Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
July 31st, 1913
At First It Was Picnic for Them, but Now It’s Only a Long, Long Wait, in a Crowded Room Under a Burning Roof
The witnesses in the trial of Leo M. Frank undoubtedly have had the hardest time of it to date. If they testify they must run the gamut of Luther Rosser’s sledge-hammer cross-examination or Solicitor Dorsey’s boring-in tactics; if they don’t testify they must wait, and the waiting is the hardest part of all.
One of them in the upstairs hall above the court-room declared Wednesday, “I can’t stay up here, it’s too hot. If I go downstairs a policeman runs me away. But I’ve got to stick around.”
It is hot, fearfully hot. In the room where the witnesses have congregated. Downstairs are electric fans and ozonaters and the excitement of the trial, upstairs there is nothing but heat and waiting.
On the first day the witnesses felt very cool and merry. It was a novel experience, they could discuss every phase of the trial, they might even be the next ones to testify.
But three days of it has cooled, or rather melted their ardor. Men in wilted collars and women and girls pale and wan from long hours spent under the burning roof, lounge around on chairs and benches. They have nothing to do. They can talk about the case, but they have talked about it so much that the subject is worn threadbare. They can look out the window and wonder if the workmen on the new court house are named Smith or Jones. They can look out the windows on the other side and speculate on the menu which the Greek restaurant is offering for dinner. But such idle fancying is not intensely interesting.
In the front room to the right are the negroes, grown several shades paler, one would think, since they first were subpoenaed.
In the main room are other witnesses, friends of Frank come to defend his character: girls from the factory, the mother of Mary Phagan and her friends. Some of them are asleep on the benches, others twiddle their thumbs and gaze at the walls, where great oil paintings of Georgia’s famous lawmakers hang.
“Let’s get something to drink,” some one will say, and across to a drug store they go; returning a few moments later to sit down and await the summons.
The only break in the monotony comes when a bailiff takes a witness away to the court room or brings one back.
Then the rest gather around to hear how their fellow sufferer fared at the hands of the attorneys. It may be their turn next, perhaps they will do better. And so they wait.