"Chapter XIII: Jackson Park, By the Duke." by Enid Yandell (1870-), Jean Loughborough, and Laura Hayes
ONE never realizes as one lives the days away how much of poetry and romance, beauty and interest, there are in the twenty-four hours.
A month's work in the modeling-shops in Jackson Park afforded many pleasant memories and much knowledge of men. A woman's advent among them was a matter of less interest, perhaps owing to the fact that almost all the workers were foreigners, and abroad it is not so unusual for women to do industrial work. A quiet corner had been apportioned to the Danish sculptor and his wife, and there my model was set up. The modeling-shop was a mere temporary building, long and low, and the midsummer sun kept the thermometer way up in the nineties.
The decorative work for several of the buildings of the Columbian Exposition was being done here, and a hundred men were seeking expression for genius, or daily pay for daily food. The early morning always found in his place the tall, dark, curly-haired German, picturesque in his white blouse with red collar, broad leather belt with big buckle and his short briar-wood pipe between his teeth. On the scaffolding in front of his "Goddess of Electricity," he moved constantly, his white cap a star against the gray [Page 143] wall. Two spandrels covered the arch dividing the modeling from the casting department, and on these worked the only American who had found occupation in the shops. Tall, slender, nervous, truly American in all his movements, he would model a bit, descend from his ladder, step back to look at his work and then rush madly to make some change.
Perhaps no more earnest worker connected with all the big fair could be found than the little lad whose willing feet and active hands did all my bidding. In the field of sculpture he hoped to earn a living for a large family of brothers and sisters, and after a day's mechanical work in waiting on me, he studied at night in the Art School. Often he would bring me a model to correct which he had made; and then how his eyes would brighten and his cheeks glow at a word of praise!–and I doubt if Giotto felt more inspired than he, surrounded by the spirit of art and fired by ambition. His great, sad eyes, pallid face and ragged clothes, recalled Murillo's fancies in old Spain. [Page 144]
In this rude shop a vivid imagination found ample play and the big, strong fellows who carried buckets of plaster for casting, or the dreamy artists whose thoughts were far away, each had some theme for story. As I worked I wondered what the motive of each life might be.
One afternoon the whistle had just sounded to renew work, when I saw coming towards me a man below the medium height, with long red-brown hair, deep sunken blue-black eyes and a long, drooping mustache. In his hand he held a large sombrero and from his shoulders a military cape depended. A flannel shirt, a gaudy tie and a brilliant scarf around his waist completed a most unusual costume. A model, evidently, and a character! He threw his hair back with his hand, looked up at me where I stood at work, and handed me a card on which was written "Leon Lubrowoski," musician–model. "You want a model I understand?" "Yes," I replied. He looked like Charles I in a cowboy's dress, and I wondered for what I could use him. I resolved mentally to make a character study of him. "For what have you posed ?" "A villain," and as he stuck his hat on the back of his head and folded his arms he looked it. "A Spanish cavalier, a monk, Christ, Mephistopheles–anything, everything." [Page 145]
"Do you make a living by playing, also, and on what ?" "The violin, but I never take money for it. It is my love and my pleasure." His answer excited my curiosity and I questioned him further. "What country do you come from ?" "Poland. I have been here six years. I am a vegetarian. For eight years I have eaten nothing cooked. I live on fruit and berries; meat excites one, and I never get excited, you could not make me angry–I think coolly, I drink nothing but water, nor do I smoke. When one lives on fruit one loses all desire for such things–also the mind is clearer; not hampered by food and body." "Can you do much work without meat ?" I asked. "Yes, providing it is not too great physicial exertion. The world spends its time in making a living and dies before it does the living. Now life is worth enough to take time to enjoy and to cultivate what God has given you; not laboring all day long, eating and sleeping–that is animal existence; not life." "What pleasures do you indulge in?" I asked. "Reading and music I like best; metaphysics, political economy and theosophy. Tinsley, Huxley, Adams and Darwin, Lubbock's 'Pleasures of Life,' all have references in them to other books; and those I buy. I have a library of about two hundred and fifty volumes; I pose and make enough to eat and wear; fifteen cents gets a supply of apples sufficient for a day; eating fruit does away with the necessity of preparing meals and washing cooking utensils, and gives more time to read and conduces to freedom. No, I never drink milk; men have made slaves of cows and I believe in freedom for all; men are slaves themselves to raising cattle. I don't believe in marriage as it at present exists. A woman married is a slave to her husband. How can she wash and cook and care for the children and be [Page 146] free to think ? She wants pleasures as well as a man, and if she has to do drudgery, she can't think and enjoy life. All should be free to enjoy themselves; to be happy and to make others so."
That this curious subject, a philosopher in rags, posed for me, I need hardly say; and the sketch, like the model, could not be named, for in it were ideas and their contradictions.
The bell rang–the day was done. We put down our tools, doffed caps and aprons, and filed out of the shop. Across the park, over the sand and timber we went, forming part of the black line of wage-earners, crawling like ants, toward the gate. Each going home to some one he loved–each with his life with its joy and pain–real to him and not existing for the man beside him; striving, toiling, patiently enduring, making a living, and as my philosopher model said: "Dying before he did the living."