Believe me, us kids used to be on the lookout; we was ready for anything. An’ there wasn’t very much got by us either.
I remember once I was in a one-armed restaurant–the place did a thriving business, an’ along about midnight, ‘specially when it was cold, we used to go in to soak up some heat. They used to kick us out, but sometimes we’d buy some coffee–and, an’ then they’d have to let us stay a while anyway.
Well, as I was sayin’ I was in there one night–it was maybe twelve-one o’clock–when a guy comes in with what looks like a laundry package under ‘is arm, an’ I’m on the make as usual, alert. It looked like a laundry package, but it was all wrapped up nice an’ I figured it wasn’t no laundry. He got him something to eat; and ‘ ‘e walked over to a seat; an’ this package, he sat on it.
Me, I go buy myself a cup of coffee, an’ I sit down in the seat right next to him. I keep dawdlin’ an’ dawdlin’ over my coffee, an’ I almost don’t make it last. I figured maybe ‘ed forget that package. I kept busy readin’ one of my papers. It must’ve been along about one o’clock in the morning.
Sure enough, when ‘e gets up, ‘e forgets to take the package, an’ quick as a flash I grab it an’ put it in between my papers, an’ then I walk out. When I open it up a few blocks away, there’s a classy silk shirt. I figure it must-‘ve cost seven-eight dollars, maybe ten. I couldn’t do much with a thing like that.
But I get a bright idea. It won’t do me no harm, I figure, to be on the good side o’ one o’ the circulation men, an’ I offer it to ‘im. He likes it an’ he says, “what do you want for it?”
I wasn’t figurin’ to sell it; I’d meant to give it to ‘im, figurin’ it wouldn’t do no harm to be on the good side of ‘im that’s all. But when he said that, me, I say, “We’ll call it a hundred an’ fifty sheets.” That’d be about ninety cents. No! – in those days the war was on an’ the price was raised to a penny, to us kids. A dollar an’ a half was all I got for it, in papers.