NEW YORK, Dec 8-- It probably makes no difference to the sugar trust that it has spoiled the party that Gustav Slavinsky was going to give tomorrow at his home, 13 Dupont st., Brooklyn, to celebrate his seventh birthday.
Gustav is only a poor little boy, and the trust could hardly be expected to take an interest in his affairs. But to Gustav and his brothers and sisters the abandonment of the party means five broken-hearted children in the Slavinsky home.
Julius Slavinsky, father of the family, was until last night a laborer in the American sugar refining company's plant on Pigeon st., Long Island City. Now he is in jail because he had the temerity to take 4 cents' worth of the company's sugar.
Slavinsky by working 14 hours a day was able to make about $12 a week. That enabled him to rent four rooms in a tenement house and to keep his wife and children from starvation. Luxuries were unknown in the Slavinsky home. As for parties, they seemed entirely out of the question until Victoria Slavinsky, who is 12 and the oldest of the children, began talking of a celebration in honor of Gustav.
That was weeks ago. Slavinsky spoke to his wife about it, and they finally agreed that they could do without something they needed and let the children have their frolic. So Victoria and Henry, who is 10 years old, Chester 8, and Julia just turned 3, began making schemes for Gustav's party. They were to have ice cream and some cakes, and then there was to be a present for Gustav.
Friday morning Victoria drew her father aside and asked him if he could get some white sugar especially for the party. The Slavinskys had never used anything but coarse brown sugar. Slavinsky said he would try.
To his delight, Slavinsky that day was put to work in the room where sugar is loaded into barrels. When work was over, he found on the floor tiny heaps of sugar. He did not think it would be any harm to scoop up enough to fill his dinner pail.
With the precious pailful, he started from the refinery. At the gate stood Louis Holzback, the watchman. It seemed to the watchman that Slavinsky clutched the pall as though there was something in it. He halted Slavinsky and looked into the pall.
"You thief," shouted Holzback, seizing the man by the coat collar. "You stole that sugar."
Slavinsky fell back in amazement. Holzback, taking a tighter grip on the man's coat, dragged him to the street and summoned policeman Joseph Quinn. The policeman did not want to arrest SIavinsky.
"It's only a handful of sugar," he said. "The company won't miss it."
Holzback was obdurate and Quinn had to take the man to police headquarters.
"How much sugar did he take?" asked the sergeant.
"It's worth about four cents," said the watchman.
Slavinsky tried to explain about the birthday party, but Holzback sneered and said he was nothing but a common thief. Sgt. Miller had to send the man to a cell, but he admitted that he hated to do it.
When his case was called before Magistrate Smith in the Long Island city police court this morning, the sugar trust's lawyer sent word that he was too busy to come to court. He asked the magistrate to postpone the hearing, and the case went over until tomorrow morning. Slavinsky, having no one to furnish bond, had to return to his cell. So Gustav's birthday party will not take place.
Boston (Massachisetts) Daily Globe, December 9, 1906.
Copyright © 2007 Larry Slavens. All rights reserved.