True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 172
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172 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
were fine printers, regular experts, but they worked only spasmodically,
and when they were forced to do so by stern necessity.
There were no type-setting machines in those days.
The old fashioned printer set type by hand. Both Jim and
"Shorty" were good members of the union and could always
get at least a day or two's work in any union office and that
was all either of them wanted.
"Shorty" was in constant trouble with the barkeepers. He
would show up frequently minus a hat or coat, which articles
of wearing apparel had been ruthlessly seized by some irate
saloon man in liquidation of his bar bill. About 1882 "Shorty"
went to Galveston and Major Lowe performed the miracle of
sobering him up. Then the most wonderful things occurred.
"Shorty" turned out to be an exquisite, a regular dude. He
broke out in broadcloth, patent leather boots, stovepipe hat, kid
gloves and gold-headed cane. He was sober so long that he
was made foreman of the News composing room. It was really
a treat to see him walk down Tremont or Market Street. He
was a good looking little fellow and for about a year was the
envy of the men and the admiration of the ladies. One night
he was tempted and fell. His glory departed like a summer
cloud, just faded away, and the old bum printer was in full swing
before the end of the week. "Shorty" never attempted to regain
a new foothold, but went down with flying colors, the colors he
had chosen. He went to the News office and got an armful 6f
"brain food" one afternoon and about 9 o'clock that night
some one going to his room found him sitting in his chair with
his glasses on, a newspaper spread out on his knee, stone dead.
Jim Baker was somewhat different from "Shorty." ,He never,
for one thing, ever quit drinking voluntarily. When he quit
there was a cause, other than moral. He had a voice that would
have been worth a fortune for an ambitious tragedian. It was a
grand voice and when he would repeat a poem or some extract
from one of Bob Ingersoll's speeches, it was worth listening to.
He was a great schemer and could get a quart of whiskey
where "Shorty" could not get a drink. One of the amusing
things I remember about him was once when he tried to work
the Rev. Mr. Clemens, rector of Christ Church. Mr. Clemens
was one of the best and most tender-hearted men and was always
eager to respond to an appeal for assistance. He was in the
Post editorial room one night when Jim rushed in with the request
for a half dollar, saying that fie was hungry and had not
eaten for two days. Mr. Clemens listened to his tale of woe
and then, taking him by the arm, hurried him down to a restaurant
and told the man to give Jim the biggest supper he
could fix up. Mr. Clemens took a seat to see Jim enjoy the teal.
It was brought, but Jim could not eat a mouthful of it. He made
a clean breast to Mr. Clemens and never tried to.impose on that
gentleman again for drinks. Mr. Clemens forgave him his deception
and gave him an order for a night's lodging at a nearby
boarding house. Jim actually needed the bed, so he took the
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/172/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .