Waiting for their wages. – Deluded Canadians.
The striking workmen on the Rockway Beach Hotel refuse to accept the receiver’s bonds, bearing no date of redemption, which the company offered them in payment of their back wages, as it was ascertained that such bonds would be worth very little for negotiation. Meantime, the men live in camps on the beach, suffering from want of food and being greatly disheartened. A New York paper says;
There are at this moment about half a thousand men on the beach, doing no work, but idly wandering from place to place and breathing threats against the company. A large proportion of them are French Canadians, who are waiting for their pay to start for their homes in the north, and are now left destitute and full of anger on the beach. Even without the report of the committee sent to ascertain the value of the bonds, these men would not have taken them. Their lack of knowledge of the English tongue makes it almost impossible to offer any explanation that would be intelligible to them, and they are for the most part firmly impressed with the conviction that the company is deliberately attempting to swindle them. There are many others whose homes are in the far west, and who, anticipating a summer of lucrative work by the seaside, took their wives and children to Rockaway Beach. In too many instances dire distress has fallen upon this class. Those dependent upon them usually lodge in New York, and only visit the beach at certain periods during the week. But the stoppage of wages has almost ended these family reunions, for not many of the men have money enough to pay their own fare to the city, or to bring their wives to the beach.
“It a most drives me mad,” said a stalwart carpenter yesterday, who explained: “I came from Buffalo, with my wife and two little children, and at first I brought them down here, and we all lived together. I thought it was a great thing for me to get such work as this, not because the pay was particularly good, but on account of the sea air for the little ones. That part of my plan did not last long. On June 15, I received my last pay, and when July came and I got no money, I sent my family to a lodging house that I knew something about in New York. I thought the land lady would board them until the company paid us, but last Wednesday I received a letter from her warning me that if I did not send her some money by Saturday she would be obliged to turn my wife and children into the street. I suppose, I should not blame her. She wants her money and can’t afford to support lodgers for nothing, but I can’t pay her. I spent my last 3 cents for a stamp on Thursday, and wrote to my wife. I have had no reply, and I suppose she has no money to get a stamp. I have no doubt that she and the children were turned out yesterday, and are wandering about the streets of a strange city to-night. And here am I on the strand, doing nothing, and ready to start for New York at two minutes’ notice if I could buy a ticket. I tell, you, sir, when that infernal bond was offered to me a few days ago the recollection of what I owe to my fellow workmen was all that prevented me from taking it and selling it for enough money to pay my fare to the city,”
On one of the evening trains, about to start for New York, sat a young woman, dressed in black, and crying bitterly. Her husband, his own voice husky and his eyes moist, was trying to console her. She had been told that the men had been paid off in full on Saturday night, and hastened down to the beach by an early train on Sunday morning to bring him home with her. She was about to return alone, for there was no place for her to sleep there, and no money to enable her husband to go back with her. The bell rang and the train moved away, the woman sitting in a corner of the rear car with her face buried in her handkerchief, with which she had just waved a last adieu to the man, who stood upon the platform gazing with a very fixed and hard expression of face at the departing train.
“Oh, I am all right,” he said, as he turned around with a bitter laugh when spoken to. “There is no fear of me starving. I have not been turned out of my boarding house, and I have plenty to eat. But what my wife is going to do is more than I or she can tell. The poor girl brought me down clean clothes this morning, thinking I was going back with her; and there she goes alone, and without five cents in her pocket. I tell you it is not upon us that this thing falls. It is our families that suffer. Very few of us have been turned out of our boarding houses, and those that have, sleep comfortable enough in tents or under the sky, and manage to get enough food to support themselves. But, if something is not done pretty soon to relieve our wives and children there will be trouble.”
As far as can be gathered up to the present only one man has experienced absolute starvation, and, to a great extent, his fate was due rather to his own imprudence than to the misfortune which he shared in common with the other workmen,