April 27, 1914
REBA EDELSON TRIES TO CONVERT WARDEN
‘Tween Hearty Meals She Preaches I.W.W. Logic to Handsome Jailer.
HOPES FOR APPEAL TODAY
Miss Davis Glad Hunger Strike Is Off and Forcible Feeding Unnecessary.
The visitors’ bell clanging insistently in the warden’s office of the Queens county jail over in Long Island City yesterday afternoon failed utterly to overcome the voice of a young woman upstairs in the old brown prison who was discussing the wrongs of the human race and cataloguing Big Bill Haywood with the saints.
The young woman was the I.W.W. vivandiere, Reba Edelson, who, refreshed by a light, special luncheon of broiled steak, creamed potatoes, bread and butter, apple pie and coffee was trying to convert the handsome young warden, Henry Schieth, to the tenets of the I.W.W.
When the warden answered a summons from a reporter for The Sun he looked a trifle exhausted. He was hoarse. Arguing with Becky Edelson (she is known as Becky to the agitators of Rutgers Square) is a job for a well, strong man, and the warden has been suffering from a touch of cold and wasn’t in the pink of condition.
“Yes,” volunteered Mr. Schieth, “Miss Edelson’s hunger strike has been called off. The Sun had it right this morning. She has decided that there is no use to starve herself, since that won’t obtain her release from prison, and she has been taking her meals regular since last night.
“Of course we had to be careful at first what we gave her to eat because she had gone without food for forty hours. Deputy Commissioner Burdette G. Lewis sent over chocolate and a few delicacies for Miss Edelson last night. She enjoyed them and this morning she ate a hearty breakfast of chops, potatoes, bread and butter and coffee. At lunch today she ate a quantity of substantial things and I have no doubt that her appetite for supper this evening will be excellent.
“Why did she decide to eat? Well, I hardly know myself, except that she believes now that her friends will be able to get her out of jail on a writ of habeas corpus which they mean to apply for today, I understand. But we were pretty nice to her and maybe that had something to do with her changed attitude. I certainly never met a woman who could talk faster than Miss Edelson. I haven’t been able to get in a word edgewise and I’m a pretty fair rapid fire talker myself.
“Mostly she has been interested in the Mexican crisis. She was been trying to make me think that Governments have no right to make war and that soldiers have no right to kill the armed enemies of their country. Yet she maintains that her organization, the I.W.W., has a perfect right to kill people if it is opposed or attacked. Her logic is too much for me.”
As a matter of fact Miss Edelson’s decision to pay a little attention to her food was a great relief to Miss Katharine B. Davis, the Commissioner of Correction; to Miss Davis’s subordinates, and to the prison authorities. When the young woman was taken from the workhouse to the Queens county jail the warden was afraid she would have to be fed forcibly.
Dr. John Oquaro reported that Miss Edelson was in good physical trim. The she was placed in the custody of Matron Mary F. Daly, who talked to her in motherly fashion. The warden reminded her also that if she persisted in starving herself it might be necessary to place a charge of attempted suicide against her and that she would find herself compelled to answer a felony charge as well as the misdemeanor case against her. So Miss Edelson thought over her situation and finally told the warden that she was willing to eat. If she had not come to that decision today the prison authorities would have found some humane way of making her eat. That had been decided.
Justus Sheffield, who is acting as counsel for the young woman, will argue before Judge Mulqueen today an application for an appeal of the three months sentence. Miss Edelson’s friends sent word to her yesterday that the chances were good that she would be released in a few days.