By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1938, 1, 4.
Summary: Another appeal has gone out entrusting their needs to St. Joseph. Notes how busy everyone is at the office, on the breadline, and on the farm. (Someone had noted the hordes of young men around the CW and wondered what they do.) Mentions that public works such as bridge building can be considered works of mercy. (DDLW #333).
This month, on the feast of St. Joseph, we started sending out our appeal, which we find necessary to do about twice a year. I wrote it down at Fr. Joachim’s place at Silver Springs, where I was staying with the Missionary servants for a few days to hand over my finished book to them. (Conversion.)
I wrote the appeal in a little room right off the chapel, than I took it and read it to our Lord, St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother (though the flesh of Jesus was the flesh of Mary, I list St. Joseph first because he was the head of the house).
So now I can tell our creditors with complete conviction that our bills will be taken care of within a month.
Last time we sent out an appeal the printer called up, and Julia told him, as we tell our creditors, Edison, Telephone company, printer and grocer,– that St. Joseph will take care of it immediately.
Whereupon Mr. Carroll, the head of the firm, having received the message from his secretary, wanted to know “who this man Joseph is who’s paying your bills?”
Bill Callahan is on the road. Peter is also on the road and occasionally we get a postal from him. “I am in San Antonio. I am going to Amarillo. Your fellow worker in Christ’s kingdom. Peter.”
We don’t know where to reach him, (does he really think that he is minding my order to keep in touch with us?) And he is supposed to speak in Washington, to the seminarians. Will anybody who sees him tell him he has an engagement and to please keep it, no matter how fertile the field he finds stretching around him?
John Curran is down at the farm, recovering from a long drawn out attack of grippe and cold (he has been carrying on correspondence just the same) and Jim Schneid has gone to Troy to help with the work up there for a few weeks. Gerry Griffin is helping our carpenter (he knows nothing about carpentry, but he is willing, says Mr. O’Connell) and that leaves only Joe Zarrella taking charge of the office. Tim O’Brien is busy day and night with the CUU and John Cort, Pat Whalen and Martin Flynn likewise on the ACTU. Herb Welch and Cy Echele are out selling papers every day and John Mella’s on the job pounding an adding machine all day. They all take turns on the coffee line and Jim Braizel, general handy man around Mott Street (he has a sly wit, so Miss Clements calls him impudent), fills in everywhere. Dan the bursar is on hand from nine to nine, and Frank and Kate Smith keep the circulation part going. Stanley has deserted the street apostolate for the time being to be a drawer of water and hewer of wood on the farm. But Big Dan is always out, making himself seen and heard (very much heard) on the streets of New York.
(Somebody was talking about the hordes of young men around the CW and what do they do to make themselves useful. Hence the above accounting, rather sketchy.)
They do indeed look like an awful swarm crowded into one of the little offices when there are visitors and interesting conversation going on. Then other times visitors come and there is no one around,–everybody is off performing one or another of the works of mercy and over the telephone come calls for this one or that and they cannot be found.
It’s all Peter’s fault. He says that journalists must make history as well as write it, so we do not really consider ourselves to be editors anchored behind desks from nine to five. We are out and around, and our friends knowing these irregular habits don’t mind calling to find out when to reach us. Many of our visitors come at ten or eleven at night, and some we find waiting for us when we get up in the morning. One young priest coming into town early one morning (he was from Duluth) saw the line and just stood on it. It was the surest way of finding one of the crowd. Up to ten they’re not in the office but on the line or in the kitchen.
Last month the office was filled from morning to night. Most illustrious guest was Prince Lowenstein of Austria, a person we all liked immensely though one of our crowd who’d spent a good deal of his past as a transient worker and familiar of Bowery and Skid Row inhabitants was rather stiff necked on meeting him though he said after he left “he’s a prince all right,” spelling it with a small letter to compliment him. We grieve with him now at the fate of his beloved country. The Catholics there too are going to have to “complete the sufferings of Christ.”
The Baroness de Hueck spent a few weeks with us (she also is a familiar of the least of Christ’s children).
Father Tompkins from Nova Scotia was a visitor and a stimulating one, and we promised him when we got the money we would get out a pamphlet on the works of mercy brought up to date to include credit unions and cooperatives. He told us that in the Middle Ages bridge building and such like public works carried indulgences with them and could be considered works of mercy.