PITY THE RICH
ONE evening, as we were preparing to go out, the telephone bell rang. Mr. Keen delightedly told me that an old friend from Chicago was on the way up to the apartment.
"Wait till you see this old duffer," he laughed. "He's one of our millionaires. But a good skate at that. He was my father's bosom friend."
A rather pleasant looking, tall, well-knit man came in and he and Mr. Keen fell into each other's arms, like old friends.
"So you're from Russia, eh, one of them Reds?" he said to me.
I said "yes" and we all laughed, as though that was funny.
"Well. I don't know -- one thing you don't have to worry about over there is the depression."
"Are you losing any sleep over it?" asked Mr. Keen.
"Am I?" he exclaimed. "If you were sleeping on bricks, like I am, you'd be losing sleep too, plenty. Twenty acres of factory in Chicago -- if smoke came out of any of the chimneys they'd call the fire department. I hold basic patents -- I used to get royalties on every brick made in the country. But what good is brick today except for breaking heads and windows!
"I left the old home town to go out and make my fortune. I guess it was a mistake. I wish I had stayed home. I could then have been somewhat of a fixture, with a horizon limited to Jim Jones' cow pasture and the outhouse. Republics, Monarchies, Hitlers, Louisiana Kingfishes, Mrs. Roosevelt, Father Coughlins, Townsends -- would have come and gone and not disturbed my equanimity any more than that of a cud-chewing cow.
"I never knew I had so many relatives. All needing help. My son, the noted architect, has done nothing in four years! I have to keep him, his wife and three children from going on the relief rolls. He's telling the world he's ready for Communism tomorrow! You know, he's going nuts. Such a capable young fellow, rarin' to be doing things and doomed to inactivity! Like my brick yard. What in hell are we coming to! You know I'm not worried about myself, for old uncle Billy there's always room in the Rich House."
"Rich House?" I asked.
"Yes, we poor rich-people have to look ahead too. What do you think would happen to us if we lost our money? Sure. One of us, an Andrew Freedman, who used to have weird nightmares about having lost his money, insured himself and other poor-rich co-sufferers to enable them to live out their time 'in the style to which they were accustomed,' regardless of what happens. He built a home for them."
So, in America even the rich, who own everything, are terrified by the threat of insecurity!