Reitman is mentioned in Ragtime as being one of Emma Goldman's lovers. He was a well-known anarchist and physician to the poor. He was known as the "hobo doctor", offering services to hobos, prostitutes, the poor, and other outcast. He performed abortions, which were illegal at the time.
This is what Goldman had to say about Reitman in her autobiography:
He arrived in the afternoon, an exotic, picturesque figure with a large black cowboy hat, flowing silk tie, and huge cane. "So this is the little lady, Emma Goldman," he greeted me; "I have always wanted to know you." His voice was deep, soft, and ingratiating. I replied that I also wanted to meet the curiosity who believed enough in free speech to help Emma Goldman. My visitor was a tall man with a finely shaped head, covered with a mass of black curly hair, which evidently had not been washed for some time. His eyes were brown, large, and dreamy. His lips, disclosing beautiful teeth when he smiled, were full and passionate. He looked a handsome brute. His hands, narrow and white, exerted a peculiar fascination. His finger-nails, like his hair, seemed to be on strike against soap and brush. I could not take my eyes off his hands. A strange charm seemed to emanate from them, caressing and stirring...
Goldman called her passionate love affair with Reitman the "Great Grand Passion" of her life. They lived and traveled together for almost eight years, campaigning in favor of birth control, free speech, women's rights, and anarchism. They traveled to San Diego for the free speech fight in 1912-1913. While Goldman spoke on free speech, Reitman was kidnapped, tarred and feathered, branded with "I.W.W", and his rectum and testicles were abused. Years later, the couple was arrested under the Comstock Act for advocating for birth control, and Reitman served six months in prison.
Both Goldman and Reitman believed in free love, but Goldman became jealous when one of Reitman's lovers became pregnant. Their relationship ended in 1917 after Reitman was released from prison.
Dramaturgy for the Ragtime musical and novel.
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