recall, with fevers attacking one after the other. Scarcely a day passed without someone's teeth beginning to chatter.
From now on I was a little more fortunate. I went to Meriden, Connecticut, where I worked in the stone pits. Two years in the stone pits, doing the hardest unskilled labor; but I was living with an aged couple, both Tuscans, and took a great deal of joy in learning the beautiful Tuscan language.
During the years in Springfield and in Meriden I learned a great deal besides the dialect of Tuscany. I learned to love and sympathize with those others who, like myself, were ready to accept any miserable wage in order to keep body and soul together. I learned that class-consciousness was not a phrase invented by propagandists, but was a real, vital force, and that those who felt its significance were no longer beasts of burden, but human beings.
I made friends everywhere, never by throwing myself at them, never consciously. Perhaps they worked beside me in the pits and at the furnaces saw in my eyes the great pity I had for their lot, and the great dreams that were already in my imagination for a world where all of us would live a cleaner, less animal existence.
My friends counseled me to get back to my profession as pastry cook. The unskilled worker, they insisted, was the lowest animal there was in the social system; I would have neither respect nor food if I remained such. A countryman in New York added his plea to theirs. So I went back to New York and quickly found employment as assistant pastry chef in Sovarin's Restaurant on Broadway. In six or eight months I was discharged. At the time I did not know why. I immediately got relocated in a hotel on Seventh Avenue, in the theater district. In five months I was discharged from here, too. Then I learned the reason for these strange discharges. The chefs were at that time in league with the employment agencies and got a divvy on every man they placed. The more often they sacked men, the more often they could get new ones and they commission.
The countrymen with whom I was boarding begged me not to despair. "Stick to your trade," they urged, "and so long as we have a house and bed and food to offer you, don't worry. And when you need cash, don't hesitate to tell us."