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Carl Sandburg

Onion Days

Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti comes along Peoria Street every morning at nine
With kindling wool piled on top of her head, her eyes looking straight ahead
      to find the way for her old feet.
Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, whose husband was killed in a
      tunnel explosion through the negligence of a fellow-servant,
Works ten hours a day, sometimes twelve, picking onions for Jasper on the
      Bowmanville road.
She takes a street car at half-past five in the morning, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti
And gets back from Jasper's with cash for her day's work, between nine and
      ten o'clock at night.
Last week she got eight cents a box, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, picking onions
      for Jasper.
But this week Jasper dropped the pay to six cents a box because so many
      women and girls were answering ads in the Daily News.
Jasper belongs to an Episcopal church in Ravenswood and on certain
He enjoys chanting the Nicene creed with his daughters on each side of him
      joining their voices with his.
If the preacher repeats old sermons of a Sunday, Jasper's mind wanders to his
      700-acre farm and how he can make it produce more efficiently
And sometimes he speculates on whether he could word an ad in the Daily
 so it would bring more women and girls out to his farm and reduce
      operating costs.
Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti is far from disparate about life; her joy is in a child
      she knows will arrive to her in three months.
And now while these are the pictures for today there are other pictures of the
      Giovannitti people I could give you for to-morrow,
And how some of them go to the county agent on winter mornings with their
      baskets for beans and cornmeal and molasses.
I listen to fellows saying here's good stuff for a novel or it might be worked up
      in a play.
I say there's no dramatist living can put old Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti into a
      play with that kindling wood piled on top of her head coming along
      Peoria Street nine o'clock in the morning.




Sandburg, Carl. Chicago Poems. New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt, 1916.