Newspapermen’s Pockets

Toronto Daily Star/November 6, 1920

A manufacturer recently made a canvass of his employees and found that the average amount of currency that each carried in his pocket was $28.50. In commenting on this, an editorial writer asked us to realize that ten million men, each with only $20 in his pocket, will hold out of use $200,000,000 in currency, which could well be set to work.

Let the editorial writer stop worrying. Although the factory employees may have had $28.50 apiece in their pockets consider the rest of us. For basis of comparison a series of composite photographs of the contents of the pockets of a number of persons of the same occupation have been obtained at great labor and expense.

There are, for example, newspapermen. In the pocket of the average newspaperman (unmarried and hardened) there are the following articles:

One handsome leather wallet (a gift).
Three pencils.
Two complimentary tickets to any poor show.
A number of unredeemable mutual tickets.
Three letters from his best girls (who are soon to marry somebody with enough money to support them).
A number of streetcar tickets.
$2.85 in cash.
Newspaper reporter (married):
A varying number of Please Remits.
A single mutuel ticket. He played a rank outsider who would have paid thirty to one for $5 on the chance of staving off the coal shortage. It was a poor chance.
A picture of the wife.
Lunch money.

A cub reporter’s pockets contain:

One large collection of clippings. These are stories written by the reporter himself which have actually appeared in a real newspaper. They show his splendid ability to handle such vital stories as an unidentified Negro being struck by a motortruck while crossing Dundas Street. There is usually some short feature story by the reporter describing how the wind blows up and down King Street. This was inserted in the paper by the city editor one Monday when copy was short and because he was once a cub reporter himself.When the police find a dead body with a pocket full of clippings they know it is either a cub reporter or an actor. As reporters never die, it is always an actor.

In addition to the clippings cub reporters’ pockets contain a number of other things.

A collection of letters from his best girl who hasn’t yet realized that she is going to marry somebody else.
A street directory.
A number of postage stamps, purchased in a moment of affluence and now stuck together.
A receipt from his tailor for ten dollars’ payment on account.
A handsome cigarette case. The cub reporter thought this was silver once, but a pawnbroker disillusioned him.
An expense voucher which he plans to cash for supper.

The editorial writer shouldn’t worry. As long as there are newspapermen, bond salesmen, automobile salesmen, bank employees and similar occupations, there will be a great enough lack of pocket money to balance the excess of the factory employees.

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)