The iron door closed
heavily behind me. The sound of a huge key rasped in the lock. I looked
straight ahead of me, and about me. I was in a vast steel cage about
twenty-five feet square. The bars, set six or eight
inches apart, and making the web of walls and ceiling, must have been a half an
inch in diameter. There were about thirty narrow, iron beds, covered with a
brown army blanket, in three rows; approximately a foot of space between every
two beds. The long steel platform in front, must be, I
conjectured, the common dining table.
Behind the guard and myself
followed another prisoner with a mattress and two blankets. "We're a
little crowded right now," explained the guard. "But some of these
mugs will be leaving soon. Until there's a bed vacant, you'll have to get along
on the floor. Don't worry. You'll like it."
"Four months of
this," ran through my mind. There were prisoners ranged in odd groups
about several of the beds. Card and checker games were in progress at the sides
and ends of the long steel dining table. I might wander into one of these
groups and, providentially, lose myself. But no, I was too tired. I turned to
inquire of the guard if it was against the rules to lie down in the daytime,
but he was already gone.
I arranged the blankets over my
mattress, where the prisoner had dropped them, and lay down. But sleep I could
not. I lay, instead, for I don't know how long, maybe an hour, maybe two, in
that terrible borderland between sleep and waking in which the tortured mind
places itself on trial before and dumb and paralyzed court of shadows. It must
have been the agony of my body that forced the opening of my eyes; I sat up.
The afternoon had darkened
considerably, but it was still daylight by which the world was apparent. On the
bed next to which my mattress had been placed sat a grave middle-aged man
reading the latest issue of The Nation. How
shall I explain to you the nature of the relief which suddenly swept through me
at this sight? Even if you disagree with the editorial opinions of The Nation (as I do so often, especially when they relate to me or my business) you
should understand what it meant to me to see someone reading it. There is only
this to say: it gave me courage to know that someone who occupied that beastly
cage with me wanted to read such a paper, and that the authorities in charge
had no objection to it. The man had evidently been observing me, too, for his
eyes met mine as I looked up, and he greeted me in a mellow, matter-of-fact
"How're you feeling, Roth?" Another
miracle. Someone knew me.
"A lot better than I did a moment
ago, I can tell you. You weren't here when I came in, were you?"
"No, I work in the kitchen
downstairs. I've just got back. My name's Bill Paro."
"Glad to know you, Bill. So you're
in the kitchen. What sort of grub do they dish out here to the guests of the
stuff, unless you happen to be lucky enough to have a job downstairs in the kitchen,
the laundry, or the commissary. Then you can eat what they cook for the
warden and the guards. If you think you'd like it, I'll try to get you one of
There's a book I've been wanting to write all my life.
I think I'll take advantage of this enforced vacation to at least get into it.
Who knows, I might, here in prison, be able to accomplish what I have not been
able to even approach with all the freedom of the outside world. It will have
been worth while eating the rubbish they'll serve me up here if I can turn my
prison sentence into a fine book."
"Alright," he said. "You
go ahead with your writing. Maybe I can arrange to smuggle some good food to
you. It's been known to be done here."
Bill was not an idle promiser. Before his
release several weeks later, he had not only managed to get some fairly decent
food delivered to me, but he had done many more things to befriend me, and to
make my stay at U. S. Detention Headquarters more bearable. About himself, I
had learned from him that, as the result of a series of misunderstandings, he
had become estranged from his wife and four children. The loss of his position
in the U. S. Post Office, held for nearly thirty years, was to him a
catastrophe trivial by comparison with this bitterer loss. The only thing he
really wanted to accomplish in life was to regain the respect and affection of
his wife and children.
I wanted to do something for Bill Paro
in return for his considerations to me. On the morning of his release I called
him over and talked over his prospects with him.
"I don't know," he said
dubiously. "It seems to be pretty hard for everybody out there if you
judged by the newspapers. I wonder what there can be for an ex-convict past
fifty to look forward to?"
"Tell you what, Bill," I said.
"I like you, and it would please me very much if I could help you. I think
I can. When you get out of here, do your best to find work. If you're still
jobless when I am released, come to see me."
You cannot have completely forgotten what
things were like in 1930, after the three celebrated Wall Street crashes. Bill
Paro was among the first people to greet me when I finally reached home after
an additional eight weeks in
"I'm going to give you a job,
Bill," I told him. "And it's going to be more than a mere
job. I'm abandoning the publishing of special and limited editions, to go into
general publishing. To do that, I'll have to organize a new corporation. I'm
going to organize the new corporation in your name, with you as president. The
company will be known as William Paro, Inc. Your salary will be
exactly what you'll be worth - you'll start at twenty dollars a week. But I'm
going to do my best to teach you the publishing business, and your salary will go up as your usefulness increases. We'll make William Paro, Inc. among the most successful businesses of its kind in
It was fully a minute before Bill could
find the words with which to thank me.
I had my attorneys file papers of
incorporation. Bill was to join me and my wife several days later in signing
them in the offices of my attorney. On the morning set for the signing, he met
me in the lobby of the office-building. He was obviously agitated. "I'm
afraid I can't sign, Sam," he said dolefully.
I was surprised.
Paro proceeded to explain. "I'd
really like to, Sam. But I had a talk with a friend of mine about it. He's a
lawyer. He pointed out to me that you have many enemies and that you've already
lost several decisions on books. If I went in with you, I'd be liable to
prosecution whenever anyone thought a book of yours was objectionable. And if
you lost a case I'd get a long stretch as a second offender."
I could not quarrel with Bill. What he
said appeared to me entirely reasonable. But I wanted no further delays,
especially in the matter of the incorporation of my new business. My first book
for the trade was already being set up. I had to put an imprint on it. I had to
make plans for its sale. To save the need of filing new papers for
incorporation that might be necessitated by the change of names, I suggested to
my attorney that he simply wire
In view of the amount of scurrilous
lying that has been done on the subject, especially in a book entitled The Truth About
Hoover, I offer the above as a true account of the genesis of William Faro, Inc.
The first publication of the new company
was my revised version of D. H. Lawrence's Lady
This novel had become, without being
made accessible to the general reader, one of the most famous books in the
world. Because of the attitude of our laws, the objectionable words in the
story made it anybody's property. It was apparent to me as well as to several
other publishers, that there was a vast market for a cleverly revised edition.
If Lady Chatterley's Lover were
revised so as not to impair either the narrative or its vitality, it might even
become one of the sensations of a publishing season. The biggest of the
publishers, however, had decided against the enterprise, on the theory that
The usual procedure in such a matter is
to ask for permission from the author, or, the author being dead, his estate.
But to do so, I decided, would be to recharge outside interest in the project
and lead, possibly, to its issuance by one of the bigger publishers capable of
making a heavy advance of royalty. I remembered how it was with the publishing
of The Well of Loneliness in
I therefore proceeded with my work of
revision and publishing, without proper authorization; and, without as much as
a newspaper announcement of my intention, threw the book on the market where it
became a favorite overnight. My best hopes for it were realized. For not only
did the book sell rapidly; it was granted on all sides that I had accomplished
my revision without real injury to the book either as a sustained story or as a
work of art. One of my first acts in opening the books of William Faro, Inc. was to create a royalty account payable to the
D. H. Lawrence estate.
The instant success of my very first
trade book was gall and wormwood to both my seniors in the publishing
business, and the conductors of literary reviews who had sworn enmity to me and
mine on other, older scores long before. They raised a hue and cry about my
having tampered with a work of art without having consulted the corpse of its
author, and in other ways made a bloody nuisance of themselves. Well, they
couldn't threaten me into being respectful towards them. Nor could they stay me
from continuing to make money. But one thing they could do, and did: they could
blackball my future publications. And when my next two publications, Celestine, a Chambermaid's Diary by
Octave Mirbeau, and Body by Daniel
Quilter, appeared, they were reviewed in a manner that can only be described as
Encouraged by the hostility of the press
towards me, my old friend the vice crusader grew bold, and, in the May of 1931,
swooped down on my offices at 96 Fifth Avenue, arrested me and a member of my
staff, and accused us of publishing, in Lady
Chatterley's Lover, Celestine and Body
books of a lascivious and filthy nature. The book came, luckily, before Magistrate
William Dodge, an intelligent man and a fearless judge who dismissed the case
as unwarranted by the books themselves, which had been placed before him for
Defending myself and the books cost me
over two thousand dollars. But I felt that it was fully worth it. Once and for
all time it had to be proven to the vice crusader that the courts would not
sustain him as a censor of literature. I was advised on all sides to sue him
for false arrest, but I did not feel that I wanted that. I had beaten him
beautifully and decisively. That was enough for me.
I celebrated my triumph over organized
virtue by publishing, next, a collection of the short stories of the columnist
Mark Hellinger. I had been an interested observer of Hellinger's career from
his genesis in The Daily News to his
settling down to the more mature and more deeply humorous incidents in his
columns in The Daily Mirror. I had
not succumbed to the easy temptation to underrate his particular kind of charm
because he had happened to use a tabloid as his medium. I was afraid only, when
the enterprise first occurred to me, that Hellinger might be too prejudiced
against me by what he had read in the literary columns to let me publish a book
of his. I could not, as a matter of simple pride, undertake to argue .him out
of whatever notion of me might have been preconceived for him by his friends.
But nothing could stop me from telling him why I liked his sketches and why I
thought they'd make an excellent book. I did. And though he had heard of my
reputation as the enfant terrible in
publishing, and had offers from some of the bigger publishers, he was
sportsmanlike enough to see me in my own light as a creative publisher, and let
me have his book. The only other author whose work I have enjoyed publishing as
much as Hellinger's is Voltaire who has been dead several centuries. At this
writing, Hellinger is only sporting a crutch.
The success of Moon Over Broadway (the title of the Hellinger book), which I saw
through four editions, encouraged me to produce a dollar reprint of Venus In Furs by Sachor-Massoch, a
translation of Lila and Colette by Catulle Mendes and a prose poem by Anthony
Gudaitis entitled A Young Man About to
Commit Suicide. These books were certainly not produced with only a hope of
profits in view. They were not the sort of books one can hope to make much
money on, in the first place. But when a publisher has made money on one book
he is tempted to get out a few purely good books as a sort of altar-offering to
the angry gods of the publishing business, or by the way of showing that he is
not insensible to the more delicate aspects of his business.
* * *
The next big phase of the life of William Faro, Inc. was the publication
of The Strange Career of Mr. Hoover: Under Two Flags by John Hamill. There has been as much
lying about this as there has been about every other part of my business; so I
shall tell you how it came about.
There was during the winter of 1930, in
the Mayfair Theatre building, a book shop conducted by a young man who had
frequented my wife's ill-fated Book Auction at
One night this young man told me of a
strange man who had walked that day into his shop, with a manuscript. "A strange-looking Irishman, Sam. And what do you think
the manuscript is about?" I could not guess.
"Indeed. What's the matter with little Herbie?"
"I can't say exactly. Coherence is
not one of this man's solid virtues. But he seems to have some sort of case
against him. If half of what he says that I understand is true his book should
be of excited interest to any publisher. I told him about you, of course, and
he's anxious to get together with you. Would you care to meet him?"
I met Hamill (for he it was) at this
book store one afternoon several days later, and took him to drink beer with me
at Steuben's around the corner. He told me that the President, long before the
inception of his political career in
"If the facts are facts," I
said, "I will publish them. You will have to first of all convince me of
their genuineness. Then I will have to see a good reason for bringing out such
a book in the midst of an economic crisis."
"I can only undertake to give you
the facts," he said gruffly, and went away.
A few days later, according to promise,
he appeared at my office in
When I announced my intention to
publish this book, nearly everyone was horrified. Of all my undertakings, it
was declared, this was certainly the maddest. Mr. Hoover, it was painstakingly pointed out to me, was one of the
richest men in the world, and his position certainly made him the most
powerful. Even if everything in my book were true, it could have no chance of
success. The newspapers would certainly refuse to advertise it. The book
reviewing columns would give it scant encouragement. I would be lucky to be
able to get even a few obscure book stores to handle it. On the other hand, as
punishment to me for daring to bring the book out, there was no means of
calculating in advance what ills might not befall me.
My reply to all this was to make a
contract with John Hamill. Besides the usual royalty arrangement (and, because
he knew nothing about that end of it, I gave him a better contract than I had
ever given an author) I paid him fifty dollars a week for the ten weeks in
which he was to write the book. There must, under the circumstances, be someone
courageous enough to publish such things. If not I, who?
A few days before the actual appearance
of the book, an attorney who was at that time advising me, proposed that, since
nothing would keep me from doing this rash thing, it
would be safer and wiser for me to withdraw from the company. "I have
looked through your book," he said, "and I have no reason to doubt
its truthfulness or your sincerity. But I must warn you at the very start that
you are leaving one very wide loophole through which the enemy may be able to
get you and even destroy you. Yourself. Suppose your
facts are unassailable, as I believe they are? Then your fight is won - unless
they can divert interest to a phase of the book which is not invulnerable - the
character of its publisher. They'll just have to pretend, in order to defeat
you, that the arguments are unworthy of notice because they are advanced by a
man who has served three prison sentences. No one will ask why you served the
sentences; if you try to explain no one will listen to you. Prison sentences
are forgiven only in the heroic dead."
"What would you have me do?" I asked.
"Resign from William Faro, Inc. Then let them dare drag you into the issue."
I considered the matter. "I can see
your point," I said. "But it doesn't seem to me good sportsmanship to
attack a man and keep one's self entirely safe from attack. Don't you
see," I added, "that if I were not already an officer of the
corporation publishing this book, it would be morally necessary for me to
My lawyer could not see anything other than that I was laying myself open to an attack that would once more give my enemies an unfair advantage over me. All I could see on my side, however, was that if there were any evil consequences to be suffered as a result of the publication of the book, I should be there to take them. I wish now I had not been filled with so much airy bravado.
For weeks after the
appearance of The Strange Career I
could not take a step outside of my office and home without being followed by a
member of the Department of Justice. Even on the sidewalks of the city I was
jostled, harangued and threatened. My private and office telephone were tapped
and listened in on. The Post Office sent its inspectors to search through my
books for guilty stains of obscenity, and my mailings were so hampered that for
a while I had to give them up altogether. The climax came when one morning, on
entering my office in the penthouse of 1140 Broadway, five men who had
evidently been waiting, rose to greet me.
"I'm from the income-tax
department," said one of them showing a Federal badge.
"What is it now?" I asked.
"We have a complaint," he
replied, "that you have not filed income tax returns."
I smiled. "Don't you know?" I asked.
"We're here to find out," he
announced breezily. "Let's see your books."
I tried to block his way to the inner
office. "It seems to me that you should have definite information before
you come on such an errand. Either I did file income tax reports in which case
they are on file at the Custom House, or I did not. Now as a matter of fact,
income tax returns have been filed my myself, my wife,
and my business. I can't understand your wanting to look through my books."
The spokesman then took out a paper
which he said was a search warrant and proceeded with his followers into my
more private office where they began rummaging quickly through all the books
they could lay their hands on. To this day I do not know the object of their
search. After a while one of them made a pretense of calling up the custom
house where, he told me, they had just found the mislaid income tax reports.
When I showed the warrant to my attorney the following day he pointed out to me
that it was fraudulent, for it had not been made out as of a definite date.
But all my troubles did not come from
the subject of the book. Its author was the source of some real embarrassment
to me. It appears now that before he came to me, John Hamill had approached a
certain expoliceman, with Democratic connections in
You will therefore have no difficulty
understanding this expoliceman's indignation when he learned that Hamill
himself had written a book and that someone else was due to make the major
publisher's profits there from. I had, of course, never heard of him or of his
arrangement with Hamill whose contract with me assured me that no one else had
any claim whatever on his manuscript. When the expoliceman wrote me about it
and demanded that I immediately abandon the project I could only sympathize
with his loss, for I had already invested even more than he had, in advances to
the author, in setting the book up in type, in printing, paper and binding. I
could not see that it was my moral obligation to throw away all this because
Mr. Hamill, playing no favorites, had lied both to the expoliceman and myself.
I discussed with my attorney at great
length a plan whereby we might compel Mr. Hamill to repay the expoliceman out
of the royalties earned by the book. But my attorney had no sooner introduced
himself to the expoliceman in court than the latter assumed such an unruly and
violent attitude that it became clear that it would be impossible to deal with
him on that basis. Our defense against the expoliceman's attempt to enjoin the
sale of the book cost me thousands of dollars in attorney's fees. But that was
not the worst of it. It gave the friends of the President, who were otherwise
at a loss as how to defend him against the accusations in the book, an easy way
to belittle. It was only necessary to point out to a gaping country that the
author of the book was an obvious liar and cheat: almost a whole issue of Colliers
and several serious books were devoted to this sort of thing, which had its
effect by retarding the sale of the book.
But Mr. Hamill had not yet reached the highest development
of his peculiar character. He had sold out the expoliceman's interest to me. He
was yet to sell out my interests bodily to the friends of the President.
One morning I received a telephone call
from a New York Republican ward leader, whom I knew slightly. If I would have
lunch with him, he said, there was something of great interest to be revealed
As we were eating he asked me if I had
given thought to what would happen to me if the President failed to be
"Why should that worry me?" I asked.
"It is pretty well known that the
President feels that your book has done more to prejudice the country against
him than anything else. If he's defeated, he'll blame it on you and prosecute
"Prosecute me for what?" I asked with astonishment.
"But there is no libel," I
cried, "and every one of you damn well know it."
My friend across the table looked
shrewdly at me. "Did you know," he inquired blandly, "that John
Hamill has confessed that the whole of his book is a fabrication of his own,
intended to harm the President?"
"I don't know, and I don't
care," I declared. "I didn't believe Hamill to begin with. I might
I called up Hamill that same day. He
denied the allegation vehemently, but there was something suspicious about his
very vehemence. A few days later Mr. Hoover delivered his famous
But even that speech did not save Mr.
Hoover who suffered that year the deadliest defeat ever meted out to an
American President who made himself a candidate for a second term. I had braved
so much in publishing the book; it had given me so much trouble, that 1 looked
on the outcome of the election of 1932 as a sort of personal triumph. I had
favored Mr. Smith against
* * *
The financial success of The Strange Career made it possible for
me to realize one of the earliest ambitions of my life, to publish in a smaller
and more beautiful format, the ten volumes of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary which had been the chief literary and
ethical guide of my boyhood. I realized that thus far my success had always
been due to the intrinsic sensationalism of my publications: whatever sales I
achieved came in spite of the discouragement of the reviewers. Voltaire's work
required a greater investment than I had ever made in one enterprise, and it
was in no way sensational. Had I the right to risk it? The truth is that I
thought I had a pretty good knowledge of how far the literary press would go to
hurt my business. They might, I said to myself, justify themselves in snubbing
my ventures into sensationalism, dip though they are in the gold of glamour and
adventure. But how could they disregard an enterprise of such a purely literary
and philosophical nature?
I had the Dictionary set in two magnificent volumes. The setting cost nearly
two thousand dollars. By the time the edition had gone through the bindery it
had cost me over four thousand dollars, almost half of my cash savings. Then I
launched it, to learn that I had underestimated, in my enemies, either their
hatred of me or the extent of their indifference to literary values. The Philosophical Dictionary evoked no
comment at all in the press. Because I was its publisher, The New York Times did not even mention the book. Voltaire's great
work got less reviewing from the press of the Hansens, the Gannetts and the
Soskins that I would have got if I had reprinted a cheap thriller from one of
the pulp magazines. The whole edition fell dead at my feet the very first week
I issued it.
With my funds getting thinner and
thinner, I continued to issue books in the hope of hitting one that would make
up for the loss sustained by me in the publishing of the Philosophical Dictionary. I published two magnificent biographies:
the Life of Pope Joan, and The Adventure of Fritz Duquesne, both by
Clement Wood. The shifting about of the chronicles of the Church of Rome so as
to make it appear that Joan never really lived had always seemed to me like
murder. In Clement Wood I found for the loveliest of the world's fair scholars
a champion to my heart's content. The
Woman Who Was Pope must eventually take its place with the very finest
biographies ever written. It was Wood himself who mentioned to me Duquesne's
name for the first time. I was instantly fascinated by the story of the man
who, to punish it for the rape of his family and fortune during the Boer War by
a Kitchener regiment, had sworn vengeance against the British Empire and fought
it single-handed for over thirty years, and I asked Wood to write the story for
me, which he did in The Man Who Killed
Kitchener, with such grace and vigor.
I also published the autobiography of
Lord Alfred Douglas and the memoirs of my friend Dr. Ralcy Husted Bell. But
business was getting worse and worse. And, due to the silence of the press
concerning my publications, they were not catching on. Then a
manuscript come to me through the mails which promised to get me out of
my financial difficulties. It was an ugly scandal which involved one of the
three great motor magnates of
I hesitated to publish the book for
only one reason: the injustice did not seem to me important enough to warrant a
whole book being devoted to it. With a book I had just helped to save my
country from the strangling hold of a man who had all his life been a menace to
the finest things in our civilization. Was I now to expend the same amount of
energy in order to iron out a petty quarrel? But undoubtedly there would be
tremendous national interest in the story, and I had almost decided to publish
it when something happened to stop me.
I was in Cafe Royal one night when a
young Jewish publisher whom I knew but did not particularly like, walked in.
Nevertheless, when he asked me what was troubling me, I told him about it.
"Going to use real names?" he asked.
"Well, you'll make money alright," he said drily.
"You think people will really be interested?"
"What do you care whether people
will be interested? That's not why you're publishing it, is it?"
"I can't see any other reason."
"Stop trying to kid me, Roth. You
know that motor magnate will give you at least a hundred thousand to withdraw
the book from sale."
I discussed the matter no further with
him. But my mind was made up. My business might if it liked, go to the devil.
But I was never going to publish that book.
Well, my business did go - to the Jews.
* * *
Towards the end of the year 1932, I
realized that the business of William
Faro, Inc. was sliding into real trouble. It had outstanding,
and payable over a period of three months, notes aggregating some seventeen
thousand dollars. My estimated income during three months, as business was at
that time, would be sufficient to meet only about a third of that amount. Our
chief creditors were: a printer, a binder, a linotyper who set most of the type
of our books and a paper house, which had supplied us with all the paper for
our books. We owed various small sums to other concerns, too, but the records
of them would be of no consequence to this story.
There seemed to me no cause for alarm,
either to me or my creditors. Our stock of books, under any kind of
liquidation, was worth at least forty thousand dollars. Besides that, there
were tons of linotype metal, and valuable copyrights.
The solution to this difficulty seemed to
me very simple. The production of new books must come to an end. I must begin
to liquidate the stock we had on hand, and arrange extensions of time on the
notes held by our creditors. At the rate money was coming, it might take nine
months for us to meet all of our obligations. But since nearly every other
business in town was in pretty much the same position, I did not doubt that the
creditors of William Faro, Inc. would
cooperate with us. I had done, I could tell them in all sincerity, what under
the circumstances was pretty nearly heroic. I had withdrawn all of my family
savings from the bank and thrown them into the business. No one could go
further than that - just for a business.
When I came to my creditors I encountered, apparently,
difficulties only inherent in the financial situation. The printers and
binders, having been hard hit themselves, had disposed of all of my notes to
third parties. The linotyper made arrangements with me to collect the balance
of the moneys due him at the rate of fifty dollars a week for ten weeks, and a
hundred dollars a week thereafter, until some seventeen hundred dollars was
paid up. The paper house owned by a German-Jew, made a similar arrangement with
me, by which it was to get a hundred dollars a week. Since the amount owed the
latter was in excess of four thousand dollars, I mortgaged to it the standing
type of eight of my best books.
According to what I had learned in Perok (in the Wisdom of the Fathers)
when I was a boy, my association with these people was in itself proof of my
guilt, and my worthiness to keep my business. Perok says: If a man is
brought before you in a court of law, accused by one or more of his fellows of
irregularity of conduct, regard him as guilty until he has managed to prove his
innocence. The sense of this stern admonition is this. A man who is brought
to court by associates in business is at least guilty of associating with the
sort of people he cannot arrange things with amicably outside of court. But let
me not make the mistake of characterizing these people. Let their actions do
that for them.
During the first years of my business
association with the binder whom we will call Parrach, he did business as The
Art Bindery. Later, merging his business with that of two other binders, he
began billing me as Union Binderies. This was followed soon by the Parrach
Bindery, which in a few months gave way to still a fourth name. It is about a
half a year since I have seen a billhead of his, so there is no telling how
many other names Parrach has worked under since. It was during the Union
Binderies period that something sinister occurred which would have warned any
sensible publisher of danger. Robert Sherwood, a wholesaler of books at
"What did you say to him?" I asked.
"I told him to bring me the books at and I'd buy them from him. You can then do anything you like with him."
two men from police headquarters saw a dark young man tow in a package
containing fifty copies of my book. When he had taken the seventy-five dollars
in cash from Mr. Sherwood, they nabbed him, marched him to the nearest station
house and called for me.
When they pointed him out to me I did not
recognize him. But he had no hesitation in recalling himself to me. "You
don't recognize me," he said, "because I am usually in work clothes
when you come into the shop. I work in the shop. I'm -------'s son."
He named one of Parrach's partners.
"And how long," I asked him,
"have you been a partner in my business?"
He swore that this was his maiden effort. He had only done it because business was so bad that neither he nor his father had been able to draw pay for four weeks. His mother was dangerously ill. He had just taken his bar exams. If, because of this charge being pressed against him, he would not be admitted to the practice of law, it would literally kill his mother.
Instinctively I knew that the Jew was
lying. There was a huge discrepancy between the number of books we had printed
and the number which had been delivered to us by Parrach. It ran into thousands
of books. Still, even though there was only the faintest chance that he was
telling the truth I would not press the charge. I could not risk being the
author of such awful consequences, even to regain so much money. And so I did
not press the charge, and the police freed him.
I was a fool, of course, to let him go.
It was my only chance to get an honest reckoning from Parrach and get rid of
him altogether. Furthermore, by nipping this young Jew's career in the bud, I
would have prevented another Jew vulture from infesting the courts of the State
* * *
One by one I met the people who had taken
over the notes we had given the printer and the binder. In almost every case,
when I had explained the situation and offered a scheme of payment, there was
no difficulty coming to an arrangement. But occasionally I would run into
trouble. Usually it was some lawyer - a Jew shyster.
A typical instance concerns a note for a
hundred and fifty dollars I had given the printer, who had in turn paid it over
to his attorney, a crafty old Jew with an office on lower
We will call him Counsellor Pinsky. I tried to
explain to Counsellor Pinsky over the telephone just how things stood, but he
would not listen to me.
"I don't care how bad business
is," said Counsellor Pinsky. "I want cash for my note and I want cash
"But why don't you let me come to
see you," I pleaded. "I'm sure we can arrange things amicably."
He seemed to consider my suggestion. "Alright, then. How long will you remain at your
"I'll wait for you till you come," I said.
"I'll be over in twenty minutes," he assured me.
In less than twenty minutes a young woman walked into my
office and announced that she was from the office of Counsellor Pinsky. Having
been introduced to me by my secretary, she handed me - a summons.
In the midst of this difficulty,
Parrach, the binder, came to me with a summons from his attorney, whom we will
call Mr. Black. It was a matter of the utmost importance that I see him and
talk things over with him.
The first thing you notice when you
come into Counsellor Black's office is a picture of his wife on his desk: a
matronly Jewish woman who you feel could allow herself to be the wife only of a
man of the utmost austerity. The office of a Jewish lawyer is usually devised
with great cunning. In addition to the stock portraits of George Washington and
John Marshall, there is usually a picture of a child or, if possible children.
If the lawyer is unmarried he displays a picture of his mother. This is
calculated to give you confidence in him. It is by way of saying: You see in me
a man of family, true to all my pledges; you may speak your mind to me with the
Mr. Black opened our conversation with
the remark that he had been given to understand that I was having considerable
difficulty with creditors.
I told him that I seemed to have been
very careless in my choice of creditors. I had given several of them series of
checks with the understanding that the checks were not to be deposited without
my office being consulted, to ascertain that funds were available at the bank
to clear them. One or two of them complied with this arrangement. The rest,
pleading that necessity had compelled them to turn checks over to others,
didn't. The truth was that it was difficult to persuade these Jews that when I
said there was no money in the bank there really was no
money. One of the minor results was that the bank had tactfully but firmly
asked me to withdraw my account.
Mr. Black appeared to listen to me
thoughtfully, but when he spoke suddenly I realized that his listening had been
only an attitude. He had a definite plan in his mind. He had not been
considering what I was saying to him.
"There is only one way out for
you," said Counsellor Black with the dramatics that shyster lawyers
flatter themselves with in the privacy of their offices. "As long as you
continue doing things as you are doing them now, you will be in hot water. Here
is a solid idea and a sure way out for you. Form a new corporation. Turn over
to this new corporation all of the stock of William Faro, Inc. Then let
the new firm dictate terms to your old creditors."
"I don't see," I remarked, "what difference it will make to my creditors under what name I trade, since it will still be the same business."
"That's just it," said Mr.
Black. "It will be the same business, but your creditors will have to
accept new terms because you will not be running the business under the new
"And who, may I ask, will be running the new business?"
"Oh, we'll find someone to run it.
We'll hold the stock of the new corporation in escrow for you in the interest
of my clients till the old debts are paid off, that is to say your debts to my
"And who," I asked him, "are our clients?"
He named the binder and the paper house.
"And what about my other creditors?"
"They would have to wait till my
clients are paid and the business is restored to you."
"But suppose you never fully clear
the debts of your clients? Then you need never restore my business to me. Isn't
Counsellor Black looked hurt.
"Don't you trust us?" he asked softly.
I rose to go. "I don't like your
plan," I said. "It does not seem to me to be either rational or
necessary. My business is worth a hundred thousand dollars. I owe your clients
about five thousand dollars, which is fully secured to them. Is it reasonable
that I should be asked to turn over to you a business worth a hundred thousand
dollars so that they may collect a twentieth of it and ruin it utterly?"
"But the fact is that you are not
meeting your obligations," he argued.
"I am meeting my
obligations," I replied. "But like everybody else nowadays, I am
taking a little more time doing so. Forgive me if I can't stay any longer. I
don't think following your advice will get me out of my present difficulties.
On the contrary, I can see worse difficulties I might get into."
Back at the office, when I returned, I
found the agent for the paper house, an ugly little socialist-Jew with
burlesque Jewish accent and manners. "Well how did you make out with
Black?" he asked.
I told him what had happened.
He seemed chagrined. "It's a good
idea," he muttered. "You should have taken it."
I told him it would be quite useless to
argue the point with me. "I don't like the whole business. I don't see how
I happen to have got mixed up with a lot of plug-uglies like you and your
friend Parrach to begin with. I shall sacrifice a lot of my stock at lower
prices and see if I can't get rid of both of you."
I said this in the manner of jest, but
there was real feeling behind my words. The ugly little socialist-Jew whom I
shall refer to as Isaac Ratte pretended not to notice my rancor. "If you're
going to liquidate," he said, "I've got another proposition for you.
Why don't you get someone to help you?"
"Anyone who could help me," I said, "would
cost too much."
The socialist-Jew seemed to brighten.
"Well, there's Lousse. He worked for you before, and understands your
business. I met him a few days ago and he and his wife are literally starving.
He told me he'd work for you now for twenty dollars a week."
It was certainly true that I had taken a
great deal more work on myself than I could possibly do well. I was helping my
wife run four branch outlet stores along Broadway in addition to all my other
duties as a publisher. But I was not so pleased with the suggestion about
Lousse who had left my employ at about the time I issued the book on
paid out nearly five thousand dollars of the obligations of William Faro, Inc. in the next three
months. Then because of an irregularity it is not necessary to discuss here, I
* * *
Two or three weeks later I was awakened
at one morning by the
ringing of the doorbell of my apartment. I opened the door only slightly and
asked who it was. A young woman came within full view of me and asked if I was
Mr. Roth. I said I was but that she would have to wait a few minutes if she
wanted to see me. "I don't have to see you," she said, and stuck a
summons through the opening I had made in the doorway.
The summons was a complaint based on two
notes, for two hundred dollars each which I had given to Parrach the binder.
The complainant was a Yiddish bookseller on East Broadway, a Mr. Jankewitz
about whom I had heard many things. I indignantly called Parrach on the
telephone and asked him how he happened to have turned over those notes to this
man. Parrach replied that he did not know Jankewitz. He had given the notes to
Ratte who in turn had given them to Jankewitz. In answer to my call, Ratte came
in to see me. He had already discussed the matter with Mr. Jankewitz. It had
been agreed between himself, Ratte, and Mr. Jankewitz that if I paid
sixty-eight dollars in two checks of thirty four dollars each, and gave a new
ninety days note for the balance, judgment would not be taken and everything
would return to status quo. I saw no other way out because I could not spare the cash with
which to get those notes out of the hands of Mr. Jankewitz. And so, trusting
Ratte to carry out the agreement, I gave him the checks and the note and
dismissed the whole unpleasant affair from my mind as something too unwholesome
to entertain in a short lifetime.
But a new difficulty had arisen.
Parrach, after another one of his prodigal failures, had turned his plant over
to another bindery. In this bindery he was not really owner. He just collected
an agent's commission for work done. The new binder had delivered to me a
thousand dollars worth of work against fifteen hundred dollars in notes, the
extra five hundred being advanced by me to help Parrach out of one of his usual
difficulties. And just as things seemed to be going smoothly again I found it
impossible to get books from the bindery.
I went to see the new binder. The
trouble he said was with Parrach. Parrach was not attending to his business.
When I saw Parrach he said the trouble was with the real boss of the works. He
had heard that I was having difficulty in meeting my notes, and so was
reluctant to let more books go out till I showed myself capable of paying some
of the notes which would soon come due.
"But if I cannot get books my
business will come to a standstill," I argued.
"I'm not boss here, you know
that," was all I could get out of Parrach.
It became obvious that I would
accomplish nothing till I got these two Jews and their stories together in the
same room. I found myself spending days and weeks trying to accomplish this.
Now and then I would catch one of the office force
snickering behind my back. They certainly knew what was going on.
On Thursday, April 20th, Ratte, the Jew
paper agent who had mysteriously disappeared after getting the check and the
notes came to me with a proposition. "I understand that you can't get
books from the bindery, "he began innocently.
"You know why, don't you?"
"I've been told a few reasons."
"Well the truth is that the new
binder is afraid of you. But there's one way you can prove to him that you
don't intend to default. He knows that you have no money. But he knows that
your wife has a claim for more than nine hundred dollars against the bankrupt
estate of Louis K. Liggett. If you'll get Mrs. Roth to turn over this claim to
us, we'll see to it that you get instant delivery of books."
"I wouldn't like to do that," I said.
"My wife and I have already deprived ourselves of all the benefits of
cash. This is a poor time to leave oneself penniless.
And the money from Liggett's seems to be the only cash left for us to look
I realized by this time that there was
something foul in the wind. But I had put everything I had into the pot; it
would be a mistake to let the fire go out too soon. Let me not hesitate, I said
to myself, over my final bit of money. If I am to get into trouble, let it not
be because I hesitated to throw in everything I have. I therefore, finally, and
most reluctantly, consented to let my wife turn over to the paper house, which
was already fully secured, the assignment of her claim against the Liggett
Estate. This assignment, we had agreed, was to be held in escrow by someone we
trusted mutually until the first shipment of books came to me from the Bindery.
"No escrow arrangement will be
necessary," Ratte suddenly interposed. "You'll get your first shipment
The following day, Friday, Ratte came
to the office of William Faro,
Inc. in the company of Parrach. Ratte had with him the assignment for my
wife to sign, pretended to be in a hurry, and Parrach assured me that he had
seen a truckload of books leave the Bindery, for my warehouse. But I told them
bluntly that no assignment would be signed till the books arrived. Hours passed
in waiting. About once an hour someone in my office would telephone the Bindery
to ask what had happened to the shipment. And someone on the other wire would
always answer that it was on its way.
Then it became quite plain that all this knavish nonsense had been prearranged, I suggested that I was still ready to leave the assignment in escrow till shipment at a later date. The escrowee was settled on, a Jew who paid me twenty five dollars a month for space in my office. The agreement was drawn up by an attorney who happened accidentally on the scene. But because additional papers, showing how this money was to be accounted for by the paper house had to be drawn, the agreement could not be consummated till the following morning, Saturday, April 22nd. Ratte took the assignment from me Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon I was served by his attorney with papers asking for a receivership of the business of William Faro, Inc. The demand was based on an affidavit by the discharged Lousse that I was misappropriating the funds of the corporation with the intention of cheating my creditors.
That was not all. I was to learn several
days later that on Thursday of April 20th, the day before we sat around waiting
all afternoon in my office for a delivery of books, all of the stock of William
Faro, Inc. had been sold out on a
The marshal's levy was based on a
judgment obtained against me by Jankewitz on the original summons with which I
had been served. Ratte had taken my sixty eight dollars and the new note. But,
without notification to me, Jankewitz had proceeded to take judgment on the
note, the one for which I had already settled, and was to be returned to me.
When asked by an attorney of mine why
he had not given William Faro, Inc.
notice of his levy and sale, the
Evidence enough here, you will say, to
hang any set of conspirators. Apparently not enough, though, in the Jew-run
* * *
This is how the papers asking for a
receivership of William Faro, Inc.
were served on me.
Having delivered in escrow for the
paper-house the assignment of my wife's claim to the Louis K. Liggett Estate, I
got a call from the bindery. If I wanted an immediate shipment of books it
would be necessary for me to meet Parrach the binder at the office of the paper
I accompanied Ratte to his employer's
headquarters where Parrach and the owner of the paper house were waiting for
me. The latter, a German Jew, looked elated. I fancy that in
The telephone rang even as I sat down.
It was a message for Parrach. Mr. Black his attorney wanted us over at his
office. In view of what I had already seen of Counselor Black, the prospect of
getting together with him again was not enticing. But business had become very
ugly and seeing this legal sycophant seemed to have become an essential part of
it. Only Parrach accompanied me on this trip. Ratte had accomplished, to his
complete satisfaction, his part of the business for the day.
No sooner was I seated before
Counsellor Black's desk than, to my utter amazement, he resumed discussing the
plan he had outlined to me the first time I called on him. He talked lengthily,
apparently to make time. I observed him with growing perplexity. Obviously he
was not really interested in his own words. I was aware of a sinister movement
the very nature of which I could not guess at. Firmly he paused and looked at
"What's the use of going over all
that?" I asked. "I now owe my creditors five thousand dollars less
than I owed them when you first broached this matter to me. Surely you don't
think I can be more inclined, under the circumstances, to entertain your plan?"
"But the situation has changed on
our side, too," he said mysteriously.
"How?" I asked.
"I can't tell you," he said.
"I can only hint to you that I am acting for a majority of your creditors.
Very important things have happened, and are happening."
"That sounds like a threat,"
I replied. "As for your representing a majority of my creditors permit me
to express a doubt."
"Then the only thing there is left
for me to do is to warn you to accept my proposition."
I became angry. "If you want me to
accept a proposition of yours, why not try to make an honest one? It seems to
me to be very poor legal ethics for you to sit there and try to threaten me out
of my business. You're not practicing law."
He looked up dramatically. "What do you think I'm
"It looks to me a little more like blackmail."
He rose. "I don't care what you think of my practise. I
represent your creditors, and they do not think you are competent to run your
business well enough to pay them what is due them."
"Which of you," I asked, "thinks he can run
my business better?"
"We have a man," said Black looking down on his
I grew suspicious. "Who?"
Counsellor Black paused a moment before
answering. Then he uttered the ugly word: "Lousse."
"Do you happen to know," I
asked him, "why I discharged Lousse?"
"And yet you want me to turn my business over to him?"
"We're not asking you to turn the
business over to him. But to us. We want you to have
confidence in us."
"I see," I said. By this time I
realized that something really vicious was afoot. I decided to fight for time,
myself. I turned to Black. "Let me think about it. I want to consult my
"I'm an attorney," said
"Yes, but not my attorney. You
understand that I'm entitled to an attorney who will consider my interests in
"Yes. But why can't you trust me?"
"I only want to take the ordinary
precaution of having someone representing my interests, Mr. Black. Here is the
name and telephone number of my attorney. Please call him Monday morning.
Whatever he is willing to arrange with you, will be alright with me."
Counselor Black pretended to see my side
of it. We shook hands and I left his office. I had no sooner reached the street
than I realized that I was being followed. I stopped; a young man came up to me
and asked me whether I was Samuel Roth. I replied in the affirmative and he
served me with the receivership papers, returnable the following Wednesday
morning. The whole thing had been arranged so as to make it possible for me to
be served that afternoon.
* * *
It was now almost . Lower Broadway, together with the rest of the
world, was darkening before my eyes. Across the street was a United Cigars
store. I went towards it to communicate with my attorney. It was too late to
get him at his office, so I telephoned his home. A maid answered that Mr.
Lavine had left with his wife the day before for
I thought that it might be too late to
get together a reply if I waited till Tuesday, and remembered Mr. Hyman Burtel.
I knew that Mr. Burtel, who had been for thirty days a magistrate under Tammany
Hall, would want a big fee, for I had retained him once before. But since I had
only recently helped Mr. Burtel earn a five hundred dollar fee from another
publisher, I thought that he might consider my impaired finances and help me in
I called Mr. Burtel and he consented to
see me at his home in Essex House the next morning, Sunday. I introduced the
matter by telling him that it was a matter of life and death for me to win this
action, and I wanted him to undertake it only in that spirit. He studied the
papers for about fifteen minutes, then threw them on
the table. If what I told him was true, he said, it would be a simple matter
for me to resist this move. He would take the case, but I must give him a
retainer of five hundred dollars. "Cash," he added. "I wouldn't
take a case like this from anyone else for less than a thousand dollars."
The only concession I could get from him
was time till Tuesday afternoon to have the full amount in his office.
The following day I paid Mr. Burtel half
of his retainer. The day after that we learned about the sale of all my assets.
Mr. Burtel immediately prepared motion papers returnable in Municipal Court the
following Monday, asking why this sale should not be set aside as fraudulent,
and why the "purchaser" of the property of William Faro, Inc. should not be restrained from disposing of it.
The presiding magistrate, a negro, granted the second motion, but wanted time to
consider the first. Naturally the "purchaser" of my property was
represented by Counselor Black. After the memorable court meeting between Mr.
Burtel and Mr. Black in court that morning it became practically impossible for
me to see Mr. Burtel again.
In spite of the fact that copies of the
court-order forbidding any disposition of the property were served (at my
suggestion, not Mr. Burtel's) on Parrach, Lousse, Ratte and all other parties
concerned, I was approached by booksellers all over town who told me that my
property was being sold on all sides.
It was now in order to bring Parrach,
Lousse and Ratte into court for contempt for disobeying a court order. I also
urged upon Mr. Burtel's office that proceedings should be taken against Lousse
for violating the criminal statute forbidding an employee from using, as Lousse
did, information obtained while in the hire of an employer.
But, as I have already mentioned, I
could not get to see Mr. Burtel who behaved as though, as far as he was
concerned, the matter was closed. Mr. Gottlieb, a clerk in the office, who
received me for Mr. Burtel, told me that it was inadvisable to take any such
action at the time. When the proper time came they would let me know.
At my instance, all of my creditors
(whom Counsellor Black had pretended to represent) got up a petition to be
presented before Judge Valente when the motion for receivership came up. This
petition asked that I be permitted to continue running the business of William
Faro, Inc. and was granted. The request for a receivership was denied .
magistrate was daily putting off the decision on the question of the validity
of the "sale" of my property. One morning Mr. Gottlieb called me on
the telephone. The magistrate, he informed me, had finally decided to put the
question up to a referee .
"Has a date been set?" I asked .
"No," was the reply. "When a date is set
we'll let you know. "
One of my creditors was, in the
meantime, persuaded by his attorney that at the rate I was managing things,
Black and his crowd would have sold out all of the assets of the corporation
before I could get to them, and advised bankruptcy as the safest means of
rescuing what was left of the property of William Faro, Inc. At the
request of this creditor and two others, the Federal Court appointed the Irving
Trust Company as the receiver, and the latter designated Mr. George Mintzer as
its acting attorney .
I turned over all of the papers in the
case to the attorney for the Irving Trust Company, trustee. Office
of Mr. George Mintzer. After several days, he informed me that he saw no
grounds on which to proceed against the people who had defrauded me because on
the surface everything seemed legal. To dig into the matter meant an
investigation and an expenditure of moneys which were not in the estate .
"But you don't need an
investigation," I cried. "They have been selling my property all the
time in violation of a court order. "
He promised to look into this immediately.
Several days later this attorney
recalled me. The books were being sold, he informed me, but it was perfectly
legal. The motion as to the validity of the sale had come up before a referee
in the Court of the State of
 I have in my possession a copy of this alleged
"confession." It is 187
pages of pompous bluster in which I could not find that as much as a single fact in The Strange Career is
controverted or even called into serious
question. That would explain the reason why, for all the noise they made about
procuring it from Hamill, Mr. Hoover's friends have never dared to publish it.
During the trial of the expoliceman's suit against William Faro, Inc., a futile
attempt was made to make
as a single fact in The Strange Career is
controverted or even called into serious
question. That would explain the reason why, for all the noise they made about
procuring it from Hamill, Mr. Hoover's friends have never dared to publish it.
During the trial of the expoliceman's suit against William Faro, Inc., a futile
attempt was made to make
 The next time you read about a particularly
bloody pogrom and pause to wonder how Christians, dedicated to a religion of
mercy, can exercise so much brutality against the Jews, remember that the Jew
wheedles all the mercy out of his neighbors in the ordinary course of business.
He lies and cheats until he is caught. When caught, instead of accepting
punishment, he moans and tears his hair, invokes the sores of ancestors in
their graves and living relations at the point of death in hospitals, until the
wronged gentile, nauseated, lets him go. Then, thumbing his nose at the gentile
behind his back, the Jew goes about his business the same way, lying and cheating
now doubly to make up for lost time. A pogrom is usually the climax of years of
such relentless goading. Do you wonder that when the final reckoning comes the
gentile is absolutely merciless?