Onion Days - Poem by Carl Sandburg
Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti comes along Peoria Street
every morning at nine o'clock
With kindling wood 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 does,
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
the ads in the Daily News.
Jasper belongs to an Episcopal church in Ravenswood
and on certain Sundays
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 News so it would bring more
women and girls out to his farm and reduce operating
Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti is far from desperate about life;
her joy is in a child she knows will arrive to her in
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
I listen to fellows saying here's good stuff for a novel or
it might be worked up into a good 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.
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