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Port O' Missing Men

They say that San Francisco is known all over as the Port o' Missing Men. That it is a city where a man may lose himself if he chooses, and that by the same token it is a good place to look for "my wandering boy tonight." I can believe all this especially on Third street. Third street should be called by some other name or it should have a nickname. If it were in Seattle it would be known as "skid row." Third street doesn't describe it at all.

When I see a lot of men like that, wanderers, family men out of work, vagabonds, nobodies, somebodies, "rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief; doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief," I always get to thinking how once each one was a tiny baby in a thin white dress, and how before that each one of them was born of a woman. If I could ever forget that, I could perhaps sometimes call men "a lot of cattle." Come to think of it, it is men who call other men "cattle." At any rate, I like to think that no woman would ever see men as less than the sons of mothers.

The Port o' Missing Men is like the Port of San Francisco, and these men are like boats in from a foreign port, tramp steamers some of them, out of nowhere, going nowhere, no baggage, no traditions, men who'll never get lost because they are on their way to Nowhere.

Yet, the majority of these men are going to some place, but where I do not know. What do they talk about in groups down there, tall, young fellows and strong middle-aged men and reminiscent, old ones down in the Port o' Missing Men? If they're out of work where do they sleep at night, and what do they have to eat? And have they any women folks?

Not all kinds of men are down there, but many kinds. There are Mexicans, Sinn Feiners, old American stock, and once in awhile a venturesome Yankee. There are lumberjacks in from the North, and Chinamen in shuffling slippers, and philosophers and Swedes, half-breeds and just plain men. Some are Vagabonds who can't help their roving, and others are very tired and would like to lie over in port for or a long spell. There are Italians, and Portuguese, and many Greeks, and turbaned Hindus, tall and skinny, always traveling in pairs like nuns. Sometimes the Port is fairly crowded.

New England is a section of the country where men leave home, and I have heard mothers sing with tears in their voices: "Oh, where is my wandering boy tonight?" On Third street down at the Port o' Missing Men, I have a fancy that I would like to write back to all those mothers that here are their boys. But, after all, what good would that do, for who can tell which is which?

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