1925.02.24: Motherhood Has Changed "Sweet Marie"

February 24, 1925

Motherhood Has Changed "Sweet Marie"

Brooklyn, N.Y.—Almost any pleasant day in a quiet residential district infringing on Flatbush you may see a baby carriage. She’s Mrs. Nat Ferber now, but in the hectic “Red” days of 1914-1917 she was “Sweet Marie” Ganz, one of the most picturesque and reckless agitators of the day. “Sweet Marie” got the name because an [in]triguing smile and an engaging personality, but she had a pistol and was quite ready to use it.

“Sweet Marie” no longer believes in pistols and violence. Her mind is more set on rompers. She is married to Nat Ferber, young social worker, now a newspaper man, who led her out of her wilderness of anarchy and persuaded her to see the light.

“Sweet Marie” has been tamed by time and circumstance. Her days in prison are remembered, but she would prefer to forget. The volcanic little firebrand of 1914 is now a rebel in retirement—one of the millions of plump mothers whose sole absorbing occupation is motherhood. She is more interested, just now, in teaching her three-year-old daughter how to ride a bicycle than she is in capitalists. Like most of the agitators of ten years ago, she no longer believes progress is dependent upon violence. She now abides by the protest provides by the ballot. On election day she voted for La Follette.

“In the old days,” she says, “when I worked in a sweat-shop my mind and heart were outraged at the distress I saw. I couldn’t understand why society permitted such things, and I can’t even now. It wasn’t that I believed so much in anarchy that I associated with Berkman, Caron, O’Carroll, Goldman, Tannenbaum, Edelson and the rest. I was concerned almost entirely with the poor and the problems with which they had to contend. I knew just how they suffered because my family suffered the same way.

“Politics didn’t interest me particularly. I worked with the radicals because they protested vigorously and violently instead of submitting to conditions and to the hypocrisy of professional politicians. With the exception of Emma Goldman, I respected the sincerity of nearly all those with whom I worked. Goldman, I always thought, was insincere. She went around the country lecturing and living comfortably while the rest of us—her ‘comrades’—starved and waged our fights on empty stomachs. More than anything else, perhaps, it is an empty stomach that makes a read radical. This is a fact which should compel vital attention from leaders of all parties even today.”

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