lived in Rochester. Lena was cool to Emma, just the opposite of Helena, who always gave her support and affection. Not that Lena didn’t care for Emma. She was ashamed of her radical and sensational ways. Es past nit [it won’t do]—especially in Rochester—to have a sister like that! In addition to Moe, Emma had a brother Herman, who I think was in men’s clothing and remained in Rochester like Lena and Helena. (I had a good friend, Nan Lyons—Nettie Levy—who could have told you all about them—she came from Rochester—but she just died.)

Saxe’s real name was Isidore Cominsky. He had completed dental school but gave it up to become an editor. Saxe had charm, but was an opportunist. He

used Emma and used Fitzi [M. Eleanor Fitzgerald]—that’s how he came to the Provincetown Players and got to know Eugene O’Neill.134 Through O’Neill he got a job at Covici-Friede, O’Neill’s publisher, before moving to Random House. K

Moe, you may know, had studied to be a doctor, but I don’t know if he ever passed his boards. He never actually practiced medicine. For a long time he didn’t do much of anything, and Mother supported him. Then he met Isidore Landsman, who was in the X-ray business. Moe got interested and went to work for him. Eventually he got a job as a radiologist at the Seaview Hospital on Staten Island, the largest tuberculosis hospital in the United States. He used X-rays to treat the patients.

One day, without any warning, Moe called from the hospital. He had married a nurse, an Irish girl named Daisy. He left our house and never came back, just like my father when I was a child. Stella and Saxe begged Mother not to make trouble, and she didn’t. Of course she would not have in any case. Moe worked later in the Veterans’ Hospital in Northport. But he fell ill with cancer and had to have his leg amputated. When Mother heard about this, she called Saxe and Stella and suggested starting a family fund. They refused. They never gave a penny for his support. So Mother called on me and my sister to help out—we were working by then—and we raised a fund for him. Mother went to his apartment for a week to shop and cook and do everything for him. Daisy seemed helpless and couldn’t cope. We supported them to the day he died. I would have nothing to do with Saxe after that. When Moe died, Saxe cabled and asked about the funeral. I told him to go to hell! Once I was walking on Fifth Avenue and passed him. He was with Bennett Cerf135 and said hello. I refused to recognize him and called him a skunk. And I haven’t changed my mind. Emma, by the way, sent Moe a little money when she could and left him six hundred dollars when she died.

Let’s return to Emma. I was visiting her in Toronto, along with Ruthie Cornmins, when Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. That night I shall never forget. Emma was staying with a Jewish anarchist family.136 She had a phone in her room and it rang all evening long. There were calls from all over the world, but especially from Boston, pleading with her to do something. But there was nothing she could do, and she knew it. For someone as positive as Emma, she was quite modest, not at all like the commander-in-chief many took her to be. “What can I do, what can I do,” she murmured very quietly, anxiously. Then came the call that they had been electrocuted. We were devastated.

I saw Emma again a few years later, when she was allowed to visit the States. I heard her speak—on birth control, I think it was. It sounded like the same old stuff she had been saying when I was a child, and I told her so. She was furious—she could get mad very easily. But she loved me just the same.

Emma had a powerful impact on my life. She opened so many horizons. She was a unique force—different from anyone else, not like any other person you met. She opened your mind and made you think about things you never thought about before. That was her outstanding characteristic. She made people think!

Luba Stein Benenson

New York City, December 4, 1973; March 22, 1990

Luba Benenson is the daughter (and only child) of Modest Aronstam (later Stein), a well-known American illustrator and the “Fedya” of Alexander Berk- _ man’s Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist and Emma Goldman’s Living My Life. In

1892 Aronstam conspired with Berkman and Goldman to assassinate Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead steel strike near Pittsburgh. The attempt, however, was unsuccessful. Frick, though-seriously wounded, quickly recovered, while Berkman, who committed the deed, spent fourteen years in prison. The episode is recounted in the memoirs of Berkman and Goldman, but they omit any reference to Aronstam’s role. He died in New York in 1958.

My father was born Modest Aronstam in Kovno, Russia, on February 22, 1871. He died in New York City at eighty-seven, on February 26, 1958. He and Alexander Berkman were cousins: I believe that Berkman’s mother was my father’s aunt. Father’s father, Lazar Aronstam, had come to Kovno from Vilna. He was a pharmacist by profession and had two sons and a daughter. My father went to the gymnasium with Berkman. Like Berkman, he emigrated to America, while his brother remained in Kovno (as did his sister) and took over the pharmacy when Grandfather died. The sister married and had a son, Roma, who became a movie director. I saw my grandparents in 1904, when I was two years old and we visited them in Russia. It was during the summer and we went to the beach. I have no personal recollection of this, but I saw my grandmother again, in Bad Kissingen, in 1913 when I was eleven. By then Grandfather was dead.

Father came here when he was seventeen, in 1888, and ran into Berkman almost as soon as he arrived. Berkman introduced him to Emma Goldman. Father said that, except for my mother, he never met a more attractive woman than Emma. I knew her, and she was quite good looking, and Berkman was a lovely man. Did you know that after Sasha’s unsuccessful attempt on Frick Father went to Pittsburgh to finish the job7 The pockets of his trousers were filled with dynamite. He intended to blow up Frick’s house. When he got off the train he passed a newspaper stand and his eyes fell on a headline: “AARON STAMM HERE TO KILL FRICK.” So he dumped the dynamite in an outhouse and left on the next train. Father told me, by the way, that he was present when Emma Goldman horsewhipped Johann Most; and he recounted the incident when Berkman got angry at him for lavishing twenty-five cents on a meal. He also told me that Berkman, although he had failed to kill Frick, killed other people and could have been executed, but I can’t remember the details.

During the later 1890s, before photography came in, Father worked as a pen-and-ink artist for the New York World and the Sun. After that he became popular as an illustrator for magazines, doing covers for Love Story, Adventure, Argosy, and other leading periodicals. He married my mother, Marcia Mishkin, on June 18, 1899, and I was born on September 10, 1902. Mother was a professional photographer, a sister of the well-known photographer Herman Mishkin, who had the concession to photograph the singers of the Metropolitan Opera. As he became increasingly successful, Father drifted away from the anarchist movement, though he continued to see Sasha, Emma, and other old comrades and contributed money regularly. He changed his name to Stein sometime after I was born. Sasha and Emma used the name “Fedya” to protect his identity. I was four when Berkman was released from prison. He often came to our apartment in New York, a sweet and charming man. Father remained good friends with Sasha and Emma till their deportation.

Hippolyte Havel also came to our house, and Harry Kelly, but I have only vague recollections of them. Claus Timmermann137 also remained close to Father. He became an alcoholic. He was my babysitter. He worked as a dishwasher in my husband’s parents’ boarding house in Ellenville, New York. Then he became a handyman at Camp Greylock in Massachusetts. He was a fine carpenter. They were really a foursome, though he wasn’t amorously involved with Emma, as were Father and Berkman. Though Claus earned very little, every time he got paid he sent some money to Emma and Sasha in France. He died at Camp Greylock around 1940. Once, when I was seventeen or eighteen, Father was called to Bellevue because Claus was there. He had drunk wood alcohol, and they said he was dying. But right after the call, Claus arrived. He had made a quick recovery!

Father was strongly sympathetic to the Bolshevik Revolution and remained pro-Bolshevik until the thirties. He made a trip to Russia in 1931, then visited Emma and Sasha at Bon Esprit. He told me that Berkman had cancer of the prostate when he shot himself. Father did the relief of Emma Goldman on her tombstone, which is signed by him.138 Father liked women and they liked him. He did not save his correspondence, but I have a few pictures of him and a letter to him from Emma.

Jeanne Levey

Miami, Florida, December 19, 1972

Born into an immigrant family in Chicago, Jeanne Levey frequented Jane Addams’s Hull House, joined the anarchist movement, and came to know such figures as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Ben Reitman, and Rudolf Rocker. After her marriage, Mrs. Levey rose from poverty to riches and founded the Parkinson’s Disease Hospital in Miami (her husband died from the illness). She became a friend of Congressman Claude Pepper and through him of Eleanor Roosevelt. But she never lost her affection for the anarchists. When I interviewed her in her Miami apartment, she showed me a portrait on the wall of Sadakichi Hartmann, painted from life in California. In 1977, while visiting Miami, I telephoned Mrs. Levey in the hope of paying her a visit. Unfortunately it could not be arranged. She was bedridden, she told me, having suffered a stroke earlier that year. She spoke of her love for Rudolf Rocker and the other old comrades, all long since dead. She herself died around 1980.

I WAS BORN in Chicago in 1888, a year after the Haymarket executions. We were a very poor family, and I saw great poverty all around us. When I was fifteen or sixteen years old, I already thought that there was great injustice and that poverty was a prevalent thing in this country, and that basic social reform was necessary. I had—and still have—a complete identification with the have- nots and the suffering. I went to Hull House and was one of Jane Addams’s pets. I studied Esperanto because I thought that if there was one language there would be more understanding and less conflict among people.

Emma Goldman was an oversexed personality, and she made all sorts of advances to men. In fact, many men—including my own husband—would say, “Save me!” She would devour them. Emma was very vain, yet she was the greatest person that I have met in my lifetime. She was far greater than Alexander Berkman, who was conceited and opinionated. Eleanor Roosevelt once told me, at our ADA139 luncheon, that Living My Life is one of the great books of our time.

Paul Robeson came to Emma when she was publishing Mother Earth, and she helped him finance his education.140 She loved America with a strong passion. Berkman did not have as much of America as she did, as his young manhood was spent in prison. Emma was a wonderful person. Ben Reitman loved her very much. He was an unusual personality in his own right and is not to be dismissed.

As for other women in the movement whom I met or saw in Chicago, Lucy Parsons didn’t amount to very much. In fact she was a rather ordinary person, quite ugly and a rather distasteful personality. It was through her association with her husband that she became famous. I heard Voltairine de Cleyre speak in Chicago. She was beautiful, she was poetic, there was something mellifluous about her voice. Emma was jealous of all the pretty women, all the attractive ones, including Voltairine, who came into her path. Yet she was big enough to love them nonetheless. Annie Livshis, at whose house in Chicago Voltairine stayed, was the epitome of everything magnificent in the human spirit: gentle, soft-spoken, devoted to her cause.

Abe Isaak was another remarkable figure. His daughter Mary lives in Santa Cruz. She had two beautiful daughters. One of them [Grace Umrath, q.v] danced in the New York City Ballet. Ben Capes141 was close to Matthew Schmidt. I used to visit Caplan and Schmidt in prison.142 Caplan was a free spirit but not a great personality. Schmidty was extraordinary, an unusual man and quite a philosopher. After his release from prison, he directed a labor radio station in Chicago. He died about fifteen years ago.

Sadakichi Hartmann had the most beautiful hands I ever saw. During the First World War his wife had him arrested for lack of support. The judge told him to go work in the shipyards, so he did. But they found him sleeping in a corner and he was arrested again. He was a derelict, but with a most magnificent ability to use his hands; I heard him recite “The Raven,” and it was unforgettable. I once arranged a lecture for him in Hollywood. He had two protruding front teeth. He never had a dollar and he really exploited all of us. Yes, I knew Gregory Maximoff'43 well in Chicago. He was a thoughtful man. There was nothing vulgar or uncouth about him.

I never lost touch with the anarchists and have always felt that theirs was the world I was brought up in. I don’t care what you call it, but all the things that the anarchists said sixty or seventy years ago have taken on respectability. If anarchism did nothing else but serve that purpose, it was worth it. But unfortunately it has been so distorted, so misunderstood. Otherwise it might have been a great force for educating people, for liberating them.

Pauline H. Turkel

New York City, January 21, 1972

During 1917 and 1918 Pauline Turkel, a half-sister of Henry Fruchter (q.v.), was Emma Goldman’s secretary at the offices of Mother Earth in New York and, with Hilda Adel (q.v.) and M. Eleanor Fitzgerald (“Fitzi”), worked for the release of political prisoners during the Red Scare that followed. She visited Emma Goldman in Munich in 1923 and saw her again in Paris the following year, when Emma was en route from Germany to England.144 In after years Pauline served in the American consulate in Rome and was associated with the Provincetown Players in Greenwich Village (of which Fitzi was the manager), where she was a friend of Eugene O’Neill, Hart Crane, Djuna Barnes, and other writers. From 1937 until her retirement in 1964 she was managing editor of The Psychoanalytical Quarterly in New York In Lucy Robins Lang’s description, Pauline had “the face of Da Vinci’s Madonna . . . surveying the world with a faint, sad apprehension.”145 She died on April 5, 1987.

I WAS born in New Y?rk on February 21, 1899, of Jewish immigrant parents from Galicia. I became an anarchist through my half-brother, Henry Fruchter [q.v.], who later turned to socialism. I attended lectures at the Ferrer Center on East 107 Street and met Emma Goldman at the offices of Mother Earth. I became her secretary in 1916 or 1917. I helped organize the 1917 rally for Mooney and Billings in Madison Square Garden and was active with Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and M. Eleanor Fitzgerald (“Fitzi”) in the NoConscription effort that year.

Fitzi and I became intimate friends. We lived together in Greenwich Village from 1918 to 1923 and afterwards had a house in Sherman, Connecticut, where Fitzi died in 1955. In 1918 the police raided our apartment and seized our correspondence. I went to the office of Attorney General Palmer’s chief New York agent to get them back. While he was on the telephone, his secretary put a legal-sized yellow sheet on his desk I took a peek and saw that it had a transcript- of a phone conversation between me and Fitzi that morning. I demanded—and got—my letters back and added, “I don’t like my phone tapped.’ The agent turned green with embarrassment. During that time, Ben Capes used to write letters to me and called me “Bluebird,” from Maeterlinck’s play Detectives tried to find “Bluebird” and questioned me in the office of the League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners, where I worked, about who “Bluebird” was.

Emma was difficult to work with, impatient and strict. Sasha was nicer. I loved him very much. In 1923 Fitzi and I visited Sasha and Emma in Munich. The police arrested us—except Sasha, who managed to slip away—and they had a full dossier on Emma, with pictures going back to her childhood. We later visited them in France. Emma was very jealous of Fitzi, whom Sasha adored. Later on, Emmy Eckstein146 was jealous of both Fitzi and Emma. Fitzi had visited Sasha in Altanta prison before he was deported. Fitzi, a beautiful redhead, was very good to me— actually brought me up, like a mother (she had no children of her own). She loved and helped people who were creative, for example, Djuna Barnes147 and Hart Crane.148 Crane lived at our house in Connecticut for a time. He drank a lot and became difficult. Fitzi was generous to everybody but herself. She even helped Mike Gold,14 already a Communist, with his plays when she managed the Provincetown Playhouse. When I got encephalitis in our New York apartment, she cared for me selflessly. Bob Minor150 tried to get her to join the Communist movement, but she refused. I inherited the Connecticut house in 1955 and sold it in 1964 to Professor Charles Issawi of Columbia.

While on the way with me to the Provincetown Playhouse, Hippolyte Havel once spread his coat over a puddle, like Sir Walter Raleigh, to let me pass. “Fedya” was Modest Stein, who became a successful artist, drawing covers for popular magazines. I was told by a very reliable source that the 1916 bombing in San Francisco151 was done by Mexican revolutionaries. Becky Edelsohn committed suicide in California about four months ago.152 I gave my Emma Goldman letters to Jeanne Levey [q.v.], who recently gave them to the Tami- ment Library.

Hilda Adel

Croton-on-Hudson, New York, April 1'4, 1973; September 18, 1979

Hilda Kovner Adel and her companion Sam Adel were young anarchists in New York City in 1917, when the United States entered the First World War. Opponents of the war, they frequented the offices of Mother Earth, published by Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, and attended their trial for obstructing the draft, for which Emma and Sasha (as Berkman was called) were sentenced to two years in prison plus a ten thousand dollar fine each. In 1918 Hilda and Sam joined the Frayhayt Group, a circle of Jewish anarchists who distributed leaflets denouncing American military intervention in Soviet Russia. In a celebrated case, Jacob Abrams, Mollie Steimer, and two other members of the group were imprisoned under the Sedition Act and subsequently deported. To assist them, Hilda and Sam helped organize the Political Prisoners Defense and Relief Committee, to which Emma Goldman refers in her autobiography.153 In 1927 Hilda and Sam settled in the Mount Airy Colony at Croton, New York, where Sam died around 1960 and Hilda in 1984, at the age of ninety-two. Sam, it might be mentioned, was an uncle of Leon Edel, the noted literary historian and biographer of Henry James.

I WAS born Hilda Kovner in Chernigov, Russia, eighty-one years ago and emigrated to the United States in 1906.1 lived with an uncle in Etna, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), until 1912. That year I went to Boston and through my sister entered radical circles. I sold anarchist literature and in 1917 engaged in antidraft resistance. In 1917 I got together with Sam Adel, a fellow anarchist, and we moved to New York. On the night of our arrival, our comrades Jacob Schwartz and Jacob and Mary Abrams took us to an anarchist meeting on the Lower East Side. At first we had no place to stay, but Fitzi [M. Eleanor Fitzgerald], whom we met at the offices of Mother Earth, put us up in Sasha’s room until he came back from jail a few days later. He was being held on extradition charges in connection with the Mooney-Billings case. Fitzi was tall, red-haired, and handsome. And she had soul! She was a wonderful person. I later worked for her at the Provincetown Players. She and Sasha were lovers, but they never had children. “We can’t have children,” Sasha told her. “The revolution is too important.”

In June 1917 Sasha and Emma Goldman were indicted for interfering with the draft. Sam and I went to court on the last day of the trial. Harry Weinberger154 had given us a pass, but they wouldn’t let us in because Sam had long hair. So we stood outside the courtroom in the hall. At one point the door opened and I could see Emma and hear her speaking, sarcastically: “Thank you judge for the justice you have given us.”155

Sam was a cabinetmaker by trade and an individualist by conviction, influenced by Stirner and Nietzsche, but we mingled with anarchists of different types, including Fitzi, Harry Kelly, and Leonard Abbott at Mother Earth. We also attended Fraye Arbeter Shtime gatherings but found Joseph Cohen, who presided, an autocrat in the way he conducted meetings, cold and inflexible.

In early 1918 a small group was formed in New York: Sam, myself, Jack Abrams, Mollie Steimer, Jacob Schwartz, Hyman Lachowsky, Rose Mirsky, Sam Lipman, and a few others. We published a Yiddish anarchist paper called Frayhayt, which defended the Russian Revolution and opposed American intervention in the Civil War. In August 1918 we printed anti-intervention leaflets on our press and took them to a factory downtown. Mollie went into a washroom and threw them out the window. But police arrested a newcomer to our group [Hyman Rosansky] and he informed on us. Mollie, Jack Abrams, Lachowsky, Schwartz, and Lipman were arrested. Most of the group, by the way, lived together in an apartment on East 104 Street. Schwartz died in Bellevue Hospital after being beaten by the police. The rest were tried and given long sentences and heavy fines. We organized a Political Prisoners Defense Committee to try to secure their release, even if this meant deportation, and to aid other political prisoners. We finally succeeded, and the four [Abrams, Steimer, Lipman, and Lachowsky] were deported to Russia in November 1921.156

In December 1919 Sasha and Emma had also been expelled. Emma spoke to me personally the day she was deported. I needed an abortion. We were poor; Sam was out of work; we had no money. I was working at the time at the Bureau of Legal Advice (Mr. Witherspoon was its secretary) and was typing a letter when Emma called on the telephone. She told me what was to be done, whom to see, everything 1 needed to know. She didn’t know me that intimately, yet she was concerned about me and determined to help—on the very day that she was thrown out of the country! So those who call her harsh and selfish can’t convince me!

During the early 1920s Sam, I, and the other members of the prisoners’ committee published a bulletin for political prisoners, The American Political Prisoner. In 1924 Sam and 1 went to the West Coast. We visited Home Colony in Washington and lived in California for a while. Meanwhile, in 1925, George Seldes157 and Harry Kelly had founded Belle Terre, a summer colony in Croton with houses and cabins. In 1926 Kelly began the Mount Airy colony, and we came here in 1927. Each house was on a quarter-acre plot, and five-and-a-half acres were set aside for a school but it was never built. I still live in the same house built by Sam, called “Samilda Cottage,” after Sam and Hilda.

Roger N. Baldwin

New York City, January 29, 1974

Roger Baldwin (1884-1981), founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and a lifelong champion of individual freedom and human rights, was employed in 1911 as a probation officer in St. Louis when he attended a lecture by Emma Goldman. “I was electrified the moment she opened her mouth,” he recalled. “She was a great speaker—passionate, intellectual, and witty. I’d never heard such a direct attack on the foundations of society. I became a revolutionist, though I continued to work at practical reforms.”158 A short while later, Baldwin proclaimed himself a philosophical anarchist, a follower of Thoreau as well as of Goldman, whom he regarded as a major influence on his life, though they were to disagree sharply in their assessment of Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

Baldwin also came to know Alexander Berkman, Carlo Tresca, and other leading anarchists and worked to save Sacco and Vanzetti from execution. In addition, he visited Peter Kropotkin’s widow in Moscow, edited a volume of Kropotkin’s writings,159 and spoke on Kropotkin at the Libertarian Book Club of New York on the fortieth anniversary of his death. (The title of his address was “Kropotkin’s Teachings for the World of Today”) On the eve of his own death, in 1981, Baldwin harked back to Emma Goldman: “In the years since I met Miss Goldman, I have never departed from the general philosophy represented in libertarian literature—that is, in the goal of a society with a minimum of compulsion, a maximum of individual freedom and of voluntary association, and the abolition of exploitation and poverty.”160

The anarchists, as I knew them, were always right and always ineffective. They never resigned themselves to making compromises, which are necessary in any struggle. Emma Goldman did somewhat better than most, however. She was interested in immediate issues as well as in her philosophy. She was extraordinarily motherly in her relations with other people, partly because her motherhood had been frustrated by her not being able to have children. She was an extremely literate person, who lived in books as well as in history. Her lectures, which I began to attend in 1911 while in St. Louis, opened up all kinds of new literature to me—Ibsen, Schopenhauer, the Russians. She introduced many people to a whole literature of protest.

Berkman? What a strange man! He, unlike Emma, was just full of despair. He never gave up completely his belief in violence, to which desperate men are prone. He took his own life, finally. While he held anarchist views and professed to be an idealist, and therefore an optimist, he really at heart had no faith in himself. That’s why he had all those mistresses. He couldn’t be faithful. He had a very disorderly life. But he was a very nice person. His Prison Memoirs showed the same contradictions as his life: compassion for his fellow inmates combined with fatalism and cynicism. He never had the affirmation of life that Emma had. I knew her well, and I saw considerable of Berkman in Paris in 1926-27, when I spent a whole year there. He did some translations for me, for which I paid him. He and Emma treated me—and I think now that they were right—as very naive. I didn’t see in the proletarian dictatorship what they did. They sensed the inherent drive for domination in the Bolsheviks, while I accepted, like a damned fool, their professed belief in the withering away of the state. I thought that they were at least aiming in the right direction, while Emma and Sasha knew that they were aiming the opposite way. I thought that by education and trade unions they would evolve along the right lines, but I was wrong. It took me a long time to find out that the state is irresistible, and that once power is seized and exercised you don’t give it up.

I spent a good deal of time in Russia in 1927 and 1928, and visited many prisons—in Tiflis, Yaroslavl, Leningrad, Moscow, three in Moscow—and talked with numerous political prisoners, anarchists among them. All the while I was in Moscow I stayed at Madame Kropotkin’s home—the Kropotkin Museum—in a guest room upstairs. She was living outside the city, in Dmitrov, where he had died. She was a very sentimental old lady and kept all the flowers from his funeral, with all the streamers and banners that had been carried with them, downstairs in a room of the Moscow house. She took me out to his grave, which had a picture of him on the tombstone. She had great reverence for him, though I don’t think she ever understood his ideas. It was a kind of pilgrimage for me.

I met many anarchists through her. They were all very quiet about their attitude towards the government, not so much out of fear, I think, as through a sense of futility. Few visitors came to the museum, but there was an anarchosyndicalist bookstore opposite the university downtown and quite a few people went there. I arrived in June and left in September of 1927, just before Trotsky’s exile, and things were all in ferment I saw both Kropotkimte and Tolstoyan anarchists, because I had a foot in both camps. I carried a letter from the American Quakers to the Russian Quakers and Tolstoyans. I went to a number of meetings that the Tolstoyans held quite openly, though their people were still being arrested for refusing conscription. I even addressed one meeting on conscientious objection, and over three hundred people attended. I went to the trials of Tolstoyan C.O.’s. They were very outspoken about their attitude towards the state, and were eager to hear about my own experiences as a C.O. during the war.161

I never met Voltairine de Cleyre, but I liked what she wrote in Mother Earth. Emma was always talking to me about her, and she admired her enormously. Emma may have had a certain self-importance, but her spirit was very generous. My experience with her was one of affection and friendship up to the time she died. The individualist anarchists, like Benjamin Tucker, never inspired me, despite the fact that they claimed Thoreau and Emerson, whom I claimed too. They always struck me as isolated. They never engaged in any social movement, never took part in the popular struggle. The Tolstoyans were also likely to remain apart from mass movements, but they had great compassion for the common people.

I went to the Ferrer School in New Jersey when I first came to New York in 1917 or 1918. Harry Kelly, my old friend from St. Louis, brought me, and I even spoke there once or twice. The school was run by saints. Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm162 were so dedicated, so self-sacrificing, that no setback or discouragement—and there were many—could stop them from carrying out their mission. The colony itself had a very pleasant community atmosphere. There was nothing particularly striking about their educational theories, except that they gave the children great freedom and had no obligatory curriculum. Emma knew John Dewey163 quite well, by the way, and had a high regard for his educational ideas. I shared a platform with Dewey and John Haynes Holmes164 in Town Hall when Emma came back in 1934.

Harry Kelly was the quietest and most nonresistant anarchist you could ever dream of, and his talk about anarchism was the mildest recital of principles that you might read in a book. I never heard him get excited or even be severely critical of anyone. He had a nice, pleasant manner, calm and cool. He and I were both from St. Louis and both admired Kropotkin, and when we both took part in founding the League for Mutual Aid,165 we got its name from Kropotkin’s “mutual aid,” a fundamental ethical principle. Leonard Abbott was a literary man, on the staff of several magazines. We all went very often to Romany Marie’s restaurant, around the corner from here,166 a very good place to eat.

I knew both Sacco and Vanzetti and visited them in prison, especially Vanzetti, very often. I was one of the trustees of Sacco’s estate, money given him by radical French trade-unionists for his family. Sacco was very difficult to deal with, not communicative and very suspicious of everyone. But Vanzetti trusted you and was almost childlike in his confidences. I got to know him rather well, and he maintained his innocence to the end. Both of them wrote me farewell letters, which I unfortunately gave to the son of Tolstoy’s executor to put up on a bulletin board in Moscow and never saw again. I am sure that Vanzetti was innocent of the first crime. And in the second case I m quite sure that neither of them fired any shots, but not at all sure that the gang was unknown to them.

Who killed Carlo Tresca?167 Yes, I’m sure who killed him. He was about to expose some dirt on the Generoso Pope family, and they rubbed him out. It was an inside job among the Italians, without any political implications, either Communist or fascist.

I’ve entertained many social theories which have a liberating effect on the restrictions that people have been living under. But I’ve never embraced any of them. I never could accept a doctrine that has definite boundaries to it. I just have to keep my mind free. The anarchists of all of them come closest to removing these restraints. In all our peace and civil liberties work, even today, the power of the state has always been the main opponent. Anarchism is based on the philosophy that an increase in individual choice and freedom is the road to a better society, and all libertarians share that view. The Communists have the same ultimate goal, but believe that a temporary dictatorship is necessary before we can get to it. I still think that it may be necessary. I have never considered anarchism as a philosophy that has guided me but as a philosophy that has elements which appeal to me, above all liberty and voluntary association. I think that anarchism is a bad word. It is open to too many misinterpretations and has generally been associated with violence and assassination, rather than with any creative ideas. There never was an anarchist movement. There were isolated sects and groups that often quarreled with each other, each one going its own way. It is a philosophy taking many different forms. But they all agree on freedom of expression and resistance to controls by one person over another. It never was born and never will die. For it springs from the human soul and will last as long as man lasts.

Albert Boni

New York City, January 24, 1974

Boni, eighty-one years old when I interviewed him, was head of the Readex Microprint Company. In 1915, with Lawrence Langner, he founded the Washington Square Players and was also associated with the Theater Guild. During the 1920s, with Horace Liveright, he published the Modern Library, before selling it to Bennett Cerf, publishing works by Theodore Dreiser, Thornton Wilder, and Ford Madox Ford. With his brother Charles he published Letters from Russian Prisoners, edited by Alexander Berkman (1925), and with Liveright published Berkman’s The Bolshevik Myth (1925). Boni was later one of the pioneers in the paperback book club field. He lived in the Free Acres colony in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and was a friend of Joseph Ishill, the anarchist printer. He died in Florida in 1981, at the age of eighty-eight.

I WAS NOT an anarchist but a socialist. I didn’t like Emma Goldman. She was pretty hard-boiled and too damn cocksure of everything she had to say. Berkman, though, was a lovable person, despite his attempt to kill Frick. I read Mother Earth and may have gone to the Ferrer Center.168 But I was never close to either one until I met them both in Russia, which I visited in 1920-1921. When they arrived in Moscow I was already there. They were disillusioned because they found that anarchists had been imprisoned by the Bolshevik regime. I went with Henry Alsberg169 to visit them. They were very excited because they had just received a letter from Lenin offering them a special train to travel around Russia and gather material for the Museum of the Revolution. We encouraged them to do it.

I later was arrested on suspicion of being a spy for the American government and because I disagreed with some of the Bolshevik policies. I was in a prison camp for a while, and then deported on a train with an armed guard. In the Petrograd station I saw another train with a banner “Museum of the Revolution.” So I jumped off and ran to it, with my guard chasing after me. Berkman calmed him down, then we talked. He told me that the previous night someone reached into the window of his sleeping car and stole his best trousers. I said, “Sasha, don’t worry,” and ran back to my own train and brought an officer’s uniform that I’d bought from an English colonel in prison camp. I gave it to Berkman. I never saw a man squirm as much as he, for a military uniform, complete with braiding, represented everything he detested. But he accepted it. He and Emma left Russia not long afterwards. She later wrote, in Living My Life, that they had met me and Alsberg and liked him better. [Boni was still visibly irritated by this.]

I was a member of the Free Acres Colony170 for many years. Bolton Hall was a fine person. I knew Joseph Ishill171 well—also a loveable man, but his wife was a damn nuisance. I arranged with the University of Florida for them to go there, but she made all kinds of demands and they left after a few months. I gave my Ishill collection to the Tamiment Library.

Gabriel Javsicas

New York City, May 27, 1980

Gabriel Javsicas, born in Russia in 1906, met Emma Goldman in 1924 while a student at the London School of Economics. They quickly became good friends. Afterwards Javsicas (originally Jawschitz) studied economics at Columbia University, visited Emma in France, and traveled with her to Spain in 1928. At the time of the Spanish Civil War he served as an economics advisor to the CNT-FAI in Barcelona, where he saw Emma once again. During this period he wrote on Spain for The Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and other magazines. He later served on the board of Spanish Refugee Aid, was a supporter of Amnesty International, and was an editor, with Abe Bluestein (q.v.), Murray Bookchin, and Sam Dolgoff (q.v.) of News from Libertarian Spain. He died of a heart attack on January 14, 1982, while at the wheel of his car in New York.

I came to London in November 1924, at the age of eighteen, after graduating from high school in Frankfurt-am-Main. My father owned a lumber factory in Memel, and he wanted me to join the business, a very prosperous one. But I was bent on studying at the London School of Economics, and he finally agreed. My cousin Sasha and I got lodgings in London through a student organization. We were sent to a Mrs. Zhook, Doris Zhook, who had rooms to let at 3 Titchfield Terrace. We knocked at the door. It was opened by a woman who spoke excellent German, a very forceful personality. She told us that Mrs. Zhook was away and that she too was a lodger in the building. She showed us our rooms, and we took them.

This woman became our great friend. She cooked us breakfast—an excellent breakfast. We began to discuss things: politics, art, and the like. I said I had read about the Soviet regime; it was a book in German, possibly by Kurt Tu- cholsky.172 Tucholsky said that he had watched the November 7 demonstration on Red Square and that it had reminded him of an Easter procession in Rome, a kind of state religion in which a humanitarian ideal had been turned into a new tyranny. She said that this was quite right, that she had seen it all herself.

Can you imagine my surprise when, about three weeks after taking my lodgings at Titchfield Terrace, I opened the newspaper and saw a picture of my new friend. “Red Emma,” it was captioned, “Living in London.” I knew very little about anarchism, but I knew that she was a remarkable woman, and I liked her! The article was about a speech she had made at a meeting organized by Rebecca West,173 with Josiah Wedgwood174 in the chair. Everybody had been invited. Bertrand Russell was there, and so was Harold Laski, my teacher at the London School of Economics. George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, however, declined to come.

When Emma got up to speak, the article said, she was wildly applauded. When she sat down there was absolute silence. She had criticized the regime in Soviet Russia as a dictatorship not of the proletariat but over the proletariat, a very unpopular stand to take at that time among liberals and socialists. I heard her speak soon afterwards in a hall in the East End. Someone in the audience asked her about the mutiny of the Kronstadt sailors. She told of how a sailor from Kronstadt had come to Petrograd during the revolt and reminded Zinoviev175 how he and his comrades had saved the revolution in 1917. A Communist in the hall got up and shouted, “You’re lying!” But she wasn’t. Her words had the ring of truth. She was a forceful, convincing speaker. I was deeply impressed. She repeated what she said at the previous meeting: that the Bolsheviks had betrayed the revolution and established a dictatorship over the proletariat. I accepted this implicitly.

Emma and I became close friends. We talked a lot, went places together, and afterwards wrote to one another. I took her often to the theater—she especially loved that! Emma loved young men. At one point she suggested that we sleep together, but I demurred.

During my Christmas vacation in 1924 I went to Berlin, and there I met Alexander Berkman. Emma had given me his address. I told him how much I admired his book, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, and he was pleased. I fell in love with both of them instantly. Berkman had a sharp wit, a kind of graveyard humor. Just before he was deported from America he learned that Frick had died, and he said: “I’m glad he left the country before me.”176

After leaving Berlin, Berkman rented a house in St. Cloud, a suburb of Paris. Soon afterward, Emmy [Eckstein], his companion, joined him—a package of poison if there ever was one, an absolute disaster. She came from the lowest kind of middle-class bourgeoisie in Hungary. Her dream was to be Frau Berkman, and she nagged him day and night to marry her. One couldn’t simply drop in for a visit, as I liked to do. She got terribly upset. She was a fool and a hypochondriac. She later found a quack in Nice who tried to cure her stomach trouble by shortening her intestine. Instead, he shortened her life.

Berkman’s political philosophy was very simplistic, and there was a strong Marxist element in it: the economic basis of history, the role of the working class in overthrowing capitalism, the primacy of the economic factor—hence his economic deed was superior to Czolgosz’s political deed. He believed that the revolution had a right to defend itself by all and any means, including imprisonment and execution.

In 1928 Emma and I traveled from France to Spain. I was there only a week; she stayed a bit longer. We went to a cafe together, and she was the only woman in the place. There was great excitement. Everyone craned his neck to see her. She went to see Federico Urales—the anarchist Juan Montseny, Federica’s father.177 She asked him about the anarchist movement in Spain. He said there wasn’t any movement because the young people had no ideals but were interested only in dancing and going to the movies. How wrong he was! Just a few years later there were millions of anarchists in Spain.

Fedya, their old comrade, turned up in St. Tropez in 1930 or 1931. He had become a successful artist and had long since abandoned anarchism. He had an apartment on Gramercy Park, a very exclusive neighborhood. But he was lonely. He wanted to look up his old friends, the friends of his youth.

Not long afterwards Berkman developed prostate trouble. In 1936 he had an operation, which transformed him from a powerful individual into a doddering old man. He had unbearable pains after the operation. He was convinced that he had cancer. There wasn’t any sense in living any longer.

During the Spanish Civil War I saw Emma in Paris. She seemed very subdued. She was getting old and was mellowing. She favored the anarchists’ joining the Spanish government. Alexander Schapiro and I strongly opposed it. Schapiro was one of the most intelligent of the anarchists I knew. Rocker, too, was a truly thinking person. I loved him. He had a Germanic admiration for learning. He had read a great deal and knew a great deal. A very charming man.

Ida Gershoy

New York City, June 8, 1983

Ida Gershoy, born about 1903, was the wife of Leo Gershoy, the well-known historian of modern France. Their dentist at Rochester, New York, where Gershoy was teaching in the late 1920s, was Emma Goldman’s nephew, Saxe Commins, the future editor at Random House. It was through him that the Gershoys got to know Goldman and Alexander Berkman, whom they visited in France. The birthday party to which Ida refers in the interview took place on June 27, 1928, not 192$, and celebrated Goldman’s fifty-ninth, not sixtieth, year. In a letter to Berkman, dated June 29, 1928, Goldman describes the occasion: “What looked to be a dreary and lonesome birthday turned out to be a gay affair. All thanks to my thoughtful secretary [Emily Holmes Coleman, known as “Demi”]. She had quite a conspiracy, invited the Gershoys, Saxe’s friends, bought three bottles of champagne and some delicious cakes, and marched everything up to our terrace, ice and all. I had suspected that Demi is up to something; she is a poor conspirator. But I did not expect champagne. Well, we drank until eleven and then went down to the village to dance. We came back at two in the morning. I got up a bit tired yesterday, but I wrote all afternoon [she was working on her autobiography, Living My Life]. So you see the champagne must have been good, it had no after effects. I enjoyed the party immensely but even more so Demi’s fine spirit, her thoughtfulness.”178 Ida Gershoy died in New York on November 27, 1991.

My husband, Leo Gershoy, was teaching at the University of Rochester, and Saxe Commins was our dentist there. We met him just by going to him for dental work. We started as patients but became intimate friends. That was in the 1920s. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were both living in France at that time. Emma, you know, knew all the rich people in Rochester. In fact, a group of them bought her the house she had in St. Tropez. Stein of Stein & Bloch [the clothing manufacturers] was one of them, if I’m not mistaken.

Leo and I were going to go to Europe for an extended trip. Saxe said, “You must look up Tante Emma.” She was living in a hotel in Paris. Our hotel was not far away, and we went over to sec her. She made a tremendous impression. She was a very powerful woman with an overwhelming personality. She was not at all good-looking, but in a curious way was rather handsome, with her big blue eyes and overpowering personality. She was getting readv to leave for her house in St. Tropez. We knew nothing about St. Tropez and had never been there. “You must come and visit me,” she said. She liked both of us very much.

That’s how we got to St. Tropez—through Emma. It was not a very fashionable place at that time. It was a charming town then; it’s changed a good deal for the worse since. A number of artists lived there, and when you bought fish or vegetables the shopkeeper would ask, “Is it for eating or painting?” We spent six months in St. Tropez that year and came back the following year for another six months. We found a charming villa that we were able to rent for only a hundred dollars for the entire six months.

We would walk over to Emma’s house three or four times a week. It was a small but very pleasant house, with a nice garden. The gardener, a handsome Frenchman, was very devoted to Emma. She was writing her autobiography at the time, but had a steady stream of visitors and quite a few dinners and parties. Emma was fond of drinking—especially wine—and was very proud of her cooking. “Have some of E. G.’s coffee,” she would say. “Have some of E. G.’s pudding”—or whatever she was making that day. Emma was an awful person to live with, you know. She could be quite captivating, but also very difficult— the worst bitch in the world!

We also saw Berkman quite often. Sasha was living in Nice with his companion Emmy Eckstein. He was a really wonderful man. We didn’t think we would like him, but developed a great affection for him—and we weren’t anarchists and weren t accustomed to such people. Leo found him fascinating and talked with him all the time. Sasha had a perfect command of English, of course, but spoke with a noticeable accent, Russian or Jewish I would call it. (Emma’s, by contrast, was very slight.) He also knew French very well, but his accent was quite appalling! His Emmy was a very uninteresting girl. She was sort of pretty in a way, but never said very much and was very much under Sasha’s thumb. She had no personality. Emma was rather nice to Emmy, and she never said anything unpleasant about her, at least when I was around. And she always invited her to come to visit with Sasha. They almost always came together—to our dismay, since we didn’t find her very enthralling.

Emma, who bossed everyone in sight, always was very meek when Sasha was there. All he had to do was give her a look and she acquiesced. He was the only one who could intimidate her. I think it was because of his act—his attempt on Frick—and her role in it. That was their great bond. She was intensely devoted to Sasha, I think because of her feeling of guilt over the Frick affair and Sasha’s long imprisonment. They had a deep understanding of one another, a strong rapport. They were constantly in communication, and every little thing that happened to Sasha was very important to Emma.

Sasha and Leo often talked about anarchism and about history. Sasha said that his next book would be called “I Have to Leave”—he was always being harassed and driven out of places! He was very fond of Leo, and was fond of me too. He liked girls, and I was very young then. He wasn’t at all good-looking. Not that he was terribly homely. He looked very Jewish. He had a long nose and a loose lip. I was quite appalled when I first saw him, he looked so unattractive. But he was intelligent, he was kind, and he was sweet; and after a while I came to love him; and Leo did too. He never said anything nasty about anybody, where Emma constantly did.

But she too could be sweet and charming, and often was. And she liked men, especially young men. She really liked the boys! She was very fond of my husband, and also of my older brother, who once came to visit. One time one of her old flames from America came to visit—I can’t remember his name—one of her “great loves,” she said I had pictured him as tall and handsome, but he turned out to be short and homely, with a crossed eye Another visitor was Gabriel Jawschitz [later Javsicas, q.v.], an extremely odd-looking young man. But she was very fond of him. I think they had been lovers.

Emma was lots of fun, but not Berkman. He couldn’t relax enough to be fun. He laughed, of course, and told amusing stories, but deep down he was very serious, maybe because of his years in prison. Sasha never talked about his experience in prison. Emma, though, talked often about her youth in America, about Rochester, about how she became an anarchist and how she became a nurse and how she hid from the police; and when she did so she was very charming. She and Sasha talked about the Buford],) and their experiences in Russia, which they were dead set against.

In June of 1929,1 think it was, there was a party on Emma’s sixtieth birthday. Leo and I and my brother were invited. We couldn’t afford champagne, so we brought a bottle of Asti Spumante. It was supposed to be a surprise party, but Emma knew all about it. She was all spiffed up, ready for the “surprise”! Afterwards, when we all got a little drunk, we drove to town and went dancing. Emma loved to dance! She was very funny to watch, so short and squat and having such a time of it. There was another party somewhat later, when Frank Harris, Bernard Shaw, and I forget who else, had a party for her in Nice. After that she gave a party for them at her house in St. Tropez. Shaw, though, didn’t come, and I was terribly disappointed. Frank Harris was there, and he tried his best to seduce me and all the other girls.

We also knew Demi—Emma’s secretary, Emily Holmes Coleman—very well. She was a friend of Saxe Commins’s and was living in Paris. She looked us up when we arrived, and we became fast friends. She was a very strange girl— she’d been in several institutions—absolutely beautiful, charming, witty, but always on the verge of having a fit. And I think she had plenty of set-tos with Emma. She wrote a very interesting book, The Shutter of Snow, a novel about her first stay in a mental hospital.180 She was always slightly crazy, but had her good periods and bad periods. Demi was married and had a son. Her husband was an extremely nice man, and their little boy looked like an angel, though was anything but. She and her husband were divorced, and he went to Australia, I think, and remarried, but died long ago. I don’t know what became of Demi.

After our second year in St. Tropez we continued to keep in touch with Emma. Leo had quite a few letters from her and some pictures, but I haven’t been able to find them. (He died eight years ago.) Our friendship with her extended over a period of several years. When she came back to America in the 1930s, she called us up. Someone had a party for her. and we were invited. Fitzi was there; Emma was very fond of Fitzi, and Fitzi was of her.

The next time I saw Emma was in England a few years later. By then Sasha was dead. He had shot himself, you know. He was fascinated by guns and always wanted to have them. I think he felt guilty that he wasn t able to kill Frick. And when he committed suicide he was still a bad shot! He was in agony before he died. I believe he’d been suffering from cancer and wanted to make an end of it. Emma was speaking in London when I saw her. It was during the Spanish Civil War. She spoke very well, by the way, as she did also in private company. She was putting on quite a show. Next to her hung a huge flag with the letters “CNT/FAI” and a big “EG” underneath. That was the last time I saw her, in all her glory, speaking before a big London crowd.

Arthur Leonard Ross

New York City, February 3, 1974

Arthur Leonard Ross, a New York attorney, met Emma Goldman in Paris in 1924 and became her legal representative in the United States, from which she had been deported in December 1919. He helped raise money for the purchase of her cottage in St. Tropez, sent books to her for her preparation of lectures in Toronto, negotiated with Alfred Knopf for the publication of her autobiography, and helped arrange her visit to the United States in 1934. “Arthur Leonard Ross, kindest and most lavish of men,” she wrote in St. Tropez in 1931, “gave me his untiring efforts as legal representative and adviser. . . . He was the rare type that one gets to consider in a short time as a good friend.”181 Ross died in New York in the spring of 1975.

I first became acquainted with the anarchists through my friends Roger Baldwin [q.v.], Harry Weinberger, and Frank Harris. I’m now eighty-eight, and Harry especially was an old friend of mine—we were kids together in New York. My practice was largely with authors, so I never made much money. But I was able to help Fitzi [M. Eleanor Fitzgerald] meet the payroll of the Provincetown Players by lending or giving her money; and I gave Emma Goldman five hundred dollars to help her buy her house in France, “Bon Esprit.” I was also Frank Harris’s executor, drew up Fitzi’s will, and was attorney for the Provincetown Players for a while, after Harrv Weinberger. I gave all my correspondence and papers to the Tamiment Library of New York University.

Before I ever knew Emma and Sasha, I attended their trial before Judge Mayer. He was a Jewish judge, and, like the judge in the Rosenberg case, had to prove his loyalty to America. So he gave them no quarter. He wouldn’t allow Harry Weinberger even a day or two to prepare his case. So they represented themselves. I gave the full record of the case to the Tamiment Library, and you can read it there. Every time I read it it hurt my heart to see what a terrible beating they got. That’s the way they treated anarchists in those days.

I met Emma in Paris during the 1920s, when my friend Frank Harris and his wife introduced me to her. A few years later I helped her publish her autobiography, Living My Life. Then, on December 13, 1933, I got a telegram from her asking for help to visit America. Roger Baldwin went to see Frances Perkins,182 while I dealt with the government lawyers. I personally vouched that Emma would make no political speeches during her stay here. And the first thing she did was to make a political speech! It was about Kropotkin, and it was quite an occasion, as it was her first—and only—return to America after her Russian experience. Town Hall was packed, and people were hanging from the chandeliers. I thought the upper gallery would collapse, it was so heavy with people. The hall—in fact the entire block—was surrounded by police, and I had trouble getting in. I was on the platform and made a sketch of Emma as she spoke [he shows it to me].

Afterwards I went to see Emma in Toronto. Most people would find it hard to believe, but she loved America deeply, in spite of what it did to her. She could talk and breathe relatively freely here, where in Russia they pent her up. Yet the only way she could return permanently was in a coffin. The Roosevelt administration allowed her to be buried in Waldheim, next to the Haymarket ajiarchists, and that was a great event for America. I wouldn’t expect a Nixon to give permission like that. But when Roosevelt was in office, we were a bit freer and more tolerant than we are now.

It was through Emma that I got to know Joseph Ishill, a fine printer and craftsman. I have his Free Vistas, Bibliography, Peter Kropotkin, and other beautiful works. His daughter Crystal just wrote me a nice six-page letter from Ohio, where she lives with her mother, Rose Freeman.

I represented Walter Starrett (Van Valkenburgh),183 also through Emma’s request. He bad inherited some real estate upstate and was having trouble collecting, but I got his money for him. He had worked for the railroad as a young man and lost a leg in an accident He was a good bookkeeper but was fired from his job when his anarchist activities became known. He never got over that. He took to drink and fell heavily into debt and finally separated from his wife. When we collected the real estate money I paid off his debts, and he came to me for the rest of the money. He went to a saloon on the Bowery and all the money was stolen. Then he went home and committed suicide. His wife died a few years ago, and a daughter, a teacher out west, just died recently. Her son was a lawyer out there. Another daughter, Mrs. Edna Holden, lost her husband not long ago. I spent all my time on those poor people. I never got a nickel—and they didn’t have a nickel to give me to begin with.

Kate Wolfson

New York City, October 16, 1972

Kate Wolfson, an immigrant from Odessa, joined the anarchist movement in New York, where she was acquainted with Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Moving to Philadelphia, she attended the Sunday School of the Radical Library, started by Joseph Cohen and Abe Grosner (see Part Four). She afterwards resided in Stelton, where her daughter attended the Modern School. During the early 1930s, Kate visited Emma Goldman in St. Tropez and in Berlin. She saw her for the last time in 1934, when Emma was allowed to conduct a threemonth lecture tour in the United States. Kate died in New York in 1977.

I WAS born Katya Blackman in 1895 and came to New York from Odessa in 1907, at the age of twelve My sixteen-year-old sister had become an anarchist in the 1905 Revolution; she returned to Russia in 1917 and is still alive in Odessa, where I’ve visited her several times. My fourteen-year-old sister Bertha also became an active anarchist towards the end of the revolution, in 1906 and 1907. She became Hugo Rolland’s [q.v.] wife in the U.S. and the mother of his son Siegfried [q.v.]; Siphra is the second wife and mother of their daughter Sandra.

1 was introduced to the anarchist movement by my sisters in New York. We went to Emma Goldman’s lectures on drama and birth control, which we regarded as secondary issues. We were fiery young militants and more concerned with economic and labor issues, and we resented her dwelling on such things as theater. Once we walked into her lecture and refused to pay the fifty cents admission, saying to her that “if you were concerned about workers you wouldn’t charge fifty cents and would talk about basic questions like food and jobs.” As Sasha said, Emma always liked the good things of life, and she had wealthy friends who supplied them. But that didn’t detract from her sincerity as an anarchist. She was a very physical woman; she enjoyed food, dancing, sex, and all the things that people should enjoy. Ben Reitman was an example of her physical desires. He looked coarse and gross, and we got the impression that he was not genuinely interested in anarchist ideals.

We moved to Philadelphia in 1916. I attended the Radical Library Sunday School, where I met Ray Miller [Shedlovsky, q.v.] and where Abe Grosner was in charge. In the evening there were lectures by Joseph Cohen, Will Durant,184 and others. We read the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, but we were more in the Russian movement than in the Yiddish. We wore black anarchist ribbons with the slogan Khleba golodnym, volia ugnetennym [Bread to the Hungry, Freedom to the Oppressed]. Some of the young men collected guns and dynamite to take to Russia and the revolution. My oldest sister went back in 1917 to take part in the revolution. Her husband was purged by Stalin in the 1930s.

I married, moved to New York, and had a daughter. When Irene was three we went to Stelton because of the school. I didn’t want her in public school, with its regimentation and under teachers who had little respect for children. And I wasn’t disappointed in the Ferrer School. Aunty Ferm had good ideas about education. We lived there for six years, and both our daughters went to the school and were very happy there. The school gave them an opportunity to do creative work (see Irene Blackman’s art work in the Voice of the Children). Hugo Gellert [q.v.] was very good with the children. “God damn it, those kids can paint better than I can,” he said. Bill Pogrebysky had been a pupil in the school and became Gellert’s assistant. He went back to Russia in the late 1920s and died in the Red Army in World War II.

We parents used to go into the circle in the morning assembly and participate with the kids. Dora Keyser’s [q.v.] little round blond-haired boy kept to himself, and Dora asked Aunty, “Why do you let him waste his time like that?” Aunty replied, “He’s learning how to evaluate space, by himself. Children never waste their time if you leave them alone-—they are learning very important things.”

Aunty had a basic respect for the innate instinct of children to learn, unless you stop them, and stopping them is what creates so much trouble in our schools. She never interfered with children when they were learning. She was a true educator. I used her book and her methods at the Grand Street Settlement, where I directed the child care center for nineteen years. Once I weighed my daughter Irene at Stelton when she was a small child. Aunty said, “Do you think she’s a piece of meat?” To her children weren’t so many pounds of flesh and bone, but spiritual beings. I didn’t get to know Uncle as well—he worked mostly with the older children, and I was with the little ones, as was Aunty.

There were many interesting people at Stelton. Joseph Cohen was a bright and knowledgeable man. Hippolyte Havel walked up to me one day while I was mowing the lawn. “Kate, you got a penny?” he said in his European accent. “Sure, but what do you want a penny for?” “I want to go down the road and when people say ‘there goes Hippolyte without a penny in his pocket’ they’ll be wrong.” Sherwood Trask18’ had a more formal approach to teaching than the others. He had classes in history and geography, and he often took the kids on overnight hikes. He had a good sense of humor and was a very able teacher. Mary Hansen 6 had a quiet way of talking that was very impressive. She was very contained within herself, a fine person. April Farm was founded by Charles Garland in Pennsylvania in the late 1920s. A few people from Stelton went there, but it didn’t last long, two or three years at most. One of our kids, Anita Alvarez, became a Broadway dancer and starred in Finian’s Rainbow. Every child at Stelton was sensitive to beautiful things. They’ve retained that to this day, whatever their politics might be. The colony was poor, but it was a happy place.

In 1931 the kids and I left Stelton to visit my oldest sister in Archangel, where she and her husband were high-ranking Communist officials in charge of the lumber industry. On the way, we went to France and decided to spend some time on the Riviera. At St. Tropez a real estate agent told us about “Madame Colton,” that is, Emma Goldman.187 We left our name and address, and in the evening Emma came to visit with homemade gefilte fish. She was warm, friendly, unassuming. We stayed in St. Tropez for six months, and Emma’s house became our second home. We talked about everything—art, literature, anarchism—and became close friends. She always had interesting visitors.

After three months in Russia, we returned to the U.S. via Berlin, where Emma was then living in a pension. We stayed there six weeks. I had left Moscow enthusiastic for Russia and the Communist idea. Emma didn’t get angry or even try to convince me otherwise, but only said, “You have a right to your views, but some day you’ll change your mind.” Despite her fame, she retained all her human qualities; she had concern for ordinary people and their ordinary, everyday affairs, and she didn’t put me down when I became sympathetic with the Communists.

I saw Emma again when she came to the U.S. in 1934, and she had lost none of her fire and none of her humanity. We also saw Alexander Berkman in Nice in 1932 or 1933. He was a gentle, sensitive human being, very soft, very sentimental. I loved him dearly. He loved my little girls. When we were waving goodbye through the train window he had tears in his eyes. In Berlin I met Augustin Souchy, Rudolf Rocker, Erich Miihsam (who took me to dinner), and Senya Fleshin and Mollie Steimer.188 They are still in Mexico, where I have visited them. Her sister lives in Miami. I’m seventy-seven now and still an anarchist. Unlike other political groups, their honor, their integrity are still intact.

Ora Robbins

Flushing, New York, December 5, 1985

Ora Robbins is the daughter of Esther Laddon, an anarchist in Toronto, with whom Emma Goldman stayed while on a lecture tour in 1927 and 1928. " The dear woman, Esther Laddon,” writes Goldman in her memoirs, “was about my own age, but she mothered me as if I were her child. She fretted about my health and worried about my meals, and buttonholed everybody to warn them not to dare miss hearing the great orator E. G.”189

My mother, Esther Laddon, came to New York from Russia in 1889 and eventually settled in Toronto, where she raised my two brothers and myself. Mother had already been an anarchist as a girl and fell in with the anarchist circles in Toronto. When Emma Goldman came to Toronto in 1927, she and Mother, both anarchists, both born in Russia in 1869, both former seamstresses, became good friends. Emma stayed at our house at 132 Lytton Boulevard, a large Victorian house with a garden. Emma took over the house, dominated the place. She stayed up all night talking on the phone. She drank a good deal of whiskey. And she woke up late in the morning. Comrades from the U.S. came in droves to visit her, as she was not allowed to cross the border.

I thought Emma was wonderful. She was a brilliant woman and a marvelous speaker, full of original ideas. She was so liberal in her views about young people. She talked to me about companionate marriage, without any official sanction. She gave me letters of introduction to the theater people in Greenwich Village—including Fitzi [M. Eleanor Fitzgerald] at the Provincetown Playhouse—as I wanted to become an actress. Fitzi took me under her wing when I arrived in New York in 1928. I acted in a play by e. e. cummings that year.

In 1927 Emma organized a big protest meeting against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. She handed me a long poem to read at the meeting. That

same year I was on the back porch of our house with Emma when news came that Isadora Duncan had been killed in an accident,190 and Emma was deeply moved.

Millie Grobstein

Brooklyn, New York, April 20, 1975

Millie Grobstein is the older of two daughters of Joseph and Sophie Desser, whose home in Toronto was a center of the Jewish anarchist movement between the wars. As a high-school senior in 1934 and 1935, Millie acted as secretary to Emma Goldman, who was then living and lecturing in Canada. Millie performed the same function during 1939 and early 1940, taking dictation and typing Goldman’s letters. In February 1940 Goldman suffered a stroke and died in Toronto in May.

My father, Joseph Desser, was born in Lask, Poland, on March 18, 1885. He was a young boy when his parents died and lived with his father’s brother or sister. He had a religious upbringing and attended the yeshiva. In 1902, when called to serve in the Polish army, he went to London, where his older brother lived. It was there that he met Langbord, Simkin, and nearly all of the later Toronto group—and, of course, Rudolf Rocker. He stayed in London six years. He learned the craft of tailor there, gave up religion, and joined the Arbeter Fraynd Group. He was always in awe of Rocker, praising him in the highest terms. He just loved him! And his wife Milly too.

Father emigrated to Toronto around 1908, again following his older brother. He took up tailoring and became a founder of the Fraye Gezelshaft Branch 339 of the Workmen’s Circle,191 which was also the main anarchist group in Toronto. He was constantly going to meetings, was rarely home, got up early, went to work, then to meetings, and came home late. Every Saturday and Sunday he peddled the Fraye Arbeter Shtime at the Workmen’s Circle and the Labor Lyceum. Outside work, our house at 759 Bathurst Street became the center of the anarchist movement in Toronto. Everybody in the movement who lived in Toronto or was just passing through knew that house! Father was also fond of theater and opera and went when he had a chance, though that wasn’t very often.

Emma Goldman came to Toronto in 1934 and stayed in our house till she could find an apartment. She impressed me as an ordinary woman—short, heavy, stocky. From newspaper accounts I expected a fiery, domineering woman, yet she was very gentle, kind, motherly. That’s the way she seemed to me, anyhow. During the time I spent with her in Montreal, from December 1934 to March 1935, she was just like a mother to me and did everything a mother would do. When she first came to Toronto, in 1926, I was eleven or twelve years old. Father was very ill with rheumatic fever, and she would come to the house every day—it was a three-story house—and trudge up those two flights of stairs, bringing him medicine, feeding him lunch, all to relieve my mother of part of the burden. She was so compassionate! It’s incredible that people thought the opposite of her.

After her first visit, Emma went back to France for a while, and then returned to Toronto. It was then, in 1934, that I became her secretary. I could type and take dictation, and Father suggested that I help her after school. I was in my last year in high school then. I took dictation and typed her letters. I was very nervous the first time I worked for her. She wrote an enormous number of letters all over the world, to friends, relatives, comrades. Sometimes she made notes first, sometimes she dictated right out. Her mind was very keen. She was able to think very quickly.

That was the greatest period of my life. Just knowing her and being with her is something I’ll never forget. I’ll cherish it forever. Her ability to do the things she did, her clear mind and strong intellect, her determination to fight the ills of society—I often wish I could have done all that. I wish I had the strength of character, the ability. She was a very strong personality. She was also a good housekeeper and an excellent cook.

Emma never offended me in any way. The only thing I resented once in a while was that she would pile the work on so much, and the deadline was always so short! Yes, she had a fine sense of humor. She was jovial. You never felt depressed when you were with her, even with all the great problems of the world in those days, which disturbed her very much, though she maintained her spirits. Her eyesight was very poor, and her handwriting was awful. I had a hard time deciphering it at first.

Emma never delivered a lecture spontaneously, off the cuff, but would always prepare them carefully in advance. She would write her notes and I would type them verbatim, triple-spaced, in capitals. But you would never know that she was reading. She would master her notes so well, almost memorize them. But she had to have those notes in front of her. She was extremely nervous before the lecture, ate very little, and before mounting the platform took a drink of whiskey and paced up and down. Yet the minute she got on the platform she was herself, in full command. She was at home. All her fears and anxieties seemed to disappear. She was a forceful and engaging lecturer, with a good, clear voice. She had a European accent, but it was nothing strong, and she had a perfect command of the language. She spoke mostly on drama— Russian, German, English (George Bernard Shaw, for example). She wasn’t allowed to speak on political subjects, yet she managed to bring them in very subtly.

Emma talked about Alexander Berkman constantly. She was heartbroken by his death and always spoke of him with affection and love. Yes, she did mention Voltairine de Cleyre, more than once. I’m sure of that. But I don’t recall specifically what she said, except that she admired Voltairine’s work. We had her collected writings. Father sent a stack of Mother Earths to Agnes Inglis, and we sent more after he died. Ben Reitman came to Toronto in the 1920s, when I was a kid, wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He walked into the house and you knew he was there!

Apart from my parents, the Jewish anarchists in Toronto included Julius Seltzer [q.v.], Julius Schiff, Sasha Gurian, Morris and Becky Langbord, Mr. and Mrs. Simkin, Mr. and Mrs. Steinberg, Louis Judkin, and others. Julius Seltzer had a knit-goods factory in Toronto. A number of the comrades, including Ahrne Thorne [q.v.], used to work for him. Yet he firmly opposed the organization of a trade union in the factory, and there were even strikes because of that. Emma was shocked that an anarchist would behave in that manner.

Spain was Emma’s main preoccupation before the war. She did a great deal in Toronto, making speeches and collecting money for the anarchists in Spain and for the refugees after the crushing of the Spanish Revolution. It was during that time that the Libertarian Group was organized. It was an offshoot of the Jewish group, but with some non-Jewish members like Dorothy Rogers,192 Attilio Bortolotti [q.v.], and a Swede named Carl [Newlander].193 Father, Thorne, and other Jewish anarchists were active. The idea was to carry on propaganda in English. They sold literature, held forums, organized lectures, including lectures by Emma, and their meetings were held in our house.

Emma never lost her strength. She was vigorous, vital to the end. As a matter of fact, I had been working with her the day that she suffered her stroke. I took dictation that afternoon and, as usual, went home to type it up. I left her at about five o’clock. It was a lovely day in early spring. I had just walked in the door when our phone rang. It was Tom Meelis, the Dutch anarchist, where Emma had her rooms. He told us the shocking news: she had had a paralytic stroke and was taken to the hospital. I went to visit her every day. Her speech was gone, yet her mental faculties were all there. She patted me, pointed for something, the flowers on the dresser, wanting me to read the card, pointing with her eyes. To see such a vital woman one minute immobilized the next was profoundly disturbing. It was very painful every time I went to visit. I would come home all broken up. Yet she was still communicating. She was ill for about six weeks. She didn’t recover; she died in May of that year, 1940.

I didn’t know Rudolf Rocker as well as I did Emma. He and Milly visited our home several times. He was a very lovable person. Whenever he came back from a lecture tour in Canada, he would pat me on the head and say, “How you’ve grown!”

In 1939, after the war started, there was a burning session in our basement to get rid of the “seditious literature.” I remember that furnace going in August! All the archives and papers were burned. They were not lost in any flood. The police were barging in on all known anarchists. They raided Bortolotti’s house. They never did get to us, though Dad was expecting them. Father died on June 8, 1941, of a lumbar embolism, just a year after Emma.

Ahrne Thorne

Bronx, New York, October 2, 1979

Ahrne Thorne (real name Thorenberg) was born on December 26, 1904, of a Hasidic family in Lodz, Poland. In his teens he broke with tradition and worked his way to Paris, where he was converted to anarchism during the agitation for Sacco and Vanzetti. He emigrated to Toronto in 1930, became an associate of Emma Goldman, and began to write for the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, a Jewish anarchist journal in New York. From 1940, when Ahrne and his wife Paula moved to New York, he worked as a printer for Yiddish publications before assuming the editorship of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. Under his supervision, the paper occupied a distinctive niche in the Yiddish intellectual and cultural world. It closed its doors in 1977, after eighty-seven years of publication. Ahrne himself passed away on December 13, 1985, in his eighty-first year. With characteristic modesty, Ahrne preferred not to be interviewed about his own life and career. He consented, however, to offer reminiscences of Emma Goldman in Toronto.194

I arrived in Toronto from Paris in 1931 and got a job at Julius Seltzer’s [q.v.] clothing factory. He admired my designs of sweaters, but the Depression was in full swing, so I worked as a machine operator. One day Seltzer came over to me and began to discuss politics and the world situation—whether Hitler would come to power, and so on. Among the writers I referred to was Rudolf Rocker. “Rocker?” asked Seltzer, astounded. “How do you know about Rocker? Why, he comes here to Toronto! He stays at my place!” So we found out—boss and worker—that we were both anarchists!

My first meeting with Emma Goldman took place in 1932. I was introduced to her at a gathering in a comrade’s home. I think it was Morris Langbord’s house, where she was staying. About twenty people attended. But this first encounter with her was a disappointment. All the others had known her before and wanted to know about mutual friends and acquaintances: How is this one? What is that one doing? Where is so-and-so? I wanted to hear about world issues. So, at this meeting at any rate, there was a conflict of interests.

But as I got to know her 1 was deeply impressed. I was both an anarchist and a member of the IWW in Toronto. I distributed announcements of her lectures, attended them all myself, and found her a great speaker. Her lectures were bitterly anti-Bolshevik—the “red fascists,” she called them, destroyers of the revolution. The Communists and Trotskyites in the audience were violently opposed to her. During the speech itself there was constant heckling. This she didn’t mind; she was very good at repartee and knew how to handle them. (Rocker, by the way, hated heckling; he hated to be interrupted and wanted to be left alone to finish his speech.) But during the question- and-answer period there was frequent tumult and uproar, particularly when she denounced Lenin and Stalin, and some meetings were broken up as a result

Emma was always terribly serious. Do you notice any humor in her writing? Very little. The same with her speeches. When I would make a joke she didn’t like it. “This is a serious matter,” she would say, “so let’s discuss it seriously.” She avoided small talk. But she had a deep personal warmth. 1 once needed a doctor. She recommended someone, and she asked me about it later. If a friend needed help, she would do everything she could, mobilize all available forces, go out of her way for you.

A good example was when the three Italian anarchists got arrested in 1939. After the defeat of the Spanish Revolution, a number of Spanish anarchists fled to France and then Canada. In September 1939 the Second World War broke out. All letters were stopped and censored. The authorities found a letter from Italian anarchists in Toronto advising their Spanish comrades to come to Canada, an easy country to get into in those difficult days. The police raided Ruggero’s home, found a large quantity of anarchist literature and a rusty revolver. Ruggero [Benvenuti], Bortolotti [q.v.], and a third Italian named Vic [Vittorio Valopi] were arrested. They were in danger of deportation to fascist Italy. They needed a lawyer and money for their defense. Emma plunged into action. She got a lawyer and raised funds. Money was collected in New York and other cities, as well as in Canada, after she appealed to her comrades in America.

I was once in the lawyer’s office and asked to see the penal code under which our comrades were being prosecuted. He gave it to me and I read it. It said “dissemination” of revolutionary literature. I pointed this out to the lawyer— Cohen, I think his name was195—“dissemination,” not “possession,” whereas they had been arrested for mere possession. He opened his eyes. He asked me if I had ever had any legal training, which of course I hadn’t. Emma told me later that he was impressed. He used the argument in his defense.

Paula and I went to visit the three Italians in jail. Two of them, Ruggero and Bortolotti, are still alive (Vic died a couple of years ago). We spoke to them through a barred window, with a guard listening to every word. In court they were found not guilty and were immediately released. Emma had worked hard to achieve that result. She made speeches, wrote letters, organized teas and gatherings to raise money. Emma was a woman of action. She was not a theorist, not a deep thinker. And though she cared about her family and friends, she was very self-centered—too self-centered for an anarchist.

When I first met Emma she was very depressed about Living My Life, which had just come out the previous year. It was a big book and too expensive, and in the Depression it didn’t sell. I had begun to read it, not in English but in Yiddish, in the Forverts, beautifully translated by M. Osherowitz. It had been appearing daily, but it stopped abruptly. An editorial note said that the rest of the book consisted of internal anarchist bickerings and was without general interest. In reality, the sex parts had largely stopped!

While in Toronto, Emma was visited by a young man from Chicago named Frank [Dr. Frank Heiner], who lived with her for stretches at a time up there.

He was strong-looking and handsome, but blind. I didn’t like him very much. I asked him how he became an anarchist. He said he had become an anarchist through reading Living My Life. I didn’t like such quick decisions. But Emma liked him very much. He was probably her last lover—a blind fellow who couldn’t see how old she was!

The comrades were always inviting Emma to their homes. But Paula and I never invited her. We were very poor. We had only one room with little furniture. It was on the top floor, too high up for Emma to walk. She was puzzled. One day Tom Meelis, a Dutch anarchist (his first name was actually Anthony, and he was a printer by trade), simply brought her over in his car without warning us. She told me straight out: “Ydu know why I came to see you here—I wanted to find out why you didn’t invite me!”

Emma celebrated her seventieth birthday in 1939. The three Italians were out of jail. There was a banquet in Pythian Castle. A Spanish anarchist who had recently fled to Canada greeted her in the name of the CNT He spoke in French, a very bad French, and I translated it into English. There were other speeches in her honor, and lots of flowers. Her answer was a very pessimistic one. “It’s a beautiful party,” she said. “I should be glad to see so many friends. And I am glad. But after the defeat of the Spanish Revolution and the outbreak of a new world war I feel very sad.” She was depressed, and I went home depressed.

At seventy Emma was still in good health. She had been having trouble with her feet for a number of years. In 1934, when she visited America, an Italian comrade made her a pair of comfortable shoes, and when she put them on she cried and kissed him.196 But otherwise she had much of her old vitality and spirit. On New Year’s Eve of 1939-1940 we went to a party at her home. Dorothy Rogers was there, the Meelises, Bortolotti, and a few others. She was again in a pessimistic mood. She reminisced about New Year’s parties of the past, including one in Spain, when she was working for the CNT in Barcelona. She told us that when she was in the CNT headquarters an air-raid alert was sounded. Everyone rushed downstairs to the shelter. But she refused to go. “It was not heroism,” she told us. “If a bomb hit me, I didn’t care. I was ready to die.” Then she spoke about Alexander Berkman’s death—the call she got from Emmy early in the morning to come at once, that a tragedy had happened. When she arrived, the police were accusing Emmy of killing him, and she had a job trying to convince them that it was suicide.

One evening not long afterward, I had just come home from work when I got a call from Tilio Bortolotti: Emma had a stroke at the Meelises’ home. Come as quickly as possible. I grabbed a streetcar. When I got there, she was lying on a couch with her eyes closed. They had been playing bridge—Emma, the Meelises, and a neighbor. Suddenly they noticed that she was bending over on her side. They thought she had dropped a card. But she remained like that. She didn’t get up. They saw that she was ill. When she didn’t respond, they called an ambulance. The ambulance arrived shortly after I did. By then she was again conscious. As the attendants lifted her onto a stretcher, her dress rolled up over her knees, and with one hand she pulled it down to cover her exposed knees.

Emma stayed in the hospital for a few weeks. I visited her often and tried to cheer her up. She was fully conscious. She could hear and understand. But she couldn’t talk. What worse punishment for Emma could there be? I thought Speaking was her life. She was always talking. But there she lay, unable to utter a word. She never recovered the power of speech. The hospital could do nothing more for her, so she went to the Meelises’ place to live. In America a committee was organized—John Haynes Holmes was a member—to raise funds for her medical bills. I suggested to Tom Meelis getting a set of moveable letters for Emma to enable her to form words. They got it but she refused to use it. And she couldn’t write because her right hand was paralyzed from the stroke. She wanted to die. After Spain and the outbreak of the war she had grown increasingly pessimistic. She had said that if the First World War had been a “war to end all wars,” this was a war to end the world. She had lost her will to live. I saw her the day before she died. She was a pitiful sight, speechless and forlorn. It was a tragic end.

There was a funeral ceremony for Emma in the Labor Lyceum on Spadina Avenue. But she was not to be buried in Toronto. Her body was to be taken by train to Chicago and interred in the Waldheim Cemetery, near the Haymarket martvrs and Voltairine de Cleyre. So she finally got back to America. She had loved America. She considered it her country. She had been born there spiritually and intellectually, as she told me. The greatest moments of her life had been spent there. Outside America she felt without a home. How she wanted to return! She always blamed J. Edgar Hoover197 for keeping her out. He had won his spurs in her deportation case, she said. And now he was blocking her from coming home.


Part Three: Sacco and Vanzetti

  • SPENCER SACCO

  • GEMMA DIOTALEVI

  • JENNIE PAGLIA

  • RALPH PIESCO

  • GEORGE T. KELLEY

  • BELTRANDO BRINI

  • LEFEVRE BRINI WAGER

  • CONCETTA SILVESTRI

  • JENNY SALEMME

  • CATINA WILLMAN

  • JOSEPH MORO

  • BARTOLOMEO PROVO

  • VINCENZO FARULLA

  • SEBASTIANO MAGLIOCCA * SARA R. EHRMANN

•ART SHIELDS

•FRED J. COOK

•GEORGE VAUX

•HARRY RICHAL

•LOUIS TARABELLI

•CHARLES POGGI

  • FEBO POMILIA

  • FLORENCE ROSSI

  • GALILEO TOBIA

  • ELIDE SANCHINI

  • ORESTE FABRIZI

  • ALBERICO PIRANI

  • VALERIO ISCA

  • JOHN VATTUONE

  • WILLIAM GALLO

  • GUY LIBERTI

  • HUGO ROLLAND

  • ESTHER TRAVAGLIO

  • VINCENZO FERRERO

  • DOMINICK SALLITTO

  • LINO MOLIN

  • MARK LUCA

  • FRANK BRAND

  • ATTILIO BORTOLOTTI

3. Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, 1923 (Boston Public Library)

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Introduction

More than seventy years have passed since the arrest of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, sparking one of the most controversial episodes in American history. On the morning of December 24, 1919, four men made a bungled attempt to rob the payroll of the L. Q. White Shoe Company in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. One of the men—the “shotgun bandit,” he was called—fired at the moving payroll truck. The driver, swerving around a streetcar, managed to escape, whereupon the bandits jumped into an automobile, which sped down a side street and got away. No one was injured, and the $30,000 payroll remained intact.

On April 15, 1920, another holdup, this one successful, occurred in the town of South Braintree. Shortly after 3 P.M. Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli, employees of the Slater & Morrill Shoe Company, were shot to death and robbed of the company payroll. Two men armed with handguns did the shooting. A car carrying other men then appeared, picked up the killers, and carried them to a safe getaway. The money, nearly $16,000, was never recovered.

Three weeks later, on May 5, Sacco, a shoe worker, and Vanzetti, a fish peddler, both Italian immigrants and anarchists, were arrested as participants in the South Braintree crime. Vanzetti, in addition, on the flimsiest of evidence, was indicted for the Bridgewater holdup. Accused of being the “shotgun bandit,” he was swiftly brought to trial and convicted. Judge Webster Thayer, who presided, meted out the maximum sentence of twelve to fifteen years’ imprisonment to a defendant with no previous criminal record and for a crime in which no one had been hurt and nothing stolen.

Sacco was more fortunate. Found to have been at work on the date of the Bridgewater holdup, he could not be indicted for that crime. Records showed, however, that he had not worked on April 15, when the South Braintree murders took place. Vanzetti, being a fish vendor, had no factory alibi at all. In September 1920 indictments were returned against both men. The following year they were brought to trial.

According to the prosecution, Sacco took part in the actual shooting and Vanzetti was one of four accomplices. The evidence against them was contradictory. On the one hand, a number of witnesses identified them as members of the holdup gang. Both were armed on the night of their arrest, Sacco with a ,32-caliber automatic, Vanzetti with a ,38-caliber revolver. Both told lies when questioned by the police. Their weapons, moreover, seemed to fit the circumstances of the crime, and this weighed heavily against them with the jury. On the other hand, both men had substantial alibis, neither had been convicted of any previous crime, and witnesses for the prosecution altered the stories they had told the police and private investigators after the holdup. Furthermore, no information was presented to the jury about the other bandits, who were never apprehended, and the authorities were unable to connect the stolen money with the defendants or their associates.

The trial, occurring in the wake of the Red Scare, took place in an atmosphere of intense hostility towards the defendants. The district attorney, Frederick G. Katzmann, conducted a highly unscrupulous prosecution, coaching and badgering witnesses, withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense, and perhaps even tampering with physical evidence. A skillful and ruthless cross-examiner, he played on the emotions of the jurors, arousing their deepest prejudices against the accused. Sacco and Vanzetti were armed; they were foreigners, atheists, anarchists. This overclouded all judgment. Judge Thayer, who once again presided, likewise revealed his bias. Outside the courtroom, during the trial and the appeals which followed, he made remarks that bristled with animosity towards the defendants (“Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day? I guess that will hold them for a while.”). When a verdict of guilty was returned, many believed that the men had been convicted because of their foreign birth and radical beliefs, not on solid evidence of criminal guilt.

In the aftermath of the trial, as legal appeals delayed sentencing, a mounting body of evidence indicated that the wrong men had been apprehended. Key prosecution testimony was retracted and new evidence produced that was favorable to the defendants. Herbert Ehrmann, a junior defense attorney, built a strong case against the Morelli gang of Providence, which specialized in stealing shipments from shoe manufacturers (see interview with Sara Ehrmann).

All this, however, availed nothing. For the attitude of the authorities had become so rigidly set against the defendants that they turned a deaf ear to contrary views. As a result, a growing number of observers, many of whom abhorred anarchism and had no sympathy with radical propaganda of any kind, concluded that the defendants had not received a fair trial. The judge’s bias against the defendants, their conviction on inconclusive evidence, their dignified behavior while their lives hung in the balance—all this attracted supporters, who labored to secure a new trial. At the eleventh hour, Governor Alvan T. Fuller conducted a review of the case, appointing an advisory committee, headed by President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, to assist him. The Lowell Committee, as it became known, though finding Judge Thayer guilty of a “grave breach of official decorum”198 in his derogatory references to the defendants, nevertheless concluded that justice had been done.

As events moved towards a climax, the case assumed international proportions, engaging the passions of men and women around the globe. Anatole France, in one of his last public utterances, pleaded with America to save Sacco and Vanzetti: “Save them for your honor, for the honor of your children and for the generations yet unborn.”199 In vain. On August 23, 1927, the men were electrocuted in defiance ot worldwide protests and appeals. By then, millions were convinced of their innocence, and millions more were convinced that, guilty or innocent, they had not received impartial justice.

This then was no ordinary case of robbery and murder. Other factors, as yet imperfectly understood, propelled it into international prominence. Set against the background of the Red Scare and its aftermath, it highlighted some of the major issues of the day: mass immigration, labor militancy, repression of radicals. Like the Haymarket affair of the 1880s, it was an episode that divided the nation, arousing deep-seated emotions, defining loyalties, and spawning a literature of criticism and protest. No other case of the period attracted more widespread attention, for it had a significance that made it symbolic of its time and place, elevating it to the level of tragedy and uncovering an aspect of American society that would not otherwise have been so nakedly exposed. “It revealed,” wrote Edmund Wilson in 1928, “the whole anatomy or American life, with all its classes, professions, and points of view and all their relations, and it raised almost every fundamental question of our political and social system.”200

Not surprisingly, then, it is a case that refuses to die. So many forces were at work, so many issues and principles at stake, that for more than six decades it has remained the subject of controversy. In 1947, twenty years after the executions, a group of prominent citizens, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Herbert Lehman, offered the state of Massachusetts a bas-relief plaque of Sacco and Vanzetti by the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, only to have it rejected by the governor. In 1959 a resolution in the state legislature to exonerate the defendants failed of adoption. More recently, Governor Michael S. Dukakis marked the fiftieth anniversary of the executions by proclaiming August 23, 1977, “Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti Day.” Dukakis, while sidestepping the issue of innocence or guilt, declared that “the atmosphere of their trial and appeals was permeated by prejudice against foreigners and hostility toward unorthodox political views.”201

The interviews that follow shed considerable light on Sacco and Vanzetti and on the movement of which they were a part. As with the interviews about Emma Goldman, the emphasis is on the human dimension, on Sacco and Vanzetti as people rather than as social or political symbols. What sort of men were they? What kind of lives did they lead? In what activities did they engage as immigrants, workingmen, and anarchists?

From the recollections of his friends and neighbors in Milford, Massachusetts, Sacco emerges as a young man of exemplary character, modest in both manner and speech. “He didn’t say much,” Ralph Piesco recalls. “He didn’t drink. He was a very clean man in language as well as in his person. You never heard any vulgarity from him.” He was always courteous and polite, Gemma Diotalevi remembers, and he “never spoke out of line.” “He was very romantic, loved his wife, the two of them like sweethearts,” says Joseph Moro, a fellow anarchist and shoe worker. “Sacco was a genius at his work, that machine running so fast, sharp like a razor; you miss by a thousandth of an inch and you ruin the shoe. He was quick, precise, a wonderful worker.” To this day, Sacco is remembered with affection by the older residents of Milford, for whom he was a hardworking young man of regular habits and a credit to the community, incapable of committing the crimes with which he was charged. “I don’t know anybody who said anything against Sacco,” says Gemma Diotalevi. “He was a wonderful fellow, a gentleman in every sense of the word.”

Vanzetti, a bachelor, had a more difficult time adjusting to the hardships of immigrant life. In contrast to Sacco, the skilled worker and settled family man, Vanzetti belonged to the class of common laborers who washed dishes, dug ditches, pushed wheelbarrows, and wielded shovels, the most overworked and underpaid workers in America. He shared the lot of many Italian-born immigrants: the crowded rooming houses, the loneliness, the back-breaking toil, the scornful epithets of “guinea” and “wop.” He had become a “foreigner,” an intruder, the object of jibes and insults from men whom, he wrote, “I would have left in the dust had my English been a tenth as good as my Italian.”202

Matters improved in 1913, when Vanzetti found a home with the Brini family of Plymouth, with whom he lived for four years. “He was not a drinking man and didn’t play cards,” recalls Lefevre Wager, the oldest of the Brini children. “He was a studious man. At home he liked to sit and read. But he also loved the outdoors. He liked to walk. We went with him to gather mayflowers and violets, blackberries and redberries on Castle Hill, or walked with him on the beach or along the railroad tracks picking up pieces of coal. He was a gentle soul. There was not a bit of meanness in him. I never saw him angry. That man didn’t know how to be mean.” “He was like a child,” says Joseph Moro. “He wrote me beautiful letters. Talking to him you could fall in love with him. He talked like a poet—he was born to be a poet—and he knew what he was talking about.”

Vanzetti’s poetic bent and sweetness of nature must not, however, obscure the fact that he was a dedicated revolutionary militant, for whom the state was an evil, tyrannical power of enslavement, oppression, and destructiveness. “Vanzetti was anarchism personified,” recalls Beltrando Brini, Lefevre Wager’s younger brother. “He didn’t want to be restricted or to acknowledge any boss. He believed in the perfectibility of human nature, something that does not in fact exist. That was his blind spot.” The same was also true of his comrade Sacco. From 1912 on, anarchism was their strongest passion, the guiding beacon of their lives, the focus of their daily activities. “Both Nick and I are anarchists,” declared Vanzetti, “the radical of the radical—the black cats, the terrors of many, of all the bigots, exploitators [sic], charlatans, fakers and oppressors. u

The image of Sacco and Vanzetti as a “good shoemaker” and “poor fish peddler” tends to obscure their actual character. Far from being the innocuous dreamers so often depicted by their supporters, they belonged, as the interviews show, to a branch of the anarchist movement which preached insurrectionary violence and armed retaliation, including the use of dynamite and assassination. Such activities, they believed, were replies to the monstrous violence of the state. The greatest bombthrowers and murderers were not the isolated rebels driven to desperation, but the military resources of every government—the army, militia, police, firing squad, hangman. Such was their position, as it was of their mentor Luigi Galleani, who showered praise on every rebellious deed and glorified the perpetrators as heroes and martyrs, sacrificing their lives for the oppressed.

Nor was this all. Between 1917 and 1920, during a period of intense antiradi- £al persecution, Sacco and Vanzetti were themselves part of a dynamite conspiracy of which Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and other high officials were the targets. Men of determination, they would not stand idly by while their comrades were being deported, their printing presses silenced, their meetings disrupted and dispersed. Their code of honor, on the contrary, taught that revolutionaries should retaliate against the repressive use of force, that submission to the state was cowardly and unworthy of a true anarchist.

Were they also involved in holdups? That some Italian anarchists engaged in theft, counterfeiting, and other illegal activities is evident from testimony in the interviews. With regard to holdups, however, no definitive answers are provided, only hearsay, rumor, and speculation. Most of those with whom I have spoken remain unshakably convinced of the defendants’ innocence: “I believe that Sacco and Vanzetti were not guilty of the holdups” (Sebastiano Magliocca). “I have no reason to believe that either of them was guilty” (Vincenzo Farulla). “Everyone in the defense committee said they were innocent” (Bartolomeo Provo). “All the comrades felt that they were innocent. Anybody who knew them knew that they had nothing to do with it” (Harry Richal). “When Vanzetti was arrested we were stupefied. What was this? It can’t be. We couldn’t believe that the man did what they said he did. He was so gentle, so good. He helped people, not hurt them” (Lefevre Wager).

A few, however, take a different view, at least as far as Sacco is concerned: “I traveled on the same boat as Riccardo Orciani, who told me that Sacco was guilty of the robbery but Vanzetti was not, though he knew about it and was part of the same group. Even Felicani [founder of the defense committee] intimated as much to me many years later” (Hugo Rolland). “I am sure that Vanzetti was innocent of the first crime. And in the second case I’m quite sure that neither of them fired any shots, but not at all sure that the gang was unknown to them” (Roger Baldwin). “Buda told me that Sacco took part in the Braintree holdup. ‘Sacco was there,’ he said. I remember it distinctly. I felt sure that he was telling the truth” (Charles Poggi).

Yet Sacco has his staunch defenders: “We all thought that Sacco was not the type of person to commit that kind of crime” (Gemma Diotalevi). “Grandmother was extremely fond of him. She always stood up for him and couldn’t believe that he could do those nefarious things” (George T. Kelley). “He never spoke of holdups or anything like that. I’m convinced he could never have committed such a crime. Yes, he carried a gun, but so did I in those bad times” (Joseph Moro).

Suggestive though these statements may be, they do not settle the issue of whether Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty of the crimes for which they were executed. More than seventy years after the trial, the case against them remains unproved. Nor, on the other hand, can their innocence be established beyond any shadow of doubt. In coming years, one hopes, new evidence will be discovered and deeper understanding obtained. In the end, however, we may never succeed in resolving the controversy.

Spencer Sacco

Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 8, 1987

Spencer Sacco is the grandson of Nicola (real name Ferdinando) and Rosina Sacco. Spencer taught music at Salve Maria College in Providence, Rhode Island, before becoming an antiques dealer. He is the only one of three sons of Dante Sacco to interest himself actively in the Sacco-Vanzetti case.

My grandmother, Rosina Sacco, is now in her early nineties. She was born into the Zambelli family of Lonato, in Lombardy. Their roots went way back, and her grandparents and great-grandparents had land there and, I think, a grocery store. They were a prosperous family, but her father drank and lost his money. Around the turn of the century, he emigrated to America with his wife and son, leaving my grandmother in a convent in Lonato. She liked the convent, liked the sisters, and remained there a few years. When she was twelve or thirteen, around 1906 or 1907, her family sent for her and she came over alone. Her mother, by the way, was a seamstress, and Grandma also sewed and knitted very well and made all her own clothes.

I’m not sure how Grandma met my grandfather, Ferdinando Sacco. She was about sixteen or seventeen when they got married. It was in 1909, I think; Daddy was born in 1910.204 I don’t know how she became an anarchist. Probably she got it from my grandfather: Italian women of that generation often adopted the views of their husbands. But she was an anarchist and an atheist— a real atheist, too! She and her second husband, Ermanno Bianchini, refused to go to Aunt Ines’s church wedding, though they did go to the reception. And they wouldn’t go to Daddy’s funeral.

Grandma, as I said, was an anarchist. She called Carlo Valdinoci,205 who blew himself up in front of Palmer’s house, “un grande anarchico,” and she admired his brother, Giuseppe I think his name was, who was responsible for the Wall Street bombing206 and was never seen again. Yes, he definitely did it, just as Carlo was definitely the man at Palmer’s house. By the way, the Valdinocis and the Saccos were very close, and after the executions the sister, Assunta Valdinoci, lived with Grandma, Daddy, and Ines.

At home they never talked about the case. The first time I heard of it I was about nine years old and my assistant cub-scout master said to me, “Did you know that your grandfather was electrocuted?” A year or two later, when I was ten or eleven and we were living in a two-family house in Norwood, the landlord’s eighteen-year-old son went into the cellar, where my brother Steven, then fourteen or fifteen, was making a model airplane, and started pushing him around. “Your grandfather was a murderer! Your grandfather was a murderer!” I heard the shouting and called the school, where my parents were attending a PTA207 meeting. They came right home. Dad talked to the landlord. Then he sat us down in the living room and told us the story of his father.

Otherwise he didn’t talk about it a lot. When the Chessman case208 was compared with the Sacco-Vanzetti case he was disturbed. Daddy couldn’t conceive of the possibility of their guilt. He was certain that, unlike Chessman, they were innocent He told me that he visited his father in Dedham jail: “Father threw a ball to me over the jail wall, and I threw it back.” That was the way they played.

After the execution, Grandma, Dinny (my father Dante), and Ines moved to Millis, near Ermanno Bianchini, an ardent anarchist. The ashes were divided: part went to Torremaggiore, part to Cuneo,209 some to the Defense Committee (they’re now in the Boston Public Library), and some to Grandma, which she kept, I think, in a canister in a dome-topped trunk. Once, as a child, I was playing hide-and-seek and hid in the trunk, and Grandma got upset and spanked me—the only time in my life.

Giandma and Manno began to live together, though they didn’t get married till many years later, when they were concerned about their social security. From Millis they moved to Watertown, directly across from my parents. Bianchini was a cement-finisher by trade. From there they moved to a rundown farm in Eastondale, near Bridgewater, and raised chickens. That was in the late forties, after World War II.

Manno was a real anarchist, a Darwinist to the nth degree. Both were devoted anarchists and were devoted to each other. They lived an anarchist life together, self-sufficient, buying little, saving what they had. Manno sheltered Grandma from outsiders. He felt that people wanted to see her only to make money from the case. For years she never spoke to anybody except family and close friends. She had a difficult time. Her own sister Adele and her husband Joseph Tedeschi stopped talking to her after my grandfather’s arrest.

But there were some friends, some from the “best” Boston families. Grandma and the kids stayed at Leon Henderson’s tarm on occasion. I still remember their daughter, Teddie Henderson Snelling, who lives in Winchester, I think. And there was Edward Holton James—I knew his daughters Elizabeth and Victoria; Vicki married Alexander Calder, the sculptor, who died not long ago.210 James, a nephew of Henry James, married money and had money of his own. He lived in Concord, and I fished in his trout stream there as a child. He also had a house on the Cape, in East Ham, and we summered there.

It was James who bailed out the protestors who were arrested on the Boston Common. After the execution, he convinced Grandma to let Daddy go with him to Europe, to Geneva, to study medicine. After a year in Switzerland, James went to Italy to see Mario Buda, and Daddy came home. He never continued his medical studies. Instead, he became a truck driver for Woodland Dairy in Watertown. My mother was a bookkeeper there, and that’s how they met. Then he became a driver for Filene’s,211 and Mister Filene, who had sympathized with Sacco and Vanzetti, sent him to truck mechanics’ school. While there he picked up airplane mechanics. Afterwards he worked for Wiggins Airways as parts manager. He was a good father and a good provider. But the case would never let him alone, much as he wanted it to. When Felicani212 died in 1967, we all went to the wake. But people pestered us—“That’s Sacco’s son,” and the like—so Daddy got disgusted and left. He died four years later, in 1971, on August 22, ironically, the date of the executions.

The first time Grandma mentioned the case to me was in 1965, when I was a sophomore at Boston University. I had been mugged on Boston Common and punched in the eye while wearing glasses and got bits of glass in my eye. Grandma and Manno came to the house that evening. I mentioned that I had to go to the police station to look at mug shots. Grandma said, “Don’t go. They’ll never find them. They haven’t found the Braintree robbers. They never find them!”

A few months ago, in 1986,1 asked Grandma for the first time whether Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. “Did they do it?” She said, “What for? We were going back to Italy.” I asked, “Why do you think they were convicted?” “Oh, that Katzmann, he was a bastard!” I had never heard her swear before in my life. She also had no use for newspaper reporters. “That’s newspaper talk,” she would say. She gave no credence to newspapers.

In 1977 I showed Grandma Dukakis’s proclamation. “I’m glad,” she said, and thanked me for my part in it. I went to Italy and gave a copy to Vincenzina Vanzetti. She was delighted. Did you know, by the way, that Mussolini was two-faced about the case? He sent a cipher to President Coolidge to this effect: “As regards Sacco and Vanzetti, we are not anxious to have them back here.” And Coolidge answered: “Don’t worry, I have a good man in Alvan Fuller.” Robert D’Attilio213 told me this. Grandma, incidentally, remembers Upton Sinclair’s visit214 after the executions. She said she was petrified of him, a tall— to her, she was tiny—American man asking a lot ot questions.

Grandma never went back to Italy, not even for a visit. She remained here with Bianchini until the end. He died inch by inch with arthritis and angina. You’ve never seen anybody so in love as Manno and my grandmother—it was unholy! He finally went to the hospital, but she went too, suffering from severe diabetes. He died in January 1985. She’s now in a nursing home. She wears glasses and is legally blind. I see her from time to time. Her memory fades in and out She once asked me what music I was playing in. I simply said, “an opera,” thinking what could she know about it. She asked what opera. I replied, Le Nozze di igaro, and she launched into an enthusiastic discussion of a scene in the second act. She knew it by heart! And she has a passion for Pavarotti.215

There are no photographs or letters, as far as I know. Grandma had a letter from Sacco to Ines,216 but we haven’t been able to find it. I doubt that you can learn anything from my mother or Aunt Ines. Whatever my grandfather did, I’m proud of him. He ought to have done even more!

Gemma Diqtalevi

Milford, Massachusetts, September 19, 1987

Gemma Diotalevi. a native of Milford, Massachusetts, was a friend of Nicola Sacco and his wife Rosina, who lived in Milford during their early years in the United States. Gemma was also acquainted with the Kelley family, in whose shoe factory Sacco was later employed (see interview with George T. Kelley). Gemma died in Milford in November 1989 at the age of ninety-two.

I was born in Milford on July 17, 1897. I was four years old when, in 1901, we moved to this house at 28 Cedar Street (now 26 Cedar Street), in the Plains section, the Italian quarter of Milford. The streets here have names like Columbus Avenue, Naples Street, Genoa Street. My father, Antonio DePasquale, was the local funeral director. He owned the house and the smaller house next door. He was born in the village of San Marco la Catola, province of Foggia.

I don’t know anybody in Milford who said anything against Sacco. He was a wonderful fellow, a gentleman in every sense of the word. The Zambellis lived next door in the downstairs apartment of the other house owned by my father. They came from Lombardia in the northern part of Italy. I was friendly with Rosina. She was small and pretty, with a little round face, rather quiet and shy. She was a doll. Her mother was a good woman, a religious woman. The father worked, but I don’t recall what he did.

I don’t remember their getting married, Sacco and Rosina. Her father may have objected—maybe he didn’t like Sacco’s ideas. Sacco didn’t go to church. He didn’t have any religion. If they did marry, I doubt that it was in a church. After they got together, they lived at 11 East Main Street, next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus church. The house was torn down long ago when the church rebuilt and expanded. It was the Italian Catholic church in town. There was another Catholic church attended by the Irish and a Congregational church for the Yankees. They didn’t like the Italians—the Irish or the Yankees. The Irish used to stone the Italians in those days. But later we got friendlier and everything straightened out. The Kelleys217 were always friendly with our family in the early years. We went to their house to play croquet on the lawn. They were very nice people.

Every so often my sister Eva and I would visit Sacco and Rosina on Main Street. He was a small, nice-looking boy. They were very nice to us. Sacco never spoke out of line or out of turn. Rosina would give us cookies and soda. We spoke in Italian, though Sacco did know some English—my sister Mary was his teacher. Mary was six years older than me, born in 1891. She graduated from Milford High School in three years, and then from Framingham State Teachers’ College. At twenty she was already a teacher, the first Italian schoolteacher in Milford. She taught second grade at the Plains School and also taught night school. She thought the world of Sacco. He was cute and bright, an intelligent person in his way.

We all thought that Sacco was not the type of person to commit that kind of crime. The Italians in Milford followed the case and were all loyal to Sacco. Father, a strict disciplinarian, would never have let us go to Sacco’s house if he knew anything bad about him. When he was arrested we were all very surprised. We couldn’t believe it. Nobody in Milford believed that he was guilty. Father, a conservative, was ready to go to Dedham to testify for Sacco, but he was never called.

Jennie Paglia

Needham, Massachusetts, August 10, 1988; Hollywood, Florida, December 10, 1988

Jennie Paglia was born of Italian immigrants in Milford, Massachusetts, where she was acquainted with Nicola and Rosina Sacco. Jennie’s husband, Pasquale Paglia, was an anarchist of the Luigi Galleani school,218 as was her brother-in-law, Ralph Piesco (q.v.). Jennie died in Hollywood Florida, in May 1991.

I was born Jennie Calitri in Milford, Massachusetts, on May 24, 1904. We lived at 56 East Main Street. My father, Lorenzo Calitri, was a stonecutter from Panni, a town in Foggia province, who came to the United States with my mother Carmela Paglia (my husband’s cousin), also from Panni, in 1900, settling in Milford. When I was a child, about five or six years old, Sacco was boarding with people who lived downstairs in my father’s house on East Main Street. When he met Rosina, she was living with her family on Meade Street in the Plains section. Sacco was called Ferdinando, or “Freddy.” Rosina was about nine years older than me and went to school with my brother Costanzo. I went to school with her sister, Adelina I think. Their father, Zambelli, shot a peeping Tom, who was looking in their window, with a rifle and wounded him in the knee. His leg had to be amputated up to the thigh. That was around 1910, when I was six.

Nick Sacco, Ferdinando’s cousin, came over from Torremaggiore around 1913, together with Aquafresca, with whom he opened a bakery in Milford. During the trial he didn’t want anything to do with Sacco, partly because he had the same name. Rosina Sacco, by the way, began her affair with Ermanno Bianchini while Sacco was in prison. Someone told him about it. That’s why he went on a hunger strike and was taken to a mental hospital.

Leo De Filippis was a socialist in Milford. The radicals—mostly socialists and IWWs—had a club on East Main Street, directly across from our house (probably 55 East Main Street). All the radicals met there and called themselves socialists; there were no anarchists in Milford then. Saverio Piesco was a leader of the club. He acted in many plays and wrote a play that was performed in Milford, Il Monaco Nero: Rasputin. The Piescos, the Calzones, and some of the other Foggian families in Milford were “Gheghers,” who spoke an Albanian dialect. Other Foggian families in Milford were the Berardis and the Lanzettis, who had a daughter Ribelle.

I remember the Hopedale strike of 1913.219 Ettor and Giovannitti came to speak A policeman was shot to death. A young woman, Palmira Mirolini, who lived across the street from us, was called “the lady in red,” a firebrand who led the children (including me) up the street singing “La Bandiera Rossa.” That was during the strike. She later married a man named Boni and had a restaurant in the North End of Boston.

In 1919, when I was fifteen, I went to New London, Connecticut, with my future husband, Pasquale Paglia. (My mother and his father were brother and sister.) We married there a year later and remained until 1922. My husband was an anarchist and had not registered for the draft in 1917 and spent a night in jail. There was a big anarchist group in New London. I met Riccardo Or- ciani220 there—he came to our house—tall, nice-looking. That was in 1921. He came on a motorcycle to see Gemma and Milly Mello (who were cousins). Gemma221 had come from Paterson to work in the silk mills in New London. She was about eight years older than me, not pretty, but intelligent. She went to the group, to the men, crossed her legs and smoked—not my type. She later moved to Brooklyn We also went to Brooklyn and lived there till 1928, when we moved to Needham. My husband died in 1966. I moved in with Maria Mogliani in Braintree for ten years and lived with her in Miami during the winter.

A week before the Franklin explosion,222 in February 1919, the men came to visit my husband in Milford. They played bocce and cards. I read about the explosion in the paper and went across the street to show it to my husband and Saverio Piesco. Silverio De Chellis left a son, Vero. Eustachio De Chellis left six children. Another man killed was called Palumbo.

I met Ella Antolini223 during the Second World War. She worked as a seamstress at Priscilla Wedding Gowns in Boston. She was not my type. She was blonde, of medium height, and capable at her work. But she ran away to Florida with Nick Piesco274—who had a wife, Alba—and had a hot and heavy affair. Ella has a son Febo in Hollywood Florida, and a daughter there, Linda, who is an alcoholic and killed a man there not long ago.

I knew John Scussel225 in Needham. He was biondish, quiet His son Nino lives in Ohio, I think. Emilio Coda226 had a son in Needham; and the woman Coda was living with is still alive. Two of Luigi Falsini’s227 daughters live in Needham (one died). Two of Adelfo Sanchioni’s228 children were killed in a sailboat accident at Cape Cod in 1952, along with five others. It was a terrible tragedy.

What is my creed? I am an atheist. I believe in nature. I try to do good for people. I love my family, and my family loves me. That is my creed.

Ralph Piesco

Brockton, Massachusetts, October 9, 1987

Ralph Piesco, brother-in-law of Jennie Paglia (q.v.), came from the same province in Italy (Foggia) as Nicola Sacco. Like Sacco, he settled in Milford, Massachusetts, and became a shoe worker. Ralph (Raffaele) and his brothers Saverio and Nicola were all active in the anarchist movement and friends of Sacco and his wife

Rosina.

I came to Milford from Italy in 1916, when I was fifteen years old. I was born in the town of Casalvecchio, twenty-six kilometers from Torremaggiore, where Sacco came from. The Calzones also came from Casalvecchio, and others came from Casalnuovo, Castelnuovo, Pietroconne, Sansevero, and other Foggian towns. Foggiani had been emigrating to Milford for a long time. Most left for economic reasons. It was a poor province with a history of strikes and peasant disturbances. During one strike, around 1908, Filomena Rubini was shot to death by soldiers. My father and two brothers, Saverio and Nicola, were already here when I arrived. Many of our paesani lived on Mount Pleasant Street (where we and the Calzones lived), Beech Street, and East Main Street.

My father had been a shoe worker in Italy and he was a shoe worker here. He worked for Regal Shoe. I worked there too. My brothers were also shoe workers, a common occupation for Italian immigrants. Saverio died in Brockton three years ago at the age of ninety-five. He had been a soldier for six months in Italy. He had a wife and child. He liked to dress up. He acted in plays and played the mandolin—he had taken lessons in Italy for three years and played it well. We put on plays in Milford, like Rasputin and Tempeste Sociali,229 and organized picnics to raise money for the movement.

Sacco and Rosina took part in the plays along with me and my brother. I was only fifteen or sixteen then. The Saccos lived around the corner from us, on Hayward Street. He was the quiet type, an ordinary person. He didn’t say much. He didn’t drink. He was a very clean young man, in language as well as in his person. You never heard any vulgarity from him. Rosa was an intelligent young woman. She dressed carefully. You couldn’t help liking her. Sacco worked as an edge-trimmer. I wanted to be an edge-trimmer when I came to Milford, but I wasn’t good enough. It was the best job in the factory, skilled work that paid the best money. Sacco was very good at it. Michael Kelley was a very nice man—a foreman at Milford Shoe.

Sacco never lived with the lannetellis; they lived on Central Street, not East Main. He may have lived with another Foggian family there, the Consolettis. Sacco had a cousin named Nick Sacco, who lived on East Main Street. He ran a bakery with another Foggian named Aquafresca. He was not an anarchist.

There were two radical circles in Milford, an IWW group on East Main Street and an anarchist group on Plains Street. Each had about twenty-five members, all Italians. Saverio went to the IWW one. Some of its members had been involved in the 1913 strike in Hopedale, when the IWW tried to organize the workers and a striker, Maccrocobi, was killed. Sacco also took part in it. In 1916 Sacco, my brother Saverio, and Luigi Paradiso were speaking at a meeting and were arrested by the Milford police chief, Murphy. Orciani, by the way, did not live in Milford, but he did come here for picnics.

Saverio moved to Brockton not long after the First World War, and I moved to Westfield, New Jersey. I came here many years later. I knew William Callahan230 here—a good lawyer, a nice person, a bachelor.

George T. Kelley

Worcester, Massachusetts, January 9, 1987

George T. Kelley, a professor of economics at Worcester State College, is the grandson of Michael F Kelley, proprietor of the shoe factory in Stoughton, Massachusetts, in which Nicola Sacco was employed. Sacco and his family, moreover, rented a house owned by Kelley behind his own house, and the Saccos and Kelleys were on friendly terms. Kelley always retained his faith in Sacco’s good character.

He said: “A man who is in his garden at 4 o’clock in the morning and at the factory at 7 o’clock, and in his garden again after supper and until nine and ten at night, carrying water and raising vegetables beyond his own needs which he would bring to me to give to the poor-—that man is not a ‘holdup man.’”231

The Three-K shoe factory was started by my grandfather, Michael F. Kelley. The three K’s were Michael and his two sons, George T. and Leon (my father). The emblem on the shoe box had three faces, Michael, George, and Leon. I was named after Uncle George, who died in the late 1920s, before the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Sacco was a skillful and reliable worker. One time, however, he distributed radical literature in the factory, and they cautioned him against it. Not only, as the owners, did they want peace in the factory, but there was an element of concern for Sacco as well. He was like part of the family. The Saccos lived in a small house behind the family house and owned by them. Besides working in the factory, Sacco repaired things in the Kelley homestead and was a watchman at the factory. Grandmother was extremely fond of him. She always stood up for him and couldn’t believe that he could do those nefarious things. She was taken with the whole family and assisted at Ines’s birth

They were aware of his radicalism but didn’t know what to make of it. They saw him as a good worker, a family man, a kind person. Grandmother asked him to kill a chicken now and then, and he was very squeamish about it. He didn’t like killing chickens. It was an odd relationship between an Irish business family and an Italian worker. “Give up the radical crap. Be an American,” Grandfather would tell him. Dad said that, apart from everything else that was said against them, Italian immigrants were regarded as bomb-throwers. That was the stereotype. You might want to talk to my aunt in New Hampshire, Ann Riordan, a sister of my father and uncle There were six children, three boys (Leon, George, and Arthur) and three girls, including Ann. When the events began to occur in 1920, the girls were sent away to camp in Milford for the summer.

Beltrando Brini

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 14, 1987

Beltrando Brini was a child of six when, in 1913, Bartolomeo Vanzetti came to live with his family in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Seven years later, at the age of thirteen, he was the star defense witness at Vanzetti’s first trial, testifying that he was delivering eels with Vanzetti on the day of the Bridgewater holdup, in which Vanzetti was accused of taking part. Encouraged by Vanzetti, who considered him his “spiritual son,” Brini attended Boston University and went on to become an elementary school principal, a member of several chamber music groups, and the conductor of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra, a position that he held for ten years. His recollections of Vanzetti, whom he idolized and loved, provide a vivid insight into the man who, together with his comrade Nicola Sacco, was executed in 1927.

I was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1907. My father was a great reader—he read his books in Italian—and gave his children literary names: Lefevre (called Faye) [Lefevre Brini Wager, q.v.], after a character, I think, in Dumas; Zora, after a character in Tolstoy, I believe; and Bertrando, after the Italian writer Bertrando Spada. When I started school, my name was incorrectly recorded as Beltrando, and so it remained. My friends have always called me “Bel.” At home I was called “Dolly,” never “Trando,” as Upton Sinclair has it in his novel Boston, which is about 60 percent fiction and 40 percent truth. Faye is two years older than I, and Zora four years younger.

Both my parents came from the Bologna region and spoke the Bolognese dialect. They met in Italy but married after they emigrated (separately) to America. Father (Vincenzo) was born in 1870, Mother (Alfonsina) in 1879. He died in 1935, Mother in the 1970s. Father worked at the Plymouth Cordage Company until he retired in 1934, a year before his death. His job—very heavy work—was to take the bales of sisal and feed them into a machine. Mother worked as a “specker”—she picked out threads—at Puritan Mills. She was a devout Catholic, while father was an anarchist and atheist of the Galleani school. I think Galleani once stayed at our house in Suosso s Lane in North Plymouth, the Italian and Portuguese quarter of Plymouth, where the Cordage was located. The Italians were despised by the Yankees, who treated them as second-rate citizens, as the Negroes were treated in the South. Galleani was always being quoted in our house. Father subscribed to the Cronaca Sovversiva, and there was a Club Sovversiva in North Plymouth on Court Street, near the railroad station. There was also a social hall on Suosso’s Lane, the Amerigo Vespucci Hall, but that was foi the general Italian community, not the anarchists.

Our house was open to wayfarers, and there was a constant flow of Italian immigrants in and out. When anybody needed a room people would say, “Go to the Brinis.” That’s how Vanzetti came to us—not because father was an anarchist, but because we were known to take in transients. He came only for a day, but he stayed for two, he stayed for three, and he stayed for four years. That was from 1913, when I was six, until 1917, when he went to Mexico.232

Vanzetti was anarchism personified. He didn’t want to be restricted or to acknowledge any boss. He believed in the perfectibility of human nature, something that does not in fact exist. That was his blind spot. He treated us with love and respect And he treated animals the same way. Once he found a sick kitten in the street, an infection all over its face; he brought it home, kept it in a box on the porch, washed its eyes with boric acid and nursed it back to health. He loved nature, flowers, the sea with the same unadulterated love. As we walked in the woods and on the beach he established in my mind, with his conversation and his actions, values and virtues that have remained with me ever since. They have lasted my entire life, and my memory of him is still fresh sixty years after his execution.

Vanzetti made me feel useful by sending me on little errands—once he asked me to get a money-order for him and I walked all the way to the Plymouth post office—and made me feel proud of myself, something my father never did. He talked to me and spent time with me. Father, though he loved to read, spent a good deal of time in the club playing cards. Yet both he and Vanzetti were anarchists, and they spent many nights debating the issues that anarchists debated, such as the relative merits of syndicalism, individualism, and communism. My bedroom was next to the kitchen, where they talked, and I still can recall their conversations. Vanzetti made me feel very proud of my ability to do anything. He would sit by me when I played the violin and tell me when the notes were wrong—in “Old Black Joe,” for instance, one of his favorite songs. He had a good ear for music, as well as a rich baritone voice, when he spoke or sang. I enjoyed listening to him. I spent a lot of time with Vanzetti. He taught me Italian—at home we spoke the Bolognese dialect—and was a good teacher.

Our neighbor Cristofori played the violin—his sister played the piano—and that’s how I first became interested. Vanzetti encouraged me. He was also very nice to my sister Faye, who joined us in the Italian lessons. She too had great affection for him, but he was not as close to her as he was to me. Vanzetti, by the way, had no love affairs, no women friends, to my knowledge, or at least I never saw or heard of any. He was a slender man—-he never had any excess weight—of average height and always well-groomed, though I didn’t care for his big mustache. He had deep-set eyes and a sonorous voice. I spoke to him in English, and he spoke it well. To my parents he spoke Italian, though he could get along in the Bolognese dialect.

Vanzetti was like a father to me. He was around more than my own father, as he didn't keep factory hours. He took an interest in everything I did. We walked on the beach together, in the woods, along the railroad tracks. Once we met a group of children in the woods who were selling mayflowers that they had picked. Instead of buying one or two, Vanzetti bought them all. When I asked him why, he said that the children had spent all day picking the flowers and deserved to be rewarded for their effort. Another time, on Halloween, I had a jack-o’lantern without a candle. I had no money for one. So Vanzetti gave me two pennies. When I looked in my hand I saw that he had made a mistake and had given me a penny and a dime. I returned nine cents to him, though he didn’t want to take it. He had no sense of money, no interest in it.

The last time I saw Vanzetti as a free man was an embarrassing experience. I was playing baseball near Suosso’s Lane. In the adjoining street was a vegetable garden enclosed by a fence. Our ball sailed into the garden and I went to retrieve it, stepping on the vegetables. When the owner came out I didn’t excuse myself and was probably a bit rude. Vanzetti was coming down the street and saw it all. He came up to me, got down on one knee so that his face was close to mine, and told me in a quiet way that I had done the wrong thing. He asked me to apologize. I vowed that I would never do it again. That was shortly before he was arrested, in the spring of 1920.

Vanzetti lived with us for four years, beginning around 1913. Then, in 1917, he left for Mexico. I was too young to understand any of it. While he was away, government agents came to our house. We had gotten a letter from Vanzetti and they were interested in seeing it. It was resting on a shelf in the kitchen. While they were looking around, Faye removed it and hid it. When Vanzetti came back to Plymouth the following year, my sisters and I were growing up and there was no place for him to live with us. So he took a room with Mary Fortini at 35 Cherry Street, a few blocks away, coming to visit us two or three times a week. I remember the day of his return. I was on my way home and from a distance caught a glimpse of his head through the window. I was overjoyed to see him! He gave me confidence and self-esteem. He made me feel like something.

Sometime after his return Vanzetti began to sell fish. Sometimes he himself caught the fish—he had a small rowboat—but usually he ordered the fish from the markets in Boston. He talked of going into partnership with Frank Jesse, a fisherman who testified at his trial. Every so often Vanzetti went away from home—occasionally for a few days at. a time—to meet with his pals and help with the cause, raising money and the like. But I never heard him mention the name of Sacco. Sacco was a complete mystery to me. The first time I heard of him was when he and Vanzetti were arrested. I saw him, of course, at the Dedham trial, but he had never been to our house, as far as I know, and I had never laid eyes on him before. And I never saw Vanzetti with a gun. There were certainly no guns in our house. I can’t see him with a gun at all. Would he have been capable of using one in connection with his theories? Possibly. But I have no knowledge that he did, or even that he knew how to use one. That he had a gun when he was arrested is something I could never understand. He certainly didn’t use it for protection when selling fish. He never had enough cash for that; and what money he had he left lying around the house and my mother had to take care of it for him. And I never heard of dynamite in connection with Vanzetti. His room was an open book. There was no paraphernalia or equipment for carrying out violent deeds. I never saw him perform any act other than what I would describe as gentle and considerate. I cannot even conceive of his doing anything violent.

Yes, I was with Vanzetti on the day of the Bridgewater crime. Of that I am certain. I was not coached by anybody and did not memorize a fake story. I was of course disappointed not to drive the horse and wagon, but that didn’t matter much because I was so happy to be making the rounds with Vanzetti. And there’s absolutely no question about the date. There were numerous other witnesses to corroborate it. It could not have been December 23d because I had to go to school that day. But the 24th was a holiday, so I was able to accompany Vanzetti. It’s impossible that I mistook the date. After we finished, Vanzetti paid me for my help at the corner of Cherry Street and Court Street, and I used the money to go to the movies. The other witnesses, by the way, were not anarchists but ordinary Italians and mostly devout Catholics. They had no sympathy with Vanzetti’s views, but they knew he was an honest man. Yet my mother and father had to do a lot of coaxing to get them to come to court. They were embarrassed to be associated with Vanzetti. But they had bought eels from him that day and knew that he was innocent. Afterwards, many people in Plymouth shunned me because of my connection with Vanzetti. Anarchism was not a popular cause.

The trial was a difficult experience. I had watched Katzmann in action before I was called to the stand. He terrified me. I was very uneasy after seeing how he bullied and shouted at the others. But I think I didn’t show it. I braced myself. Judge Thayer seemed a passive figure. He allowed lots of things to continue that he shouldn’t have. So I was very surprised when he spoke kindly to me during a recess. I had associated him with the camp of Katzmann and the prosecution.

In the years after their conviction I did what I could to assist the Defense Committee. Felicani, a fine man, spoke slowly, deliberately, in measured tones. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was calm, never excited, always reassuring. As with Vanzetti, I loved to hear him speak. Felix Frankfurter questioned me in regard to the case, I suppose when he was working on his article for the Atlantic Monthly.233 1 was also questioned by John Dos Passos234 and by Upton Sinclair; and I remember walking Dos Passos to the North Plymouth station to catch the train to Boston. In my sophomore year at college (Boston University) Elizabeth Glendower Evans235 let me stay at her house in Brookline for the whole year (1926-1927). And I used to go around New England and New York and play the violin and speak of my acquaintance with Vanzetti to raise money for the defense. Often Edward Holton James accompanied me on those trips. He had an apartment on Beacon Hill and a house at Cotuit, on the cape, which I visited during the summer. He had a beautiful violin and invented a little disc to put on the Victrola.

In the weeks before the execution I was interviewed by Governor Fuller. He seemed friendly, he took me to lunch, and he said, “If you have anything else to say don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.” Afterwards I went to see him. along with other witnesses, and demanded, since he did not believe us, to be arrested for perjury. And on the day of the executions, August 22,1 tried to get to see him, but his secretary Herman MacDonald wouldn’t let me in.

I still look back with emotion to those days and years with Vanzetti. He was my ideal. For some boys it was Ty Cobb, but for me it was Bartolomeo Vanzetti!

Lefevre Brini Wager

Plymouth, Massachusetts, April 12, 1987

From 1913 to 1917, when he went to Mexico to avoid conscription, Bartolomeo Vanzetti lived with the family of Vincenzo B) ini in Plymouth, Massachusetts (see interview with Beltrando Brini). Lefevre (known as “Faye”), the oldest of the three Brini children, appeared as a witness for Vanzetti at the Sacco-Vanzetti trial in Dedham.

I CAN remember the day that Vanzetti arrived. He had stopped at the club on Suosso’s Lane—the Amerigo Vespucci Club—and asked for lodgings. Somebody told him to come to our house. He arrived with two big suitcases. We kids saw the suitcases and thought he might have some goodies! He had a mustache and a Van Dyke beard. He looked kind. He was neat. He spoke Italian, not the Bolognese dialect that we spoke at home. He didn t know much English. Mama showed him the room, and he was pleased with it.

My parents came from Bologna. Father came here first, then sent for Mama. They were married in Plymouth. I was born here in 1905, not in the house at Suosso’s Lane, which Father bought a few years later, but in a rented apartment. Beltrando [Brini, q.v.] (I called him “Dolly”) was born a year and a half later, and Zora a couple of years after that. Father had a job at the Cordage. It was very dusty work no good for him. His overalls were so oily. I hated that job. I think that it shortened his life. Mother didn’t work then, but later worked at Puritan Mills as a “specker.” The Cordage was a very big factory. At six o’clock in the evening the whistle blew and people filled the road. Peanut vendors would be there to meet them with hot peanuts on Wednesday payday.

Vanzetti was usually out—working or looking for work. He had different jobs. He worked for the Cordage for a while, he dug clams, and so on. He didn’t go to the club with Dad much. He was not a drinking man and didn’t play cards. He was a studious man. At home he liked to sit and read. But he also loved the outdoors. He liked to walk. We went with him to gather mayflowers and violets, blackberries and redberries on Castle Hill, or walked with him on the beach or along the railroad tracks pickmg up pieces of coal. He was a gentle soul. There was not a bit of meanness in him. I never saw him angry. That man didn’t know how to be mean. He brought a sick kitten to the house and nursed it back to health. Every day he fed it milk and washed its eyes. Once he gave his boots to a man who didn’t have any and had a family. And when he lost his pocketbook and it was found, he didn’t believe it was his because it had too much money m it; even though Mother recognized it and said it was his, he refused to take it. He liked us kids. He was very affectionate to all of us, played with us. He wanted to learn English, so I taught him English while he taught me Italian. He did very well. And I learned the Italian too. When I got married, in 1924, he sent me a lovely gift, made by the prisoners in Charlestown.

Father was an anarchist, a subscriber to Cronaca Sovversiva. Mother had more faith and remained a Catholic. She was a darling—and a very hard worker. Dad talked loud with his friends—including Vanzetti—about politics. We kids didn’t understand any of that—we just went out and played. Dad loved gardening, and Vanzetti helped in the garden. I never heard him talk of violence or guns. There were no guns in our house. The neighbors, mostly devout, conservative people, thought a lot of Vanzetti. He was good to all of them. When the Cordage went on strike, Vanzetti was there every day until it was over. I don’t know what he did, but he was active for the cause, even though he didn’t work there any more.

The following year, 1917, Vanzetti went to Mexico. I didn’t know what for. I missed him, of course. I missed him at table. I missed making his bed and taking care of his clothes. We heard later that he didn’t want to be drafted, didn’t want to fight in the war. Every once in a while we got a letter from him. One time two men came to the house from the government. I knew they could hurt him. There was a letter from him on the kitchen shelf over the sink. I went and hid it under my clothes. My parents were at work, and I was the only one at home. When Vanzetti came back, Father got him a place with Mary Fortini on Cherry Street. Mother had a full-time job and couldn’t take in boarders. Mary Fortini was not an anarchist. The Fortinis were lower-class people, uneducated, but good, hardworking people. Oh, the day Vanzetti took off his beard—were we surprised! But he always kept his mustache.

When Vanzetti was arrested we were stupefied. What was this? It can’t be. We couldn’t believe that the man did what they said he did. He was so gentle, so good. He helped people, not hurt them. Never! Besides, he was in Plymouth. We knew he didn’t do it. I said to Mother, “It can’t be. There’s a mistake.” But we didn’t get alarmed. We thought it would be rectified. As time passed, though, we did get alarmed. We went to visit Vanzetti almost every day in Plymouth jail. We brought him violets—and cookies. I used to walk there—it was good weather, spring. We brought him newspapers and books. He didn’t seem upset. He always had faith that he would be liberated.

My poor brother! They put him through hell in court. Mother told him to tell the truth. And Bel was smart. There was no coaching or rehearsing. Just tell the truth. I attended the trial in Plymouth. Judge Thayer was a gaunt man with grey hair. He always had a stern look. The alibi witnesses were not anarchists. Politics were not in their line. All they cared about was the family, the church. Some of them couldn’t even read and write. They testified for Vanzetti because they knew he was innocent. Bel told the truth. He hadn’t memorized a story. That was his day with his friend Vanzetti. He knew what he had done, where he had gone, even better than Vanzetti.

I testified at the Dedham trial. That Katzmann—I hated him! Was he fresh! The night before, I ran a temperature for fear of that man. I was so glad when I heard he died—and the same for that whole bunch: Thayer, Fuller, all those who framed the two men. I had never seen Sacco, by the way, before the trial. And I didn’t speak to him even then. My heart was full of Vanzetti. Katzmann bullied me, and I got upset. I also got kind of fresh. He was a man of medium height, with greying hair, a good talker. My mother was convalescing from an operation, and I stayed home from work to take care of her. That’s how I met the peddler [Joseph Rosen].236 A beautiful day it was, I remember so well. Vanzetti was selling fish. He met the peddler on the street. He took him to Mamma to look at the cloth. And he had an order of fish for us—it was a Friday.

Vanzetti’s sister, Luigina, came to our house before the execution. Poor thing, what a tragedy for her. She and Mamma went to jail in Charlestown to see him. It still hurts, sixty years later. I loved him, you know. He was good to all of us. And Sacco, too. I felt bad for him. He had a wife and two kids. I felt very sorry for him. I get mad sometimes when I think of it. Poor Vanzetti! To know him was to love him.

Concetta Silvestri

Malden, Massachusetts, February 13, 1988

I first met Concetta Silvestri in 1979 at a Sacco-Vanzetti conference in the Boston Public Library. Then eighty-four, she was a small woman with white hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and a lively, sparkling personality. Sixty years earlier she had been an anarchist in Franklin, Massachusetts, a disciple of Luigi Galleani and comrade of Sacco and Vanzetti, whom she visited in prison after their arrest. In early 19^0 Concetta moved to a nursing home in Malden, where she died three years later at the age of ninety-seven.

I was born in 1895 in the town of Langiano, province of Chieti, on the Adriatic coast of the Abruzzi. I was fifteen years old when I came to the United States in 1910 (I’ll be ninety-three this year). My father sent for us. He had already gone to America and had a job in a rubber factory in Franklin, Massachusetts. When we arrived I went to work right away, in a factory making horse blankets, operating a sewing machine. I had no regular school, only evening classes for a little while. I had been raised a Catholic, but at sixteen or seventeen I opened my eyes more and more.

I met my husband, Silverio De Chellis, in Franklin and became an anarchist like him. We met Sacco during a strike in Hopedale in 1913, when some of us went over to support the pickets. We also saw him in a performance of a play in Milford, where he lived, and met Rosina too. She followed his ideas. We went to Milford quite often—it is not far from Franklin—for picnics and plays. We also visited Luigi Galleani in Wrentham, another nearby town. There were picnics there too, and songs. [She sings Pietro Gori’s “Canto di Maggio” in a lovely, clear voice.] Galleani was a very severe man: whatever he says goes. But he had a fine character, and you hung on every word when he spoke.

In February 1919 there was a strike in Franklin, in the factory where my husband worked. He and three other men decided to put a bomb in the factory. They were determined to shut it down. I was at home and heard the explosion (we lived quite near to the factory). All the dishes fell from the cupboard and broke. The bomb had gone off prematurely. All four men were killed: my husband, his older brother, and two comrades, all young men in their twenties. In no time the town was filled with police. Everywhere you saw police—policemen hanging from trees. Soon after the explosion they came and arrested me. I was his wife and they wanted information. They held me for three or four months. They questioned me and questioned me, but I told them nothing. “If you don’t talk we will deport you,” they said. “Do you want me to tell lies?” I asked. “Yes,” they said, “tell us lies and we will repeat them after you!” They began deportation proceedings. “Well, you are going back to Italy,” one of them said. But they had no evidence against me. So here I am!

Were Sacco and Vanzetti involved with dynamite? Well, they were both in Mexico; they were all activists there. They were both very strong with the Idea. They didn’t stop to think what might happen to them. “If I die, I die, but that’s what I wanted to do.” That was the way they felt. They were different types: Sacco was excitable; Vanzetti was calm, thoughtful, and explained everything (Sacco era riottoso; Vanzetti era calmo, pensava, spiegava tutte le cose). But both of them were militants and were ready to do whatever was necessary to achieve their Idea.

Were they involved in holdups? I don’t know. Sacco was a very, very active man. He would do anything for the cause. Sacco knew what he wanted. And he could fight. We often visited Sacco in Dedham prison, and we also visited Vanzetti in Charlestown. He was a quieter man, slow-talking. He knew what he was saying. .

By then I was living in Malden, only a twenty-minute drive from Charlestown. When my husband was killed, my son Vero was seven months old. I didn’t want to live in Franklin anymore. The police were watching me all the time. They used to follow me around. They waited at the train to see what was in my bag. And people would point at me and say, “That’s the one.” So I moved to Malden, where I wasn’t known, and lived with my brother-in-law and sister. That was later in 1919, about six months after the explosion. Rosina Sacco moved here after the trial, and Assunta Valdinoci237 lived with her and the children [she points to the house from the kitchen window].

You know that the comrades sent Vanzetti to New York after Salsedo and Elia were arrested.2381 also went to New York—not with Vanzetti—to try to see Salsedo, but they wouldn’t let me in. He was kept in a tall building on Park Row. I had already been in New York a few months earlier to hear Emma Goldman speak. It was not long before she was deported. She was a woman who made you think. Her words went into your brain and you couldn’t forget them.

Many of the Italian women kept to their old beliefs even when their husbands were anarchists. But there were some that were active in the movement: Giannetti (I can’t recall her first name) in Franklin; Lucia Mancini in Needham (she died in Florida), who was with Tugardo Montanari until he was deported, and they had a daughter. I later saw Montanari in Paris—a very spunky man. There was also Ella Antolini, as well as a few others. Ella was a strong character. She was in jail with Emma Goldman and was close to Carlo Valdinoci before her arrest for carrying dynamite. Ella and I later worked together for Priscilla Wedding Gowns in Boston (we made Grace Kelly’s wedding gown in the 1950s239). I worked on a machine and she gave out the work as a supervisor. She died in Florida a few years ago.

Luigi Falsini was a Toscano from Carrara. Adelfo Sanchioni ran a shoe factory, in Lynn, I think. His boy and girl drowned in a boating accident off Cape Cod with five other children. Luigi Vella, in Westfield, New Jersey, was my first husband’s brother-in-law (my husband’s sister’s husband). I later got together with Alfonso Silvestri (“Giambon”), who died in Florida.

Jenny Salemme

Malden, Massachusetts, February 13, 1988

Jenny Salemme and her husband Joe. ■ tailor, were anarchists in East Boston and took part in amateur theatrical performances in their club on Maverick Square.

Joe often visited Vanzetti in Charlestown prison before his execution in 1927.

I was born in Naples on December 24, 1900. My father, Giuseppe, was from Pescara, in the Abruzzi. His mother had a little inn, and her husband was a butcher who provided meat for the hunters—noblemen from Naples—who came to the inn, which was in Catignano, in the hills near Pescara. Grandfather prepared their game and Grandma did the cooking. The hunters fell in love with their little boy (my father), who brought wine to the table and did other errands. They asked my grandparents to let them take him to Naples.

It was there, some years later, that he met my mother. Mother, Giulietta, was from Modena and was a designer of hats. “Giulietta can even make the legs for the flies,” her sister said. A countess in Naples heard of her and invited her to come down from Modena to design for her. She met Father, who had become the major-domo of the castle, and they got married.

Father had a sister in the North End of Boston, who wrote about the great America, the “land of gold.” Father, Mother, and I went in 1902. We lived in a dingy little place with a kerosene lamp on the wall. Mother couldn t take it. Modena had been so much more beautiful and elegant, and she had a middleclass upbringing and a good education. So, while Father stayed in Boston, Mother and I went back to live with my grandparents. We remained until I was ten. Father wrote that we should come back: America had changed, everything was beautiful. Grandma urged us to return. “That child doesn’t have a father anymore,” she said. “She needs her father.”

So we returned to America in June 1910. But Mother still didn’t like it, and she returned again to Modena. Father wouldn’t let me go. He worked for a wholesale liquor business in the North End. We moved to the owner’s house in Belmont, where I went to school. The kids mocked my language and my pierced ears and earrings (“Look at the guinea!”) But I stuck it out and graduated from Belmont High School.

There was terrible feeling against Italians in Massachusetts at that time. Italians were confined to certain neighborhoods, and so on. When I was eighteen, Father took me to my aunt in East Boston. She persuaded him to let me stay with her. She was an actress and took me to the club on Maverick Square for rehearsals of the filodrammatica [theater group]. They put on Primo Maggio, Tempeste Sociali, and other radical plays.

It was there that I met my husband, Joseph Salemme, who acted in the plays. He came from Gaeta and was a tailor by occupation. He had run away from Italy at seventeen, around 1912. He had belonged to the Itbung Socialist group in Gaeta. His father had gambled away all his money. So my husband always said, “No guns and no cards in this house!” I too began to act in the plays. We went all over—New London and other cities, Joe was an anarchist, a disciple of Galleani, but not as dogmatic as some of the others. He belonged to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and later voted for Henry Wallace.240 When that happened, LAdunata considered him a traitor and stopped sending him the paper. He died of a ruptured appendix thirty-five years ago at the age of fifty- six. Our son Hugo is an ornamental iron craftsman who did some of the fixtures on Copley Square.

My husband loved Vanzetti and visited him often in Charlestown prison. He cried every time he came home from the jail. Some comrades said that Sacco was in fact involved in the holdup, but my husband was not one of them, and he wouldn’t have said it if he knew. Rosina, by the way, had a lot of resentment and bitterness against the movement after the execution, and she largely isolated herself from it.

Adelfo Sanchioni and his brother Renato both went to Mexico in 1917. They had lived in Lynn before going to Mexico and afterwards in East Boston. Both were shoe workers and they came from the Marche. Adelfo was a good character actor in the plays at Maverick Square. Luigi Falsini was Adelfo’s brother-inlaw; his sister Vilma was Adelfo’s wife. She also acted in the plays. Falsini was a marble setter from Carrara who brought the trade over with him. Vincenzo Colarossi was a bachelor who lived in rooming houses in and around Boston, a tailor like my husband, who was his close friend. His cousin Umberto lived in Jamaica Plain, I think, and had a daughter, but I don’t know what became of her. Vincenzo finally married but died young soon afterwards.

Mario Buda241 was in the plays with us. He was bald and small, but not too small, with a large nose. Gambera242 was an eccentric in every way. He was a Sicilian, sort of the Mafia type. I think he lived in Roxbury. Joe once went there to pick him up to go to the club in East Boston and found his wife chained to the stove. From then on he couldn’t stand Gambera. Cesarini was also from Roxbury, I think. Alessi was from Sardinia, a mason, I believe. Fernando Tara- belli built houses and was a man of good, strong character. Sam Farulla took care of the library in East Boston and filled orders for literature. Felice Guadagni was an intellectual, well-educated, and wrote and lectured a lot. Joe Amari always wore the anarchist black tie and hat. Amleto Fabbri was tops, a type like Vanzetti. To know him was to love him, a gentle, kind person. He came down with angina and died a long time ago. He had gone back to Italy but returned to the U.S. and died in the 1940s, I think. He was the idea of the movement.243

Aldino Felicani had a dictatorial attitude. He felt he knew everything. When he took the floor you couldn’t contradict him. After Galleani left, Felicani became the head man in the movement. Everyone looked up to him. And he knew what was happening in the movement. It was a small movement, but a very convinced and solid movement. Most of the group in Roxbury were Ro- magnoli and Marchigiani. Ella Antolini worked in a factory with Concetta [Silvestri, q.v.] and later went to Florida. She was good-looking—rather tall, slim, fair—like Greta Garbo.

Catina Willman

Fort Lee, New Jersey, March 2, 1989

Catina Willman, born in Sicily in 1899, was an anarchist in Brooklyn from the 1920s to the 1940s. She visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison and testified for Calogero Greco and Donato Carillo, acquitted in 1927 of murdering two Italian fascists in New York. For many years she was the companion of Armando Borghi (1882-1962), who returned to Italy from the U.S. at the end of the Second World War. She died on November 13, 1991, at the age of ninety-two.244

I was born Caterina D’Amico in Sicily on April 26, 1899. We emigrated to the United States and lived in Brooklyn. I heard Galleani speak at an open-air meeting when I was a teenager, and I liked what he had to say and the way he said it. He spoke directly to my heart. I became an anarchist and took part in picnics, amateur theatricals, and other activities. At that time there were two Italian anarchist groups in Brooklyn: the Circolo Volonta, a Galleanist group with Joe Parisi as the most active figure, and the Anarchist Group of South Brooklyn, with a mixed membership.

I visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison after their conviction at Dedham. Sacco was a very nice boy, like an angel. Vanzetti was very smart, smarter than Sacco. Both were very nice, but Vanzetti was more intelligent. In Brooklyn we had recitals and picnics to raise money for their defense. We did the same later for Greco and Carillo, who were accused of killing fascists in New York. I testified for them at their trial. Clarence Darrow was the defense lawyer and got them off.

Vincenzo Capuana was a gentle and intelligent man. He had spent eight years in prison in Boston. In New York he wanted to blow up II Progresso (the pro-fascist paper of Generoso Pope) at Elm and Worth Streets in lower Manhattan. But he saw children playing ball there and didn’t want them to get hurt. So he began to leave when he was arrested and put in jail. In 1938 he was deported to Italy, where he was immediately imprisoned by Mussolini. He died before the war was over.

Joseph Moro

Haverhill, Massachusetts, April 13, 1987

From 1926 to 1928 Joseph Moro, a shoe worker, served as the last secretary of the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, founded by Aldino Felicani in 1920. A friend and comrade of Sacco and Vanzetti, he visited both men in prison and worked in vain to save them from execution. They were electrocuted in Boston on August 23, 1927.

I was born on September 13, 1894, in Ortona, province of Aquila, in the Abruzzi. Ortona was a town of about five thousand people, near Pescara on the Adriatic. My parents were devout Catholics, very religious. As a child, I myself was a mystic and believed in resurrection. Father was a merchant, a traveling salesman, selling dry goods and cloth. He had a cart pulled by a horse or a mule. Angelo Moro was his name. He had to talk, make jokes, in order to attract customers. When he met my mother, her father did not approve, did not want his daughter to marry a peddler. But Father threatened to elope, so Grandfather consented.

Within a few years Father accumulated wealth by selling material to carpenters, shoemakers, and the like. From peasants he gathered fruit, nuts, almonds, and shipped them to Rome, making a good deal of money. We lived in a house on the square and had a comfortable life, when suddenly Father was unjustly accused of dealing in stolen goods. He was arrested and spent six months in jail in Pescara. Ultimately he was proven innocent, but the damage had been done. He had lost everything. He emigrated to the United States, to Lawrence, Massachusetts, with my two older brothers. He worked in a textile mill for three dollars a week. He came back to Italy when I was eight or nine, after four or five years in America, but he died only a few months later.

Meanwhile Mother had opened a little store in San Sebastiano, selling novelties and dry goods. I was a sickly child, born with a rash on my head, and didn’t walk till I was five. The teachers didn’t want me in school. Outside of the town there was a fountain in honor of Santa Lucia. Following Mother’s advice, I dipped my head in it about a dozen times. In two or three days a crust started to form It fell off and the rash disappeared, and after that my hair grew in. From then on we went to the fountain every year on the feast day of Santa Lucia, December 13. I believed then that a miracle had occurred, that Santa Lucia had cured me. (I later understood that it was some mineral in the water that produced the effect.) My mother, religious as she was, also believed it.

I came to America with my mother in 1911, when I was sixteen years old. We settled in Haverhill, where Mother spent the rest of her life. I got a job in a shoe factory in Stoneham, where my older brother lived. I was still religious in those days, still a mystic. I preached the gospel every Sunday to the Italian immigrants. I felt it in my heart. While I was working in Stoneham, an anarchist from Lynn named Giovanni Eramo245 came to work in the factory. I started to talk religion to him, but he was way above me, much stronger. His arguments persuaded me. He later left the shoe trade and bought a linotype machine. He became the printer of Cronaca Sovversiva after it moved to Lynn in 1912.

One Sunday, in 1912 I think, the Lynn anarchists had a picnic near Wakefield. I found the place just in time to see a play by Pietro Gori, Calendimaggio. I was deeply moved. It inspired me so much that in twenty-four hours I gave up all my religion, all my former beliefs, and started to read anarchist literature, including Cronaca Sovversiva. Galleani, the editor, was a little deep for a man like me without an education, but I tried to make the best of it. Every Saturday I went to Boston and got Cronaca, Il Proletario, and other radical papers. That’s all that I was reading—it kept me going all week long.

I also attended Galleani’s lectures I heard him speak many times, many times, a great speaker. Galleani had lots of friends and lots of enemies, because he was too honest, too strict in his beliefs. To him Cronaca Sovversiva was his soul, his life. He sacrificed his whole being for anarchism. Anarchism for him, and for us, meant to be active, to be strong, to do not only mentally but also physically if necessary.

In May 1917 Galleani published his article “Matricolati!,” indirectly advising his followers to avoid registering for the draft, even if that meant leaving the country. Some, like Sacco and Vanzetti, went to Mexico, where things were rough and they ran out of money. Others changed jobs and worked where they weren’t known. I didn’t register for the draft, so I couldn’t remain in Stoneham, where people knew me. I went to Taunton and got a job in a factory making kitchen stoves, working in the stockroom. Galleani lived not far away in a barn in the woods. A lot of comrades, refusing to register and out of work, lived there with him and killed time by fixing up the barn.

Galleani was a real man, a born rebel. He would never give in. He published a few more issues of Cronaca Sovversiva, reading every word before it was printed, very fussy about it. Practically every Sunday I went to see him at the barn. In February 1919 I invited him to Taunton together with his family to attend a party, a kind of ballo in maschera. He was going to be deported anyway, so he accepted. Word spread that he was coming to Taunton to speak. A huge crowd gathered from all over, and we had an all-night party and dance. Galleani spoke against war and for social revolution

A day or two afterwards there was an explosion in nearby Franklin. Two [actually four] comrades were killed while placing a bomb in a factory. The police blamed it on Galleani; they said it was a consequence of the meeting in Taunton. They began to look for me too. I had been fired from my job in Taunton for talking against religion but soon found work in a shoe factory in Brockton.

The following Saturday half a dozen federal agents came looking for me; they thought the Taunton “conference” was about making bombs and that the explosion in Franklin was “circumstantial evidence.” They came two or three times but didn’t find me, as I had moved to a shoe factory in South Braintree. There I was soon fired for talking about starting a strike after a comrade had been dismissed. I went back to Brockton and then returned to live with my mother in Haverhill. That night agents came looking for me in Brockton, but I was gone. They never caught up with me.

I joined the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee in 1926 at the request of Amleto Fabbri. Fabbri, like myself, was a shoe worker, a fine man, active, honest. After Galleani was deported, he went back to Italy with his family to take part in the revolution. Augusto Rossi and his family also went. Rossi had been a building contractor in Needham; he was the father of Bruno’s246 wife, Fiorina [Florence Rossi, q.v.]. He made money and gave money for the propaganda. Galleani was certain that the revolution would break out in Italy any day, and they followed him. But they did not stay more than two or three years, returning to the U.S. shortly before Mussolini took power.

Fabbri became the secretary of the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee while his wife was still in Italy. William G Thompson, the defense attorney, told him that if he wanted his wife to come back to the States he would have to quit the committee. So Fabbri asked me to take his place and to take care of the Italian propaganda. (In English we had several good men, including Louis Bernheimer and especially Gardner Jackson.247 ) At that time I was working in a shoe factory, Heiss & Son in Cambridge, making about sixty or seventy dollars a week. I took a 50 percent cut in pay to work for the Defense Committee, receiving thirty-five dollars a week and writing my own check.

So that’s how I took the job, though it was dangerous to be associated with the case. Once a federal agent tried to worm his way into the committee. He was nice-looking and friendly. He hired a taxi for me to bring leaflets to a protest meeting. When we got there, a comrade recognized him and told me that he worked for the government.

Fabbri was a sincere man and had faith in me. I accepted and stayed to the last. I’m the only one still alive from the committee. Giovanni Gambera was one of the original members, but he was never important. I wonder how much he really told his son and how much the son made up—and with a name like Ideale!248

When I joined the committee I became friendly with Aldino Felicani, a very intelligent man even though he never went to college or had much of an education. Yes, he believed that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, just as I did. He had a job at La Notizia, and every day he got something into the paper about the case. He reported how Judge Thayer, at the Plymouth trial, disbelieved the Italian witnesses and told the jury that Vanzetti’s ideas were “cognate with the crime.” That got the readers angry, so that in a sense it was Thayer himself who built up the case. Contributions began to come in, and picnics were held for the benefit of the defense.

I knew both Sacco and Vanzetti. Sacco, like myself, was a shoe worker, but his was a more skilled craft, an edge-trimmer. (I was a wood-heel nailer.) Sacco was a genius at his work, that machine running so fast, sharp like a razor; you miss by a thousandth of an inch and you ruin the shoe. He was quick, precise, a wonderful worker. I was working in Taunton after the war, and Sacco was in Stoughton. I went to see him quite often. He was very romantic, loved his wife, the two of them like sweethearts. He never spoke of holdups or anything like that. I m convinced he could never have committed such a crime. Yes, he carried a gun, but so did I during those bad times.

I also knew Vanzetti pretty well. Around 1919 he came up here to Haverhill two or three times to speak at meetings. He was a good speaker, so attractive to listen to. One time he came to our house. He had hurt his forehead at work and wore his cap over the bruise. My mother asked, Who is he? But once we sat down to eat and talk we all loved him. He was like a child. He wrote me beautiful letters. Talking to him you could fall in love with him. He talked like a poet—he was born to be a poet—and he knew what he was talking about.

After the execution I thought, “Two more victims of the capitalist system.” William G. Thompson was another. Before he came to us he was a leading Boston attorney. Afterwards every door was shut with a padlock. The case shortened his life. I’m sure of it. Now, to tell the truth, I am even more convinced of the injustice around us than before. People have to improve themselves I am filled with ideas about this.

Bartolomeo Provo

Los Gatos, California, November 11, 1989 Bartolomeo Provo (known as Bartolo, like Vanzetti, whom he knew) became an anarchist in Massachusetts on the eve of the First World War, a disciple of Luigi Galleani. Like Sacco and Vanzetti, he refused to register for the draft and went into hiding until hostilities concluded. With Sebastiano Magliocca (q.v.) and other comrades, he attended the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti in Dedham and worked to prevent their execution. A carpenter by trade, Bartolo rode the rails from coast to coast, settling at last in California. An amateur artist, he made drawings for the anarchist press, including a sketch of Galleani. He died in Los Gatos in 1993.

I WAS born on January 22, 1898, in a small mining town near Du Bois, Pennsylvania, about sixty miles northeast of Pittsburgh. My father, Giacomo (Jim), was working in a coal mine, mining soft coal. I was born near the entrance to the mine, so to speak, and knew the hard conditions of life there. Both my parents (my mother’s name was Catrina) were born in Ferrara di Montetaldo, a mile from the Austrian border, in the province of Verona. Father came to the United States in 1880. Before that he had been in Argentina. From the United States he went back to Italy, married my mother, and returned to the United States a year or two before I was born. Both Father and Mother were illiterate but taught themselves to read and write.

I lived in the mining camp for seven or eight years and attended first grade. In 1906 we al1 returned to Italy, to the towmof Caprino in Verona province, not far from Lake Garda. I was eight years old. After completing the seventh grade I went on to a technical high school. I wanted to be an architect. I used to draw and got praise for it. My teacher encouraged me. I spent half a day in school and half a day apprenticed to a carpenter.

My father owned a farm in Caprino. It was very different from America. My impressions of Italy were something out of this world. In America I saw woods, rivers, and dirty faces, the dirty faces of miners. When we docked in Genoa I saw all those farms so beautifully cultivated. I got so enthusiastic, you have no idea. My uncle also had a farm in Caprino. The vines were so loaded with grapes it seemed like paradise. We went swimming in Lake Garda every Sunday. I spent my last day in Italy swimming in the lake.

In Caprino I joined the Circle of Socialist Yiuth The biggest baker in town was a socialist, and I hung around with his son. My older brother Francesco (born in Italy) and I became members of the group and attended all its meetings. To undermine the group, the church officials in town provided a meeting place for young people, with food, an orchestra, and dancing. One by one our members drifted away, and that was a great disappointment to me.

Our family returned to America in 1913. Father did not want his children to work in the mines; there were eleven altogether, and I was the second oldest, after my brother Francesco. So he did not go back to Pennsylvania but to Springfield, Massachusetts, instead. He had worked there in 1880 as a stone cutter, as he had done in Argentina. At that time the contractor had lost his money and could not pay Father his wages. In 1916 Father met him on a road in Springfield. The contractor greeted him and said, “Don’t you know me?” Father did not recognize him. “Remember when we worked on that wall?” said the man, and gave Father fifty dollars.

In Springfield I went to high school for a while, a trade school, for seven or eight months. Then I started to work in a shop that made tweezers. I earned ten cents an hour and worked twelve hours a day, a total of $1.20. It was a small factory with about twenty-five or thirty men. I did that pretty close to a year. It was not interesting work, but I didn’t mind. I always liked to work. But I loved carpentry.

I left the tweezer shop to work on a tobacco farm in Connecticut. I had a cousin working there, in Torrington. I stayed there a couple of years, until 1916. There was a man doing carpentry work, and I worked with him for a few months. Then I got a job in a skate shop. That was still in 1916. I was a rebel. We were poorly paid, and the workers said they would back me up if I asked for a raise. I went to the superintendent and asked for a raise for all the workers. He answered by laying me off. “You’re a good worker,” he said, “but you have too much faith in others.” He was right. The other workers were a bunch of hypocrites. They said they would strike but they didn’t. They were afraid of losing


----- SACCO AND VANZETTI " ■ 117 their jobs. I was very disillusioned—but not disillusioned enough, because I remained a rebel.

Then America entered the war. It was in April 1917. I took off and went to the woods with a few other comrades. I was an anarchist by then. Some of the comrades went to Mexico, including Secondo Vitale, a barber from Springfield, one of my very best friends. We became wood-choppers in the Springfield area. We did that till the war ended in November 1918. We lived in a shanty that we had built. One day a doctor drove by in a horse and buggy and shouted, “The -•war is over!” So we gathered up our things and went to Northampton, the nearest town, and celebrated by drinking beer. We had a wonderful time that night.

How did I become an anarchist? It happened in Torrington, when I was working in the skate shop. Since I had a nice handwriting, one of my jobs was to copy orders from slips into a book. One night a man there started to talk against the social system and also against me, because I seemed to be an official doing office work. I agreed with him about the capitalist system and said I was ready to tear it down anytime. He asked me to subscribe to II Proletario, the IWW paper. I did not join the IWW, but I liked their spirit very much. After the superintendent laid me off, I went to Springfield and saw a leaflet announcing that Costantino Zonchello249 was going to speak on “The Italians in America.” I attended the lecture and was very enthusiastic about it. I went over to talk to him, and he asked me if I subscribed to any paper. I said, “Il Proletario, but I don’t like it very much.” He suggested that I subscribe to Cronaca Sovversiva, so I did. That was in 1915. I was not even eighteen years old. And since then that was it—up until now anyway.

I liked Cronaca Sovversiva very much. Young people want literature that stirs your rebellious spirit, and that the Cronaca did. I like Galleani’s writing so much you have no idea! He was honest and also humorous and had great knowledge. He was also a great orator, the greatest in the anarchist movement at that time. By 1916 I considered myself an anarchist. I attended the plays and picnics as well as the lectures. Galleani came often to lecture in Springfield. I once acted as chairman and introduced him.

My younger brother and I went to all the meetings. I would never miss a lecture or recital, even if an atomic bomb fell down! I had a good friend in Springfield named Armando Del Moro who also attended the different gatherings. Later I lived with him in Los Gatos for twenty years until his death. He was a good friend of Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina], whom I had met a couple of years before he was deported. He was living in New Britain at the time. It was around 1916, and he came to Springfield to speak. I liked him very much—he was better even than Postiglione.250 He was a serious speaker and knew what he was talking about. But he could never match Galleani. Galleani had guts. Bruno did not rise even to the knees of Galleani. Galleani had courage!

After the war I left for Baltimore, where my brother Francesco lived. I stayed there about four years, going back and forth to Massachusetts. In 1920, shortly after the arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti, I happened to be in Springfield, where


my parents still lived. One of the comrades asked me if I knew them. I said I didn’t think so. Another said, “When you spoke against the Bolsheviks in Russia, Vanzetti was against you. He was in favor of the Communists at that time.” I was always against the Communists, as was Galleani, and Vanzetti thought I was merely echoing Galleani’s ideas without thinking for myself. So I then recalled who he was.

Later in 1920 I went to Boston and was asked to help with the defense. I asked the comrades at Maverick Square, “Do you think Sacco and Vanzetti are guilty?” Before I start to defend anybody I like to know who they are. “No, they are absolutely innocent,” came the reply. “They are as guilty as I am.” I asked others. Not one said they were guilty. I was invited to the Defense Committee, and one comrade told them, “Bartolo has doubts about their innocence.” I denied it. Everyone at the committee said the men were innocent.

I was then working for a contractor and living in Boston. I met Felice Guadagni and other members of the Defense Committee and liked them very much. Guadagni once invited me to dinner. He knew a great deal and wrote for several newspapers, including La Notizia, for which Felicani worked as a printer. Felicani and Guagdagni were heavy drinkers; in fact the whole Defense Committee drank heavily. Guadagni spoke on Sacco and Vanzetti in Springfield and ate at my parents’ house. Guadagni’s wife, from an aristocratic family, later left him and returned to Italy. After that he moved to New ^brk.

I also knew Emilio Coda, another member of the committee. I met him at the club on Maverick Square in East Boston. I was there with Amari, a wonderful comrade. Around midnight we heard a knock at the door. It was Coda. He said the place was “a pigsty” (un porcile). I didn’t like him much. He was too rude, too arrogant. Yet he did dedicate his life to the movement.

During 1921 I went to the trial in Dedham about half a dozen times with comrades from Boston, including Sebastiano Magliocca [q.v.]. Judge Thayer had a long face, like a Puritan, hard and cold. Fred Moore251 was then searching for the real criminals and got almost to know who did it. I was there when Moore announced this to the Defense Committee. He said that Sacco and Vanzetti objected to his searching for the guilty party. “We don’t pay a man to go looking for criminals,” they told him. “What do you want me to do?” Moore asked the committee. “I spent thousands of dollars and am close to finding them.” Felicani got up and said, “It is not our business to pay detectives to find lawbreakers,” and told Moore to give it up.

A year or two later, a meeting was held in Springfield to discuss the rescue of Sacco and Vanzetti. The idea was to free them when they were on a train from the prison to the courthouse, when they were guarded by only two detectives. Cesare Stami and his gang were there. They wanted five thousand dollars to do the job. They should have done it, you know, but we didn’t have the five thousand dollars. Stami was involved in several holdups. He would stop at nothing. He held up a bank in Detroit—his men were shooting everywhere. That was around 1924. Later that year they held up a train in Pennsylvania that was carrying a shipment of gold. But one of the men was a stool pigeon and tipped off the police. The tram was surrounded by detectives, and Stami was killed with three or four others. I was told this in Old Forge, a mining town in eastern Pennsylvania where a number of Galleanisti lived and worked. I never agreed with those methods. They said we are exploited so we take back, but most of what they stole was for themselves and not for the Ideal.

One more thing about Sacco and Vanzetti. A comrade from Phoenix, now dead, told me that there was a priest in Youngstown, Ohio, where he had lived before moving to Arizona, who was always preaching against the anarchists. --Vanzetti, he said, made a bomb and placed it at the front door of his church, but a dog sniffed it out and it was discovered before it could go off. The comrade who told me this was Andrea Di Toffolo [actually De Toffol], a bricklayer from Udine in the Friuli, a big, powerful man weighing 250 pounds, who built a motel in Phoenix. He’s no longer alive. He told me this a few years ago at a picnic in Theresa Park here in Los Gatos. He said that Vanzetti lived in his house in Youngstown at the time, during the war.252 I didn’t know that Vanzetti was ever in Youngstown, and I was very surprised to hear it. Until now I never repeated this story to anybody because I thought it might hurt Vanzetti and be used against him.

Starting in 1924 I became a hobo. I traveled on freight trains and met all the hoboes in the country. I did this for two years and learned more in that time than I had in my whole life before. But one of the old-time hoboes told me that it was not for me, that I was not a real hobo. And he was right. I quit it in 1926. But I continued to move from place to place—Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit. I spent many years in Detroit and knew all the anarchists there— Italian, Russian. Spanish, Jewish, and others. I was a soap-boxer in all those cities and knew Sam Dolgoff [q.v.] and other speakers. I always worked as a carpenter and mingled among the anarchists. In one year I worked in five different states.

I moved to Los Gatos in 1960 and have been here ever since. I continued working as a carpenter and retired at sixty-five. I never married or had children—I never wanted to marry—but I had plenty of girl friends, always anarchists, nearly always Jewish. And I always remained a rebel. Not long ago two FBI men came to Los Gatos and began to question me. I had been an agitator on all my jobs here. I interrupted and said, “I’ve been an anarchist since 1916, and now I’m a better anarchist than I was then! ’ They left. Were they surprised!

What do I think of anarchism now? I think it’s the most beautiful idea in the world. And what the anarchists predicted came true. Anybody who takes power, however good they may seem, becomes worse once corrupted. I never regretted being an anarchist. I was always an anarchist, since the age of sixteen. When I look back on my life—I am now ninety-two—I am glad that 1 have always been an anarchist I have never seen a better or nobler idea.

Vincenzo Farulla

Somerville, Massachusetts, February 12, 1988

A native of Sicily, Vincenzo (“Jimmy”) Farulla emigrated to the United Sates with his brother Sam on the eve of the First World War and settled in the Boston area. Sam became a member of the original Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, founded by Aldino Felicani in 1920. The following year both Sam and Jimmy attended the trial in Dedham, which ended in Sacco and Vanzetti’s conviction for murder. Despite a worldwide campaign of protest, they were executed in 1927.

I WAS BORN in 1895 in Pietraperzia, province of Caltansotta (now Enna), Sicily. My brother Salvatore (Sam) was born in 1898. We came together to the U.S. in 1914 for economic reasons, as work was hard to get in Sicily. Our older brother Lawrence had come before us—in 1911 or 1912—and settled in Lynn, where we had friends from our home town. When Sam and 1 arrived we lived in East Boston. I worked in a tin factory for eighteen years. In 1932 I left the tin factory and went to work for Keystone Camera, doing precision work until 1948. That year I went back to Sicily to see my family, and when I came back Keystone was on strike. I got a new job as an upholstery cleaner. Then I went into business for myself—cleaning upholstery—till 1961. My wife—from Cas- telnuovo della Daunia, Foggia province—and I got married in 1939, and we have a daughter.

My brother Sam at first worked together with me in the tin factory for several years. Then, in 1921 or 1922, he became a builder of houses in Newton- ville. He was a member of the original Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, formed in 1920. The stock market crash wrecked his business. He went to New York and became a leather worker. After that he went to work in the same doll factory as Mike and Sebastiano Magliocca [q.v.]. He organized a union and became its president for a year. Then he started his own doll’s clothing business. Mike and Bastiano worked for him. They also made toys for children. Sam got lung cancer, probably from the plastic he used in the factory (he was not a smoker), sold the place, and died on January 18, 1971.

As I said, we lived at first in East Boston, in an Italian neighborhood. NonItalians called us “guineas,” “wops,” “macaroni stranglers”; kids threw snowballs at us, and so on. Sam got acquainted with a barber in East Boston, a socialist. He introduced Sam to the Italian Naturalization Club on Maverick Square, which included socialists, anarchists, syndicalists, and other Italians. They worked to help you out to become a citizen, but the socialists, anarchists, and syndicalists couldn’t get along. Sam was the librarian of the club and sold books through the mail.

I heard Luigi Galleani speak a few times, on Richmond Street in the North End. He expressed what I wanted to say but couldn’t because I didn’t have the words. I did not know Sacco and Vanzetti. But during their trial in Dedham I


■ ' ~SACCO AND VANZETTI ■" 121 went with some friends and waited in the street to see them taken from the jail to the courthouse, and they greeted us as they passed. I have no reason to believe that either of them was guilty.

Eduardo Alessi and Luigi Falsini were both marble setters, both from Carrara. They were good people, unable to hurt anybody. Antonio Cesarini painted churches—he was a house painter by trade. Adelfo Sanchioni was an intelligent man, a shoe worker who became the superintendent of a shoe factory. Vincenzo Colarossi was a tailor, Angelo Monello a tile setter. Domenico - Scarinci worked for Augusto Rossi, the builder.

Sebastiano Magliocca

Brooklyn, New York, July 18, 1987

An immigrant from Sicily, Sebastiano Magliocca was an anarchist in Boston during the 1920s and afterwards in New York. His brother Mike (Michele) was secretary of EAdunata dei Refrattari (1922-1971) during its final years. Sebastiano died in his sleep on March 16, 1990, at the age of ninety-two.

I WAS born in Sicily on January 21, 1898, and became a socialist as a young man. I emigrated to the United States in 1921 to escape the fascists, who were already on the rise in Sicily. My father was heartbroken when I left. My older brother Michele, who also became an anarchist in Boston, emigrated later. I landed in Boston and got a job in Watertown in a shoe factory, making shoes with rubber soles. Later, in New York, I worked for thirty-two years in a doll factory, making shoes for dolls. In Boston I was attracted to anarchism and joined the Gruppo Autonomo di East Boston, where I lived. We worked to raise funds for the Sacco-Vanzetti defense. Amleto Fabbri, a member of the Defense Committee, was a shoemaker, a fine, intelligent man. We all loved him.

There were a lot of people making bombs in those days just after the war. Nicola Recchi253 was one of them. I met him in Rome after the Second World War. He was missing a hand and couldn’t work and had to rely on friends in the movement for support. His hand was blown off while he was making bombs in Luigi Falsini’s house in East Boston, in 1919, I think. Augusto Rossi was active in the group, a builder in Needham and the father of Bruno’s wife, Fiorina [Florence Rossi, q.v.]. He was not involved with bombs, though, nor were Sacco and Vanzetti, as far as I know. I believe that Salsedo was pushed from the window by federal agents. I don’t know if the Wall Street explosion was the work of anarchists.

Johnny Gambera was on the Defense Committee at the beginning, but he didn’t do anything and was not much to talk about. He didn’t work, never had a job, and his wife supported him and the family. His wife’s uncle, Angelo


Monello, was also a member of the original Defense Committee. Sam Farulla was another member, a very nice guy and good friend. His brother Jimmy [Vincenzo Farulla, q.v.] is still living near Boston, and the Sanchinis’ daughter [Elide Sanchini, q.v.] is living in Connecticut. Felice Guadagni, though he was called “Professor,” did not teach but gave lectures and wrote for La Notizia and other papers. He was a nice guy but didn’t like to work.

Bruno returned to the United States in 1928 and became the editor of LAdunata. The Communists raised half a million dollars for Sacco and Vanzetti but kept it for their own purposes and gave nothing to the Defense Committee. Tresca, too, kept some money raised at a lecture for Sacco and Vanzetti and used it for his paper, 11 Martello. I believe that Sacco and Vanzetti were not guilty of the holdups and had nothing to do with explosives. Fred Moore spent too much money and was the wrong attorney for the case. If they had Thompson from the beginning they would never have been convicted.

Sara R. Ehrmann

Brookline, Massachusetts, January 7', 1987

Sara Ehrmann was born in 1895 into a prosperous German-Jewish family in Kentucky and grew up in Rochester, New York. During the 1920s her husband, Herbert B. Ehrmann, served as junior defense counsel under William G. Thompson in an effort to obtain a new trial for Sacco and Vanzetti, convicted of robbery and murder in Massachusetts. In the course of his investigations, Ehrmann built a strong case against the Morelli gang of Providence, but all legal appeals were rejected and on August 23, 1927, Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted. After the executions, Sara Ehrmann, who had assisted her husband in his investigation of the Morellis and had visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison, became active in the movement to abolish capital punishment. She died in Brookline in 1993.

My husband, Herbert Ehrmann, who died in 1970, was a graduate of the Harvard Law School. We moved into this house in 1920. Together with his former roommate Reg Smith, he had run the Boston Legal Aid Society. Then, at the request of the Cleveland Foundation, he made a survey of the criminal justice system, with particular emphasis on the courts. We went to Cleveland in 1921 and returned here in 1922. By then everybody was talking about the two “wops” convicted of murder in Dedham. In 1924 Fred Moore was dismissed as defense attorney and William G. Thompson took over the case. Mr. Thompson was very reserved, an Episcopalian, a lovely person, tall, bright, and kind; and he had a charming wife. He told friends at the Harvard Law School that he needed a young man to help him, and Herbert was recommended.

I attended the sentencing in Dedham in April 1927. Judge Thayer was a little man with a wrinkled face, his robes flowing all over him. I sat on the bench next to Gardner Jackson. Thayer sentenced them to die “with a current of electricity passing through them until dead.” Then he took his robes majestically around him, rose from the bench and walked up the steps. Newspaper men gathered. Thayer put his hand out and said, “Well, boys, how did I do?” Nobody answered, nobody took his hand. “Come on, boys,” he said, “I’ve always been good to you, you know.”

The older ladies had been lovely to Rose Sacco. I visited her house with Elizabeth Glendowei Evans. They had nothing but bare floors, a table, some -chairs, nothing more. Mrs. Evans supplied clothing for the children. Justice Brandeis let the Sacco family live in his home at Dedham one summer. I visited Sacco in the Dedham jail. Mrs. Evans took me and introduced me to him. He was a jolly little fellow with nice twinkly eyes. I brought my two little boys to the prison yard and he threw them a bag of candy. Later, I saw both Sacco and Vanzetti in Charlestown prison. Towards the end, Mr. Thompson and Herbert went to see them and asked them to appeal to Governor Fuller for clemency. Vanzetti agreed, saying that if he was alive he could prove his innocence. Sacco refused. Two days later, Herbert and Mr. Thompson asked me to go see him and plead with him for the sake of his family. They took me to the prison. Sacco greeted me with a smile, the same twinkle in his eyes. I told him why I had come. He put his hand on my arm and said, “Mrs. Ehrmann, dear, I am innocent. I cannot, even for the sake of my family, say that I am guilty. I cannot beg for mercy.”

After the execution Mrs. Sacco cut herself off from the world. She couldn’t bear it any more, and that frightful thing pst ruined their lives. She forbade her children from talking about it at all. As a result of the case, I myself became involved in prison reform, and especially in the effort to abolish capital punishment. Professor Chafee254 called me to work with him, and I was active in the Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and in the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment.

Art Shields

New York City, December 23, 1986

Art Shields, a well-known labor reporter, worked as a publicist for the Sacco- Vanzetti Defense Committee in Boston. He visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison and wrote an important early pamphlet on the case, Are They Doomed?253 Shields died in New York in February 1988 at the age of ninety-nine.

I AM NINETY-EIGHT years old, born in 1888. My father was a minister of the Moravian church, which traced its origins to John Huss and Comenius, and I went to a Moravian college, Bethlehem College. My actual name is Thomas Arthur Shields, but my father’s name was also Thomas, so at home I was always Arthur. I was called Art by my friends, and that name stuck when I became a writer and reporter.

After college I worked in machine shops and on a dam in southeastern Ohio, very heavy work. I was an IWW by the time of the Sacco-Vanzetti case and was working on a paper called Financial America, a rival of the Wall Street Journal, but not as important. During the trial I became editor of Industrial Solidarity, an IWW paper. I was not yet a Communist, but was leaning that way.

I came to the Sacco-Vanzetti case through Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.26 I was a great admirer of hers. I met her in 1919 when I came back to New York from Seattle, where I was during the general strike. I wrote press releases for the Workers Defense Union, of which she was a founder. It formed a bridge between the IWW, left socialists, and trade unionists. She asked me to go to Boston to do a pamphlet on the Sacco-Vanzetti case. There was practically no publicity at that time, the fall of 1920. So I went to Boston, spent two months there working on a pamphlet and doing releases for the Defense Committee. I wrote an article in The Liberator in late 1920. My pamphlet, Are They Doomed?, came out in early 1921. I returned to Boston several times between 1920 and 1927 to do publicity work.

My successors were Eugene Lyons and then John Nicholas Beffel. Lyons afterwards got a job for United Press and served as a correspondent in the Soviet Union.257 When I went there later I was told that he had smuggled valuable art objects out of the country. Beffel was a better man than I for the job. He had more experience, and he was left, but not as left as I, so he could get into publications that I couldn’t, The New Republic, for example.

The Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee was ideologically opposed to Communism, but in practice they were glad to get help from all radicals. Sacco and Vanzetti wrote letters to The Labor Defender greeting them as comrades. The International Labor Defense sent them money and wrote them letters to keep up their spirits. Sacco and Vanzetti welcomed it. Aldino Felicani was a modest person, a man of few words who spoke to the point, a very devoted man. I was especially fond of Emilio Coda, a coal miner from West Virginia who had taken part in a bloody gun battle during a 1922 strike, which I wrote about in The Labor Defender and the Daily Worker. He was extremely anti-Communist, though. (I was not yet a party member, but a pretty active sympathizer.) Nevertheless, he was gold in his sincerity.

In 1920 and on my later trips, I visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison—Vanzetti a number of times and Sacco a few times. Sacco was very intense. He could communicate in English, but with some difficulty. He would get an idea and repeat it: “I want to finish my case! I want to finish my case!” Vanzetti was calmer, more philosophical. He looked at things in a broader way—an extraordinary person. He was eloquent in English, speaking with Italian nuances. My first visit to him was in 1920. He had been convicted in the Bridgewater case, but it was before the trial at Dedham. I saw them last in 1927, when I came to Boston for about three weeks to help in the effort to get the Department of Justice to open its files. Sacco-Vanzetti was a bigger case than Haymarket, partly because of the larger prestige of the people who were ready to protest I think it was largely the personality of Vanzetti that did it. He spoke like a prophet.

I played another role in the case near the end. It was I who raised the question among a group ot defense lawyers of going after the receipt for Vanzetti’s eels. Their answer was that it could not possibly be kept all these years. But I insisted. I pressed the issue very strongly. So they decided to go. Four of us went: Ehrmann, Felicani, Musmanno, and myself.259 We went to the fish mar- ket. Place after place said they didn’t keep receipts so long. Finally, we went to one of the biggest. They kept receipts upstairs and we were welcome to look. The receipts were in bags. We spilled them out onto a big table into four piles, one for each of us to go through. I think it was Felicani who found it.

Musmanno’s motives for entering the case, by the way, were tinged with Italian nationalism and an element of opportunism. A year before, in 1926, he wrote a letter to the Pittsburgh press praising the fascists in Rome. Soon after that he ran for office—the Pennsylvania legislature—and was defeated. The next year he came out for Sacco and Vanzetti, got a lot of publicity, and was elected. After he published his book on the case, he became a rip-roaring antiCommunist screaming in the courtroom.

Fred Moore, the defense counsel, had a good and a bad side. The good side is that he was a tireless worker and investigator. But he didn’t work closely enough with the Defense Committee. Factions developed in the committee, not among the anarchists but among some of the liberals and others who became members, including Mary Donovan, a socialist and strong anti-Communist. Moore, in his IWW cases, mysteriously disappeared on several occasions. When fired by the Defense Committee he was very bitter. He began to tell people that Sacco may have been guilty, if not Vanzetti. I can’t enter into his mind to say whether he believed it or not, but I completely rejected it. The evidence of a frame-up against them was too strong. There was nothing linking them to bombing or violence. As for Sacco’s guilt, that’s the damnable work of Moore. He came to the IWW from ideological motives. He had been a young lawver in Spokane for the railroads. He dealt with injury cases and tried to get the victims the lowest possible settlement. But one case was so raw that it swung him in the other direction. He worked with Clarence Darrow in the McNamara case260 and began representing the IWW in cases.

A man named Rohmann, a writer for the socialist Call who had been publicity agent for the Ama’gamated Clothing Workers, a very reputable journalist, told me that he went to Park Row to find out about Salsedo. Salsedo was screaming—they were apparently beating him. Agents spotted Rohmann, who gave his feelings away, and they chased him. He ran down the stairs and got away. He wrote a story about it for the Call, but it appeared in the late edition and is not in the paper’s official file.

I heard Emma Goldman speak. She was a good speaker, but I didn’t like her. She was not based primarily on the working class. Berkman was a dedicated person, but he did a lot of harm: at Homestead he made a hero out of Frick.

Before Berkman’s attempt, Frick had lost a lot of prestige, the strike was going strong, and even with his own class he came under criticism. Berkman’s act changed all that. After eleven days in the hospital, Frick came back as a hero. On the other hand, Berkman worked very hard in the Mooney affair. He was forever in the struggle to free Mooney and Billings.

Fred J. Cook

Interlaken, New Jersey, August 7, 1989

Fred Cook, a veteran investigative reporter, is a longtime contributor to The Nation, in which he published several pieces on the Sacco-Vanzetti case, most notably “The Missing Fingerprints” (December 22, 1962). His books include The Warfare State (1962), The FBI Nobody Knows (1964), The Corrupted Land (1966), and Maverick (1984).

In 1962 Carey McWilliams asked me to review Francis Russell’s Tragedy in Dedham26} for the Nation. I read the book and found it peculiar. The first three-quarters leads me to believe in the innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti; then, suddenly, towards the end, Sacco becomes guilty. I told McWilliams that something more than a mere review of Russell’s book was needed, and he suggested that I get in touch with Tom O’Connor262 in Massachusetts, whom he knew. I called O’Connor and told him my reaction to Russell, and especially how he slides over the fingerprint evidence. He thoroughly agreed with what I said. A few days later a small man appeared at my door in Interlaken with a bundle in his arms. It was O’Connor. He had taken a bus down from Massachusetts and a taxi from Asbury Park to my house. The bundle contained the transcript of the trial and xerox copies of clippings from local Massachusetts papers on the fingerprint evidence. These were solid, carefully written articles, nothing sensational about them. All of a sudden the fingerprint evidence disappeared. Nothing more was heard of it. Russell later said there was no fingerprint evidence. But there had been, as the newspaper articles showed, and evidently they were not the right fingerprints for the prosecutor’s version of the case.

O’Connor came down a few more times, and we talked about the case. He was a very dedicated man, but frustrated because nothing ever came of the criticisms and new evidence that he and others put forward. He was skeptical, though, of Ehrmann’s Morelli thesis. I thought it was persuasive—I reviewed Ehrmann’s book in the Nation in 1969.

I wrote a piece for the Nation on the FBI and later published a book on the FBI When my Nation piece appeared I got a call from a man named Rohmann, a reporter for the old New York Graphic or Call. He told me that he was in the Department of Justice office on Park Row when they were questioning Salsedo. He heard the interrogation—the beating—going on. The next morning Salsedo was out the window on the sidewalk. Rohmann said his paper ran an account of what he heard, but I went to the files and never found it.

George Vaux

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, July 21, 1987

George Vaux is the nephew of Edward Holton James, himself the nephew of Henry and William James. Convinced of the innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti, James, a wealthy Bostonian, threw himself into the campaign to secure a new trial for the two men, or at least to save them from execution. The campaign failed. Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted in Charlestown prison on August 23, 1927.265

Uncle Ned was a James, and all the Jameses are screwballs. Just too much temperament. Actually he was quite sane, if somewhat eccentric. I found him charming. I spent a whole summer with him in Geneva in the 1930s. He had a flat there and went every summer to watch the League of Nations. He always talked with a grin, as though he were a huge joke. He deprecated himself, you know, and that was very charming. He was of average height, with the distinctive James physiognomy. He wore a beard during the 1920s but gave that up later. His father, Robertson James, worked for a railroad company in Milwaukee. He had an alcohol problem and was never successful. But he married into the Holton family, who were very wealthy. And Edward married Louisa Cushing, immensely wealthy. He had graduated from Harvard and read law in a law firm in Madison, Wisconsin. He practiced in Fargo, North Dakota, and then in Seattle, where he tried to shut down the saloons.

Uncle Ned went to Europe, helped publish The Liberator with E. E Mylius,264 and got into trouble for slandering King George V. He was kicked out of England and went to Berlin. He was a socialist by then and got mixed up with Rosa Luxemburg265 and her crowd. He was arrested by the Berlin police and deported to Holland, but he recrossed the border, was arrested again, and was locked up in Moabit prison. He was released in November 1918 and returned to his mother in Concord. In 1919 he enlisted as a private in the army. He washed cars for officers at Fort Devens and served in the military police during the Boston police strike.

Uncle Ned became interested in the Sacco-Vanzetti case. He always believed in their innocence. He said there was insufficient evidence to establish their guilt. He measured the shed and showed that a larger car could not fit. In 1928 he sailed to Genoa. From there he went to Rome and saw Mussolini, who arranged for him to see Mario Buda on Lipari. Many years later I met Dante Sacco at the Calder house in Connecticut.266

After his return to Italy in 1932, he went to India to study the Gandhi movement and wrote a pamphlet about it. He played the violin very badly and invented a new system of playing it. In his later years, from the late 1930s on, he got mixed up with the Silver Shirts, believed in America for the Americans, and criticized Franklin Delano Roosevelt for getting the country into war, for which the American Legion in Concord attacked his sanity. During the early 1950s he and the Duke of Bedford published The Word in Glasgow, edited by Guy A. Aldred.267

Harry Richal

Needham, Massachusetts, March 11, 1988

Harry Richal was born Evaristo Ricciardelli in Italy in 1898 and emigrated to the United States in 1913. Settling in Needham, Massachusetts, where he worked as a carpenter and builder, he became an anarchist of the militant school of which Luigi Galleani was the prophet and Sacco and Vanzetti fellow disciples. In 1921 he attended the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti and later visited them in prison. He is the only surviving member of the Gruppo Liberta di Needham, founded in 1925.

I WAS BORN near Fano, in the Marche, on May 3, 1898, a small, pleasant city. The last time I went back there was in 1968, and it had grown quite a bit. My original name was Evaristo Ricciardelli. My father, Giacomo, was a worker on the farm where I was born. We were poor and he couldn’t afford to feed the family—there were six boys, and a girl, who died. In 1902 Father left the farm and went to the United States. He went all over—Albany, Pawtucket, all over—working on the railroad. He came to the U.S. three times. After two years he returned to Italy for four or five months, then came back to America. Finally he made enough money to bring the family over. The first time he had my eldest brother with him, seventeen years old. The third time he brought the rest of us. We landed in East Boston in 1913 and came straight to Needham.

The population in Needham was then about seven thousand; now it’s five times that size. We all stayed in the same neighborhood and raised families. I’ve been here for seventy-five years. We chose Needham because my oldest brother was living here; he worked in the plastering business. There were only a few Italian families here when we arrived. I went to school for eight months in 1913-1914, and the kids teased us and called us “guinea wops.” But the Italian population kept growing and all that changed. In Italy I had gone to school up to fourth grade and could read and write. Here I had to quit school to go to work. My brothers were all plasterers, but not me. In Italy I had been a carpenter and cabinetmaker since I was twelve years old, so I continued the carpentry work here.

In Needham there were a number of people who were associated with Cronaca Sovversiva—Augusto Rossi, Giobbe Sanchini, and others. I used to listen to them talk and found it interesting. I liked the way they were talking and I liked the way they were acting. I liked the Idea. I began to read Cronaca

-■ Sovversiva, but was too young to understand it, being seventeen or eighteen at the time. I used to go to hear Luigi Galleani speak m Boston and other towns; we all did. He was a real professor, a good speaker; he was the best! The comrades, myself among them, built a little stone house on his farm in Wrentham for him to use as a study.

I met Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] in 1918 or 1919, before he was deported to Italy. He was a great friend of the Rossis and came to their house in Newton. He was deported in 1919, along with Galleani and the Sanchinis (who were then living in Needham), because they were making propaganda, because they were anarchists. Some had gone to Mexico in 1917, like the Sanchioni brothers. Renato married a Mexican girl and brought her here; they lived in Lynn. Adelfo owned a small shoe factory in Nashua, New Hampshire, but lived in Needham. I built two houses for him, one here and one on the Cape.

Some of the fellows broke into freight cars and took shoes and clothing. Mario Buda took the stuff and disposed of it, peddling it as a sideline. Buda lived in Wellesley; they called him Nasone, big nose. He had shoes in his car before Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested. But he had nothing to do with any holdups. Neither did Sacco or Vanzetti, or Riccardo Orciani. Orciani, who lived in Needham and worked in a foundry, came from the same village near Fano as I did. His family had horses and went up the mountain to pick up charcoal. He went back there after the trial. I think Moore told him to go home. He was accused of being an accomplice, but I never heard anything like that. All the comrades felt that they were innocent. Anybody who knew them knew they had nothing to do with it. I went to the trial in Dedham every Saturday, and I also visited Vanzetti in prison. He was a good person.

Augusto Rossi took his family back to Italy in 1919. During 1919 and 1920 there were disturbances in Italy and many thought the workers were taking over. But *-hat didn’t happen, and some, including Rossi, came back here, in 1921 or 1922, I think. He still had land in Newton, and in 1923 he said to me why don’t we build houses on it. So we did—and we d’d pretty well until the Depression, when it all went sour. By then Gus had died; he died young, in 1926. He was a hne man, a contractor, very intelligent. I worked for him and built a house for him in Needham.

In 1925 the Gruppo Liberia di Needham was founded, and we built a clubhouse on Sachem Street. It had about thirty members then, and I am the only one left. Comrades came to Needham from Chicago, Detroit, Pennsylvania to find jobs, and Rossi gave them work. John Scussel was one of them. He lived in Detroit before he came to Needham, a bricklayer by trade. He died of tuberculosis a long time ago. He and Luigi Bacchetti came here from Detroit around 1925 and went to work for Rossi. They helped build our clubhouse too. Comrades from all over came to the club—Moro [q.v.] from Haverhill, Falsini from East Boston—for the meetings, plays, and picnics.

Dominick Scarinci was a cement worker. He worked for me and for Rossi. He was a nice, intelligent boy, very quiet and studious. He read French. He spent all his spare time in the library, although he was just a laborer. Bruno liked him, and whenever he needed facts and dates he asked him. Cesarini was a house painter who lived in Winthrop, next to East Boston. Gambera was a windbag, who liked to talk. Ella Antolini lived with Vincenzo Venchierutti here in Needham. Emilio Coda lived here too. He may have been involved in the Thayer bombing.268 He was the one who got Bruno back here from Europe. I gave him fifty dollars to help arrange it. He died here in the 1950s [1946]—hit by a car.

Louis Tarabelli

Needham, Massachusetts, March 11, 1988

Louis Tarabelli, a building contractor in Needham, Massachusetts, is the son of Fernando Tarabelli, an Italian-born carpenter, disciple of Luigi Galleani, and comrade of Sacco and Vanzetti.

My father, Fernando Tarabelli, was the finest man I ever knew in my life. He was born around 1885 in lesi, in the Marche, and came to Boston in 1905 to find work. He and my mother and older brother lived on North Street in the North End. He was a carpenter by trade, a very good carpenter, and in Italy had made caskets. Here he went to work in a shoe factory in Lynn but got into trouble during a strike when he broke a scab’s hand with a hammer, and the police told him to get out of town. He moved to Old Mystic and worked as a boat builder.

Father was a born craftsman and a born rebel, a great admirer of Luigi Galleani. He said that Galleani spoke so well that the ordinary guy in the street didn’t understand him. Galleani’s daughter Ilya, a doctor, brought me into the world. Father lived with Galleani in Wrentham for six months and helped build the stone house that Galleani used as his library. For a time Father also lived in Quincy, where Ferruccio Coacci,269 a fellow Marchigiano, once stayed with him. Father hid him for two or three months in the attic.

Father also lived in Somerville and was part of a group of militants there that included Nicola Recchi. Father thought Recchi was a great man. He was later tortured horribly in Argentina—I heard that a pair of pliers was used on his balls. We used to raise money for him at picnics, and I would send it to him in Buenos Aires. He wrote me some letters to thank me and sent me his picture, sitting in the sun in front of his house, his left hand covered with a handkerchief. I gave it to Bob D’Attilio. It was in Somerville, I think, that Recchi lost his hand while making bombs—or in the Boston area at any rate.

Father was close-mouthed and didn’t say much about his activities^ ibut Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] once told me that he once beat up a cop during a - disturbance in Boston. At a picnic Ralph Piesco [q.v.] told me that Sacco could have been involved in the South Braintree holdup but not Vanzetti. Father said it was not true. Some anarchists, though, robbed freight cars in Framingham and other towns. I knew the guys who did it. They’re all dead now.

The biggest groups at that time were in East Boston and Needham, though there were smaller but active groups in Milford, Roxbury, Lynn, and other towns. The Needham group had about thirty or forty members. During the Dedham trial, the comrades made soup and pasta for Sacco and Vanzetti and delivered it to the jail every Sunday.

Some of the Needham anarchists had previously lived in Boston and other towns. Luigi Falsini came from East Boston. He was a little fellow, very small, a marble setter from Carrara. His son had a grocery store in East Boston. Ella Antolini moved here from Boston in the early 1940s. She was a beautiful woman and a real fighter. She later moved to Florida, where she died. John Scussel also lived here, in the house next door to Ella’s. He died about forty years ago. Emilio Coda lived here too, until he was run over by a car and killed. He had a fiery temper, a very bad temper. He once drew a pistol on my father, and my mother had to calm him down. Coda also had dynamite. When Nalo bought his house he found dynamite hidden under the stoop. Another of the old militants who lived here was Dominick Ricci. He tied a weight around his neck and jumped into the river. That was around 1960.

Ernesto Bonomini once stayed in our house in Needham. He had been an expert tailor. He later learned upholstery in California and worked for Twentieth Century Fox. When I asked him about his killing Bonservizi, he said, “That pleasure had to be mine.”270 The clubhouse on Sachem Street is still intact but hasn’t been used by the anarchists for some time. The club on Maverick Square in East Boston was torn down during the 1950s, and the few remaining comrades met in a small place across the street until the early sixties. Rosina Sacco came to my father’s and brother’s wakes in the mid-1960s, around 1966 or 1967, but I haven’t seen her since.

Charles Poggi

Flushing, New York, September 30, 1987

Born in Boston in 1912, Charles Poggi returned to Italy with his parents and grew up in the Romagna town of Savignano, where he came to know Mario Buda. Buda, a disciple of Luigi Galleani and comrade of Sacco and Vanzetti, told Poggi many interesting things about the Italian anarchist movement in America, particularly as it relates to the Sacco-Vanzetti case. Poggi, who returned to the United States in 1930 and became a waiter in some of New York’s most elegant restaurants, visited Buda in Savignano during the 1950s and corresponded with him until his death in 1963.271

My parents came from Fiumicino, a town in the Romagna region of Italy. My father, Giovanni Poggi, was born in 1884 and came to America in 1905. He worked in a coal yard in Roxbury, a section of Boston, where I was born on November 4, 1912. I attended elementary school in West Groton.

My parents decided to return to Italy in 1920, when I was eight years old. In 1921 we moved from Fiumicino to the nearby town of Savignano, on the Rubicon River, where my father and his brother opened a little cafe. Mario Buda, who had known my father in Roxbury, frequented the cafe. He was a short man with a little mustache, nicely trimmed, and wore an anarchist tie. I got to know him well—in fact, he introduced me to anarchism. He would recite the poems of Pietro Gori and tell me about anarchist ideas. I found it all fascinating. He and Father hid the anarchist literature when fascist raids were expected.

Buda didn’t have a job, but he must have had some money, as he came to the cafe every day. According to some rumors, Buda was a spy for Mussolini and went to France and reported on the Italian anarchists there. My father too once told me, “They say he was a spy.” Maybe this was later, after his release from prison. He was arrested in 1927. I saw him in handcuffs at the railroad station, a carabiniere on either side, half a Toscano (cigar) in his mouth, calm, cool, and collected. He came back to Savignano in 1932, but by then I had gone to America. In later years I worked as a waiter for several New York restaurants and was a captain at Toots Shor’s for twenty years.

I left Italy in 1930, when I was eighteen years old, and returned to Roxbury where I was born. There were still quite a few old comrades in the area (about ten or so in Roxbury itself) who had been close to Sacco and Vanzetti. The rumor among them was that Sacco was involved in the South Braintree holdup but not Vanzetti. I can see him in that role, Buda and Vanzetti as well, all of them sons of Galleani. Buda’s younger brother Carlo, who was not a radical, once said to me, “You heard Galleani speak and you were ready to shoot the first policeman you saw.”

  • When I visited Savignano in 1955,1 talked to Buda about the movement. He

was happy to see me and asked about his old friends. He said, “Come see me and have a glass of wine.” We sat down in his house on the Via Castelvecchio. He told me how he escaped from Massachusetts to Italy in 1920. He was having breakfast when he saw Chief Stewart272 coming towards the house. He skiddooed out the back door. Before going to see someone in Chicago, he left seven hundred dollars with his brother. When he returned to Boston, his brother, in tears, told him that the bank had failed and the money was lost. Buda went to Providence with what little he had, got a visa, and sailed back to - Italy. He never saw his brother or heard from him again: all relations between them were broken.

Buda also told me that Sacco took part in the Braintree hold-up. “Sacco was there” (Sacco c’erd), he said. I remember it distinctly. I felt sure that he was telling the truth. I didn’t ask him who else was involved, but he didn’t mention Vanzetti, and I assumed that he was not. I had a strong feeling that Buda himself was one of the robbers, though I didn’t ask him and he didn’t say. He did say, though, “Money we used to go and get where it was (andavamo a prenderli dove c’eranoV’—meaning factories and banks.

I once told Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] what Buda said to me—‘Sacco c’era’ and the rest. It was during the early eighties. I saw Bruno often in those days. I was visiting his house in Brooklyn. We were in the attic on the third floor, where Bruno was showing me his books. He had a complete set of Cronaca Sovversiva, bound and in good condition, and he showed me his first article, published in 1915. It was then that I told him what Buda said. Bruno did not reply. He looked past me out the window. Then he said, “Andiamo di sotto” (Let’s go downstairs).

Buda was a real militant, capable of anything. In 1933 I drove to New York with Buda’s nephew, Frank Maffi. We stayed with friends on Sixty-Second Street. Frank said. “Let’s drive downtown and see my uncle’s bomb,” and he took me to Wall Street, where the big explosion took place in September 192 0,273 just before Buda sailed for Italy. You could still see the holes in the Morgan building across the street. I didn’t ask Buda about this during our 1955 encounter.

In 1931 I attended a Sacco-Vanzetti memorial meeting in Boston’s Old South Church. Felix Frankfurter was there, seated directly in front of me. William G. Thompson spoke, followed by Arturo Giovannitti. Thompson said, “I will die happy if I know that Sacco and Vanzetti held me in the same high esteem that I held them,” or words to that effect.

Andrea Ciofalo274 and Buda were buddies. Mario always sent regards to him from Italy. Ciofalo was still collecting money at meetings in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 1960s. I knew Aldino Felicani well. He had nerves of steel. He never got excited. He was, in his quiet way, a man of action. Yes, he may have been involved with bombs. Amleto Fabbri was a fellow Romagnolo; he came from Santarcangelo, about three miles from Savignano. In the U.S. he lived in Revere, Massachusetts. He was a shoemaker by trade and an anarchist of the old school. Everybody loved him.

Febo Pomilia

Miami, Florida, December 8, 1988

Febo Pomilia is the son of Gabriella (Ella) Antolini, a member of the I Liberi Group in New Britain, Connecticut, at the time of the First World War. At the age of eighteen, in January 1918, Ella was arrested while transporting dynamite to Chicago and spent a year and a half in prison at Jefferson City, Missouri, where Emma Goldman was her fellow inmate. After her release, Ella returned to New England and worked as a seamstress. She remained a devoted anarchist until her death in Miami in January 1984. Febo died of cancer in 1993. •

My mother, Ella Antolini Pomilia, was born into a peasant family in Ferrara province in 1899. Her father, Santo Antolini, was a wheelwright. The family came to the United States when Mother was about ten years old. An employment agent had gone to their town and talked them and other families into coming to America to work as contract laborers in Louisiana. They lived in a shack and life was very hard. Grandfather worked as a wheelwright for a lumber company; the rest, including Mother, worked in the fields, picking cotton and harvesting sugar cane. They replaced the black slaves who had left after the Civil War. They got along well with the Negro population in Louisiana. They too were in effect indentured laborers, tied to a system of peonage. They were paid very little monetary compensation, but they had a little garden in which they grew their own vegetables. They went to the company store for flour and sugar, but just about everything else they grew in their garden, and two of my uncles (Mother’s brothers Luigi and Alberto) went hunting for game. Grandfather and my uncles were all anarchists; it was an anarchist family.

At some point the family went back to Italy, but returned to Louisiana in less than a year. Luigi and Alberto soon went north and got jobs in a factory in New Britain, Connecticut, becoming wage slaves instead of indentured slaves. A third brother, Renato, became a farmer in Vineland, New Jersey. He got sick—with leukemia, I think—and his wife, an Italian peasant, ran the farm.

When Luigi and Alberto got settled up north, they wrote to Grandfather and said that we’ve got to get you out of there; soon afterwards they went down to Louisiana and helped them run away from their employer, the Maxwells of Maxwell House Coffee. They all hopped on a train and rode north in a cattle car, making their way to New Britain.

Mother was about thirteen when she arrived in New Britain. Grandfather worked, and his sons worked as bricklayers. Grandfather was a strong character. No, I didn’t know that Mother had married there at sixteen or why she became an anarchist, except that it was in the family. I know that she was sent to Jefferson City penitentiary in 1918 for carrying dynamite, but I don’t know the details.

After prison Mother lived in Detroit, where she met my father, Jerome Pomilia, born in Trapani, Sicily, where he was apprenticed to a fine-man’s tailor. He emigrated to New York and moved to Detroit, where he met Mother in 1920 or 1921. I was born there on February 2, 1922. She knew Agnes Inglis in Detroit, as well as John Scussel.

From Detroit we moved in 1927 to New Britain, then to Hartford and to - Boston, where Mother worked as a seamstress and fitter, while Grandma (in New Britain) took care of me. Father opened a tailor shop in Boston. I lived with the Grassos, anarchists in Hartford, tor six months so I could finish high school. Mr. Grasso [Girolamo Grasso] was a wonderful person. He once ran over a dog with his car and vowed never to drive again-—a vow he kept. Mother and Father divorced in the late thirties or early forties, and Mother soon moved to Needham.

Mother loved to read and to visit art museums in Boston. She was hungry for culture. Scussel lived in a house next to Mother’s, and Emilio Coda lived in a shack in back of Scussel’s property. Mother delivered the eulogy at Coda’s funeral in the 1940s. Scussel died of tuberculosis soon after.

We went to see Mrs. Galleani in Needham. We heard that Galleani snuck back into the country one time during the late 1920s to see his family. (We were living in Hartford when we went to see Mrs. Galleani.) No one ever said that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty of the holdup, certainly not Mother. While living in Needham, Mother worked as a fitter in Boston. She moved to Florida with Vincenzo Venchierutti in the 1950s. She worked as a fitter for Judi Leslie, a dress shop at Bal Harbour, and also did work on the side. She was an excellent seamstress.

In 1982 Mother suffered a stroke, which left her partly paralyzed. But she still got around and was active till she came down with cancer a year later. Twice a week she drove to the library, and she attended the anarchist picnics at Crandon Park. She died of cancer in Hialeah Hospital in January 1984. She was cremated and I took my boat and scattered her ashes in a canal in Everglades Park. My sister Linda (there were no other siblings) was an alcoholic, a troubled person, who committed suicide three years ago [she had stabbed a man to death before that].

Florence Rossi

Needham, Massachusetts, February 14, 1988

Florence (“Fiorina”) Rossi is the daughter of Augusto Rossi, a building contractor in Massachusetts and comrade of Sacco and Vanzetti. For nearly sixty years she was the companion of Raffaele Schiavina (known as “Bruno” and “Max Sartin”), editor of LAdunata dei Refrattari, the principal Italian anarchist paper in the United States from the 1920s through the 1960s.

I WAS born in Pesaro, in the Marche, in 1906, and came with my parents to America when I was two months old. There were nine more children, all born in the United States. My father, Augusto Rossi, was a builder, and we lived in Newton, on Adams Street. We moved to Needham in 1919, then followed Galleani back to Italy to help the cause. When Mussolini came to power we returned to the U.S. and lived again in Needham, where Father resumed his work as a builder. He died in 1926 at the age of forty-six.

Ella Antolini was a beautiful lady, slender and intelligent. All the young fellows were crazy about her. I think her husband was a Sicilian. She came to Needham from Boston around 1940. I also knew Carlo Valdinoci. I was in love with him when I was twelve years old. He lived in our house in Newton in 1918 or 1919. He was a handsome fellow with dark hair. We had three vacant rooms in front, and he and his brother and sister came to live there.

Luigi Galleani was sober all the time. He talked to me and was nice. He had met his wife Maria on Pantelleria, when he was a prisoner there. She already had a son, Salvatore, and they had four more children together.

Dominick Ricci was a carpenter and lived in Bridgewater with Giovanni Fruzzetti before Fruzzetti was deported. Then he came to Needham. He never lived with us, as far as I can recall. He went to Italy, got married, and came back to Needham.

Yes, of course I knew Gemma Mello, but that wasn’t her real name. Her companion in Brooklyn was Frank Di Pietro. Before that she may have been a silk worker in Paterson.

Amleto Fabbri lived with us for a while, beloved by all the comrades.

I first met Bruno in 1917 when I was ten years old. He was the administrator of Cronaca Sovversiva. One day he brought the subscription list to our house on Adams Street to hide. After that he came every Saturday and made up the lists for distributing the paper. I don’t know what became of it. One day two government agents came to the house and asked Father if he knew Raffaele Schiavina. Bruno was right there on the front lawn. Father said, “No, I don’t know anybody by fhat name.”

Bruno loved the opera, and he acted in plays (including Senza Patria by Pietro Gori), though he was not a great actor. We got together in 1931, after he returned to America from Europe. Clemente Duval275 lived with us for a while before his death. He had been living with a shoemaker in Brooklyn named Olivieri, but his house was next to the subway and Nonno—that’s what we called Duval—couldn t sleep. So we moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey, and he moved in with us. He was small, old, and disfigured from arthritis. But he exercised every morning, and a French comrade. Dr. Guilhempe, used to come to examine him. The neighbors thought he was Bruno’s father. He lived with us for a few months. He felt he was going to die and didn’t want to cause " us any trouble, so he returned to Olivieri, where he died two days later.

After Father and our family returned from Italy, in 1922 I think it was, we visited Sacco and Vanzetti in prison a number of times. Once, when we visited Sacco in Dedham jail, the radio was playing a song, “Memories, memories, days of long ago,” and the tears flowed down Sacco’s cheeks. He was a very sentimental man. For his ideal he was tough, but he was a gentle soul.

Galileo Tobia

New York City, March 9, 1989

Born in New York’s Little Italy section, Galileo Tobia grew up in the same Sicilian town as Valerio Isca (q.v.) and Dominick Sallitto (q.v). In 1926 he returned to the United States and joined the anarchist movement. A tile setter by trade, he was a close friend of Raffaele Schiavina, editor of EAdunata dei Refrattari. He died in Rensselaer, New York, in 1993.

I was BORN in 1909 in Manhattan, on Prince Street in Little Italy. My father was an anarchist of the Galleani type, a member of the Bresci Group in East Harlem. He came from Calatafimi in Sicily, the same town where Valerio Isca [q.v.] and Domenico Sallitto [q.v.] were born. In 1913, when I was three, we returned to Calatafimi. I came back to the United States in 1926, a year before Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. Everyone was talking about the case. I never heard any comrade say that they were guilty. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind about their innocence. That Gambera story cannot be believed. Yes, Gambera was on the Defense Committee, but only for a few days. Besides, the storv comes from his son and is third-hand.276

Galleani was a great writer and speaker. He was a master of anarchism. He really put anarchism on the map. Salsedo was so badly beaten that they threw him out of the window to cover up their brutality. Andrea Ciofalo I knew very well. I lived in the Bronx after returning to the U.S., and then in Brooklyn. I knew all the comrades. Ciofalo was arrested in the Bronx in 1919, but he jumped into a construction pit and got away. He went to Italy, expecting the revolution to break out, but came back illegally in 1921,1 think, and worked in his brother Ottavio’s tile shop. Ottavio did beautiful mosaic work. (I too am a lifelong tile setter.) Federal agents arrested a cousin of Ciofalo’s who had the same name, Andrea Ciofalo, but when they found out they had made a mistake they gave up the search.

Ella Antolini married a Sicilian in Detroit. They came to Connecticut. I met her in Hartford in 1927. She had two children. I also knew Emilio Coda. They say that he did some of the work that other people got credit for, such as shooting a fascist in New York. John Scussel lived in Needham, a tall man, very sincere in his belief in his ideas. Gemma Mello died in Harlem in the 1950s. Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] was stern in his ideas. We used to argue quite a bit, but we never held a grudge. We once traveled across the country to California together.

Elide Sanchini

Manchester, Connecticut, March 12, 1988

Elide Sanchini, a factory worker in New Britain, Connecticut, is the daughter of Giobbe and Irma Sanchini, deported with their mentor Luigi Galleani during the Red Scare of 1919. The Sanchinis had been active in the Italian anarchist movement in New England and were comrades of Sacco and Vanzetti.

My father, Giobbe Sanchini, was born on October 8, 1887, in Pesaro province in the Marche. He went to Switzerland as a boy to find work. He returned to Italy and served in the army for one and a half years. Then he emigrated to America. That was around 1910. He stayed in New York for a while, then moved to New Britain, Connecticut, where he worked as a bricklayer. It was there that he met my mother, Irma Cassolino, who had been born in Tonco in Piemonte (Cuneo province, I think) on December 18, 1893. They were married in New Britain on December 27, 1913.

Father had anarchist sympathies already in Italy and Switzerland, and he became a follower of Galleani in America. He told me that Galleani was a great speaker, “molto impressive, molto forte.” Mother followed Father’s political ideas, becoming a staunch anarchist. There was a group of Galleanisti in New Britain, including their close friend Ella Antolini. They all took part in the meetings, the lectures, and the filodrammatica both in Connecticut and Massachusetts. When Ella was arrested in 1918, Father wrote a poem to her and sent it to her in prison. I met Ella in Needham during the 1960s. She was a very lovely girl and was a militant anarchist when young, a propagandist. Was she involved with dvnamite? Possibly. The anarchists were brutally treated in those days, and dynamite had its uses. It depended on where you put it. They had good reason to use it. Violence is a bad thing, but sometimes it is necessary— against fascism, for example.

Father did not go to Mexico in 1917. Sacco and Vanzetti went—Father knew them both; they were friends and believed in the same things. And the Sanchioni brothers went, Adelfo and Renato. Renato married a Mexican girl there and brought her back to Massachusetts.

My parents moved to Needham before their arrest in 1919. They had two daughters, and one on the way, when they were deported with Galleani. The ship landed in Genoa. From there they went to Naples, where Father was arrested, but he was released because Mother was about to have a baby. They -- returned to Father’s native town near Pesaro. I was born there in 1925. Mother died in childbirth, so I never knew her. Father then started a pasta factory near Fano. On April 1, 1933, he married a woman from an anarchist family whose father named her sister Anarchia, though they stopped calling her that after Mussolini came to power.

During the years before Mussolini, Father continued his anarchist propaganda and helped to organize meetings. Schiavina came to speak in those days, before he fled to Paris. Father remained in Italy and became a public works supervisor. But he always believed in anarchism. He loved the Idea. He died on December 24, 1951. I came to America in 1961 to live with my brother and sister I worked as a sewing-machine operator here in Manchester, and I now work in New Britain, where I commute every morning by bus, two hours each way I will stop next year and then return to Italy.

Nicola Recchi used to visit us at our home in Italy. That was after the Second World War. He had suffered very much and had been tortured in Argentina. He talked about the old days in America, about bombs. His left hand was missing. I have some letters from him and a picture that he sent me from Buenos Aires. The picture is inscribed to me “with great memories and affection,” and the last letter, dated October 13, 1971, ends: “Sixty-two years ago on October 13 Francisco Ferrer was shot by reactionaries in Barcelona.”

Oreste Fabrizi

Watertown, Massachusetts, January 2, 1988

Oreste Fabrizi, a small, neat man of ninety-one, with grey hair and glasses, had been a socialist in Italy but converted to anarchism in the United States after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. He became an associate of Aldino Felicani, founder of the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, and contributed to Felicani’s journal Controcorrente.

I WAS BORN on March 1, 1897, in San Donato, province of Caserta. Luigi Quin- tiliano277 was my cousin. I have written my memoirs and have a scrapbook on the Sacco-Vanzetti case, as well as some printed material. I left Italy for America in 1923, after Mussolini came to power. I was a member of the socialist party and vice-mayor of my town, which had a socialist mayor and administration. I landed in Quincy on July 15, 1923, and stayed with relatives for three and a half years. I worked as a stonecutter and then as a plasterer. I still work at my old trade by designing tombstones, but my eyes are failing and Fm hard of hearing. I had left my wife and two children in Italy and returned there in December 1926. But I was warned by friends that I would be arrested on charges of plotting against the life of Mussolini, so I returned to the United States. That was in October 1927, just after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. I lived with my unmarried sister in Watertown and worked as a plasterer. In 1932 I broke my arm while on the job and was permanently disabled. I opened a bar and restaurant in Watertown in 1935 and brought my family over from Italy. I ran the restaurant for twenty-three years.

My politics changed during my years in America. I met anarchists and syndicalists as well as socialists and became associated with II Proletario, a syndicalist paper in New York I was a member of the executive board and wrote a column, “Con la Lenza.” We also had an II Proletario in Somerville for two years; then it went back to New York and soon ceased publication. In Somerville we had a Filodrammatica di Circolo di Cultura Operaia, in the Casa del Popolo at 26 Mansfield Street. Fiorina Rossi [q.v.] acted in the group. And we had lectures and picnics for la stampa nostra.

I met Aldino Felicani at the end of 1927, after my return from Italy. A friend took me to his printing shop on Portland Street in Boston and introduced me to him. We became very close friends. I helped him get out Controcorrente and wrote a column for it, “A Piombo.” Felicani was not dogmatic. He talked to everybody, listened to everybody, learned from everybody. He was not like the anarchists from LAdunata. They were too rigid, too inflexible. We had nothing against them personally, but every time we got together there was an argument. We had different conceptions of socialism. The worst of the lot was Giovanni Gambera. He was absolutely insufferable [insupportabile]. He agreed with no one and argued with everybody. He believed that only he knew what was right. He was very contentious and was always arguing with Felicani.

I personally never met Sacco or Vanzetti. But Felicani was their best supporter. He was a 100 percent Sacco-Vanzetti man. And he loved Controcorrente. He worked very hard on it. He wanted to be in touch with people, all kinds of people. Towards the end of his life I begged him to stop Controcorrente. He was tired and didn’t look well. He said, “As long as I have a pencil in my hand and ink in the machine we’ll keep it going. It’s our mission.” He died in 1967; I delivered a eulogy at his funeral.

Alberico Pirani

New York City, March 20, 1975

Alberico Pirani, who emigrated from Italy in 1907, was active in the anarchist movement in Chicago. In 1917, like Sacco and Vanzetti, he went to Mexico to avoid registering for the draft. From Mexico he went to Venezuela, where he met his wife Maxima in Caracas. She returned with him to the United States, where he found work as a hatmaker in New York A warm, emotional man, with white hair and florid complexion, Pirani was easily stirred tn wrath against oppression and exploitation. He was also possessed of an insatiable thirst for knowledge An avid reader of anarchist literature, he never missed a lecture or luncheon at which books or ideas were discussed. At the 1977 banquet of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution, he was interviewed by Israel Shenker, a reporter for the New York Times. “I’m international,” Pirani said. “I ain’t got no country. When you mention country and religion, wash your mouth. That’s the way you kill millions of people, for God and country and flag. Look at America—seventy-three Gods, two hundred twenty-six religions.”278 Pirani died in Brooklyn, New York, on January 23, 1985. His wife Maxima died in 1993 at the age of 104.

I was bort; in the village of Ostra, near Ancona, on August 24,1888. August 24 is the worst day in history. Mount Vesuvius exploded on that day in A.D. 79, and that was the day of St. Bartholomew’s Massacre in 1572, when twenty thousand Huguenots were killed. My father was five years old when his father died. The family had nothing to eat, so his mother sent him to a farm where he worked to help support them. When he was fifteen he walked all the way to Rome, carrying wine to earn some money. Then he had a little farm near Ancona and raised a family. My parents came to America in 1912 but went back to Italy in 1920.

I Degan to work in a saloon in Ancona when I was ten, in 1898. That year I took part in protest marches against government tyranny, the fatti di maggio, for which Bresci returned from America to kill the king.279 I had no laces on my shoes so I could slip them off quickly if I had to run from the police. A king— horrible! When Bresci killed Umberto we had a breath of freedom. I knew Bresci’s wife—she was Irish—and two daughters in Chicago from about 1909 to 1912. One of the daughters married an Italian comrade. The Italian anarchists sent both girls to college, and then they went to California.

I emigrated from Italy when I was eighteen, in 1907, and came to Chicago, where my brother was living. I was already a socialist through my brother-inlaw, who organized farm workers in Italy. Chicago! That was the day! Now look at the world! I helped organize strikes, took part in demonstrations, distributed literature, resisted the war, and became an anarchist. We had a group of thirteen IWWs that met every Sunday in Chicago Heights. Some of them were steel workers, and I delivered radical papers to every nationality.

There was also a larger Italian group of seventy-two comrades, and I am the only survivor. Olivieri, a steel worker from Gary, died in January of this year; he had put up a thousand dollars to translate Kropotkin’s Ethics into Italian. What wonderful men: Raffaele Bello, Umberto Postiglione (he published EAl- larme); what marvelous comrades they were!

Though we believed in organizing the workers, we also loved Galleani and read his paper religiously. Postiglione edited it for a while, I think. We collected money for it and for his speaking tours. He came to Chicago in 1912 or 1913, one of the best speakers I ever heard. He took a revolver from his pocket and showed it to me. He always carried it with him. “If the police try to corner me, they will have to watch out,” he said. They were really true people, true men! Malatesta may have been more popular than Galleani, and his language more easy to understand, but Galleani was deeper, a philosopher. A lot of people didn’t understand Galleani, but they loved him anyway. Galleani was the top anarchist. Malatesta was closer to the people, spoke their language, took part in their strikes and demonstrations.

In those Chicago days I would put aside five or six dollars every week from my twelve or thirteen dollars’ pay for the propaganda. My father was a liberal and freethinker, and after he came to America the comrades often came to our house. I would go to the railroad to take coal for the furnace. But I never sell myself! One time I met Voltairine de Cleyre on the street when she was on her way to give a lecture. I heard Emma Goldman several times. I once joked to her, saying, “You are not a real anarchist,” and she said, “Pirani, don’t say that!”

Around 1915 or 1916 an anarchist named Crones poisoned the Chicago bankers.280 He put poison in their soup—turtle soup it was—at a banquet for 260 people. He used to come to our meetings, a short fellow, and once he got up and said, “What kind of anarchists are you? Why don’t you do something?” Then he poisoned the soup. And they never caught him. He once called the police and said “I’m here.” But he wasn’t. Ten thousand policemen were after him. He hid out with the anarchists in Massachusetts [actually in Middletown, Connecticut] and died there many years later. It was after the Crones affair that the Bresci daughters went to Seattle and then California. One of them is still there, in Los Angeles I think, but she’s been out of contact with the comrades for many years.

I was young then; I had guts. I wasn’t afraid of anything. We went to Gary and plastered the walls with posters against the war. We circulated petitions for Mooney and Billings. We resisted conscription. The Chicago Coliseum was filled with antiwar protestors. To escape the draft I fled to Laredo, Texas, where a Mexican Indian comrade, Miguel Calvo, helped me across the border. I went to Monterrey. There were eighteen comrades in our group there, including Sacco. He was very serious, had a very deep mind. He didn’t talk much. From there I went to Mexico City and got a job with an oil company.

I came to New York in 1919 and got a job as a machine-operator making ladies’ hats, my trade until I retired. I worked for one place on Thirty-Seventh Street for eleven years. My wife, Maxima, also operated a sewing machine, and we have one in our house. We’d be lost without it. I met my wife in Venezuela, where I went after Mexico. We have no children. We had a baby son, but he died of pneumonia in 1922, when he was eighteen months old.

I reentered the United States on a false Venezuelan passport. Brand [q.v.] and Borghi281 both used it later to get into the country. My wife speaks Italian as well as her Spanish, and I speak Spanish, Slovenian, and some French, in addition to Italian and English. I also learned a little Esperanto after the war. AVe had a club on Twenty-Third Street. In 1919 and 1920 we used to go down to Stelton every weekend to help build the school. At the club we put on dramas and had lectures in Spanish as well as Italian. I wrote hundreds of poems and still have many of them at home in our Brooklyn apartment.282 But the movement wasn’t the same as it had been before 1917. The Third International285 spoiled the whole revolutionary movement. We organized protests for Francesco Ghezzi284 and other Italian comrades imprisoned in Russia.

Ludovico Caminita285 was a short man with a big mouth, a politician. I didn’t trust him. Pedro Esteve286 was an outstanding comrade. In Tampa he was a reader in a cigar factory. He spoke good Italian, and every Sunday we got together at his house in Weehawken, New Jersey. He came to Stelton many times and spoke in Spanish and Italian. In 1925 he spoke for the first time in English. A week later he died. Carlo Tresca was a friend to everybody, he talked to everybody, and was not a bad fellow, but he was not in the same class as Galleani or Malatesta. Borghi lived with me in Brooklyn before the Cooper Union business and wrote his book on Mussolini in our apartment.287 Boy, we used to argue! He always wanted to be right 100 percent.

After the Second World War I went back to Mexico City and visited the comrades there: Proudhon Carbo, Mollie Steimer, Senya Fleshin. I saw Simon Radowitzky288 in Cuernavaca and embraced him warmly. We had protested here for his release from prison.

Anarchism is a part of me. You take away my anarchist idea and you take away my life! Oh, yes, I still feel that way. As much as ever! I hate the state! I hate religion! I want to be cremated when I die. Meanwhile I go to lectures and send money to the anarchist papers. Here is twenty-five dollars for Freedom.

Valerio Isca

New York, November 25, 1972; Miami Beach, Florida, March 16, 1988

From the 1920s on, Valerio Isca, a machinist by trade, was active in both the Italian and English-speaking anarchist movements in New York. He also had a house in the Mohegan Colony with his wife and fellow-anarchist Ida Pilat, a professional translator, who died in 1980.289 For more than three decades Valerio and Ida were devoted members of the Libertarian Book Club, founded in 1945 (see Part Six). Valerio’s chief ideological mentors were Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, and Rudolf Rocker, whom he knew at Mohegan and came to venerate. (Valerio wrote a preface to the Italian edition of Rocker’s Nationalism and Culture, published in 1960.) Valerio is also a great admirer of Henry David Thoreau, whose portrait hung on the wall of his Mohegan cottage, with an open copy of Walden on the desk beneath.

My father was Giuseppe Isca (1857-1911), born in Monte Erice, an old Greek town in Sicily situated on a mountain and so isolated and easily defensible that it was never conquered. My father was a forester, employed by the Italian government. He moved to the town of Calatafimi, in Trapani province, about forty miles from the city of Palermo, in connection with his work and had a couple of men under his supervision. It was there that I was born, on December 22, 1900. My father, a conservative, named me Valerio Umberto Isca, after King Umberto, whom Bresci had assassinated earlier that year, but I got rid of that middle name soon enough!

My mother, Elvira Bandiera, came from Naples. Her father (1820-1905) was from a town near Venice, then under Austrian jurisdiction. To avoid military service, he went to Siena, in Tuscany. He had been a gunsmith in Venice but now worked as a mechanic in a silk factory. In Siena he met a beautiful girl named Rosa Di Bartolo. They had nine children, five boys and four girls, two of them born in Siena and the rest in Naples, where he moved and took care of the steam engines in a powerhouse. He got a better job in Trapani, in Sicily, also in charge of a powerhouse, and moved there with his family, though some of the children remained in Naples.

My mother was thirteen when she came to Sicily. After her father retired, he returned to Naples, where he died in 1905. Mother had meanwhile met my father in Trapani. He was a very tall man, 6'6" in height, and blond, not dark like me. I resembled my mother, who was 5'6" tall, with dark hair and complexion. She was a loving and affectionate person. She died in 1946. My parents were married in Trapani, but soon moved to Calatafimi (population twelve thousand) because of Father’s job. All six of their children were born in Calatafimi. One boy died at the age of five. I was the third child. I attended elementary school for five years, from the age of six to eleven. The best time in Calatafimi was during the summer, when we went to the neighboring forest, where father was in charge, and we lived in a house there. There I was free. I was running around the whole forest. I must have known every tree there. That’s when my love of nature and the woods began.

Father died in 1911. I finished the school year, then went to work to help support the family. I was ten and a half years old. I worked in a wheat-processing mill for two years, a hard and brutal job, from six in the morning to late in the evening. I helped start the engine, cleaned up the factory, and did other odd jobs. Then I worked in another mill for four years, from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. That was better—I could see my friends and go to evening school— so my life became easier, though it was still brutal work and we were extremely poor.

War came to Italy in 1915, when I was fourteen years old. Mv uncle in a nearby town needed men for his mill—also a wheat-processing mill—since his workers went into the army. So he came to our house and took me to work in his mill, of which he was a part owner. In 1918 I myself was drafted into the army and served nine months. I was sent to aviation school to learn about motors in airplanes. That’s when I got my first real skills as a mechanic. After I was released from the army I went back home. I no longer had the job with my uncle, who had rehired his old workers and had no place for me. I worked as an assistant in an ornamental iron shop for about nine months; then my uncle took me back in his mill. Incidentally, Domenico Sallitto [q.v.] comes from the same town, Calatafimi, where he managed his father’s coffee shop. He was a socialist then, and I became one too.

In 1922 my older sister Josephine went to America with her child Frank—he now lives in Brooklyn—to join her husband in Jersey City, where he worked for the A&P. I decided to go with her. Jobs were scarce in Sicily, and our family was very poor. On the ship 1 saw a man repairing machinery. I told him he was doing it wrong. He took me to the chief engineer, who asked me to work for him and paid me 150 lire. Mussolini came to power soon after I arrived here. I had intended to return to Italy, but now I decided to stay.

At first I lived in my sister’s home in Jersey City. My brother-in-law had a friend who was a partner in an automobile repair shop. I went to work for him, repairing cars for eighteen dollars a week. After a few months I got a job making sidewalks, pushing a wheelbarrow for thirty dollars a week. But winter came and there was no more work until spring, so I found a job with Union Carbide, manufacturing dry-cell batteries. I operated a lathe at twenty-three dollars a week. I worked there for three years. Then I moved to Brooklyn with my sister’s family (by then she had two sons). I lived with them for seven years—till I got together with Ida—commuting to Union Carbide in Jersey City.

In Brooklyn we lived on Suydam Street and Central Avenue. One day I met on the street the brother of the ironmonger for whom I had worked in Calatafimi. He worked for a hospital equipment company in Brooklyn and got me a job there. So I quit Union Carbide and for the next two years I made stretchers, desks, operating tables—all metal work—for hospitals. The company moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and asked me to come along, but I was going with Ida by then, and she wouldn’t leave New York, so I refused. Instead, I went to work for Studebaker, repairing cars. The factory was at 101 Dean Street in Brooklyn, and I worked there about a year. Then, in July 1929,1 went to work making sterilizers for the Hospital Supply Company in Manhattan, where I remained until 1943.

When I came to America in 1922 I was a socialist sympathizer, though not a member of any party. It was the Sacco-Vanzetti case that drew me to anarchism. The same goes for Ida and many other young radicals of that period. The motivating force was a search for justice for these two innocent men. We were firmly convinced—and remain so today—that it was a frame-up.

In Brooklyn, where I lived with my sister, there was a mutual aid society composed of people from our town in Sicily. I was asked to join. I attended one of its meetings, but it was terrible. They argued among themselves over petty matters. So I refused to join. A neighbor suggested that I go with him to the Circolo Volonta, a storefront club on Central Avenue with about a dozen members. They were an anarchist group, read EAdunata dei Refrattari, and were mostly Sicilians. Education and propaganda was their main concern. Joe Parisi, the organizer, had come from my hometown years before and spoke excellent English. That was in 1923, in the midst of the Sacco-Vanzetti appeals. We collected money to send to Aldino Felicani in Boston for the defense. We held outdoor meetings on street corners to protest against the treatment of the two men. We invited Luigi Quintiliano, a friend of Sacco and Vanzetti, to speak at our club. During this agitation we merged with another Brooklyn group called Germinal, and our membership rose to about twenty- five. There was also a third Italian group, the South Brooklyn Anarchist Group, which joined the campaign for Sacco and Vanzetti. The Bresci Group in East Harlem had dissolved following the Red Scare, before I came to America.

During this time I began to read anarchist literature. Of all the anarchist writers Kropotkin had the greatest influence on me, especially his Conquest of Bread, though I was also deeply moved by the poems and plays of Pietro Gori. I also, of course, read EAdunata, but I have never favored terrorism or individual action, and I have always believed in the necessity of organization, so I never agreed with Luigi Galleani or participated in his groups. I once spoke at a meeting of the Spanish Group in Manhattan, and Frank Mandese290 was there. “Valerio,” he said, “why don’t you preach violence to this group?” Of course, I refused.

But I never took part in Carlo Tresca’s groups either, though I had a certain sympathy for his ideas. I am not an individualist or a syndicalist, but rather an anarchist of the Malatesta type, an anarchist without labels or prefixes. In fact, more than an anarchist I prefer to be called a libertarian. “Anarchist” frightens people, drives them away, destroys our potential following.

During the 1920s and 1930s there were still many Italian anarchists in America. In Barre they were mostly quarry workers, in Lynn they worked in shoe factories, in New York as waiters, barbers, plumbers, garment workers, construction workers. Westfield, New Jersey, had an active Italian group, mostly of the Tresca variety, but only one member is still alive, Charles (Carmelo) Briguglio.

Armando Borghi played only a small role in the American movement. Borghi came to America through Canada in the 1920s, after Mussolini’s rise to power. He went to see Sacco and Vanzetti in prison. The South Brooklyn Group paid his passage, and his companion, Virgilia D’Andrea,291 came later to join him. A comrade from New Jersey went to Paris and married her so she could come as an American citizen.

At first, when he was here legally, Borghi lectured and wrote and built up a following. But the Italian consul in Boston managed to seize his passport, and when his visa expired he was unable to renew it, so he was arrested and taken to Ellis Island for deportation. That was in 1930. His bond of $2,500 was collected by comrades and Borghi jumped bail. He hid out in my apartment Ida and I were living on West Thirteenth Street in Brooklyn (Gravesend Bay), and he stayed with us for a month. Virgilia, who was in California at the time, rushed to our house and stayed for about a week. Then things cooled off. Borghi and Virgilia went to live with John Vattuone [q.v.], also in Brooklyn, before renting an apartment for themselves. It was there that Virgilia died of cancer in 1933, a tragedy for the movement.

After Borghi went underground, his influence began to fade. Though pri- „marily a syndicalist, he also wrote for EAdunata under pseudonyms (Etimo Vero, Girarrosto, etc.). He was deported in 1947 and became editor of Umanitd Nova in Italy. Borghi was an anarchist first and a syndicalist second, while Tresca was a syndicalist first and an anarchist second. But neither Borghi nor Tresca was on the same level as Malatesta or Rudolf Rocker. Borghi was a good speaker and a good actor on the stage, but he did not have their bearing or charm. He was not as great a man as they. But wherever he went he resuscitated activity. He had no respect for books, by the way. If he needed a page, he tore it out and put it in his pocket. He did that even with our books when he lived in our apartment. Virgilia, though, was a marvelous person—so gentle, a fine speaker. Her speeches, which she wrote out and read (she was a former schoolteacher), were masterpieces of eloquence. She went to evening school to learn English. She wrote beautiful poems, every one of them.

The Italian movement in America was always dominated by personalities. Tresca had his groups and L’Adunata had its, and there was no cooperation between them. Borghi remarked of the Galleanists that “the so-called anti- organizationists were the best organized group.” Tresca and Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] never got along. Borghi called Osvaldo Maraviglia, manager of L’Adunata, “un gesuitello, ’ a hypocrite. Both groups denounced fascism, but here I would give more credit to Tresca. As long as he was alive, there was continuous antifascist agitation—on the streets, in the squares, at the meetings—while Bruno could not come out and address meetings, being an illegal resident. On the surface Tresca had the larger following, yet actually there were just as many Galleanists, but they never went out into the streets after the Palmer raids and the dissolution of the Bresci Group. They were less visible than the Tresca group but still quite numerous. Tresca tried to attract radicals from outside the anarchist movement, which Bruno never did.

During the 1930s the government tried to deport Sallitto [q.v.] and Ferrero [q.v.], who had a little restaurant in Oakland, California. After they were arrested, Sallitto, who comes from the same town as I do, wrote to me asking for help. I went to Isaac Shorr, a lawyer and anarchist sympathizer who specialized in deportation cases. He told me that the first thing to be done was to bring the case to New ’York. On the day they were to surrender for deportation, he said, they should do it on Ellis Island instead of in California. He would accompany them and request a bail of a thousand dollars each.

In order to raise the money, I called a meeting of comrades and friends at the Stuyvesant Casino on Second Avenue and Ninth Street. I explained the situation and a collection was made. But all I got was seventeen dollars (it was during the Depression). I emerged from the meeting broken-hearted. I must have looked very dejected, because a block away I met Rose Pesotta292 and she asked me what was the matter. I told her, apd she said, “Come with me.” We crossed the street and went to a candy store that had a telephone booth. She called Philip Kapp, treasurer of the Joint Board of the ILGWU, and told him to send a messenger to Ellis Island the following morning with two thousand dollars for Ferrero and Sallitto’s bail. She hung up and told me to go home and not to worry.

The next day Ferrero and Sallitto were released on bail. Sallitto went to Brooklyn to stay with his aunt, and Ferrero came to live with us. Then we started the agitation, organizing a defense committee. At this point the Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-Born, a Communist outfit, stepped in and offered its services. Sallitto accepted their intervention and their lawyer, a lady named King.

We were getting nowhere until we learned that Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor, was coming to New York to attend a dinner in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mary Simkhovitch as the director of the Village Settlement House. A small group, including myself and Bill Taback,293 went to Mrs. Simkhovitch and begged her to let us see Mrs. Perkins. She led us into a room and told us to wait. A few minutes later Mrs. Perkins came in, and we got up from our chairs to greet her. She said, “I know why you came, and I know about the case. As far as Sallitto is concerned, we have no proof that he is an anarchist, so he will be released and his bail returned. As for Ferrero, we have ample proof that he is an anarchist—he was the editor of an anarchist paper, and so on. My advice is to have him disappear, and we will not look for him. You will lose a thousand dollars, but it can’t be helped.” We thanked her and left. The next day Ferrero said good-bye to us. Then, as Mrs. Perkins recommended, he jumped bail and disappeared, living underground in California, though we didn’t know where he went until many years later.

Besides my association with the Italian comrades, I began, in 1925, to attend meetings of the Road to Freedom Group, also known as the International Group because it had members of different nationalities. It met in the hall of the Spanish Group (Cultura Obrera, later Cultura Proletaria), which had a center on East Twenty-Third Street near Third Avenue. In those days the Spanish Group was the largest in New York, containing maybe two hundred members, some of whom went back to Spain during the Civil War. Unlike the Italian anarchists, the Spaniards had a powerful influence within the Spanish community at large, joining many of its social clubs, mixing with other Spaniards, and spreading libertarian ideas. This was something the Galleanists refused to do. Under Galleani’s influence they were determined to remain “pure” and anti-organizationist, and as a result they isolated themselves from potential recruits. The Spanish comrades, by contrast, had a motto: “Everything within the organization. Nothing outside the organization.” Their model was the CNT-FAI in Spain.

I used to go to the Spanish Group all the time, even until the 1960s. I met Pedro Esteve there a few times shortly before his death. He once told a story about Malatesta He and Malatesta had been together in Spam and later in London. Malatesta never refused a beggar a coin. Esteve once said, “Why did you give the man money? He’ll only buy liquor with it.” Malatesta replied, “Of course. What do you expect him to do—buy an automobile?”

The Road to Freedom Group consisted of the English-speaking element within the International Group. Its members included Rose Pesotta, Walter „Starrett (his real name was Van Valkenburgh), his wife Sadie Robinson (secretary of the group), Lisa Brilliant, and others. They published a journal, The Road to Freedom The young people also had a group, called The Rising Youth, which published a short-lived paper of that name. It was founded by twin daughters of a Jewish watchmaker comrade named Goodman, but they left it for the Spinoza Society. Another member was Benny Frumkin [q.v.], son of Leibush Frumkin of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. He had been brought up in Stelton.

All the anarchists—American, Spanish, Italian—worked together to support the Sacco-Vanzetti defense. In 1927 I attended a meeting for Sacco and Vanzetti at the International Group, then on Twenty-Third Street. It was there that I met my companion Ida, who happened to be sitting next to me. My English was very bad then. She lived on West Eleventh Street and Second Avenue with Clara Larsen [q.v.]. She worked as a translator for Keystone Driller Company, an oil-well drilling firm. We went to dances and meetings together and began to live with each other two years later, in April 1929. She told me she was born in Odessa in 1900, the same year as I was, but I found out later that she was really four years older, born in 1896. On the night of Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution, by the way, J attended a rally in Union Square with an Italian comrade When the news of the execution was announced we cried uncontrollably. The crowd broke up and we went home to Brooklyn on the subway. When we emerged at the Montrose Street station we were still crying. A policeman saw us and said, “So they’ve been executed.” He realized why we were crying. He wasn’t bragging about it either.

The Road to Freedom Group held a summer camp at Croton and then Lake Mohegan, from about 1928 to 1931. Ida used to go there on weekends (she worked during the week) and I went up to visit her. We lived in a tent, and in later years we pitched a tent during the summer at the home of Dr. Domenico Cascio in Highlands, New Jersey. Ida loved the outdoors and was a devoted hiker, in spite of her physical frailty—she was five feet tall and weighed only eighty-five pounds. Ida got pregnant in 1931, but the doctor said she was too weak to bear a child and would die. So he gave her some pills and that was the end of it.

When Keystone Driller went bankrupt in 1932, owing to the Depression, Ida worked as secretary of the Pioneer Youth Camp for a few years, under Alexis Ferm. We visited Arden Colony294 in Delaware and met Frank Stephens, a friend of Emma Goldman. Ida became a translator and office manager of an export firm until she retired in the 1960s. Every year we went on a trip—to Italy, to Maine, to upstate New York. From 1931 on we sometimes rented a house in Stelton for our summer vacation. Ida and I got married in 1939, soon after the war had broken out in Europe. She was very happy about that.

In 1955 we bought a house in Mohegan. Milly Rocker died there in November of that year, and Ida translated Rudolf’s tribute to her into English, which Joseph Ishill published as a pamphlet. Ishill was a member of the Thoreau Fellowship, like myself. Mohegan was much more beautiful than Stelton, but Stelton had a Ferrer School and a wonderful social life. Every Saturday night they had something going for the school, and every Sunday for The Road to Freedom or Fraye Arbeter Shtime. I was very close to Rudolf Rocker, whom I first met in 1934 at the Amalgamated Coop’s, where he lived after coming to America. He lived there a couple of years before moving to Mohegan. His house was bought for him by the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, which had established a fund for him. When Rudolf died, the house went to his son Fermin [q.v.]. I was impressed by the humility of Rocker. He never boasted, never looked down on anyone. But he was proud of having been a friend of Malatesta When he talked about Malatesta his eyes sparkled. He had a wonderful memory and could speak for two or three hours without losing his train of thought or the audience’s attention.

I myself am proud that I was instrumental in having Rocker’s Nationalism and Culture published in the Italian language. I made the arrangements, collected the money, and persuaded Rocker to add a new chapter to bring it up to date. He wrote it in English, and Ida fixed it up. The book was published in two volumes, volume one in Naples and volume two in Pistoia. The leftover copies were sent at my expense to anarchist groups all over Italy to be sold for their benefit. Later, also at my expense, Rocker’s Pioneers of American Freedom was published in Italian by Antistato of Milan.

In 1938 I was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease. But I was able to continue working, and I worked for Berger Industries in Maspeth as a machinist and foreman from 1943 till my retirement in 1970. During this period I spent summers and weekends at Mohegan, wrote for Felicani’s Controcorrente, and was active in the Libertarian Book Club, as was Ida. Ida died in 1980, and I have been alone ever since.

My ideas on anarchism have not changed very much. For me anarchism is mainly a question of education. Anarchism at bottom is an ethical philosophy. When a man realizes that it is immoral to exploit another man and immoral to oppress another man, and when he refuses to do so, that man has become an anarchist, as far as I am concerned.

John Vattuone

Santa Rosa, California, November 12, 1989

Born in Sardinia in 1899, John Vattuone arrived in New York in 1922 and became an active anarchist and antifascist. He later moved to California and bought a chicken farm in Sebastopol, which he operated with his wife Elvira for twenty years, before retiring and moving to Santa Rosa. It was there that I interviewed him in 1989. Though saddened by Elvira’s recent death, Vattuone, at ninety, was fit and alert when he picked me up at the bus station in his car. We saw each other again in 1991, when he came to New York to see his comrades, among them Valerio Isca (q.v.), a dwindling band of elderly rebels. Vattuone died of heart failure on February 13, 1994.

I WAS born in Cagliari, Sardinia, on November 11, 1899. My father’s name was Luigi, and he worked as a baker. My mother was Giuseppina Fellini. I had six sisters but no brothers. I attended school in Cagliari from first grade through the second year of high school, and my sisters all went to high school. Most residents of Cagliari were literate, and the schools there were very good. Only one of my sisters is still alive; she was born in 1905 and lives in Cuneo in Piedmont. Mother died of pneumonia in 1908, and all the women in town with infants took turns in feeding my baby sister, a gesture of solidarity and compassion. Cagliari is a beautiful city with a Roman amphitheater.

My father was born near Chiavari in the mountains between La Spezia and Genoa. He was apprenticed to a baker, who visited Cagliari and saw a chance to open another bakery there. So he sent my father. My mother was born in Livorno but moved to Cagliari with her parents, who started a little restaurant there. When Father got to Cagliari, he heard of the restaurant run by Livor- nesi—Mother’s parents—and went there to eat. He met my mother and got married and brought her back to Chiavari. After two kids arrived, they returned to Cagliari.

One day a man came from Carloforte, a small island (also called Isola San Pietro) off Sardinia inhabited entirely by Genovesi, descendants of sailors who had landed there. (They continued to speak the Genovese dialect.) He offered Father a job there. Father left all the children—seven by then; my oldest sister was sixteen—in Cagliari, but we managed to get along and joined him in 1910 or 1911.

I was then fourteen or fifteen. In 1915 I took to the sea. For years I sent all my earnings to my father to help the family. The ship’s captain, impressed by my ability, suggested that I go to school and learn the wireless, but I preferred to remain a stoker. I remained a sailor for seven years, until 1922. In March 1918 my ship was torpedoed near Algiers and sank. I jumped overboard and hit my head but managed to reach a lifeboat and was saved. I went to Bizerte for a few days and then to Palermo (Easter 1918). Then I returned to the sea, working on a troop ship, until the war ended.

In 1922 I jumped ship in New York. I had been a socialist in Carloforte from the age of fifteen, and this was known to. the fascists, who were growing in strength, beating and killing, especially in Sardinia. I wanted to go back to Italy—in New York there was a new language, different ways—and did not buy a suit of clothes for three years. But Mussolini remained in power. My first job was as a baker in Mount Kisco, New York, where I stayed for three years, from 1922 to 1925. I then moved to Brooklyn and got a job in another bakery. By now I was an anarchist. Already in 1919 and 1920 I thought the revolution was taking place in Italy. There were big meetings in Genoa and other cities, Malatesta came back, and so on.

I got interested and started to find out about Malatesta and his ideas. I began to read and my interest grew. In Mount Kisco I read Cronaca Sovversiva; my boss, an anarchist, had a complete set. In Brooklyn I joined the Italian group in Williamsburg, consisting of Giuseppe Carta, Valerio Isca [q.v.], Serio, and others, called the Anarchist Group of South Brooklyn. Another member of the group, Ovidio Sanvenero, spent eight years in jail for counterfeiting money. He died about seven years ago. Carta went to see Sacco and Vanzetti in prison. Carlo Tresca later said that Sacco was guilty—I can’t explain why. Tresca was a dubious person; he never gave account of the money he received. Emilio Coda hated him, but I never liked Coda either. He acted like a superior being, but he was very close to Galleani.

In 1928 the group sent money to Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] to come to the United States. Later—in the 1940s and 1950s—Salvatore Pernicone gave plays there, in the Galileo Temple on Montrose Avenue. Bruno was a dedicated anarchist, but he himself couldn’t make a bomb, couldn’t even kill a fly. He was very intelligent and very nice. He came in 1928, with the understanding that he should never appear in public. When Dick Perry [Ernesto Bonomini] came here, he and Bruno were very close friends. Bruno did nothing without Dick. He was also very close to Ciofalo, who was manager of EAdunata. When Ciofalo died, Mike Magliocca took over.

Clemente Duval lived in Bruno’s house for a while. When Duval’s Memorie autobiografiche came out, the comrades in New London held a symposium about it and brought Duval there. Bruno was also there—I think it was 1929. They had a big group. There was lots of wine, a lot of talk, and of course a collection. Duval lived with a shoemaker, Olivieri, for a long time. He made orthopedic shoes. Dr. Guilhempe was active in those days and treated many of the comrades, including Duval.

In 1927 the postman accidentally left my copy of EAdunata at the home of Antonio Ciminieri, a few blocks away, who also subscribed to it. I then had a bakery on Sixtieth Street and Third Avenue (Brooklyn), and Ciminieri came to give it to me. I was out delivering bread, and when I came back I learned that a man had brought the paper. I went to thank him. I met his daughter Elvira, then seventeen. We got together the next year, 1928. She died two weeks ago; she had always had a bad heart. We were together for sixty-one years.

In 1928 I gave up the bakery and went to drive a truck for a laundry concern on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. I worked there until 1949, twenty-one years. I quit and came to San Francisco, invited by Tony Martocchia and Osvaldo Maraviglia.295 In 1950 I bought a chicken farm in Sebastopol for twelve thousand dollars. We ran it about twenty years. At first I sold chickens to a dealer, but I soon saw that the dealer got all the money and I got nothing. So I began to bring the chickens to Chinatown in San Francisco and sell them directly to the customers, both restaurants and individuals. In that way I elim- --mated the middleman and could make a decent living. But in the late 1960s it became illegal to slaughter chickens in San Francisco, so the business dried up. I sold the farm in 1970 for twenty-five thousand dollars. By then I had bought this house in Santa Rosa for twelve thousand dollars as an investment. We retired from farming and moved in.

Over the years I went to Italy a few times. Once I visited Vincenzina Vanzetti in Cuneo, where my sister lives. She had a picture of her brother on the table with a cross next to it. I couldn’t stomach that, so I cut the visit short and left. I also went to Villafalletto [Vanzetti’s birthplace]—a big courtyard with apartments around it.

Of all the Italian anarchists Malatesta was the best, and his ideas remain fresh today Anarchism is still going on and eventually will find a way to eliminate all the bureaucrats, the union officials, the bosses—until the individuals themselves form the pedestal of society. Maybe in the next century—who knows? But it is bound to happen. Just look at all the changes going on in Eastern Europe right now!

William Gallo

Highland, New York, May 9, 1987

William Gallo grew up in an Italian anarchist family in Paterson, New Jersey, a stronghold of immigrant anarchism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His father, Firmino Gallo, was a silk weaver and one of the most prominent Italian anarchists of that city. Bill himself joined an anarchist youth group, the Francisco Ferrer Club, and opposed American participation in World War I. In 1917, like Sacco and Vanzetti, he fled to Mexico to avoid the draft, for which he spent six months in jail. After the war he dropped out of the movement, while retaining his anarchist sympathies to the end.

My father Firmino (Frank) Gallo was born in Mongrando in Piedmont in the 1860s. He was a silk worker, a “jacquard artist,” as they were called, a weaver ot jacquard cloth. His father was also a silk worker in Mongrando, both being highly skilled. Father and Mother—Ninfa was her name—were both anarchists in Italy and weren’t legally married. The same was true of all of my aunts and uncles, and none of them ever separated or divorced, none of them. At that time Italy had a king, Umberto, the Catholic church was powerful, and this discouraged my parents, who were freethinkers. Some of their friends had already gone to America and wrote to them about it. They heard a good deal about America, about the freedom there.

They emigrated to the United States—they came in steerage—in 1889 or 1890. They went straight to Paterson because of the silk industry Father got a job right away because of his jacquard skills. He worked for different mills, always jacquard work. He earned very little, though he left at seven in the morning and came home at six or seven at night, eleven or twelve hours a day. He operated two jacquard looms; on plain silk some ran four looms, but jacquard you had to watch. Many times, during my lunch break at school, I would bring his lunch pail to the factory and watch his looms as he ate. I was a small child then.

I was born in Paterson on August 25, 1897. I had an older brother, Henry, who died fairly young, as well as three younger brothers and a sister (Lena, who married Spartaco Guabello). Mother did not work in the mills but took care of the house and the children. We lived in a small apartment in Paterson (later my parents had a house in Haledon). The children attended public school. I recall that Mother, who did a lot of reading and a lot of deep thinking, said that the church was dogmatic and authoritarian, cardinals living like princes, crusaders stealing and looting and raping—all in the name of the Vatican. Father felt the same way. He was also a great reader and in fact ran a little libreria, a bookstore. People wrote in from all over the country to order books (in Italian) by mail. To my parents anarchism meant honesty and respect for others. Money was the last thing to be considered. Honest work and freedom—that’s all they wanted. They didn’t aspire to riches, to have bank accounts or wealth. They criticized exploitation of every kind. I remember that Mother respected the Bill of Rights. “This is wonderful reading,” she said.

There were about three or four hundred anarchists in Paterson when I was a child, practically all of them Italians. All were weavers, with only a few exceptions: an insurance agent, a few machinists who worked for Van Vlaandren Machine Company. They made machines for the dye houses. I worked for them for a while, handling sales contracts. I started reading when I was five or six years old, always reading, reading, reading, a real bookworm. I read all the Russian writers—Dostoevsky, Artsybashev, Turgenev; and the Germans— Nietzsche, Schopenhauer. I never went to high school. I had to go to work—me and my older brother Henry. Our younger brother Jimmy (Severino), a brilliant boy, won a scholarship to Harvard, and we went to work to back him up. After Harvard he went to medical school and became a famous cancer surgeon. He died three years ago, a millionaire [said with distaste].

The Italian anarchists in Paterson started a cooperative, a cooperative grocery store with a club upstairs, a little building. They met every Saturday and practically every evening. They played cards, had a drink of wine or beer, but not too much liquor. Every Saturday there was a dance, with music played by a little orchestra. I played the guitar, Henry the violin. My brother-in-law Spartaco ( Spot”) Guabello played the mandolin. It was called the Piedmont Club and was located on Park Avenue. Father and Mother, especially Mother, did quite a lot of acting at the club, which had a small stage. Father was about five feet eight inches tall, thin, with a little mustache. He was a very quiet type. He never sought publicity. Alberto Guabello was more active and outgoing than Father. He also acted in plays, often with my mother. All the plays were about the life of the poor, and how they were oppressed.

When I was a tot, around ten or eleven, I worked for La Questions Socials, the anarchist newspaper in Paterson. Guabello ran it as the manager. The editor was Franz Widmer, a printer, a tall man with a small wife. We used to fold the paper, address it, and bring it to the post office. Instead of going out and playing after school, I worked for the paper. I was working all the time.

Alberto Guabello was a good salesman, a persuasive talker. He didn’t come too much to the club, didn’t drink or play cards. He was always on the go, traveling here and there. Father would sit down, have a drink, talk. Not Alberto. He didn’t work in the mills either, but was always well-dressed. I think he got a salary from the IWW His brother Paul—Paolo—was quiet, like my dad. I liked him a lot.

Spartaco Guabello, Alberto’s son—“Spot,” we called him, though he took the first name Henry—was an anarchist, as I was. He had the same logical thinking as I did. We were raised in an anarchist milieu. We rejected religion and government, even democracy. And we rejected war. There were a number of strikes in the mills before the big strike in 1913. Emma Goldman would pass through town from time to time, a short woman and good speaker, a person to be reckoned with. I recall one strike—I don’t know the year—when I went to have a look at the picketing. Paolo Guabello was on the picket line and was ordered to move by the police. He didn’t move fast enough and was clubbed to the ground. Mother had come to get me and saw Paolo fall. She got down to help and the police clubbed her too. They threw them in a police wagon pulled by a horse. I ran after it crying, “Mama, Mama!” Paolo was bleeding all the way to the jail.

The big strike was in 1913. Bill Haywood,296 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Carlo Tresca came. They wanted to hold a meeting in Paterson but the authorities blocked it. So they went to Haledon. Tresca spoke from the balcony of the Botto house.297 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn stayed at our house and insisted on sleeping on the floor. Haywood went to Paolo Guabello’s. We didn’t have money, you know, but they gave Haywood a set of used clothes. He and Tresca were both fine speakers, and Gurley Flynn too, in a different way. They stayed a few weeks and I remember them well.

The youngsters had a club with a library on Straight Street. It was called the Francisco Ferrer Club, I think. Spot and I were both members. I learned Esperanto and even started to learn Russian, but didn’t get very far. I also learned to play chess. We talked about religion, science, astronomy. But federal agents came in, stole all our books (we never got them back), and closed the club down. It was snowing that night and they came in a horse and sleigh. I was about sixteen or seventeen at the time, so it must have been in 1919.

In 1917, after the draft was started, Spartaco and I went to Mexico, as we opposed all war. We were the only ones from Paterson to go, as far as I know. I refused to kill anyone or to shoulder a gun. The army had promised to make me a medic, but once I got to Kelly Field in Texas they put me in the infantry, and Spot too. They double-crossed us. So we ran away to Mexico. We were not in a group and did not meet Sacco and Vanzetti We met one fellow, Al Ferrante, from Pasadena, California, and crossed over with him. He was a fellow Piedmontese and a good mechanic. On the way back from Mexico we swam the river and were picked up by Texas rangers and arrested. I got out on bail and went to San Antonio to talk to the prosecutor. We played chess. I told him I didn’t want to kill, and he believed me. We plea-bargained and went to jail for six months. I got the jailer to get me a brush and some paint and I painted the whole inside of the jail—in Del Rio, Texas, it was.

The anarchists in Paterson were docile, quiet people. There was no bombing, no shooting. They still remembered Bresci, it is true. He left Paterson unannounced. Nobody knew. He told no one his plans. His ambition was to kill the king. But there was no conspiracy. That’s what my parents said. None of the anarchists had a gun or a weapon of any kind. As far as dynamite bombs, that’s a lot of malarkey. Dad, Guabello, Grandi, Baldiserotto,298 and the others were gentle souls. Yet Guabello and Dad were picked up and taken to Ellis Island. They had an Italian lawyer from Paterson, a wonderful man, who got them off. The immigration authorities said to Father, ‘Ton marry your wife and we’ll let you go back to Paterson.” The lawyer accepted, and my parents got married. Before all this happened, a man called Leo Lemley had come to Paterson. He played the mandolin, ate at our house, but didn’t sleep there. He wrote music for our little orchestra and was a brilliant and likeable fellow. But it seems he was a spy. The raids came. He never showed up again.

When I returned to Paterson in 1918, some scorned me as a deserter. But I got a good job at Van Vlaandren, handling contracts. That was after I had worked in the mills and with the Erie Railroad. I went to the Spencer Business School at night and took up shorthand and typing. I also took a correspondence course with Lasalle University in bookkeeping and accounting. I moved to Newburgh, New York, in the 1930s, and to Poughkeepsie in the 1940s, managing a textile dyeing and finishing plant. After that I did tax accounting until I retired five years ago.

I learned to fly and bought a plane and flew often to Paterson to see my family. Father died in the 1930s at the age of seventy-six, Mother at ninety- one. Both were cremated. After Father died, I went up in my plane with Mother and spread his ashes over Haledon, where they had lived. When she died I did the same with her ashes. During the 1920s, by the way, I had served as police commissioner of Haledon and as a councilman for eight years. When Paolo Guabello and other anarchists clashed with the fascists I was able to get them out of jail.

By the 1920s the Paterson mills were in decline and the anarchist movement was in decline. When you talk about the Constitution and Bill of Rights I’m skeptical and disappointed We stole the land from the Indians, killed them off, put them on reservations. Is this democracy? Is this Christianity? Is this civilization? My early years, though, were times of happiness. We didn’t have money or wealth, but we were contented. But anarchism has its limitations. You can’t get people to work together collectively. They won’t come out and protest. They’ll complain about corruption, but won’t do anything about it. And they’ll still go to war when their country calls them. My own son signed up in the Second World War. I questioned it, but he wanted to fight. He landed with the first wave on D-Day [tears well up in Gallo’s eyes] and was killed in battle ten days after.

Guy Liberti

Miami, Florida, December 21, 1972

Guy Liberti and his brother Ateo (both are pseudonyms) were Italian-born coal miners in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania during the early decades of the century. Both were militant anarchists, and Ateo was once arrested at a mining camp in Pennsylvania during a clash between strikers and the police.2 Both opposed the First World War and called for a social revolution to overthrow capitalism and the state, views expressed in the journal LAppello, published by the group in Cleveland to which they belonged. Guy Liberti, who spent his winters in Miami after he retired, died in an Ohio nursing home on November 4, 1975.300

I WAS born in a village in Catanzaro province in Calabria in 1895 and came to the United States in 1912. I started to work in the coal mines when I was ten (I’ll be seventy-eight next month). I mined in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. I knew Carlo Tresca when he was still a socialist and publishing La Plebe in Pittsburgh. It was at that time that someone cut his throat, so he grew a goatee.

Tresca was no anarchist. To my way of thinking he was an opportunist, a jumping ]ack. There was nothing in common between the followers of Tresca and the followers of Galleani Galleani was the soul of the movement He stood for anarchism without labels or adjectives. He understood the dangers of organization. The moment an organization is in its infancy there are rebellions; the moment the organization reaches adulthood it becomes conservative; and when it reaches full maturity it is reactionary. That has been the history of all organizations.

The trouble with the Italian movement is that they ignore the name of Galleani. Gods I don’t care for, I am an iconoclast; I destroyed my idols long ago.

But Galleani is the one who created a real anarchist movement in America, and yet there is a conspiracy of silence against him. Galleani’s son is living in the Miami area, but he’s not worth seeing. The children were drawn away from anarchism because the influence of the school and the street is more powerful than any other. Galleani was the most forceful orator that I personally ever heard, and the most effective debater, especially against religion. My companion is from Lynn and knew him there.

I was active in Cleveland during the teens, twenties, and thirties. During the First World War our group published a paper called EAppsllo. We also had an English-speaking Libertarian Group and a Fraye Arbeter Shtime Group; and there was a follower of Benjamin Tucker, an individualist named Horace Carr, a humble, intelligent printer. There was a Road to Freedom conference there in 1930. My former companion died there in 1933.

Alfonso Coniglio died in Tampa on November 7. He would have been eighty-nine on January 3. His father brought him to Tampa in 1888. He was a cigar maker and follower of Galleani and was persecuted by the government during World War I. Pedro Esteve was also in Tampa for a while. In Paterson he was the linotypist, not the editor, of La Questions Socials. Il Contro-pslo was a scandal sheet. It criticized Galleani without mercy. It was against anybody and anything constructive—to advance the cause of the workers, to help them see their place in the universe, to further the struggle to better the lot of humanity, to help fight against the exploitation which humanity went through yesterday and is still going through today. Gsrminal in Chicago was neither a Galleani nor a Tresca type of paper but in line rather with Malatesta. Rudolf Rocker was a good man but was wrong about World War II.301 Anarchism has always been antithetical to militarism. We must rely on people to rise up against dictators, not armies. Galleani was right when he said that Kropotkin lost much of his reputation because of his stand on World War I. Marcus Graham never vacillated from one side to another. He chose his road and stuck to it.

I haven’t changed my anarchist views much over the years, but only modified some economic concepts. I’m not blind to the industrial and technological advances we have made. But that doesn’t change the basic idea of anarchism. From a political standpoint I haven’t wavered either to the left or to the right. Anarchism is an ideal, and humanity is heading toward it, and there is no force on earth that can stop it. So the philosophy of anarchism remains unchanged. We are gradually making more progress toward anarchism. But the goal is infinite. Revolution is still necessary in order to overthrow the capitalist system. We don’t want to harm human beings, but if those human beings deprive us of our daily bread we must use revolutionary means to oust them.

The Miami Group now has only a half-dozen regulars, plus a dozen or more, mostly from Massachusetts and New York, who come down during the winter. We have weekly meetings and occasional picnics to raise money for Freedom, Ths Match!, Umanitb Nova, LInternazionale, and a few other publications. To take part in the joys and sorrows of the movement—that has been our reward.

Hugo Rolland

Elmhurst. New York, October 11, 1971; June 3, 1973

Hugo Rolland (real name Erasmo Abate) was born near Naples on February 15, 1895, and emigrated to the United States in 1912. During the First World War he was an active anarchist in Philadelphia, and he afterwards campaigned for the release of Sacco and Vanzetti. Deported in 1922, Hugo illegally reentered the United States, where he lived and worked until his death on August 15, 1977. In a letter to his family and friends, dated August 1, 1967, he defined what being an anarchist meant to him: “1. To be a useful and responsible member of the society in which I was born; 2. to be honest and decent with all persons with whom I come into contact; 3. to help whoever was in need, the best I could; 4. to respect everyone’s ideas and beliefs, provided it is on the basis of reciprocity; 5. to strive to correct and eliminate ills and social injustices; 6. to oppose and fight—with arms if need be—all attempts to suppress freedom; 7. to never hide the truth, never be hypocritical or resort to falsehood.”302

I WAS born on February 15, 1895, in Formia, near Naples, and came to the United States in 1912. I settled in Philadelphia and became a house painter. I drifted into anarchism instinctively. I was never a follower of anybody. I was opposed to terrorism and believed in the necessity of organization, in contrast to the Galleani groups, of which there were two in Philadelphia. Galleani wrote pamphlets advocating violence, and his followers engaged in illegal methods— even after the war they burned houses to collect the insurance—and opposed all organization.

Not long after arriving in Philadelphia, I started going to the Francisco Ferrer Group, which met in a rented store. It was basically an anarcho-syndicalist group, which supported the IWW and had some socialist as well as anarchist members. Its organ was La Comune, and I edited it (under my real name, Erasmo Abate) for the last few issues, during the First World War. Each of us set the type for our own articles. On the wall of the meeting room were pictures of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Marx, Most, and Bresci. We had talks and discussions, participated in strikes in Philadelphia and Camden, supported the Ettor and Giovannitti defense during the Lawrence strike of 1912,303 organized demonstrations for Abarno and Carbone, who were arrested in New York in 1915 for plotting to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral,304 protested against the frame-up of Mooney and Billings, and organized demonstrations against the war.

There were many quarrels among the Italian anarchists in the United States: propaganda versus terror, organization versus no organization, and so on. Carlo Tresca once accused Ludovico Caminita—an excellent writer—of being a spy, but this was not true. During the Red Scare the government began to round up the anarchists, myself among them. In early 1922 I was deported to Italy. I traveled on the same boat as Riccardo Orciani, who told me that Sacco was guilty of the robbery but Vanzetti was not, though he knew about it and was part of the same group. Even Felicani intimated as much to me many years later. The fact that they shot at everybody was simply the mark of amateurs. Tresca, by the way, was killed not by fascists but by rival anarchists of the Galleanist EAdunata Group.

After the assassination of Matteotti by the fascists in 1924,305 1 was part of a scheme—the Garibaldini affair, it was called—to land surreptitiously in Italy and assassinate Mussolini. But the others backed out and it fell through. Soon afterwards I returned secretly to the U.S. I lived in Stelton for two years, and then in Detroit. In 1926 I was an editor of Germinal in Chicago. Then I became a farmer in Michigan for twenty-five years. I knew Agnes Inglis and gave much material to the Labadie Collection, though after she died some of it was destroyed by the head of the library, a conservative.

I’m now terribly disappointed with what has become of anarchism. There is absolutely nothing left of the movement. Yet we must continue to combat tyranny and injustice. In this sense we remain true to our anarchist ideals.

Esther Travaglio

San Francisco, June 16, 1974

Esther Travaglio was the third wife of Eugene Travaglio (1876-1968), a handsome, versatile, and much-admired figure. His comrade C. V. Cook described him as “a dashing, graceful, vigorous son of Italy, with fine dark eyes and black hair.”306 A printer by trade, he worked as a compositor on Free Society in Chicago, and then edited a series of journals on the West Coast, including La Protesta Umana and The Petrel in San Francisco, Why? in Tacoma, and The Dawn in Seattle. Six years after his death, my wife and I visited Esther in their fine old house in San Francisco, where the interview that follows took place. In December 1981 my wife and I were again in San Francisco, and we took Esther to dinner in an Italian restaurant opposite Washington Square, which she enjoyed immensely despite poor health and failing eyesight. In December 1983, when I was yet again in San Francisco, to attend the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, I visited her in a nursing home on Broadway. She died there about two years later.

I WAS born Esther Hartz in Davenport, Iowa, in December 1893, of German Catholic parents. I was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1922 and became the wife of Eugene Travaglio a few years later. We had one son, Dalny, an engineer.

My husband was born in northern Italy—in Milan, I think—on September

2, 1876. His mother was from a well-established family in Milan, and his father was an engineer from Piedmont who was knighted bv Queen Victoria after participating in the Crimean War. His father was away a lot, and his mother ran off with Cesare Crespi, first to Scotland and then to New York, leaving Gene behind. They sent for him, though, and at the age of nine he arrived on Staten Island to join his mother, Crespi, and a baby half-sister Nina, who is now eighty-six and living in Santa Cruz.

They all moved to San Francisco around 1890. Gene went to the George - Washington grade school (for boys) in the Italian district. He was raised without any religion. At fourteen he went out the Golden Gate on a sailing vessel as an apprentice seaman. The captain shot the sailmaker, and Gene refused to sign the log, which falsified and covered up the incident, and so he jumped ship in Siberia. He wanted to cross the country and visit Tolstoy, but he never got there. Instead, he spent three years with the International Geodetic Survey on the Yangtze River in China. He later made other trips—to Alaska, around the Horn, and so on.

Around 1900 Gene settled in Chicago and learned the printer’s trade, becoming a first-class compositor. There he met his first wife, Frances (“Frankie”), who had been married before and had three children. They had three more daughters, two of whom are still alive The oldest, Leah (born in 1903), was married to Radium LaVene [q.v.] of Home Colony, and afterwards to Dr. Arthur E. Briggs (now deceased), who mingled with the anarchists in Los Angeles. While on his first sailing trip, by the way. Gene’s mother died. Crespi, who published an Italian newspaper in San Francisco, had several other children by another woman.

While in Chicago, Gene helped with the typesetting of Free Society and lived with the Isaaks. I think he was arrested with them after Czolgosz shot McKinley. He returned to San Francisco in 1902 or 1903 and worked as a printer. He also worked on an Italian anarchist paper with Giuseppe Cianca- billa [La Protesta Umana].307 The earthquake of 1906 wrecked Gene’s printing shop, so he moved to Stockton, where he published a paper called Terra, half in Italian and half in English, from 1906 till about 1909, intended for the farmworkers in the area. The coeditor was A. L. Cole, but I know nothing about him. I tried to locate copies of the paper, but without success.

Gene met his second wife—he was a ladies’ man and could charm the skirts off any woman—Juliette Verrell in Stockton. They moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1909 or 1910, and Gene became foreman in the printing shop of The Pacific Monthly, edited by C.E.S. Wood. Soon afterwards, he moved to Tacoma and started his journal Why? He often visited the Home Colony and was fluent in Esperanto, which I think he may have learned at Home His first wife, Frankie, moved up to Home to be near him, and Leah married Rav LaVene at Home. He loved Home and visited the place often.

In Tacoma Gene worked at night and then walked home about four miles. He became foreman at the Wobbly print shop. He knew Sam Hammersmark and the other anarchists and Wobblies well. Gene moved up to Seattle and started a small print shop called the Olympic Press. That’s where I met him in 1924. He was a good friend of Harvey O’Connor’s,308 who published the Seattle Record, a labor paper. Gene published The Dawn in Seattle. I have a complete bound set and an unbound set (eight numbers). He did most of the writing himself and set it all by hand.

After we got together (we never legally married) we lived in Sausalito and San Francisco. When we lived at Sausalito, around 1925-1926, Gene would meet Eric Morton on the San Francisco ferry, but as far as I remember they never talked about anything important. He was about the same height as Gene, five feet eleven, but that’s all I can recall.

Gene was fiercely anti-Bolshevik after the Russian Revolution and broke with some of his friends who became Communists. We used to visit Schmidty [Matthew Schmidt] in San Quentin and saw him several times after he came out. He had met Beth Livermore, from one of San Francisco’s first families, when she visited the prison as a social worker, and they married immediately after his release in the 1940s. They used to take drives, with her at the wheel, and she was killed in a crash near Big Sur. He survived her by a few years, until the 1950s. He was a gentle and sympathetic person.

Gene had a great sense of humor and an ironic attitude towards the world. He was a craftsman as a printer and a painter and made model boats and cable cars from odd bits of wood. Coming to the United States as a boy, he was fluent in both English and Italian. He was a little too Italian for the Americans and a little too American for the Italians, and so he went his own way, somewhat aloof, while remaining on friendly terms with both. He didn’t get along with Marcus Graham at all, but he and John the Cook [Vincenzo Ferrero, q.v.] were good friends. Gene died on July 6, 1968, at the age of ninety-one. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.

Angelo Luca, who died two years ago, was one of the most active comrades in the area. I really don’t know how Luca lost his leg, but it was definitely by a bomb.309 His wife Jessie was so close-mouthed about it. She is still alive at ninety-six, born in San Francisco of one of its leading families. She was one of the first graduates of Mills College in Oakland, and her grandfather endowed a chair there. Their son Mark [q.v.] teaches art at Berkeley.

Jonesie [Red Jones, q.v.] was a good comrade of the Lucas and of Gene. There were Chinese as well as Italian farm laborers in the San Fernando Valley and the Sacramento area. There was one German comrade in San Francisco, John Kassel. I have a plaque of Tolstoy for you by one of the French comrades here, Jules Scarceriaux.

Vincenzo Ferrero

Los Gatos, California, June 18, 1974

In April 1934 Vincenzo Ferrero and Domenico (Dominick) Sallitto (q.v.), who operated a restaurant in Oakland, California, were arrested as anarchists by federal officials and held for deportation proceedings. A nationwide protest campaign, in which the case was denounced as “a new Inquisition,” a “renewal of the infamous Palmer policies,”310 resulted in the liberation of Sallitto. Ferrero, however, was ordered deported to Italy, where, under Mussolini’s dictatorship, he would likely have faced execution. Jumping bail, Ferrero went underground and worked as a cook in the San Francisco area, undetected by the authorities. When I met him forty years later, at the home of Sallitto in Los Gatos, he was introduced to me as John the Cook,” a small man of eighty-nine with grizzled hair and beard. Almost at once I realized his true identity, and when this became apparent to him he dropped the disguise. “At my age,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “I am beyond good and evil.”

A Piedmontese by birth, Ferrero arrived in San Francisco in 1905, a year before the great earthquake, and immediately plunged into anarchist activities. Like a religious sectarian, a fraticello from the Middle Ages, he gave away his money to whoever needed it; years later, old friends would stop him on the street and hand him five or ten dollars in repayment Ferrero, moreover, was a gifted writer and editor. From 1927 to 1932 he edited EEmancipazione, a first-rate anarchist journal, and published single issues (numer unici) of two other titles La Scolta (July 1926) and Golgota (August 28, 1927), the latter marking the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Ferrero lived to be a hundred. He died on February 8, 1985, after a long life devoted to his ideal.311

I WAS BORN in the Piedmont region of Italy in 1885. I am now eighty-nine and came to San Francisco in 1905, a year before the earthquake. We had an active International Group—Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Jewish—that lasted until the 1930s. There were only a few Germans, but one tall, thin comrade with a red necktie—I forget his name [John Kassel]—was always there. Each national group had its own members but attended picnics and lectures together and worked together in common causes. The Chinese came too, but none were as close to us as Jonesie [Red Jones, q.v.]. Some of the Chinese were artists who made drawings and woodcuts for Man! and other journals. Man! was a successor to LEmancipazione but in a new language, as the group felt that a publication in English would be more valuable and have a greater effect.

The Volonta Group preceded the Emancipazione Group among the Italians. Though a small group, it had a meeting hall and it frightened the authorities. It had around thirty or forty regular members. From 1906 to 1909 there were three Italian anarchist papers in San Francisco: Cogito, ergo Sum and Nihil— both one-man papers put out by individualists—and Aurora.

Our comrade Dr. Rose Fritz had a nursing home with another doctor in the hills near Los Gatos before the First World War. It was destroyed by fire. It had 160 acres of land, with vineyards, and Dr. Fritz offered it to me, but I was young and had other ambitions. She had come to San Francisco in the 1880s, and before that had practiced medicine in Kiev. She was not licensed here and was arrested a few times as a result. She developed new medical techniques and as a woman was not fully accepted by the medical profession. She was active among the San Francisco anarchists and helped organize a group to aid Home Colony. She was quite old when she died in the 1940s.

Eric B. Morton was a nice fellow who liked to drink, a big, strong man and a good storyteller. Alexander Berkman was a fine, congenial man who was easygoing with people. While he was publishing The Blast here with Robert Minor, he issued a handbill Down with the Anarchists! We distributed twenty thousand copies in the San Francisco area. Freemont Older, editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, gave Berkman his paper for one day to print whatever he liked; he did the same for the socialists and the IWW Berkman was a versatile man who knew what he was doing, keen-minded and a good speaker, though not a great orator.

Eugene Travaglio wrote a history of anarchism in the United States, but the manuscript has been lost. His mother was a countess and his father a general in the Italian army. As a boy he went to London and studied navigation. He went on a scientific expedition in China. On the same voyage was a French geographer, a friend of Elisee Reclus, from whom Travaglio learned about anarchism. He was a raconteur and bon-vivant. He became a rabid anti-Communist and blamed all ills on the Communists. On his voyage to China he was captured by Chinese pirates but was spared when he taught them navigation.

Travaglio edited La Protesta Umana in San Francisco together with Giuseppe Ciancabilla. Ciancabilla was so fluent a writer that he set his articles directly into print without a first draft. He fell in love with Travaglio’s sister. He and Travaglio had a falling out—I don’t know why, but Travaglio said that Ciancabilla called him a spy in Protesta Umana. Once when I printed a Ciancabilla issue of LEmancipazione I asked Travaglio for his recollections. He said ask me anything but that. Ciancabilla was strongly anti-organizationist, in the same spirit as Luigi Galleani. I once had a trunk full of La Protesta Umana and LEmancipazione, but I went away for a few months and when I returned the place was sold and the trunk gone.

The Italian anarchists in the United States came from all over Italy, from the south as well as the north, though certain towns (like Carrara) had more. They also came from Sicily and Sardinia (John Vattuone [q.v.], Angelo Luca). Some were anarchists already in Italy, but most were too young yet and became anarchists over here. It was the American experience of struggle that made them anarchists. Most came as young men with a sense of awareness of injustice. They began to read and listen and so became anarchists. Some came as social-


--- — —- - : SACCO AND VANZETTI 165 ists and became anarchists here. They represented a whole range of occupations, both skilled and unskilled.

The first man who influenced me towards anarchism was a worker in Denver, a cement mixer and a socialist who contributed to a socialist paper in Denver. He said, “I am a socialist, but the best thing is anarchism.” He was a learned man. He knew plenty. So I began to lean in that direction. Among the famous men, though, the greatest influence on me came from Galleani. Gal- leani was not an individualist but was opposed to formal organization. He was - for spontaneous cooperation and spontaneous action. Carlo Tresca was confused about his ideas; he had no particular philosophy, was not a real anarchist. The real Italian anarchists in America were Pietro Gori (who came to San Francisco), Errico Malatesta, and Galleani. They represented three different types of anarchism, each genuine in its own way.

I’ll tell you what sort of man Galleani was. Galleani’s lawyer describes an incident at the time of the last number the Cronaca Sovversiva was being prepared for distribution. Galleani was already under an order of deportation, and Palmer was questioning him. Palmer asked, “Mr. Galleani, what is your occupation?” Galleani: “I am the director of Cronaca Sovversiva.” Palmer: “Mr. Galleani, what other activities are you engaged in?” Galleani: “I am the director of Cronaca Sovversiva.” Palmer asks another question, and Galleani gives the same answer. Palmer (angry): “I have suppressed your paper!” Galleani (taking out the last issue of Cronaca Sovversiva and holding it up): “And yet it is here! Viva I’anarchia!” Palmer turns and flees the room.

Another type of anarchist was Sam Cohen, who never wrote a line. He was a nice man, but was incompatible with almost everybody—except me! During the time of Sacco and Vanzetti, around 1926, the Communists in San Francisco organized a big protest meeting to exploit the situation. They met in the San Francisco Auditorium. The place was full. It held eighteen thousand people, and there were more outside. I came and Sam Cohen too. I knew he would try something. As the chairman opened the meeting Sam called out from the back, “A word only. I have to admit that this evening is something out of the ordinary. All merit to those who organized it.” Then came the bombshell. “Can we form a commission to collect the money and send it to where it belongs?” He was always making street-corner speeches criticizing Soviet Russia, and the Communists beat the hell out of him, shouting “Don’t come back!” But the next night he reappeared all bandaged up to continue his speech: “As I was saying last night. . . .” He was very provocative and outspoken and insulted the Communists in the crowd, speaking of their “mental diarrhea” and so on. He was a tailor by trade, and a good one.

Jules Scarceriaux was a good comrade. Apart from French, he knew Italian and a few other languages. Jonesie was born here—or at least when they tried to deport him they couldn’t do it because he produced documents to that effect! [He was actually born in China.]

Yes, I have changed plenty. In the beginning I thought that anarchism was knocking at the door. I still believe that humanity must attain anarchism if it


is to survive. But the idea must be corrected. Today nearly all men live by profit, by domination, by the enslavement of others. Nearly everybody lives this way, most anarchists included. So there has been no basic change. Also, earlier anarchism was spreading more among working men, while now it is the other way around—among students and intellectuals. Yet every individual must be free to fulfill his needs, social, physical, mental. What is important is moderation: not too little but not too much. Man must be both a materialist and an idealist. If man cannot adopt a balance and live in moderation and without coercion, I see no salvation. A man can be free even in prison if he is free within himself, free in spirit. In a really free society there is room for all ideas, so long as they are kept in the mind and not forced upon others. For me it is easier to live this way than to explain about it Any regrets? No! I would start again!!!

Dominick Sallitto

Los Gatos, California, June 18, 1974

Dominick (Domenico) Sallitto, a gardener by profession, was born in Calatafimi, Sicily, the same town as Valerio Isca (q.v.), his boyhood friend. Emigrating to New York, Menico (as he was called) became an anarchist and contributed to such journals as LAdunata dei Refrattari (of which he was briefly the editor) and Man! During the 1930s he was arrested and held for deportation with Vincenzo Ferrero (q.v.) but eventually released I interviewed him in his attractive California home, where his wife, Aurora Alieva, from an anarchist family in Philadelphia, prepared an excellent Italian lunch, complete with freshly picked fruit and vegetables from their garden. Sharing in the food and conversation were Ferrero and Lino Molin (q.v.), whose words are recorded elsewhere in this section. Sallitto died on December 26, 1991, two weeks before his ninetieth birthday. Aurora died five weeks later.

I WAS BORN in Sicily on January 11, 1902, emigrated to New York as a young man, and came to California in 1930 Ninety percent of the Italian anarchists in America were poor immigrants, almost illiterate, so they couldn’t communicate well with their children. There was a language barrier and a cultural barrier. Children of anarchists shied away from the movement because the parents themselves often failed to practice what they preached. The women seldom participated, and the Italian anarchist father was often an authoritarian at home. For the most part the anarchists were young immigrants who acquired their anarchism through contact with others. It was mostly by word of mouth and personal experience of the injustice of the system. Then they began to read the anarchist press and to attend meetings. Their hopes for a better life, a better society in America, were disappointed. It was just as ruthless and cruel a society as the one they had left.

When I came to San Francisco in 1930, Dr. Fritz was still alive. I visited her in her house, a mansion but with little furniture. She was still practicing medicine, a small, elderly, frail, grey-haired woman. Eugene Travaglio was an exceptional person. What impressed me was his command of English as well as Italian. Jonesie [Red Jones, q.v] too was a fine comrade. One of the best pictures of Jonesie was at a lecture by Armando Borghi. Jonesie came before everyone else, set up the chairs, listened,attentively to Borghi’s lecture—never understanding a word—then put away all the chairs and was the last to leave He - always came on foot. He smiled but seldom said very much. We never knew what his inner feelings were. But that’s dedication!

We used to see Bresci’s daughter years ago but lost contact with her. There are now about twenty comrades in the Los Gatos area, and we have picnics from time to time to raise money for the Italian and English anarchist press. Ludovico Caminita was considered a turncoat in later years. I don’t recall exactly why, but he was not taken seriously. Sam Cohen was the traveling salesman of anarchism, a hobo with a purpose. Wherever he went he would stop at street corners and lecture about anarchism. He didn’t get along with anybody, either philosophically or personally, but that was his life. He lived by occasional tailoring jobs and by selling literature for a few pennies. He disappeared in Los Angeles about fifteen years ago and hasn’t been heard from since.

No single anarchist influenced me most, unless it was Malatesta, and in his case as a human being more than as a thinker. I am suspicious of organizations, and I do not accept any qualifying label like anarchist-communist, anarchosyndicalist, or anarchist-individuabst. Anarchism is a beautiful philosophy, though I don’t know whether it will be accomplished in my lifetime or even in my granddaughter’s. But sooner or later it will come.

Lino Molin

Los Gatos, California, June 18, 1974

I interviewed Lino Molin on the same occasion as my interview with Vincenzo Ferrero, over lunch in the California home of Dominick and Aurora Sallitto. After years as an automobile worker in Detroit, he had migrated west and acquired a small farm in Los Gatos, where he raised apricots and prunes. A lean and handsome man, with white hair and mustache, he adhered to an unadulterated brand of anarchism that brooked no compromise or equivocation. In 1980 he was killed by a speeding automobile while crossing the street in Los Gatos.

I CAME to the United States from the Friuli region of northern Italy and worked here at various laboring jobs. I lived for a time in Detroit and worked on an automobile assembly line. During strikes I saw company police on horseback smashing right and left at the workers.

Carlo Tresca was a joker, an opportunist. He even shook hands with the President.312 He enjoyed life and physical comforts, unlike Galleani. Emma Goldman was like Tresca in this respect. One should wait for the revolution to enjoy such luxuries. '

Many of the Italians were anarchists by conviction but not by behavior or culture. They failed to apply it to their own lives, and so failed to hand it down to their children. But anarchism represents justice more than any other doctrine. I have no regrets, but fifty years ago there was more opportunity to realize anarchism than there is today.

Mark Luca

Berkeley, California, June 11, 1974

Marc Luca is a painter and sculptor in Berkeley, California, where he lectured at the University of California. His father, Angelo Luca, bom in Sardinia in 1895, was a veteran anarchist of the Luigi Galleani school, to which Sacco and Vanzetti adhered. He immigrated to San Francisco before the First World War and died there in 1972. Mark’s mother Jessie, still alive at ninety-six when I interviewed him, came from an old and prominent San Francisco family and was one of the early graduates of Mills College in Oakland.

My father came to America from Sardinia as a young man. Immigration for him was a shattering experience and life was hard. Anarchism was his passion, his religion. He forbade me to paint on religious themes or to include churches or crosses in my work. He hated all that. Father was of the Galleani school, and they quarreled continuously with the Trescaites. Father went blind from glaucoma some years ago. Here’s a record that he made with a story he told me on it. [The record contains a fifteen-minute talk on religion and government, on mental and physical enslavement, and on the free society of the future. Angelo Luca is a militant anarchist and atheist. He speaks in a beautiful, cultivated voice, without a foreign accent. He ends the record with a description of the future anarchist society: “complete freedom for every human being is the most precious thing in life.”]

Father wrote poems, which Eugene Travaglio printed, and he sent them as New Year’s greetings each year. Travaglio was more of an intellectual and reader of books than Father, for whom anarchism was on a more emotional and less rational basis. I knew Jonesie [Red Jones, q.v.], who still speaks English poorly after so many years in America, and Jules Scarceriaux, who tried to teach me French when I was a boy and who did some interesting sculpture work. Jonesie lived by himself on Joyce Street but used to get his mail at my parents’ house at 650 Capp Street, San Francisco, until Father died. Now he has a small room in a Chinese rooming house on Broadway.

I did some drawings and woodcuts for Man! when I was young—in the Walt Whitman issue I think—but I never could accept anarchism, with its guerrilla tactics. I’m a pacifist (I was a conscientious objector in World War II) and something of a socialist. The anarchists were looking for a Utopia. I too wish I could find it—I lived in London and Amsterdam—but I doubt that it really exists.

Frank Brand

New York City, November 7, 1972

Frank Brand was the pseudonym of the Italian anarchist Enrico Arrigoni, who lived illegally in the United States from 1924 until his death in 1986. A bricklayer by occupation, he also went under the names of “Frank Branch,” “Henry Arrigoni,” and “Harry Goni” (from his surname Arrigoni). When I interviewed him in 1972, in his tiny apartment in the ILGWU Cooperative Houses in Manhattan, he asked me not to publish anything about him for the time being, “because I am not supposed to be alive.” In 1977, when a reporter for the New York Times, Israel Shenker, asked him his real name, he replied, “Which one? What year?”313 During the 1920s and 1930s Brand wrote for a number of anarchist journals, in Spanish and English as well as Italian, and in 1928 he founded a remarkable journal of his own called Eresia. In 1937 he went to Spain to take part in the struggle against Franco, and it was Emma Goldman who-got him out of prison when he was arrested in Barcelona.

A confirmed individualist, Brand denounced not only Nazism and fascism but also what he called the “galley-slave world” of the Communists, whom he considered a greater menace to human liberty than any other political group. During the 1970s and 1980s he published a series of books—The Totalitarian Nightmare (1975), The Lunacy of the Superman (1977), Adventures in the Country of the Monoliths (1981), Freedom: My Dream (1986)—condemning centralized authority in all its forms. Asked by Israel Shenker when anarchism would come, he replied: “Not in my lifetime. Might be a few centuries from now. To be an anarchist, it’s not important to realize anarchism immediately. Some day individuals will be free to regulate their lives by themselves, without intervention by the state—the greatest enemy of the individual.”314 In February 1984 the Libertarian Book Club, of which Brand was a longtime member, celebrated his ninetieth birthday with a party. Less than three years later, on December 7, 1986, Brand died in his apartment. His body was found on the floor near the bed by his old comrades Valerio Isca (q.v.) and Pasquale Buono. He was ninety-two years old. He left two daughters, a former companion, and a brother, his last, in Italy. Among Brand’s passions had been travel and opera. He left his books and collection of opera records to the Libertarian Book Club. His body was cremated on December 11, 1986.

My real name is Enrico Arrigoni “Brand” is a pseudonym taken from Ibsen s character Brand, a strong individualist, and was given me by a girlfriend in the Black Forest in 1918. I was born on February 20, 1894, in the village of Pozzuolo Martesano, near Milan. My father was a tailor of peasant origin. I became an anarchist in 1908 at the age of fourteen. I was the only anarchist in a town of three thousand people. Some believe that anarchism is inborn, so perhaps that is true. In 1900 the signs already began to appear. When Bresci assassinated King Umberto and children denounced him as a murderer, I defended his deed as a natural act of rebellion and said that some day I too would be an anarchist. The very word “anarchist” fascinated me. I was only six years old

At nine I finished third grade and went to Milan to work. I found a job as a baker’s helper, going around at 6 A.M. distributing bread with a big rope on my shoulder, seven days a week, about a hundred hours of work for twenty lire (about four dollars at that time) plus room and board There were no child labor laws to prohibit this yet. When I visited my native village a priest gave me books to read, and reading has always been one of my great passions.

At fourteen I began to work at a lathe in a locomotive factory. That year I read a pamphlet by Tolstoy called I Cannot Keep Silent!, an attack on tsarist tyranny. That pamphlet impressed me very deeply. I had been devouring books from the age of nine, reading two or three a week, carrying books on my bakery route, reading books in the street as I walked, a habit I still retain. By the age of fourteen I had read hundreds of books—histories, novels, adventure stories, and so on. I began attending a socialist course for young people, but at the conclusion I was the only one of a group of twenty to refuse to enter the Socialist Youth organization. When my socialist teacher asked me why I wouldn’t join, I said that I considered socialism to be the last stage of capitalism, and that I wanted to be an anarchist.

So I already considered myself an anarchist at the age of fourteen. But I still had had no contact with anarchist groups or anarchist literature. I began to seek it out and started to read anarchist papers and books. I first came into contact with anarchists at a great protest meeting following Francisco Ferrer’s execution in Spain. For a day or two the streets were filled with protestors. It was tantamount to a revolt. I met some anarchists then. My first anarchist act was to take part in a strike in our factory to reduce Saturday labor from ten to eight hours. In those pre-war years there was a period of great labor agitation in Italy. The workers did not want to come out, however, so I and two or three other young anarchists stood in front of the door and stopped them from going in. The strike was won but of course we were fired. We expected that, but we were not afraid. It was an honor to be fired—and so young! It was our badge of being a revolutionist. We anarchist youth took an active part in many strikes and street demonstrations, digging up cobblestones and throwing them at the police. We were the most militant group, and the Socialist Youth followed our lead. We were individualist anarchists, for Milan was a center of anarchistindividualism; the printer of the main anarchist journal was an individualist, and the first Italian translation of Stirner’s The Ego and His Own was published in Milan.515

I was twenty when the war broke out. When my number was called I tried to escape from Italy with a friend. We went to Genoa and boarded a ship—we didn’t even know where it was going—but were caught and arrested. My first arrest had been in 1909 or 1910 when I was selling anarchist papers at a band concert in a Milan park; I was kept in jail eight days and then released. I had quit working in the factory—I couldn’t stand the routine and claustrophobia of * factory life—and was selling fruit in the street. (I had refused to be a tailor, my father’s occupation, because I hated sedentary work.)

When Italy entered the war in 1915, many socialists and radicals threw themselves behind the war effort. But the anarchists in Milan opposed the war to the very last. We did not follow Kropotkin and the others, but kept up our antimilitarist agitation to the end The last big antiwar demonstration in Milan was organized by the anarchists. We printed five thousand leaflets saying, “All Come to the Piazza del Duomo to Protest Against the War.” A handful of us went from factory to factory distributing the leaflets, and two of us were arrested. We got a large turnout. The square was jammed with young workers shouting, “Down With the War!” Fights broke out and I lost two teeth. It lasted for five hours, till one in the morning. I was drafted, but as a skilled mechanic was allowed to work in a factory (in uniform) and attended drill every Saturday.

That’s when I began preparing to flee the country. My comrades Ugo Fedeli and Francesco Ghezzi worked in the same factory, but so far I was the only one in uniform. After two months as a soldier I and others decided to call a strike, and I was chosen head of the strike committee. The factory was under military control (it made reflectors for military use), so I had to escape. I and Ghezzi were the first of the Milan anarchists to escape. It took us two days to cross the Alps into Switzerland. I made my way to Geneva but was arrested with three comrades and spent three months in prison. Once, while I was lowering a tin of sardines to a friend below, a watchdog smelled the fish and set up a howl, so I was put in the hole where Luccheni316 had spent six years, or so the guard told me. The four of us went on a hunger strike, and Luigi Bertoni317 launched a campaign for our release, which eventually succeeded. There were a few hundred Italian deserters in Switzerland at that time, about half of whom were anarchists.

I wanted to learn German, so I went to Lucerne and worked as a lathe operator under close police supervision. Policemen used to escort me to and from work every day. After three months I moved to Zurich and worked in a factory for about a year. At the end of 1917, after the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, we Italian anarchists in Zurich got the idea to make a revolution there by organizing an antiwar demonstration that would spread through Switzerland into the warring countries. The idea seems fantastic now, but we were young, and at that time there was widespread discontent with the war and a widespread feeling of rebellion against the whole European social order. But after three or four days of demonstrations and violent encounters with the police, we had to give up. When a law was passed to intern all deserters until the end of the war, we decided to escape through Germany to Holland.

While riding the rails through Gcrmany in February 1918, I was arrested near Karlsruhe and spent several weeks in jail, and then was released and allowed to work in a small factory in the Black Forest area as a lathe operator. As an antiwar gesture I sabotaged the machinery and was jailed again in Karlsruhe. I was charged with wartime sabotage and was in danger of being shot, so I began to plan my escape. I stopped eating to weaken myself, in the hope of being taken to the hospital. I intentionally scraped my head on the floor and then, bleeding, pretended to have fainted. The doctor was called. He examined me and said, “He’s a bit undernourished, but otherwise quite healthy.’ I then wrote to the military commander in Karlsruhe demanding a trial or my release. For lack of evidence they decided to release me. I went back to work, first in Karlsruhe and then in Frankfurt, where I remained until the end of the war, working as a lathe hand.

With the war over, we Italians were burning to go to Berlin, expecting the revolution to break out there. I taught myself the violin and, pretending to be a musician, traveled to Berlin by train “to give a concert.” Berlin was in the midst of revolutionary agitation. I sold the Rote Fahne of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg to make a living. When the Spartacus revolt broke out, in January 1919, I and other Italian anarchists and socialists joined in and occupied the Vorwaerts offices, while other Spartacists took over the railroad station and other key points around the city. We occupied it for eight days, and I was the only one to escape arrest by Noske’s troops,318 having been sent for fresh clothes and then pretending to be a native (by then I spoke fluent German) when I saw troops surrounding the Vorwaerts building. I hid out in various places—mostly in homes of Spartacists—for eight days. They conceived the idea of sending me and a comrade, Mario Mantovani, to Russia as repatriated prisoners of war.

We went to Russia for three months in early 1919. As we had no documents we were taken to the Cheka in Moscow, who thought we were spies. But I knew of Angelica Balabanoff,319 who had lived in Italy, and I asked to see her. As soon as I mentioned her name it was like magic, and they released us immediately. The Third International was founded (March 1919) while we were there. Balabanoff, its secretary, embraced us warmly—she loved Italy and Italians—and helped us leave the country. She was disappointed already with the Bolshevik regime and very discouraged by the fate of the revolution. She sent us, in the guise of Hungarian prisoners of war being repatriated to Hungary, as couriers to Italy with documents of the International

We arrived in Budapest in time for Bela Kun’s320 revolution. For us it was a complete surprise. We had a meeting with Kun himself and showed him the documents of the International. We then went on to Vienna and to the Italian consulate, claiming to be Italian prisoners in Hungary. We were thus allowed to return to Italy as heroes rather than deserters.

Once in Milan, I had to go into hiding for four months, as I was known there as a deserter. I returned to Berlin for about six months and taught Italian in a Berlitz school in order to make a living. I visited Rudolf Rocker, who helped me to get to Paris, where I spent a little more than a year before moving on to 'pain. I worked briefly in a factory in Barcelona but got into trouble with the police and had to be smuggled on board a ship for Argentina.

That was in 1920. I lived in Buenos Aires for a year and a half, employed as a factory worker and carpenter. I lived in a room with Diego Abad de San- Tillan,321 a fellow worker three years younger than I, for about five months. He became a member of the staff of La Protesta. I still visit him when I travel to Argentina. One day a German comrade named Wilckens,322 who had been deported from the U.S., moved in with us La Protesta sent Santillan to Berlin as a correspondent. He learned German, met Rocker, and married the daughter of Fritz Kater,323 who still lives with him in Buenos Aires. I told Wilckens, who worked at the port as a dispatcher, that I wanted to go to the U.S., and he arranged to hide me on a British tanker, which dropped me off in Tampico (this was in 1921).

I crossed the Rio Grande on foot and entered the United States. But I was caught and jailed for seven months, brought to New York by the immigration authorities, and deported to Italy, in October 1922, as an illegal immigrant. In Italy—this was just before Mussolini came to power—I was still subject to a seventeen-year sentence. So I jumped ship in Palermo, then made my way to Rome, where Malatesta was editing Umanitd Nova. He helped me get across the border into France. I remained in Paris till 1924, and then went to Cuba for several months. I wrote for an anarchist journal in Havana under the pseudonym “Brand,” which I had adopted in Germany. I took a German freighter to New Orleans, my second illegal entry into the U.S. I went to New York, where I remained from 1924 to the end of 1928, and then returned to Paris. I came back to the States in 1930 and have been here—apart from frequent trips abroad—ever since.

In New York in 1924 I had gotten a job as a lathe operator in a small factory in Harlem, then became a housepainter, and then finally a bricklayer. I immediately became active in the anarchist movement, in the Spanish and Road to Freedom Groups on Twenty-Third Street and in an Italian group in Brooklyn, the Circolo Volonta. I wrote occasionally for EAdunata and also for Cultura Obrera, edited after Esteve’s death by Roberto Muller from Argentina, who later contributed to my journal Eresia. Perhaps, in addition, I wrote some short pieces in English for The Road to Freedom.

As I said, I mixed mostly with the Road to Freedom Group (I wanted to learn English as quickly as possible) and with the Spanish Group (I knew Spanish from Spain, Argentina, and Cuba, and my then companion, who died soon after, was Spanish). I was never actually a member of the Italian group; the Italian anarchists here were mostly southerners, and northerners like me didn’t mix very well with them, while I felt quite at home with the Spaniards.

I founded Eresia in 1928, an eclectic journal with a strong individualist bias, though the contributors included anarchist-communists like Ugo Fedeli, my old comrade in Milan. Joe Conti, our treasurer from Brooklyn, taught me the bricklaying trade. I was the editor and wrote both as “Brand” and “Harry Goni.” The drawings were done by another bricklayer, from New Jersey. We printed two thousand copies of the journal. Ghezzi, another old comrade from Italy and a fellow individualist, sent articles from Russia, from which we tried desperately but unsuccessfully to get him out.”324

I later wrote regularly for Controcorrente, edited in Boston by Aldino Felicani, and helped found Intesa Libertaria during the late 1930s, which lasted only a year or two. It tried to bring together all anarchist tendencies but it failed. EAdunata refused to cooperate, though a few EAdunata people helped us as individuals. Carlo Tresca cooperated at first, but soon backed out. Finally the Tresca group in Philadelphia captured the journal, but it folded soon after.

I should also mention that I went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. I was there for five months and wrote two articles a week for Cultura Proletaria. I was imprisoned in Barcelona, and it was Emma Goldman who got me out. But this is another story, which I’ll save for another occasion. Finally, I wrote several short plays, published in Italy after the Second World War, under my real name, Enrico Arrigoni. I have been active in the Libertarian Book Club for the last twenty years, the only individualist in the group.

I remain an individualist anarchist. We believe in temporary organizations for specific functions that, once accomplished, the organization disappears. We don’t accept permanent organizations because they tend to become authoritarian in spite of the good will of their members. But we are not against all kinds of organization; even Stirner believed in a Union of Egoists. But it is not only the question of organization that separates us from the anarchist-communists. We also have a different conception of freedom. For us freedom is the greatest good, and with freedom we make no compromises. Thus we reject all institutions with even a tint of authority. Yet each anarchist should follow the trend of anarchism which suits his own psychology. So I don’t oppose anarchist-communism. Let the anarchist-communists remain anarchist-communists—I don’t want to convert them! Individualist anarchism is not superior to communist anarchism. It all depends on one’s temperament and psychology. Individualist anarchism suits me, but it may not suit others.

My view of anarchism has not changed much over the years. But Santillan, for one, has come to a point where he rejects revolution, just as we individualists do. We emphasize education. Some of us took part in revolution under the illusion that something better might come out of it. But through violent revolution we cannot inaugurate anarchism. Revolutions are inherently authoritarian. Moreover, in advanced countries like the United States we have many means of peaceful propaganda, so that we don’t need revolution. I would always choose capitalism over Communism if the choice had to be made, for under capitalism we can write, speak, have forums, form cooperatives, and so on. When I see anarchists associating with Communists, I feel sorry for them, for they don’t know what they are doing. In Controcorrente I conducted a campaign to have absolutely no contact and no relations with Communists.

I am an individualist by nature. Of anarchist literature, Stirner has been the main influence on me. The others—Armand,325 for instance—didn’t evolve new ideas, but were Stirnerites themselves Indeed, you cannot go beyond Stirner because Stirner rejected every form of authority. He was the only anarchist who was able to unmask all forms of authority, whether of institutions or of conception—state, religion, duty, honor, fatherland—all that tradition holds sacred. For Stirner they are all ’spooks.” He was the only one who did not compromise in any form, the one who wanted a complete individual, an individual who would realize his complete personality and attain full freedom. I can mix perfectly well with other kinds of anarchists, but I am probably the only individualist left among the Italian anarchists today.

Attilio Bortolotti

Toronto, Ontario, November 29, 1972;

North Miami Beach, Florida, December 10, 1988; January 19, 1990

I first met Attilio Bortolotti (also known as Arthur Bartell) in 1970 at a hundredth anniversary luncheon for Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, sponsored by the Libertarian Book Club of New York. I did not really get to know him, however, until 1972, when he attended a lecture on Russian anarchism which I delivered at the University of Toronto. At the conclusion of the lecture, Bortolotti, who lived in suburban Weston, invited me to his home for dinner. It was there that I conducted the first of three interviews with him; the other two took place many years later at his winter home in Florida. The son of humble parents in Italy, Bortolotti emigrated to Canada in 1920 and became active in the anarchist and antifascist movements in Windsor and Detroit during the agitation for Sacco and Vanzetti. Arrested in Detroit in 1929 for distributing a leaflet announcing a Sacco-Vanzetti meeting, he was held for deportation to Italy but jumped bail and fled to Toronto. There he worked as a tool-and-dye maker and resumed his anarchist activities, editing 11 Libertario from 1933 to 1935 and The Libertarian in 1968 and 1969.

In 1934 Bortolotti met Emma Goldman, who was living at the time in Toronto, and the two became close friends. In 1939, when Bortolotti was threatened with deportation—and certain death at the hands of Mussolini—Emma immediately took up the fight, securing an able attorney and raising funds for her comrade’s defense. Bortolotti, she said, was “one of the biggest men we have in our movement, intellectually and morally, besides being a tremendous worker. He is like so many of the Spanish comrades. He lives for nothing else but for his ideal.”326 Emma’s campaign was successful, and Bortolotti was set free. A month later, however, Emma suffered a massive stroke, from which she died on May 14, 194-0. The Bortolotti case had been her last battle against the state.

I was BORN on September 19, 1903, in Codroipo, a town of about four thousand (now thirteen or fourteen thousand) inhabitants in the center of Friuli, between Trieste and Venice. The name the Romans gave it 2,500 years ago was Quadrivium, because there are four roads tljat converge there, from the Alps to the sea and east and west. Codroipo is in the province of Udine, region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. We were Friulani and our language was Romansch, similar to the Romansch in Switzerland and in a few towns in Austria close to the Carmic Alps. There is one valley there that is an anarchist valley, two kilometers from Austria—Pratocarnia, Vai Peresina—where I go from time to time and we speak the same language. They are still anarchists, about five or six thousand of them, but they don’t go to work in Austria as much as before. They own a building together with the socialists and use it as a meeting place. Most of the anarchists are construction workers, but there is one family, the Villaris, who have been making famous clocks that are used throughout the world. Libera and I were there in 1986 but stayed only five or six hours. We saw Petris and Del Fabbio, two of the oldtime anarchists. It’s very beautiful in those mountains, a two-hour drive from Codroipo.

My father Luigi was a mason who became a builder and was in love with art. He took off two weeks every year to go to Venice, Florence, and Rome, and came back always with sketches of cornices and other objects. He was a good draftsman, with a skill which he learned by himself. Codroipo had a market every Tuesday; and the last Tuesday of the month was an animal market, ranging from pigs and goats to bulls and horses. Our town was in an alluvial valley with reddish soil fertilized with manure, both human and animal, as in China. My father made huge cement tanks to hold the manure. The grass all around would be blue, so rich it was from the manure. And there were grape vines all about. Every family had a cow and sheep for milk. Father made a relatively good living.

I was the fifteenth of eighteen children, and the only rebel among them. As a child I refused to go to church. At ten I and a friend heard a poor widow from our district say she had no manure to fertilize her land; and knowing that a neighbor had had a mound of unused fertilizer for years, we went and got some for her, and were reported to the police, who warned us with a smile. In 1917, during the First World War, we saw an Italian soldier hanging by the thumbs from a tree as punishment, so we cut him down. I became an antimilitarist and have remained so since. At the same time I remain strongly antireligious: how can “God” allow such tragedies to occur? I was fourteen, a born rebel.

Of my seventeen siblings only two are still alive: a sister in Ontario and another in Italy. I visit her from time to time. Out of eighteen children, seven died in infancy, and of the remaining eleven I was the only one who escaped being a victim of religion. My father was very religious; Mother, yes and no, as I’ll explain in a minute. I was left-handed. My father was totally against it and would hit me as if I were a piece of stone. In return I hated him. When I was eight years old and in second grade, they passed a law requiring one hour of religious instruction (Catholic doctrine) every day in the church, from eight to nine A.M. So we went, four or five of us friends. One day I said: “Why go there? It s the same every time. Let’s play doctor and nurse.” We passed the word to four girls, and they liked the idea. We all went to a gianary where corn was kept and studied each other’s anatomy. It was beautiful, and we had a hell of a good time.

One morning it started to rain, and I saw my father come into the courtyard of the granary. I jumped downstairs and ran away for three days, sleeping in a box car at the railroad station. Finally two of my brothers found me and Father _gave me the beating of my life. After that we had no relations. We never spoke. He made me do chores—clean the tools, take nails out of planks—but we never spoke. In 1913, when I wasn’t quite ten years old, he got sick with bronchitis, which developed into pneumonia, and in a week or two he died. He was fifty- three years old. I felt no sorrow: It was a sort of relief for me. While I was waiting for the band to come for the funeral, a friend offered me a lira for my white rabbit, and I agreed and went to get it. When I got back the band was starting, the priest was there, and everybody was crying. But my eyes were completely dry. I didn’t feel any remorse or sadness. Father was a very good builder, a good designer of houses, but he was so degenerated by religion that he didn’t behave like a human being.

Mother, Maria Pittana, was a very generous woman. When I was fourteen years old. during the war. the Germans came into our village. That was in October 1917. We had a big two-story house with a big kitchen on the ground floor, bedrooms on the second floor, and a granary in the attic. In spring we raised silkworms, the biggest industry of the region. We all helped to cut the branches and take the leaves off the mulberry trees. Father had a two-wheel cart to carry the tools to and from his work. We used that to get the branches and leaves. During the Italian retreat from the eastern front, soldiers came in and asked for polenta. But we had only wine, and my mother gave it to them. Then the Germans came in, an officer and two men, and saw the Italian soldiers, who greeted them. But there was nothing left to give them, so the Italians threw grenades and killed them. Mother and I fled to my uncle in a neighboring village. When we returned the next morning we found the street littered with corpses. All the windows were shot out, the mattresses red with blood. The arditi, drunk with wine and spoiling to fight, had attacked and killed the Germans, along with Italian soldiers who didn’t want to fight any longer but wanted only to go iiome.

Mother asked me to go out and look for food. I put on a helmet and overcoat, went to stores and brought home all kinds of stuff in our cart, trip after trip, carrying canned fish, cloth, spools of thread, cutlery. No one tried to stop me. Mother was amazed. “Tilio,” she said, “we are rich!” She sent me out to see if I could find a cow for my two-year-old sick nephew, who lived with us. I found a cow and enticed her with grass, then put a rope around her neck and led her home. Two days later Mother sent me to find a four-wheel cart that I could attach to the cow and go to nearby towns and exchange knives and forks for wheat and corn. Mother and I went on back roads to her hometown. We passed corpses in a ditch. “Oh, my God!” she exclaimed. I said, If there is a God, why does he allow wars and killing like this if he is so powerful?” She looked at me and said, “Oh, God must be a refugee. When I heard that, I felt like there were ten orgasms passing through my body, so happy I was to hear my mother say those words. Before the day was over, we had brought home grain and beans and hid it.

In addition to the cow I also found a mule. We exchanged it with a miller for a few sacks of wheat. A few days later a German officer, a captain, stayed at our house. It was a very cold day. We were warming ourselves around the fireplace when we heard the bells of the bell-tower. An air raid was coming. We huddled in the courtyard. Bombs fell close. Debris fell around us My nephew got up and began to scream. He went haywire. The German captain jumped up, threw down the child and protected him with his own body. When I saw that, a revolution began in my head. “How come?” I thought. The propaganda said that the Germans were killing women and children, cutting breasts off women in Belgium and France. As soon as I saw that, I realized that it was mostly lies. When the all-clear sounded, we returned to the fireplace. I was looking at the captain with a queer look, a question mark on my face. He asked me why I was looking at him like that. I told him what I had read in the newspaper about the atrocities in Belgium and France. He said: “Young man, I want you to listen to what I have to say to you. I am a professor; I was teaching at the University of Berlin when I was called to serve in the army. I don’t feel that I have the right to kill you because you were born here; nor should you feel you can kill me because I was born in Berlin. I want you to remember three words: Freiheit uber alles!”

These words helped me, at the end of the war in 1918, to conceive the idea not to be a soldier for anybody. I was fifteen years old then. I wrote to my older brother William (Guglielmo), a contractor in Windsor, Ontario, to please send me papers to come to Canada, because I didn’t want to be a soldier for any government. In a few weeks I got the papers. I went with another older brother, Umberto, to the British consulate in Venice. They gave us documents to enter Canada. But there was no room on any of the steamships. We had to wait till June 1920 to get passage.

I left home on June 19, 1920.1 was sixteen years and nine months old. It took three days to reach Genoa because of a railroad strike. There were four of us: me, my brother Umberto, and two friends. I should mention that my father and brothers had wanted me to become a builder, like them. But I wanted to be a mechanic. I fell in love with the lathe. A friend of my father’s had a shop in our town, and every time I passed it and saw the lathe I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I fell in love as with a beautiful girl. In May 1915—I wasn’t quite twelve years old—I became an apprentice to a blacksmith, who could do marvelous work with his hammer and file, without even a drill press. When he left for Bologna in 1^17,1 became the only blacksmith in town. Everybody came to me for keys, door locks, to sharpen tools, and the like. Farmers came to me for small anvils on which to sharpen their scythes. I accumulated a great quantity of tools which the Italian soldiers had left behind.

In any event, we arrived at Ellis Island, where we were kept for four or five days while the officials made sure I had a brother in Windsor. Finally we were allowed to proceed. We arrived in Detroit and slept in the railway station. The next morning I walked to the Detroit River and located the ferry to Windsor. I returned to the station for my three companions and we went over to Windsor, I with my wooden box with clothing and fourteen dollars in my pocket. We walked up an incline to Sandwich Street. I saw a streetcar with the sign “Walkerville,” where my brother had a post office box. The conductor showed me „where to get off. We sat there on the street. I bought oranges and sardines. At four o’clock I saw a man with a bicycle. It was my brother Guglielmo. I hadn’t seen him in six years. He was now twenty-four.

Guglielmo knew an Italian contractor in Windsor who was excavating sewers and paving streets and who had a blacksmith shop. I worked there for three years as helper to a Ukrainian blacksmith, a wonderful man. I started to go to night school to learn English and machine-shop. I became a very good lathehand, and when they laid off the Canadian lathe-hand they gave me his job. In a sense that was my Waterloo One day I was fixing a generator in the shop. My boss came in and told me to hurry up. For three years he had never called me by any name—just “dago” or “wop.” I said I was doing my best. He wasn’t satisfied. I told him to get the hell out of there and let me work. He began to shout. I threw my hammer, hit him in the leg, and he fell down. The next day I quit.

After that I couldn’t get a job in Windsor. So I went to work at Chrysler in Detroit. That was in 1922. It was then that I became an anarchist. In the Windsor public library I had begun to study the history of religion. Also, my brother had a book called Storia universale, describing the solar system, the planets, the satellites—something entirely new to me. I didn’t know that such a thing existed. I got interested, and by the time I got to Darwin and Spencer I had already traveled half the planet. One Saturday night, in 1921, when we used to congregate at a grocer’s apartment, there was a guy who (I later found out) called himself an anarchist. He began to discuss religion. I took courage and put my two cents in. I said that “from tonight on I will be known as an atheist, not a Catholic.” My brother broke in: “What did you say?” I replied, “I said what I feel.”

A few months later, in early 1922, I came across a leaflet explaining why Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent and how they had been condemned without enough proof I went to the library and tried to find out who Sacco and Vanzetti were and what “anarchism” meant. Slowly I succeeded in getting some papers, along with Fra contadini by Errico Malatesta and a pamphlet by Sebastien Faure.327 It took me six months to digest this material, but it struck a profound chord. At the grocer’s apartment, the same spot where a year earlier I had declared myself an atheist, I now said “I am an anarchist. I am against all government and authority.” This time my brother said nothing. But two other men came over and shook my hand.

Soon afterwards, I got in touch with the comrades in Detroit. A bricklayer from Friuli had arrived in Windsor and my brother had given him a job. One Sunday morning he asked me if I could get across to the States. I said yes, and he gave me a letter for a friend in Detroit. I was lucky enough to fool the immigration authorities and get in. The trick was not to hang back in the rear when the ferry docked but to stay at the front with the crowd and say with confidence, “Returning to Windsor same day!” I also wore a hat and looked more or less respectable. I had no trouble getting in. I went to the address on the letter (on Rivard Street). It turned out to be a candy store. I asked for the owner. “I am Cernuto,” the man said. He was a Sicilian anarchist and the place was an anarchist hangout. I gave him the letter. He showed me a shelf of books and said, “Maybe you’ll find something that you like.” I took a few pamphlets.

And in those beginnings I became an anarchist. That was the period of Mussolini’s march on Rome and the reaction in Italy. I became an antifascist besides calling myself an anarchist. Every Sunday morning I went to Detroit to 11 Gruppo “I Refrattari.” One active member, Bertoli, was a very good speaker, who got a lot of mail from Italy. Another was Ugo Baldi, an actor by profession, who organized a filodrammatica [theater group]. In Windsor, almost every Saturday, there was a dance and una recita [a performance] to send a few dollars overseas. There’s where I learned to put my hand in my pocket, every Saturday and Sunday, and pull out as much as I could, usually four or five dollars, a tidy sum in those days. I didn’t smoke, didn’t go out on dates. I preferred married women. I read a book, EAmore libero by Albert Berthelot, and created a revolution among half the Italians in Windsor—and the rest weren’t too happy about me. Someone in Detroit gave me a copy of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth, and that made my idea of free love more complete.

In 1923, on July 29th—I forget a lot of dates but that one I’ll always remember, the date on which Gaetano Bresci killed “Re Buono”—I attended a picnic in Detroit to commemorate the event. There was a big crowd, over two thousand persons, Italians, Spaniards, and a few Americans. I was with my girlfriend, the wife of somebody else. A tenor voice rang out, inviting us to gather round and hear who Gaetano Bresci was and who King Umberto had been. It was the voice of the chairman, Umberto Martignago [Libera Bortolotti’s father], of the Libero Pensiero Group of Sault Ste. Marie. He was followed by two speakers, both from New York: the editor of EAdunata, a Toscano named Arturo Galvani, and Pedro Esteve, who spoke in Spanish. There were five or six of us from Windsor, including Ghetti, an individualist anarchist, who said a few words.

It was at this picnic that I first met Ella Antolini, then in her early twenties. She was a beautiful young woman, a free spirit. She acted in plays in Chicago and Detroit. She went to live in Detroit with Pitton, an anarchist. She had been in prison at Jefferson City, Missouri, with Emma Goldman. After Emma and Ella left, Mollie Steimer came to the prison, and she and Ella began a correspondence. In later years, when Mollie was living in Mexico, Ella sent her two or three dollars with every letter. Ella lived in Florida for many years before her death in 1984. She was an interesting person. She was an avid reader. She did not indulge in small talk, but she had a lot to say. She never pulled her punches. She called a spade a spade. She still had a lot of her anarchism until the end. She brought her son Febo to the picnics in Crandon Park. She wanted to get him interested, but he never did. She had a stroke, which left her partly paralyzed, and died soon after of cancer.

As I said. I used to go to Detroit almost every Sunday, and never had any trouble getting in. One time, though, a U.S. immigration officer stopped me and called me aside. He asked me my nationality. I was tired of hearing this question. When I became an anarchist I also fell in love with astronomy and -with Darwin’s theory of evolution. I considered myself a human being, a creature of the universe. Besides, I am not an Italian. I’m a Friulian. I speak a different language. So to the question I replied, “I was born in a town that is located at forty-six degrees latitude and thirteen degrees longitude, east of Greenwich.” The officer was astonished. He stood there for a moment with his mouth agape, then said, “Step into the office!” He asked me to repeat what I had told him to the other immigration officers. So I repeated it. “But what country is that?” one of them asked. I said, “Get the atlas and you’ll find out where it is.” They laughed. One inspector—Jewish, with a small beard— thought it over. He said, “It must be eastern Italy or western Yugoslavia.” But they sent me back to Windsor. From then on, whenever I was stopped at the border, I always repeated that phrase.

In Windsor, due to my antifascist activities, the fascists sought to blacklist me. I tried to get a job at Ford, at the same place where Federico [Arcos] [q.v.] later worked. They refused. For a while I went back to blacksmithing, and then went to Detroit to work with my brother William on construction jobs. (He moved to Detroit in 1925.) There were three men ahead of me waiting for skilled iobs, so I started as a laborer. After six months my brother gave me a hammer and a trowel that he had bought and put me to work as a mason.

In 1926 the struggle with the fascists in Windsor was increasing and comrades asked me to |oin in. I attended a meeting addressed by the Italian consul, at which my former boss, Luigi Merlo, was chairman. I raised my hand, but the consul did not recognize me. I called him what he was—a coward. On the platform one of the fascist leaders in Windsor said, “If you have the guts, come here and speak ” I got up as fast as I could and in five seconds I was there. I told the consul what they were—a bunch of killers, liars, and the rest. At my shoulder was a picture of the king. I tore it off the wall, crumpled it in my hands, and threw it in the face of the consul. That started a melee. In less than a minute the whole audience was fighting each other. The fascists retreated into one corner. My brother came over with a couple of comrades and said, “Tilio, let’s go.” We could hear the police sirens coming. “Let’s go to Detroit and go to the opera and see Rigoletto tonight.”

That was in 1926. Two days later my brother told me to go to Redford, a suburb of Detroit, to work on a house. Around ten in the morning I saw a big car stop across from where we were working. I said to myself, “God damn it, those guys are immigration officers.” They came over and one of them asked for William Bortolotti. I asked him whether I could help him. He turned back his lapel and showed me his badge. I identified myself as Caligaris, a friend on Ellis Island. They let me go. They asked me to call over one worker at a time for identification. I called a citizen first, and to the others I shouted a warning in Friulian. All, including my brother Umberto, got away. Clearly the officials had been tipped off by the Italian consul or fascists.

A few days later my brother William called me (I was then living in Detroit) and warned that immigration officers were coming. He came over and we left for Windsor. Five minutes later an official came, but the people I boarded with told him that he had the wrong address. In Windsor I couldn’t find work. I was completely blacklisted. I spent most of my time working for Sacco and Vanzetti. I collected money and put out a leaflet. Most of the winter of 1926-1927 I spent drawing a picture of Bakunin in black and white. I made a frame, very elaborate; it took me three months to carve it: thorns and needles carved into the frame, like Bakunin’s own life. On the bottom of the frame I carved a skull, with ribbons emerging from the eyes, bearing the message, Dio non esiste (God does not exist). On the left side of the frame I carved Rodin’s The Thinker, labeled Anarchia e il pensiero e verso I’anarchia va la storia. On the top was a young girl pulling up a black veil and the sun shining through (iZ sol deU’avvenire). The right side showed three naked women, with Liberta e Ugua- glianza on the ribbon. It came out beautifully. My brother took it to Detroit, where it was used in a raffle. I could never find out who won it. I would give ten thousand dollars today to get it back.

One day, as I was finishing the frame, two policemen came to the door. “Bortolotti,” one of them said, “the old man [chief of police] wants to talk to you.” I went with them. When they opened the door, the chief said to me, “Come in, I’ve got something to tell you.” On his desk I saw all the leaflets we had published in Italian, along with copies in English. I said, “You must like what we printed—you took the trouble to translate them.” “Bortolotti,” he replied, “I want you to clear out of Windsor and out of Canada. If I didn’t know your brother Bill I would try you under the law passed during the general strike in Manitoba in 1919, with a twenty-year penalty. You can go now.”

While I was walking home I said to myself, “What am I going to do?” I had no money. I owed my landlady $800. During the evening rush hour I spent five cents for the ferry and went back to Detroit. I got a room. The next day I saw an ad in the papers that Ford wanted a tool and dye maker. I applied and took a simple exam—fortunately, because I didn’t know a thing about trigonometry in those days, a must for tool and dye making. They told me to come in the next day. I brought my tool box and a few tools and became Albert Berthelot— after the author of Amore libero—until arrested two years later.

During those two years, 1927-1929,1 went back to Windsor occasionally to fight against the fascists. I did the same in Detroit, culminating in an incident on Columbus Day 1928. We found out that the fascists would come out in black shirts and full regalia and march through the city to Cadillac Square. We decided to see what we could do. The Communists and liberals said that they would join us When the day came—a shame for Detroit—we found ourselves with only twelve persons, a Communist, two socialists, and nine anarchists. Seven of us were on the north side of the square and five on the south side. When the band began to play Giovenezza, the fascist hymn, we exploded in catcalls: “Abasso il fascismo! Assassini!” etc. The man who held the fascist flag put it down, took out his gun, and shot two comrades, both anarchists: Antonio Barra and Angelo Lentricchia. Barra was mortally wounded; Lentricchia survived.528 As the fascists closed in on us I grabbed one of them by his long black hair and began punching him. I dragged him by the hair as far as I could. The -police moved in on motorcycle and on foot with clubs raised. Someone called my name, a comrade in a fruit store. He shoved me behind four or five barrels of apples just before the police came in, and they didn’t get me. It was a stupid thing to do—there were about sixty or seventy fascists—but we felt we had to do it. I still had a handful of black hair in the fruit store.

At Ford, meanwhile, there was a campaign for the union, to organize the shop. I never liked that idea in a way, but I helped pass around leaflets and talked to the workers, saying that a union might create a new ambience and things might be better. But I never became a member myself, because I was arrested.

During 1926 and 1927 I also worked to save Sacco and Vanzetti. On the night of the execution there was a mass demonstration—anarchists, Communists, and others—in Cadillac Square, with speakers on eight flatbed cars. Midnight came. “Sacco’s dead,” came the announcement, “and Vanzetti is on his way.” Someone shouted, “Let’s attack city hall!” The crowd started to move, but four hundred policemen came in on horses and motorcycles, and a struggle began. I struck a policeman with a two-by-two from a poster denouncing the execution, and he hit me with his club and opened my scalp. Somehow I managed to escape. I went to the office of the Detroit News and was told that Sacco and Vanzetti had indeed been executed. I don’t know how I got home that night.329

After that, on every anniversary of the executions, we put out leaflets, eight by fourteen inches in size. The first anniversary we printed ten thousand leaflets and distributed them without any trouble. In 1929 I began to distribute leaflets on Fourth Street to workers coming out of the Fisher Body Plant. A police car stopped and arrested me. I spent the night in the Fourth Street station. The next day the head of detectives for Ford Motor Company came to pick up my worker’s badge. The chief of police said, “How much an hour did Ford pay you?” “A dollar ten,” I replied. “Would Mussolini pay you that much?” he asked. “Well,” I said, “I have nothing to do with Mussolini.” “You goddam anarchist bastard!” he yelled. “You may be a bastard, not me!” I said. At that point someone hit me on the head, knocking me unconscious, and I found mvself locked in a cell. I was transferred to the county jail. After three weeks I was tried before twelve judges for breaking a city ordinance. One of them had a Polish name and face. He asked, “How come you were born in Italy and have a French name [Berthelot] ?” I replied, “And how come you were born in America and have a Polish name?” “Do you believe in God?” he asked. “No,”

I said, “I am an atheist.” “Do you believe in government?” “No.” “Are you an anarchist?” “Yes, I am an anarchist!” They ordered me to be deported to Italy.

That was in the fall of 1929. My lawyer, Jacob Margolis,330 tried to get me out on bail. Bail was set at $3,000. The comrades on Rivard Street got the money together, and I was let out. Two days later, Bruno [Raffaele Schiavina] arrived in Detroit. He said to me, “Tilio, your life is worth more than $3,000. Go back to Canada and get lost.” My brother came with his truck and brought me back. One day I saw a comrade who had a wooden leg (he lost it in a coal mine explosion in British Columbia). He told me that the fascist consul was coming again to Windsor. Are we going to do anything? I wrote a leaflet and had it printed. We distributed the leaflet. The following Sunday the consul spoke. It was in the basement of a Catholic school. He wore a black suit. A few of the comrades attended. We shouted, “Abasso il fascismo! Morte a.Mussolini!” The police called in reinforcements. We formed a double line on the sidewalk. When the consul came out we all spat at him. By the time he got to the police car his jacket was white with spit. Somehow they blamed this on me too. But nobody knew where I was.

I went to Toronto and checked my valise at the train station. I walked a few blocks and saw a library. It was the reference library of the University of Toronto. I went in. It was full of students. On the bulletin board were notices of rooms for rent. One was with a Finnish family at four dollars a week. I had fifteen dollars on me. I went back to the station, got my valise, and moved in, using the name Arturo Pittana (Pittana was my mother’s maiden name). The landlord gave me the newspaper, which had an ad for a tool and dye maker, at sixty-five cents an hour. I got the job and worked there for eight years, making tools for automobile mechanics. That was still in 1929, two weeks before the Crash.

For my first year and a half in Toronto, I knew hardly any Italians. In August 1931, however, I printed five hundred leaflets on the anniversary of Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution and distributed them in the Italian district. There I met Italian socialists and Communists, who told me about another Italian anarchist, Ruggero Benvenuti, with whom I soon became friends. They also told me that there was a Matteotti Club, composed mostly of socialists (when Mat- teotti was assassinated, in 1924,1 burned my Italian passport). I went to one of their meetings and during the discussion put my two cents in. The head of the socialists said, “Hey, Pittana, I challenge you to a debate.” A week later the debate took place. At the end, a group came up to me and shook my hand. “Glad to meet you,” they said. Some were fellow Friulani, from near my home town, and together with Benvenuti we started an anarchist group.

The group, Il Gruppo Libertario, published a paper, Il Libertario, and organized a filodrammatica, of which I was the coordinator, and we put on works by Pietro Gori, Gigi Damiani,331 and others. We left the socialists and Communists way behind when it came to plays and recitals—followed, naturally, by dancing—for twenty-five cents a person. Our group had about a dozen members, including Ernesto Gava and Cocchio (the only one still alive, apart from Benvenuti and myself). Most were anarchist-communists, though I considered myself an “anarchist without adjectives,’’ adhering to no particular current or individual, Tresca, Galleani, or otherwise. I did not want anyone put on a pedestal.

There was also a Russian group, including a few Ukrainians and Bulgarians (of the latter Vasiliev was the most active), who had bought an old church and converted it into a meeting place. (The last member, Petrov, died about 1970.) -We put on our plays there, and later at the Labor Lyceum, the Jewish tradeunion hall. It was through the Russians and Ukrainians that I met the Jewish anarchists of Toronto—Seltzer [q.v.], Judkin, Desser, Langbord, Goodman, Steinberg, and others. The Jewish group was connected with the Workmen’s Circle and the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, and later with an English-speaking group, called the Libertarian Group, which Emma Goldman organized when she came to lecture in Toronto in 1934. We met at the Dessers’, a center for the movement, and occasionally at Vasiliev’s place. Dorothy Rogers, a former socialist converted by Emma, was another active member, along with myself and Ahrne Thorne [q.v.].

In 1932 or 1933 Benvenuti and I decided to publish a leaflet to commemorate Sacco and Vanzetti. We took it to Simkin, a Jewish comrade who had a little printing shop, and had five hundred copies made and distributed. The following year, 1934,1 first met Emma Goldman. I met her through Simkin—I was always in contact with the Jewish anarchists. She was staying at the Lang- bords’ and was giving a series of lectures. I went to hear her and was flabbergasted by the way she spoke, with her energy, with the beauty of her sentences. She was nothing to look at—short, fat, unattractive—but when she spoke, with that fire in her, you forgot everything. In front of you was something that transcended looks. After she spoke, I went to the Langbords’, where I was introduced to her.

The next time I saw her was in 1939. She was again in Toronto to give some lectures, early in the year. She stayed a month or two, and we became good friends. I was especially interested in hearing about her experiences in Russia and Spain I drove her places in my car and arranged a few of her lectures, including two or three in Windsor, where the anarchists from Detroit could come across the border and hear her. One day, while we were there, I took her for a drive around the Detroit River, pointing out the sights. When we were parallel to Belle Isle, in the middle of the river, we stopped and I explained what we were seeing. I told her that Belle Isle was famous during the previous century when the black slaves were brought to Canada on the underground railroad. She was very interested in this. She was enthralled just to be near the United States. She looked at Belle Isle and Detroit as though through the eyes of a lover. It was then that I understood how much America meant to her.

Yes, she talked a lot about Berkman, and especially his attempt on Frick. One day she said, “If you had met Berkman you wouldn’t have thought him capable of shooting at a fellow human being, but he was captivated by the ideal of anarchism and believed that Frick’s behavior was antisocial and antihuman, so that he had to be eliminated.”

Throughout the 1930s I was active in the antifascist movement. In September 1938 I was invited by the labor organization of Windsor to deliver a lecture on fascism and the activities of the fascists in Windsor, where they had organized a school to teach Italian with books printed by Mussolini. I succeeded in getting copies of these books, and there was more fascism than language in them, which I told the audience. The next day the Windsor Star had an article about my lecture, and the fascists were ready to destroy me. And when they found out that I had jumped bail in Detroit a few years earlier, they reported me to the American immigration authorities.

As soon as the war broke out, in September 1939, the fascists in Windsor and Toronto denounced me for spreading anarchist ideas: I was getting ten copies of EAdunata at the time and passing them out, along with papers from France and Belgium. I was threatened with being “taken for a ride,” and for the only time in my life—I detest firearms and killing—I carried a pistol for a few months. We organized demonstrations and street meetings at which I, Ahrne, and Dorothy Rogers spoke, and were attacked by mounted police. The authorities kept me under continuous surveillance, and they now tried in earnest to deport me.

At 5 A.M. on October 4th our house was surrounded by mounted police, and four of us were arrested, Gava, Benvenuti, Vittorio Valopi, and myself. Emma did more than anyone else to prevent the deportation. She organized meetings, raised funds, and immediately got the best progressive attorney, a Jewish lawyer named Cohen. He got Benvenuti, Valopi, and Gava out in two or three weeks. They kept me for three and a half months. The others had family—I was still single—and the fascists hated me the most; also, I took the burden on myself, insisting that I alone was responsible.

On the day of my arrest, the Toronto “red squad” came in and seized all my books and periodicals, a big collection of 1,500 volumes, along with all my correspondence. A big truck arrived and hauled it all away, and two years later they burned it. The day before the burning, two mounties came to my house and told me that they would be burning everything the next day. I said, “You think that by burning my library you will burn my ideals?” A few days later another mountie came, a young man born in Vancouver of Friulian parents. He brought me half a dozen pamphlets. That was all that remained of my collection. All the rest had been destroyed. If I live to be a thousand years old I’ll never forget that. The mountie asked me what was anarchism. When I replied he said, “Why, that’s democracy!”

That happened in 1941. I was now together with Libera; we had become companions that year. “Do you want to become a Canadian citizen?” the mountie asked me. “Then it’s best to keep quiet. Forget about all this. And don’t speak in public.” I said that I want to be a citizen of the world. I had been helping two deserters from Detroit, and one of them was right there when the mountie came. Libera warned him in Italian to get away. We saved them from arrest and possible death. One was the son of Nick and Margaretta Catalano, comrades in Detroit. He now lives in California, and we still see him quite often.

After three and a half months, as I said, I was released on bail. Toolmakers were now in great demand because of the war, and they allowed me to work. At first I couldn’t get a job because I was born in Italy, a country with which Canada was now at war. I promised Emma that as soon as I got a job I would -rent a big apartment for her and Dorothy Rogers, her secretary. Emma was then living in cramped quarters with the Meelises, Dutch comrades, and didn’t have enough money even for postage stamps. So that was foremost in my mind I went to four or five factories, but they didn’t want Italians. I went to one more place, the United Steel Corporation. On the way there, I met a friend, Bartello, and I took the name Arthur Bartell to sound more Anglo-Saxon. The man who interviewed me was Dutch, and he took me for a fellow Dutchman; I was blond, blue-eyed, and Bartell was a Dutch name. The next day I got a phone call from the superintendent, Joe Schainfeld, who was Jewish, and he asked me to come in. He interviewed me and told me to start tomorrow. So I took my tool chest and started to work. That was in early 1940.

By the time I had accumulated enough money to rent Emma an apartment, she had had a severe stroke. It happened on February 17, in the evening, the anniversary of Giordano Bruno’s332 being burned at the stake. Bruno had entered into my life quite early, and I had gathered quite a bit of information about him. I was going to speak about him to a group of friends at the Meelises’ house at 295 Bond Road, where Emma was living. I went to pick up Jack and Sylvia Fitzgerald in my car—after that I was supposed to pick up Ahrne Thorne—when their phone began to ring. It was Dorothy: “Come right away! Emma has had a stroke1” I jumped in my car and raced over there. I found her lying on the bed. She tried to pull her skirt down because her knee was showing. Moments later the ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital. She couldn’t talk. But her eyes talked a lot and her handshake was firm. Without Emma’s help I would have been deported. Emma had a lot of charisma; even her political enemies respected her. She never regained her power of speech. She died three months later.

Yes, I still feel the same way about anarchism. At first I had been a real revolutionary. I was young and like quicksilver, enamored of Galleani and of terrorists like Emile Henry. But during the Sacco-Vanzetti tragedy, which had great repercussions in Canada and made a lasting impression on me personally, the small response that we got from the general population made me more reflective, more philosophical. Money and property never made an incision in my psyche; money is not for our own aggrandizement but to help those in need. Yet I still believed in the necessity of violence up to the time of the Spanish Revolution. After May 1937 in Barcelona I began to think. Tens or hundreds of thousands of lives were being sacrificed. For what? The anarchists had compromised their principles by joining the government. I began to see that anarchism cannot be imposed, that it can only be attained through education and propaganda. This remains our most important task. I am often sorry that I didn’t take Ahrne’s advice and take extension courses in literature and history at the University of Toronto. ,

For some reason fewer people come to anarchism these days than in the past. But I’m not disillusioned, even though the movement is not what it should be. Emma Goldman has been an inspiration to me. And Rocker too. I loved his way of speaking. I heard him often in Toronto. He used to come every year and deliver a minimum of six lectures. For a German he was very friendly.


Part Four: Schools and Colonies

AMOUR LIBER

REVOLTE BERCOVICI

DAVID LAWSON

  • MANUEL KOMROFF

  • BENJAMIN G. BENNO

  • MAURICE HOLLOD

  • ROSE GOLDBLATT

  • GUSSIE DENENBERG

  • CHARLES PLUNKETT

  • MORITZ JAGENDORF

  • MORRIS BERESIN

  • HARRY MELMAN

  • EMMA GILBERT

  • RICHARD GILBERT

  • MAGDA SCHOENWETTER

  • RAY SHEDLOVSKY

  • EVA BEIN

  • MARY RAPPAPORT

  • ■ ANNA SCHWARTZ

  • HUGO GELLERT

  • LILLIAN RIFKIN BLUMENFELD

  • SUZANNE HOTKINE AVINS

  • ANATOLE FREEMAN ISHILL

  • BEN FRUMKIN

  • SIEGFRIED ROLLAND

  • ESTHER WALTERS

  • RINA GARST

  • MOLLIE ALBERT

  • MOLLY BOGIN

  • LALLAH BLANPIED

  • DOROTHY RICK

  • JACQUES DUBOIS

  • HENRY FRUCHTER

  • NORA HORN

  • JACOB LANDA

  • JO ANN BURBANK

  • BEN LIEBERMAN

  • JACQUES RUDOME

  • LYDIA MILLER

  • ■ EVA BRANDES

  • NELLIE DICK

  • MACIE POPE

  • DAVID DADISMAN

  • PEARL POTTU

  • RADIUM LAVENE

  • PHILIP TRUPIN

  • LOUIS A. GITTELMAN

  • ELLIS GROSNER

  • AARON ROCKOFF

  • ElEANOR LITWAK

  • SHAINDEL OSTROFF

  • EMANUEL V. CONASON

  • BEATRICE MARKOWITZ

  • DORA KEYSER


WlLuAM J. DURANT, Principal, and chik

Modern School.

4. Will Durant and pupils of the New York Modern School, 1912 (Paul Avnch Collection)


Introduction

On October 13, 1909, Francisco Ferrer y Guardia, a Spanish educator and ^freethinker, was shot in the trenches of Barcelona’s Montjuich fortress. Following a mock trial, at which no solid evidence against him was brought forward, a military court had found him guilty of fomenting a popular insurrection, which had raged for a week before being crushed by government forces. The execution of Ferrer, the founder of libertarian schools, provoked an international outcry. A little-known figure outside radical circles, he was catapulted into sudden prominence. On both sides of the Atlantic, there were meetings and demonstrations of protest. In a number of European cities streets were named after him and statues erected in his memory. Most important, however, a movement for libertarian education, spurred by his example, quickly spread throughout the world. In Brazil and Argentina, in Poland and Czechoslovakia, in China and Japan, not to mention England, France, and other Western European countries, schools were started on the Ferrer model. These schools, bearing Ferrer’s name and promoting his philosophy of education, emphasized the rights and dignity of the child, a give and take between pupil and teacher, and the cultivation of both manual and intellectual skills in a libertarian environment.

The most extensive Ferrer movement,, however, arose in the United States, where it endured for more than fifty years. Between 1910 and 1960, an assortment of radicals from New York to Los Angeles carried on a venture in learning that was unique in American history. Inspired by Ferrer’s martyrdom, more than twenty schools were started in different parts of the country, where children might study in an atmosphere of freedom, in contrast to the formality and discipline of the traditional classroom. These Ferrer schools—or Modern Schools, as they were called—differed from other educational experiments of the same period in being schools for children of workers and directed by the workers themselves. Their founders, moreover, were mostly anarchists, who sought to abolish all forms of authority, political and economic as well as educational, and to usher in a new society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals. Their object, during an era of war, social ferment, and government oppression, was to create not only a new type of school but also a new culture, a new life, a new world.

In the wake of Ferrer’s execution, anarchist and free-thought groups marshaled their resources in a campaign to spread Ferrer’s teachings. By the spring of 1910, their efforts had crystallized into a national organization, the Francisco Ferrer Association (later the Modern School Association of North America), with Leonard Abbott as president and Harry Kelly and Emma Goldman among the charter members. Over the next few years the Ferrer Association prospered. Branches were started in all parts of the country, and membership grew with a rapidity that surpassed the most optimistic forecasts. By the outbreak of the First World War, moreover, Modern Schools had been opened in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Portland, while additional schools were soon started in Boston, Paterson, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other locations. In addition to English, classes were conducted in German, Yiddish, Czech, Italian, and Spanish. Near the larger cities, including New York and Philadelphia, summer camps were established as retreats from the squalor of ghetto life.

Most of the Modern Schools in America were ephemeral ventures, lasting only two or three years, although the school at Stelton, New Jersey, continued for four decades, and its counterpart at Mohegan, New York, for nearly two. Improvisation and experiment were the rule, and there was considerable variation from place to place, depending on resources and staff. Yet, for all the diversity, the schools shared a set of common practices and assumptions. Instruction was based on libertarian principles, with emphasis on learning by doing and on crafts as well as books. Rigid programs, curricula, and timetables were banished from the classroom.

Participants in the schools believed that traditional education restrained the spontaneous development of the child, stunted his growth, and brutalized his character. Shunning memorization and rote, the staples of conventional learning, they argued that freedom must be the cornerstone of education, that education was a process of self-development, a drawing out rather than a driving in, a means by which the child’s unique spirit was nurtured rather than shaped or suppressed. As far as possible, they held, the pupils themselves must decide what to learn and how to learn it, that the function of the teacher was to allow them free scope, to encourage their self-reliance and independence. A favorite metaphor was that of a tree or a flower, growing, unfolding, blossoming, with nature alone to sustain it. In keeping with this philosophy, the students were treated with patience and understanding. Rewards and punishments were done away with, arbitrary rules abolished, and there were no marks or examinations which might engender hypocrisy or dissimulation or arouse feelings of envy among the pupils. Children, it was held, must be free to learn without fear and without the pressures of rivalry and competition.

In all the Modern Schools, education was conceived of as a never-ending process, extending from cradle to grave. Adults, accordingly, were encouraged not only to take part in the operation of the schools but also to attend evening and Sunday lectures by well-known speakers and writers, supplemented by courses on art, literature, and a range of historical and scientific subjects. In several schools, moreover, Esperanto was taught as an international language, promoting solidarity among the different nationalities, and nearly all the schools doubled as radical centers, involved not only with education but with a variety of social causes, from industrial unionism and freedom of speech to sexual liberation and antimililarist propaganda. The prevailing ideology was a mixture of anarchism, socialism, and syndicalism, with Kropotkin as the most influential theorist. Apart from the Ferrer Association newsletter, a number of publications—notably Mother Earth and The Modern School magazine—carried news of the different schools, keeping them abreast of each other’s activities. Contacts between them were frequent, including exchanges of teachers and equipment, and they shared a sense of common mission in their quest for educational freedom

No school better exemplified the dual pursuit of children’s and adult education than the Modern School of New York, familiarly known as the Ferrer Center. Established in 1911, it was a place where adults came to hear lectures by Clarence Darrow, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and other public figures, to see new plays staged by the Free Theatre, to listen to concerts of the Modern School Trio, and to debate the burning questions of the day. It was an outlet for men and women of talent, where Man Ray could experiment with camera and brush, Mike Gold read from Shelley and Blake, and Sadakichi Hartmann put on finger dances and perfume concerts.

Apart from a day school for children, supervised by Will Durant, the Ferrer Center offered evening classes for adults in literature, art, physiology, and psychology, as well as in Spanish, Esperanto, and French. The most successful of these was the art class, conducted by Robert Henri and George Bellows. Another popular course was the weekly forum on “Radical Literature and the Great Libertarians,” organized by Leonard Abbott, who lectured on Maeterlinck, Shaw, and other writers of advanced views. Jacques Rudome, the teacher of the French class, remembers the Ferrer Center as “bustling with life and activity,” and to Moritz Jagendorf, director of the Free Theatre, it was “a seething ocean of thought and activity, everybody working and creating.” “I liked it at once,” recalls the writer Manuel Komroff.333 “One felt unfettered, one felt free. Views were freely exchanged between the speaker and the audience, and the air seemed charged with excitement.”

The Ferrer Center was viewed by its enthusiasts as a model of what was desirable in human relations. In its structure and operations, in the behavior of its participants to one another, it provided a foretaste of the libertarian future, of what life could be like once the restraints imposed by authority had been removed. For some it was also a vehicle of rebellion, a means of altering social foundations by removing the fetters of ignorance, dogmatism, and convention. Its central aim, however, was to free the child From this the rest would follow.

The progress of the school was interrupted, however during its fourth year of existence. In April 1914, during a coal miners’ strike in Colorado, a detachment of militia attacked a tent colony at the town of Ludlow, killing five miners and a boy. The soldiers then poured oil on the tents and set them ablaze; eleven children and two women were smothered to death. Following this, three persons, including a leader of the strike, were savagely beaten, then murdered. The Ludlow massacre, as the episode became known, touched off protests throughout the nation, directed at John D. Rockefeller, Jr., principal owner of the Ludlow mines. In the ensuing weeks, moreover, a plot took shape to blow up Rockefeller’s mansion near Tarrytown, New York. Masterminded by Alexander Berkman, the conspiracy was hatched at the Ferrer Center. On July 4, 1914, an explosion occurred in a tenement on Lexington Avenue, a few blocks from the Center, killing three anarchists, Arthur Caron, Carl Hanson, and Charles Berg. A bomb intended for Rockefeller had gone off prematurely.

The Lexington Avenue incident had immediate repercussions within the school. In the wake of the explosion, police agents infiltrated the adult classes in an effort to sniff out the conspirators. Overnight the school acquired the reputation as a bomb factory, a hotbed of incendiarism and subversion. The number of visitors dwindled, and financial contributions dried up. The straits in which the school now found itself, combined with the presence of spies and the general atmosphere of anxiety and suspense, led to a decision to move the school outside of New York. A quiet, rural location was found in the village of Stelton, New Jersey, where an anarchist colony sprang into being. In May 1915 the Modern School moved from New York to Stelton, where it maintained a continuous existence for nearly forty years, the longest such venture on record.

Education at Stelton continued along the lines laid down in New York. There was no segregation of the sexes. Attendance was voluntary; the children came and went as they pleased, pursuing what interested them, ignoring the rest. There was no discipline, no punishment, no formal curriculum. Pupils as well as parents took part in the administration of the school, which formed the centerpiece of the colony, the focus of its life and main reason for its existence. In conformity with the principles of libertarian education, due emphasis was laid on handicrafts as well as books. Instruction was given in carpentry, weaving, and basket-making; a Belgian anarchist, Jules Scarceriaux, came from Trenton to teach pottery and brick-making; and Joseph Ishill started a class in printing. Under the guidance of Hugo Gellert, moreover, the children produced strikingly original art work. As in New York, much effort was devoted to experiment and improvisation. Furthermore, given the school’s rural location, an outdoor education was more the rule than ever, featuring hiking, swimming, gardening, and a variety of games and sports.

Of the many teachers at Stelton during the school’s prolonged existence, the most notable, perhaps, were Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm, the objects of much attention in the interviews. “The school was run by saints,” Roger Baldwin remarks. “Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm were so dedicated, so self-sacrificing, that no setback or discouragement—and there were many—could stop them from carrying out their mission ” The Ferms—Uncle and Aunty, as they were called—were among the earliest pioneers of libertarian education in the United States. In 1901 they started a free school in New Rochelle, New York, moving to Brooklyn and then to the Lower East Side, before ending up at Stelton in 1920. Both—and especially Aunty—were strong personalities who left a deep impression on the Ferrer movement, in which they were active for nearly thirty years. The Ferms left Stelton in 1925, only to return eight years later. Aunty died there in 1944, after which Uncle retired to a single-tax colony in Fairhope, Alabama, where he died in 1971.

Meanwhile, in 1923, a new colony had sprung up on Lake Mohegan, New York, with a Modern School of its own that lasted for two decades. The Mohegan school opened in 1924 under the direction of James and Nellie Dick, who were also in charge of the children’s boarding house. Both had been ardent proponents of libertarian education in England, where they had founded Modern Schools in Liverpool and London. Emigrating to the United States in 1917, they supervised the boarding house at Stelton until their move to Mohegan. In 1928 they returned to Stelton as coprincipals, before starting their own Mod- ern School at Lakewood, New Jersey, which continued for twenty-five years, closing in 1958. For half a century, then, the Dicks had played a major role in the Ferrer movement on both sides of the Atlantic.

The closing of the Lakewood school marked the end of the Modern School movement in America. To preserve its legacy, however, a group of former teachers and pupils met in 1973 and established the Friends of the Modern School. In September of that year the new organization held its first annual reunion at Rutgers University, a stone’s throw from the defunct Stelton Colony. Since that time Rutgers has become the repository of the Ferrer movement archives, and hundreds of pupils and teachers, colonists and friends have attended the reunions, among them Nellie Dick, her son James Junior, and the children and grandchildren of Leonard Abbott, Harry Kelly, and Joseph Cohen, three of the principal founders of the movement. From all over the country the alumni of the New York, Stelton, Mohegan, and other Modern Schools have gathered each year to take part in lectures and symposiums and to deposit material in the Rutgers collection.

In addition to Stelton and Mohegan, residents of two other anarchist colonies, Home, near Tacoma, Washington, and Sunrise, in the Saginaw valley of Michigan, have been interviewed for the present collection. As in Stelton and Mohegan, the colonists at Home and Sunrise sought to recapture a more natural and harmonious life, unspoiled by industrial and urban blight, and to create a freer world in which they could direct their own affairs in accordance with libertarian values. A central assumption, as in Stelton and Mohegan, was that the anarchist ideal of a society without coercive authority or economic oppression would be realized, at least in part, through the education of children uncorrupted by the commercialism and selfishness of the capitalist system and undisturbed by political repression or by the indoctrination in religion or government practiced in the traditional school.

Both Home and Sunrise, accordingly, boasted schools of a libertarian type. Although not called Modern Schools or affiliated with the Ferrer Association, they were run on principles similar to those evolved by Ferrer and his disciples. At Home, founded in 1896, the execution of Ferrer was the occasion for mourning. One colonist named his son after Ferrer and kept a bust of the Spanish educator on his mantlepiece. The Agitator, a journal published at the colony, called itself “A Semi-Monthly Advocate of the Modern School, Industrial Unionism, and Individual Liberty,” and carried articles on “The Martyrdom of Ferrer” and the “Necessity for the Modern School,” as well as contributions by Bruce Rogers, director of the Modern School in Seattle. George H. Allen, one of the community’s original settlers, contrasted public education with the “liberty of thought and action allqwed in our school,” of which he himself was the first teacher. As in the Modern Schools, crafts, play, field trips, and sex education had an important place in the Home curriculum. Nor was adult education neglected with lectures, courses, and study groups offered on such subjects as eugenics, Esperanto, and oriental philosophy. Guest lecturers included Emma Goldman, who visited the colony several times, and plans were begun for the creation of a “Liberty University of the Northwest,” a project that, however, remained unrealized.

Home Colony, situated on a small bay framed by sloping woods in a remote corner of the nation, endured for a quarter-century before its formal dissolution, making it one of the longest-lived American communitarian experiments. By contrast, the Sunrise Co-operative Farm Community, founded in 1933, barely outlasted the decade. Although farming was the main endeavor, the colonists were conspicuously unqualified for agricultural labor, being mostly city workers of East European Jewish background, bred in urban surroundings and skilled in industrial trades. A few, including the founder, Joseph Cohen, had previously lived at Stelton or Mohegan, while one, Yetta Bienenfeld, had been a teacher at the Detroit Modern School before the First World War. At Sunrise, however, the school was not the focus of community life; and cultural events, while not ignored (guest speakers included Rudolf Rocker, the foremost living German anarchist, and Agnes Inglis, curator of the Labadie Collection in Ann Arbor), took a back place to economic survival in the midst of the great Depression. From its inception, unfortunately, the colony was plagued by personal rivalries, factional quarrels, and economic hardship, causing many members to leave. In 1937 a remnant moved to Samos, Virginia, disbanding there in 1940.

Amour Liber

Bronx, New York, April 17, 1973

Amour Liber was the first pupil to enroll in the New York Ferrer School when it opened in October 1911 on East Twelfth Street. He was accompanied by his father, Dr. Benzion Liber (1875-1958), a Rumanian-born physician, hygienist, founder of the Free Acres single-tax colony, treasurer of the Anarchist Red Cross, and author of a dozen books and scores of articles on diet, health, and the like.334 Among Amour’s fellow pupils were Magda Boris Schoenwetter (q.v.) and his cousins Hyperion, Gorky, and Revolte Bercovici (q.v.), the children of Konrad and Naomi Bercovici, Benzion Liber’s younger sister. Amour, like his father, went on to study medicine. He taught at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and served as chief pathologist at the Bronx Veterans’ Hospital, where I interviewed him in his laboratory. He died in 1974.

My father was born in Rumania His name was originally Librescu, which he changed to Liber in the United States; his brother changed Librescu to Liberty. From Rumania my parents went to Paris, where I was born in 1905 (French is my native tongue). We came to the U.S. soon afterwards.

In 1911, when I was six, Father brought me to the Modern School on East Twelfth Street. I was the first pupil, along with a pretty girl in a blue sweater named Ruth. We called her “Ruth the Beaut.” Our first teachers were the Coryells,355 and I was very fond of them. After school I visited their home. When they left after a few months, they were replaced by Will Durant. He was a fine teacher, but to be the Coryells’ successor was an unenviable fate. The children all loved the Coryells, so at first he had a hard time. We played pranks on him, and he didn’t know why. But with great patience and kindness he overcame our hostility and became very popular.

I was at the school only a few months and didn’t go on to 107th Street I don’t know why Father withdrew me, but after that he taught me himself, at home until I was ready for high school (Townsend Harris). I went on to Cornell, then studied medicine in France. While teaching me. Father started a small school at home for two or three pupils, which lasted intermittently for several years. He was a general practitioner till about 1925, when he began to specialize in psychiatry. He wrote a dozen books and was also a good amateur artist. He was a founder of the Free Acres Colony and we went there for the summers. We knew Bolton Hall well, a wealthy corporation counsel. Father mingled with all the radicals without ever adopting a permanent label. Unfortunately he did not save his papers.

Joseph Ishill’s Erst wife was a relative of ours from Rumania named Sophie Sommer, who died around 1920. Then he got together with Rose Freeman.

Revolte Bercovici

New York City, September 29, 1977

Revolte (“Rada”) Bercovici is the daughter of the Rumanian-born writer Konrad Bercovici (1882-1961), author of The Story of the Gypsies (1928), Around the World in New York (1938), It’s the Gypsy in Me (1941), and other works of biography, travel, and fiction. Together with her brothers Gorky and Hyperion, Rada attended the Children’s Playhouse School on the Lower East Side, conducted by Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm, and the Modern School of New York on East Twelfth Street, along with Amour Liber (q.v.) and Magda Schoenwetter (q.v.). Her sister

Mirel, present at the interview, had been married to William Morris Abbott, son of Leonard D. Abbott, a leading figure in the Modern School movement. Rada died in 1993, at the age of eighty-six.

I AND MY brothers, Hyperion and Gorky, were at the Ferrer School from the beginning, along with our cousin Amour Liber [q.v.]. There were also Stuart Sanger, Magda Boris [Schoenwetter, q.v.], and Anne and Arundel, two girls from the South. Our teachers, the Coryells, were very nice. We were wild, very badly behaved. The janitor, Frank the Crank, chopped a cat’s head off to teach us “about life.” A lot of society people came to visit. It was like going to the zoo!

Will Durant replaced the Coryells. We didn't like him at all. He was not a good teacher. He was interested in lecturing to the adults, and all sorts of things, but not in teaching children. “There comes the faker,” we said when we saw him approaching. We wanted to kill him. So we danced around him in a circle, like Indians on the warpath, drawing closer and closer. And that frightened him a little. We didn’t like the school because we didn’t like Durant.

The person I liked the best was Robert Henri.336 He would talk to us about Paris, about art. The man knew color, the man knew life. So I used to get up and dance for him. He was a natural teacher. Emma Goldman came too. She was a lovely person, but wasn’t interested in kids. She much preferred lecturing. But I liked to listen to her. She was full of fire. Emma, by the way, together with Alexander Berkman, came to see my parents in Paris during the 1920s. She was broken-hearted about Russia. She wept, and Sasha went over and patted her shoulder.

Before the Ferrer School, I can remember Aunty and Uncle Ferm’s school on Madison Street. They were very sweet people, very nice people. Aunty played the piano—badly. Mr. and Mrs. [J. Stanwood] Menken used to come to the school. He was a wealthy man, and they came in a big car. She was a sweet woman, a little old lady who was interested in “doing good.” Johanna Cook, a real American libertarian, came often to the school. We all loved her. My mother had her own school, in Hewlett, Long Island, for a few months around 1910.

David Lawson

Brooklyn, New York, November 17, 1977

David Lawson, a Scottish-born engineer, was the companion of Lola Ridge, “our gifted rebel poet,” in the words of Emma Goldman, who thought her “a sweet and lovely spirit.”337 Ridge was the first organizer (i.e., manager) of the Francisco Ferrer Association in New York, where she and Lawson met in 1911. “There was a nice young man, said Gussie Denenberg (q.v.) of Lawson, “who always accompanied her. Without him she couldn’t do much. He was on her right-hand side all the time.” In 1912 Ridge became the first editor of The Modern School magazine, for which Lawson designed the cover. She herself contributed poems to the paper, as well as to Goldman’s Mother Earth, and recited a poem to Goldman and Alexander Berkman at a farewell dinner on the eve of their deportation in 1919. In 1927 she marched on a picket line in Boston to protest against the death sentence for Sacco and Vanzetti and wrote some of the finest poems inspired by that tragic case.

I WAS BORN in Glasgow, lived in Boston, and came to New York around 1910 [he is about ninety-two], I was interested in socialism at that time and heard about the Ferrer Association on St. Mark’s Place. Bayard Boyesen gave up his job at Columbia University to teach there. He was a nice-looking man who liked his cocktails. Emma Goldman’s niece Stella Cornyn [Ballantine] liked him and tried her damnedest to get him—and probably did sometimes. James E Morton338 taught Esperanto. He was a man of medium height, on the blond side, with whiskers but no beard.

One night we had an affair there to raise money. There was a lot of food left over. “Why don’t you bring in some people who need this stuff?” someone asked. So I went out to the Bowery and found hungry men, one after another, a whole procession of them, who followed me to the Ferrer Center and ate up everything. I met Lola Ridge at the Ferrer Association. We used to go there almost every night. It was Konrad Bercovici who conducted her around the Lower East Side, where she saw the Jews for the first time.

The school moved from St. Mark’s Place to East Twelfth Street. I designed the cover and lettering for the first issue of The Modern School magazine, which Lola edited. And 1 was the first one to contact Will Durant. I went over to his home in New Jersey and invited him to come to the school. Lola and I met Jack London339 at East Twelfth Street. Margaret Sanger340 came too, and Ben Reitman and Bill Haywood. All the people who came were people with ideas and wide interests. Robert Henri taught art at night—gratis—to children and adults. Alexander Berkman—Sasha—was a beautiful person. You could see it all over him. You could see it in his face, his features, his character, his movements. I can see his face in front of me right now.

Lola and I left New York in 1912 and traveled around the country for five years. Before we left, there was a big benefit for the Ferrer Association at Webster Hall. We traveled all over the country. In New Orleans we sent for her son, who was living out West. We came back in 1917.

We rejoiced over the Russian Revolution. At that time it looked as if the whole world would open up. We had an ideal vision of the Revolution, of the possibilities that lay ahead. We were all for the working man, you know.

Manuel Komroff

Woodstock, New York, September 29, 1972

As a young man of versatile gifts, Manuel Komroff was one of the most vital figures at the Ferrer Center in New York, where he attended the art class of Robert Henri and George Bellows, drew a cover for Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth, and wrote avant-garde plays for Moritz Jagendorf’s (q.v.) Free Theatre. During this time he also became an art critic for the New York Call and editorial writer for the Daily Garment News. When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, Komroff went to Petrograd and edited The Russian Daily News, published in English. After the Bolshevik seizure of power, he left the country by way of Siberia and went to Shanghai, where he worked on The China Press for several months before returning to America.

Back in New York, Komroff worked as an editor of The Modern Library, then owned by the firm of Boni & Liveright, while embarking on a career as a novelist and story writer that earned him a measure of fame. He published more than fifty books, the best known being The Grace of Lambs (1925), Juggler’s Kiss (1927), and Coronet (1930). At the same time, he was an accomplished painter, carpenter, photographer, and cook. When I interviewed him at his home in Woodstock, New York, he prepared a delicious omelette with home-grown mushrooms and eggs from a nearby farm. An affable man of medium height, with a neatly trimmed white mustache, he was then engaged in writing his memoirs. Entitled “A Story Teller’s World,” it had not been completed at the time of Komroff’s death from cancer on December 10, 1974.341

I WAS born in New York City on September 7, 1890. In 1911, when the Ferrer Center opened, I had been going to lectures at the Rand School342 downtown on Fifteenth Street. I had attended Yale for two years and was interested in art, music, and wood crafts. But the Rand School disappointed me. I didn’t like Marx: he was so cumbersome! I didn’t like his materialist interpretation of history. I felt that it didn’t explain Napoleon or St. Francis of Assisi or a lot of other important things in history. Nor did I care for his theory that the revolution would come first in advanced industrial countries. And he was autocratic and dogmatic. On the Rand School bulletin board I saw a notice of a lecture at the Ferrer Center. I liked the place at once. I then read An Appeal to the Young by Kropotkin. It just hit me, a young unadjusted man. I followed it with Mutual Aid and Fields, Factories and Workshops. I loved Kropotkin. I became a philosophical anarchist, but also a pacifist and opposed to terrorism.

At the Ferrer Center we all felt that what we were doing was important. I heard people speak on different subjects that I never dreamed existed: Joseph McCabe343 on his thirteen years in an English monastery; Theodore Schroeder344 on phallic symbols and free speech; Clarence Darrow, whom I introduced several times when Leonard Abbott was not there; Will Durant on “Havelock Ellis, Sex, and Society,” a course of six lectures. After one of the latter Mrs. Konrad Bercovici got up and said in a thick Jewish accent: “Mr. Durant, I don’t want to ask a question, and I don’t want to make a discussion, but I myself have personally been in the sexual movement for fifteen years and I can see no progress.”

The Ferrer Center became my whole education. It taught me everything I know and opened up new worlds. J attended the Henri-Bellows art class. The -■ class had nude models, both male and female, unusual for those days. Henri spoke with hypnotic effect, sort of Chinese-looking with his high cheek-bones. He was a great teacher, though I always felt there was some shadow over him. Bellows was more direct, like the Yankee baseball player he was, without Henri’s magnetism, nor as cultured. They gave me a sense of values that was not political, that was not tied up with money. You don’t know what you missed! We had wonderful times—not a nickel, but wonderful times!

Leonard Abbott was tall, lean, and born in Liverpool. He spoke fine English and was a lovable man. He knew Kropotkin, Morris, the Fabian Socialists, and so drifted into socialism and anarchism when he came to the United States. Morris and Whitman were among his favorite writers. I spoke at his funeral in 1953. Harry Kelly was small and thin with a straw-colored mustache. He spoke with horse sense. After one of his lectures someone in the audience asked, “If everyone is tree to do as he wants, how can an orchestra play one piece? What if I marched down the aisle playing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ on the piccolo?” Kelly said, “Then we’d take you by the collar and throw you out.”

Alexander Berkman was only a shadow of what he could have been, while Emma Goldman did fulfill herself. She did wonderful things. But she was a very jealous woman. She thought she owned anarchism and that we—the Ferrer Center—were poaching on her preserve. By the Ferrer Center I mean Abbott, Kelly, Joseph Cohen, Stewart Kerr,345 and myself, as against the Mother Earth office nearby.3' There was a certain rivalry between the two. Emma had a strong, powerful voice, but ugly with a guttural Russian accent. No one at her lectures ever said, “Louder, please.” Ben Reitman went down the aisles selling anarchist literature. She was thoroughly unattractive and not an inspiring person, for all her good work. She didn’t touch people the way Kelly or Abbott did.

Joseph Cohen was a former cigar maker from Philadelphia, and in New York he still rolled cigars for his friends. He was a wonderful fellow, quiet, never mixed up with violence. He spoke on occasion, but not too well. Hippolyte Havel was often maudlin and occasionally suicidal. In 1913-1914, when he edited the Revolutionary Almanac (the “angel” who paid for it was a Greek tobacco importer named John Rompompas, who came to the Ferrer Center lectures), he lived in the Hermitage on Fifteenth Street, where John Reed347 also had a room. I visited him one day and smelled gas. The door was locked. Then Jack Reed came up the stairs. I called him—he was a big fellow—and he broke in the door. We opened the windows and Havel came to. He later was a dishwasher and cook—not a waiter—at Polly’s Restaurant in the Village.

Sadakichi Hartmann was a tall, skinny fellow. His father was a German officer and his mother a Japanese girl, and he inherited the worst traits of both races. When I went to Hollywood to write film scripts I was warned not to let him know I was there, or “he’ll touch you.” But he had a fine, sonorous voice, which today would be thought too dramatic. He recited Whitman and Poe. When opened, his mouth was toothless except for two tusks. He played the main thief in Douglas Fairbanks Senior’s The Thief of Baghdad, but disappeared near the end of the filming, then demanded more money to finish. On the other hand, Alfred Stieglitz348 said his book on Japanese prints was fine and that he was one of the best photographers in the United States.

Other people at the Ferrer Center included Joseph Kucera, a Bohemian machinist and Voltairine de Cieyre’s last lover. He had the manuscript of her translation of Louise Michel’s memoirs, which was never published. Adolf Wolff349 was a Belgian sculptor, a faker and poseur who left a trail of debts. He was in Henri’s art class with me, and his former wife became the mistress of Man Ray,350 who had also been in our class. Wolff wrote poetry too—lousy poetry. Both of the Durants were anarchists—she definitely so, he leaned that way. They were married before a judge at City Hall, and Ariel’s mother was there too because her daughter was only fifteen. The judge shook his finger at Will and said, “Remember, now, don’t sleep with her until she’s sixteen!” It was not to City Hall that Ariel came on roller skates but to a lecture at the Labor Temple, after Durant told her to stay home and wash the dishes. She skated down all the way from the Bronx, then into the hall and down the aisle to the podium.

One of the Bercovici boys, Gorky or Rion, tried Durant’s libertarian principles by standing on the classroom windowsill and threatening to jump. Konrad Bercovici once used the schoolroom on East Twelfth Street for a gypsy party and broke up the place. The walls were spattered with wine. Benno’s father jumped bail in England, put up by Kropotkin, and fled to the United States. Eugene O’Neill often came to the Ferrer Center lectures. Bill Shatoff was one of the few Russians in the anarchist movement to come to the Center. He was a linotype operator for Golos Truda. He had a powerful voice and spoke without notes, yet they hung on every word. The Lexington Avenue bomb was intended for Rockefeller’s offices in the Standard Oil building on lower Broadway.351 The use of violence was much discussed at the Ferrer Center, and the expropriation of property was also a subject of heated debate: Was it or was it not right?

Before the First World War I was in dental college with Johann Most’s son [John J. Most, Jr. q.v], who graduated and became a dentist. I, fortunately, dropped out. I was John Reed’s assistant at the Paterson Strike Pageant in Madison Square Garden in 1913. That same year I began my career as a journalist, as an art critic for the New York Call. In 1917 I went to Russia by way of Vancouver, Japan, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad, along with Shatoff and other Russians of the Golos Truda Group. Shatoff became the Danton of the Russian Revolution, a very powerful speaker. I occupied a room in his apartment, so I had a front seat for the Bolshevik Revolution. I was a journalist for a British paper. I left at the end of 1917, then spent a yeai in China. When I returned to the U.S. I reviewed silent pictures for Film Daily. Then I worked for Boni and Liveright, in charge of production and of the Modern Library series, which was later sold to Bennett Cerf. It took me two years to get over my disillusionment after the Bolshevik Revolution. I studied Gestalt psychology in Wolfgang Koehler’s laboratory in 1927. I have two dishes of Kropotkin’s from Russia, given me by his daughter Sasha [Alexandra Kropotkin, q.v.].

I am still an anarchist today. Our government is now more corrupt than ''Tammany Hall early in the century. I feel closer to Jefferson and Thoreau than ever. True, technology today hinders decentralization, yet anarchism is still a happy way of living in a small community—for artists, if not for businessmen. Businessmen are crocodiles who swim in a money stream.

Benjamin G. Benno

New York City, September 24, 1972

Benjamin Benno (born Greenstein) immigrated to the United States from London in 1912 and attended the Ferrer School in New York, where he studied art with Robert Henri and George Bellows. Inspired by their example, he embarked on a career as an artist, acquiring a reputation as an original painter and sculptor. When I interviewed Benno in his small Greenwich Village apartment, cluttered with old filing cabinets, shoe boxes, and mattresses, he was long past his prime as an artist. Tall and lean, with a white beard on a young face, he wore a faded green beret and carried an ornately carved walking stick, giving the appearance of a typical Village “character.” Although an interesting conversationalist, with vivid recollections of his youth, he was agitated by a dispute with his landlord, who was attempting to have him evicted. Benno died in March 1980, at the age of seventy- nine. Eight years later an extensive selection of his art work was exhibited at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum of Rutgers University?52

I WAS BORN Benjamin Greenstein on June 2, 1901, in London. My father, Abraham Greenstein, was a diamond setter and goldsmith and an anarchist. He knew Kropotkin well. In the United States he became head of the Jewelry Workers’ Union during the 1920s. In London my parents split up, and I lived with Kropotkin from the age of two to five. I was kidnapped by my mother’s new husband and taken through Europe to Odessa, where we lived for several years. I came to the United States in 1912. I was a seaman for twenty-four years, a watchmaker, a taxi driver, and an artist, and I taught art during the early 1960s at Montana State University.

When I arrived in New York I was enrolled in a public school but found it hard to adjust and was unhappy. An anarchist friend of my father’s recommended the Ferrer School. I liked it at once. There I was at home! I could draw, scribble, model with clay. I studied in the art class of Robert Henn and George Bellows. Bellows gave me the best art criticism I ever got in my life. The other pupils included several future artists of distinction: Man Ray, Jean Liberte, Niles Spencer, Martha Gruening (sister of Ernest), William Gropper, Sol Wilson, and many more. Adolf Wolff sculpted; Man Ray stole his wife. Wolff turned away from radicalism and became a reactionary. Sadakichi Hartmann often lectured on literature and art and read poetry. He was opportunistic, a con-man who sought patrons and felt the world owed him something. But he was an important historian of art, especially his two-volume history of American art.

Leonard Abbott? I loved him. That was a man, a beautiful person, like Kropotkin. Robert Minor and Manuel Komroff were then artists who later turned to writing. Mary Hansen and her daughter Heloise often came to the Ferrer Center. Heloise was pretty and wanted to be a dancer. Mary radiated the same beauty and saintly quality as Leonard Abbott and Kropotkin, clear and pure. I also knew the Durants, who still write to me. Puck Durant, Becky Edelsohn, and Eureka Marchand were among the voluntary nude models in the art class. Many wonderful people came out of that “lunatic fringe.”

Maurice Hollod

North Miami, Florida, December 20, 1972

As a youth, Maurice Hollod attended the Ferrer School in New York, where he met such figures as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Hippolyte Havel, and Sadakichi Hartmann. He later mingled with the anarchists in Washington, DC., where he worked as a chiropractor. It was Eva Brandes (q.v.) who advised me to interview him in Florida, where he had retired. He died there of a heart attack in June 1973.

My father was a Russian revolutionary of the old school. He hid from the tsarist police and finally smuggled his family out of Russia. I was three when we came to New York. Father died of tuberculosis a few years later, when I was eight or nine, after we had moved to Pueblo, Colorado, for his health. He was correspondent for the Forverts for that area. When he died, in 1909, Mother was left penniless with three kids, and we moved back to New York, where we had a large family.

We lived on 107th Street near Fifth Avenue. I was attending PS. 188 on 106th near Madison. One day in 1913, when I was around twelve, I met a kid in Central Park (his name was Charles Marin; I think he later went with his family to Spain) who went to the Ferrer School on 107th Street between Lexington and Park. He told me about the school and took me over there. He led me upstairs to a classroom. There was a long table with a group of kids around

it. In the center was a tall man [Leonard Abbott] peering through a microscope at a drop of blood on a slide, explaining to the kids what they were seeing under the scope. I became so entranced that I made up my mind on the spot that I’m going to this school. That was it! It opened my eyes to what a school could be.

I went home and said, “Momma, I’m not going to public school any more. I’m going to a private school a few blocks from here.” I told her it was called the Ferrer School, and she had heard about it. “No, you’re not going to that school,” she said. And we had quite a tussle there, but I went. She was certain "that my education would be aborted at that point, that it would go no further.

On my third day in the school I acted a little smart-alecky. Cora Bennett Stephenson353 was the head of the school. She was the most lovable person I ever met. She said to me, “I don’t think you’re ready for class yet. I think you want to play. So why don’t you go out in the yard today?” She said this calmly and without any hostility. I thought, what kind of school is this where they punish you by letting you play? I played in the yard all day. And the next day too. The next day I told Mrs. Stephenson that I didn’t want to go into the yard again. She said, ‘ Do you feel ready to sit down and work with the rest of the class?” I said yes. 411 right, come in.” Can you imagine the difference between this type of discipline and that in the public schools of that day, a military type of discipline, a barracks discipline? That was exactly the way it happened.

As much as that school meant to me, the Ferrer Center meant much more. That’s where things were happening! I got to know people from all parts of the world and all parts of the radical spectrum. All of them found their way to the Ferrer Center. Living three blocks away, I was able to attend many of the evening affairs. I practically lived there. I was home so rarely that Mother went to Bill Shatoff and begged him to talk to me, which he did. But there was no keeping me away. It was more exciting than the school. The lectures by Will Durant always drew large crowds. Charles Sprading lectured there. Famous actors and artists came. There was a mumbo-jumbo of radical elements. The anarchist tendency predominated, but there were socialists and unaffiliated radicals too. Hippolyte Havel’s Revolt was published there. I remember Sadakichi Hartmann giving a series of recitals from his five unpublished plays— Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and so on. He was a tremendous booze hound. He fell in love with the Ferrer gang, for they were the very warp and woof of what he stood for.

It was during the winter of 1913-1914 that Sadakichi gave his series. They ran an ad in The Call. The first night limousines pulled up with women in fur coats and lorgnettes, things never seen on 107th Street before! During the intermission he drank a pint of liquor to get primed for the second act. During one particularly obscene segment, the rich ladies all got up and walked out. Sadakichi and Hippolyte Havel used to walk from the Ferrer Center to Greenwich Village, with dollar bills they had bummed in their jacket pockets, and never missed a gin mill on the way down.

I used to divide my time between the Ferrer School and Ferrer Center, and also between the Ferrer Center and the Mother Earth Publishing Association. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were not often at the Center. In fact, Emma hardly came at all, neither to the school nor to evening lectures, while Berkman lectured to the students on a few occasions about education. They evidently wanted to keep the school free from association with their activities. Not that there was any rivalry between the two places. On the contrary, they were complementary, and both Emma and Sasha were strong supporters of the school.

Berkman was a very lovable character. Everyone who met him immediately fell in love with the man. He loved children. He was an impeccable dresser in a light grey suit with a Panama hat and cane, mustache and glasses. Once I saw him in the street and I ran instinctively to him. He stopped me and quietly told me to go home. I was crushed. But he later explained to me that he was being followed and didn’t want me hurt.

I was at Union Square the day after the big unemployed rally when the police beat up Joe O’Carroll.354 Sasha, Emma, and others spoke. Then suddenly about twenty or thirty feet from where I was standing there was a terrific commotion. They were beating up Wild Joe O’Carroll! Emma protested and called for a march of the hungry and homeless up Fifth Avenue to the Ferrer Center. A black flag was flying, and Becky Edelsohn was marching arm in arm with Charles Plunkett [q.v.]. She was a tremendously fiery person, always two steps ahead of Berkman or Goldman. She called for the immediate destruction of the capitalist system—a real propaganda-by-the-deedist! She was famous for her red stockings, which she was wearing that day. We marched up Fifth Avenue from Union Square to 107th Street. At Fifty-Ninth Street a black limousine was crossing and stopped momentarily for the crowd. Becky opened the door and spat in the face of the plutocrats. When we got to the Ferrer Center everyone lined up for a free meal, and those who wanted to were allowed to sleep on the floor.

Emma Goldman was also—in theory at least—a propaganda-by-the-deedist, if not as radical as Becky or Plunkett. One night she was to speak at an antiwar rally in Carnegie Hall, a united front of anarchists, socialists, and other radicals. I was in the Mother Earth office that afternoon, and she said to me, ‘‘The socialists will have literature there. I’m going to give you a bundle of literature to distribute for us.” It was a cold night. I had the bundle under my coat. When I got to the balcony, two detectives from the Red Squad grabbed me and frisked me. Emma rushed over and hit one square in the face. “You dirty dog,” she said, “leave the child alone. If we have any killing to do we’ll do it ourselves and not ask children to do it.” These things are fresh in my mind—I’m reliving them.

I saw Caron, Hanson, and Berg the night before the explosion on Lexington Avenue. The Ferrer Center had a basement with a tea room, a first floor for lectures, a large yard in back, a second floor for the school, and a third floor with rooms for rent. Teenage boys from the school stood guard that night and made sure no one from the outside got in. Berkman was at the meeting upstairs with Caron, Hanson, and Berg. In fact, he was not only there but was the central figure. There had been a number of earlier meetings, and Berkman attended them all. He hadn’t gotten rid of his propaganda by the deed bent. At 1 A.M. the men came downstairs. I was wearing a button that said “GENERAL STRIKE. ’ Berg saw the button and asked me if he could wear it at a mass meeting the following day. That was the last I saw of him because the explosion occurred in the morning.

Caron was a vibrant fellow. He had boundless energy. In the basement tea room he was always the center of attention. Adolf Wolff designed the urn for their ashes. Earlier that year he had published a poem on Frank Tannenbaum’s -'occupation of St. Alphonsus’s Church,355 for which he got thirty days in jail for “inciting to riot.” [Hollod recites the poem from memory with great feeling.] He was a painter, sculptor, and poet of sorts. When World War I broke out he became a Belgian nationalist and even called for the deportation of Berkman, Goldman, and the rest. Later he and Joe Brandes356 were in my class in chiropractor school.

After the funeral celebration for Caron, Hanson, and Berg, the ashes remained in the urn in the basement of the Center. I and another boy named Fagin took the ashes and scattered them in Central Park. I don’t know what became of the urn. [It was taken to the Stelton Colony the following year.] Wolff also wrote a poem for the special issue on the bomb explosion in Mother Earth. I was in the Mother Earth office when he wrote it. They had to go to press, and Emma said to him, “Adolf, be quick, we haven’t much time.” So he hurried and finished it.357

Leonard Abbott, by contrast, was a mild person. The Ferrer gang referred to him as “Sister Abbott” because of his softness, a man who couldn’t harm a fly. He had a house way up in the Bronx, and we kids used to go up there and pick cherries from his cherry tree. Alden Freeman358 supported Will Durant, sent him to Europe and to graduate school. One of my patients in Washington turned out to be Freeman’s former secretary, and she told me that in Freeman’s last years he was indigent and only Durant sent him money.

There was also an Irishman at the Center named Sullivan, tall and burly, and the kids loved him. Some said he was a spy, but I never could believe that.359 But there was a spy at the Center named Spivak. A letter he sent to the Burns Detective Agency was returned to the Center for insufficient postage. Abbott noticed the address, opened it, and saw it was a report on the Center by Spivak.

Dr. Charles Andrews, son of the nineteenth-century anarchist [Stephen Pearl Andrews], used to come to discussions and lectures. David Ross (Rosenthal) married a Yuster and became a famous radio announcer. Heloise Brown as a kid was the most beautiful, delightful girl you ever saw.

After two years in the school I went to Cora Bennett Stephenson and said I’m ready to go to high school. I got a diploma signed by her and Abbott and Kelly. I went to Townsend Harris High School and gave the diploma to the principal. As he read it his face got redder and redder, then he threw the thing in my face and yelled, “Get out of here or else I’ll throw you out!” So Momma was right after all, I thought. While walking down Amsterdam Avenue, with tears streaming down my face, I ran into Sullivan and told him what had happened. He tried to comfort me, and bought me a soda. When I came home Mother said, “What did I tell you, what did I tell you?” I enrolled in Paterson (New Jersey) High School for a year, then transferred to DeWitt Clinton in the Bronx, where one of my teachers was Bertram D. Wolfe.360

During my year in Paterson, Emma Goldman and Ben Reitman hired a hall near one where Billy Sunday was meeting, a sort of counterpropaganda. I saw her in the alcove that afternoon, pacing up and down and going over her notes for the speech that evening. But the hall burned down (it was probably arson) and the meeting was never held.

After the school moved to Stelton, the Ferrer Center remained active until we entered the war. Then the police were there every night, arresting and harassing the boys. So much was happening, so much was packed into just a few years: that’s what’s so amazing to me.

Jack Isaacson lived on 102d Street, east of Lexington Avenue. Every morning he would go to the corner for the New York Times. On July 4 he heard an explosion and a piece of a body—a man’s arm—fell at his feet. It happened in Louise Berger’s361 apartment. (She once gave me a copy of Berkman’s Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist.) She knew of the plot, but one of the men, her brother if I’m not mistaken, had her spend the night with someone else. A Wobbly named Mike Murphy happened to be spending the night there, and when the place blew up his bed fell into the apartment below. He was dazed and shaken up and lost some clothing, but got away with minor bruises.

Jack Isaacson was an editor of the New York Freedom in 1919 and took responsibility for an article which the government called seditious. He was ordered deported but went underground and took the surname of his wife, Gussie Denenberg [q.v.]. He was active for many years in the Washington, D.C. group, which centered in the home of Lillian Kisliuk Dinowitzer and included myself, Wally Krimont, and others. Lilly Dinowitzer had a large, rambling house that was the radical center in Washington. It was also a nursery school from the late 1920s to the late 1940s—not a Ferrer School but a progressive school mainly on Montessori lines. Her father [Max Kisliuk] was a pioneer anarchist in Atlantic City, and she was the only one in the family to follow in his footsteps. During the Palmer era she and a few others tried to hire a hall to discuss the situation in Russia, and after much difficulty finally got one and held a series of meetings in defense of the Russian Revolution. She held regular soirees in her house for many years, and when Emma Goldman came to the U.S. in 1934 she stayed there. I saw Emma there and heard her speak, in a hall rented by Lilly. She was just as she had been when I knew her as a kid—the fire was still there.

Jack Denenberg inherited Max Kisliuk’s library and had a large collection of his own. He had a little grocery store in Washington with a pot-bellied stove in the center and his books all around, and he would read when not waiting on customers. All those years, by the way, he was madly in love with Eva Brandes [q.v.]. Did she tell you that? After the Second World War his wife applied for her citizenship papers, and the authorities, while checking, discovered him and reopened his deportation case. They hounded him, you know. He was a very gentle, sensitive human being. I knew of no man who gave of himself as much as Jack. They don’t make them that way any more. Finally he said, “If you want to deport me, then deport me “Oh, no, Mr. Denenberg, we don’t want to deport you. Yet they kept on hounding him, questioning him every other week, until he broke down.

One evening, in April 1946, I saw him at someone’s house and he looked unusually cheerful, as if some heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "He was smiling, talking animatedly, but would often rub his neck with his fingers. That bothered me, so when I was ready to leave I went up to him and said, “It’s good to see you in such good spirits, Jack, but why did you keep rubbing your throat?” At that his eyes opened wide, he reared back, and fled from the house. He hanged himself in his grocery the following morning.

Rose Goldblatt

New York City, October 20, 1975

Rose Goldblatt was the sister of Helen and Lillian Goldblatt, young anarchists at the Ferrer Center in New York who were close to Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. In 1913 and 1914 Helen and Lil were involved in unemployed demonstrations and in protests against the Ludlow massacre, in which Colorado miners and their families were slaughtered by vigilantes and militiamen during one of the bitterest labor disputes in American history. In July 1914 Helen’s boyfriend, Arthur Caron, was blown up with two comrades while preparing a bomb intended for John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the principal owner of the Ludlow mines. Helen later got together with Jacques Rudome (q.v.) and lived for many years at the Mohegan Colony.

My older sisters, Helen and Lillian Goldblatt, were active anarchists in the United States. They took part in the Tarrytown free-speech fight of 1914362 and spent a short time in the Blackwell’s Island workhouse, where Alexander Berkman corresponded with them. They knew Berkman, Emma Goldman, and Margaret Sanger, and were active in the Ferrer Center in Harlem. Helen was born in Warsaw on October 21, 1897, and died of leukemia at Mohegan on January 30, 1963. Lillian was born in 1895 and died on March 1, 1967. I was born in 1902, the youngest of the three.

Both of my sisters—especially Helen—were bright and did well at school in Warsaw. Father emigrated with his brother and went first to London, then on to the United States. He had studied for the rabbinate but threw it all over as nonsense and became a Zionist in America. Helen was five, Lil seven, and I six months old when he left. He sent for us in 1910. Prior to that, Mother had to take care of three small children. The wife of our doctor became interested in Helen, who was almost a genius, and asked Helen and Lil to tutor her children. In return, she paid their tuition at a Ferrer School in Warsaw, and it was there that they first came into contact with revolutionaries—the teachers were all revolutionaries—and revolutionary ideas. After the Ferrer School they went to the gymnasium and then came here.

We immigrated to New York in 1910 and lived on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Helen and Lil continued their education at night schools and worked as hat operators during the day. They met Jack Butler, Trauner, Morris Goldfarb (Bertha Butler’s brother), and others who frequented the Ferrer Center. Margaret Sanger taught Helen and Lil to stop wearing the long skirts with tight corsets of the period and began to teach them to become comfortable.

So they went often to the Ferrer Center. And they walked all the way up to Tarrytown—it was a protest march—with Butler, Goldfarb, Maurice Rudome, Caron, Berkman, and several others. Caron came to visit us frequently at our apartment on Orchard Street. He was a very attractive young man, tall, dark, slender, part Indian, and an extremely fine person, charming and a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was crazy about Helen and became her boyfriend, though she was not yet his “sweetheart.” She was small and he was about six feet tall, but she was quite a fighter and an extraordinary girl, and he adored her.

Helen and Lil were arrested with the group at Tarrytown. My parents were sick over the whole thing. But Mother, though religious, was very understanding and never interfered in our lives. They were at Blackwell’s Island for a short period, and Berkman, then on a lecture tour, corresponded with them. They were horrified when the explosion occurred. They did not approve of such methods. What they wanted was protesting—a lot of protesting—but not bombing. They were deeply upset by exploitation and oppression by government and capital, but they were literally sick over the explosion and the loss of life. The horror of the whole thing for them cannot be exaggerated. In 1917 Louise Berger and many other Ferrer Center anarchists went back to Russia to take part in the revolution, and they were all slaughtered by the Bolsheviks.

After the Tarrytown episode, Helen and Lil moved up to 105th Street to live with Eva and Usher Bittelman, their dearest friends. But all of a sudden the Bittelmans gave up anarchism and became avid Communists. Lil for a time had hopes for Russia, too, and thought it was becoming a utopia along anarchist lines, with no exploitation or millionaires. Of course it was all a pipe dream. Yet in 1918 Lil went to Russia by way of Japan, though my parents tried to persuade her not to. She got to Japan and found that Russia had closed all entrances to the country, so she had to return to the U.S. after waiting vainly in Japan for about six months for Russia to open up. Helen wasn’t interested in going to Russia. She never felt the same enthusiasm for the Bolshevik Revolution as Lil did, and at Mohegan was an active anti-Communist.

Lil’s daughter by her first husband went to the Stelton school and hated Aunty Ferm, who was too authoritarian and a real disciplinarian. Uncle Ferm was just the reverse, always very sweet and gentle. Lil later remarried; her new husband was Howard Buck (not Jewish), who taught at Commonwealth College36’ and was an ardent single-taxer, a follower of Henry George, and talked about it morning, noon, and night—he really drove us crazy.

Helen got together with Jack Rudome [q.v.]—Morris’s brother—sometime after Tarrytown. She went away with Eddie Cahill for a while, and that made Jack very angry. She and Jack went up to Mohegan in the later 1920s. They bought George Seldes’s original plot and lived there for the rest of her life. -They built the house there in 1937. Helen designed the plans and Bennett [Tony Di Benedetto, an Italian anarchist] built it

Around that time the Communists were beginning to invade the place and take over. Helen was on the board, along with Anita Miroy and Eva Brandes [q.v.], and they fought them tooth and nail. It was a horrible period. Helen was so sick over it. She had a marvelous personality. She was very understanding, never judged or condemned anybody, never interfered with her friends’ lives, but always defended them.

Gussie Denenberg

Washington, D.C., March 20, 1973; New York City, August 25, 1973; Washington, D.C., December 29, 1976

From about 1910 Gussie Denenberg was involved in the anarchist movement in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., and was acquainted with Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Voltairine de Cleyre, among others. Her husband, Jack Isaacson, threatened with deportation during the Red Scare of 1919— 1920, adopted her surname and went underground The two lived quietly for many years until his identity came to light. Hounded by the FBI, he committed suicide in 1946 (see interview with Maurice Hollod). Gussie died around 1980 at the age of about ninety.

I WAS born in Pinsk, Russia, eighty-two years ago and came to New York in 1906. Until 1911 I lived on St. Mark’s Place near Second Avenue, next door to the Erst Ferrer School, which opened in 1910. I attended lectures there in the evening. Bayard Boyesen, a handsome young man, spoke on literature, with Dr. Paul Luttinger as chairman. Dr. Hillel Solotaroff lectured too. He was a well- known physician and an outstanding journalist, who died of cancer around 1917.364 He and Dr. Michael Cohn were close friends, and Cohn treated his illness. Solotaroff wrote a weekly column for Der Tog for many years Dr. Cohn had money but was very tight Pryns Hopkins, from California, gave money to the school. These were all remarkable people, and it was during that time that I became an anarchist.

I moved to Chicago in 1911 and lived there for a year before returning to New York. Among the active anarchists there were Jake and Annie Livshis, William Nathanson, and Dr. Joseph Greer. I lived on Crystal Street, around the corner from the Livshises on Potomac Avenue, where Voltairine de Cleyre was living. Voltairine and Nathanson started a Modern Sunday School in Nathanson’s mother’s house on Twelfth Street, but it didn’t last very long. Voltairine also gave private lessons in her room. My friend Fanny took English lessons from her in the evening. I went to her for a few math lessons. As she taught it, it seemed so easy compared with public school. She was rather tall, slim, pale, with a face you couldn’t forget. Though she was not beautiful, she had wonderful eyes. She had a bullet in her since she was shot by a former pupil in Philadelphia in 1902. She was an intense speaker, overflowing with sympathy. When I went to her for lessons, I couldn’t take my eyes off her, off the agony of her face. But you know, the Haymarket executions made her suffer more than the bullets in her body. I once attended a lecture in the Little Theatre of Chicago by Arthur Morrow Lewis, a socialist, who criticized Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Other Essays, and I heard Voltairine’s voice call out behind me, challenging him to a debate.365 After she died, there was a Voltairine de Cleyre Group in Chicago, including myself, Ida and Harry Miller, and a few others.

From Chicago I returned to New York and resumed going to the Ferrer Center, which moved to 107th Street in 1912. The place was a beehive of activity. Visitors included Jack London and Sidney and Beatrice Webb.366 Lola Ridge, the poet, came every Sunday evening. She was fragile looking and intense and reminded me of Voltairine de Cleyre. She had the same spirit. There was a nice young man [David Lawson, q.v.] who always accompanied her. Without him she couldn’t do much. He was right by her side all the time.

Joseph Cohen came to the Ferrer Center as the “organizer,” which really meant the janitor or caretaker. He was called “the shames” [caretaker, in Yiddish], just as my husband Jack Isaacson was called “the rabbi,” Alexander Berkman “the pope,” and Emma Goldman “the red queen.” The boys at the Center called Leonard Abbott “Sister Abbott,” he was so gentle.

Cohen had been a cigar worker but was forced to quit because of his asthma and become the Center’s custodian. He lived on the third floor of the building, while Jack and I lived on the first floor, taking Bill Shatoff’s room after he left for Russia in 1917. Cohen fought with everybody and used to chase people away. During the war the Center became a haven for expatriates, and many young men came from France, England, and Italy, in order to escape the draft. But Cohen would chase them out. Pat Bannister, an Englishman, once got so mad at Cohen that he almost punched him. Cohen was a withdrawn person. He didn’t get along with anybody. He had no special talent His history of Jewish anarchism in America is lifted from Yanovsky. In the twenty-fifth anniversary book on Stelton he talks of a man who built the water tower single- handed but withholds his name—Moyshe Papagailo—because he didn’t like giving people credit, unless it was himself.367

My husband Jack and Hippolyte Havel used to put out Revolt in the basement of the Center. (Jack later edited The Hotel Worker, a union publication.) Jack and Hippolyte suspected Donald Vose368 of being a spy. Jack saw a bulge in his pocket where he kept a gun and said, “He is a hunter and he’s going hunting.” At the Mother Earth office Vose heard Emma Goldman say, “Schmidty, please fix the light,” and he turned him in. Spivak [not Joseph Spivak, q.v.] was another spy. He forgot to put a stamp on a letter with a report to the police and it came back to the Ferrer Center. Leonard Abbott, seeing -the address, opened it, and Spivak was exposed. There was yet another spy, Potocki, at both the Center and Stelton; he had been a spy in Philadelphia before that. Minna Lowensohn lived369 with him until he was exposed, and they were supposed to go to Russia together.

Gussie Miller, who taught at the Ferrer School, was also a public school teacher in Manhattan. Andrea Salsedo used to come to the Center. Adolf Wolff, the sculptor, turned reactionary during the war and said that Emma Goldman should be hanged from the nearest lamppost. Morris Becker370 spent two years in federal prison and then was deported to Russia. Anna Olay,371 of Chicago, committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Gray Wu372 was a cook at Stelton and at affairs in New York, a very brilliant guy, a philosophical type. The Goodman sisters were twins who were raised in a Spinoza colony in Pennsylvania. Prvns Hopkins sent two teachers to Stelton from his school in California, and they were caught shoplifting at Wanamakers’ in New York. The Stelton principal, William Thurston Brown, was so shocked, so sick over the matter, that he and his wife left the colony. Louise Berger went to Russia during the revolution and died of typhus.

In 1914 Louise had an apartment on Lexington Avenue and 102d Street, where they were building a subway. My husband Jack then lived on 103d Street a block away. One morning, on July 4, he was going for newspapers when an explosion occurred. He saw an arm flying in the air and then fall to the street. The bomb had been made outside the city and brought to New York the previous night. It was to be used on Rockefeller’s house in Tarrytown that day, the fourth. Louise (Carl Hanson’s half-sister) was on her way to tell Berkman that the bomb was ready when the explosion took place. Caron, Hanson, and Berg were killed. They were fine comrades, but were so mishandled and mistreated by the police at the Union Square unemployment demonstrations and Tarrytown free speech meetings that they were desperate and no longer cared. Berkman was the mastermind of the plot. He was outraged by Ludlow, Tarrytown, unemployment, police brutality. I liked Berkman better than Emma. She was too self-centered, but she had great spirit. Before the Union Square demonstration, Plunkett [q.v.] told the comrades, “When you’re arrested and asked your occupation, tell them ‘Killing cops.”’

Anarchism is a way of life, no matter what your view is of human nature. No authority over you, no slaves under you—that’s the anarchist life. So when I think of Voltairine de Cleyre, when I think of Sasha and Emma—that’s what I think of. That was their way of life, a revolt against injustice and inhumanity.

Charles Plunkett

Long Valley, New Jersey, June 4, 1975 Charles Plunkett, a young activist at the Ferrer Center in New York, was involved in the Lexington Avenue conspiracy against John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in reprisal for the Ludlow massacre of 1914. He afterwards took a Ph.D. at Columbia University and became a professor of biology at New York University, where he wrote a standard textbook on the subject and served as chairman of the department. When I interviewed him at his New Jersey farm in 1975, Plunkett was eighty-two years old and nearly blind, with white hair and beard. Yet he retained a good deal of his youthful militance, calling Henry Kissinger the most dangerous man in the world and devoutly wishing for his assassination. Plunkett died in his ninetieth year in June 1981.

I was born in New York City, on West Ninety-Eighth Street, in 1892 (I’ll be eighty-three this fall). My parents were also born in New York, and their parents in Cork County, Ireland. Father had been a plumber but became a building contractor, so we were a middle-class family, with a horse and carriage and an occasional servant. When I was a child we lived on 115th Street in Harlem, and then in the Bronx and in Queens. I attended public school and Morris High School in the Bronx, then Flushing High School, from which I was graduated in 1909 at sixteen. I won a state scholarship and a university scholarship at Cornell, class of ’13. I was what they call a “brilliant student,” always good at taking exams.

I always explored things and thought things out for myself. I never did anything by halves. As a child, brought up as a Catholic, I was intensely religious; if I pursued it I would have become a priest. That’s the way I am. But at the age of eleven or twelve I read the Bible from cover to cover, and that finished me with religion. That was the end—bang!—of religion.

I’m not a skimmer or a picker, but like to read a thing through. From the age of fourteen to sixteen I began to think about social questions, about the rich and the poor. Why? I asked. And I came to the conclusion that property was the fundamental cause—I’ve never changed my mind about that—that the institution of property was a fundamental evil. That became, and still remains, the basic axiom of my political thinking.

During my years at Cornell I met people who called themselves socialists and anarchists. I joined the Inter-Collegiate Socialist Society, I read the International Socialist Review in the library, and I read The Communist Manifesto. From then on I adopted the communist label, which expressed my fundamental animus against private ownership. I also read the whole of Capital—all three volumes—just as I was later to read the whole of Principia Mathematical73 something very few people have done.

I also began to read up on anarchism. There was a sharp division between communist anarchism and individualist anarchism; and, though I have never liked the label, I began to consider myself a communist anarchist, with the accent on communist. From the age of fourteen or fifteen, as I said, I had no use for the doctrine of individualism, which was economically unjust, ethically vicious, and historically reactionary. The interests and desires of all individuals, I have since felt, must be subordinated to the general welfare.

Kropotkin was different, a communist as well as an anarchist, and I agreed -with him to a large extent. I was very keen about his works, though I never accepted all of his ideas (I never agreed with anyone entirely). I especially liked Mutual \id, which was strongly admired by a number of biologists, including my teacher at Columbia, 1 H. Morgan,374 who had a good deal of sympathy with anarchism. I equally admired Fields, Factories and Workshops, which became my social bible.

But, as I say, I never agree entirely with anybody. Why should one? One thinks things out for oneself even when one is influenced by others. To me there has always been one underlying theme: equality, to put it in one word. Liberty’s a will-o’-the-wisp without equality. Economic justice has always seemed more important to me than freedom of speech, for example. More essential than being able to open one’s mouth is being able to put some food in it. It is this criterion—equality, the economic criterion—that governs my definition of progressive and reactionary. If something tends to work against equality it is bad and in the opposite direction good. That hasn’t changed with me over the years, not since I was fourteen or fifteen. In other respects, of course, I’ve changed—I’m not a dogmatist—but not that underlying concept.

In the summer of 1912, after my junior year at Cornell, I got a job in West Orange, New Jersey, with Thomas Edison. I was making moving pictures of the life history of insects. At the same time I became a member of the Socialist Party in West Orange, active in the election campaign of 1912, the high point of the Socialist Party in the United States. I regarded Edison as a reactionary, though he treated me nicely and invited me over for dinner, but I began to organize the workers in his shop, so that by the end of the year he had fired me.

By then I had become disillusioned with the Socialist Party, which was too conservative and reformist. So I went to New York and became an organizer for the IWW The first place that I worked was in Paterson, during the 1913 strike, and then in Allentown and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was my own thinking that led me into all this, just as I had rejected religion at twelve and private property at fifteen. After the Bible I read Darwin and got interested in astronomy after hearing a lecture on the subject.

I always threw myself into things heart and soul. I never stopped halfway. I was no amateur. And so it was with the labor movement. In New York I began to organize among the textile workers, and especially for the Marine Transport Workers on West Street. Bob Warwick was secretary of the union, which had broken away from the conservative union and joined the IWW Bob, who was also an anarchist and Wobbly, and I put out a few issues of a magazine called The Social War in 1913. We wrote nearly all of it, though we probably used a few pseudonyms. We were anarchists in the general sense. There were no such sharp lines of demarcation in those days. We argued and scrapped, of course, we anarchists, Wobblies, and militant socialists, but we were able to remain friends. Jaime Vidal, an active anarchist, was the Spanish organizer for the Transport Workers, a man in his thirties or forties. Nearly all the Spaniards in that union were anarchists.

Unemployment was not as extensive or chronic in those days as it is now. But there was no unemployment insurance then, no welfare, but only soup kitchens. It was Frank Tannenbaum who started the whole unemployed movement going. He was a couple of years younger than me and worked as a busboy in a restaurant. In 1913 the IWW organized a strike of the hotel and restaurant workers. Frank joined the IWW and began his activity then. He used to listen to us talk—myself, Frank Strawn Hamilton, and others. (Hamilton had come from the West Coast, a friend of Jack London’s.) Tannenbaum was just a boy and hung on our words. He didn’t know anything and was anxious to learn. And he learned fast. In fact, he started the whole unemployment thing. It was quite spontaneous. No one put him up to it. It was his idea to occupy churches. But it grew very quickly and got too big for him. He couldn’t handle it and came to us for help.

I was busy with my work for the Transport Workers and shouldn’t have joined but did it anyway. At first things went smoothly. We went to a few Protestant churches without incident. But then we made the mistake of going to a Catholic church, St. Alphonsus. That brought the police—most of them Irish—crashing down on us. I got one month (on Blackwell’s and Ward’s Islands) and Frank got one year (on Blackwell’s Island). I was a witness for the defense at his trial before an Italian judge named Freschi.

It was at this point that Arthur Caron and other unemployed workers joined the movement. He was about twenty-three or twenty-four with a slightly dark complexion and an aquiline nose, of medium height and strong build. We began to meet at Mary Heaton O’Brien’s (later Vorse) house, and I stayed there for a few days. As it happened, on the night of our arrest at St. Alphonsus, there was a meeting at Mary O’Brien’s where an organization was founded [the Labor Defense Committee] that was a forerunner of the ACLU. Frank Hamilton, who had slipped away from St. Alphonsus when he saw the police coming, went to Mary’s house and told them what had happened. So ours became the first case. They hired Justus Sheffield as our lawyer. He had no sympathy for the anarchists or the IWW but was an old-style liberal who believed in free speech.

I’m the only one still alive who knows about Lexington Avenue, but I’m not going to tell you or anyone else. Why should I? After all, it was murder. But I can tell you some things. At the May First rally in Union Square, following the Ludlow Massacre, the police rode us down with horses and beat people so badly that it backfired on them when the victims showed up in court all bruised and battered. The cops were all Irish, all brutal, and hated everyone who was not Irish, especially Italians and Jews. I was injured, but not seriously. Joe O’Carroll was beaten very badly. Our response was ad hoc, a spur of the moment thing, nothing organized.

I had begun to attend the Ferrer Center in early 1914. I never belonged to the Ferrer Association and wasn’t much interested in libertarian education—as I said, the economic question was uppermost for me—but it was a hangout, a place where people met and talked. Sadakichi Hartmann put on “perfume concerts,” and Hippolyte Havel was often there; he was one of the more thoughtful of the anarchists and not to be laughed at.

We also went often to the Mother Earth office on 119th Street near Lenox Avenue, where Alexander Berkman was editor. I knew Berkman very well. He was not a great theoretician, like Kropotkin, but very intelligent, of medium height, and in his later forties. I liked him well enough, but he was too selfcentered and dogmatic for my taste. He was no great man in any sense. A really great man was Bill Haywood, the driving force of the IWW He was the heart and soul of the IWW from beginning to end. Did you know that the IWW never paid any of its officials more than eighteen dollars a week, Haywood included? He spent his last night in the U.S. in my house, before going to Russia.

Bill Shatoff was a Wobbly in spirit, but as an editor of Golos Truda he could not be a member of the IWW, since nobody who edited a non-IWW paper could be a member. He was often at the Ferrer Center, heavy-set, calm, capable. Carlo Tresca was never a member of the IWW, for the same reason, though Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was. I knew them both since the Paterson strike of 1913, and John Reed too. Flynn’s remains are in the Waldheim Cemetery; I wonder why she didn’t prefer to be buried in Moscow, where she died.

It was Berkman who started the free-speech fight at Tarrytown. That is, it was his idea to go up there, where Rockefeller lived, and protest and demonstrate against him. Berkman himself didn’t go up there, though, as he was on probation for a previous arrest.375 I went, and Caron, Hanson, Berg, Maurice Rudome, Jack Butler, two Italians named Frank and Jimmy—I can’t recall their last names now376—and one girl, Becky Edelsohn. We all got arrested, and the next day we started a hunger strike in the Tarrytown jail.

It was a lark for us. We were young, cheerful, light-hearted, enjoying the excitement. But we were serious enough about Ludlow. The police were very attentive when we started our hunger strike. We were bailed out in May, and our trial was set for the end of July. We were in jail—Blackwell’s Island—in August, about the time the war broke out. I was in jail for two months that time and was given a welcome at the Ferrer Center when released.

As I said, I’m the only one left who knows about Lexington Avenue. At the time only a few people were involved. They included Caron, Hanson, and Berg, of course. Hanson and Berg were Latvians and active in the Latvian movement. Louise Berger, Hanson’s half-sister, knew about it; it was her apartment and she left it just minutes before the explosion. I knew about it, too, and in fact had spent the previous night, the night of July 2, in the apartment. Becky Edelsohn knew about it. And Alexander Berkman.

It was Berkman who organized it, though the others were to carry it out, as he was on probation. He was the only older man in the group, the only one with experience. Emma Goldman was not involved—in fact she was away on a lecture tour. Berkman still believed in the necessity of violence. Caron, Hanson, and Berg had been collecting dynamite for Russia and storing it in the apartment. It was the bomb that set it all off. I’ll never know why they brought the damn thing back! They had brought it up to Tarrytown on the night of July 3. It was not intended for Rockefeller’s house but for some other location in Tarrytown, the newspaper office perhaps. There was no intention of harming anyone but only to set off an explosion as a gesture of protest. Mike Murphy told me he knew nothing about it. It was my job to get him to Leonard Abbott’s house in Westfield. From there we sent him to Chicago to lie low. He was asleep when the blast occurred and fell through to the floor below, but he still had his clothes on when I saw him.

I was at Abbott’s place that day. So was Becky, and Helen Goldblatt, who was Caron’s girl friend at the time—Helen of Troy, we called her. Caron, Hanson, and Berg were cremated out in Queens and their ashes put in an urn shaped in a pyramid with a clenched fist on top, designed by the sculptor Adolf Wolff. I was later married to Becky Edelsohn for nine years, and we had a son. Becky died in California about three years ago. She had lived in Emma Goldman’s apartment since she was thirteen years old. She was the only girl at Tarrytown, kept in a separate jail. She was five feet four inches tall, moderately plump, with black hair; she was very pretty—beautiful, I should say—and very generous.

By the next year I had swung from dynamite to pacifism. I read Tolstoy. I became a conscientious objector when America entered the war and served another term in jail for refusing to register for the draft. For two years—in 1915 and 1916—I lived at Grantwood, New Jersey, part of Ridgefield actually. Manuel Komroff [q.v] lived there too. It was a bunch of small houses, not a colony exactly, rented by artists, writers, and radicals.377 There was also one big house, owned by Bob Brown.

I never went to Stelton. I wasn’t interested in education but in the labor movement. It was in 1915 that I entered graduate school at Columbia, though I had never finished at Cornell. I got my Master’s and Ph.D. (1926) in biology, working in genetics with T. H. Morgan. Then I taught at NYU for a dozen years and wrote an undergraduate textbook in biology. I retired and took up chicken farming in New Jersey, not far from here.

Leonard Abbott was one of the “New England liberals,” a quiet man, rather bald, and had an income. He was not married to Rose Yuster, but his family threatened to withhold the legacy from his children unless he married. He asked our advice and we all said yes, except Berkman, who refused to compromise his principles. That’s what I mean by his dogmatism. It was Berkman, by the way, who put all that stuff on Lexington Avenue in the July issue of Mother Earth. Emma was away and disapproved when she saw it. Did I mention Lingg in my Lexington Avenue speech?378 Well, I’m not surprised. For many of us he was the ideal of the anarchist hero. The other Haymarket figures were not that special, but Lingg stood apart as an inspiration. He did not associate much with the rest.

Abbott did not engage in militant activity but was entirely sympathetic with it, not a pacifist, as I became, in the war. I didn’t reject my pacifism till the Spanish Civil War, when the fascists launched their invasion. If 99 percent of the people are pacifists and only 1 percent are armed, the 1 percent will rule the rest.

Not that I had rejected revolution. I was very enthusiastic about the Russian Revolution and have admired the Soviet Union, Stalin included, ever since. I am a great admirer of Stalin to this day—not everything that he did, of course; Lysenko379 was downright medieval. Stalin was necessary no matter how many were killed or imprisoned. He made the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union was the only bastion to stop Hitler and fascism and to stop the United States from dominating the world, with its degenerate capitalism and morality.

But Kropotkin is also necessary. I hate big cities, and my ideal is a decentralized society with farms and small factories, as depicted in Fields, Factories and Workshops or William Morris’s News from Nowhere. The concentration of private property must give way to economic equality, and for that to happen, revolution—and Stalin—are necessary, with Kropotkin’s vision as the ultimate ideal. Barring a nuclear war, we may get there in about ten thousand years. Property, not government, is the primary evil. Government is secondary, existing only for the protection of property, a device of the privileged class to keep the rest of the people in subjection.

Moritz Jagendorf

New York City, April 14, 1972; May 28, 1973; February 23, 1978

Dr. Moritz Jagendorf, dentist, folklorist, and connoisseur of wine, was founder and director of the Free Theatre at the Ferrer Center in New York.380 He wrote for Hippolyte Havel’s Revolt, published in the basement of the Center, and afterwards for The Road to Freedom and its successor Freedom, of which he was coeditor with Harry Kelly and Louis Raymond (q.v.). He was also treasurer of the Mohegan Colony Association. When 1 first interviewed him, in the spacious living room of his apartment on Riverside Drive, he led me to a wine closet, “the best room in the house,” he called it, and removed an 1889 Madeira. Over my protests not to waste it on a neophyte like me (“no time like the present,” he insisted), he opened the bottle and poured its contents (it was excellent), consuming most of it himself. Jagendorf lived to the ripe age of ninety-two, dying in January 1981. In accordance with his wishes, his wake took the form of a winetasting party at the Cornell Club of New York.

I WAS BORN in 1888 in Chernowitz, Austria (now in the Soviet Union). I was always interested in the theater. At the age of eleven I organized a theater group among my friends and wrote plays for it. At thirteen I read Max Stirner’s Der Einzige und sein Eigentum. The words “You can do as you wish” leaped out from the page, and I became the bane of my poor mother’s life. We came to the United States in 1903. New York opened a new world to me. While an undergraduate at Columbia, I came across a copv of Mother Earth. Impressed, I wrote to Emma Goldman, who replied by advising me to come to the Ferrer Center. That was in 1911 or 1912.

The Ferrer Center was a seething ocean of thought and activity, everybody working and creating. Leonard Abbott, Harry Kelly, Joseph Cohen, and Hippolyte Havel were the mainstays of the place. Abbott was the first real Christian since St. Francis of Assisi. Havel was a friend of Eugene O’Neill’s. O’Neill himself came only rarely to the Center, but we saw him often in Greenwich Village. One night he brought a bucket of beer to a party there. Christine Ell381 boasted to all her friends that the taxi driver tried to rape her on her way over.

Many anarchists in those days habituated the Village. They went to the Liberal Club and Polly’s Restaurant, both on MacDougal Street. Polly was Havel’s lover, and he worked as a waiter in the restaurant. He was a heavy drinker and was once brought before a judge and fined five dollars for urinating in the street. He protested that the United States was the only civilized country without comfort stations. Havel used to hang around the Brevoort Hotel to cadge free drinks at the bar. One time, after Havel had been ejected by the bartender and had climbed back in through the window, an editor named Tom Smith bought him a few drinks and gave him his calling card. Havel got drunk, went outside, and sat down dazed on a stoop. A cop saw the card and brought him to Smith’s house, where he fell asleep on a rug.

Sadakichi Hartmann also frequented the Ferrer Center and was a drinking pal of Havel’s. He was very tall and very thin. He later acted bit and character parts in Hollywood. At the beginning of the 1920s I had a house on East Fortieth Street where Sadakichi read poems and gave lectures and often stayed the night.

Manuel Komroff [q.v.J, another mainstay of the Center, was a talented writer but, though himself a Jew, had an anti-Semitic streak. He wrote one of the plays for the Free Theatre that I started at the Center. We also put on Pierre Louis and other radical playwrights, as well as the first production of Lord Dunsany in the U.S. In addition, we put on plays in the auditorium of Wanamaker’s and did two performances on Broadway after being invited by a Broadway producer who had seen us at the Ferrer Center. I was asked to be the director of the Washington Square Players, which preceded the Provincetown Players, but I declined.

Apart from Havel, Hartmann, and Komroff, the regulars at the Ferrer Center included Bill Shatoff, with his booming voice; Andre Tridon,382 who helped me with my plays, a tall, handsome newspaperman and poet; and Robert Minor, then an ardent anarchist, a big, slow-moving man. I also ran into him frequently at Romany Marie’s restaurant in the Village. Another habitue was Adolf Wolff, the sculptor, a Belgian Jew, bearded and with a fat stomach. Wolff’s former wife, Adon LaCroix; moved in with Man Ray at the artists’ colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey, to the great inconvenience of his roommate. He was susceptible and fell in love with her, but she bullied and dominated and used him terribly. We visited Ridgefield a number of times, and she would brutally abuse him before everybody, while he would sit and say nothing. Man Ray was nothing until he got rid of her.

After the Ferrer Center closed, Wolff went to chiropractic school, but he never started a practice. He dropped out of the radical movement, never earned a penny, and lived by the sweat of the vagina of his girlfriend Vera, who was a successful designer and had a house on 113th Street. She always suspected him of betraying her, so she once rented a studio for him in what is now Lincoln Center, where the El passed by, and she could look in the window and see if he had another woman with him

Havel, in the basement of the Ferrer Center, published a little paper called Revolt. I wrote for it, as did Adolf Wolff and Benjamin De Casseres,383 among others. I knew De Casseres well. Once when in Paris he had a bad toothache. He said, “I’ll never have a toothache again.” He went to a dentist and told him to pull out all his teeth. The dentist objected, but De Casseres said that if he didn’t do it he would go elsewhere. So all his teeth were pulled. He learned to eat with his gums. He later wanted dentures, but his mouth had contracted and they wouldn’t fit

July 4, 1914, was a nice, sunny day, and we had all arranged to go out to Leonard Abbott’s place in New Jersey for a picnic. I lived with my parents on 109th Street, with a nice little garden in the back. Suddenly, that morning, there was a great crash. I rushed out and ran down Lexington Avenue about six or seven blocks and saw rubble and smoke. A crowd had gathered and the police were hustling everyone away I started home but saw detectives questioning my father They wanted to talk to me. So I didn’t go back but went straight to Abbott s place.

Abbott served us corned beef and tongue sandwiches and beer. Everyone was hushed. There was an undercurrent of excitement. No one knew what to say. Besides, we knew that there were spies among us. One had come to my office for dental work, and when he brushed against me I felt a gun in his hip pocket. Another was Dave Sullivan, a New York City police detective. Becky Edelsohn lived with him before taking up with Plunkett. What scoundrels they were, talking with us, laughing with us, sharing our ideas, our hopes, our excitement—or at least pretending to!

Leonard asked me about the explosion. I told him that the “Dicks” had come to my house to question me, and he offered to put me up, but I preferred to go home. Abbott was crushed by the tragedy. I’m positive he didn’t know about their plans. I myself knew something was afoot, and I’ll tell you why. A few days before the explosion, I met Caron at the Center. “Let’s have a cup of coffee,” I said. “No, Moritz,” he replied. “I’m too busy with something very important.” He had a set face, very tense. They were working at it—they must have been working at it from the way he looked and spoke. The Ferrer Center was the heart of anarchist activity in New York and had anarchists of all kinds, including the dynamiters. Was Alexander Berkman involved? Well, he was very straightforward, practical, a man of action and organizing strength. I honestly feel that Berkman was involved, that he helped, at least with the planning.

I’m still an anarchist, but a philosophical one. Look at life. Particularly since I began to study myths and lore since ancient and prehistoric times, I find the same follies, the same wrongs, committed throughout human history. The only progress is in the individual, in you yourself; and through that progress you better the whole world. And that is as far as you can go. I said that in 1914 to Leonard Abbott, and again in the 1920s and 1930s, and I still say it today.

Morris Beresin

Philadelphia, November 28, 1971

As a teenage anarchist in tsarist Russia, Morris Beresin took an active part in the Revolution of 1905, mostly in Kishinev and Odessa. Exiled to Siberia, he managed to escape by way of China and to sail for the United States, an episode described in his book Fun keyten tsu frayhayt (From Chains to Freedom) (New York: Anarchist Red Cross, 1916). Settling in Philadelphia, Beresin became a member of the Radical Library Group, along with such well-known Russian-Jew- ish anarchists as Chaim Weinberg, Boris Yelensky (q.v.), and Joseph Cohen, with whom he organized a branch of the Anarchist Red Cross to aid political prisoners in Russia. He was later active in the Baltimore branch of the Union of Russian Workers, an anarcho-syndicalist confederation, and contributed to the Russian anarchist press. As “B. E. Resin,” moreover, he wrote for Marcus Graham’s journal Mani, published during the 1930s. He died in Philadelphia in 197 3.384

I was born in Kishinev in 1888 and joined the anarchist group there during the 1905 Revolution. I knew Altman, Mets, and Taratuta very well and considered them the finest type of revolutionist.385 Altman was the man who threw the bomb into the Cafe Libman in Odessa in 1905. No one was killed, but Altman himself was wounded by fragments. The doctors refused to treat him. Finally he was given poison by his merciful sweetheart. Other members of the group were arrested, myself among them, and exiled to Siberia. My cellmate was Egor Sazonov, the famous Socialist Revolutionary. I managed to escape and made my way to America by the Pacific route. I arrived in 1912 and settled in Philadelphia.

I became a dental technician and joined the Radical Library, which had been organized near the beginning of the century. It had about two hundred members, mostly Jewish with a few Italians and Russians. They were largely garment workers and tailors, some of them from the London East End, as well as cigarmakers and a few construction workers (painters, electricians). There were also teachers, librarians, and students. It was a cultural as much as a political organi- "zation. It sponsored lectures (every Sunday, in English) and forums, had a Sunday School for the children, distributed literature, and published books and pamphlets, including Joseph Cohen’s history of the Jewish anarchists in America. The majority were moderates, engaged in propaganda work, but we had a small minority of militant revolutionists, including Marcus Graham.

The leading figure was Joseph Cohen, a cigarmaker by trade, who served as the group’s librarian. He and Harry Kelly and Leonard Abbott, who often came down from New York, formed a sort of troika and were dedicated to the Modern School movement. Will Durant of the New York school also came to speak. His Story of Philosophy is an outgrowth of lectures delivered over a two-year period in New York and Philadelphia. Other speakers included Rudolf Rocker, Charles Dana, Harry Overstreet, and Chaim Weinberg (called “der folksred- ner” [the people’s tribune]), who held the audience’s attention with his humor and treasure of anecdotes. George Brown, from England, was another able speaker. We had close ties, incidentally, with the Italian group in Philadelphia, and held joint meetings, picnics, and other affairs. In addition, Cohen and I organized an Anarchist Red Cross branch to assist political prisoners in Russia.

In 1917 I moved to Baltimore, where I lived for the next three years and was active in the local branch of the Union of Russian Workers. It was a bad time because of the war and antiradical repressions. Our branch fell victim to the Palmer raids, and all our materials were seized. I was jailed for three months and threatened with deportation. But things quieted down and I returned to Philadelphia, where I’ve been for the past fifty years.

Harry Melman

Philadelphia, November 28, 1971 Harry Melman and his wife Celia were members of the Radical Library Group in Philadelphia, which in the early decades of the century boasted a Modern Sunday School and a summer camp (Camp Germinal), both attended by their daughter Ethel. When I asked for any relevant documents, Celia produced the membership ledger of the group, now housed in the Avrich Collection of the Library of Congress. An hour or so later, as I got up to leave, Harry had an idea. Reaching into the hall closet, he extracted a group of old photographs, among them a striking one of the pupils and teachers of the Sunday School, dating from 1910 or 1911. “M’ret un m’ret un m’shushketsakh,” said Celia (We talk and talk and remain silent). Harry died on July 10, 1974, at the age of eighty-five.

I EMIGRATED to Philadelphia in 1910, before Voltairine de Cleyre left for Chicago, but I knew no English then and have no recollection of her talks. I don’t remember Samuel Gordon, Nathan Navro, or Joseph Kucera. I do recall Natasha Notkin,386 who was friendly with Chaim Weinberg, but that’s all I remember. Voltairine de Cleyre was a member of our Workmen’s Circle branch, the Radical Library. In 1911, at a meeting of the branch at 424 Pine Street, Joseph Cohen read us a letter from her from Chicago, asking us to make a collection for the Mexican revolutionaries, and we sent her a hundred dollars.

The Radical Library was composed mostly of garment workers, cigarmakers, teachers, and construction workers. It became a branch of the Workmen’s Circle in 1909. Around 1910, it organized a Modern Home and School Association, whose aim was to build a Ferrer School for our children and also so women could be free to work. The plan was never realized, but we did have a Sunday School and later a summer colony, Camp Germinal, in Jamison, Pennsylvania, about thirty miles north of the city. It lasted until 1934. Our daughter Ethel was there. Anarchism was not specifically taught at the camp, but a libertarian atmosphere prevailed. The camp had a children’s theater, organized by Richard Gilbert [q.v.], and lectures for adults by Will Durant, Rudolf Rocker, and others.

Emma Gilbert

White Plains, New York, September 23, 1974

Emma Gilbert (named after Emma Goldman) was the daughter of Joseph J. Cohen (1878-1953), an editor of the Fraye Arheter Shtime, founder of the Sunrise Colony in Michigan, and participant in the Modern Schools in Philadelphia, New York, and Stelton (Emma attended all three). Entering New Brunswick High School in 1917, Emma made a brilliant showing, leading her class in all subjects. She was graduated as valedictorian and went on to study at Radcliffe, eventually becoming a child psychologist. She died on December 29, 1986.387

I WAS born in Philadelphia on August 9, 1904, and was named after Emma Goldman. My brother’s [E. V Conason, q.v.] middle name is Voltaire, after Voltairine de Cleyre. My parents, Joseph and Sophie Cohen, immigrated from Russia in 1903. Both learned English from Voltairine de Cleyre, and though I was only a small child when they were taking their lessons from her, my memories are quite vivid. My own first language was Yiddish, and I can remember standing up in my crib and reciting a Yiddish poem, but my parents were determined to learn English, so my Yiddish dropped away very quickly. When they went to Voltairine’s apartment for their lessons they would take me along, and I sat in her lap as she taught them.

My whole understanding of “elegance” goes back to Voltairine. It was the first time I saw a room with curtains, with little pieces of decor, though nothing --expensive of course. She herself had an ascetic kind of beauty. And she smelled very good, like lavender. She wore a dark, long-sleeved dress, and every gesture of hers had a kind of beauty, especially in contrast to Emma Goldman, whom I always found repulsive. When Voltairine was sick we kept all her things in our attic in the Radical Library on Pine Street, and I can remember what they looked like to this day: mother-of-pearl and beautifully shaped shell things and clothes that smelled like her, like lavender, which made it so nice to go up there. Father never cared about possessions, about things. Only books—and even that was not to possess them but to use them, to learn from them.

Mary Hansen was another wonderful person. She and Voltairine were physically somewhat alike, tall, thin, and bony. She was rather severe-looking but with a wonderful smile. She told us how she came to America from Sweden [actually Denmark] and worked as a servant girl in a rich house. When George Brown died, she and Heloise came to live with us at the Ferrer Center. She told marvelous stories to the children.

The Radical Library consisted almost entirely of Jewish immigrants. My first recollection of a black person was of Lucy Parsons, who came through Philadelphia several times to lecture and would stay with us at the Radical Library where we lived, at 424 Pine Street. The Radical Library had a Sunday school, which made more of an effort at indoctrination than Stelton did. We sang the Internationale and other revolutionary songs and recited revolutionary poems. But it had few distinguished figures. It was not the yeasting place of New York Bohemianism that the Ferrer Center was and did not produce the writers and artists that emerged in New York. One of my earliest memories of the Radical Library was of Father and a group of men sitting on boxes in the cellar, warming themselves by the furnace and talking earnestly about “the crisis.”388 That is one of the first English words that I can remember. It must have been in 1907 or 1908. I remember going to a meeting where Voltairine de Cleyre spoke and being handed out the window when the police came along and broke it up.

Alexander Berkman was a warm, loving person that children as well as adults took to. He was extremely forceful and persuasive. I detested Emma Goldman: she was so repulsive and extremely domineering, extremely self-centered. There are people you meet whose eye engages you and you feel they are interested in you. Sasha was like that, but not Emma. She was completely egotistical. Of course she had great capacity, but not on a personal basis.

Dad became manager of the Ferrer Center in New York, and Cora Bennett Stephenson was the teacher when I first came there. She always carried a book under her arm. She was much less an influence at the time than people thought. She had a greater effect on us, perhaps, after we left the school.

During the Lexington Avenue affair I was questioned by women detectives who were introduced to me by Dave Sullivan. He had gone to Tarrytown and even to Blackwell’s Island for thirty days, but later turned out to be a police spy. The detectives offered me ice cream and tried to wheedle information out of me. In Transition Will Durant portrays himself as the young man who got out of the apartment alive.389 That was actually Michael Murphy, who used to hang out at the Center. Mom used to feed him, and he took the children out for walks. The sound of the explosion could be heard from over on 107th Street. Soon afterwards Murphy turned up naked but with a police overcoat. Mike told me that Louise Berger had gone out for bread and that these guys [Caron, Hanson, and Berg] had gotten up early in the morning and were having a pillow fight, just like children, they were so happy. He wasn’t in on the plans and didn’t know what was happening. The dynamite went off and he emerged naked. The police arrived, and one of them put his coat over Murphy, who then slipped away and came to the Center.

Murphy talked to Dad and Sasha. I am convinced that neither my father nor Berkman had known what these boys were up to. But to protect Murphy, Dad brought him out to Leonard Abbott’s picnic in Westfield, New Jersey. Before leaving New York he called Harry Melman [q.v] and other comrades in the Radical Library in Philadelphia to meet him at Westfield. He delivered Murphy to them at the railroad station. Murphy was a very suggestible and simple boy, and they feared he might be used by the police. He was kept in Philadelphia for a while, then taken to England by way of Canada. He wrote to Father from England shortly before the Second World War asking, “Is it safe for me to come back?” Dad gave a double-take when he read that, and figured that if he had to ask such a question after all that time he had better stay there, so he answered no. The people at the picnic weren’t told about Murphy, but they had probably heard about the explosion. It was all kept very quiet.

I’ll tell you why I don’t think Berkman was involved. Shortly before Lexington Avenue there was a group of Italian anarchists at the Center who wanted to go with guns to Tarrytown and make an attack on Rockefeller’s estate. I was swinging in the yard while Sasha was trying to calm them down. He told them that such an attentat would have no meaning for ordinary people—no doubt he was thinking of his own experience with Frick—and that it would not draw the masses to the anarchist cause but rather achieve the exact opposite. He was very persuasive and they didn’t go. So I doubt that he was involved in the Lexington Avenue affair, but I may be wrong.

Robert Henri taught art at the Ferrer School, but he was more than an art teacher. He was a hero to us kids because he got us tickets to Isadora Duncan. George Bellows used me to pose for his class. I believe that Edna St. Vincent Millay lectured at the Center. Gussie Miller wore the most fabulous opal, but I don’t recall anything else about her. We had a microscope and a set of the Book of Knowledge but little else in the way of equipment. You know that later, as a psychologist in Washington, D.C., I took part in a group therapy conference, and some of the people there had been at the Ferrer Center and trying the same technique even then. The Center had all sorts of influences in later years—on education, psychology, and the arts.

The main thing about the Ferrer School in New York and at Stelton was that the children were told that they were absolutely free to do anything they wanted, so long as it did not hurt anyone else. Bobby and Deedie Hutchinson” were my teachers at the school in New York after Cora Bennett Stephenson, and they came out with us to Stelton. Bobby was a rather passive teacher. I wanted to study astronomy, so Bobby got books for me, but he really wasn’t interested at all. He just stood there nodding and saying “Great.” Deedie, with her dietary theories, practically starved their first baby, and all the adults were up in arms over it. Bobby remained entirely in the background, giving as little direction as possible.

Leonard Abbott and Harry Kelly were never at the center of things like Father. They would pay an occasional visit, but Father was left with the hard day-to-day work. Abbott was one of the most charming people in the world, but he never gave a strong or definite opinion. No matter what anyone said to him, he would answer, “Quite so, quite so.” That was his favorite phrase. And Harry Kelly’s stand on the war—he wanted Britain to be beaten at all costs—left him completely out of phase with the colonists.

William Thurston Brown was badly treated in Laurence Veysey’s book.391 The kids did like him. He told wonderful stories about early American history. He was a great admirer of Mark Twain, and we devoured Mark Twain, read everything he wrote. Brown told us what America was like in the early days, and it was all perfectly real and wonderful. His wife, you know, was caught shoplifting and there was an awful scandal.

I learned to print from Joseph Ishill. I learned illuminated letters from him and how to set type. He was an artistic genius Pryns Hopkins taught me to tango, and dancing the waltz with Jim Dick was the greatest experience of my life! Henry Schnittkind392 was only there a couple of months, until Thanksgiving, but in that short time he made an everlasting impression on the school, and the school left an everlasting impression on him. He taught us the most unbelievable word games, he taught us Dickens, he taught us algebra. He was a classics scholar and an extraordinary teacher. Years later, when I went to high school, I could still recall his algebra, and that made it very easy for me. I think he was the most gifted teacher I ever met. He enjoyed every bit of it, and we adored every bit of it.

I was one of the first group to go to New Brunswick High School from Stelton, though Elsie Kelly was a senior there by then. I was valedictorian of my class, and after graduation I spent a year under Aunty Ferm as her assistant. After that, Richard [Gilbert, q.v] brought me up to Radcliffe. I married him before entering and thus was Radcliffe’s first married undergraduate. It was in the fall of 1922 that we left Stelton. Richard became an economist at Harvard. Before the Second World War he was an advisor to Harry Hopkins,393 and then served in the OPA [Office of Price Administration], I was raising a family and worked as a child psychologist at Children’s Hospital in Washington. I had a Master’s degree and did most of the work for the doctorate, but never finished.

There’s no denying that Aunty Ferm was a great woman. She had a strong spiritual quality that came out of her. But she was a mystic and didn’t always make sense. She had no flexibility. That was true of Uncle too, to a lesser degree. And they both had a kind of anti-intellectualism and distrust of theories, except for those of people they accepted, like Froebel. Both were extraordinarily gifted. She expounded all sorts of Froebelian principles that were way out—though absolutely real to her—and had nothing to do with anything. Stelton was essentially a Jewish community with a traditional Jewish feeling about education, but with a libertarian slant and without Aunty and Uncle’s anti-intellectualism. The school was designed to instill the idea of freedom. The colonists had a beautiful belief in the perfection of man through libertarian education.

Richard Gilbert

White Plains, New York, September 23, 1974

Richard Gilbert, husband of Emma Cohen Gilbert (q.v.), was an economist at Harvard, an advisor to Harry Hopkins during the New Deal, and an official at the Office of Price Administration (OPA). As a child he attended the Radical Library Sunday School in Philadelphia, of which Emma’s father, Joseph Cohen, was a founder. He and Emma were head counselors at Camp Germinal, operated by the Radical Library.

As A CHILD in Philadelphia during the First World War I attended the Radical Library Sunday School. Abe Grosner was then in charge, and afterwards he went to teach at Stelton. There were a number of Wobblies at the Radical Library, and also a few terrorists, but no one famous or to become famous in literature or the arts, as in the Ferrer Center. We youngsters had very serious discussions there, particularly about the war, the main issue of the time and which we were all against. Later, during the 1920s, Emma and I were the principal counselors at Camp Germinal, north of Philadelphia, which had been started by the Radical Library.

The fundamental point about Stelton was that it was not an anarchist colony but a community populated by anarchists. The one thing that tied them together was the school. In other matters they largely went their own way, most of them working in New York rather than collectively in the colony. Sunrise was entirely different. People worked cooperatively and lived cooperatively. The school was incidental. The situation was totally reversed The driving motive to band together was the Depression, and as soon as things opened up again, these people, with their urban occupations and skills, ran from the hard life on the farm.

Joseph Cohen took an active part in both of these communal ventures. He was a good speaker, an articulate but not a loquacious man. He was also a good man. But God help the poor creature who tries to establish a leadership role in the anarchist movement!

Magda Schoenwetter

Brooklyn, New York, January 5, 1973

Magda Schoenwetter, together with Amour Liber (q.v.) and Revolte Bercovici (q.v.), was one of the original pupils at the Modern School of New York, which opened in October 1911. She moved with the school to Stelton in May 1915 and afterwards attended New Brunswick High School and lived with the family of Joseph Cohen.

I WAS BORN in New York City in February 1907. My name was Magda Boris, though my real father was Pavel Orleneff, the Russian actor whose troupe was managed by Emma Goldman when it came to New York. I entered the Ferrer School when it opened on East Twelfth Street in October 1911, moved with it to Stelton, New Jersey, in 1915, and went on to New Brunswick High School.

My mother’s radical background goes back to the 1880s. She came from a well-to-do Jewish family in the Ukraine. Her tutor, named Starodvorsky, was a Populist, who spent twenty years in Schlusselburg fortress. Her family came to New York in the 1880s, and she mingled with the anarchists of the Lower East Side. She was a good friend of the Bercovicis, so she knew of the Ferrer School on Twelfth Street and sent me there. It later moved to a brownstone on 107th Street. There was a kitchen in the basement, a lovely big room. It was the children’s dining room during the day and a tea-room for adults in the evening. The parlor floor had a platform, or stage, in the back. Sadakichi Hartmann recited there in the evenings. Upstairs there were two rooms—the two classrooms. The back one had all sorts of Montessori equipment for the kindergarten. Above that was a third floor with rented rooms.

I think Esther Wolff was Adolf’s daughter and that Homo and Human Davidson were cousins of Luna Dunn. I adored Will Durant. He was my first love, my favorite teacher. He used to take us to Central Park, and after I got home I would nag Mother to take me to the park—maybe Will would be there! We had picnics and nature study there, he told us stories and sang “Way Down Upon the Swanee River.”

In the backyard of the school we walked on stilts and on the fence. We read books about cave dwellers and tree dwellers. Robert Henri was a friend of Isadora Duncan’s, and he got us free tickets to see her dance. Once we saw her dance in Oedipus. We were often taken to dances and plays, and I remember seeing Maeterlinck’s Bluebird. Every time Luna Dunn’s mother made lunch it was Wheatena or cornmeal mush, and I still love them. We had a cooking class and made desserts and other things.

What everybody is yowling about now—freedom in education—we had then, though I still can’t spell or do multiplication. Robert and Delia Hutchinson used Montessori methods and equipment. On the way home from school, I, my sister Sophie, and Esther Wolff used to stop at the Mother Earth office. Sasha was nice to us, but Emma was a pain in the ass. I couldn’t stand her red face and dumpy figure. She was busy and would chase us out. Jacques Dubois [q.v.] had a summer school for the Ferrer Center kids in Maplewood, New Jersey, around 1912 or 1913, and I went.

We moved down to Stelton on May 16, 1915, a cold, rainy, nasty day. It was mud all over. I blame Harry Kelly for choosing that awful, dumpy place. Yet I loved it there. William Thurston Brown was the principal after the Hutchinsons left. I’ll tell you something about Uncle Will, the silly thing! His wife told him to give the girls some kisses—and they were chocolate kisses! I remember giggling stupidly at a sex lecture he gave, and I was so ashamed of myself. I liked Jim and Nellie Dick [q.v.], but the one I loved best was Fred Dunn,394 a Cockney. He taught us about Aztecs and Mayans, and I’ve been interested in them ever since. In fact, we’re going down to Mexico next month to see the ruins.

I hated Joseph Cohen, though I adored his daughter Emma [Gilbert, q.v.]. He almost ruined my life. I was going to New Brunswick High School and living with the Cohens. During the Christmas vacation I stayed late in order to see Gorky’s Lower Depths—I loved the theater—and Cohen wouldn’t give me a note of excuse. So I never went back to the high school, which I liked and where I was doing well. And he also did something else: he broke up a romance between Ray Miller [Shedlovsky, q.v.] and Richard Gilbert to get him for his daughter Emma. He was devious and a self-seeker.

At the Living House each older child was in charge of a group—they rotated every few days—that helped in the kitchen and set the table and washed the dishes, and so on. I had had a crush on Stuart Sanger in the New York school. His brother Grant was my age, and Grant and his sister Peggy were at Stelton, where Peggy died of pneumonia. I myself had malaria there in 1918.

Henry Schnittkind taught us about cloudbursts—that it could rain in one spot and not another. Sherwood Trask used to call me “Mazda Electric Lamp.” Joseph Ishill taught me printing, and I still remember how to set up type. And there was also a very handsome guy—I can’t recall his name [Bernard Sexton]—with a beautiful wife, and he was steeped in Indian lore and taught us Indian chants We loved that! Pryns Hopkins sent us a teacher from Santa Barbara, Marie Travis, who taught us table manners. Hopkins came to visit. He took the whole school to the Hippodrome in New York, and we ate at the Russian Tea Room. Dudley Field Malone, the ACLU lawyer, and Maude Malone lived at Stelton for a while.

Gray Wu was one of those I loved best. When he got mad he’d reach up and grab the door jamb and swing back and forth until he got rid of all his frustrations. He had a crush on Lucy V innick. He gave me Tolstoy’s What Is to Be Done? He took us to New York to Chinatown and bought us Chinese slippers. He was an exchange student at Columbia and worked in a Chinese restaurant but was fired when he organized a waiters’ strike. A bunch of Chinese, his friends, came out to visit the colony. He was on a par in my affections with Fred Dunn. We lived in an open dormitory at first. Then it was enclosed. But we loved it open. Mary Hansen told us wonderful stories, dear Mary Hansen. Hers was the only house with a peach orchard. One night we went and stole all her peaches and carried them home in our bloomers. Henrietta Rodman,395 a close friend of Mary’s, once wrote a poem about her daughter Heloise:

Heloise Hansen hyphen Brown,

Never stands up when she can sit down, Never sits down when she can be dancin’, Heloise Brown hyphen Hansen.

Emma Goldman told me, when things are bad, scrub floors.

Ray Shedlovsky

New York City, October 14, 1972

Ray Shedlovsky, born in 1903, is the widow of Dr. Leo Shedlovsky, a chemist, and the daughter of a Jewish anarchist couple in Philadelphia, where she attended the Modern Sunday School of the Radical Library Group. In 1915 Ray moved with her parents to Stelton and enrolled in the Modern School there. She afterwards graduated trom New Brunswick High School and became a professional singer, specializing in German lieder. Her mother, Bella Miller, was a member of the Libertarian Book Club in New York, where I met her in 1969, a year before her death at the age of ninety.396

My parents were members of the Radical Library in Philadelphia, and I attended its Sunday School from 1912 to 1915. We had singing, stories, art class. We all became great friends. That’s where I met Emma Cohen [Gilbert, q.v.], whose father was in charge of the library. Abe Grosner was in charge of the Sunday School, which was held during the afternoon. Sunday evenings were reserved for adult activities, such as lectures by Will Durant and Scott Nearing.397 Voltairine de Cleyre had just died. She was thought of with great reverence, as a kind of god. George Brown wa& a very peppery fellow, and Mary Hansen, his companion, quiet and unassuming, a marvelous person, so generous and friendly, so understanding. All the kids there and at Stelton were crazy about her.

I visited the Ferrer Center once It was during a visit to Emma Cohen, whose family had moved up there. Emma was very excited about the school and the teachers. The war had just broken out, but everyone was more excited about an explosion that had taken place a few weeks before. On entering the Ferrer Center I remember vividly a black metal pyramid with a fist on top. It made a terrific impression on me Alexander Berkman was there that morning. It was the only time I ever met him. Emma Cohen took me into the yard of the school and he was there. She introduced us, and he said, “What dreamy eyes you have.” I was eleven years old.

We moved from Philadelphia to Stelton and lived there from 1915 to 1918. I attended the school from 1915 to 1917, then New Brunswick High School in 1917 and 1918, before we moved to New York. The Hutchinsons were in charge when I came. Deedie was pregnant that summer. On walks we sat down in the middle of the road and she explained conception and childbirth, all this to little five- and six-year-olds. They left for Stony Ford soon after Deedie was very charming, and Bobby was tall and slender. All the people there were so loving! They all seemed to have a passion for children, and the children were mad about them!

Uncle Will [William Thurston Brown] came next, with a woman named Elsie [Pratt], who was not his wife. They stayed several years, then left for California. We used to go to his house on winter nights, made fudge, popped corn; he read us Dickens and Mark Twain and laughed so hard he had to stop reading, and we all just sat there and watched him laugh. I still remember how he enjoyed that book!

There were so many unusual people there. Hippolyte Havel was very charming when sober. We never knew what he was doing there, but we all liked him. No one ever said anything derogatory about him, despite the fact that he had “no visible means of support” and was not always sober. On the contrary, everyone treated him very gently. He often wore one of those flowing black anarchist ties.

Henry Schnittkind was my favorite teacher. He taught writing and math and had a natural talent for teaching. One day Pryns Hopkins came to Stelton. He heard me singing—I was always singing—and sent me to New York for singing lessons, which he paid for. He was tall, thin, wealthy, and later had a school in California. I became a professional singer; I gave many concerts and specialized in Heder with some opera.

I was deliriously happy in the Stelton school. My mother had sent me there for only one summer, but I refused to come home. The first year I lived in the Living House, and woke up on winter mornings with my hair frozen to the pillow. That first winter there was a fire in the Living House but no one was hurt. I loved the other children, and Emma Cohen, Heloise Brown, and I were particularly close friends. Mary Hansen was modest, never talked about herself, very solid. Heloise sent me a poem Mary wrote before she died, in the 1950s I think. Her son George seemed mentally retarded.

In the early years the school was completely disorganized. In the New York Ferrer Center and at Stelton one heard little about Francisco Ferrer’s educaTional theories, though a good deal about his anticlericalism and martyrdom. They talked a good deal more about the Montessori method. We did everything as a community. Instead of reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream we put on the play, and put it on outdoors. The grownups got involved too. I never avoided taking part in anything, whereas in high school everything seemed a chore, even though I always got good marks. The only thing I liked was French. I went through four years of high school but didn’t make a single real friend. In Stelton everyone was a friend. And I went to grammar school for six years before coming to Stelton, yet I can’t remember anything we did or any of the teachers, except that they read Bible to us every morning and that three Civil War veterans visited school one day. I read at home avidly, but school is a blank. On the other hand I remember a great deal about Stelton. Stelton was not only a school but a community; it wasn’t just education—it was living.

Joseph Cohen was a very bright and capable man, though he was one of the few in the colony who were not hail-fellow-well-met but rather remote. You never felt terriblv close to him—and I lived in the Cohen house for more than two years, after a year at the Living House, and became fast friends with Emma. But he had a good sense of humor and was an able organizer, conducting meetings with Harry Kelly and Leonard Abbott. (They didn’t live in the colony— Kelly came off and on and Abbott hardly ever.) In that period Cohen also worked every day in a New Brunswick cigar factory.

Harry Kelly was a charming fellow who could talk for years on end without stopping for breath—and it was always interesting. Leonard Abbott had some of the qualities of a minister. You always had the feeling that you were talking to a holy man, terribly friendly though, always seeming so interested in what you had to say. After his wife got sick he devoted all his time to her when not working. His active life just stopped. He asked me to come up to his house in the Bronx and sing for her, which 1 did on several occasions.

I met his sister-in-law Romany Marie in Stelton, which she visited often. Her husband, A. D. Marchand, who was something of a kook, collected pottery. She was a very flamboyant person, always dressed in an extravagant gypsy style, and had a booming voice. When she came into her Greenwich Village restaurant her personality would take over the whole place. She fed down-and-outers, sometimes for months on end.

Margaret Sanger’s daughter got sick at Stelton and died. The Dicks, who came in 1917, went back to England, and returned again to Stelton, were very warm, friendly, and easy-going. Jimmy Dick was a marvelous dancer. He would always put on his dancing pumps for Saturday night dances, and we were very impressed. I got the impression, from later visits, that Aunty Ferm was very rigid. She lived by a great many rules and regulations and expected people to conform to her ideas. Most people were fonder of Uncle than Aunty, though they felt she was an important person.

Joseph Ishill taught us printing. We printed our own magazine. We did everything ourselves—we were gardeners, we were typesetters, we were cooks. We did everything with our own two hands. I remember how I enjoyed setting type. Ishill was an artist—he showed us many beautiful things he had printed.

We had some characters there too, Havel, for instance, and Anyuta Krimont, who once took over the Living House kitchen and decided that the children would eat only nuts and raisins for a while. Vegetarianism was strong among the colonists. Most were vegetarians, and I was one all the time I lived at Stel- ton. We used to bake our own bread, had our own vegetable gardens, lived close to nature and to the soil. Boys and girls swam together nude, to be natural and avoid hang-ups. I felt the anarchists were the only people with the right attitude towards life. Personal relationships were the most important thing. People were allowed to develop their own potentialities. You didn’t live according to rigid rules but could do what you wanted as long as you didn’t interfere with the rights of other people.

Eva Bein

New York City, January 13, 1973

Eva Bein attended the Ferrer School in New York in 1914-1915 and in Stelton, New Jersey, in 1915-1916, and then the Stony Ford School in 1916-1918. After that she attended New York City public schools, James Madison High School in Brooklyn, and Hunter College. She became a champion swimmer, the holder of national titles, and a social studies teacher in New York high schools. The woman swimmer in Paul Gallico’s Poseidon Adventure is modeled on her (she met Gallico with a group of swimmers in Europe during the 1930s).

I WAS BORN in New York City in 1910. My parents were radical and hadn’t married. Father was a cigar worker, an IWW, and then a socialist with anarchist leanings. He had left Poland because of his activities in the Jewish Bund. He named my younger brother Eugene Victor (after Debs)398 and always had pictures of Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxemburg, and Karl Marx.

When I was two, my parents sent me to summer camp in Maplewood, New Jersey [run by the French anarchist Jacques Dubois (q.v), later at Stelton and Mohegan], and when the Ferrer School opened my mother shifted me there.

It was a brownstone house, and many of the activities took place in the yard. I remember being taken to Central Park often and being outdoors a great deal, but I was barely four and all this is very vague. I remember pandemonium, noise. It wasn’t restrictive but spontaneous, easygoing, permissive. It’s all very dim, but that’s what I remember about the place, and that there were people there who were interested in the kids. Puckie Durant was warm and friendly and used to hold my hand and wipe away the tears if I fell down and got hurt. Anna Schwartz [q.v. ] was a mother figure for me, though it wasn’t until later, -at Stony Ford, that I really became close to her. The Albasis, with two children in the school, had a grocery store on 106th Street between First Avenue and York. I think. My parents used to take me to lectures and to meet people. I heard Emma Goldman speak, and Father introduced me to her. She didn’t seem very interested in me. She looked mannish and seemed terribly excited.

I went with the original group to Stelton when the school moved there [May 16, 1915], The place was quite primitive. We lived in a partly open dormitory, and I slept next to the two children of Margaret Sanger, a boy and a girl. We had only one stove in the middle of the dormitory. The Sanger girl came down with pneumonia, and Mother feared that I would catch it too. In the morning, when we went to wash, there was ice. The toilet was outside. Everything was unpainted wood. The adults as well as the children went bathing nude, and Mother was taken aback and left the same feeling with me, and to this day I’m more modest about it than perhaps I should be. I remember many grownups there, always talking among themselves a great deal. In the school there was one room; we sat on benches and there were wooden tables. I liked Stelton more than the city school, but probably because I wasn’t living with my parents. Also, there was a lot of activity, a lot of zest, vitality, experiment. It was like pioneering, and I think I felt a part of it.

I went to Stony Ford at the age of six, and I remember f’hat well. I remember that the Hutchinsons were very interested in health and diet, in the body as well as the mind. We had two meals a day, at a quarter to eleven and at five. To this day I have never enjoyed breakfast. The ideas of that school were so strong and I held on so hard that when I came home I couldn’t touch a morsel of breakfast. My parents were so insistent that they took me to the insane asylum at Welfare Island and threatened to leave me there with those people behind the bars. When they turned away and began to leave, I ran after them terrified. Another thing is that we didn’t eat any meat, and I remained a vegetarian till eighteen. We ate Protose and Notose in cans—mostly nuts, beans, and the like—and all sorts of Kellogg’s cereals, which they would buy at Macy’s and have shipped to Stony Ford, and bread without yeast. And they always emphasized that we shouldn’t overeat.

We slept in a dormitory with the back and sides sheltered but the front open. They would put us in sleeping bags tied at the neck, then put us in bed. We swam naked and could go swimming in winter too if we liked. I had learned to swim at Stelton and swam often at Stony Ford and got to love it. I later became a champion swimmer and won several national awards, and I moved into London Terrace [on West Twenty-Third Street, where the interview took place] because it has a pool in the basement.

We were all assigned household tasks each day. They never used the word “school.” It was all play. We worked for weeks making Dutch shoes, skates, windmills—everything to do with Holland. We had to touch and feel and smell and become acquainted with everything about it; and then we read the story. We went through The Dutch Twins, The Spanish Twins, and so on. Yet there was a kind of leisurely feeling about the place. We never felt pressured, rushed, harassed. I don’t remember anybody raising his voice at Stony Ford. There was no hostility in their voices. Those were my happiest years.

Deedie’s [Delia Hutchinson] brother Dana399 came up from Columbia, where he taught. He took us for an overnight outing—we slept outdoors on a hill—and he taught us all about the stars; he had a story about each star. Dana was a pacifist and lost his position at Columbia, and I think was even put in jail as a conscientious objector. They used to discuss these things with us, things you would think pertinent only to adults. We discussed everything together and were always told just what was taking place. They really respected us as people. The teaching was quite informal and centered around play and projects. One boy wanted to look for rabbits and just got up and walked away. We often went on hikes and picnics. We had a dog named Bucky, a cow, and a horse. They liked us to get close to the animals in a friendly way. When my parents came up to visit I used to say, hours ahead of time, “You’re going to be late for your train.” A man named Hugo, such a kindly person, gave us piano lessons for a quarter. The men at the school wore knickers, which at that time was considered radical, and the women wore dresses only down to their knees and had their hair short. When we would go into Middletown, in an old Ford with a crank, and we got to the outskirts of the town, I would lower my head so as to become invisible to the townspeople because I felt we were always creating a commotion by our entrance, all conspicuous with knickers and short dresses and hair. I remember clearly when Bobby Hutchinson told us that the place was to be disbanded. I cried and the other children cried. There was no corporal punishment. Instead, we were put in a room and not given any food, just fruit juice, for a few hours, and that was the worst punishment we ever got.

When I went back to Stelton I was eleven, and I was boarded with Anna Schwartz’s sister, a very attractive woman. I remained with her for about a year. I was quite surprised by what a community it had become and how many houses had sprung up. I liked Stelton, but Stony Ford was the best experience I had as a child. I loved it, and many of the ideas I hold to this day were conceived and nurtured there. I’m very conscious of my health, of exercise, of the love of learning. As a teacher I always had great rapport with my students. I think it helped a great deal in my life. They were more conscious of food than other people. Now it’s quite common to eat whole-wheat bread and the like, but then it was new. I never ate a frankfurter or drank tea or ate penny candy. In fact I was a vegetarian until eighteen, and that all started at Stony Ford.

After the Ferrer School, Stelton, and Stony Ford, public school was a traumatic experience. Susan Dubois, my good friend, was sent to Ethical Culture, and that would have been much better. Public school was conventional and rigid. The teacher once told me that if I came late again I shouldn’t bother coming to school. 1 once made a blotch with the pen-point on the paper and the teacher slapped me in the face. I was a good reader but I knew very little -math. I didn’t seem to fit. They called me the “wild Indian.” I had a Dutch haircut with short bangs and looked different from the other girls, and I wore the oldest rags for clothes. I was very fidgety because I wasn’t accustomed to sitting still in the classroom all the time. And maybe I spoke out, as we all did at Stony Ford and Stelton. I got the most horrible headaches at that school, and would cry all day, and sometimes even fainted, which I had never done at the other schools. It was extremely hard to adjust, though after the first year I had no further difficulties. In New York and Stelton they had a picture of Francisco Ferrer on the wall. They told us that he was a martyr, that he was executed for wanting free education, to separate the schools from both church and state. I always remember that.

Mary Rappaport

Brooklyn, New York, January 5, 1973

Mary Rappaport (known as “Marucci”) was the daughter of Anna Schwartz (q.v.), the last principal of the Modern School at Stelton. Marucci and her brother Zack were pupils at the school as well as at the Ferrer School in New York and the Stony Ford School, run by Robert and Delia Hutchinson. Marucci died of cancer in Palo Alto, California, on April 24, 1982.

My mother, Anna Schwartz [q.v.], was an anarchist, and she enrolled me in the Ferrer School in 1914, when I was ten. Cora Bennett Stephenson was the principal. She taught us how to use a fan and said, “Whenever you go to the theater, that’s the sound you hear, of the fans swishing.” Her successors the following year were Bobby and Deedie Hutchinson. Bobby was tall, thin, and good-looking, from a prominent Philadelphia family. His wife Delia was the granddaughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and of Richard Henry Dana. Her brother Richard was an architect, who designed the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Deedie was a nurse and demonstrated how to bathe a baby, using a big doll. Bobby taught us how to dance—“Down and up and one, two, three.” At Harvard he had always played the female leads in the Hasty Pudding Society.

I went te Stelton when the school moved in P'> and t .?•; w witn the Hutchinsons. who established their own school at Stwy Fbsd, Xew Ibrk, the following v ear. As in Stetten, e 3 w ed a veget uia a die and s ept ft a J«san ton that bad a root but no wals and was >pe.a aU vror. even » v inter But we had ptenb- of qu ts and b ankets. a®d we > ?d it. The pu p k beskfes myself and mv younger brother Zach were Bruno and Marie Albafe, Itesmy Hege Eva Bern fq.xj. Jessie, Rosie. and Barney Mesidelsou. Nota Kfeebsch. and a few others, about fifteen bias in all, manv of them hoan Steitero

IxAto and Deed e were vegetam us a ad beheved s eating e . e meals • dav. The school had 1B7 acres. boteterod on one ride by the Wallfe Rs ver near Gosken These was an o J Dutch fa house wi h a g eat g firep ce Across from the house was * big bam in which we had workshops I made a desk fer mvro "ri the’e Upsta-is m the ba^ ’ as a most v >-fofer1 ' -tee- a.. Be? w »' Deedie's things were up there, and they let us nmuuage th rug h them He ad at least thirty doss c> white g.o es t bat he bad used as an usfes at we^t sgs Deeds.e s brother designed a new w 'g to the house hat w w .urge* . an te original house In it we had our dining room and the Hutchinsons had their Lving quarters .ad a nc sec?—be1 desgned w«h asar«~ . to si. e— for their own E' d and brother s Jkt.d The house was hr suth I it d the tame. and the neighbors called st the Light House OO the re" wing w«s our dormitory, med coking the nw. e used ® use carb ,.e cans as safes and Boat m the river \f- mother tought there, and Deeu e w s e nurse He fen I msd taught there too Steiton '■'■as too messv to© umaammedh fe the liateu sss ®s.

This was aaur con tr Up the r 2 «a,- a b £ Ja.r .. mi owned m \e B" . family. Thev had a stoue hause with a spinet, ,J a trefe ».. ! w 1 d-^s We had such wondesfel times .here Each week a group er thi ee kids wwM be responsible for getting serpp es B»Wfer drove us ®to town (Ges.has to get t 'e stuff, and if the group didn * function correetb' we had ® feed We sdso J d the cookmg Vr e had a wonderh. j deep bnx k that » de gusglir ig nr ses Ti se Hutchinsons put a dam in and that made a s« m ig x’ - for us B. the Jh r had to be broken up because it Booded the feir tess pasture Jan J

I don't recall much about the teaching. W I remember one th ng: we d-ew a big map of Greece on the Boor—we were all on our hands an.«. knees dear g it. We were doing a G«eek play at the aame feme wh , ’s I ,d to do w ,h Greet history and which we ourse >es anade i»" Sc we were the xc. phy. history, reading, and writing at ene stn.4e 1 bee • _ •■ K1^;. fel afe fine chaiis ano an oval table in the .ng room—tiseie was not ? ng .^pover-

ished about this place! The school lasted about Hwee ears, anri .hen the Hutchinsons moved to Mamaroneck. I was thesi about fifteen aau I li ed w th them there for a y^ear or so. They wwe starting to break «p He afteswards mamed Hesper Le Galliem e. the actress Era's haH^istw

A few mised aneous pc nts. 1 he pwam ® mu to Adoif V cMf was t.Rea b^m the Fener Center to Steiton when tl se schoo m ived there a IQ 5 O ro feme, in 191" or PIS. the mounted po ce came te Stefee® to S?1 for draft <kxfeers. w ho were in foot EJLng at the cdony. the igh the pd io» J fe-.: fiad Hbem The disputes that went on there between anarchists and Communists were dreadful. Many of us (including myself and Magda Boris [Schoenwet*er, q.v.]) became Communist'; because •'he anarchists were bourgeois and the Communists were the only ones who seemed effective, the only ones who were doing anything to change the world

Anna Schwartz

Palo Alto, California, June 17, 1974

Anna Schwartz, an immigrant from Russia, headed the Modem School of Stelton during its final years, from 1948 to 1953 One of Stelton’s original settlers she also attended adult classes at the Ferrer Center in New York and taught at the Stony Ford School, run by Fobert and Delia Hutchinson Her children Mary <Rappaport, q.vj and Zack attended the schools at New York Stony Ford, and Stelton, and Zack taught at Stelton and Mohegan. Afterwards Zac* and his wife, a former pupil at Stelton, were teachers at the Peninsula School of Creative Education in Menlo Park. California Anna died m Palo Alto on October 7, 19^8

I was born Anna Druz on May 22, 1887, in the village of Shvirnevo near Konstantinovka Kherson province. The nearest big town was Voznesensk. Father had a dry goods store. He had gone to Hebrew school and was very conservative in his views. I was raised very strictly and severely by a strict and severe father. My libertarian philosophy is in part a reaction against this upbringing. Father hired a local druggist to teach his three girls (I was the second, and there were other children later) the Russian language and arithmetic Every Friday Father would examine us, and he hit me—I daydreamed a lot during the lessons— if I failed to give the correct answers. My older sister went to live with relatives in Odessa—how lucky she was!—but d.ed suddenly on the eve of her wedding. So Father married me oft against my wishes. I was seventeen and I never forgave him.

During the Russo-Japanese War my husband, an army reservist, was going to be called into service, so he went to America He settled in St Paul, Minnesota, and became a barber I was pregnant when he left. Marucci |?vlary Rappaport, q v.] was born in 1906, and that year we came to New York, where my husband mined us. Our second child Zacharv, arrived, and my husband took up his barber’s trade in the city.

My younger sister married an intelligent young man named Sigmund Brodsky. They brought young peoole to our house from the needle trades, and I began to see things in a new ligh‘. In 1909. when Francisco Ferrer was executed, I was already reading the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, and through these young people I began to attend anarchist meetings. WTien a movemen* arose to protest against Ferrer’s execution, I joined it. I separated from my husband, and when the Ferrer School opened on 107th Street I moved to Fifth Avenue and 106th Street to be near it so my children could attend. Before that, Marucci had gone to public school. Once when de'nied permission to go to the bathroom she made in her pants, and I went and complained to the principal, a big, red-haired Irishwoman, who called me a “greenhorn” and all sorts of names. So I transferred her to the Ferrer School and enrolled Zack also.

The school had a little yard in back, and my son would climb the fence to celebrate his freedom. I often attended the lectures in the evening. Leonard Abbott was a delightful man, a dreamer, and his wife was a simple woman. Harry Kelly was a joy to listen to, and he loved to talk. Minna Lowensohn, a big, hefty woman, became my close friend. I heard Emma Goldman speak. Alexander Berkman was a very fine person. They were people from heaven for me. They were so different from the people with whom I had grown up. It was a completely new world.

I once met Voltairine de Cleyre while visiting the Cohens in Philadelphia, but I can’t tell you anything about her. Cohen came to manage the Ferrer School later. He was a domineering personality, but he knew what he wanted and was an anarchist in spirit and action. Mary Hansen also came from Philadelphia. She taught at the school in Stelton, a delightful storyteller both for children and adults, a wonderful woman.

I moved to Stelton at the very beginning, in 1915. Robert and Delia Hutchinson were in charge, a beautiful, idealistic socialist couple. They did not fully accept the anarchist standpoint, and they wanted to establish their own school in accordance with their own ideas. Without telling anyone, they began to search for a site and found one at Stony Ford, New York. They were loved by the children and quietly wooed-them away to their new school. I didn’t like that. All of a sudden my own children announced that they were going with Deedie and Bobby. So I let them. Pretty soon the Hutchinsons invited me to come up and work with them.

Stony Ford lasted three years. It had good ideas. Deedie had theories on diet and believed in only two meals a day. For a week one group would cook, for the next wash dishes, and so on. They went to neighboring farms with cans for milk. They did the shopping in town with Bobby. They slept in a dormitory that was open on both sides. Deedie taught nursing and baby care. The school was a success, but Bobby fell in love with another girl, and the breakup of the marriage led to the breakup of the school. Deedie was deeply hurt. They had three children of their own. Bobby later left the new girl and married a sister of the actress Eva Le Gallienne.

We came back to Stelton. The Ferms came a year or so later, remarkable teachers and people. They put themselves out to make me understand the principles of freedom in education. There were differences in their character, which I think had mainly to do with her early life and Catholic background. She was always proud of that—of her Irish-Catholic name, Elizabeth Byrne Battle Ferm!

We didn’t have a schoolhouse yet, but we had set aside land for one. Meanwhile the school was in the farmhouse, and Aunty Ferm made the barn, or carriage house, into a kindergarten. If a ten-year-old came around he was free to work there. She brought Froebel “gifts”400 and the ideas from Froebel’s books. Both were followers of Froebel. See that woodcut above my [kitchen] door? Uncle Ferm made it. Look at the inscription: “Be thy aim to give bread to men; let my striving be to give men,to themselves. Froebel.” It used to hang in the Stelton school.

" But to have a group of parents—a whole colony—telling you what to do didn’t agree with individualists like the Ferms. The community of tailors and dressmakers wanted a free school, but they wanted academics. With the Ferms there were workshops and printing but not enough academic work for immigrant Jewish workers, who themselves had always yearned for an education and who wanted their children to become educated professionals.

So the Ferms left. And without them the school began to fall apart. The Dicks [q.v. Nellie Dick] tried to put it back on its feet. But they too, like the Hutchinsons, wanted their own school. Meantime the Mohegan Modern School had opened, and it attracted some families who wanted more academic training for their children. Cohen left too—he went to Sunrise.

Camp Kilmer was the final ruin of the school. Several young children were raped by soldiers. So the remaining families began to move away. I took over in 1948, when Uncle left for Alabama, and remained until it closed in 1953. It was just a nursery with a few children at the end. Those curtains were woven by the children when I left. But I am still an anarchist, nothing else but that. I have never changed, and doubt that I ever will. People with true convictions do not change.

Hugo Gellert

Freehold, New Jersey, December 28, 1972

During the First World War and its aftermath, Hugo Gellert, the Hungarian- born artist, did striking covers and sketches for Max Eastman’s The Masses and The Liberator. From 1920 to 1922 he taught art and helped direct the children’s theater at the Stelton Modern School in New Jersey. A supporter of the Bolshevik dictatorship, he joined the John Reed Club in New York, painted murals on social themes, engaged in antifascist activity, and drew regularly for the Daily Worker, New Masses, and other Communist publications. In later years he lived with his Australian-born wife Livia, an artist and pianist, in an eighteenth-century house near Freehold, New Jersey. When I interviewed him there in 1972, he was still reciting the orthodox Communist line—that the Soviet Union was a workers’ state, that workers’ councils controlled the factories and ran the economy, that Stalin was a great leader who saved the world from Hitler, and so on. Clinging to these beliefs to the end, Gellert died at his home on December 6, 1985.

I WAS born in Hungary in 1892 and came to the United States as a young man before the First World War It was Mike Gold who told me about Stelton. I had just come back from California after slacking during the war in Mexico. Mike said, “I think you’d be good with kids, and they need an art teacher at Stelton.” I was interested in kids, and they took to art like ducks to water. I always felt that if a good scientist had gone out there they would all have been interested in science.

We had a great big table with different colors in one-quart jars. Little three- year-olds would say, “Please pass the magenta.” They would pose for each other. I would draw too, and they made drawings of me while I was drawing or painting. Bill Pogrebysky was my star pupil, the most talented of them all, a real genius. He took over after I left—I was there about two years, between 1920 and 1922—and later worked as an artist in the Soviet Union. We had a Stelton art exhibition at the City Club in New York, in 1922 I think; see Floyd Dell’s article about it in The Liberator. Alfred Stieglitz came and said to me, “What did you do to them? Every one of them is a genius!” There was also a two-page spread in color of the kids’ work in the Sunday magazine section of the New York World around that time.

I knew about the theories of Ferrer, Montessori, and others, but they had very little to do with our teaching. It was a libertarian school, and one tried to give the child as much freedom as possible. Vaguely I had a theory that everybody has some natural artistic ability and merely needs the opportunity to bring it out. Old Art Young [the political cartoonist] used to say, “Every kid is a genius, but on the way they blast it out of him and destroy his creative spirit.” I went on my own experiences as a child. I just encouraged them, praised their work, and they began to produce beautiful things. At the same time, I learned from the children. I was an academic product, and with them I loosened up completely. My dragon design for The Liberator cover was originally part of a curtain designed for the Stelton players.

In Greenwich Village Sadakichi Hartmann gave “scent concerts” that I attended. I was at a meeting of the editorial board of The Masses in 1917 where we voted on whether to publish a certain poem. Hippolyte Havel objected: “Phooey! Voting on poetry! Bunk!” “What about Mother Earth?” we asked. “We make decisions,” he said, “but we don’t abide by them.” That’s what I knew about anarchism. We had no political quarrels when I was at Stelton. It was still almost entirely an anarchist colony; the Communists came in little by little over the years. We all favored the Russian Revolution. We didn’t argue much. We were concerned about the kids. I had only a hazy idea of the differences between anarchists and Communists. Later on there were disputes, but in the early years we were all excited about the revolution and too busy building up the colony to waste time quarreling.

I liked Alexis Ferm very much. As for Mrs. Ferm—well she was firm! I think she was well-meaning, but she had a dictatorial streak. Some of the children didn t take to her, while they all liked Uncle. Yet she would have done anything for the kids. She was honest and thought she was doing the right thing. Incidentally, she really believed in fairies and said she could see them under the table, and so on, and that was a nice side of her character. Alexis was gentle, easy-going, considerate. Paul Scott, who later taught at the Walden School in New York, was a very good influence. He got them interested in writing poetry by teaching them how to print it.

Lillian Rifkin Blumenfeld

New York City, October 15, 1975

Lillian Blumenfeld, an active figure in progressive and libertarian education, taught at the Organic School in Fairhope, Alabama, the Modern School in Stel- ton, New Jersey, and the Walden School in New York City, among other places. A graduate of Bloomsburg State Normal College in Pennsylvania, she studied at Columbia University s Teachers College with John Dewey and William Heard Kilpatrick and afterwards published books on children and education In an interview on WBAI (New York), aired on October 11, 1975, she likened the child to a flower or plant, which must be allowed to grow naturally to reach its fullest development.

I WAS BORN in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on April 9, 1897. My parents came from Moscow, where father had been a banker. They arrived in 1892 and father became a successful businessman in Wilkes-Barre. Mother’s brother, Abe Heller, was a Communist and founded the International Publishers. I attended public school. We lived in a fifteen-room house, and the whole attic was my playroom. When friends came I enjoyed having them and became a kind of teacher to them. I was always, even as a child myself, interested in children and in what children can be

I was graduated from Bloomsburg State Normal College (Pennsylvania) in 1917, then taught at a public school in Chester, near Philadelphia. My astronomy teacher at Bloomsburg always emphasized respect for the children, and that made a great impression. I was given forty children in first grade. All were Polish and many couldn’t talk English. Their parents worked in ammunition plants—that was Chester’s main industry at the time, during the war. I put a table in front of my desk and had a saw, a hammer, and nails, and gave each child drawing paper and crayons. Of course, it was noisy—and who had noise in first grade then? So the administration opposed these methods, and I had to resign after one year.

In 1919 I attended an international education convention in Heidelberg. There were educators from all over the world, some Montessori people, and Carl Jung401 was the featured speaker. He said you have to look at the internal rather than the external, and I agreed with that immediately. At Heidelberg I met Martha Gruening,402 sister of Ernest Groening and a reporter for the Paris Herald, who had had a private school near Albany during the war. In Paris, after the convention, we became very good friends. I established an outdoor group for American children in Paris, and she wrote it up in her paper, and that attracted all the embassy children and others, so that it worked out very well I lived in a little hotel near the Eiffel Tower and got to know Paris. With Martha, by the way, I visited Odenwald Schule, a progressive school near Heidelberg, which is still in existence. She enrolled her adopted black son there— she had founded the upstate New York school because of him—while she lived in Paris.

I stayed in Paris about six months, until news came that Father died, and I came back to Wilkes-Barre. We had a barn in back of our house, and I turned it into a school for poor children and brought down all my toys from the attic. Then I rented rooms for it and ran it three years (1919-1922). After that, I came to New York and went to Teachers College and took courses under John Dewey and William Heard Kilpatrick. I read in Dewey’s Schools of Tomorrow403 about his visit to Marietta Johnson, so I went up that summer to her school in Greenwich, Connecticut, Rosemary Hall. She said everything that I always felt about the child. She was like an evangelist, but very simple and modest—a marvelous person. That fall she gave me a job at Fairhope.404

I taught for one year at Fairhope (1922-1923) and loved it. Many northern single-taxers put their children in the school there. I had the eight and nine year olds. I got great big wooden cases and the children sawed out windows and doors, and we papered and painted and carpeted, and made a whole street, with a post office and store. Reading, writing, and especially arithmetic were all gotten in that way. Fairhope is on Mobile Bay, and we were Indians there for a whole week. We slept on the beach, cooked over an open fire, made beads out of chinaberry trees and clay dishes from the gulley banks, in all colors. We made small boats out of palm tree bark and sailed out into the bay. Marietta Johnson didn’t want to force the children to read till they were eight. Their eyes weren’t ready for it, she believed. Everything she did was in accordance with this “organic” principle, with different equipment for different age groups. The result was that the children were more creative. She also didn’t like exams and didn’t give any. They were too much of a strain on a child, too much worry, so you don’t sleep at night. We had dictionaries and geographical magazines.

Fairhope was down south on a bay, and I couldn’t take the climate, so I returned north after a year. I don’t remember how I found out about Stelton— probably read about it in some education magazine. It was a boarding school, and that attracted me. The Ferms were anarchists and the environment was free. I fell in love with some of their methods. They believed in not pushing the children and not teasing or talking down to them. There was only one street, you know, with the school at one end and the boarding house at the other. The colonists worked mostly in the garment center in New York I was there for one year, in the early 1920s, probably 1923—1924. In the Living House Aunty had the children do the cooking, the dishes, and so on. My main objection was that they were largely vegetarian and were fed peanuts from morning to night, and once a week a frankfurter or something like that. I got ringworm all over my hands as a result.

The Ferms, though, were very nice people, although she was a bit hard and authoritarian. They were idealists, and .with her teaching was such an easy thing for us. There was only one room, and you could just sit down with the children and read and write. It was a very free atmosphere. Aunty never talked down to the children, and that’s what I loved about her. Nellie [q.v] and Jim Dick were there, and Sherwood Trask, who was with me at Fairhope and later at Walden. He’s now in a nursing home in Naples, Florida, his mind completely gone. He was very enthusiastic and stimulated the children no end. At Walden he was the one that started trips with the children, on foot or bicycle.

I was invited to go to Mohegan, and also to Walden, and I chose the latter, which was then called the Children’s School and headed by Margaret Naumann. I was there almost fifteen years. I went to Russia in 1929 with the head of Walden, Margaret Politzer, to see the schools there, and I loved it. They were using the Dalton plan and other progressive methods. They were warmhearted people and loved the children. Most of the experimentation was scrapped during the thirties under Stalin.

I left Walden when I married a widower from Austria with two daughters. But I continue my activity in education and published a book, Our Planet the Earth (New York, Shepard, 1938) and a series called When I Grow Up I’ll Be (1938-194O).405

Suzanne Hotkine Avins

Bronx, New York, March 5, 1973

Suzanne Avins taught French and music at the Modern School of Stelton, New Jersey, in 1924 and 1925, when Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm were coprincipals. She also played the piano at morning assembly, a daily ritual at the school, and assisted the children and parents in other ways. After leaving Stelton, she attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York and gave piano lessons in the Bronx, where she lived with her husband Will, a sheet-metal worker, who died of a heart attack in 1975. Suzanne died of cancer four years later.

I WAS BORN in 1906 in Russia of Jewish parents and came to Paris as a small child. We came to America in 1924, when I was eighteen years old. I began to study music at Juilliard. I liked the freedom of American schools, but a roomer in our apartment told me about a really free school, at Stelton, New Jersey. Coming from France, with its rigid school system, the idea drew me at once, and I went there for a visit. It was an experience of a lifetime. I went on a beautiful June day. I was impressed by the warm, friendly atmosphere, the peacefulness and play. In front of the Living House (formerly the farmhouse) I saw a lady dressed in white, with a white ruffled hat and sparkling blue eyes, sitting out front shelling peas. “I’m Aunty Ferm,” she said with a radiant smile. (But she could be a son-of-a-bitch too, I soon found out.) I saw a little naked boy on the road with blond curls and asked him for the school. He said, “You walk and see a beautiful house. That’s the school.”

Aunty asked me to stay for the summer and play the piano at morning assembly. I went home and told my parents. My father—a shoemaker, freethinker, and poet—agreed. But when I got back to Stelton, there was a tremendous wall of coldness from Aunty. She was aloof, unapproachable. I wanted to go home. The next morning she didn’t even come to assembly. Yet it wasn’t long before she came to love me. I stayed all summer, and at the end, the children, in tears, begged me to remain. So I stayed for two years, traveling to Juilliard in New York three days a week. In addition to playing at assembly, I taught music and French. I stayed till the end of 1925, when the Ferms left. After that I came back occasionally to teach on weekends and in summertime after the Ferms returned. But by then the magic was gone from Stelton. It had come to an end in the mid-twenties.

I was sublimely happy in that place during those two years. At morning assembly we sang greetings to the sun, then nature songs, followed by improvised dancing. Ethel Butler danced beautifully (she later joined Martha Graham’s troupe). I organized a small band in 1924. I produced by hand fifty copies of “Stories from Music Land” for the children.

In the schoolhouse Aunty insisted on rainbow colors—primary colors—as in Froebel “gifts.” It brought out the positive side of people, of life, she said. No other colors were allowed. There was something mystical about this, as with Froebel himself, but it was very beautiful. Her mysticism was powerful. She was still full of religion, full of the convent from which she had come. She had a horror of sex. She was puritanical, with a repressed sexual drive and a strange attitude towards men. She was far stronger than Uncle, a bigger person, more complex, more profound than he was, but harder too. If a child came to school without a shirt on a hot day she would send him home. And she objected to nudity in the colony—even at swimming—and tried to stop it. She was a fiery Irish woman who would brook no interference from anyone and looked down on the immigrant colonists as somehow inferior. She even had a deep-seated anti-Semitic streak, stemming from her Irish Catholic upbringing. Despite her break with the church, she was still a Catholic, and Catholicism meant a great deal to her. Yet at the same time she had a broad outlook, a wide scope.

Of the two, Aunty and Uncle, she was the visionary; it was she who inspired him. She had ten pairs of eyes. She didn’t mix much with the colonists, but knew what was going on in every household. She was very Irish. She recited Gaelic poetry, sang Gaelic songs, marched in St. Patrick’s Day parades. She was a twisted genius. She spoke French fairly well and played the piano with verve, especially Beethoven. Her plaving, though lacking technically, had spiritual greatness about it. We played duets for hours—Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart. Uncle too loved music. I played “The Moonlight Sonata” for him on his 101st birthday and the tears came streaming down his face. He was softer, sweeter than she, but she was the heart of the educational experiment.

The Living House was immaculately kept by the Ferms. There were no electric lights then, but nice kerosene lamps, with murals on the walls, as in the School. Uncle made much of the furniture, and it was beautifully finished. I still think of it with excitement. Next to the school were four shops: weaving, carpentry, printing, art. Bill Pogrebysky was in charge of the last, and it was the most popular. The children brought art exhibits and plays to New York City. John Dewey came to visit Stelton. During the five years under the Ferms no doctor ever had to be called. But Uncle carried his distrust for doctors too far. Once he refused to call a doctor when Minnie Bluestein got a rusty nail embedded in her knee and insisted in pulling it out himself, which was very painful and left a permanent scar. The teachers included Paul Scott, Anna Koch, and Erica Feist, now in Pennsylvania, the sister-in-law of Charles Garland.406 I have a good caricature of Aunty Ferm by Erica. Hans and Anna Koch407 were separated and did not live together. She was an excellent gardener as well as weaver. Hans was also verv competent, very German, dignified with a long mustache.

The Ferms had run a school at Dyker Heights [in Brooklyn] from 1902 to 1906, then on Madison Street on the Lower East Side from 1906 to 1913. They had land in Newfoundland, New Jersey, where I visited them often. They had a farm in Connecticut—after Madison Street and before coming to Stelton— and ran it very successfully. She got tired of it and responded to the children’s need for a director. The same with Stelton: she got bored when it reached its height. As soon as it was a success she left, like a rolling stone. She was a great woman, a difficult woman. She left the school in the lurch. They packed themselves up and went off.

Uncle also was director of the Pioneer Youth Camp in the early thirties and taught at the Manumit School. He and Aunty hated the term “progressive” education, and they disliked the Montessori method, with its authoritarianism and emphasis on early reading. Progressive to them implied goody-goody sugar coating, whereas their education implied a situation where the individual has to face himself. Progressivism implies that there is no growth, no pain, no struggle. Progressivism was to cover up pain, overprotect the children. They preferred public schools to progressive.

Uncle was an old single-taxer, though he was never able to explain it to me. He spent his last years at Fairhope, the single-tax colony in Alabama (his address was 515 Equality Avenue). He greatly admired Ernest Crosby408 and often spoke about him in later years. And Aunty quoted Emma Goldman to me all the time. I came to Stelton for a day, I stayed two years, and it has remained a part of me forever.

Anatole Freeman Ishill

Staten Island, New York, September 23, 1975

Anatole Freeman Ishill is the son of the anarchist printer Joseph Ishill (1888— 1966), known for his magnificent hand-produced volumes on Peter Kropotkin, Elisee and Elie Reclus, and others, and of Rose Florence Freeman, a lyrical poet. Anatole was a pupil at the Modern School of Stelton, where his father taught printing to the children and printed The Modern School magazine.

I WAS BORN in the Bronx in 1918. Father had built a one-room house at Stelton at the beginning of the colony, in 1915 or 1916. He got together with Mother in 1917. They moved to the Bronx in 1918, and then to Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, the following year. We lived in Stelton for a few years in the mid-1920s, while keeping the house in Berkeley Heights, and I attended school there under the Ferms. I found Uncle a warm person. Aunty was more firm, but I liked her too. I was very happy in the school because there was a sense of freedom as to what you could do, yet it was very orderly and harmonious. I was interested in weaving, and Anna Koch was my teacher. I can’t remember any public school teacher so vividly. Every child had a little project, and I had mine. That appealed to me. I liked the way things were taught—the activity, the story-telling. Bill Pogrebysky was another fine teacher that I can remember. And my father taught printing. I stayed at the Living House at times, sleeping on bunks with straw mattresses.

We left Stelton around 1927 There was some kind of crisis or conflict at the school,409 and I was never a student there again, though Father went back and forth for many years and I sometimes went with him, making the journey from Berkeley Heights on foot. We also visited the Ferms at Newfoundland in the late 1930s, and I was very happy to see them.

Father was stubborn, strong-willed, unbending, even towards his own children. We always took a back place. Mother, too, was distant and remote. She was a true genius and did much of the writing and revising rhat appears under Father’s name. Few people came to visit our house, though Father carried on an extensive correspondence with anarchists all over the world. Father was a strict vegetarian and a Thoreauvian. He belonged to the Thoreau Society and we all visited Walden Pond in 1962, which was for him a kind of mystical experience. He also saw himself as a successor to William Morris, whose work he greatly admired. Ernst Bloch, the composer, came to visit us, and we went to Pennsylvania to visit Bertha Johnson410 and her husband at their dairy farm. We stayed there two or three days at a time and saw Oriole Tucker [Riche, q.v.] there. What lovely people they were. Mother converted to Catholicism in 1968, two years after Father’s death.

Ben Frumkin

Rockaway Park, New York, April 20, 1981

Ben Frumkin, the son of a veteran anarchist. Leibush Frumkin, who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1905, attended the Stelton Modern School and was a member of the Rising Youth Group in New York. During the 1930s, however, he abandoned anarchism as vague and ineffective and, to the consternation of his father, became a supporter of the Soviet Union.

I was BORN in London in 1911, in Whitechapel. Both of my parents were garment workers and anarchists from Russian Poland. My older sister Rose attended Nellie Dick’s [q.v.] nursery school run on Ferrer lines. My parents knew all the anarchists involved in the Houndsditch affair,411 and Luba Milstein’s son, Alfred Driscoll, is one of my oldest friends. We came to the United States in 1912, when I was one year old. My father, Leibush Frumkin, was an active member of the executive board of Local 22 of the ILGWU and of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. Mother was on the executive board of Local 38. So you can see that I grew up in an anarchist and labor milieu.

In 1919 my sister and I were sent to Stelton, where we stayed in the Living House until 1923 W hen we arrived, Fred Dunn was in charge of the Living House, and Gray Wu was the cook, a quiet, studious young man. I liked the school and liked both Uncle and Aunty Ferm, though she once expelled a young boy and girl who were fooling around in the high grass. When I came back to New York in 1923 to live with my mother, I was put in grade 6B. During the summers I went to the Ferms’ place at Newfoundland, New Jersey, a beautiful place, where we lived in a tent, hiked, climbed mountains, picked cherries (my sister baked pies from them), and hunted for copperheads. I was graduated from elementary school in 1926 and from the High School of Commerce in 1930.

The Goodman twins, Sara and Elizabeth, started The Rising Youth in 1928. I knew them from childhood, and our parents knew each other from London. Catherine Karpoff knew them too. They smoked a lot. They always supported each other. Both of them were interested in Spinoza and seemed to know all about him. We started the paper together and used to go to Union Square and distribute it in front of the Workers’ Cafeteria. The workers came out and argued with us and wanted to beat us up. The older anarchists had a club on East Twenty-Third Street, the International Center. That was sort of our headquarters. The twins later went to Chicago. Both married and died there.

After about 1930 I was no longer involved in the anarchist movement. When I attended meetings with Harry Kelly or Joseph Cohen or some other well- known anarchist, I found that they all had different ideas about what anarchism meant. And they never seemed to get anything done. Anarchism didn’t seem to be effectual. I had read Alexander Berkman’s ABC of Communist Anarchism.^2 It sounded good—but what do you do from here? That was my reaction.

My sister Rose had married Bill Pogrebysky, whose mother was a charter member of the Communist Party. I went to one of their meetings, and the place was packed. There were thousands, not forty or fifty like the anarchists. I thought: They can attract people; that’s power! You need solidarity, where people march together and follow a single line that keeps them in step, as in the Soviet Union. Whatever its faults, it works. It gets things done. My father, old-time anarchist that he was, was very disappointed in me. After the Nazi- Soviet Pact he didn’t speak to me for six months. But the pact didn’t trouble me. I supported the Soviet Union. They kept on going—and didn’t have capitalism That’s the important thing.

Siegfried Rolland

Elmhurst, New York, June 3, 1973

Siegfried Rolland, the son of Hugo Rolland (q.v.) and Bertha Blackman, attended the Modern School of Stelton during the 1920s and went on to become a professor of history at the University of Idaho. He died of heart failure on January 19, 1989.

I WAS BORN in New York on February 12, 1918, and attended the Modern School at Stelton during the 1920s, when the Ferms were in charge. Aunty Ferm was an extremely harsh disciplinarian. Once I was with a group of older boys who broke into one of the shacks and took some things—I took a water pistol—and she scolded me, worked me over. If a child wet his bed, she made him sleep in the wet sheets. Also, I didn’t learn to read until the eighth grade, after I had left Stelton. But she had a way, you know. We occasionally hiked up to Green Pond, near Newfoundland, New Jersey, some thirty miles north of Stelton, and stayed at the Ferms’ house.

At Stelton the boys and girls slept in the same dormitory, showered together, swam naked together. Isadora Duncan’s brother Raymond Duncan often visited the colony in his flowing robes. The Young Pioneers were organized by the Communists at Stelton in the mid-1920s. They sang Communist songs, read Communist books, and so on. It was all very dogmatic and authoritarian. I couldn’t join that! Bill Pogrebysky went back to Russia and died in the Second World War. His father drowned in Birobidzhan.

The whole experience at Stelton made it possible for me, more than anything else, to live with the current generation of college students, to sympathize with them, to adjust to their informality and permissiveness. It also gave me an opportunity to become interested in a tremendous variety of things that you couldn’t get in a regular school.

Esther Walters

New York City, October 19, 1972 (telephone)

Esther Walters, formerly of Stelton, was a member of the April Farm community in Quakerstown, Pennsylvania, founded by Charles Garland in the 1920s. She left the community in 1929, a year or so before its dissolution. She died in New York in 1975.

Charles Garland came into a large inheritance which he wanted to repudiate, but Roger Baldwin [q.v.] persuaded him to put it to use in worthy causes. He set up Vanguard Press and established a small colony in Massachusetts in 1924, which soon moved to Pennsylvania. He called it April Farm, and it lasted until about 1930.

It was a small colony, with about thirty or thirty-five regular members, including many anarchists, two or three of whom (including myself) came from Stelton. We had beautiful peach and apple orchards, a vegetable garden, and a communal dining room. The first spring there was the happiest of my life, so I was all the more hurt and disappointed when the colony fell apart.

The regular members worked very hard, at least at first. But there were many, many visitors, who came for a weekend or a summer. For them it was a vacation. They ate, slept, sat under a tree philosophizing, and didn’t work. Under such circumstances a colony cannot survive. Marital problems arose, and bitter personal quarrels, and the community fell apart. I left in 1929, and it failed a year or so later. To this day I remain bitter and disillusioned. Most people are parasites.

Rina Garst

New York City, October 24, 1972

Rina Garst is the daughter of Abe Winokour and Anna Sosnovsky, both of them ardent anarchists, who named her after Voltairine de Cleyre and her sister Tisa after Sacco and Vanzetti, and who chose to be buried in Chicago’s Waldheim Cemetery, near the graves of Emma Goldman and the Haymarket martyrs. Rina attended the Modern School at Stelton, where she was born, and afterwards lived in the Mohegan Colony, where she knew such well-known anarchists as Rudolf Rocker and Harry Kelly.

I WAS born in Stelton in 1931 as Voltairine de Cleyre Winokour, the second daughter of Abe Winokour and Anna Sosnovsky, both dedicated anarchists who are now buried in Waldheim Cemetery, Chicago. My sister’s name is Tisa, “ti” from Vanzetti, “sa” from Sacco. She now lives in California. At Stelton I recall in 1937 driving through the colony with Father collecting clothing for Spanish anarchist refugees. We also went to the Johnson & Johnson factory in New Brunswick to buy bandages and medical supplies to send to Spain. Spain was the overriding issue at that time, and I was weaned on anti-Communism, the Communists being the betrayers of the Russian Revolution and now of the Spanish Revolution. There was a big fight in the colony during the thirties between the anarchists and the Communists, even when I was a baby. Ma was so upset that her milk became poisoned and she almost died. Dr. Stretch saved Ma by putting me on goat’s milk, and we then kept a goat in our back yard. It was Dr. Stretch, though, who may have been responsible for Ma’s death, but we’ll come back to that later.

I started school at Stelton as soon as I was able to walk. My parents worked, so my sister Tisa (she was three and a half years older, born ten days after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti and hence named after them) took me. I was very happy in the school, and especially in the print shop. There were, of course, big holes in my knowledge, but in terms of attitude, of our way of looking at life, these gaps were counterbalanced. I can’t separate the school from the colony—I can’t tell what in my thinking is attributable to the school and what to the colony and the way we lived. Our house was a political center with constant visitors, meetings, etc. Whenever a conference was held in the colony our house was filled with people and talk. We were vegetarians, though by that time very few members were vegetarians, in contrast to the early years.

In 1936 or 1937 Mom had a nervous breakdown and we went to Florida for two or three months so she could recuperate. We settled in West Palm Beach. The neighbors thought us strange: we were vegetarians, we didn’t go to school, we had unorthodox views, and so on.

When we returned to Stelton the Ferms were still in charge. I liked Uncle a lot but didn’t care for Aunty. She was too strict. In fact she was one of the few people who ever punished me in my life. One day I skated to school without bringing my shoes, and to teach me to remember things she made me walk around all morning on skates. I had great admiration for Aunty, but I didn’t think she was a warm person; I couldn’t love her the way I loved the other teachers. Though I learned things from her—she was a good teacher—I saw her mainly as a cranky old lady. Uncle could be fun, but she didn’t laugh much. He used to take us camping, hiking, and riding around in the rumble seat of his old car. I didn t care much for Anna Schwartz [q.v.] either. I couldn’t warm up to her and, unlike Aunty, she was not a good teacher. We were the last generation of the real Stelton children. The school was already deteriorating, with only fifteen or twenty kids: me and Tisa, Lenny Rico, Jo Ann’s [Burbank, q.v.] children, etc. Camp Kilmer was built in 1941. The place was no longer a closely knit community.

My parents had been in California years before and always planned to go back. But with the danger of a “Japanese invasion” and other reasons we moved to Mohegan in May 1942. The school had already gone under, so we were enrolled in public school for the first time. The experience was absolutely shattering: the discipline and routine and rigid structure. In Stelton we would spend half a day on a project if we wanted; there were no time periods, which are artificial and confusing. I also had a reading and writing shock, not knowing formal grammar—I didn’t even know what an adjective was. That and other differences from the regular kids made us a bit self-conscious and uncomfortable.

We lived in Mohegan from 1941 to 1948. I attended Peekskill High School for the seventh and eighth grades and did very well. But we didn’t have any feeling of colony at Mohegan. Yet what a beautiful place it was! Helen Rudome was Mom’s best friend. Rudolf Rocker was the most respected resident there, and I loved him. He was a warm person and exuded humanity. Whenever Pop said, “I’m going to see Rudolf,” I would try to tag along. I liked Harry Kelly but I adored Rudolf. He never talked down to me but spoke on an equal level. Harry Kelly was a real talker. In 1947 there was a huge blizzard and at the railroad station people were snowed in, so he talked for twelve hours and got everyone together. Apart from Rocker, the French were the most interesting people in the colony.

We moved to California in 1948, to Los Angeles. Mother got sick en route and died of breast cancer in 1949. She had already been ill in Mohegan and went to Dr. Stretch for consultation. He said it was nothing serious and prescribed a diet remedy. Rocker came to California in January or February 1949 and talked to her with kindness and gentleness. She died in May. She had been born in 1900 in the same shtetl as Rose Pesotta, the third of five daughters; three were active anarchists: Mom, Fanny Breslaw, and Lisa Luchkovsky.

The family name was Luchkovsky, but one branch took the name Sosnovksy to avoid conscription into the tsarist army, and Mom adopted it, as she told a judge in the U.S., because it was easier to spell! She was a little woman, five feet tall, and nice-looking. She came to America in 1912. She lived on the Lower East Side and went to work in the garment industry, where she got her anarchism: the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, the Ferrer Center, etc. She rose in the ILGWU to the position of organizer (in New Jersey) and manager of her local. She took part in the colony movement and was secretary of many conferences and meetings. She attended Brookwood Labor College for two years with Rose Pesotta when A. J. Muste was its head.413 She came to Stelton and got together with Dad around 1925. They married officially in 1944 so she could get her citizenship papers. She and Dad were very active in the Sacco and Vanzetti campaign. She was a thoroughly dedicated anarchist. When she was a young girl Sasha Berkman teased her that the revolution would begin at 3 A.M. on such and such date in Union Square, and she, Rose Pesotta, and Helen Rudome (then Goldblatt) actually went there!

Dad was born of a middle-class family ih the Ukraine in 1894. He came to the U.S. around the same time as Mom, 1911 or 1912, and settled in Philadelphia. He became a paperhanger and member of the Radical Library. He spent the First World War in Mexico as a conscientious objector. He went to Stelton in 1922 and built a house there. He got together with Mom, went to California in 1927 (after the Sacco-Vanzetti execution), and returned in 1930 to Stelton, where I was born. He was an active rank-and-filer in the painters’ union and was later president of his local in Peekskill.

Mollie Albert

Bronx, New York, October 7, 1972

Mollie Albert and her husband Jack, both Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, were active anarchists in New York during the early decades of the twentieth century. They frequented the Ferrer Center in Harlem and were among the first to go to the Stelton Colony in New Jersey when it was established in 1915. During the mid-1920s they moved to the Mohegan Colony, near Peekskill, New York, and from 1933 to 1935 were members of the Sunrise Co-operative Farm Community in Michigan, founded by the Jewish anarchist Joseph Cohen.

I WAS born in Przemysl, in Austria-Hungary, on October 15, 1892, into a religious family with rabbis on both sides. My father’s father was a furrier. Father went to school, started a bank, and prospered. But he had compassion for the poor. Felix Frankfurter was his cousin. Father emigrated to the United States but was greatly disappointed, as he was unable to found a bank We came to New York in 1907. Father returned to his father’s trade, becoming a furrier. At sixteen I met Jack Albert, who was twenty-one, an accountant who wrote for the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. He introduced me to anarchism. He left the Fraye Arbeter Shtime to work for Dr. Liber’s Unzer Gezunt, published for three years in Yiddish, then two years in English, as Our Health.

Dr. Liber was an anarchist and a psychiatrist at the Polyclinic Hospital in New York. He was the author of books and editor of journals on health, physical and mental, the warmest person in the world; he loved children and made friends easily with disturbed children. He was active in the Ferrer Center, lecturing on hygiene, diet, and the like, and also taught art. We became vegetarians because of Dr. Liber. We were devoted to him throughout his whole life and gave a party for him on his eightieth birthday in 1955. He died a few years later. He had a brother named Liberty Liber and a son named Amour Liber [q.v.] (Free Love), a Cornell graduate, now a doctor at the Veterans Hospital in the Bronx, where he is a pathologist and a professor at the Einstein Institute. Dr. Liber suggested the name of Freethought for our son; he insisted on it.

We knew Bolton Hall very well and lived at his Free Acres Colony (in New Jersey) for a while. He gave away most of his land in the course of his lifetime. We also knew Leonard Abbott, who was the most outgoing and generous person in the world, very soft. When his wife Rose got ill no one helped him. He devoted himself to her, read to her.414 Harry Kelly was a wonderful speaker and human being. His daughter Elsie was a marvelous little girl and also a good speaker.

I was in the first group to go to Stelton and had frequented the Ferrer Center in New York before that. My husband built our house there, and we lived there during the summer for seven years. During that period we had a vegetarian restaurant in Harlem and later one at Bushkill. Dr. Stretch was influential at Stelton. Anna Sosnovsky died because of him: she had a breast tumor and he treated it with massage. He was an extremist—raw vegetables, fresh air. Lydia Gordon was his most devoted follower.

We went to Mohegan colony in the mid-twenties. We conducted a separate kindergarten there, not part of the school. We lived in George Seldes Senior’s house until our own house was finished. He was a fine man. His wife died young of tuberculosis and he lived alone at Mohegan. We lived there two years and then several summers. It was wonderful. We had the most wonderful times at the beginning. For a while I was in charge of the Living House with forty children. We had entertainments, dances, parties; we gave dinners to raise money for the school. But wealthier nonanarchists like Bern Dibner415 wanted county water and county roads. So taxes went up and the poorer members were forced to move out.

We were at the Sunrise colony in Michigan from the beginning and stayed two years. Jack was in charge of the grain elevator. We knew Joseph Cohen in Stelton and liked him, though he was a heavier, duller speaker and writer than Saul Yanovsky. Yanovsky was a vibrant, inspiring speaker, and his columns and editorials in the Fraye Arbeter Shtime had pep. Cohen’s daughter Emma [Gilbert, q.v.] spent a lot of time in our house. Cohen was refused membership in Mohegan, but he had a summer camp near the colony, Camp Sharon, which lasted a few summers. His son-in-law Richard Gilbert [q.v.] helped him, and some blamed Gilbert when the camp failed and left debts. Cohen was no longer editor of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. He was at loose ends. So he got the idea to form a colony. He wrote to Eli Greenblatt in Philadelphia. Greenblatt bought ten thousand acres for $135,000 from the Pittsburgh Glass Company, which sold it cheap after Greenblatt and Cohen explained their purpose. The Depression was on, and people flocked to us from all over. But Cohen was very obstinate. One time he didn’t let anybody go into the office. We left because of the friction. Jack couldn’t stand it. He tried to talk to Cohen privately and persuade him to be more lenient, more flexible, but to no avail. So we decided to leave. When the farm was sold to the government, each sharecropper— there were about fifteen or twenty of them—got a forty-acre plot. For city folk it was backbreaking work. When the garment ndustry revived and jobs opened up in New York, they all rushed back to the city.

Molly Bogin

Peekskill, New York, November 8, 1983

Molly Bogin, an immigrant from Russia, was acquainted with Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and other prominent anarchists in New York through her husband, Sidor Bogin, a devotee of Bakunin and Kropotkin, who had been imprisoned as an anarchist during the Revolution of 1905. For many years Molly and Sidor were residents of the Mohegan Colony near Peekskill, New York. In 1973 I was introduced to Molly by her friend Eva Brandes (q.v.) at a Fraye Arbeter Shtime luncheon in New York. A decade later, accompanied by Eva, I interviewed her at a nursing home near Mohegan. Molly died in April 1992, a month before her 105th birthday.

I WAS born Marisia Skliar eighty-six years ago [she is actually much older] in the village of Kazar in Chernigov guberniia, near the city of Nezhin. Father worked for a tobacco company in Nezhin. Mother was a housewife. She died when I was fourteen. I had three brothers and two sisters. When I was sixteen I went to work in a dress shop as a finisher. My stepmother, whom I didn’t care for, made me learn how to sew. I wanted to get away, so, still sixteen, I left home and went to Nezhin and got a job in a store, selling dry goods. I made enough to save money to go to America. In 1906, when I was seventeen, I went to Odessa and boarded a ship for America.

I was alone when I landed in New York. But a friend in Nezhin had given me the address of her sister, so I had a place to go. I soon got a job in a dress shop. I knew how to sew and was able to make a living, though it wasn’t easy. I began to go to meetings of the Yiddish anarchists. I don’t remember why—maybe a friend in the shop brought me. I also read the Fraye Arbeter Shtime and other anarchist papers. I liked what they had to say. Once, at a lecture, I met Emma Goldman. She was in the audience; a man was the speaker. She liked me, and when I saw her at later meetings she always came over to talk. She was short, spoke very fast, and I didn’t always understand what she said. I also met Alexander Berkman. He was my husband Sidor Bogin’s friend. Berkman was a very nice person. I liked him better than Emma. She talked too much about herself. Berkman was more modest and more intelligent. He was ready to listen.

I met my husband Sidor at a lecture. He was also from Nezhin, and we had a lot to talk about. In Russia he had been a printer. He had been arrested during the 1905 Revolution and had been in prison. When he came to America he took up the trade of housepainting. He also taught himself carpentry. And he loved farming. He never liked the city.

We visited Stelton a number of times, but didn’t live there. After the Mohegan colony was started, we bought a plot of land and built our own house. That was in 1925. Sidor did all the work himself. I worked in a dress shop in Peekskill, while Sidor was a painter. We also raised chickens—Sidor built the chicken coops. He loved to read—he read Bakunin and Kropotkin in Russian— and was a real anarchist, much more than I. Harry Kelly was our good friend. He knew a lot and loved to talk. But he had no airs and he always tried to help when needed. We also knew George Seldes, Joseph Cohen, and other active anarchists. We had picnics at the colony, brought in famous speakers, held meetings, had arguments. Rudolf Rocker came to the colony during the 1930s. He was a very intelligent and interesting man. Like Harry Kelly, he had no airs about him. He would talk to us as equals, even if we knew nothing. He never tried to make himself big. His wife Milly was also very nice and took part in everything we did. The anarchists were in general honest and intelligent people—more so than most. They were idealists. You could learn a lot from them.

Lallah Blanpied

New Rochelle, New York, April 7, 1972

Lallah Blanpied, an intelligent and articulate woman, served as director of the Mohegan Modern School in 1935-1936 and was a close friend of the American anarchist Harry Kelly, a founder of the Mohegan Colony, located near Peekskill, New York. I interviewed her at her home in company with Eva Brandes (q.v.), a longtime resident of the colony.

Harry Kelly, whom I knew well at Mohegan and here in New Rochelle, was born in St. Charles, Missouri. His father died when Harry was eight, and he got a job in a grocery to help support a large family. He was self-educated and very well-read. He rode the rails through the U.S. His first glimpse of Pittsburgh from a boxcar reminded him of Dante’s inferno. He was of a very generous nature. He took in the son of his first wife, Mary Krimont, who had left him briefly for another man, and raised him as his own child, Wally Krimont.

Harry visited the Whiteway colony in England in the 1890s, a foretaste of his own later ventures with colonies. He supported the United States war effort in both world wars. He loved children and adored his grandchildren. He had a marvelous sense of humor He could swear like a trouper. He loved to talk. He liked parties. He knew baseball from A to Z and wouldn’t miss a game on TV in his later years, until his eyesight failed. He refused to compromise his anarchist principles or even to consider other points of view on the subject. He was an arbitrator of family quarrels at Mohegan. He didn’t want the law involved. He always spoke of “discipline from within,” personal discipline. He opposed having the police in the colony.

Harry never lost faith in anarchism or changed his fundamental principles. He was an individualist. He believed that everyone in the colony should have his own house and plot of land. He didn’t care about his food or clothes. He knew the French Revolution from beginning to end and read everything about it. When he was old he was interviewed by Harry Hopkins in Washington for a job in the Roosevelt administration, in the TVA,416 I think. On his application form he filled in his politics as “anarchist.” Hopkins said that that would offend the president. Harry refused to write anything else. “I’ve been an anarchist all my life,” he said.

I met Harry about 1930. He brought me to Mohegan in 1935 as director of the school. The job lasted only one year, 1935-1936. I had a terrible time up there. I was disillusioned. I had previously swallowed anarchist philosophy hook, bait, and sinker. I had read Kropotkin and Dewey and was familiar with Froebel, Ferrer, and Pestalozzi.417 The parents interfered with the teaching and with my administration. Political differences among them had an adverse effect on the school. I commuted from New Rochelle, attended all the meetings, got worn out, got sick, and quit. There was a continual fight between colonists who wanted the state to take over the school so as to get more money for teachers and to improve the school (Bern Dibner was one of these) and those (mostly anarchists) who firmly opposed state control. On the positive side there was freedom to teach and for the child to talk and learn. There were small classes, twelve to fifteen maximum. Jacques Dubois [q.v.], the shop teacher, did wonderful things with the children. Those children were the most worldly wise I had ever taught. They knew as much about the Spanish Revolution as most adults and could discuss it intelligently. Some of the alumni did well. Iris Miroy got a doctorate in biology at Harvard. Billy Stevens became an outstanding engineer.

John Scott had been my sociology teacher at Kansas State College. He called himself a “Thoreauvian anarchist” and had first editions of all of Thoreau’s books. He was born in the coal mines of Virginia. The police shot his father, a miner, dead before his eyes during a strike. He was a brilliant boy. He finished high school in two years. He was Phi Beta Kappa in college and later got a Ph.D. He named his son Jon Thoreau and his daughter Shelley. He edited Mother Earth with Jo Ann Wheeler [Burbank, q.v.], and later edited Money in New York, which he called in the paper “Jew York.” Among the finest colonists was Sophie Bannister, a genuine anarchist, extremely considerate and generous to other people. Andre Miroy, a translator, was one of the truest anarchists in the colony, clear-headed and responsible.

1 always felt that Harry Kelly should have married Minna Lowensohn rather than her sister Leah. Minna was devoted to him, a real anarchist who shared his philosophy. Leah, by contrast, disliked colonies and wanted legal marriage

(they were married in Italy). Sam and Hilda Adel [q.v.j of Mount Airy colony in Croton are the uncle and aunt of Leon Edel, the biographer of Henry James. They were staunch anarchists. Sam was a fine cabinetmaker.

Dorothy Rick

Lake Mohegan, New York, September 19, 1972

Dorothy Rick, a woman of Quaker background, taught at the Mohegan Modern School from 1933 to 1939. She died at Mohegan in 1976.

Thf community and the school were one—one big family. The children didn’t feel they were being held in. They loved the school. They didn’t look upon it as most children look on school. Yet there was enough structure so that the children did not feel at loose ends. If you wanted to punish a child, you would threaten to keep him home from school. Most of the kids did exceedingly well in high school. At first they would keep interrupting, asking questions, having ideas of their own. But the teachers—some at least—began to appreciate this as valuable to the class.

We knew little of Ferrer’s theories; not many people had even heard of Ferrer. I had studied Dewey, but not much theory was involved here. It was a progressive school, not a libertarian or Modern school. Reading was taught when the children were ready for it. It wasn’t pushed on them. “Projects” were a big thing, something they’re trying to do now in most schools. We studied Egypt as a unit, not its geography, history, etc., separately. We had a similar project on American Indians. We made trips to New York to study city life and did a large mural about our impressions. We had hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities The grown-ups put on plays. Once thev did Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, in which “Three Little Maids from School” was sung with a Jewish accent and one of the little maids was five feet nine inches tall. One man in the audience laughed so hard he fell off the windowsill.

Jacques Dubois

Lake Mohegan, New York, September 19, 1972

Jacques Dubois, a sturdy man with white hair and mustache, was one of a halfdozen or so French anarchists who resided in the Mohegan Colony near New York between the 1920s and 1970s. Before settling in Mohegan, where he taught carpentry to the pupils of the Modern School, he had frequented the Ferrer Center in Harlem and lived at the Stelton Colony in New Jersey, where he helped take care of the children.

I WAS BORN in 1888 and left Paris at seventeen or eighteen. I had already been an anarchist, in the EEndehors Group,418 and had gotten into trouble with the law. I spent three years in London, where I knew Tom Keell,419 Errico Malatesta, and Rudolf Rocker, whom I knew again later at Mohegan. I came to New York in 1910 and worked as a jewelry designer. There were no French groups in New York at that time; the French anarchists here were mostly individualists, who were not for the “working class” or “revolution.” I went to see Emma Goldman at the Mother Earth office, attended the Ferrer Center, and took part in a protest for Kotoku at the Japanese consulate 420 At the Ferrer Center we were happy; you could meet whomever you wanted.

From the Ferrer Center I went to Stelton and took care of the children for a time. In the mid-twenties I went with some comrades to Costa Rica to establish a colony there; I remained for a year and a half, while others stayed much longer. When I returned to the U.S., the Mohegan colony had already been established and I went there. During that period a Modern School had been planned also for the Bronx and a house rented for the purpose, but it fell through.

The Mohegan school was better than the one at Stelton. I wanted a libertarian school for my kids, and I served as custodian and a member of the board. All of our children enjoyed the school, loved it. I lived anarchism. That’s what I wanted—not when I’m dead. I’m satisfied. I never had as good a time as I had here in the colony. But as property increased in value and people made money, the spirit dissipated, the movement declined. Anarchism was a movement of poor immigrants. As soon as the children made money, they lost anarchism.

Henry Fruchter

New York City, May 1, 1972

Henry Fruchter, a half-brother of Emma Goldman’s secretary Pauline Turkel (q.v.), frequented the Ferrer Center in New York, lived at Stelton, and moved to Mohegan, where he was a trustee of the Mohegan Colony Association. In 1922 he became head of the Naturalization Aid League, in which he remained active until his death in 1974 at the age of eighty-three. Although he early abandoned anarchism for socialism, he worked with the anarchists throughout his life and was a member of the Libertarian Book Club, serving briefly as its executive secretary.

I WAS BORN in Galicia in 1891 and came to New York in 1901, the year of President McKinley’s assassination. I got a )ob in the New York Public Library and taught myself typing and stenography. I then got a job in the New York District Attorney’s office, where I worked until 1917. I lived on East 112th Street, near the Ferrer Center, which I attended frequently. It was open every day and in the evenings. There was always something interesting going on— lectures, concerts, plays—and interesting people to meet. My half-sister Pauline Turkel [q.v.j became Emma Goldman’s secretary at Mother Earth.

At the Ferrer Center I met Harry Kelly. What impressed me most about him was his sweetness. He was gentle, and it was a joy to listen to him. He wasn’t as sharp as Emma Goldman or as aggressive in his pronouncements. He was more like Leonard Abbott, though half his size. Kelly, Abbott, and Will Durant lectured often at the center. Bill Shatoff came a lot, loquacious and able. I followed Kelly to Stelton in 1915. The ideas of Ferrer appealed to me. I built a house and spent the summers there. After the First World War I became active in the Socialist Party. I ran for many local offices, but never won. In 1923, following Harry Kelly, I left Stelton for Mohegan.

I was president of Mohegan Colony for many years. I bore the brunt of the debates and battles, as the man in the middle. The cooperative store failed, but the school was quite successful for some years. George Seldes was a philosopher and the father of Gilbert and George Junior. He had a fine character and opinions galore on every subject. Neither Stelton nor Mohegan was a colony in the nineteenth-century sense, as members mostly did not work on the premises Stelton was purer, more naive, more isolated, and poorer than Mohegan. At both, people were warm, friendly, comradely. Rudolf Rocker was a scholar; he did not take an active part in the social or administrative life of Mohegan Colony.

Anarchism is unthinkable in the United States. It is close to some primitive Christian faith. When I see Catholic nuns being arrested in St. Patrick’s Cathedral I think of the anarchists.

Nora Horn

Lake Mohegan, New York, September 19, 1972

As a child Nora Horn attended the Ferrer School in New York and went to the Stelton Colony for the summers. Afterwards she lived for many years in the Mohegan Colony, where her husband taught at the Modern School.

I WAS BORN in New York in 1905. Both my parents were anarchists, and they named me after Ibsen’s “Nora.” My mother, Sarah Kramer, was a seamstress and was custodian of the Ferrer Center on East 107th Street. I was a student at the school under Will Durant, along with Puck Kaufman (Durant s future wife), Joe Ostrom, the Bercovici children, and others. The thing that school taught me most was curiosity. They didn t shut you up. And 1 never lost it. I entered the school in 1912 and stayed a year and a half. Alexander Berkman carried me on his shoulders at the Mother Earth office when I was four years old. The school had a backyard with all sorts of toys, and we could go and do what we wanted. We had a microscope there. I still remember that microscope! It impressed me deeply as a child. We lived nearby on 105th Street. Louise Berger lived with us at that time. She was a marvelous woman. She later moved to an apartment on Lexington Avenue but was not in the apartment when the explosion occurred. In 1Q17 she went back to Russia, willingly, eagerly, to take part in the revolution.

I went to Stelton for the summers starting in 1916. Mary Hansen was a marvelous person. The colonists had something to live for and look forward to, but they failed their children and ultimately themselves. All dedicated people in some way do their families wrong. The same was true at Mohegan. The Depression affected the parents and also the school. Some of the children felt neglected. They were left to their own devices and lacked the guidance and attention that children need. Our principal, Miss Davis, said that the parents lacked a cultural background. And the school did not give the kids basics. There was no money to pay teachers, let alone to purchase equipment. On the other hand, the kids got outdoors and were not bound to a seat in the classroom or to iron discipline.

The staff was constantly changing. Some of them were marvelous, some positively awful. My husband Herman taught metal and wood crafts during the thirties. The children made furniture, did copper work, had a printing shop, and did leather work. But they got an erratic education. Lallah Blanpied [q.v.] was an ineffectual director, and Robert Bek-Gran was awful. Yet some of the students became well-known professionals: Pauline Mont is a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, Iris Miroy got a Ph.D in biology at Harvard, and many of the boys became doctors, scientists, and engineers. Daniel Bell, a nephew of the Monts, is a well-known sociologist.

Jacob Landa

New \ork City, September 24, 1972

Jacob Landa (known as “Styopa”) was a socialist who lived among the anarchists. During the 1920s his daughter Lydia attended the Ferrer School at Stelton, where he himself spent the summers He later moved to Mohegan, becoming the caretaker of the Modern School there, in addition to teaching carpentry. He died in a nursing home in Baltimore on November 13, 1976.

I was born in Kiev province eighty-four years ago and came to the United States in 1907 to avoid recruitment into the Russian Army. As a young man I was a Bundist, and 1 never became an anarchist, though 1 was close to them. I attended Emma Goldman’s lectures—she had a tongue like Bella Abzug’s.421 The anarchists held antireligious balls on Yam Kippur In 1914 I took part in the unemployment protests at St. Alphonsus’s Church on Tenth Street, together with Isidore Wisotsky,42 Frank Tannenbaum, and the others.

At Stelton my daughter Lydia boarded with Sally Axelrod424 during the 1920s, and I spent the summers there. The local industry didn’t work; the colony’s economy was tied to New York, and the garment shop lasted only a few years. Almost all the members commuted to work, though some did a little farming on the side. The school children were happy, as children are happy everywhere, but especially with the lack of discipline. Aunty Ferm, unlike Uncle, was something of a disciplinarian, contrary to the basic aim of the school. Most of the teachers were amateurs. Occasionally they would get an educator of experience and training, but they seldom stayed very long. Ninety percent of the Steltonites were anarchists, basically ignorant and uncultured, but attracted by the ideals of freedom no government, and sympathy with the poor They were searching for a cure-all: “anarchism will solve everything.” But colonies in the twentieth century could not succeed There was no longer any place to escape. Land was unavailable and too expensive, and the national economy too integrated

I went to Mohegan in the late 1920s. I met my wife Frieda there, a milliner and devout Communist. Dr. iB.W] Barkas, the principal of the school, hired me as the caretaker, and I also had a class in carpentry. I took the children for hikes and told them stories m the Living House at night. Frances Goldenthal (then the wife of Abe Winokour) taught music. It was a “play school,” and the children could not help but like it.

Harry Kelly was the soul of both colonies, their spiritual leader. Joseph Cohen was also a founder of colonies; he also had a dream. He was a clever man, assertive, and wanted to be a writer. George Seldes was a devout anarchist, an older, scholarly type. He knew Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew well. Nellie Dick [q.v.] was the more active and vital of the Dicks. The nonJews couldn’t find mates among their own people, and so often married Jews. Jim Dick was one example, Andre Miroy another. He was the intellectual among the Frenchmen at Mohegan. He even studied Russian and Hebrew. The Finns were mostly carpenters and builders. Cesar Vega, a Spanish anarchist at Mohegan, returned to Spain in 1936 or 1937 but was immediately shot.

I went back to Russia in 1929 for two years and lived in Corky with Frieda. I returnea to the U.S. in 1932. I went to Mohegan for the summers and lived with Herman and Nora Horn [q.v.]. The school was already going downhill. There was a financial crisis caused by the Depression, arguments between anarchists and Communists over Russia and Spain, over the school, and other matters. Everything communal was shattered. They could no longer support the school, pay the teachers, or support the Living House. In the early years Mohegan had a good spirit, a spirit of unity, a sense of community. Then came rifts and the Depression.

Jo Ann Burbank

New York City, January 12, 1973

Between 1929 and 1946 Jo Ann Wheeler Burbank was a teacher at the Stelton and Mohegan Modern Schools. She was also a devoted supporter of Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm, pioneers of libertarian education in the United States. With her companion, John Scott, she edited a journal called Mother Earth (1933—1934), “A Libertarian Farm Paper Devoted to the Life of Thoreauvian Anarchy,” as it described itself. She was later active in the Friends of the Modern School, established in 1973 to promote the idea of freedom in education.424

I WAS born Jo Ann Wheeler in Philadelphia on November 22, 1905. My father was an Englishman, a master mechanic—a mechanical engineer, they would now say—in knitting mills, who invented a precision gauge to measure stitches and also machinery to make lace stockings. Mother was from an old Rhode Island family that went back to the days right after the founding of the colony by Roger Williams. We left Philadelphia when I was four years old, and Dad came to work for Gotham Gold Stripe in New York. We bought a farm out on Long Island, where we lived for a few years, then another one in Craryville, New York, in 1916, which has remained in the family ever since. John Cowper Powys425 lived there, in Craryville, at the time. I went to public school in New York City and in East Taconic, was graduated from high school at twelve and passed all the regents exams. Too young to go to college, I stayed and studied at home. Both my parents were well-read. Father was especially learned in languages and science, and as a boy had taught himself math and how to use a slide rule.

When I was seventeen I took a job as a teacher in the same one-room schoolhouse in East Taconic where I myself had gone. I loved art, both painting and sculpture, and I often went by myself to New York and spent hours in the Metropolitan Museum. I had twenty-four pupils, from three-year-old nursery tots to two high school students who had failed algebra. That was the hardest year I ever put in. I taught there for four years and a fifth year in a neighboring district, but I became disgusted with the public school system. We got a syllabus from Albany and day by day, week by week, everything was laid out for us.

When I was nineteen I took a summer course at Teachers College from a woman who had been infected with the ideas of progressive education. I went back and tried to introduce some of those ideas, but soon got into hot water.

You were supposed to keep the children quiet and well-behaved. I had the older ones help the younger, introduced art work, and the children wrote and illustrated their own newspaper and made up their own plays. My greatest pride is that I got some of them to like to read on their own. I was later impressed by how similar all this was to the Modern School.

One winter we were in Reading, Pennsylvania, a mill town where Father was working and where we lived on and off for about three years. John and Kate Edelman426 came as union organizers, and it was from them that I learned "about Stelton and Mohegan. I immediately became interested and wrote to Dr. Barkas, the principal at Mohegan, who interviewed and hired me. That was in 1929, an important year for me: I met John Scott and I met the Ferms. John was working partly at Manumit and partly at Mohegan, as the nature teacher. I worked in the Living House, a hard job that taxed my strength, but I liked it. I also taught the children piano.

Barkas was a well-meaning man, tall and lean with a loping walk, who lent himself to caricature. But “well-meaning” is about all I can say for him. The Ferms were far more interesting. They came up from their place in Newfoundland, New Jersey, and had a discussion group on education. I was very much taken with them, though a little daunted by Aunty’s spirit. She was so full of spirit, so full of fire. Uncle was much easier going. That’s why they made such a good team, I guess. That was my first experience with radicals. I had always lived in an atmosphere where people found me a strange and unconventional person. But in this group I was slightly conservative, and that was interesting too! My parents’ house had always been open to people of different political stripes, and in Reading we had many friends who were black.

At that time, the division in the colony between anarchists and Communists was beginning to be seen, but was not yet very strong. I loved George Seldes, Sr. Once we moved books into the garage and lightning struck and they were all burnt up. He came in and picked up the remains and put the pages together. “You should all cherish books,” he told us. Once John Scott led the children in a debate over whether life was worth living. The “no’s” won. Then we all went out and had a wiener roast!

Scotty, as you may know, believed in free love and multiple loves. I had known many conventional men in Craryville, and I was considered queer and fast because I didn’t want to stay with the same boy after one or two dates, as the town expected. I was a young girl, and the older women in the colony must have been hurt. He was visiting me, and also Anna Schwartz [q.v.], Lillian Buck, and Celia Bushwick. They were very angry about that, and I was quite disillusioned about radicalism as a result. We never legally married. John had grown up in Missouri, in the Ozarks. He had three years in a one-room schoolhouse, then went to college where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He was a strong individualist, and also quite a mystic with a vague pantheism and a theory of dreams: that after death you went on living in your former dream world.

Scott, as I say, was raised in the Ozarks. His father sold charcoal and had fought in the Civil War. After Missouri, John went out to California, where he knew William Thurston Brown and taught in his Modern School in Los Angeles. He was a fine naturalist. He knew a great deal about nature, and that he passed on to our son Jon Thoreau, who is now an ecologist at the State University of New York in Albany. Our daughter Shelley (after the poet) is now living in Norway.

In the fall of 1929 Scott and I went to Stelton. That was the noisiest place! We stayed until October 1930, just before Shelley was born. The Dicks were there then. But the money ran out and they couldn’t pay Scotty, so we decided to move up to Craryville, where both of our children were born. Scotty built a cabin on my family’s land. It was very primitive, really, one room with a small coal stove, yet we stayed until 1934. We saved up money and bought a mimeograph machine. I typed Mother Earth on an old typewriter which belonged to my father. I did it late in the evening, after the children were asleep. We tried to get the cabin warm enough to get the ink to run.

That was during the Depression. We grew most of out own food. We had been brought up in my family on Emerson and Thoreau and Bronson Alcott— the Fullers were cousins of some sort. I was much impressed by Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience, but Walden was our bible and, given the Depression, we tried living on the land. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. We tried to follow the authority from within, rather than any external authority. We hadn’t much money but we had a great deal of spirit and high thinking. We were precursors of what young people are trying to do today. It stemmed from the same feeling, except that ours was an individualist venture rather than communal.

Among our contributors to Mother Earth, Scotty had known Tom Bell in California and liked him very much. We visited Laurance Labadie [q.v.] in Suffern, and he also came to see us. He was trying to do in Suffern the same thing we were, though all by himself. We knew Warren Brokaw427 only by correspondence, and the same for Ewing Baskette.428 We also met Ammon Hennacy429 at that time. Scotty, by the way, although an individualist, had known Eugene Debs in the early days in the Middle West, but he broke with the Socialist Party during World War I. He was a pacifist all his life. His first son, with another woman, was named Marx Scott. A son named Marx, then, seventeen years later, another son named Thoreau—that’s an interesting evolution! Marcus Graham also came to visit us. He was a vegetarian—in fact, a fruitarian. He would fill his plate with nuts and raisins and start to eat, passing up Mother’s delicious roast beef!

I went back to Stelton in 1934. Scotty and I had parted in a friendly way—he went to Camp Germinal in Pennsylvania—but he came to stay with me at Stelton from time to time. He was twenty-six years older than I was, and a family with two obstreperous children was much more than he could take. He became interested in the Social Credit movement,430 worked for Social Credit, then founded his own journal, Money, a journal of monetary reform. He was neither a fascist nor an anti-Semite, yet he was willing to publish the Protocols of Zion4'1 in his paper, and there was much hostility in the colony against him. That was his blind spot. He was politically naive, and could be taken in by anyone who was willing to work with him. He was never in the Silver Shirts, but he wanted to start a party called the Green Shirts because that was the color of Mother Earth. He ran for President on the Greenback Party ticket in 1948 and became a Quaker towards the end, a member of the Taconic Meeting. He died in November 1953 at the age of seventy-four.

Stelton was the most wonderful place I’ve ever been in. It wasn’t drab. The mud and mosquitoes just didn’t matter because the spirit was there, the walks, the singing, the moonlight. I was deeply influenced by the Ferms and com- ''pletely devoted to them. Their idea of creative development from within, rather than the child as a receptacle for information poured into it by others, was a confirmation of what I was aiming at. The philosophy of the individual and of growth from within was something I could wholeheartedly accept.

Uncle was a very easy person to love. He lived by reason. I never knew him to lose his temper or raise his voice in anger at anyone. He was a steadying influence on Aunty. She was more emotional: If you’re not with me you’re against me. He could compromise. Nevertheless, I owe more to her than to him. She was a fighter. He was more Emersonian than Thoreauvian. Emerson fit his ideal more than anyone else. Those eleven years from 1935 to 1946 had a tremendous influence on me. I left in 1946 because of the deepening disruption in the colony, the hostility against Scotty, and so on. I felt that if people believe in freedom they should be able to accept what they disagree with, even what they abhor ano detest.

I loved to hear Mary Hansen talk. She had a quiet sense of humor, nothing cutting or sharp. I knew that her life wasn’t easy, yet she never uttered a complaining word. She was like Uncle—easy to love. She once told me that her husband in Philadelphia [George Brown] repaired the shoes of Coxey’s army432 free on their way to Washington [in 1894], Hippolyte Havel? A lot thought he was just a drunk, but he was warm and loving. He took my hand and kissed it and said, “Good morning, princess.” Once I gave him a curtsy and he was so pleased. He was a good man. Yat Tone and Eddie Wong visited us in Craryville in the early thirties. I heard that Yat Tone was killed in a Japanese bombing raid in Shanghai, and I cried when I heard it. He was no inscrutable oriental. He would effervesce. He took our children for walks, one on each hand. After that he went back to China. Hans Koch once gave a talk on Frank Lloyd Wright at Stelton; he was working for him then. Edgar Tatel433 used to make beautiful buildings out of the Froebel “gifts,” and the Ferms predicted he would become a great architect.

I learned a bit about Francisco Ferrer after I came to the colonies: about his anti-dogmatism, his idea of rational education, and his martyrdom. I thought it was a horrible thing that he should have been executed for these principles. But I wasn’t influenced much by educational theory. I found theories—including those of Froebel—incredibly dull and without life, though that was probably the fault of those who wrote about them, not the theorists themselves.

I still consider myself an anarchist as far as philosophy is concerned. I was never part of the anarchist movement, though, but always on the fringe of it.

My brother William Wheeler fought in Spain as a Communist, a lieutenant in the Lincoln Brigade. For pragmatic reasons I will vote and discuss politics. I’m still an individualist Anything that binds the human spirit cannot stand. But I’m not opposed to collectivist economic experiments, for collective experiments succeed only in so far as you have strong individuals who are willing to work in cooperative effort without trampling on the rights of others. You can make communism or socialism or cooperatives work, as long as they are not too authoritarian. But capitalism is basically dishonest, and in a large society tends to become fascistic; and socialism in a large society tends towards totalitarianism. I’m strongly antipatriotic and non-nationalist. Patriotism is one of the great chains binding the people. The same holds for organized religion, yet in my own personal way I’m deeply religious. Individualism and socialism are not that far apart. But the people are asleep. That’s the trouble.

Ben Lieberman

New York City, April 28, 1972

Ben Lieberman taught at the Modern School of Stelton under Alexis and Elizabeth Ferm, and both he and his wife Esther taught at the Modern School in Mohegan. Esther died in January 1977 and Ben not long after.

Both I (now sixty-eight) and my wife Esther were teachers at the Mohegan school in the early 1930s, and I also taught at Stelton. At Mohegan I was a general teacher and also taught music. At both colonies the dav began with everybody—teachers, children, some parents—meeting in a great circle. We sang songs to nature, greeting the sun, and the like, and played games about birds and flowers. All this had a complete loveliness about it. It was Froebelian in approach, owing to the Ferms. One day I was bored and stood there slightly apart. Aunty came over and poked me in the chest with her finger. “You’re a dead tree,” she said.

The children were free to come and go as they pleased. There was no curriculum, no methodology, and above all no follow-up. Things were left hanging, or were dropped, even when interest was aroused. It was very amateurish. Some ten or eleven-year-olds couldn’t read or write. Everybody, students and teachers, was a primadonna.

At music sessions the children and adults made up their own songs and dances. Forty-year-old women with big hips and dressed in shorts went out and made like fairies. It was funny yet beautiful. There was a close relationship between pupils and teachers. To this day a special feeling remains, and we are still friends. We still gush with feeling about the school and colony. The kids had a good time, and what’s wrong with that? At both schools the kids had their

own magazine, which they printed themselves. Stelton was a dreary place, though, and the poverty of the environment had a depressing effect. Mohegan’s setting, by contrast, elated us; its hills, brooks, lake, and scenery were invigorating.

The school was at the center of things. The idea was to mold a new man. Man was intrinsically good; he was corrupted by the environment: in their theory of human nature the anarchists were utter and complete environmentalists. It is the capitalist and statist environment that makes the child bad. Get -the child away from it and his goodness will emerge. Hence colonies and free schools. They were not educational experiments, but articles of faith. The colonists tended to be Utopians, not experimenters Their activities were grounded in a theory of man and society, and education flowed from that. The progressive movement was essentially middle-class, while libertarian education was essentially a working-class movement. Mohegan emphasized the former, Stelton the latter. What is interesting is how it persists, this idea of colonies.

One striking thing was that there was very little victimization of one child by the others. The kids were kinder, more generous. The one mongoloid at Mohegan was never persecuted. Kids who would have been the butt of jokes and persecution in public school—big, clumsy, odd—were liked and treated well. For some kids, of course, it was not a happy time, but most liked the school. But by and large the results differed little from other schools, except that the children emerged a bit more humane, a bit less prejudiced, easier to talk to, nicer, kinder, gentler to this day.

There was no racial problem whatsoever at the colonies. Mohegan had Finns and Frenchmen, as well as Italians and Jews. There were no ethnic frictions. It was almost like an extended family, a European village, a kind of community that the young generation of today misses. Different age groups, too, mixed more readily, without the hostility and stratification of today. Harry Kelly was an idealistic, old-fashioned anarchist John Scott was a handsome sheygets [gentile], a Don Juan with six women on the string at the same time.

Why then did it break up? Chiefly because the world was too much with us. Try as we might, we could not divorce ourselves from it, could not build utopia and the new man. Nobody knows how, and too few among us appreciate the extent of man’s quarrelsomeness. Before the First World War, radicals of different stripes could still argue about their differences, could still have their different groups and theories and yet agree about a common enemy (capitalism) and be friends—could even start colonies together. But after the war and the Russian Revolution this became more difficult. Earlier, if an anarchist got into trouble, the socialists would come to his defense; all rallied to Havmarket and Johann Most, for example. But with the Russian Revolution came an event which forced you to put up or shut up. Also the war: between patriots and internationalists no peace or compromise was possible. Bitter quarrels divided them for life. Among the anarchists themselves there were divisions. The trouble with the anarchists was that each one went his own way. Every meeting had a dozen viewpoints, and it was immensely difficult to agree on things. I am convinced that the First World War was the great watershed of the modern period. The result of the split in the radical ranks was an irreconcilable legacy of bitterness and enmity. A line of blood was drawn between them, with charges of “traitor” and “renegade.”

All this poisoned the colonies. The Ferrer Center would hide anarchists, pacifists, socialists, and conscientious objectors. Even after the war some cooperation was still possible. Things still hadn’t gotten that hot. The real split occurred during the late 1920s and the 1930s with the emergence of Stalin and Hitler. With Stalin something happened of a special nature that divided radicals irrevocably. Thus the main reason for the breakup was political, not educational. All this politics tore the colonies apart. What the Communists brought in was expediency, expediency to the nth degree: “I may love you, but if I have to kill you I’ll kill you.” Some anti-Communist anarchists. (like Joe and Eva Brandes [q.v.]) were just as adamant and even worked with local Peekskill citizens against the Communists during the Robeson riots.434

Not even the Popular Front435 could heal the breach. Most anarchists, syndicalists, and Trotskyists refused to accept it. Besides, the damage was already done; totalitarianism was already entrenched. All these issues deeply affected the colonists, who took their politics very seriously. Block voting occurred on every question, however trivial, even school questions. The teachers and students were caught in the middle. Quarrels made community life difficult and ultimately impossible. People weren’t talking to each other. Occasionally fistfights broke out. The outside world kept impinging on the colony. There was no way to avoid the goddam world!

Jacques Rudqme

New York City, February 10 and April 5, 1972

Jacques (Jack) Rudome, who emigrated from Paris to New York in 1907, frequented the Ferrer Center and the offices of Mother Earth. Afterwards he and his wife Helen (see interview with Rose Goldblatt), who participated in the Ludlow protests of 1914, lived for many years in the Mohegan Colony. Rudome died in 1985 in a nursing home in Great Neck, New York.

I am seventy-eight years old, a former house painter by trade, and came from Paris to the U.S. in 1907. An older brother, in Paris, was a socialist and in 1905 took me to Louise Michel’s funeral. In New York I lived in Harlem and frequented the Ferrer Center and the offices of Mother Earth. I knew both Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Sasha was very gentle and soft-spoken, especially in contrast with Emma. When Sasha came out of prison he was confronted by a new world. The world had changed, his friends had changed. Young people took to him, more than to Emma. Helen and Lillian loved him.

The Ferrer Center was bustling with life and activity. People gathered there every day for lectures, art classes, and good conversation. Sadakichi Hartmann and Hippolyte Havel were often there. They were close friends and kindred spirits, both drinkers, spongers, Bohemians, and wasted talents. Sadakichi was a tall man for a Japanese, with an arresting face, but he looked like a gargoyle in the end. His combination of German and Japanese blood made him a re-markable character, half-authoritarian, half-libertarian. He was a half-baked genius with great promise that blew up in smoke. Charlie Chaplin helped finance him for a while. He died around 1950, in his eighties, on an Indian reservation in Banning, California, near Palm Springs.

Max Baginski, unlike Hartmann and Havel, was not a drinker. He was close to Emma and Sasha, the sage of Mother Earth, always called upon for information on European labor, radicalism, and the like. He was handsome, middleaged, with a shock of white hair and a mustache.

During the summer of 1914, I worked my way across to Paris as a deckhand on a ship. I arrived in June and helped with the mailing of Le Libertaire, whose editor, Pierre Martin,436 was a bearded hunchback with a beautiful head and a wonderful character. One day Kropotkin came in to visit his old comrade, and the two beards got entangled as the two Pierres embraced.

It was while I was in France that the Lexington Avenue explosion occurred, one of the causes of the Ferrer Center’s demise. I knew the three men—Caron (an American Indian), Hanson, and Berg—who got killed. While walking with one of them a few months earlier, he said to me, while passing a subway construction site, that it would be a good place to get dynamite. I was in Paris when the bomb went off, and I read about it in the papers. I immediately knew what had happened. Their plan was to bomb Rockefeller’s mansion in Tarrytown in reprisal for the Ludlow massacre in Colorado.

Another blow came with the Palmer raids in 1919 and 1920. You have no idea what mayhem they committed, intellectual mayhem too. They frightened a lot of people. The Sacco-Vanzetti affair was the aftermath of the Palmer period.

During the early 1920s I visited the Home Colony near Tacoma, Washington. I was impressed with Jay Fox,437 an exceptionally fine person. Home had a different quality from Stelton and Mohegan. Most of its members were westerners, each a distinctive character of his own. Caplan was arrested there, and Schmidty in New York, where he had worked as a carpenter fixing up the offices of Mother Earth. They were involved in the Los Angeles Times explosion; they brought the “stuff” by rowboat from Seattle across the bay and hid it in Home Colony. A few of the colonists knew about it. Joe O’Carroll, an Irish Wobbly, jumped Donald Vose in court during the Schmidt and Caplan trial.

I moved with Helen to Mohegan and lived there for many years. What ruined the colony was letting in outsiders—relatives and friends—who had nothing in common with anarchism and didn’t belong. Eventually they became the majority—liberals, socialists, Communists—and took over and ran things in their own way. But more than any other group it was the Communists who wrecked Mohegan. The best period of the colony was the early years.

Yet there were still quite a few anarchists in the years between the world wars. The Spaniards had quite a large group in New York, living mostly in lower Manhattan, on Cherry Street, near the waterfront. Many were sailors, stevedores, and cigarmakers. The seamen’s organization of Spaniards was largely anarchist. Pedro Esteve was the main figure, quiet, soft-spoken, dignified, thoughtful, never violent. Another important figure was Jose Rubio, heavy-set and lively, a cigarmaker. The Italian anarchists were even more numerous than the Spaniards. They lived mostly in East Harlem, Brooklyn, and other Italian neighborhoods. The women worked in the needle trades, the men in construction. The French anarchists were much fewer in number. There was no real group in New York, and most were individualists. After the First World War I met in San Francisco a group of former Paris Communards, who had been exiled to New Caledonia and then come to the United States.

Yes, my ideas have changed over the years. I am still an anarchist, but I am an individualist anarchist rather than a communist anarchist, and I no longer believe in revolution. As Flaubert wrote in EEducation Sentimental, “In every revolutionist beats the heart of a policeman.” We develop ourselves if it’s within us to do so, if the quality is there, not through force or compulsion. In the early years Proudhon influenced me more than anyone else; later it was E. Armand. Revolution breeds terrorism; violence breeds violence. This is proved by the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution.

I still accept the libertarian education of Faure and Ferrer. (The Pelletiers of Mohegan, incidentally, went to Faure’s La Ruche school in France.) And prisons should be abolished. But private property is sacred. What a man has earned is his—rewards according to work, not need. Individualism is the only true anarchism. Anarchism and communism are antithetical. Even Rudolf Rocker, towards the end of his life, was becoming an individualist, as he told me in frequent conversations at Mohegan.

I believe in the nuclear family, but I also believe in free love, a fine, wonderful idea that has been vulgarized and misunderstood. Above all else it is based on tolerance. As for the labor movement, I have never believed in it. I was a union member only from necessity, in order to get work. As the labor movement grows, it becomes a big monopoly. It has reached that point in America, with big salaries and nice fat jobs.

Lydia Miller

New York City, February 12, 1972

Lydia Miller, a half-sister of Eva Brandes (q.v.), attended the Modern School of Stelton and afterwards lived at Mohegan. She later moved to Manhattan (where I interviewed her) and worked in the photographs division of the New York Public Library.

I was born in 1914, the daughter of Harry and Lydia Gordon and the half-sister of Eva Brandes [q.v.] and Sophie Bannister. My father, Harry Gordon, was born in Vilna in 1866 of a prosperous Jewish family. He was a man of few words and strong principles. He was a machinist by trade but refused to make machinery related to the military during the First World War. He instilled in me a great deal of his idealism. When he talked I was always impressed. He was almost a saint.

We moved to Stelton in 1919 and had a small house there. I didn’t like it. The Living House kids were the center of attention; the rest felt like day-school kids and not as important. The school was boring, with not enough to do. How many years can you weave baskets? They wouldn’t let me read; the library was closed to children under ten. So I learned to read by myself.

I didn’t like Aunty Ferm. I felt intimidated by her, afraid of her. Uncle was very nice, a kind person, soft, gentle; he never raised his voice. Aunty had her own ways and strong ideas about education and discipline. She once caught a boy masturbating and sewed up his fly. She was not a libertarian, as we were not free to do as we pleased, not free to read. She imposed her own ideas and methods on us, just as in other schools, only different ones.

Most of the kids liked the school and its comparative freedom, especially those who had come from public school. For some it was good, for others not. I needed more guidance and order. No one system fits all children, not the Ferms’, not the public school’s. At Stelton the emphasis was on spontaneous learning and self-education. One day at assembly Aunty complained when I danced that “someone has been giving you lessons,” as if that were bad. One must learn by oneself, not be taught. I was much happier afterwards in public school.

The people at Stelton, for all their modern ideas, were still very Victorian, with roots in the nineteenth century. One of my favorites was Mary Hansen. She was a very warm person and I liked her very much. She had stained glass windows in her house. Her daughter Heloise and son George Brown, Jr., lived with her, but not her husband. [George Brown, Sr., had died before she came to Stelton.]

We left Stelton after three and a half years for New York City. I was then eight and a half. I went to public school, but over my mother’s dead body. I liked it, despite the crowding and discipline. I wouldn’t recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag because it was against our principles.

When I was eleven and a half Gordon got pneumonia, so we moved to Mohegan. Mother begged me to go to the colony school. I went one day and didn’t want to continue, so I was enrolled in a one-room public school, which I liked. At the Mohegan school Jim Dick was a good teacher. But if the children got bored, with algebra, say, they got up and left, and nobody tried to stop them. Nobody at either Stelton or Mohegan knew anything about how children really learn.

Apart from the school, Mohegan was a wonderful place. It was more bourgeois than Stelton, more prosperous, and didn’t have a strong anarchist identity. Many socialists, Communists, and even liberals moved there. Everyone was friendly in the early years. The children got along well, and friendships remain close to this day. We had a reunion there in August 1971, and all of us had fond memories of the colony; and it wasn’t mere nostalgia. It had a free, healthy, rural atmosphere. We all felt like one big family. There were clubs, theater, dancing; Moritz Jagendorf [q.v.] put on plays. I always thought highly of Harry Kelly, and Elsie Kelly (the daughter of Harry and Mary Krimont) was a soft, lovely person.

Over the years, of course, Mohegan changed, though boys from the neighborhood still drove through the colony looking for “free love” girls. Under the impact of World War II many anarchists returned to their Jewish heritage; even Gordon thought it was a just war. Mohegan now is just another middleclass suburban community, with IBM junior executives and New York City commuters of every political persuasion. The houses are all decorated at Christmas. When I saw one man reading the Daily News I knew the colony was finished.

Eva Brandes

Bronx, New York, January 7, January 12, February 1, April 4, June 13, 1972;

Lake Mohegan, New York, September 19, 1972;

Brooklyn, New York, September 9, 1974;

Bronx, New York, September 20, 1979

The child of anarchist parents, Eva Brandes attended Elizabeth and Alexis Ferm’s Playhouse School in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn and afterwards lived at the Ferrer Center in Harlem, the Stelton Colony in New Jersey, and the Mohegan Colony in Crompond (near Peekskill), New York. She knew Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Harry Kelly, Hippolyte Havel, Sadakichi Hartmann, and many other prominent anarchists, as well as Robert Henri, George Bellows, and Will and Ariel Durant. While residing at Mohegan with her husband

Joe (a cousin of the Communist writer Mike Gold), she commuted to New York City, where she worked for many years in the offices of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. Small, articulate, with an astonishingly accurate memory for people and events, she was a woman of unassailable integrity, absolutely trustworthy in everything she said and did. She died at her daughter’s home near Mohegan in 1988.

I was born in Chicago on July 18, 1898, and in 1901 moved to New York. Both -of my parents were anarchists. My father, Boris Sachatoff (born in Tula, Russia, 1873, died in Winnipeg, Canada, 1952) was of Jewish birth but became a ‘ Tolstoyan Christian anarchist,” as he called himself. In 1910 he went to western Canada with me and my older sister Sophie—Mother remained in Chicago— to live among the Dukhobors.48 We were there when Tolstoy died. Father was expecting him to visit the Canadian Dukhobors. Father was a jeweler and watchmaker up there, and Sophie and I went to school for six months. Then we returned to the States to live with Mother. We came back to Canada for two years in 1917-1918, and I went to the business school in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I still correspond with my Dukhobor friends, especially the Petroff sisters, whose mother was Jewish.

My mother, Lydia Landau, was of Russian-Jewish birth. In 1901 Harry Gordon, another Russian-Jewish anarchist, came to Chicago and met her, and they stayed together forever. Gordon was a machinist from Pittsburgh and had been the first person to visit Alexander Berkman in prison after his attempt on Frick.439 After President McKinley was assassinated in September 1901, he was almost lynched as an anarchist by a mob in Pittsburgh, but was saved when someone shouted, “He s a union man Let him go!” After that he went to Chicago and met Mother. He saw other women as well as Mother, and when she questioned him he said, “But I love you too.” She didn’t like that “too,” a commentary on the free love doctrine to which she herself adhered.

I thought the world of Ma and Gordon and the others in the Chicago anarchist group. For me they could do no wrong. I had implicit faith in them, which I still haven’t lost. At the center of the English-speaking group was the Isaak family and their journal Free Society. Abe Isaak, Sr., was tall, broad-shouldered, and bespectacled, and he loved children. His wife Mary was small and dainty. They had three children, Pete, Abe, and Mary. They later lived in the Bronx, and Yanovsky, the editor of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, bought their house there when they left for California.

I can still remember visiting the Isaaks as a little girl in Chicago. Both Abe Senior and Abe Junior wore green eyeshades and cuffs as they worked preparing their newspaper. Mary Junior had two daughters, Dorothy and Grace [Umrath, q.v.], and Abe Junior had two sons, one of whom became a Communist. During the 1930s Abe Junior came up to Mohegan colony and told me how disappointed this made him. My father also drifted in that direction. Although he had been a Tolstoyan and single-taxer, he turned towards Soviet Communism and remained a sympathizer even under Stalin!

I can also remember the Czolgosz-McKinley affair, though I was only three years old at the time. Czolgosz was not a true anarchist but was disturbed, deranged. I heard that he went to see Emma Goldman in Chicago, but she was wary of him and pretended to be someone else. He talked of bombs and violence, and she denied any interest in it and would have nothing further to do with him. Aftei McKinley’s assassination the Chicago anarchists were rounded up and imprisoned. I visited them in the jail, all herded together in one large cell like cattle. Mother handed me a ladle and I gave them water from a bucket.

The year before, when I was two and Sophie three, Emma Goldman made us two little blue dresses. We loved them, of course, but Emma was hard to warm up to personally. Later, in New York, I heard her speak at Cooper Union, among other places. There were a lot of mounted policemen outside the hall, and inside there was a ring of police, so many that it left me with a fear of police that I’ve never lost. I also heard Emma speak at Columbia University in 1934. John Dewey was sitting near me. After she finished he got up and said, ‘‘I admire your courage!”

Emma, by the way, was jealous of my mother, who was exceptionally goodlooking and much sought after by men. Yet they were very close, and Mother always went to her for advice. I often heard Alexander Berkman’s name as a child in Chicago, when he was in prison. The anarchists there were always talking about him. He had been in prison so long, suffered so much. They felt so bad about it. When I was still a child, in New York after his release, he came over and took me around. I felt at home with him. He was a very nice man. Ben Reitman was in New York at that time and was Emma Goldman’s lover. The women were crazy about him. They were all over him, in his lap and everywhere.

We moved to New York in late 1901, after McKinley’s assassination. Though still very young, Sophie and I were often taken to lectures by Emma Goldman and others. Sometimes we fell asleep but nevertheless absorbed something. Once we passed a Salvation Army meeting and I said to mother, “Let’s go in there.” It seemed just like our lecture meetings. To this day, words are more important to me than music, pictures, or anything else. We went to concerts and balls sponsored by Mother Earth and the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. The kids put on skits of capitalists and priests in a carriage pulled by the workers. It was obvious propaganda, but we did it very willingly, and it was not as blatant as what the socialists were doing. At the socialist club the children were systematically indoctrinated. At the end of their weekly meetings they were always asked, “And who was that great man?” They replied in unison, “Karl Marx!” and then ran out. Sophie and I attended a few times, but dogma and indoctrination were not for us.

In 1905, when Sophie was eight and I was seven, Harry Kelly recommended a school for us to Ma and Gordon. It was the Playhouse School in Dyker Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, run by Elizabeth and Alexis Ferm. It was a boarding school, and Sophie and I were enrolled. Miss Otis, a Philadelphia philanthropist, had bought a house for the Ferms as a school to try out their ideas. Aunty Ferm was strong-willed, cranky, and very prudish, but not Uncle, who was always decent, soft-spoken, and easy to approach. He taught us how to plant things in the garden, and we enjoyed it so much. Aunty was lovely to look at, worked very hard, but was too sharp She once washed a boy’s mouth with soap for using foul language, and she hit another boy—Walter was his name—for peeking at nude girls on an overnight outing in Newfoundland, New Jersey, where the Ferms had some land. We slept in sleeping bags and ate raw oatmeal. Aunty was deeply upset by sex; and when she caught Walter peeking at the girls in the outhouse she made a horrible scene. She hit him so. We were all terribly frightened. Then she began to cry, and that made things even worse.

Aunty once asked us when we were born I said July, and she said, “Anyone born in July is lazy.” I was very hurt, and still am to this day. Once when we played a game hiding in a closet, she rushed in and warned us against masturbation; it was bad and we would lose our minds. The Ferms discouraged reading and did not teach it. The emphasis was on games and physical activity. We were always on the swings, rings, and trapeze. But this was just as authoritarian as forcing someone to read. Aunty discouraged even a spontaneous urge to read: “You don’t really want to read that—your mother wants you to.”

Sophie and I spent two years at Dyker Heights. Miss Otis, our benefactress, was a kind, soft person Her four adopted children, Edith, Alla, Laura, and Miriam, were pupils in the school. Edith, the oldest, was a cellist and a lesbian. Miss Otis left the children much to themselves. She took us to the theater to see Maude Adams in Peter Pan. After that we ourselves put on the play over and over again, and we had a big picture on the wall of Maude Adams as Peter Pan. The Ferms invited Miss Adams to visit the school, but she couldn’t make it and sent a dancing instructor instead. Besides Peter Pan, we also saw The Wizard of Oz.

With Miss Otis we always had a relaxed feeling, a feeling of ease, no fears or pressures. She prepared a special dinner for us each week; the dessert was always a slab of ice cream, and we could eat as much as we wanted. She also gave us a box of chocolates and candy canes to last the week. Mr. and Mrs. Potter, whose son Lloyd was a pupil, ran the Living House, located next door to the school. They were extremely nice people, but Aunty argued with them and they had to leave Aunty also quarreled with Miss Otis, who was such a nice person. I got much more kindness from her than from Aunty The Ferms were interesting and good people, but neither was particularly affectionate, an important drawback when dealing with children. She talked of fairies and leprechauns, which aroused our interest.

The Ferrer Center began as an adult school and meeting place on St. Mark’s Place. It moved to East Twelfth Street in 1911 and to East 107th Street the following year. There was a day school and a Sunday school, which Sophie and I attended. Our first teacher was Dr. Solomon Bauch, a physician from Brownsville in Brooklyn and a very fine person. Anita Spiegel, later Anita Miroy at Mohegan, was a pupil in our group. The children, both of the day school and the Sunday school, had outings in Central Park and picnics in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Maurice Hollod [q.v.], now a retired chiropractor in Florida, loved the school, and you ought to go talk to him.

Will Durant was the teacher in the day'school, and Ariel, his future wife, was a pupil. She was fifteen years old, and her real name was Ida Kaufman, though Will called her Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She was very lively and affectionate; instead of shaking hands, she would give you a hug. Will was twenty-seven, charming, calm, understanding. He fell for her. “I don’t know whether to marry her or adopt her,” he said. After their marriage they left the school, but he continued to lecture to the adults. Some of his lectures were published by Haldeman-Julius440 as “blue books” and formed the basis of the larger works that made him famous. The Durants never really considered themselves anarchists; they were humanist and nonpolitical.

The Ferrer School was an exciting place for adults as well as children. It was a hangout for radical intellectuals like Manuel Komroff and Sadakichi Hartmann, the Eurasian poet, a very heavy drinker. He often recited poetry at the center, as did Harry Kemp441 and Mike Gold, who read from William Blake. Robert Henri and George Bellows gave art lessons, and Hippolyte Havel published his journal Revolt in the basement, where he lived. David Rosenthal published poems in Revolt and, as “David Ross,” went on to become one of the best-known early radio announcers. Becky Edelsohn, Berkman’s former girlfriend, also came to the center. She had dark hair and brown eyes and was a lively, free spirit. Joseph Kucera, a Bohemian, also came, Voltairine de Cieyre’s last lover. He lived in Greenwich Village and was tall, fair, nice-looking, and soft spoken. He later got married and had a son. Stewart Kerr was a salesman for New York Telephone Company and close to Emma Goldman, Berkman, and Leonard Abbott. Arthur Samuels was Rose Yuster’s first husband, before she got together with Abbott. Anton (really Hyman) Rovinsky played the piano, and I had a crush on him. Apart from these regulars, there were lots of hangers-on, including some who came to see all the “free love” business.

Donald Vose frequented both the Ferrer Center and Mother Earth. He looked like a real westerner, with his western-style hat. He came to New York around 1914. My mother almost at once suspected him of being a spy because he had “too much money.” He went to see Emma Goldman, who happened to mention that “Schmidty” (Matthew Schmidt) was coming to visit her. Vose informed the authorities and Schmidty was arrested.

Before he went to Stelton in 1915, Joseph Cohen acted as custodian of the Ferrer Center. When he left he asked Mother to take over: rent out rooms and keep the place in order. She accepted eagerly. So we moved in and lived there, and later in an apartment on 106th Street, from 1915 to 1917, when Sophie and I went to Canada. A number of interesting people lived at the Center, including Bill and Anna Shatoff, who had a room next door to our apartment, and Bernard Sernaker, a machinist, who worked for a while with Gordon and who went back to Russia to take part in the revolution. Another room, next to our bedroom, was occupied by Terry Carlin,442 who knew Eugene O’Neill. He was an alcoholic and was very noisy when drunk. He had little money (his sister in Chicago sent him some from time to time) and stopped paying the rent. He had been living with a woman named Marie. She went to California and married a Jewish businessman, but she committed suicide not long after. Meanwhile Terry had moved out of the Ferrer Center and lived in a rented room. He came to Mohegan colony some years later for a visit, but went back to New York the next day. Soon afterwards he got pneumonia and died.

The war and the Red Scare caused the downfall of the Ferrer Center. A lot -nf anarchists who habituated the Center evaded registration for the draft. This was true not only of American anarchists but of anarchists who came here from Europe, such as Fred Dunn and Jim Dick from England and Andre Longchamp and Andre Miroy from France. Spies soon began coming around, including a young woman, and Longchamp had an affair with her. Jack Isaacson, an American, also avoided the draft and was ordered to be deported, but he went underground and lived under his wife Gussie’s surname, Denenberg. Many years later he was discovered when Gussie [q.v.] applied for citizenship papers. The FBI kept him under watch and questioned him from time to time, until he finally committed suicide.

Mother, Sophie, and I lived at Stelton for a while, and before that at Fellowship Farm, a socialist colony across the road. My half-sister Lydia, Mother and Gordon’s child, went to school at Stelton and didn’t like it much. Like my daughter Hilda, who went to the Mohegan school, Lydia preferred public school. Hilda felt the same way. Ironically she found public school liberating after attending the Modern School at Mohegan. Uncle and Aunty Ferm were teaching at Stelton when we lived there. Uncle was relaxed, quiet, warm, and loveable. You couldn’t call him anything except “Uncle.” Aunty too was remarkable and hard-working, but was critical and overbearing, not a true libertarian teacher.

Of the others at Stelton, Joseph Cohen was intelligent and capable and got things done, but the colony had too much poverty to keep good teachers and principals. Margaret Sanger had a little girl, Peggy, who stayed at the Living House but died of pneumonia. Bill Pogrebysky left for Soviet Russia and went to the Jewish colony of Birobidzhan; he died at the front during World War II Mike Gold visited Stelton and Mohegan and, even after joining the Communists, retained his ties and affection for the anarchists. Chaim Weinberg of Philadelphia was full of jokes and had a great sense of humor. His wife Yetta was an excellent speaker and a first-rate organizer; she organized the cloakmakers’ and cigarmakers’ unions. Gray Wu was the only oriental in the colony. He went back to China and was never heard of again. Abe Winokour was so devout an anarchist that he sent the ashes of his wife, Anna Sosnovsky, equally devout, to be buried in Waldheim cemetery, near the graves of the Haymarket anarchists. Their daughter, Rina [Garst, q.v.], is named after Voltairine de Cleyre. Abe had previously been with Frances Goldenthal, who now lives in Mohegan. Anna Sosnovsky was an out-of-town organizer for the ILGWU and a member of the board of directors.

The Mohegan colony was established in 1923, largely on the initiative of Harry Kelly. Kelly had a passion for organizing colonies, and towards the end of his life began even to plan for one in Florida for elderly anarchists. He was able to start colonies because people trusted him, but once a colony got going he moved on to his next project. His companion was Mary Krimont, and they had a daughter Elsie. After Mary died Harry married Leah Lowensohn. Kelly was also the driving force behind the Mohegan school, which was built in 1925 and now carries a plaque in his honor. He loved to talk, loved baseball, and inspired unquestioning trust. He, Leonard Abbott, and the others were a special breed of wonderful people. There are few like them anymore.

The first members of the colony, including us, lived cooperatively in one big house until we could build our own homes. At its height at the end of the twenties, the colony had 450 acres of land with about three hundred families. The big house became the Living House, as in Stelton, for boarding children. Jim and Nellie Dick [q.v.] came up from Stelton to take charge of it, but after a few years they left because the colony board refused to make them principals of the school, considering them unqualified.

The colonists consisted of people from different nationalities The Frenchmen included Miroy, Longchamp, a translator, and Henri Dupre, a chef. Longchamp is still alive, prospering somewhere near Paris; the Durants visited him there in 1972. Jacques Rudome [q.v.] is a Polish Jew by birth, who came to Paris as a child. There were six or seven Finns, including Gus Alonen, a builder by trade, who built one of the first houses there and helped in the building of the school. He believed in health foods, sauna baths, and chiropractic. He was killed in an automobile accident on Crompond Road during the 1950s. There was also a larger group of Russians, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Rose Dodokin (Jewish) and I ran the big house for summer guests; one summer Angelica Balabanoff, David Isakovitz,443 and Alexander Schapiro and his wife stayed with us. Rose’s husband William (non-Jewish) made or-one boxes for Wilhelm Reich. He and Rose moved to Florida, where he died in 1972. Isidore (Sidor in Russian) Bogin died a few years ago at eighty-seven. His wife Molly [q.v.] is still living at the colony. Sidor escaped from Siberia in 1905, lived in Paris for five years, then came to the United States. He and Molly were among the first Mohegan settlers. Arnold Krimont, Mary’s brother, died in California in 1973, at the age of ninety-two. George Seldes, Sr., was a longtime anarchist, but his sons, George Junior and Gilbert, were not. George Senior had been a druggist in Pittsburgh and was very active during the early years of the colony.

A few other items may be of interest. Many of the colonists—Harry Kelly, George Seldes, Minna Lowensohn, Marc Epstein, Jack and Helen Rudome, Moritz Jagendorf [q.v.]—had been associated with the Ferrer Center in New York. Some colonists commuted to work in New York; some lived at the colony only during the summer and sent their children to our summer camp. A number of the women at the colony followed the teachings of Dr. Stretch, a New Jersey chiropractor and health faddist. The colonists held a farewell party for Cesar Vega, who went back to Spain to fight in the Civil War, and gave him guns as a present. He and several other Spanish anarchists from America were seized when their boat landed and shot. Lucy Parsons once visited Mohegan during the 1920s to see my mother, whom she had known very well in Chicago. Daniel Bell, the sociologist, is the nephew of Jacob Mont, a Mohegan colonist, and lived with him for a while as a child.

For quite a few years we had the most wonderful times, in warm friendship with one another. Lectures, concerts, costume balls were held every Saturday night for the benefit of the school. The school was at the center of the colony, and we did everything possible for it. But, starting in the late 1920s, a rift developed between the Communists and fellow travelers on the one hand and the anarchists and some socialists on the other. During the earlier years, when the colony was poorer and more idealistic, the members were more closely knit and communal-minded than later. Our admissions committee tried to keep out the Communists, on the one hand, and the well-to-do, on the other. But gradually they trickled in, and the colony began to change. Far more than at Stelton, the Communists were responsible for the breakup of the colony and school. And the liberals must take a share of the blame. They were not committed to genuine libertarian ideals or to libertarian education What they wanted was merely a middle-class progressive school with a professional staff. The anarchists, for their part, were too apathetic to resist these incursions. We had to drag them to election meetings to vote. Harry Kelly at one point suggested using the label “libertarian” rather than “anarchist” so as not to frighten off potential supporters.

The climax came after the Second World War with the Paul Robeson affair. Robeson had come occasionally to sing at Communist affairs, and the neighboring townsmen were up in arms. In the early days of the colony the local KKK had already burned a cross opposite the barn where we held our meetings. Now gangs came through in cars looking for Communists. A reign of terror began. The Communists on their side imported “goons” from New York City who were armed with clubs and baseball bats and patrolled the colony, stopping even residents, especially anarchists, from walking freely. The Peekskill riot [1949] was a traumatic experience and the last great blow to the colony. After this, the anarchists founded a Civic Association and dissociated themselves from the Communists. We still had enjoyable times, but never the same as in the past.

Those years in Mohegan, though, were by no means wasted. We tried things, we experimented, we attracted manv interesting people. Anarchism is still our religion. You have to have the inner feeling, a strong sense of integrity and responsibility, of doing what we must, freely and without any sense of guilt.

Nellie Dick

Miami, Florida, December 17, 1972; Oyster Bay, New York, December 26, 1972, September 16, 1974, November 18, 1990

Nellie Dick’s involvement in the movement for libertarian education goes back to 1912, when, still in her teens, she started a Modern School in the Whitechapel district of London. Her soon-to-be husband, James Dick, had himself opened a Modern School in Liverpool in 1908, having met the Spanish educator Francisco Ferrer the previous year. After coming to the United States in 1917, Nellie and Jim played a major role in several educational experiments in this country, including the Modern Schools of Stelton, Mohegan, and Lakewood, which they started in 1933.

Nellie was seventy-nine when I first interviewed her in 1972, seven years after her husband’s death. A woman of astonishing vitality, with white hair, rosy complexion, and alert blue eyes, she had vivid memories of the anarchists—among them Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, and Rudolf Rocker—reaching back to the turn of the century. On the wall of the den in her Miami house hung a large composite photograph of the various schools and colonies with which she and “Big Jim” had been associated. Not long before, she told me, a visitor from Brazil, noticing Ferrer among the faces in the photograph, said that when his father lay dying in Spain he insisted on having a picture of Ferrer buried with him in his coffin. In 1973 Nellie sold her house, moved into an apartment, and threw herself into senior citizens’ affairs. Every year, meanwhile, she came north to visit her son, James Dick, Jr., a Long Island pediatrician, who had attended the Stelton School as a child. She also took part in the annual reunions of the friends and alumni of the Modern Schools, at which she invariably spoke. In 1990, in her ninety-eighth year, Nellie left Miami and moved in with “Little Jim” and his family, where she celebrated her hundredth birthday in 1993.

I WAS born Naomi Ploschansky in Kiev, Russia, on May 15, 1893, and came to London at the age of nine months, along with my brother, while two older girls were left in Russia. More children were born—there were eight in all—and we were very poor. My father, Solomon Ploschansky, had no trade; he worked as a baker’s helper. The bakers went on strike—I can still see the huge khaleh. they were carrying and father leading the parade in his blue sash with gold letters. When I saw that, I thought to myself that when in trouble I would tell my friends that my father was a general. Afterwards he became a cap maker and was active in the trade-union movement. They would sing the Internationale as they dipped the caps in water and put them on the mold. Mother was Hanna Kiselevsky from the town of Lipovets near Kiev. She came from a rabbinical family which owned a small flour mill. Neither of my parents was an anarchist. Mother, in fact, was an Orthodox Jew. Yet she had a strong rebellious spirit and would fight for her rights, though normally a quiet person.

We lived in poverty in the East End. My parents went to lectures in the radical clubs, and eventually my mother took off her orthodox wig and left the synagogue. The Arbeter Fraynd was published in our house upstairs, so we got to know the Rockers very well and also the other anarchists who went in and out. I was sent by them to mail letters. I could barely reach the opening, yet I knew I must not let anyone help me or give a letter to anyone.

" Living in this milieu, my parents soon became anarchists. I used to go to Rocker’s lectures, and though I didn’t understand much I loved to listen to his voice and thought what a wonderful actor he would make. The audience was always spellbound. I wanted to learn German, and Rudolf offered to teach me. When I went up to his room for a lesson I saw a group of people sitting there and looking up at him, worshipful and open-mouthed as he spoke. So I quietly left and never went back for lessons. I don’t believe in gods. I felt the same way about the Ferms at Stelton. Don’t set them up on a pedestal. I’ve always felt that part of the deference to Rocker, the Ferms, Leonard Abbott was because they weren’t Jewish, not just “one of us.”

When I was eight or nine we lived in Leeds for a while, in a house where William MacQueen444 and his sidekick Henry had published a journal called the Free Commune. I remember the detectives coming one day and asking us about MacQueen and where he was, but we didn’t tell them anything. We knew Rudolf Grossmann,445 too, another friend of MacQueen’s. He used to come to the Arbeter Fraynd office in our house in London. One day I found that my beautiful Bible was missing, and I always felt that he had taken it.

In London I used to recite poems in Yiddish at the Jubilee Street Club, which opened in 1906. Once I recited a humorous poem about Kropotkin, and he was in the audience! How he laughed! Kropotkin used to play games with us kids, dancing around in a circle. I was scared to death he’d have a heart attack.446 Malatesta also came to the club sometimes, a small, slight man with dark hair and beard and eyes so sharp you’d think he could look right through you. Pryns Hopkins once came from America and wanted to see Malatesta. I was sixteen then and was asked to take him. He called a cab; that was the first taxi ride I ever had, and I felt that the whole town was looking at me!

I heard Voltairine de Cleyre lecture in London when I was about twelve [it was in 1903 and Nellie was ten]. She was a rather tall figure, wearing outlandish clothes that interested me. Mary Hansen of Stelton was a very close friend of hers and used to talk about her a lot. David Isakovitz lived in London and worked on the Arbeter Fraynd before going to America.

Once we went to the Rockers’ apartment and the place was dark because they had no shilling to put in the meter. So one of us put in a shilling, and then we went and got cold cuts and bread and had a party. We had light and we had food, but we had no money for books or toys. That’s why later in Stelton every holiday that came along we celebrated—Christmas with a tree, and so on—and that got me into trouble with some of the parents.

At the lectures in the club I noticed that mostly older people attended, and I asked Father what will happen when they die. What of the younger generation? Father suggested that I talk to the grown-ups about it. I visited their homes and sang Yiddish songs to put them in the right mood. Then one night at the club I suggested that we start a Sunday School. It was just after Ferrer’s death. Alexander Schapiro was on the platform and he opposed the idea. “We have enough public schools,’’ he said. “Ferrer wanted to establish schools because they had none. But we have secular schools here and don’t need our own. Besides, we don’t have the money.” “I’ll do it with pennies,” I said.

So I went ahead. We used Father’s house at 146 Stepney Green, and believe me we had some wonderful gatherings there! We had a room downstairs with sliding doors. We opened these doors and the kids came. I taught them radical songs from a book called Chants of Labour.^1 The rabbis told the parents not to send their children to “that anarchist school.” But we would have dances and entertainments at the club, and they kept on coming. We started with a handful, but before long we had to hire New King’s Hall, and the Arbeter Fraynd group began to help with a little money.

In Liverpool at this time, James Dick was writing a children’s column for the anarchist paper The Voice of Labour, which he signed “Uncle Jim,” which gave me the impression that he was an older man. Actually he had been born on October 7, 1882, in Liverpool, of Scottish parents (his tather was a policeman and his mother a gentle-type Quaker). Jim spoke in a soft Lancashire accent. He later worked in London for John Turner’s Shop Assistants’ Union, and in New York for the Seamen’s Union in 1917-1918. When Bernard Sernaker of the Ferrer Center wanted to go back to Russia, Jim got seaman’s papers for him.

Jim attended Liverpool University, where his Spanish teacher was Lorenzo Portet, a disciple of Ferrer and the executor of Ferrer’s estate after his execution. Jim met Ferrer, who visited Liverpool in 1907, and became interested in the Escuela Moderna. In 1909 he went to Spain with Portet to help settle Ferrer’s estate. He also organized a short-lived Modern School in Liverpool. Jim played in a temperance band, was a teetotaler, a tea taster, and a manager of a grocery store.

After Liverpool University, Jim went to Ruskin College at Oxford, then to the Central Labour College in London, where he got to know George Davidson. Davidson was the director of the British Eastman Kodak Company and a real anarchist. He had a mansion on the Thames and another in Wales, as well as a villa at Cap D’Antibes on the French Riviera. He took men out of the coal mines and sent them to college with the idea that they would go back to the mines and educate the workers—which, of course, they never did! He told me that Jim, whom I wanted to invite to the Sunday School to talk to the children, was at the Labour College.

On May Day 1910 [actually 1913], when I was seventeen, I took the kids to demonstrate in the May Day caravan (we carried a banner, “Anarchist-Socialist School”). I was distributing antimilitarist leaflets on the Thames embankment when I saw the “Central Labour College” banner, so I went up to ask for Uncle Jim. I saw a young man with grey hair who looked gentler than the rest, and I asked him if James Dick was there He bowed: “I’m Jim Dick.” He was then twenty-eight [actually thirty]. We walked along the embankment and streets and talked until we got to Hyde Park, where Father and a group of comrades were speaking. That evening I recited a poem by Voltairine de Cleyre at the Jubilee Street Club, and Jim came. It was his first contact with the Jewish group. A few days later a Jewish artist, Sam Goldenberg, asked Mother, “How -would you like Nellie to marry a sheygets [gentile]?” I overheard him and asked him what he meant. He said, “I saw you talking to him at Hyde Park gate and I knew he was the one.”

Jim got to know Rudolf Rocker and the other London anarchists, and he began to read anarchist literature—he was a great reader. I invited him and his friends from the Labour College to talk to the Sunday School about the coal mines, labor, and so on. Before long Jim joined me in running the school, which was still in New King’s Hall. We had loads of kids—they just streamed in. Bonar Law448 once came and recited “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” After the outbreak of the First World War Jim and I began to live with each other, without getting officially married. We got a small house at 24 Green Street, Whitechapel, and used the downstairs for the school, which went on until we left for America. Rudolf Rocker wanted his older son, Rudolf Jr., a tall, blond, and handsome young man, to take part in the school. He did, and took charge for a while when Jim and I were in Newcastle for a visit. Later in Canada, where he opened his own school, he wrote us that it was terrible for him to have to live in the shadow of his father, being asked by the comrades to speak and write.

Before and during the war, I worked in the office of the Invalid Children’s Aid Association, located in the Toynbee Hall settlement house I got very little pay, so in the evenings I would teach English to foreigners at the Jubilee Street Club. (I also learned Esperanto during this time.) One man I was supposed to teach was a Russian, but for some reason my parents talked me out of it. Soon after, the Houndsditch affair took place, and he was one of the men involved.

Our school kids went to antiwar meetings and often came back beaten up. A lot of our anarchist boys refused to register for the draft and had to go into hiding. Once we had a garden party which was raided by the police—there was a spy in our group—who arrested everybody without a registration card. Rudolf Rocker was arrested and sent to an aliens camp. Jim and I got married so he could avoid conscription. But then they started taking married men, so in January 1917 we decided to go to America.

When we reached New York we immediately got in touch with the comrades. We went to a lecture on Dickens at the Ferrer Center. We went to a Prisoners’ Ball at the Armory. We had heard Emma Goldman speak in London, so we went to the office of Mother Earth. She invited us to lunch in a room at the Hotel Brevoort on lower Fifth Avenue, and we were served fried chicken by a colored maid. I was shocked and disappointed! As anarchists in England we never knew any luxury, never wore jewelry, earrings, or anything. My sister had a jacket with fringes, and we cut them off. Nothing fancy. But Emma had a girl to wait on us, with a little white cap. I couldn’t get over it—an anarchist with a hired maid.449 I didn’t care for Emma. She was too cold, too hard, and didn’t like children. She wasn’t interested in them. Berkman was softer and nicer than Emma, a warmer person. Rocker, too, was a finer person than Emma. He was gentle; he was interested in people; he was very fair in his judgments and in his criticisms of people

It was Harry Kelly who suggested that we come to Stelton. It was in March 1917 that we went, and Fred Dunn and Gray Wu were on hand to greet us. Before leaving for the States, Fred had lived with us in Marsh House450 in London, along with Lilian Wolfe,451 Gaston Marin (a Belgian), and other comrades. He was one of a group of Englishmen at Stelton, most of them conscientious objectors, who had come to the U.S. to avoid military service. He and Jim were very good friends, and Jim was devastated by the news of Fred’s death in 1925.

Gray Wu had heard of the colony through Mother Earth and came as a cook. He was slim and pleasant, very shy and very charming. When Jim and I came from England, we had been invited to a party at the Mother Earth office, and I remember eating Chinese food that he had prepared. He was a good cook and a true anarchist, intelligent, fine, clean, a student of philosophy at Columbia. He played a Chinese musical instrument and spoke fluent English, though with a Chinese accent. He once had to make a speech at Stelton, but felt shy and wasn’t sure of his English. So Fred Dunn read it, and every time the audience applauded Gray would stand up and bow. It was very funny. He was quiet and modest, but got on well with the children. He once took a group of us to New York to see a show. I feared he might get into trouble, being Chinese and with young American girls, but all went well. His uncle had a Chinese restaurant on Broadway, upstairs. Jim and I went there to eat with him, along with Tessie Sapir, a woman from Fellowship Farm. It was a beautiful restaurant, a big place with a dance floor.

Jim and I took charge of the Living House and were paid $6.50 a week each, which I often spent taking the children for ice cream and movies in New Brunswick. Once when they played the Star-Spangled Banner in the theater, the kids refused to stand and we got into a big argument with the manager. I, Jim, Fred Dunn, and Gray Wu slept in one room in the Living House. Sometimes Gray’s Chinese friends would come to visit. They worked in the Jade Mountain restaurant in New York. Jim and I once went there to eat, and they brought out all kinds of fancy dishes for us but wouldn’t allow us to pay. Gray once picketed his uncle’s restaurant during a strike and got into trouble with the authorities. He left the colony during the early twenties, I think, and went back to China, where he later became the dean of the University of Peking. He sent me a pair of Chinese slippers and kept up his correspondence with Uncle Ferm.

What a mess the colony was then! When we first came, the Living House was just filth! You never saw such filth in your life! The kids said it was a “free school,” which meant to them that they could make a mess of the place. They had no idea how to behave. They were just dropped there by their parents, who stayed in New York. They would go around unwashed. One of them threw a plate of soup at a teacher when scolded. They had a saying: “There is no shame at Stelton. ’ This meant more than just naked swimming. Jacques Dubois [q.v.], so we were told, used to come down to eat naked. Oh, the dirt that we had to clean up in that place—it was something terrible! There was no toilet but only a pail for the kids to make in at night. That was what we had to contend with. But freedom without responsibility doesn’t go. Many of the early -teachers left because they became exhausted and would not sacrifice their own lives and interests as the children demanded of them. They were battered— emotionally and intellectually—by underdisciplined children.

I played “Lords and Ladies”—an English children’s game—with the Living House kids to teach them manners. I read them modern poetry before bedtime, which they didn t understand but loved the sounds and rhythms of the words. 1 kept house and did a little teaching. Big Jim taught basketry and metal work. William Thurston Brown was in charge of the school when we came. He seemed a rather ordinary man. The Ferms were much more dynamic—at least she was. I disagreed with her often. Her theories were great; once I heard her lecture in New York and I was enthralled. When she spoke I was transfixed. She was charming and beautiful, and there was fire when she spoke. But she didn’t act as she spoke.

She and Uncle were never anarchists, but they professed freedom in education, which is an anarchist ideal. She was the one who objected to the name Francisco Ferrer School and changed it to the Stelton Modern School. She never shook off her Catholic upbringing. She was raised in a convent and never lost that—she always remained a mother confessor. With her everything had a religious undertone, and she couldn’t shake it off. And she communicated it to the children in candlelight processions and so on. She was imbued with her religious upbringing. And she would scold a child in front of the others. Once the kids in the Living House took candy from a jar. Do you think she didn’t make a big thing about that? She kept bringing it up to the kids long afterward. Anothei thing: some kids wet the bed. but you don’t bawl them out for that. Aunty made them sleep under the floor of the house so their urine could drain into the earth. That’s no way to punish a child. All kids are great if you handle them right. She was too strict. Uncle was different, a much gentler, softer person.

Joseph Cohen lived in the colony and worked in a cigar factory in New Brunswick. He was very clever, very able, very competent, yet in later years when he had a summer camp on the other side of Lake Mohegan he left owing money to everybody. He was a good organizer, but he liked to have his own way—a bit too authoritarian for me. Hans Koch was a handsome fellow with a shock of white hair. He had been sick with tuberculosis and was supposed to die from it but seemed healthy on the whole. His wife Anna did the weaving and afterwards went to Antioch College and still wove the most wonderful designs even when blind. They had a son, Inko, and a daughter, Gerda, at the school. Rose Freeman walked around in sloppy clothing, her hair a mess, writing beautiful flowery poetry, Japanese things, I think. Hippolyte Havel made his best speeches while drunk. He was very irascible, very short with people. He ended his days raving mad in Marlboro State Hospital in New Jersey.

John Edelman, the son of John H Edelmann, an anarchist architect, was born in New Jersey, but his father died and his mother, Rachelle Krimont, took him to Whiteway Colony in England, where he was brought up. Big Jim met him there when he was visiting the colony and John was then a boy of fourteen. John produced the first children’s play at Stelton, Practice Pot by Padraic Colum, followed by The Idol’s Eye by Lord Dunsany. He married Kate Van Eaton, who taught at the school and is now bedridden with a stroke. He himself died last year [1972].

Of course we had many hardships in those early years, but we were young and enthusiastic, and we had the pleasure of overcoming the hardships. Visitors to the colony included Max Eastman, Art Young, Mike Gold, Joe Freeman,452 and John Dewey. Jo Davidson, the sculptor, had his children there, and a child of Charles Garland lived under our charge in the Living House, and Jim and I once visited Garland’s April Farm community in Pennsylvania.

There was a good deal of suspicion among the neighbors of the colony. I once got a lift from Stelton to New Brunswick, and the man said: “Oh, yes, you come from that free-love colony where a bell rings at midnight and everyone changes partners.” In 1917 and 1918 government agents came around to look for conscientious objectors who were hiding in the colony or in the surrounding woods. One time they climbed up and took down our red flag.

After the war, in 1919, Jim and I visited England, where Jimmy Jr., our only child, was born. Then we returned to Stelton until 1924, when we went up to Mohegan. We returned to Stelton in 1928, then opened our own school in Lakewood, New Jersey, which we operated for twenty-five years, from 1933 to 1958. And the idea of a free school came with us wherever we went.

Our treatment by the Mohegan board hurt us very badly. We were there from 1924 to 1928 and built up the Living House until we had fifty kids. We became well-known in progressive education. Visitors came to see our school. Jim spoke at a Progressive Education Association convention in Baltimore. Yet the board decided to replace Jim as principal. They complained that Jim didn’t know how to raise money for the new school building. They wanted somebody who could go out and make speeches, and we weren’t interested in that sort of thing. The Mohegan colony was richer and more beautiful than Stelton and did not have the distinctive stamp of the Ferms, but the theory in running it—freedom in education—was much the same.

We returned to Stelton after the Ferms left in 1928 and were coprincipals for five years. In 1931 Jim went to a progressive education convention in England. We had read The Dominie’s Log, A. S. Neill’s first book,455 during our first years at Stelton and had liked it very much, and now Jim visited Summerhill. Neill had invited him, and they continued to correspond in later years.

Jim and I had long wanted to set up our own school, and we finally did so in 1933. We called it the Lakewood Modern School, and it lasted for twenty-five years. We didn’t follow theories much but experimented on our own, except that we remembered that Ferrer was a rebel, that he was shot, and that he believed in giving the child a wider scope We weren’t aware of other Modern Schools in the U.S., apart from Stelton and Mohegan, and had no contacts with Modern Schools in Europe. We had children from nursery age—three or four—through the primary grades. After that they went on to Lakewood High School (like our son Jim) or went home.

It differed from Stelton in that it was in a town rather than in the country, and we had a bit more academic structure. We were a household of ourselves, a huge family affair. The children who came to board were from broken homes or couldn’t stand the air in New York—asthma, allergies, and so on. Most were from New York but some came to day school from Lakewood. A few had been at Stelton. We believed in freedom of education, as in Stelton. The children were never forced to attend class. If the kids got rowdy, Jim would simply walk out. As in Stelton, *he worst punishment was to tell a child he couldn’t go to school. I handled the nursery and kindergarten and housekeeping, and Jim had the grades. Many of the kids went on to become doctors, lawyers, scientists—I still keep in touch with many of them. The children were happy. It was not just a school but a home, a big family, and when we sold the place the kids cried. Once a psychiatrist praised me for the wonderful job I had done with Bruce Gilson, and when I told this to one of the girls at the school she said, “Yes, we did do a good job.” She said “we,” and she was right.

Jim taught the kids Shakespeare—he was a Shakespeare man—and nine-and ten-year-olds could recite his plays and sonnets. We took them to Shakespeare plays in New York and they knew the lines. But freedom in education didn’t mean license. One of our little girls said, when I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted, “Take that sign off your door! This isn’t a Modern School!”

During the summers we had a Modern School camp, first at Montrose, New York, for one year, then at Carmel, New York, until about 1943, and finally at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, for a year or two. From then on we stayed at Lakewood and had camp there. The camp was run on the same principles as the school.

About the Rosenberg children,454 two little boys. A friend of the Rosenbergs living in Lakewood—there were lots of Communists in the Lakewood area— asked me if I could take them and shelter them from publicity in the wake of their parents’ execution. If I had said no, I never could have lived it down. They stayed for the summer. My son was the only one who agreed. Even Big Jim said, “Why do you want to stick your neck out?” That was in 1953. In the last years, like Stelton and Mohegan, Lakewood became only a nursery and kindergarten, as Jim had grown older and didn’t have as much patience and energy to carry on with the grades. The school closed in 1958, and we moved to Miami soon afterwards. Jim died there in 1965 at the age of eighty-two.

Some other points may be worth mentioning. Our son Jimmy was an intelligent little boy, but he didn’t learn to read until ten. A great majority of the former pupils at Stelton, Mohegan, and Lakewood have pleasant and enthusiastic memories of the time that they spent at the school. John Scott joined the Silver Shirts, a fascist outfit, and ran for president of the United States on a right-wing fringe-party ticket in 1936 or 1940. He was a great nature man, a wonderful farmer, but we had lots of trouble with him. So much of the destiny of the colonies was determined by private lives and interests and needs rather than by theories or ideals. William Bridge, an Englishman, came to Stelton while the Ferms were in charge. He had been chased out of Hunter College because he had an affair with a student. One of his daughters, Joan Bridge, was the singer Joan Baez’s mother.455 Bridge’s school at Chatham, New Jersey, was not really a Modern School. For Bridge as for many other people Stelton was a temporary sanctuary. People came for a variety of reasons: politics, diet, broken marriages.

My father, by the way, left London and went back to Russia in 1917 to join the revolution. He became an ardent Communist, died in 1937, and was buried with military honors. Afterwards, though, one of my sisters spent fifteen years in Stalin’s prison camps. I made three trips to Russia to see my family, in 1930-1931, in 1933 (with both Jims), and in 1960. During the first trip I went to see Bill Shatoff, who was on the board at the Ferrer Center and at Stelton when Jim and I first came there and who returned to Russia in 1917. He was husky, strong, a hail-fellow-well-met, always with a slap on the back. He was wearing all his medals and decorations, which stretched from one side of his chest to the other. He seemed happy to see me and told me that he was still an anarchist, even though he worked with the Communists, which he said was a necessary step on the road to freedom. The second time I came to Russia, in 1933,1 went to his apartment but wasn’t allowed in. He was arrested a few years later during the purge.

My views on education have remained essentially the same over the years: just being human to the children. When children are treated with respect and are given responsibility they will be happy. We were interested in the children. We were concerned with their lives, their whole beings, and with their being happy. But you can’t attribute the child’s successes or failures to the school alone. You must know his whole background and how he grew up. A few years ago the former Stelton children had a reunion at young Jim’s house on Long Island and the question was asked, What was it about Stelton and the other schools that stays with us so much, that makes us feel as we do about them? Love? Freedom? I thought of it later, and it struck me that the answer was security, the security of the family, of being part of one big close-knit family, which they had lacked before they came to the school. That’s what they had, the feeling of security, of a family, of home.

Macie Pope

Huntington Beach, California, June 23, 1974

Macie Pope, born in 1884, was the daughter of Oliver A. Verity, a founder of Home Colony near Tacoma, Washington. She and her brother Kenneth set type

-- for the colony paper, The New Era (1897), and her husband, Charles L. Govan, edited and printed its successor, Discontent (1898-1902).

I was BORN in 1884 and will be ninety come December. I came to Home at the start, when I was eleven years old. The men cut cordwood for a living. They built a flume and flumed it down to the bay, put it on a raft, and sold it to the steamer Captain [Edward] Lorenz, who ran the steamer, was a good man. He took the kids free to town. It was hard sledding at first. B. F. Odell was the blacksmith. He had one daughter. They moved away. We three families divided our milk right to the cupful. We shared and shared alike. Later on, greed came in as new members came in and bought up land for speculation.

My brother and I helped set type for The New Era, the first colony paper. We had a little hand press. Then we had paper-foldings when we’d all get together and fold the paper for mailing. I also helped set type for Discontent, the next paper published at Home. We got our own groceries by a steamboat called the Otto. We used to meet it in rowboats. We finally got our own store and butcher shop.

I went to school to Morton.456 He taught high school at Home. He was a learned man and a good teacher, quite strict. He didn’t have much patience. Once when a boy gave the wrong answer Morton said, “Billy, are you an idiot?” The boy snapped back, “No, are you?” There was an art teacher, Miss Mint, and adults took lessons as well as the children. We had lectures. Mr. Morton taught an Esperanto class that I attended.

We had a band at the colony, with Allen at the head. It was a good place. All our children turned out well. We used to swim, go to dances, and had a baseball team. Huckleberry picking was one of the main livelihoods. We picked the berries in the tall and shipped them to Alaska and different places.

Charles Govan came out and printed Discontent. I was much younger than he was. He didn’t know much about homesteading. All he knew was printing— a city guy. He went to Tacoma twice a week to take dancing lessons so we could go dancing together. We separated, and I came down with Kenneth to Los Angeles. Govan died up there around 1949.

Father was a good man, noted for his good deeds. He would run a mile to help someone. I’m very angry that Mr. LeWarne called him an anarchist in his article.457 Father was a good carpenter. My brother was a good carpenter, and I’m a good carpenter too. I helped split the shakes for our first house at Home. I taught domestic science—cooking and the like—to the school children at my house. Liberty Hall was up on the hill. The first floor had the print shop and the school. The second floor was the dance hall. A new schoolhouse was built, and Liberty Hall burned down years later.

I remember that Emma Goldman came out in a launch to visit She seemed more masculine than feminine. We were no anarchists. We criticized that Czolgosz when he killed the President. Yet the townspeople wanted to wreck the colony and would have if Captain Lorenz hadn’t stopped them. When Tom Geeves and his family lived in a rundown shack, they all got together and built a new house for them

They were dreamers who wanted to reform the world. But when you get people coming in from all over, there has to be friction. People got money- hungry. They bought up land for speculation. If it could have stayed the way it was at the beginning, things would have been all right.

They were idealists. They always seemed to want something beyond or better than the way it was. That’s why they named the paper Discontent. They weren't satisfied with the world as it was, and without discontent, they said, there would be no progress. “Discontent—The Mother of Progress.” That was their motto. Yet I raised my daughter there, and she turned out to be wonderful.

David Dadisman

Home, Washington, June 7, 1974

When I visited David Dadisman in 1974, he was the last of the oldtime residents of Home Colony, the principal anarchist community on the Pacific coast, established in 1896. Dadisman was planting vegetables in his garden when I arrived, a sturdy little man of eighty-four. He had built his house all by himself, he proudly informed me, and installed the wiring and plumbing. He cherished the old values of honesty, independence, and hard work, deploring laziness and corruption. Dadisman died at Home on March 3, 1985, at the age of ninety-five.

I came to Home from Virginia in 1899, when I was nine years old. I came with my father, Martin Dadisman, who had had a farm in Virginia The twelfth of this month will be the seventy-fifth anniversary of our arrival. Dad was a very good mechanic and invented a new seed drill. I still have a copy of the patent. But McCormick stole the idea and never paid Dad a cent. Dad was way ahead of his time. His ideas are in general use today, but in those times they were almost unheard of. On our farm in Virginia Dad had a black man working for him and he sat at our table and ate with us The neighbors found out and threatened to tar and feather Dad and ride him out on the rails. He was so aggravated by their attitude that he decided he was going to get out of there.

Dad first landed at Equality, a socialist colony on Puget Sound, but he didn't stay there very long. A few people did all the work, while the rest of them idled and profited at the expense of the laboring. My dad was a very hard worker, and that didn’t set very well with him. I share that philosophy. So Dad decided to move to Home. There were about a dozen residents when he arrived, including Verity, Allen, and Odell. They were ordinary people, prettv intelligent and hard workers. They did whatever they could find to do: some worked in the woods, Allen taught school for a while.

" My dad came about a year before I did. I went to school in Liberty Hall, which burned down many years ago. Gracie Allen was my teacher. Liberty Hall was up on the hill. The dance hall occupied the entire second story. The first story had two school rooms and the print shop of Charlie Govan. The school was nothing different from ordinary schools. I’m the only one of the oldtimers left here. One of the Allen girls, Georgie Evans, is still alive. She was living at Horsehead Bay, but now she may be living in Tacoma.

My father was not an anarchist, or never called himself one. No, I never heard of Francisco Ferrer. I never heard of Stelton. James E Morton was another teacher, a red-headed fellow, a kind of crackpot. I remember an incident at school one day. A kid my age named Adius Smith—he was full of the devil— was cutting up one day.' Adius, are you an idiot?” asked Morton. “No, are you?” he answered. Morton was an intelligent fellow. I don’t know what became of him after he left the colony.

I was well-acquainted with Jay Fox. He edited the paper for a time. He was a good guy, a printer. His wife Cora was a very smart woman and a hard worker. She was also an artist and worked in ceramics. I’ll show you some of her work [he shows me a beautiful teapot inscribed by Cora], She was a very good- hearted person. I ran the cooperative store here for twenty years, and she worked for me candling eggs. She died about three or four years ago. The store burned down a couple of years ago. I’ve worked hard all my life. I built this house from top to bottom. I have three children, and they each have three children. I have five great-grandchildren. If I may say so, I have a very nice family.

When McKinley was shot [September 6, 1906] the townsfolk of Tacoma threatened to come out here and destroy the place. The only thing that prevented them from doing it was that the captain of the steamer [Ed Lorenz] knew what kind of people were living here and he dissuaded them from coming over and raising the devil. Allen died here and Verity moved away. His son Kenneth is still living in California. He visited me a couple of years ago. He’s about ninety years old now. I can give you his address.

Donald Vose? He was a shyster, that guy. He did his darnedest to get these people into trouble. He was the cause of several of them being arrested. He was no damn good. Nobody had any use for him. Jim Tillman was the same kind of guy. Gertie Vose wasn’t first class either. She was a kleptomaniac. Every time she came into the store she would steal a bar of soap or anything else she could get her hands on. Her husband, it she had one, never was here. Her father, O. B. Vose, lived here and she kept the Vose name, so I have an idea she was never married. That Donald Vose—his real name was Donald Meserve. But Meserve never lived here.

Charlie Penhallow was a good, simple, hardworking fellow and jolly. His wife Mattie was postmistress here when they took the post office away at Lakebay. And it was never restored. Shortly after they took the post office away they installed R.ED., and we were served by R.F.D. till ten or fifteen years ago. Now we have a post office at Home. My youngest son carries the mail up here.

There was strife among the people here, and they finally decided to disband. There were no racial or religious antagonisms—that wasn’t it. There was one old fellow came here who dressed like a woman. They had a pretty hot meeting up there in that old Liberty Hall. One fellow shouted, “You can go to hell!” Another added, “I second the motion!” There weren’t any antagonisms either between the anarchists and Communists. As far as I know there were no Communists here.

I’m well-satisfied with my life here. You know, I haven’t had time in my life to do anything except work. There’ve been all sorts of people here—people of every nature. There’ve been a lot of very fine people here and a lot of shysters too. But the good people were in the majority.

Pearl Pottu

Home, Washington, June 7, 1974

Pearl Pottu grew up near Home Colony on Puget Sound. She is a member of the Key Peninsula Historical Society and has photographs and clippings relating to the colony.

I WAS RAISED next to Home Colony in a family of nonmembers. We came from a different background. Father was a minister, and we didn’t see eye to eye with the colonists, who were strongly antireligious, for the most part, and made no bones about it. But they were hard-working and decent folk, who minded their own business, and we got along well with them.

The school at first was in Liberty Hall, but they needed more space and built a separate schoolhouse around 1910. It’s still standing but is a private home now. Liberty Hall burned down years later. Another social center, called Harmony Hall, was built, but it collapsed a few years ago.

Joe Koppelle and Franz Erkelens built a tree house in 1908. Erkelens moved out in 1910 and Koppelle in 1917.

Radium Lavene

Los Angeles, June 22, 1974

Radium LaVene, the son of anarchist parents, was raised in Home Colony, near Tacoma, and attended the school there. He died in Los Angeles in 1991 at the age " of eighty-eight

I WAS born in Tacoma in 1903. My parents had come to Home Colony the year before. My father, Nathan Levin, was an anarchist and had read about Home in the anarchist press. The three founders, you know, had come in 1896 with a boat, a five-dollar piece, and a dream—the sum total of their resources. My parents named me Radium, which had been discovered about that time.458 My younger brother born in 1911, was first named Revolt and then Ferrer. He’s now a policeman in New Jersey. We had a little bust of Ferrer—with a goatee, I remember it yet—in our house. There was an Albert Parsons Grosse in the colony, who now lives in Seattle. '

I went to the school at Home. George and Sylvia Allen and their daughter Grace were my teachers. When I started, the school was in Liberty Hall, and then we moved into a new schoolhouse about half a block away (Mrs. Van Tyle lives there now). The education was fairly traditional. It was not called a “Modern School.” I went there till the seventh grade. Then we moved to Tacoma.

Donald Vose was maybe ten or twelve years older than me. He was a weak person who saw a chance to make some money by becoming a stool pigeon. After it was all over, he used to sneak out to the colony to see his mother and a few friends—beer-drinking buddies—who stood by him. We had a baseball team that played all the teams around Tacoma and gave a good accounting of itself. On one of Vose’s visits he was crouching on the sidelines watching us play when one of the older French colonists, Gaston Lance, went up and spat in his face. Donald didn’t make a move in return. He just took it.

Burns459 came up posing as a book salesman, looking for Dave Caplan. Actually he was hiding on Bainbridge Island on the Sound, and Frankie (Frances) Moore was keeping house for him there. I met Caplan many years later at a picnic down here in Los Angeles. I can’t recall the year—maybe it was 1945— but he was growing old.

After Joe Koppelle left the tree house in 1917, he built a house way back in the woods. He and his wife were very small, so they built the whole house very small—to scale.

Alexander Berkman visited Home, and Emma Goldman too. She stayed at our place and Ben Reitman was with her. Emma was very jealous of any attention that other women paid him. When Mother was talking to him out in the yard, Emma couldn’t stand it and kept calling him to come into the house. Reitman told ghost stories around a bonfire to us kids.

It was an exciting place. We lived near the water and Mother was one of the “nude bathers.” We colony kids all bathed nude. One fellow at the colony— not an anarchist—took pictures and sold them to the Tacoma papers. That created a scandal and “free love” accusations. He hid by the road and tried to photograph Mother on her way to her swim, but she always outsmarted him, and Dad caught him and almost threw him into the bay.

The kids sang Wobbly songs around the campfire. Miss Mint had art classes every summer. There were building parties when all the men got together and put up a house for a newlywed couple. Ernest Falkoff at thirteen was the youngest student ever to enter the University of Washington. He had a sister named Emma, after Emma Goldman.

Dad had a cleaning store in Tacoma, and Andrew Klemencic460 worked for him as a tailor. He was bald, middle-aged, and lived in Tacoma. Many of the most active anarchists at Home—Klemencic, Jay Fox, Sam Hammersmark,461 Dr. Reznick (Esther Fox’s first husband, a dentist; she later lived with Fox, then with William Z. Foster)462—came there from Chicago. Hammersmark went back to Chicago in the 1930s.

It was a beautiful spot. Groceries and supplies were cheap. So all kinds of people came to live there. Factions formed, disharmony developed. The grocer, Oscar Ingval, drank and the store got into trouble. I remember Father borrowing money from a friend in Seattle and fuming it over to the store, but it failed anyway. Law suits followed David Dadisman [q.v.] started it up again later. Finally the Mutual Home Association was dissolved. Families left, the older folk died out, and the colony days were over.

Philip Trupin

Nutley, New Jersey, May 31, 1972

Philip Trupin, a graduate of the National Farm School in Pennsylvania and of New York University, was the principal of the Sunrise Colony school in Michigan during the 1930s. He also served on the executive board of the colony and succeeded Joseph Cohen as general secretary when the colony moved to Virginia in 1937. During these years Trupin's eyesight was failing, and he was totally blind when I interviewed him in 1972. He died on September 5, 1983.

I am now seventy-two and am a graduate of the National Farm School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which I attended from 1918 to 1921. I am also a graduate of New York University, with an M.A. in workers’ education. I do not consider myself an outright anarchist, though I have a tinge of anarchism in me. Before the Sunrise colony was founded, during the late 1920s and early 1930s, I attended anarchist meetings in New York. The English-speaking anarchists, the Road to Freedom Group (Walter Starrett, Hippolyte Havel, and the rest), met on lower Broadway, and the Jewish anarchists met on Second Avenue below Fourteenth Street.

I came to Sunrise in January 1934, when I was thirty-four, with my wife Eva and two-year-old daughter. Our son, Joel Sunrise Trupin, now a professor of biology at a Negro college in Tennessee, was born at the colony in 1934. Another son was born in 1940. I was the teacher in the Sunrise school and also worked in the dairy, tended cows, and did other chores. I am “the Professor” in Joseph Cohen’s book, In Quest of Heaven.^ I served on the executive board of the colony, and after the move to Virginia I succeeded Cohen as general secretary and thus inherited the colony archives [which he later deposited in the Bentley Library of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor],

I supported J. J. [i.e., Joseph J. Cohen] throughout. Not that he was always right, but he had a constructive outlook, not destructive. The oppositionists, by contrast, were bent on destroying the colony. Cohen was a self-proclaimed assimilationist. He watched the experiment at Llano and other colonies carefully. He was a very able administrator but not tolerant enough of other people’s views and mistakes. But now I have some regrets for supporting Cohen so strongly. He was too aloof, abrupt, cold. “If you put a glass of tea by him, it would freeze,” said his Fraye Arbeter Shtime associates. He had a streak of vanity, arrogance, intolerance. Yet he was a man of unimpeachable honesty and integrity, if too individualistic and not really fit for communal life.

One reason that Sunrise failed was that it did not act according to its stated principles. We never really learned the meaning of the word “we,” of togetherness. We did not know how to live together. The oppositionists were even worse. Eli Greenblatt (“Yoine” in Cohen’s book) sat there like King Tut. Chaim Weinberg, the dean of the anarchists at the colony, thought Cohen too severe. Even the anarchists forgot what anarchism was, forgot responsibility and mutual aid, and emphasized individual self-interest.

An opposition existed from the start. The first question put to me when I arrived was, “Are you a septic-tankist or a sewerist?” Talk about opposition! I had no idea what they were talking about. When the first opposition left the colony in April 1934, Cohen thought his troubles were over. But a new opposition arose immediately, headed by Stein.464 And even after he left, there was an opposition of some sort. Take the case of Rose Dubin. Here Cohen’s account is biased. She and her husband, a butcher, came from California with their two children in November 1933. They arrived in the middle of the night after driving an old jalopy cross-country, and Cohen refused to come down to greet them. After she wrote her letter to the press, Cohen and his supporters were out to punish her, forgetting their anarchist principles—just like the outside world. She could have been reasoned with, had Cohen tried. Nor should Peter Wolff (“the manufacturer”) have been victimized—called up before the general meeting, insulted and humiliated. Cohen was a vindictive man by nature. Those “victories” of his spelled our downfall. Another victory like that, I told Cohen, and we are through.

The colonists were mostly garment workers from New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other cities. At most 10 percent were real anarchists. Several came from Stelton and Mohegan and one from Home. Among the Steltonites were the Cohens, the Farbers, the Keysers, the Bluesteins, and Minnie Markowitz. Freethought (“Freddie”) Albert had been at Mohegan. The other anarchists included Chaim Weinberg from Philadelphia, Yankl and Sarah Katzenelenboygen from Florida (they worked in the dairy), Sima Rosen, Cohen’s bookkeeper from the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, and Mendel and Shaindel Bluestein [q.v., Shaindel Ostroff], who ran the Children’s House. Angelo Di Vitto and Silvio Boccabello were dedicated Italian anarchists from Detroit. Paul Boattin, another Italian anarchist, left the colony and became a Communist. When he returned for a visit, during the Spanish Civil War, Angelo ran after him with a shotgun, so bitter was the hatred of the anarchists against the Communists at that time.

There were quarrels between the anarchists and the Communists in the colony, but this was not as conspicuous as in Stelton or Mohegan. We were all very concerned about what was happening in Spain. The murder of Berneri465 especially infuriated the anarchists against the Communists. Communists were supposedly not permitted in Sunrise to begin with, yet some did get in, in spite of every effort by the admissions committee to keep them out. There were quite a few socialists (the anarchists had no objection to them) and Labor Zionists (Poale Zion), however. We undertook to feed strikers—thousands of them—in the great General Motors strike of 1937. We sent truckloads of vegetables, beef, bread, and cheese to Flint, thirty-five miles to the south. We were part of the labor movement in a very real way.

There was just one school, with an elementary and a high school group. I was the principal. It was not “modern” but progressive, stressing activities and method. Children under four and over twelve lived with their parents, with the others in the Children’s House. Look at this photograph of the elementary and high school children. I was looking sad because the colony was coming to an end. Cohen came over to console me. “Sunrise will never die,” he said, “because anything I start doesn’t die.”

The school was part of the state system and had to conform to state requirements, thereby saving an annual tax of two thousand dollars. The high school teachers included Esther and Joe Swire, Eddie Kolchin, and Sam Perlis. The elementary teachers were Minnie Bluestein, Joe Swire, and one or two others. Rachel Stone taught music and Sam Gittelman art to both groups. Gussie Davidson was the librarian. Some of the teachers also did farm work: I worked in the barn, Joe Swire in the fields, and so on. The school was a member of the Progressive Education Association. The total number of students was about sixty. They went on to become doctors, lawyers, academics, workers, musicians.

For adults, too, there were occasional classes, lectures, and discussions, and we put on plays and musicales. On several occasions Harry Kelly visited the colony to speak, and Rudolf Rocker came once. Rocker also came to Ann Arbor to speak at Yankl Katzenelenboygen’s funeral. Italian anarchists from Detroit held conferences at Sunrise, and there were picnics and other gatherings. Israel Davidson, a nephew of Jo Davidson and also a sculptor, was a member of the colony and a real nut. He made a bust of Joseph Cohen, gave it to him, then later smashed it to bits, a symbol of his disillusionment in Cohen.

The Sunrise experiment, whatever its difficulties, enriched our whole lives. It was the most meaningful experience in our lives. We all felt that way, even those with whom we didn’t agree. You live intimately with other people, plan with them, think with them. Communal life is different: one for all and all for one. There is no stronger bond to me. It meant real intimacy, closeness. To this day we remain close. Some of the best times we have are to relive those experiences, those years. We visited the site in 1969. Nothing of the colony remains. It’s now just a large family farm.

Louis a. Gittelman

Bronx, New York, October 25, 1972

Louis Gittelman, the son of a Russian-Jewish anarchist, went with his family to the Sunrise Colony in Michigan at its inception in 1933 and remained until its demise in Virginia in 1940. He afterwards became a podiatrist and lived in the Amalgamated Cooperative Houses in the Bronx, where I interviewed him in the apartment of his neighbor Ahrne Thorne (q.v.).

My father, Boris Gittelman, was from Kiev province, Russia. He was a cap maker, a lifelong anarchist, and a self-educated philosopher who came to the United States in 1909. When I was born he named me Elisee Reclus Gittelman, after the great French anarchist and geographer. The county clerk asked, “What kind of name is that?” My father said it was French. “Oh, a Frenchman,” the clerk replied and recorded it as “Louis.” But as a kid I was always called “El,” for Elisee, which sounded like “Al” with a Yiddish accent. So I became known as Al, though officially my name is Louis.

Dad was a nature lover and had a farm in Bethel, New York, for about a year. He always wanted to be close to the soil, and I inherited some of that quality. We went to the Sunrise colony in Alicia, Michigan, when it was founded in 1933. We stayed there five or six years and then spent another year in Virginia where it moved, remaining almost to the end. I was sixteen when we arrived in Michigan, attended the high school, and worked in the stable tending to the horses. We had a breeding barn with purebred Belgian horses of good stock. The colony sent me to Michigan State University at East Lansing to take a four-month course in agriculture, with emphasis on horse-breeding, plus two months at the college’s breeding plant working with breeders.

Dr. [Jacob] De Geus, a Dutchman, was advising the colony on breeding, and it was he who arranged for my schooling. When I returned to Alicia, I took over the horse-breeding plant from the hired hand. I got no extra pay—nobody did.

A few other boys were trained in different specialties, dairy in particular, and we also took correspondence courses in animal husbandry from Penn State. In addition, the county agricultural agent helped us with modern methods and we got booklets from the state capital in Lansing. By 1937, from a small group of untrained individuals we had two thousand head of pure beef cattle and two thousand purebred Shropshire sheep, as well as two thousand Leghorn cattle, a dairy barn of fifty Holsteins and Jerseys, and over a hundred horses and many goats. We also had a beekeeper, a Russian named Dan, who doubled as a wagon maker. Each year we showed our animals at the East Lansing fair.

Joseph Cohen was a great man, a man of strong character and few words, but a brilliant man. Yet he was a hard man in the sense that he set high goals, unattainable goals, which were bound to lead to frustration and disappointment. He tried to mold a hodgepodge of men and women in a preconceived cast. But not all of them were idealists like him. Far from it. For many, Sunrise was merely a chance to escape the Depression-ridden city and to find a new and better way of life. When we got to Sunrise, in 1933, there were no streets, no electricity, no plumbing. The idealists could take it, but the others wanted to flee at the first opportunity.

I loved the outdoors, the sound of the wind, the sunrise and sunset, the change of leaves, the dirt, the animals—and I was very happy. I worked in the peppermint distillery, as a teamster, a blacksmith, a bricklayer, a cabinetmaker. I also attended the high school, as I said, and liked it very much. When some of us were sent to Saginaw High School for a time, it was very hard to adjust to the discipline and routine, and we returned to our own school.

The teenagers lived in a building called “The Hotel,” while smaller children lived in “The Children’s House.” A lot of the parents—the nonidealists— wanted the children to live with them and always asked, “Why can’t they stay with us?” In this and other respects it resembled an Israeli kibbutz, a pioneering venture in community agriculture. Not every city dweller could take to the farm, let alone take orders from a hired hand. They milked a cow with one hand and read the Forverts with the other. This meant considerable inefficiency and waste of time.

But on the whole it was a beautiful experiment, and up to a point a successful one. We had a workshop where we made our own clothes and a shoemaker who repaired our shoes. Our school differed from public schools. We didn’t have a rigid syllabus. We often studied outdoors. We were less inhibited than in public school. My older brother Sam was the art teacher. He’s now a mechanical engineer. My brother Sol ran the power plant for irrigation and pumping out water as needed. He became a precision machinist. And I became a podiatrist.

But as soon as things began to pick up in the city the colony began to collapse. It was a product of the Depression and disappeared with the disappearance of the Depression. When it began to break up I went to study veterinary medicine in East Lansing for a year. I returned to the colony until it moved to Virginia and stayed there for a year. When I left for good I missed it very much.

Like every farm we had fires, floods, drought, insects which destroyed crops. But our worst enemy was the human being. There were Zionists who you couldn’t get out to the fields and Yiddishists interested only in kultur, without manual labor. The oppositionists held constant meetings, often till late at night, so it was left to dedicated workers like Yankl Katzenelenboygen and Angelo Di Vitto—who worked from sunup to sunset—to carry the load.

Yet there were no police, no crime, no locks on doors. We had our own entertainment—singing and dancing, concerts and plays. We went to town in trucks for movies and ice-cream parlors, singing to and fro. The spirit can’t be denied: it was very much like what was later to take place in Israel. I think it was the adults who missed out. The young people adjusted better to the hard work and had a better spirit. It was the adults, not the youth, who couldn’t get along. If it had been organized Dy young people, who were less set in their ways and less easily lured back to the city and the garment trade, it might well have succeeded. We had help from cooperative exchanges, such as the Wolverine Exchange in Lansing. During the summer and harvest periods people came from the cities to help out, and they prolonged the life of the colony. When we went back to society, nearly all of us went to college and most became professionals: one girl a child psychologist, another a professor of sociology, and so on. Most of us did very well at college, despite the fact that we had attended a nonaccredited high school and had to take special exams to get in. But only one or two stayed on the land.

Ellis Grosner

Atlantic City, New Jersey, July 3, 1972

Ellis Grosner and his brother Abe were active members of the Radical Library Group in Philadelphia during the first two decades of the century. In 1933 Ellis went to the Sunrise Colony in Michigan, where he worked in the fields and in the dairy. When a group of colonists moved to Virginia in 1937, Ellis was among them, remaining until the end in 1940.

I WAS born eighty-one years ago in Poltava guberniia in the Ukraine and came to Philadelphia in 1906 when I was fifteen. My brother Abe was two years older than I. He was active in the Radical Library from the years before the First World War, organizing lectures and concerts. Later he was a fund-raiser for the Fraye Arbeter Shtime in New York and was active in Stelton. He died twenty- one years ago.

The Radical Library had a Sunday School and Abe was the head. I taught science, a subject in which I always had a strong interest, offering a course in astronomy with the aid of a slide lantern. Afterwards Abe went to Stelton as temporary director of the Ferrer School. He was very disappointed when he was replaced [by William Thurston Brown], and he and I and a younger brother bought a small farm near Pottstown, about thirty miles from Philadelphia, and set up a little school with a handful of students that lasted a year and a half. It followed Ferrer principles but had no name.

I was at the Sunrise colony from the beginning to the end, including Virginia. Joseph Cohen had come to Philadelphia, where I worked as a watchmaker for many years, to propagandize about the colony. It appealed to me at once. I love the country, I love nature, I love to work with the soil. So I joined.

The colony had a helter-skelter population, like the world as a whole. It had anarchists, socialists, progressives, and Zionists. The issues dividing the colonists were not basic. Human nature was the crucial factor. They always found something to fight about. There were even fistfights at the general meetings. The majority came to the colony because they had no livelihood due to the Depression. They had to feed themselves and their families. They were starving. They did not have the necessary ideals or principles. As soon as they began to hear that things were looking up, they began to leave, one by one, rather than work with cow manure or dirt in the garden. It was doomed to fail from the beginning. They were not the right kind of people. Try to find them! Ibu’d have to look for them like Diogenes with a lamp! All that 97 percent of people care about is Food, Fame, Fortune, and Fucking. The 3 percent with ideals are hard to find. I am one of them.

Cohen too had his failings. He made passes at other men’s wives. He rarely paid attention to anybody else’s ideas. Yet I was with Cohen whatever his faults. He was the only one who could handle complex business, like negotiations for loans with the government. Once when he threatened to resign the members almost fainted.

In 1934, when Rudolf Rocker was lecturing in Detroit, we brought him by car to Sunrise to speak. He stayed three days. When we went to fetch him, Emma Goldman was also in Detroit. It was the last time I heard her speak.

At the colony I milked cows and started a vegetable garden with forty-five different vegetables. I also worked in the dairy and for three years sold butter and dairy products from a truck on a route in Detroit. I consider my years in the colony very worthwhile. I learned a great deal about human nature. I have a full set of Sunrise News and Out at Sunrise and often reread them. My whole heart and soul was in it. I tried to organize a new colony in Pennsylvania after the colony dissolved but couldn’t find the right people.

I am a firm believer in cooperatives and peaceful change. I am a thoroughgoing pacifist. I reject revolution and war; both mean violence and killing. I refused to register for the draft in 1917 and had to hide to avoid prosecution. I am also an individualist and am opposed to trade unions. Strikes hurt innocent people.

Aaron Rockoff

Roosevelt, New Jersey, January 5, 1974

Aaron Rockoff, a Labor Zionist, spent three years at the Sunrise Colony during the 1930s, where he worked primarily in the dairy. He was a strong critic of Joseph Cohen, the principal founder of the community.

I was born in Russia eighty-two years ago, and when I came to America I settled in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and started a dairy farm and milk route. I was always a dreamer, and when I heard about the Sunrise Colony I got in touch with Joseph Cohen at the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. Some of the other people at the Fraye Arbeter Shtime had no faith in colonies, but Cohen did. He thought it was a bargain, but actually the company that owned the farm wanted to get rid of it.

The farm had some ten thousand acres surrounded by dikes. You entered it across a small bridge. There were three sections: Alicia, with the offices and living quarters; Pitcairnia, with the peppermint distillery and barns; and Clausedale, where we raised our sheep. Sometimes there were severe floods. We had a pumping station run by diesel motors. During one big flood Angelo [Di Vitto] and two other colonists stayed there for two weeks to pump out the water.

1 went to Sunrise in the fall of 1933 and left in January 1937. I was in charge of the dairy and for the last two years was also labor manager. Our biggest crop was peppermint. We also planted sugar beets and raised sheep and cattle, but none of this paid, even though the government gave us two hundred dairy cattle as a grant.

Only a few of the colonists were anarchists or otherwise dedicated to the experiment (I was a Labor Zionist myself). The rest were ordinary people. Some were out of work because of the Depression. Now at least they had a roof over their heads and a decent school for their children. But they didn’t kill themselves. They thought that God Almighty would send them everything from heaven. But it didn’t turn out that way. You have to work. But many of them didn’t want to. “Let George do it,” they said. And they saw it as a temporary haven. At the first opportunity they left. Also the climate was bad (fifteen degrees in December), the soil was bad, the people lacked experience and were not fitted for hard work.

Stein, Rubin, and myself were the opposition leaders. We printed the Sonrayz Shtime. But they were fanatics—about Yiddish and about their hatred for Cohen—while I was more moderate. I could talk to Cohen. Many times he would say, “What do they want from me?” He was a capable man, but he was dogmatic and didn’t like to be criticized. If he thought something was good, it was good! The opposition resented him and his high-handedness. He couldn’t make friends. Even Peter Wolff, who at first looked on Cohen as God, would tear him to pieces; and in Virginia, Angelo, one of his staunchest admirers, once threatened his life, so disgusted did he become! Cohen left and went to Stelton, where he started a small poultry enterprise. I visited him there and he was glad to see me.

At Sunrise I came down with pneumonia and was in Saginaw hospital for four months. The colony paid for everything, three thousand dollars, which at that time was a great deal of money. By the end of the third year I knew the colony would fail. So I decided to leave.

I went to Jersey Homesteads in 1937. It all belonged to the government, but the land was sold to the members. I managed the dairy with five people under me. I got forty-five dollars a week, plus a house. When we incorporated as a borough we renamed it Roosevelt. But I was a dreamer, as I said, and I look back on Sunrise as worthwhile, a good dream, not a nightmare. I still have good memories of the place, no regrets.

Eleanor Litwak

New York City, November 2, 1972

Eleanor Litwak is the youngest daughter of Joseph and Lena Smith, members of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime Group of Detroit and friends of Emma Goldman and Rudolf Rocker. As a child during the 1930s, Eleanor, now married to a sociologist at Northwestern University, spent nearly two years with her family at the Sunrise Colony in Michigan.

My father is from Zabludovo, near Bialystok, the same shtetl as Israel Ostroff [q.v.]. He came to the United States in 1913 on the same boat as Rose Pesotta. He met my mother in New York, and both became anarchists around 1920. He was a painter and she a garment worker. His father, though, had had orchards, which Father loved, and this love of the soil later contributed to his desire to go to Sunrise.

My parents moved to Detroit in 1925, a year before I was born. They joined Branch 111 of the Workmen’s Circle, an anarchist branch called the Fraye Arbeter Shtime Group. It had about ten active members and thirty or forty others, and maintained friendly relations with the Italian, Spanish, and Russian groups, though actual contact was infrequent. The Russians had a beautiful balalaika orchestra, and we often went to hear them. Among the Spanish anarchists the Vivas family, Emilio, Aurora, and their children, were close friends of ours, and we occasionally went to picnics and social events. The Spaniards, as you can imagine, danced magnificently in ethnic costumes. In those days we were still concerned with the Mooney-Billings case and of course with the Sacco-Vanzetti case and its aftermath.

We went to Sunrise in August 1934 and stayed till May 1936. Zina and I went to Esther Swire’s school (Philip Trupin [q.v.] was more involved with the older children). All grades met together in a small house behind the large Children’s House. There were around thirty or forty kids. I did third and fourth grades there. We did learn spelling, reading, and arithmetic, but there was an emphasis on verbal expression—not that many of us needed it! I was happy at school, but I did not want to leave my mother and live in the Children s House. I even went to the cucumber fields with her.

I remember Joseph Cohen warmly, and Father admired him too, and supported him. He had an accent, but his English was excellent. I sensed an articulateness, a beauty in his speech that was not common in our working-class and petit-bourgeois milieu. We remained friends with him afterwards. Some people hated Cohen—s’gehalten groys [he held himself aloof], they said. The Farbers also stand out in my memory. She [q.v.] was active, bustling. Angelo Di Vitto was a hard worker but a man of violent temper, who once took a knife to someone.

My father came to the colony with strong ideals and beliefs, and with a willingness to do agricultural work. He was Labor Manager for one of the two years we lived there, but he came to feel that, for an experiment like this to be a success and to live up to anarchist ideals, a more careful selection process was needed. Many of the people who came were simply goldbricks for whom it was a means of obtaining food and shelter. They didn’t like working in the fields. Yet if they had the $500 fee, they were accepted.

Beyond this, the weekly meetings disintegrated into verbal abuse and occasional fisticuffs. Father felt there was a breakdown of communication, that there was an insufficient number of people wedded to the ideological core. Animosities were ugly and poisoned the atmosphere. So we decided to leave. Father had worked hard, and his disillusionment was very deep.

We returned to Detroit. We occasionally visited Emma Goldman over in Canada. She was a strong woman with an overwhelming power, even in those later years. Rudolf Rocker visited us from time to time. My parents adored him, and so did I He took me in his lap and hugged and kissed me; and he talked to me like a person, without condescension, treated me as a human being. He was a gentle, human person.

During the Spanish Civil War there was close contact between the Spanish and Jewish anarchists in Detroit. But at the end of the conflict and with the outbreak of the Second World War divisions began to appear, especially when Jewish anarchists tried to help other Jewish anarchists get out of Europe The Spaniards and Italians saw this as ethnic bias on our part and refused to help. Father never forgave them, particularly as Jewish anarchists had helped so much in the Spanish Civil War. Because of the war and the extermination of the Jews, some Jewish anarchists, especially those with earlier Zionist inchnations, were given a push towards Jewishness, Israel, and the like. Ethnic differences were thus accentuated by the war. In any event, the movement was rapidly dying out. Eventually the anarchist branch of the Workmen’s Circle merged with a socialist branch, and today there are only three or four old comrades left.

Shaindel Ostroff

Bronx, New York, September 28 and October 3, 1972

Shaindel Ostroff, Israel Ostroff’s [q.v.] wife, was a member of the Radical Library Group in Philadelphia and afterwards lived in the Stelton Colony, where her daughter attended the Modern School. During the 1930s Shaindel and her then companion Mendel Bluestein spent two years at the Sunrise Colony in Michigan, founded by her old Philadelphia comrade Joseph Cohen. At the age of sixty-two Shaindel took up sculpture under the tutelage of Rene Shapshak (q.v.). Her work, including busts of Rudolf Rocker and George Bernard Shaw, was exhibited at the Amalgamated Houses in the Bronx. She died, aged ninety, on August 2, 1985.466

I WAS born Shaindel Kaplan and came to the United States from Russia in 1909, at the age of fourteen, settling in Philadelphia. My family was inclined towards anarchism, and we were immediately drawn to the Radical Library, founded by Joseph Cohen and others. Cohen was one of the first people I met in the group. I also met my first husband, Mendel Bluestein, there, and Harry Melman [q.v.], who came from the same shtetl as Bluestein.

The Radical Library was a beautiful thing—it had lectures, concerts, and other activities. Wonderful personalities, like Scott Nearing, came to talk, and the cellist Kindler of the Philadelphia Orchestra gave recitals. We had boyern- beler [peasant balls], tea parties, and the like. In 1909, the year I arrived, Emma Goldman tried to speak, but the police interfered.467 This was a major incident in our group. Emma was fearless, defiant. But she was hard—not like Voltairine de Cleyre, who lived in Philadelphia and belonged to our group. The human qualities were just shining out of Voltairine’s eyes, while Emma was a political being. Voltairine’s personality was fascinating. You could not help but admire her. But you could not get too close to her.

The Radical Library was very poor. It rented an unfurnished room without books for the library and only slowly built itself up, with used furniture and donations of books. It started a Sunday School for the children. Mary Hansen was one of the key figures at the school. She was shy, quiet, withdrawn, but a soulful, very good and kind person. Her daughter Heloise was a talented dancer. They lived in great poverty in Philadelphia and later in Stelton.

Abe Grosner, another active member, was scholarly and musical, with a good voice; he sang operatic arias. But he had a tragic life, and his talents were left unfulfilled. The group also started a summer camp, Camp Germinal. It was a regular children’s camp with summer houses nearby, a beautiful place in contrast to Stelton. We named it Germinal after Rudolf Rocker’s journal in London.

I lived at Stelton from 1920 to 1933. Financially it was poor, and it was not much to look at, but in spirit everything was rich and beautiful. We lived in a shack, but had wonderful times. The school was the whole thing. We came there because we wanted our children to have a modern education, not the American public school education. Freedom in education, living with playfulness, creativeness—with freedom. My daughter Diana was born there and went to school there. None of the children were delinquents. Artists and intellectuals came out for weekends and summers. Isadora Duncan came to dance. We had beautiful times there!

Joseph Cohen also lived at Stelton. I knew him intimately; after our daughter was born we left our shack and lived in his house for two years. He was also involved in Camp Germinal and often went down there. He was intelligent and able but a cold person; if he didn’t like what you were saying he would lower his head and pull his cap down over his eyes to shut himself out. Hippolyte Havel was one of the intellectuals who came to Stelton. He came and stayed. He was very nice, but an alcoholic. He lived there for many years. Elizabeth Ferm— Aunty Ferm—was set in her ways. You couldn’t get close to her, as you could to her husband. Yet they were both admired, especially Uncle. Marcus Graham lived next door to us. There are some people who must needle others, pick out the bad points. That was him. But he was very close to some of the more militant anarchists, like Havel, Abe Winokour, and Anna Sosnovsky.

When the Sunrise Colony was started in Michigan in 1933, a group of Stel- tonites, including us and the Cohens, went there as pioneers. The Stelton comrades gave us a big send-off. We stayed only two years, till 1935. At Stelton it was mainly the school that kept the colony together. At Sunrise it was not the school but the communal life and economy. Stelton was a product of the twenties, Sunrise of the thirties, the Depression. It was not an anarchist colony, moved by the anarchist ideal, but a group of people very badly off with no means of livelihood. Anarchists formed a minority, though the leadership was mostly anarchist. So, without ideals, we tended to look out for ourselves.

There weren’t enough dwellings at first; and though we had sheep, cattle, and horses, most members knew nothing about them. But they learned quickly, at least those who were willing; the others never learned, and never wanted to learn. They just talked, argued, and complained. The good members cut wood in the forest and sang as they worked. It was a marvelous thing to see. We had a communal kitchen and dining room for more than three hundred people. I and Minnie Markowitz worked in the kitchen as cooks.

The farm had three separate sections: Alicia, which had the office and communal house and most of the members; Clausedale, where the cattle and sheep were kept; and Pitcairnia, with the big Living House with some forty children—Mendel and I were in charge. Mothers used to come and butt in. Mendel and I also worked in the fields. I got sick from sunstroke, and we were forced to leave the colony.

It lasted only a few more years. Many members resented Joseph Cohen’s aloofness, and resented the anarchist core. Stein, although an anarchist himself and a writer for the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, made a lot of trouble. It was not just an ideological dispute. Stein didn’t trust anybody—especially Cohen. The oppositionists went into the fields, leaned on their hoes, and talked against the leadership. One issue was the use of Yiddish in conversation and the newspaper, another was resentment of Cohen’s high-handedness, and there were personal feuds as well.

After returning to New York, we spent a lot of time at the Mohegan colony. Rudolf Rocker was my favorite. He had great knowledge, was a great speaker, yet so plain in his manner towards ordinary people—he was one of the comrades. He was also the life of the party. And yet he was very sentimental. When he was speaking, after his wife died, he would sometimes break into tears. He was an example of a human anarchist. You felt that you knew him for years, and he was admired by nonanarchists as well.

Mendel died in 1957. After his death, I got a letter from Uncle Ferm. He wrote that many of the older comrades were dying: “So we come, make a fuss, and then pass on.”

Emanuel V Conason

White Plains, New York, September 23, 1974

Emanuel Conason (called “Red,” owing to his red hair and florid complexion) was the son of Joseph J. Cohen, a leading Jewish anarchist and editor of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. During the 1930s Conason took part in the Sunrise Colony in Michigan, of which his father was the founder and his wife was a teacher in the school. An interview with Conason’s half-sister, Emma Cohen Gilbert, also appears in this collection.

I was born in 1910, the son of Joseph Cohen in Philadelphia, and was at the Sunrise colony in the 1930s, as well as at Stelton and Camp Germinal before that. My middle name is Voltaire, after Voltairine de Cleyre, whom my father knew very well. My wife taught at the Sunrise school. Now we run a gift shop in White Plains.

There were no issues at Sunrise that made any sense. Some of the colonists who were the most bitter and vocal opponents of my father—like Aaron Rock- off [q.v ]—later told me that they wondered what they were fighting about. There were no deep issues. It all started when Eli Greenblatt was elected president and Dad secretary. Greenblatt couldn’t run things properly, so the duties of running the place devolved on my father. The first dissatisfactions and accusations started there.

Dad wasn’t a good enough politician. In fact he hated politics and politicians. He loved humanity in the abstract, but not individual people. Some felt he didn’t say hello warmly enough. You needed that to keep people happy. Meetings ran till two in the morning, night after night, with arguments over small matters, when we had to run a farm. They divided not over issues so ■much as among those who were with Dad and his administration (such as Mendel Bluestein) and those who were opposed. It always ended with quarrels over who could do things better.

But don’t exaggerate the members’ unwillingness to work. Most performed their tasks fairly cheerfully. When I was work manager there was very little malingering.

Beatrice Markowitz

New York City, September 12, 1972

Beatrice Markowitz, bom around 1924, lived at the Stelton and Sunrise Colonies and attended the schools at both. She afterwards worked at the Lakewood Modern School under James and Nellie Dick (q.v.). Her mother, Minnie Markowitz, an anarchist in New York and at Sunrise, died on March 18, 1990, at the age of ninety-eight.

I spent the summers at Stelton from 1927 to 1930, lived for two years (1931— 1933) in the Living House, and attended the Ferrer School. Jim Dick was principal of the school, and he and Nellie [q.v.] ran the Living House. I can still do printing, pottery, and silver crafts. We all swam in the nude and sometimes even went to school nude. The colony had quite a few vegetarians and diet faddists (one woman, hooked on grapes, even ate them mashed). I loved the school. We did no reading, but Jim Dick read Shakespeare to seven-year-olds; he loved Shakespeare. We learned weaving, basketry, and the like. The older kids built a canoe in shop and tried to harpoon fish The colony and school was continually changing as people with different ideas came and left. We learned some reading and writing by setting up type of our own stories with the aid of the older children. There was no feeling of being “in class.” Hippolyte Havel always sat on the porch, with his beard and protruding stomach, looking very dignified.

In August 1933 we left Stelton for Sunrise and lived there for three and a half years. The school there was not a Ferrer School, though it had some libertarian features: little discipline, no compulsory attendance, no imbuing the children with patriotism, and so on. The colony did not center on the school, as in Stelton. I can recall great floods in 1935 and a plague of Japanese beetles in 1933, which ate the crops and stampeded the cattle.

There was an “in group”—the Cohens, the Farbers, the Lifschitzes, the Bluesteins, etc.—and an “out group” in the colony. Some people Cohen could not accept; he tolerated them, at best, and sometimes shunned them. I loved the colony, being close to nature, with the feeling of one big family. The children helped with farm work if they liked. In a sense, the periods of hardship were the best time, as everybody pulled together and opposition dissolved. We left in 1937, when the colony moved to Virginia.

The Dicks had a summer camp at Carmel, New York, where I was a counselor for four seasons, from the age of fifteen through eighteen. They founded the Lakewood Modern School in 1933; it lasted until the late 1950s. About twenty children lived there; some were former Steltonites and nearly all working-class. The parents came out on weekends from New York and Philadelphia. The school and living quarters were in the same building. Nellie and Jim were the teachers, along with one or two others. I taught nursery school and arts and crafts at the age of seventeen. It was a happy place, run as a family. Unlike Stelton, there were classes and some degree of structure. I taught there for two or three years. Nellie still keeps in touch with the former pupils.

Dora Keyser

Los Angeles, California, June 24, 1974

Dora Keyser, seventy-five when I interviewed her, was one of the few oldtime anarchists still active in social causes. Earlier in the century she had been at the Stelton and Sunrise Colonies and taken part in a number of anarchist groups. During the 1970s and 1980s she was a tireless worker for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers, for which she made and sold ceramic eagle medallions, the union’s emblem. In addition, she helped organize food cooperatives and was active in the City of Hope and in the Kropotkin Branch of the Workmen’s Circle in Los Angeles. She also taught weaving at a local Quaker school on a loom that she had brought with her from Stelton. Dora died of a stroke on July 20, 1983.

I WAS born Dora Stoller on July 4, 1899, in a family of eighteen children in the town of Sokolka, Grodno province, Russia. My father eked out a living as a bookkeeper in a leather factory and as a baker. We all helped with the baking and selling. Father never laid a hand on any of the children. He died when I was twelve years old. My mother used to bring our groceries all the way from Bialystok in a little wagon. I was a very religious little girl, but in 1905 all the young people were involved in the revolution and I joined them. My older brother Max took an active part in the revolution, and as a little girl I carried the forbidden literature that he and his friends kept buried in a yard around the corner from our house.

My father died in 1912, and we emigrated to America, settling in Brownsville, Brooklyn. My older sister Lisa, already a revolutionist in Russia, joined the Union of Russian Workers, and my brother Max was the secretary of the Anarchist Red Cross in New York. He organized boyernbeler [peasant balls] and other events to raise money for political prisoners in Russia. He was -later very active in the American labor movement.

I started to come to anarchist vecherinkas [parties] in Brownsville when I was fourteen or fifteen. I knew the Brownsville anarchists well, like the Raiva brothers, Misha and Grisha. As a gesture of opposition to the capitalist system Misha refused to work and refused to eat. When he went back to Russia after the 1917 Revolution, he died of starvation.

Around 1916 I moved to the Bronx and joined Zalman Deanin’s [q.v.] anarchist group. I think it was called Germinal. We had lectures every Sunday. Trotsky and Bill Shatoff lectured for us. I heard Alexander Berkman speak in New York, and also Margaret Sanger, and I never missed a lecture by Emma Goldman. I went to the Ferrer Center and learned English in Will Durant’s class. Around this time I met my husband Lyova (Louis), and we lived in a commune on Eleventh Street; Abe Winokour was a. member. I worked as a finisher in the clothing industry.

Around 1920 Lyova and I moved to Philadelphia and joined the Radical Library. Many of its members went to Stelton, and we came there in 1922. I remembered how when I went briefly to public school in New York I had a mean, red-haired old-maid teacher, and I never wanted my children to go to public school. I had a very rigorous education With Aunty and Uncle Ferm. She had a class with the parents—I still have the notes—and I think I got more out of the school than the children.

Aunty and Uncle had a common goal and were great individuals in their own right. But he was very gentle, while she was very strong. She was a great woman, a strong personality, and she knew what she was after. She seemed to know the parents without even visiting their homes. Many of them felt that the children should be learning reading and writing, that crafts were not enough. But the Ferms created a whole atmosphere for the children in which they could move freely without being molested. She had no use for petty gossip. It was the kind of atmosphere in which I could learn together with my children.

But people do not stay the same, and a school does not stay the same. When the Ferms left, the school changed. And in 1934 we went to Sunrise. The life of that colony was a study in the cooperative communal principles in which we believed. That’s what we learned there—at least those who practiced it. But the Cohens were not right tor such an experiment. Sophie was an ordinary woman who always pulled for her own family. Cohen himself was sitting there mit’m hitl [with his cap] down, doing nothing to smooth over the differences among the colonists. When Rudolf Rocker visited, he was just the opposite. He greeted evervone, went to visit the sick members, while Cohen never even said good morning! Cohen, by the way, had no use for Rocker. Nor did Marcus Graham, who criticized Rocker for not speaking in public on anarchism after coming to the U.S. Graham called Rocker a “traitor” to the cause. But Rocker told me that Graham himself was the traitor, since if he had lectured on anarchism he would have been deported.

Lyova was not a political man but a dynamic and hard-working man, an electrician by trade. Abba Gordin468 came to Stelton a few times, and we organized lectures for him in Perth Amboy and other towns. But Gordin made everyone work while boasting that he never did a lick of work in his life. He used people and had little respect for them—a very difficult man. a house guest who gave orders to everybody. Maximilian Olay469 was a very gentle and beautiful person. Around 1920 we had a vegetarian restaurant on 103d Street in New York, and he and his wife Anna used to eat there often, even though they were not vegetarians. She was Jewish and he Spanish. When Olay died she took it very hard. And their only son died as a young man. She committed suicide in Los Angeles, in February 1957 I think it was.

We came to Los Angeles from Sunrise in 1938. We were active in the Kropotkin Branch of the Workmen’s Circle and in the Rocker Publications Committee. Dr. [Arthur E.] Briggs of the Ethical Culture Society and Dr. [Frederick W] Roman of the University of California used to speak, and some anarchists attended their forums. But there was much pettiness and bickering among the comrades. They quarreled for years—and haven’t stopped quarreling yet.

Jules Scarceriaux was an artist and a fine anarchist. He had a discussion group for the youth and tried to infuse them with anarchist ideas. He was a devoted anarchist in his whole attitude. Hans Koch, who had been at Stelton and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright in Taliesin, lived with us during his last years. When we aided refugees after World War II, he made contact with surviving German anarchists and published a book of poetry and two other books in Germany near the end of his life. When Koch came here he took care of Alfred Sanftleben, a sweet old man with thousands of books. He wrote poetry in fourteen languages.

When Koch died, Sanftleben came to the funeral with a tiny bouquet of flowers. It was so pathetic. We took care of him after that. When he died, I was left to take care of his library. I wrote to Rudolf Rocker and sent him a list. He chose some, and some Sanftleben had sent to Agnes Inglis at the Labadie Collection. The rest were given to the City of Hope.

The anarchist philosophy is a natural philosophy, and my views on that cannot change, except that whatever you can’t put into practice does not mean much to me. I keep in contact with young people. I try to live an anarchist life to the best of my ability. That to me means anarchism. I want a cooperative way of life. That’s what I am striving for.

Part Five: Ethnic Anarchists

  • SAM DREEN

  • RENE SHAPSHAK

  • LENA SHLAKMAN

  • JULIUS SELTZER

  • JOSEPH SPIVAK

  • REBECCA AUGUST

  • IDA LEHRER AND SONYA TUCKER

  • ZALMAN DEANIN

  • SONYA DEANIN

  • PAUL ROSE

  • IDA RADOSH

  • CLARA LARSEN

  • BESSIE ZOGLIN

  • SONYA FARBER

  • ISIDORE FARBIASH

  • ISRAEL OSTROFF

  • ABRAHAM BLECHER

  • CLARA HALPERN

  • MORRIS SCHULMEISTER

  • DAVID BABICH

  • VICTOR LYNN

  • WANDA SWIEDA

  • MORRIS GANBERG

  • MORRIS GREENSHNER

  • MARK MRATCHNY

  • JOHANNA BOETZ

  • LEON SHAPIRO

  • BORIS YELENSKY

  • MARCELINO GARCIA

  • SIRIO ESTEVE

  • JOSE HERNANDEZ

  • LOUIS G. RAYMOND

  • JUAN ANIDO

  • MARCELO SALINAS

  • GUSTAVO LOPEZ

  • JOACHIN EDO

  • FEDERICO ARCOS

  • H. L. WEI

  • RED JONES

  • BELLA WONG

5. The Frayhayt Group, New York, 1918 (Paul Avrich Collection)

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Introduction

Anarchism, for all its international pretensions, for all its faith in the unity of mankind, has always been divided into national and ethnic groups. There have been French anarchists and Spanish anarchists, Russian anarchists and Polish anarchists, Japanese anarchists and Chinese anarchists, united by language and tradition in addition to their political beliefs. Nor should this be surprising. For anarchists, cherishing diversity against standardization and uniformity, have always prized the differences among peoples—cultural, linguistic, historical— quite as much as their common bonds. “Anarchism,” as Israel Ostroff puts it (see interview), “does not wipe out nationality.”

This principle applies equally in the United States, with its varied multinational population. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when foreign-born artisans and laborers constituted the mass base of the anarchist movement, groups were organized largely on ethnic lines and their activities conducted in native languages. On occasion, it is true, different national groups took part in joint social and cultural events, and they invariably banded together in times of crisis (Haymarket, Sacco-Vanzetti, the Spanish Civil War). Generally, however, they tended to go their own way. “We had little contact with other anarchist groups,” recalls the Spaniard Marcelino Garcia, “the biggest mistake we ever made in this country.”

Be that as it may, immigrants from Europe and elsewhere played a major role in the emergence of the American anarchist movement. Germans and Czechs, Italians and Spaniards, Russians and Jews, nearly all of them of humble background, they provided fresh recruits from decade to decade, beginning in the 1870s. The influx of foreigners also brought writers and speakers, who came either as permanent settlers or on extended lecture tours. From Russia, for example, Bakunin escaped to the United States in 1861, Kropotkin came to lecture in 1897 and 1901, and Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, arriving in the 1880s, remained until their deportation in 1919.

The names of emigres from other countries are hardly less familiar. From Germany came Johann Most and Rudolf Rocker, Robert Reitzel and Max Baginski, to say nothing of the Haymarket martyrs. From France came Joseph Dejacque and Anselme Bellegarrigue, Elisee and Elie Reclus, Clement Duval and Michel Dumas. From Italy came Luigi Galleani and Errico Malatesta, Pietro Gori and Saverio Merlino, Carlo Tresca and Armando Borghi, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. From Austria came Rudolf Grossmann, from Rumania Joseph Ishill, from Spain Pedro Esteve, from Mexico Ricardo Flores Magon, from Japan Denjiro Kotoku, from India Har Dayal. From Britain came Samuel Fielden and William Holmes, W C. Owen and Thomas Bell, William Bailie and James L. Walker, Miriam Daniell and Helena Born.

And so it went from country to country around the entire globe. In the half-century from 1870 to 1920 more than twenty million aliens entered the United States, of whom tens of thousands joined the anarchist ranks. Up to the 1880s the great majority originated in countries of northern and western Europe, but shifting patterns of immigration saw a decline in French, Germans, and Britons, who had formed the backbone of the anarchist movement, and a rise of southern and eastern Europeans, primarily Italians, Russians, and Jews, who furnished a new generation of recruits. They flocked predominantly to industrial cities and became unskilled or semiskilled laborers. Some had been anarchists in their countries of origin and brought with them their radical creed. Most, however, were converted after their arrival. “It was the American experience of struggle that made them anarchists,” says Vincenzo Ferrero of his Italian compatriots, the exploitation and oppression of the workers, the poverty and squalor amidst abundant wealth.

The Italians (see Part Three), of whom Ferrero himself is an example, comprised one of the largest and most militant of the ethnic groups which made up the immigrant anarchist movement. They came from every corner of Italy (including Sardinia and Sicily) and settled in all parts of the United States, from Boston and New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they engaged mostly in manual trades. They did not, however, play a notable part in the organized labor movement, differing in this respect from their Russian and Jewish comrades, who were prominent in the construction and textile unions. Not that the Italians were completely estranged from the unions, but their role was inconsiderable, mainly because of their suspicion of formal organizations that might harden into bureaucratic shape, with their own bosses and officials.

To a large extent the Italian movement remains a shadowy subject, draped in impenetrable mystery, a “great dark forest,” in A. William Salomone’s phrase,470 echoing Dante’s Inferno. Originating in the 1880s with the first wave of Italian immigration, it reached its zenith between 1900 and 1920 under the tutelage of Luigi Galleani, a man of magnetic personality and ultramilitant views, whose disciples included Sacco and Vanzetti. Galleani, it has been noted, edited the foremost Italian anarchist periodical in the United States, the Cronaca Sowersiva (Subversive Chronicle), which ran for fifteen years before its suppression by the authorities, followed by Galleani’s deportation.

From 1920 to 1927 the plight of Sacco and Vanzetti was the chief preoccupation of the Italian anarchists, who labored in vain to save their comrades from execution. Afterwards the menace of fascism became their overriding concern. In Little Italys throughout the country the anarchists emerged in the forefront of the antifascist struggle, heckling pro-Mussolini speakers, disrupting rallies, and engaging in fistfights and gunplay. On occasion they also employed dynamite, attacking fascist clubs and Italian consulates.

Their main weapon, however, was words, as printed in Carlo Tresca’s II Martella, Aldino Felicani’s Controcorrente, and Raffaele Schiavina’s LAdunata dei Refrattari. EAdunata, conceived as a successor to Galleani’s Cronaca Sower- siva, was founded in 1922, the year in which Mussolini came to power. Apart from rallying the Galleanists, scattered and demoralized by government repression, its dual aim was to campaign for Sacco and Vanzetti and to combat the forces of fascism, in Italy as well as in America. For the next two decades the paper was feared by Mussolini and his agents because of its uncompromising militancy and belief in direct action. Capably edited by Schiavina, it continued to appear until 1971, when declining circulation caused it to cease publication.

The Italians, tor all their activity, were by no means the only major component within the immigrant movement. Equally important were the Germans and Jews, with the Russians and Spaniards close behind. Bringing up the rear were such smaller groups as the Chinese, Finns, Portuguese, Serbs, and Koreans. Nearly all nations and languages were represented, cropping up throughout this volume. The present section, however, confines itself to four: Jews, Russians, Spanish, and Chinese.

The Jewish branch of the movement, dating like the Italian from the 1880s, came into being as a direct consequence of the Haymarket tragedy. Indeed, it was the sentencing of the Chicago defendants, on October 9, 1886, that precipitated the formation of the first Yiddish-speaking group, the Pioneers of Liberty (Pionire der Frayhayt). Situated on the Lower East Side, the predominantly Jewish quarter of New York City, the Pioneers boasted an array of talented writers and speakers—David Edelstadt, Hillel Solotaroff, Alexander Berkman, Saul Yanovsky, J. A. Maryson—which made it one of the most effective propaganda circles in anarchist history.

In February 1889 the Pioneers launched the weekly Varhayt (Truth), the first anarchist periodical in Yiddish. This was followed by a flood of antireligious tracts, based on a parody of Jewish liturgy and ritual. To the Pioneers, attacks on religion were inseparable from attacks on government and capital. Just as every state, they argued, was an instrument by which a privileged few wielded power over the immense majority, so every church was an ally of the state in the subjugation of humanity. In their speeches and writings the Pioneers upheld reason and science against ignorance and superstition, which lay at the root of every religion. Their most dramatic weapon, however, was the Yom K’ppur ball, which, featuring dancing, merrymaking, and atheistic harangues, openly travestied the Day of Atonement, the most sacred of Jewish holidays. This aroused the fury of the orthodox community, for whom nothing could be a more direct attack upon their faith.

The Varhayt, meanwhile, proved a short-lived venture, enduring only five months. Its successor, however, the Fraye Arbeter Shtime, founded m July 1890, was destined to survive for nearly nine decades. The Fraye Arbeter Shtime played a vital role in the Jewish labor movement in America, and throughout its long life it maintained a high literary standard, publishing some of the finest writers in the history of Yiddish radical journalism. Its editors, an impressive group, included Edelstadt, the most popular of the Yiddish “labor poets”; Saul Yanovsky, whose administrative as well as editorial talents put the paper on a solid footing; Joseph Cohen, a founder of the Stelton and Sunrise Colonies (see Part Four); and Ahrne Thorne, converted to anarchism during the agitation for Sacco and Vanzetti (see Part Two).

In contrast to their Italian comrades, the Jewish anarchists, from their earliest days, took part in the formation of labor unions. They were especially active in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, participating in strikes, rooting out corruption, and fighting against bureaucracy and indifference. During the 1920s, moreover, they joined forces with socialists and liberals to prevent a Communist takeover of the unions, denouncing the arrogance of Communist officials and their fraudulent election practices.

Like the Jews, with whom they were closely linked, the Russian anarchists in America set their hopes on labor unions and cooperatives to achieve their libertarian goals. During the years before World War I, the Union of Russian Workers in the United States and Canada emerged as the largest organization of its kind, with a membership of almost ten thousand and branches in virtually every industrial center in North America, most notably in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The members, predominantly poor peasants from the overcrowded western provinces of the Russian empire, intended in most cases to return to their homeland and become independent farmers. “They were young, unmarried,” says Victor Lynn, himself a typical example, “and came to America, as I did, to earn enough money to go back and buy land and some cows.”

More than a few, however, were political refugees from the 1905 Revolution, who, like Vladimir (Bill) Shatoff and V. M. Eikhenbaum (Volin), had languished in tsarist prisons. Shatoff and Volin, for whom the U.S. was a temporary haven until conditions in Russia were ripe for a new upheaval, became the union’s most popular speakers, as well as writing for its paper Golos Truda (The Voice of Labor). Beyond this they were active in the Anarchist Red Cross, founded in 1907, which sent aid to their exiled and imprisoned comrades. With the collapse of the autocracy in 1917, the Anarchist Red Cross disbanded, and many of its members, including Shatoff and Volin, returned to Russia to take part in the revolution. In the United States, meanwhile, the Union of Russian Workers fell under the heel of government repression. During the Palmer raids of 1919 and 1920, the organization was broken up and its principal activists deported, only to be imprisoned or shot in the cellars of the Bolshevik secret police. Victims of the Red Scare in America, they ended as victims of the Red Terror in Russia.

For all the persecution to which they were subjected, the ethnic anarchists in the United States led a rich and active existence that continued for nearly a century. Anarchism, as they conceived it, was not something to dream of for the future. It was a guide to everyday life, a doctrine to be applied within the interstices of American capitalism. It would not do to sit back and await the millennium. What mattered, as Malatesta put it, was “not whether we accomplish anarchism today, tomorrow, or within ten centuries, but that we walk towards anarchism today, tomorrow, and always.”471 Such was the position of the anarchist immigrants. Within their circles and groups, within their cooperatives and colonies, they created an alternative society which differed sharply from the regime that they opposed. They formed, in effect, a network of anarchistic enclaves, which they hoped would quickly spread throughout the land. To disseminate their libertarian message, the immigrants, between 1870 and 1980, issued some four hundred periodicals in more than a dozen languages, several of which—Most’s Freiheit, Yanovsky’s Fraye Arbeter Shtime, Schiavina’s LAdunata dei Refrattari—ran for decades and achieved a measure of literary distinction. The number of Italian papers alone, including the numeri unici published on special occasions, approached sixty or seventy, an astonishing figure when one considers that they were produced by ordinary workers in their spare time, mainly in the evening and on Sunday. Furthermore, there were some twenty journals in Yiddish and comparable numbers in German and Spanish, of which Pedro Esteve’s Cultura Obrera is the leading example; and in addition to periodicals, a flood of books and pamphlets were printed and distributed, including anticlerical (e.g., Most’s The God Pestilence) as well as anarchist works.

Beyond their publishing ventures, the ethnic groups engaged in a range of cultural activities that enhanced their feeling of solidarity while enriching their daily existence. Life was hard for these working-class immigrants, but there were moments of happiness and laughter. They had their orchestras and theater groups, their debating clubs and literary societies, involving hundreds if not thousands of participants. They arranged concerts, picnics, dances, plays, and recitations, in which children as well as adults took part, imparting a new revolutionary content to customary social activities. “The picnics,” recalls Joachin Edo, “were a mixture of Spanish and anarchist traditions, with Spanish dances from different regions, Spanish guitar music, singing, plays, contests (such as putting a pig on top of a greasy pole as a prize for the man who could climb it).” The plays, adds Edo, followed a familiar format: “the oppressive senorito, the handsome and brave peasant who opposed him, the beautiful girl whom the peasant loved and the senorito tried to make his concubine, and so on.”

Attending lectures—in those days the longer the better—was another favorite pastime. Large audiences came to hear Emma Goldman, Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Pedro Esteve, and Carlo Tresca hold forth on the evils of government and the virtues of the anarchist commonwealth that would replace it. Anarchist schools, as we have seen, formed another part of this alternative culture (see Part Four). In addition to English, such schools, in which the pupils learned how to think and live according to their own lights, were conducted by immigrant groups in Italian, Spanish, German, Yiddish, and Czech.

By the 1930s, however, these schools had largely ceased to exist. Time had been taking its toll, and the immigrant movement was now a mere shadow of what it had been only a decade or two earlier. Its adherents, mostly in their forties and fifties, had seen better days, while their children, born and raised in the United States, were entering the mainstream of American life. The civil war in Spain provided the last great cause for the older generation. Apart from furnishing financial and moral support to their Spanish comrades, the anarchists in America, especially those of Spanish and Italian birth, raised a scattering of volunteers who went to fight against Franco. Some died, among them Cesar Vega of the Mohegan Colony and Michele Centrone, a veteran militant of fifty-seven, who had distributed Cronaca Sovversiva in San Francisco twenty years before. For the survivors the victory of Franco was a devastating setback. The coming of the Second World War seemed to many the ultimate madness, yet they managed to cling to their ideals.

Following the war, however, the decline of the movement accelerated. Many of the older comrades had already passed from the scene, and no one had emerged to take their place. “Those were wonderful days and years,” says Joachin Edo of the prewar period, “with a sense of purpose and comradeship and togetherness that has since been lost. The Spanish anarchist movement and culture are now gone, forgotten by the younger generation, who cannot even speak Spanish and who have no interest in the events of the past or the ideals in which their parents and grandparents so deeply believed.”

One by one, the immigrant journals were forced to shut their doors. Cultura Proletaria (Spanish) closed in 1953, Delo Truda-Probuzhdenie (Russian) in 1963, Controcorrente (Italian) in 1967. In May 1977 the Fraye Arbeter Shtime held its last annual banquet, an event recorded in the New York Times 472 In December of that year it ceased publication. After eighty-seven years, it was the oldest Yiddish newspaper in the world and, apart from the London Freedom, founded by Kropotkin in 1886, the oldest anarchist periodical in existence. It was also the last of the foreign anarchist papers in the United States, its Italian counterpart, EAdunata dei Refrattari, having folded in 1971.

Sam Dreen

Tom’s River, New Jersey, August 17, 1974

In 1900, at the age of fifteen, Sam Dreen emigrated from Vitebsk, in White Russia, to London, where he worked as a pants maker in Whitechapel. Soon after his arrival, young Dreen became a member of the circle around Der Arbeter Fraynd, the Yiddish anarchist paper edited by Rudolf Rocker, a non-Jewish German who had mastered the Yiddish language and taken a Jewish woman as his companion. Dreen at once was drawn to Rocker, became his friend and disciple, and revered him for the rest of his life. “He united us,” Dreen said, “filled us with revolutionary ardor, inspired us with his clear thinking and wide.knowledge, his love and understanding of art and literature and the values of culture.”473 In 1956, two years before Rocker’s death, Dreen helped arrange for the publication of Rocker’s The London Years, for which he contributed an epilogue; and in 1973 he helped organize a Rudolf Rocker Centenary Celebration at Toynbee Hall in London. Dreen emigrated to the United States in 1961, and I interviewed him in 1974. He was a small, well-knit man of eighty-nine, with white hair, blue eyes, and a florid complexion, spry, alert, and clear-headed. He died in Milwaukee on February 3, 1979.

I WAS BORN in the city of Vitebsk, Russia, on December 12, 1884, the youngest of five children (I had a brother and three sisters). Father, a religious man, died at forty-nine, when I was five years old, so I never had a chance to know him. So of course we had a very hard time. Mother worked as a seamstress. I was nine when she gave me as an apprentice to a tailor for six years. Every penny I earned went to the family. I did extra work as a delivery boy in the market to earn a few copecks. My brother was a couple of years older than me. When he was in his teens my mother began to worry about his being called for military service. She would have done anything to prevent that. So she sent him to her brother in London. He soon began to work and earn money, and sent us tickets for the whole family to emigrate to England.

Meanwhile I had joined the Jewish Bund.474 I was twelve years old at the time, and an apprentice tailor. I used to distribute their leaflets at meetings in the woods and was very useful to them. 1 used to read the literature myself, and liked what I read, so when I came to London I knew something about socialism and the labor movement. I didn t have time for school. Labor was my class, my university.

When I came to London, in 1900, I was fifteen years old. There were many landslayt [townsmen] there from Vitebsk, and they greeted me very warmly. The Arbeter Fraynd had just started to appear under Rudolf Rocker, who had been there already a few years. One of our Vitebsk friends, Zalman, took me to a meeting where Rocker spoke. He was a tall, heavy-set, imposing man. Milly was also tall, but thin. Rocker had a mustache and curly hair. He was not a speaker but an orator. Whatever he spoke about—literature, for example—you could feel that you were living through the people he described. Though he spoke a Germanic Yiddish—he later mastered the language and even used Hebrew words—and wasn’t easy to follow, I was deeply inspired. He made an impression on me that has lasted all my life.

It didn’t take long before I joined the Arbeter Fraynd Group. Right up to 1914, when Rocker was interned, I was an active member, collecting money, selling the paper, organizing meetings, and the like. The other active members included Wolf Wess, Lazar Sabelinsky, Shatz, David Isakovitz, Alexander Schapiro, Milly Rocker, and later Abraham Frumkin. Rocker also published Zherminal—the name comes from Zola’s novel—with Isakovitz taking an active part. (He later came to America.) The Arbeter Fraynd Group used to meet every Thursday, and we all chipped in to pay the printer.

The Workmen’s Circle—Rocker was one of its founders in London—had a Modern Sunday School. There was also a Russian Library in the East End, kept mainly by Socialist Revolutionaries. They had a daily reading room, and if you wanted to find anybody Russian you went there. Teplov, an SR, was the librarian. Cherkezov came there, and Chaikovsky, and also Schapiro and Kropotkin. I met Kropotkin there twice. He also spoke a few times at our club on Jubilee Street. Malatesta came to our meetings at the club, a very excitable man both in his movements and his speech. I saw Voltairine de Cleyre at a meeting when she came to London [in 1903], a tall, slim woman, very nice looking—not like Emma—and a good speaker. She was highly regarded by the comrades. John Turner was one of the few Englishmen who came to our club, a fine English gentleman, always well-dressed. He loved Rocker. Wess belonged to both circles: the Arbeter Fraynd and Freedom Groups. I once chaired a meeting at which Louise Michel spoke. She was short, plain, and bent over. She spoke in French and someone translated into Yiddish for us.

I got to know the Rockers well. I was closer to them, in fact, than to my own family. I ate there, sometimes slept there, even played cards there—but the “money” was matches! One day Rudolf and Milly were walking in Whitechapel and passed my house. They stopped in and he told my mother, “Don’t worry, your son is in good hands.” Rocker got visits from Spanish anarchists and from comrades from all over. He spoke at picnics and demonstrations. You know, some people still have vivid memories of him, especially of his speeches, like Kossoff the baker, who supplied refreshments for the Rocker centenary last year. For my ninetieth birthday this coming December I’m going to London to spend it in the East End. How I loved that man! When he embraced you it was with real warmth and you could feel it. In the general strike of 1906 he was an active member of the strike committee. He picketed with us, slept with us, explained the meaning of “general strike” to workers who didn’t understand it. For him it was the millennium. He also took a leading part in the 1912 strike.475 I was active in the garment union and was shop steward in that strike.

Meanwhile I helped to get out the Arbeter Fraynd. But the Fraye Arbeter Shtime was a better paper, you know. Yanovsky was a fine journalist. I wrote to him in 1902 saying I wanted to distribute the Fraye Arbeter Shtime in London. He sent me two hundred copies a week, and I sent him the money every month. I used to sell it on the streets of the East End. At that time it was read. There were lots of readers.

I wanted to get to know the American comrades, and in 1904 I crossed the ocean. There was a price war between the shipping companies, and my roundtrip fare cost only five pounds! The Fraye Arbeter Shtime office I think was on Rutgers Street. I was greeted by Mintz, a blind comrade whom I knew from London. He introduced me to Yanovsky. Yanovsky was writing. He looked up and said, “Ah, Sam Dreen. Have you got money for me?” “Oh, yes,” I said, and paid him for the last month. “You’re a Rocker follower, aren’t you?” he asked. He disliked Rocker intensely. I answered, “I came here not as a Rocker follower but as an anarchist.” I stayed in New York about nine months, then returned to London, to my job as a sewing-machine operator, to my union activities, to the Arbeter Fraynd.

During that time I worked closely with Alexander Schapiro. He was very intelligent and capable, but I didn’t care tor him. He was too stubborn and overbearing, an intellectual who didn’t always appreciate the problems of the workers. The Arbeter Fraynd Group divided on the question of participating in trade unions, which I, as a worker and shop steward, strongly favored. Rocker remained impartial, but Schapiro was uncompromising in opposing the submerging of anarchist principles in trade unionism. We used to argue, but it didn’t interfere with our friendship.

In 1929, when I went to a Zionist conference in Zurich, I stopped in Berlin to visit Rudolf and Milly. He embraced me with such warmth, so tightly that he wouldn’t let go. They gave me Schapiro’s address in Paris, where he was living illegally. I went to his apartment and knocked on the door. A young woman opened it, a very nice girl but not his wife Tanya, whom I had known well in London. You know that in London Kropotkin loved Schapiro, was very close to him, and there used to be talk about his marrying Kropotkin’s daughter [Alexandra Kropotkin, q.v.], but that never happened. Schapiro came out and I had a brief visit with him, but he was a changed man.

When Rocker was interned in 1914 Zherminal closed down. The Arbeter Fraynd went on for a few years, edited by an anarchist rabbi! During the war I moved towards Zionism. The Balfour Declaration476 and the Russian Revolution, which occurred at about the same time, made a great impression on all of us. I joined the Poale Zion477 in 1916 or 1917. All Jewish organizations in London received a letter from Weizmann and Sokolow478 to support a Jewish home in Palestine. The Bundists in our union were strongly opposed to Zionism, and when I suggested to our union committee that we send a delegation to Weitzmann they bitterly opposed it. A heated debate took place, and the committee rejected my proposal. So I requested a general meeting of the union. A meeting was called and I asked that the letter from Weitzmann and Sokolov be read. It was read aloud, over the objections of the Bundists, and the membership overwhelmingly supported my proposal to sent a delegation. Not that I had abandoned my anarchism; my fellow Zionists in fact called me “the anarchist.” Up till today I’m still a dues-paying member of the Farband [Labor Zionists] in Milwaukee, but in my heart I remain an anarchist. There’s no conflict between the two. In fact my Zionism is my anarchism.

I visited Palestine three or four times between the wars and even considered settling there. I also visited the States and saw the Rockers at Mohegan. It was not until 1961 that I finally emigrated. My wife had a big family in Milwaukee, and in 1948 my older daughter and her husband went to live there. My son followed. (My younger daughter still lives in London.) So we went too. My wife died four years ago and I am very lonely. [He proposed to Nellie Dick—q.v.— whom he had known in his London years, but she declined.] But I go twice a year to London to see my daughter and my friends.

No, I haven’t changed my ideas about anarchism. In fact I have improved them. Rocker, when he began his activities among the Jewish people, was an extreme revolutionary. He supported terrorism both in writing and speeches. Ravachol479 was for him a hero. Yanovsky’s opposition to Rocker was partly because of that. When I began my activities I also admired terrorism. But after a while that changed. I don’t believe that violent revolution brings any good results. I strongly believe that the coming world will be a different world and that some day we may have a free society instead of what we have now. What is necessary in order to realize such a world is that people must change their hearts, their thoughts, their attitudes. They must get hatred and prejudice out of their system. Only such men can live in a free society.

How can that be accomplished? Only by education. It cannot be otherwise. Future generations will have more and more opportunity for a better education, and that will bring about a better world. Even now people are disappointed in politics and distrust politicians. Right now is a good time for anarchist propaganda. Too bad Rocker is not alive! A change will come. No doubt about it. It may not come in your generation, but maybe in the next. I am much encouraged that students, especially students of history, are so interested in our movement. Change is on the way.

Rene Shapshak

New York City, May 10, 1975

Rene Shapshak is a sculptor who lives in the Chelsea Hotel on West Twenty- Third Street and has a studio a few blocks away. Around 1958 Shaindel Bluestein (later Ostroff, q.v.) called and asked if he would give her lessons. She had done some sculpture on her own, she explained, and wanted to improve her technique. Shapshak agreed. They made an appointment, and he asked her to bring a sample of her work. Choosing a plaque she had made of Rudolf Rocker, she brought it to Shapshak’s studio. “Why, that’s Rocker!” he exclaimed. It turned out that Shapshak, an artist of some repute (he had done busts of Harry Truman, Charles de Gaulle, and Queen Elizabeth), had been an anarchist sympathizer since his childhood in Whitechapel. In 1975 Shaindel introduced me to him at the annual luncheon of the Fraye Arbeter Shtime. He vividly recalled the well-known anarchists he had known, about whom he spoke with unbounded enthusiasm.

I WAS born in Paris, but as a child moved with my family to London and settled in the East End. One day, in 1913 or 1914, someone on the street asked me for directions. I conducted the man to his destination and inside saw Rocker, Kropotkin, Schapiro, and other anarchists. They looked so interesting—the most interesting people I had ever seen—that I went in and stayed and listened eagerly to their talk, impressed by their warmth and friendliness. I saw Kropotkin on another occasion—small, broad-shouldered, with a beard—and visited Rocker after his internment by the British authorities in 1914.1 went often to anarchist circles and meeting halls; on the wall of one of them was a picture of workers breaking through the floor of a fancy-dress ball of the rich.

After the First World War I returned to Paris to study and practice art. There I got to know Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Makhno,480 Volin,481 and other well-known anarchists. Makhno was a short, simple peasant with a kind and generous nature. He spoke French haltingly and had a Jewish girlfriend. Volin was a real intellectual and poet and Berkman a wonderfully -fine man. I visited Makhno several times in his rooms. I also met a group of Chinese students but cannot recall their names. I knew Sholem Schwartz- bard482 and was with him in a cafe just a few hours before he killed Petliura. He was very calm and self-possessed and gave no sign of what he was about to do. He was a fine watchmaker; all the comrades went to him to have their watches fixed. I later knew him well in South Africa, where he died in the 1940s. I came to the U.S. in the early 1950s.

I still remain enthusiastic about anarchism, though I never took part in the movement. As a young man I read Marx (including Capital) and other socialists and anarchists. I found the anarchists the most sympathetic, the most attractive, the most to my taste, the nicest also as people, with their beautiful ideal. There ought to be an anarchist museum in New York for anarchist literature and art, something like the Kropotkin Museum in Moscow, for there is a close relationship, I feel, between anarchism and the arts.

Lena Shlakman

New York City, January 23 and 24, 1974483

In 1973, when Rudolf Rocker’s son Fermin (q.v.) returned to London, the city where he was bom, he asked me to visit an old comrade of his father’s, Lena Shlakman, who lived in the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, not far from my apartment in Manhattan. One afternoon, having received a letter from Fermin, I walked over to the nursing home to convey his regards to her. I found her an alert woman who appeared to be in her eighties. In fact, she had celebrated her 101st birthday the previous month. I had meant to stay only a few minutes, but her personality was so charming and her conversation so vivid that I took out my pen and wrote down what she said. I stayed well over an hour and had to return the next day to hear the rest of her story. Lena died on June 14, 1975, at the age of 102.484

I WAS BORN Lena Hendler in Vilna in December 1872. My father died before I was born, when my mother was in her fifth month. Mother remarried and I went to live with my grandparents. As a teenage girl I got a job in an envelope factory, pasting on the glue. That was in the late 1880s, under Tsar Alexander III, when the socialist movement