At an age when most boys are willing to take in the museum Sunday afternoon with dad, or else roam a near-by hillside with a Boy Scout troop, Albert Dubiski, 14, set out at the age of 12 years, in July, 1930, on a journey which took him into 42 States of the Union. Albert’s back home now with his father and mother, two sisters and three brothers, at 92 Danforth Avenue. Is he glad to be back? Well, just ask him. And what’s more, he says he’s home to stay. “I’ve seen the world, now I’m going to settle down,” says this youthful Marco Polo, as he grins a shy grin and nervously moves his hands as he talks.
The story of his two years and more on the highways and railroads of the country, in the jungles and flop houses, with all sorts and conditions of men and boys, is not a sweet tale. Rather it is a grim recital of hunger and hardship, of pain and suffering, of kicks and cuffs, and it takes the boy to tell it. Few mature men in this city have picked apples on the Pacific Coast, cotton in Mississippi, oranges in Florida, and peddled papers in Alabama, ever in their lives, to say nothing of doing all this before they were 14 years old. But despite the fact that Albert has done all these things and has rubbed elbows with the riff-raff of a nation, has met thugs and criminals, college men and down-and-outers, he has held to lessons he learned in the Boys’ Club in this city. He told Jim Keegan, popular superintendent of that institution, the other night: “I always thought of the Club and you and it’s good to be back.”
For two years and three months Albert was a member of that vast army of 200,000 vagabond children in America, so dramatically written of by Maxine Davis in the Ladies’ Home Journal of September, 1932. He probably did not know of it at the time. He does now. His advice to other boys who have the wanderlust, who may feel that they are helping out the family finances by taking to the road these times, is: “Don’t do it; there’s nothing in it but trouble.” It’s the advice of a 14-year-old who has been through the mill and it places final approval on the continually-apparent fact that character-building work among the youth of the city is a paying investment.