By Donald S. Vogel
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Additional resources for The boardinghouse: the Artist Community House, Chicago 1936-37
She was friendly and outgoing and seemed to develop a special thing for young artists. Perhaps she felt safe with us, for each night we were there she invited a different one of us to go home with her. She lived alone and seemed comforted by the company. My turn arrived, and I turned her down in spite of the encouragement of my companions. For some reason I felt embarrassed in refusing her invitation. Perhaps it was the vivid memories of my physiology class in high school. A. hospital's venereal disease ward I saw men in their last stages of life, green, with pus-bloated skin.
He was heavy framed, well proportioned, suggesting a man of strength who had seen hard labor. A loose blue, open necked, light linen pullover shirt hung free over baggy, tan, cotton pants. Open leather sandals gave comfort to his feet. He looked like a painter, reminding me of photographs of Paul Gauguin that I had seen. My first response was a joy, for at last I was to be in the company of artists. The humble facade of this house became at once beautiful. No sign was needed to claim it as a house of artists.
Be civilized," he said without a change of expression. "This fellow must be a comic," thought I, so I decided to play it his way. "If you think that sleeping in will help me become civilized, I'll give it a try. " "For you, maybe not," he said, draining his cup. He washed the cup, returned it to the shelf and left the room grunting at another visitor. "Hello! I heard we had another budding genius with us. " Joe Hill was a bouncy, happy-go-lucky chap whom I likened somewhat to myself in spirit, a thin six-footer with bushy hair in need of clipping, and an oval face with long thin nose dotted on either side of the bridge by deep sparkling eyes.