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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter 5 Broken Promises

Jim sat at the kitchen table reading out President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech from the newspaper. He tried to find hope in the President’s words. According to Roosevelt, there was only one thing for Americans to fear—”fear itself.” Mae counted out coins from the rainy-day jar.

Jim’s week had become an unending string of gray mornings and sweaty afternoons of hard work at the docks. Jim and Mike worked together every day, and Jim did all the work with his left hand. In the evenings, he had another job—more long, hard work with only his left hand. Mae was usually asleep on the sofa by the time Jim got home at night.

That night she was woken by the sound of coins dropping into the jar. She saw her husband walk toward their bed.

Jim looked down at the clean, white sheets. He wanted nothing more than to fall into them, but then he looked down at his own dirty, sweaty body, and lay down on the floor.

“Jimmy,” Mae whispered. “We can wash the sheets.”

But Jim was already asleep. Mae pulled the covers off the bed and lay down on the floor, beside her husband.

The winter of 1933—34 was one of the coldest in recent memory.

One morning, Mae and Rosy walked with the boys to school.

They were walking back down the snowy street when Mae saw a shiny new car outside their building.

“Mommy, who’s the man at our house?” asked Rosy.

Mae walked up to the man, whose uniform showed that he was the gas and electricity man. “Can I help you, sir?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You haven’t paid the bills, and I have to cut your electricity off.”

The man was in his thirties, but his eyes looked older.

“You can’t,” said Mae. “We have kids. Please.”

“If I don’t, I’ll lose my job,” said the man sadly.

Work at the docks finished early that day. Jim and his work partner Mike started walking around local towns, looking for work. There was none anywhere that day. Tired and cold, they started for home.

“We have until tomorrow,” cried a loud voice.

Jim’s steps slowed. Across the street, a young man was arguing with two city police officers. His wife stood beside him, fighting back tears. The couple’s furniture was on the sidewalk all around them. The officers were moving them from their apartment.

The two officers wore fine, new uniforms. The younger of the two was polite. The older man had heard every excuse before, and he was tired of listening.

Jim watched as the young husband tried to pull a piece of paper out of the officer’s hand.

“This says we have another day,” he cried.

“Come on,” said Mike, pulling Jim’s arm. But Jim was already moving across the street and Mike went with him.

“You can’t do this,” the young woman was saying. “We’ll never get back in.”

Her husband jumped in front of the officers as they moved to fit a new lock to the building’s front door. “Please, I’m starting a factory job next week . . .”

The officers pushed him away and put the lock on.

“Excuse me,” said Mike politely, then louder:”Excuse me!”The officers stared at him. “Please can I have a look at that notice? The law says that I’m allowed to.” He stepped forward. “Let me just have a look at the date on it. If everything’s OK with it, we’ll just walk away.”

“Or else what?” demanded the younger officer. The older officer was looking at Jim.

Mike smiled. “You guys know Jim Braddock, don’t you?”

The older officer’s attitude changed immediately. “I’ve seen you fight, Jim,” he said.

Mike looked down at the document in the older man’s hand.

“What do you say, guys? Mistakes happen all the time.”

The officer nodded. “Maybe we got our days mixed up,” he said, removing the lock from the door.

As the two officers walked away, Mike and Jim began to help the couple move their furniture back inside.

“So you’re a lawyer?” asked Jim.

Mike shook his head. “A banker, but I hired enough lawyers to have a good idea of the law. It doesn’t matter now . . . I lost it all in ‘29.” He looked Jim in the eyes. “You know, there are people living in Central Park. The government has failed us. We need to organize. Fight back.”

Jim shook his head. “Fight what? Bad luck? You have to trust that the government will solve things in the end. I like what President Roosevelt says.”

“Forget Roosevelt!” shouted Mike. “He hasn’t given me my house back yet!”

Jim looked in surprise at the terrible anger in his friend’s eyes.

The blanket didn’t hang in the middle of the room. Now the three children had it around them, as they lay in bed. Jim could see their breath in the cold air. Every piece of clothing in the apartment was piled on top of them.

He crossed the room and threw a piece of a wooden sign onto the fire in the stove. Mae emptied the rainy-day jar onto the table..

She began to push the coins around.

“Six dollars and seventy cents,” said Jim, joining his wife. “How much would it cost to turn the electricity back on?”

Thirty-three dollars and ten cents,” whispered Mae.

If I work twenty-six hours out of every twenty-four, it still won’t be enough.” Jim seemed suddenly weaker. He looked at Mae. “Think of all the other guys who wanted to marry you.”

“What happened to those guys?” joked Mae, then she squeezed his hand. “I married the guy I love.”

A wet cough from across the room interrupted them. “It’s Howard,” said Mae sadly. “He’s been sick since this afternoon.”

When Mae woke up the next morning, Jim had already gone out into the terrible cold. She spent the morning trying to keep the children warm, burning pieces of wood they had taken from signs in the street. Howard lay close to the stove, his face red with fever. Fighting back the tears, his mother held a glass of water to his lips. The boy was getting sicker.

Not wanting her children to see her cry, Mae rushed out the door and stood in the snow. Bitter tears ran down her face.

She cared only about keeping this family together. Jim was killing himself trying to do this, but it wasn’t working. Now they had lost their heat and electric power. Mae knew what she had to do. She rushed inside to dress her children warmly for the trip across the river to New York City.

As Jim stepped through the door, the apartment was as cold as the air outside. He met silence. No little bodies ran to him with open arms. By the stove, Mae sat alone, staring into the dying flames.

She couldn’t meet his eyes.

“Howard was getting worse,” she explained. “Then Rosy started to get sick.”

“Where are they, Mae?”

“The boys are at my father’s house. Rosy’s going to stay with my sister. We can’t keep them warm, Jim.”

Jim’s emotions were almost too strong for words—fear, sadness, anger. He pointed a finger at Mae. “You don’t decide what happens to our children without me.”

Mae stood and held his arms. “Jimmy, if they get really sick, we don’t have the money for a doctor.”

“If you send them away, this has all been for nothing,” he said angrily. “It means that we lost.” He shook Mae’s arms off. “I made a promise to Jay, do you understand? I promised that we would never send him away.”

Without another word, he turned and walked across the freezing room and out of the door.

Later that afternoon, he stood at the wooden counter of the Newark relief office. An unsmiling woman counted out twelve dollars and eighty cents, which she placed in a white envelope.

Jim’s hand shook as he signed for the money, trying not to blame himself for what he had done. Ashamed, he put the envelope into his pocket.

He pushed his way through the unhappy crowd. They were lawyers and dock workers, teachers and factory workers. Bankers and builders. Now, unable to earn money themselves, they were here to receive money from the state. Some were so ashamed that, like Jim, they looked only at the floor. Others looked straight ahead with empty stares.

After Jim crossed the river to Manhattan, he walked past all the homeless people in the city who seemed to have no hope. The story was the same everywhere: No work. No money.

At last, Jim reached the streets around Madison Square Garden.

There were no bright lights now, no people in expensive clothes waiting outside. Instead, homeless people searched for anything they could use.

Jim went to the familiar side door. The sign for the next fight showed two boxers standing with gloves up. Jim remembered when his picture had been on signs like this. He remembered the fight with Tuffy Griffiths, the dream of that night when the future looked bright for Jim Braddock.

But then another, less happy memory came to mind—the fight against Tommy Loughran. It was July 1929—-just four months before the Crash. Jim was fighting for the title of light heavyweight champion, but it was the fight that turned Braddock into a boxer of “failed promise.”

The New York crowd had wanted Braddock to win, and the fight had started well, too. But things changed in the second round. Loughran began to dance around the ring, dodging Braddock’s punches easily. He had discovered Braddock’s biggest weakness—no left-hand punch.

In the rest of the fight, Braddock had hit the champion with a few good punches, but it wasn’t enough. The judges all decided that Loughran was the winner. The newspapers weren’t kind to Braddock, who had looked slow in the last three rounds. His dream of winning the title seemed to be at an end.

Now, years later, Jim stood in the shadows in Madison Square Garden and said the same words that he had said after the Loughran fight: “I don’t know what went wrong.”

He opened the side door and started up the stairs. The climb to the Madison Square Garden boxing club was the hardest of his life. The club was a place where the rich money-makers of New York’s boxing world could relax and do business. It wasn’t high above street level, but it was like another world.

At first, nobody noticed as Jim Braddock walked into the smoky room. He went up to two men in the center of the room.

“Mr. Allen . . . Phil. . .”

The men looked up at the fighter. Others noticed and conversations around the room died. Jim cleared his throat.

“I’m here because we can’t afford to pay the heating bills. We had to send our kids away . . . I just need enough money to get my children back.” Jim took off his hat and stretched it out.

The whole room was silent now. Mr. Allen put his hand in his pocket. “Sure, Jim.” He placed a few coins into Jim’s hat.

“Thank you,” replied Jim. Then he offered his hat to the others around the room. Everybody gave some money—even Jimmy Johnston, the man who had taken away Jim’s license.

Finally, Jim stopped in front of Joe Gould. “I’m sorry, Joe,” he told his old manager.

“What do you have to be sorry about, Jim?” said Joe. “How much more do you need?”

“One dollar and fifty cents, I think,” whispered Jim. Joe placed the exact amount in Jim’s hat.

When Jim left the club, it was dark outside and streetlights lit the icy sidewalks. Jim walked past a store that had gone out of business. His face looked back at him from the dark glass of the store window. He had seen that look before. It was on the face of the man in his old suit selling apples on the street corner. It was on the face of the banker waiting in line for hours at the Newark relief office.

Jim had never understood how a proud man could sink so low.

Now, with the money in his pocket to get his children back, Jim knew. He finally understood.

The next night, Mae opened the apartment door and turned on the electric light. Jay and Howard ran inside, followed by Jim, who was carrying the sleeping Rosy.

Jim was happy to see his family together and home again, but he felt other emotions, too. He knew now how easily their world could be destroyed.

He couldn’t sleep that night. When the sun finally appeared, he got up and dressed silently. Before he left for another long day of work, he stood at the door and looked at his family. A boxer entered the ring alone. If he was knocked down, he alone could stand up and continue fighting. Jim was alone now, as he left the house and went looking for work.

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