Collecting: Military and ‘mendicants’

The front page of the July 30, 1942, issue of The Villager featured several articles relating to World War II. One, “Organize Village Salvage Corps,” discussed a new group that was rounding up “Vital to Victory” materials “for immediate diversion into the channels of war industry…scrap metal, rubber, rags [and] every useful material including newspaper.”

Meanwhile, the new captain of the old Eighth Police Precinct “in the easterly section of the Village,” had declared war on “mendicants,” vowing “a cleanup of panhandlers in the area between Washington Square South and W. 14th St.” Captain William O. Jones was booking a dozen mendicants a day at the precinct, “greatly alleviating the situation,” The newspaper reported. “We shall keep on,” the captain vowed, “until the nuisance is eliminated as far as possible in this fine old residential section. These derelicts and ‘moochers’ don’t belong here, and they won’t be allowed here. There is no reason or excuse for giving them a ‘hand-out,’ which nine cases out of ten is not for the purposes they ask it. The city and numerous organizations are ready and willing to provide for their worthy needs with funds provided through taxes and contributions from the same citizens these panhandlers approach unlawfully on the street.”

Six additional officers from the “mendicant squad” from Police Headquarters had been assigned to help with the situation.

–  Lincoln Anderson

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