"Stormy History of Fruit Stand" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1894

Published in Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1894

Greek Met Greek and the Elusive
"Toucher" Met Them Both

George is a Greek who left the land of Sparta for Chicago, where bananas are in steady demand and grapes and other fruit are relished in their season.  The soul of George aspires to be altogether free; hence, as soon as he saved a little money, he cast about for a desirable stand for the sale of the products of the tropics and California.

A man, who gave his name as Neversink, heard of the ambition of George, and calling upon him directed his way to a State street corner that promised a harvest of profit.  George was so elated over the reasonableness of the price that he failed to exercise the caution that ordinarily pertains to his race, for the Spartan is nothing if not a merchant, and eagerly paid without further inquiry the twenty dollars that was demanded.  He further agreed to hand over an equal sum on the first day of every month.  Mr. Neversink thereupon left George with many words of cheer and good wishes.

George proceeded to measure the distance he might occupy, with the object of cutting his stand to fit the site.  He was absorbed in contemplation of possible big profits, when a squatty individual, with a bristly mustache and a dirty face, stepped up and said, roughly:

"What yer adoin' yere?  I'll have you pinched.  See?"
"Me.  Georgeos Pallitakinos, rent dissy here.  Me, Georgeos, me," and the Greek stabbed his breast vigorously with his index finger.

"Who told yer?  Neversink?  W'y, he don't own nawthin'.  Ef yer don't fimme $15, d'ye see, I'll have ye pinched."

Vainly George pleaded; for Jimmy Deuce-Ace, so he made himself known, was inexorable.  To keep from arrest and the loss of the coveted stand the Spartan, fruit man dived into his pocked and lugubriously paid over the sum demanded.

Mr. Deuce-Ace went off, as he solemly averred, to discover Mr. Neversink and complel him to disgorge that $20, which he pleaded should be speedily restored to its owner.  As George has not seen either of the Gentlemen since, one may suppose, if he chooses to, that Mr. Neversink proved a very elusive person.

George is a cheerful temper and while he did not relish paying twice for a single commodity, he yet rejoiced that he had come by it so cheaply.  He was thrilled with the thought of the admiration he should excite when he returned to the Greek quarter on North Clark street and made known his good fortune.

Here a nicely dressed man came out of the store before which he was standing and said, sternly:

"Come, move on.  I don't want any tramps around here."

George in the most execrable English made known his claim to the locality, but whether the man did not understand him, which would not be strange, or he thought the descendant of Leonidas was lying, he angrily seized him by the neck and vigorously kicked him into the street.

George is a prudent fellow and he bore himself away from the scene with celerity as soon as he regained his feet - being, or seeming to be, entirely indifferent to the mud which had attached itself to his clothing in immense quantity.

An hour or so later he returned upon the scene with Joseph Metropolitos, a fellow Spartan, who also was half expiring in his desire for a profitable fruit stand.  When George offered him the site for $40 Mr. Metropolitos fairly threw the required sum at him.  George had omitted any mention of the kicking episode, and, as Joseph had everything ready at hand, fruit, stand, and all, he had them promptly transferred to the spot.  Soon he had his "3 for 5 cents" and "12 for 10 cents" cards rising like miniature tombstones above his wares.

Joseph had scarcely got things adjusted when the gentleman who had forcibly persuaded George to vacate here stuck his head out of the door.  Utter amazement was reflected from his countenance.  He tried to speak, but his tongue failed him, and, being evidently a very choleric man, he seized Joseph, who is a very little fellow, and literally pitched him into the street, sending after him apples, pears, and bananas galore  Then he rushed within doors, and in a moment or two a porter came out with an ax and made kindling wood of the stand.

While this operation proceeded Joseph rubbed his aching body and ruefully regarded the destruction of his property.  When all was over he went off in search of George, whom he found without difficulty.  Then followed a mixture of unclassical Greek for about ten minutes that ended in a "scrap," in which Joseph was decidedly worsted.

Following the custom of the "colony" in Chicago, the matter in dispute was referred to a Committee on Arbitration, which has been sitting upon the case for the last six days, with but little prospect of reaching a satisfactory conclusion.

While the arbitration is going on the police solemnly declare they are diligently in search of Messrs. Neversink and Deuce-Ace, the authors of the mischief.