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Chapter 1: Beginnings

"When Father needed his boss to come through, they cut him off like chaff on wheat."


March 3rd, 1885

I didn’t know Father well. I was only seven when he died, but I do remember how angry it made Louie. He was becoming a man of thirteen when Father died, and he’d often recount the injustice of the death, the murder, as he saw it. Father worked in a lumberyard, and was the best “wage-slave,” as Louie calls ‘em. He was the boss’s right hand man, and when some of the other workers dropped a log on the frozen river, Father went to secure it, to ensure his boss’s profits. But it didn’t work. He slipped through a crack in the ice, and it took ages for the other workers to get him out. Afterwards, Father was a broken man. He couldn’t work as hard anymore, and had his wage cut, and in the end, his boss let him go, saying that business had slowed down and they needed to get rid of some people. Father worked for them for twelve years, and for twelve years, Louie says, he secured the boss profits. When Father needed his boss to come through, they cut him off like chaff on wheat. Three years after the accident, Father passed away, and doctors say it was because of his dip in the icy Neckar. Meanwhile, his boss grew ever richer.

Louie left for a long time after that, but he wrote me letters all the time, documenting his trips throughout our homeland, Germany, and Switzerland. He plied his trade as a carpenter, and as a result of his experience with Father, he fell in with the social democrats and anarchists, right as the two groups split up. Louie decided to join the anarchists, doing something he called “propaganda of the deed,” which he said was a way of influencing people through their actions. Because Louie dodged being drafted, he was chased out of each city he visited eventually. Mother and my new step-father raised enough money for Louie and I to travel to America, and so we left, hoping for a better life on distant shores.

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