Judge Hooper on the Strike Situation
by Ellis Parker Butler
Our eminent jurist, Justice of the Peace Lem Hooper, looked over his spectacles at the three damaged individuals standing at the bar.
"What's the charge, Durfey?" he asked his court-officer.
Mr. Durfey turned and dragged forward a small man who seemed to be in a condition of permanent daze. As soon as the small man reached the railing he began to weep.
"I admit it, your honor," he quavered pitifully. "I'm guilty!"
"Now! now!" Judge Hooper soothed. "Don't get excited. Be calm. Just keep quiet and say nothing until you are asked to speak. Now, Durfey, what is it?"
"Well, your honor," said Durfey, "this here little felly is a citizen --"
"He acts like one," admitted Judge Hooper. "He's as scared as a plain citizen usually is when he comes to court, not knowing whether he'll be hung for owning a dog or shot at sunrise for leaving the lid of his garbage pail ajar."
"Get on with it, Durfey," urged the justice. "Who are these three?"
"This gentleman with the bum eye, judge," said Durfey, "is Seppi Verdi, a member of the Riverbank Macaroni-makers' Union, No. 34, and is one of them lads that is on strike down at Imparato's Macaroni Factory on Eighth Street. He bounced a brick off of the head of this Gus Bonzoni with his head tied up, who is a member of the Non-union Macaroni-makers' Union, No. 16. And this gent with the busted wrist is Horatio Clancy, member of Bricklayers' Union, No. 654. He's on strike at the new factory they are putting up across from the macaroni factory. He poked Verdi in the eye and Bonzoni whanged him on the wrist.
"The evidence, Judge, is that this Seppi Verdi was peacefully pursuing his duty as a striker and picket when this Gus Bonzoni came out of the factory where he was peacefully pursuing his duty as the man that got Verdi's job, and this Seppi Verdi picked up a brick from the pile at hand and peacefully bounced it off the head of this peaceful Bonzoni.
"All would have been well, judge, and according to Hoyle, had this Horatio Clancy not been peacefully pursuing his duty as a striker and picket in front of the new factory, being there to see that no son of Satan used so much as the butt end of a non-union brick, but when he saw this aforesaid Verdi pick up a non-union brick and bounce it off the head of the aforesaid nonunion Bonzoni, he was righteously angered, your honor, and hauled off his fist and soaked the aforesaid Verdi peacefully and thoroughly in the eye for, first, using a non-union brick, and, second, bouncing it off the nonunion head of the non-union aforesaid peaceful Bonzoni.
"And, thereat and whereupon, your honor, the aforesaid non-union Bonzoni became righteously enraged and mad and started in to uphold the rights of his brother workers, the makers of non-union brick, declaring that no man, especially an Eyetalian, had a right to say any man, even if he was an Eyetalian, had not the right to bounce a non-union brick off the head of a non-union macaroni maker, and he peacefully picked up a club and went for the aforesaid peaceful Horatio Clancy --"
"Now, hold on! Hold on a minute, Durfey!" said Judge Hooper. "I want to ask the witness a question. Witness, you have a tongue even if you are a citizen, haven't you? Where were you and what were you doing and what did you see?"
The citizen's mouth opened, but no words issued from it.
"Your honor," said Durfey, "he's too scared to speak. When a strike is on he thinks it's his duty to shut up and take his medicine and say nothing. The truth is, your honor, he was walking along the street, going to his home, when the row began and the three peaceable rioters stepped on him and, finding him in the way, chucked him through the window into a tub of macaroni dough."
"I'll pay for it, your honor!" said the trembling man, suddenly finding his tongue. "I'm sorry. I don't know what it is, or what it is all about, but I'll pay for it!"
Judge Hooper leaned back in his chair and stared at the little man.
"Do you know what you are talking about?" he asked.
"No, sir, your honor," trembled the little man. "There's a strike --"
"And are you sure you are a citizen of the United States?" asked Judge Hooper. "You're not a Rooshun or a Prooshun or a Turk or an Eskimo? You're sure you're a citizen?"
"Yes, sir, your honor. I'll pay --"
"You bet you'll pay!" declared Judge Hooper. "In this case I'm going to fine Seppi Verdi and Gus Eonzoni and Horatio Clancy each and individually a peaceful ten dollars and costs, but you'll pay! You don't know it, but you are the one that will pay it. That, when it comes to strike, is about the only right you seem to have left. You foot the bill!"