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"Fish or Cut Bait"

By Hugh Randolph
Editor, San Francisco Life

Everyone seems to be marching off to War these days. The flower of our American manhood is taking up arms to defend, to the Death, if necessary, our way of life. The Browns, the Smiths, the business man, and the boy down the street have all forsaken their normal way of living for the well-known "duration."

Everyone is ready–that is, everyone but the wine-soaked vagrant on "Skid Row." In the words of you-know-who, "Why isn't something being done about this?"

A few mornings ago we actually counted one hundred and sixty-two of these listless characters in two blocks on Howard Street, ninety per cent of whom certainly looked able-bodied enough to do something.

When you multiply this one hundred and sixty-two by some five thousand Skid Rows in America, simple arithmetic shows more than a half million units of wasted manpower.

Surely these wastrels of life can be coaxed or forced to contribute something to the War effort. If the cream of our American youth are willing to lay down their very lives for this American way of life that allows these squalid souls to sleep in the sun and drink cheap wine on the edge of the curbstone, the very least that should be asked of them is to pitch a little hay or pick some fruit. Whatever the means necessary to induce such an effort should be employed–now. In other words, "Fish or cut bait."

IN: San Francisco Life
September 1942
Published at 942 Howard Street, San Francisco

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