Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1894
ANY one who wants to see humor, poverty, and pathos, all mixed together in the proportions of three parts poverty to one of the others, should come down to the office of The Tribune between 12 o’clock an 4 on a Sunday morning. There he can see the newsboys waiting to get their copies of The Sunday Tribune, and if he thinks it a miniature copy of the City Hall during the tough times last winter he is to be forgiven the mistake.
Boys are sleeping, crowding, quarreling, laughing, and climbing everywhere. The Tribune has large offices, but the Sunday newsboys tax its capacity pretty thoroughly.
As early as 8 o’clock Saturday night they begin to arrive. Policeman Frank Barchard keeps an eye on them, and when the time comes he gives them places in the line, which later moves past a window to buy checks for papers. Long before midnight the front part of the has been formed and the boys take time for a little sleep. Fearing they will lose the advantage of being at the front if they go away from the office they flop down on the floor of the polished oak counters, where “ads” are written, and in a second they are deep in slumber. There they lie, sometimes in bunches, their legs and arms intertwined so its difficult to tell which boy qany given limb may belong. This line of dormant “kids” curls about the counting-room floor, out into the elevator passageway, up the broad stone steps toward the editorial rooms, and when “de push,” or crowd of newsboys, is particularity large, up the iron stairway of the second story, each step having its sleeper. Sometimes a little fellow who is thinly clad puts a newspaper under and over him, for paper is as warm as a blanket.
Under these little ones the presses roar and rumble as the first editions are run off crisp and spicy for out-of-town readers. They are rolled into bundles and addressed as if by magic, jammed through into tough sacks, and hustled out into Madison and Dearborn streets, where wagons are waiting to carry them to the various depots for early trains.
A scene of animation that rivals South Water street in its busiest hours is taking place in these thoroughfares. Night cars have to thread their way through teams and wagons; a policeman going ahead to open up a passage. No day blockade at this point can compare with the night blockade when The Tribune is “catching the mails.”
One by one the big wagons are filled and away they whir at breakneck speed, until the streets are clear once more. And through all this roar and clatter the boys of the street sleep. Those who have money for their papers are in the warm office of The Tribune. Many who have not a cent curl up in knots in shelf-like signboards in blind alleys over boilers and in ventilation shafts—anywhere to get a little out of the wind and the rain and the snow.
“Checks are out!” shouts the cashier.
That wakes The Tribune boys. Up they jump! They jostle each other, jealous lest they lose their places in the long line that at once begins moving past the cashier’s window. Here the boys buy each two checks; one for the number of papers desired, the other to indicate the place of the holder in the line that finally gets the papers.
For The Sunday Tribune the demand has grown so enormous as to occasion embarrassment for room to get the big paper together, so the “stuffing” or putting together of the various sections has to be done largely in the corridors of the building. Improvised board tables are erected in the elevator passage-way on the ground floor and in the big hall on the second floor. The newsboys are given certain inside sections to “stuff,” the amount received being checked off on their paper disks. Here, too, the famous art supplements are slipped into place. Although these pretty souvenirs go with The Sunday Tribune free, their excellence is recognized so thoroughly many framemakers are driving a lively trade in framing them for homes. For issues that are particularly pleasing big prices are paid, especially when the issue is exhausted early.
The mammoth presses are silent now. Up to the editorial rooms, the latest news of the world is being ticked off special wires, “read,” and rushed into type. The newest stories brought in by wide-awake night police reporters are being prepared for publication. Then comes the “30,” which telegraphers and newspaper men say when the night’s work is ended. Soon the last or city edition is being ground out by the printing machines as fast as the wheels can go ’round.
Now the newsboys show how much snap and ginger they have. The final line is formed. It curls and twists about in The Tribune counting-room, wiggles out at the door, and squirms away down Dearborn street past the Saratoga Hotel, even to and beyond Monroe street when the pressure is great. The morning after Prendergast killed Carter H. Harrison this compact, wabbly line reached beyond Monroe street to the Adams Express Building.
It takes six men to keep these young men merchants in their places. Each boy fears he will be crowded out and “cut off” his supply of papers by bringing up the rear of the line. Little fellows stick their heads out sideways to gasp for breath and to keep their noses from being flattened permanently against their faces. There is a great deal of chattering as the line moves on toward the press-room, where the final sheets are given out Sundays and the complete papers other mornings. Many able-bodied oaths, with no intent of profanity back of them, roll out of young lips. The queerest of nicknames are shouted. It’s a job for a giant to keep the in-going and out-coming lines in order on the press-room stairs. But finally it is all over. Away the newsboys scamper to find a ready market for all the papers they can carry, for Chicago’s greatest daily is the one all customers ask for first and insist upon having.
But this isn’t all. While these scenes are being enacted in and about The Tribune Building similar things are going on for Chicago’s greatest daily in and around the old Mail building on Fifth avenue. There a great line of newsboys is supplied with Tribunes and some of the carriers get their papers. Also at the Journal office on Dearborn street, near The Tribune Building, there is a crowd of carriers supplied with The Tribune for their various routes. Officer Doherty, who knows every newsboy in Chicago, has charge of the crowd at the Fifth avenue branch and a watchman at the Journal building.
“Lammie Johnnie,” who gets his name from his only too apparent deformity, has seen the ups and downs of newspaper selling in the Western metropolis for the last twenty-five years. Another old standby is “Lonnie,” who has sold for twenty years in front of The Tribune Building. It is understood he owns two cabs as a part of the investments he has made with his savings. Then there is “Peggie,” named from his wooden leg, who has a profitable route along North Clark street.
Among the newer lads is agile little “Casey,” the 10-year old dancer. A bit of red shines at his throat and he is stylishly put together. He can dance anything from clog to a “nigger-back dance.” During his rhythmic antics he leaps clear of the floor, turns a somerset, and resumes dancing the instant his light heels touch the floor again. “Casey” is only a sample eccentricity among a most ambitious and entertaining crowd.
A measure of the immense popularity of The Tribune is shown in the large sums paid for routes that carry in the bargain only the good-will of the carriers, since bartering is individual to the young merchants, The Tribune not being a party.
Joe Wilson, an Americanized Italian, the other day offered William Shoemaker, now a full-grown man, first $1,000, then $1,200 for a certain down-town route for which Shoemaker paid $75 two years ago. The offers were declined. A route in Hyde Park was transferred last year for $2,500. Recently an offer of $10,000 for another South Division route was declined. “Cadozia,” a colored Spanish boy, who holds a stand at the Forty-third Street “L” Station and has a short route in the neighborhood, claims he makes $9 a day selling papers. He is buying a three-story brick residence on time. Then there is a hustling Italian named Kelsey, who stands at Van Buren and State streets. He has several brothers hustling for him, and they are getting on handsomely. Kelsey was married the other day. Many of the newsboys do not know their real names, and when they do their companions are ignorant what they are. There is a little colored boy who acts as monitor in The Tribune corridors. His name is “Brother. That’s all to “de push.” Thomas Smith is his real name. This is only a sample of a hundred others.
“Dutch” is what the other boys call him, but when he writes his own name—which is seldom—he calls himself Jacob Skrivonick. “Dutch” is only 15, but he is all too wise in the ways of the world and its responsibilities already. To the casual observer it seems pretty hard that a boy of 15 should have to make a single-handed fight against hunger and want, but when it comes to having to make the fight for two things seem to be a little out of balance. Five years ago “Dutch” had a father and mother and lived on a farm near Iron Mountain, Mich. Now he hasn’t got a relative in the world as far as he knows. Typhoid fever carried off his parents and hungry creditors did the same for the farm. So “Dutch” came to Chicago, and the tale of his five years’ fight is not good to listen to. Once he got work as a lather on the new South Chicago Police Station, but he claims that when the time came for payment the contractor drew all that was coming to him and went on a spree with the proceeds.
Finally “Dutch” settled down to the precarious life of a newsboy having no fixed route. Because misery loves company he gathered to himself another waif of whom he knows nothing but that his name is “August” and that he hasn’t got any friends. To the newsboys the two are known as “Dutch” and “little Dutch.” During the goof times—and foir that matter during the bad, too—”Dutch” and his protégé have shared alike. For months the two slept togeher in a Fortieth street barn, but lately the partnership has flourished, and now the Nightingale Hotel at Thirty-ninth street and Cottage Grove avenue shelters the pair. “Dutch” is a big, fine looking boy, abundantly able to take care of himself, but a lot more be made of him thanhe is ever likely to produce at his own factory.
Newsboy nomenclature is a mystery and a deep sea. “Sleep-out Louis” conveys something even to the dullest intellect, but why one bright youth should be familiarly known as “Pork Chops” while another rejoices in the sobriquet of “Big Steamboat” is a thing no man knows. And the boys don’t know either. “Big Steamboat” comes bravely forward when Policeman Barchard calls him, but he can’t explain that name. Neither can “Kangaroo,” “Little Tug,” or “Bounce,” who crowd forward to see what is going on. Some of the names these boys cheerfully wear would raise a smile in a morgue, but they come as hard, cold realitues to the yongsters who own them.
They are a hard lot, these newsboys—they have to be. Policemen who have spent years among them say they have never seen newsboy with a cough or a cold. Yet overcoats are not fashionable among “de push,” and the boy who gets the lee side of a stairway to sleep on thinks he’s in luck. Take them all the way round they are pretty good boys—back alleys are not ideal nurseries nor newspaper basements exactly kindergartens.
They swear, these boys—swear with a picturesque fluency that only a cavalryman can equal—while every last one of them shoots craps. Not all the time, be it understood, but enough never to forget the significance of seven. Some kind folks have tried to wean the elusive newsboy from his little ways. They have filled him full of plum pudding and morality warranted to wear thirty days, but it went in thirty seconds when “annudder kid tried ter swipe me corner.”
It is safe to assume that the average newsboy is over 7—considerably. Some are safely in their ‘teens when it comes to worldly wisdom, though the years of their age fit on two hands. Some are older. The champion is probably Domenico Contofio, who says he is 48 and looks like 90. He sells a lot of papers and has a boy to work for him.
“Long-Haired Willie” still sticks to his post in front of the drug store at State and Madison streets and bawls lustily for The Tribune, Chicago’s greatest daily. “Willie” came to the city from Kentucky during the World’s Fair. He picked out one of the busiest down-town corners and sailed into business as a newsboy. Every one will remember him. Eager brown eyes set in a round fat fast, a scrawny first growth of beard and mustache; worn clothing; and to top off the fellow, a shiny silk hat. Then there was his voice, suggestive of a country ball calling the cows from their pasture at sundown. This “Kentucky Willie” was a freak from the start among Chicago newsboys. First they laughed at him; then they guyed him out; then they tried to run him out. But nothing touched his nerve. Even when the street Arabs chucked eggs down hi neck he kept on selling papers. “Willie” had struck a Chicago gait. He has kept it up, too, for today he is said to have $600 tucked away and he means to be a rich man before he quits that tumultuous metropolitan street corner.
Black Arrow—Newsboy Alley
Red Arrow—Chicago Tribune Building
Robinson Fire Map
Chicago Tribune, February 2, 1902
There is a certain detective and reclaiming agency in Chicago—to quote the name givenn it by many philanthropic workers—the fame of which has traveled far and wide, although it is registered in no city or commercial directory, and although comparatively few people know of its existence. The headquarters of this agency are in Newsboys’ alley, Chicago, with Owen Dougherty, the stalwart police officer, who for over fourteen years ha looked after the alley and its frequenters, for the unofficial but none the less efficient head of the concern. “Bulldog” and “Sleep-Out Louis,” newsboys of long standing and varied attainments, might be described as Officer Dougherty’s lieutenants and principal assistants, and reclaimed more lost and runaway boys than a round dozen of child-saving societies.
There comes a time in the life of every normal, healthy, wideawke boy when the wander-lust is upon him, and when the unconventional side of his nature cries out to him to run away. Chicago boys form no exception to this rule, and large numbers of them run away, leaving pleasant homes, loving relatives, and exceptional comforts evry year. Sooner or later most of these runaway boys “round up” in or about Newsboys’ alley, as do a large number of the Juvenile Court wards, who are free on parole.
This is so, according to Chief Probation Officer Hurley, because of the selling of newspapers represents the easiest, swiftest, and surest means of making a living possible to the homeless boy. Furthermore, the newsboy’s life presents to juvenile adventure-seekers the same aspect of pleasurable excitement. Bohemian unconventionality and general delight, which the stage is supposed to offer to his adult fellow in rebellion against existent conditions. And even if the lost or runaway boy does not at once seek Newsboys’ alley he is tolerably certain to take up his residence, such as it is, in the down-town region. The amateur, but by no means amateurish, detectives mentioned “spot” him inevitably, sooner or later, and make their report to Officer Dougherty. Their sharp eyes travel over a large part of the down-town district daily and it is little they do not see. A “new kid” is noticed and commented on almost as soon as he steps east of the river. His absence from home or his failing to report to the man or woman holding his parole has in all probability been mentioned to Officer Dougherty before this happens. When, therefor, the lost or runaway boy is seen by either the officer or his unpaid and self-qualified assistants they are quite ready to take up his case.
“One of the first things to do when a boy is reported missing or fails to report on parole,” says Chief Probation Officer Hurley, “is to send over to Newsboys’ alley and ask Officer Dougherty to keep his eyes open. I know that either he or his boy assistants will find the missing lad in short order if he has not already left the city. The work which they do is really remarkable, and it is seldom, indeed, that they fail.”
“How do we do it?” counter-questioned Officer Dougherty, with good-natured amusement. “Well, you see, it’s this way. As long as I’ve been in the alley—an’ that’s more than fourteen years—I’ve tried to treat the boys decent. Sometimes I do ’em little favors—lend ’em money when they’re dead broke, an’ the like. So they naturally want to do me a favor when it’s up to them, an’ knowin’ I’m always interested in the new boys, they tells me. Sleep-out Louis an’ Bulldog is my best assistants, sure. Why, we got Bulldog out of the John Worthy School last summer just for that reason. I went an’ saw Judge Tuthill myself about it, an’ told him that we really needed Bulldog to help find other boys.”
So, on these grounds, and with this understanding, “Bulldog” was allowed to resume his accustomed work of paper selling and boy finding, and many a more fortunate urchin has been saved from gaminhood and ultimate trampdom through the efforts of himself and “Sleep-out Louis.”
“When a family boy gets down here he needs a lot of lookin’ after if a man’s to be made of him,” says Officer Dougherty, “an’ there’s no call for him to be here if he’s got a home an’ folks that’ll treat him right. Sometimes the boys need looking after just because they’re not treated right. Anyways, it’s best for me to know the new ones, an’ I can find ’em pretty quick.
“How do we fine ’em? Well, now, you see, it’s this way, I’ve been here fourteen years an’ all these boys is like a big family to me. Wouldn’t you know a stranger if you should go home an’ see him sittin’ at the table. Well, that’s the way me an’ the boys know the new fellers. We just takes a look at ’em—and there you have it.”
“I’m lookin’ for a boy now,” said Officer Dougherty one day last week. “A nice little fellow who has run away to be a newsboy. He doesn’t know how to go about it, of course, but I hear he was in one of the State street stores yesterday, lookin’ around. Next thing, if we don’t get him, he’ll be taken up for stealing, an’ that’s the first bad step of the ladder. So I’ve told the boys that we’ve just got to get him, and he’s pretty safe to be brought in some time today.”
“What’s your name?” he asked, later, of the warm-looking, exhausted boy who lounged in a corner of the big room used by the newsboys. “An’ where do you come from? An’ why aren’t you at work?”
Having elicited the information that his new charge, who was out of work and hungry, lived with an uncle whom he feared to face without money, the kindly officer promised to secure work for him somehow, and nodded an encouraging but temporary farewell. Such cases as this are frequent, and the timely discovery and assistance of Officer Dougherty and his aids undoubtedly save the boyish unfortunates from the hunger-stealing which is too often but the beginning of a long career of crime.
Newsboy Conditions in Chicago, 1903
Excerpted from a 28-page illustrated pamphlet outlining the work and social conditions of newsboys and newsgirls, based on a two-day intensive investigation. In it the Committee proposes revisions in child labor laws to curb the worst excesses. It is unclear whether Jane Addams is the author of this pamphlet, or whether it was jointly authored.
A committee appointed by the Federation of Chicago Settlements presents the following results of an investigation of a thousand newsboys. The investigation does not attempt to be exhaustive, but so far as possible is typical in the selection of districts. It was made by twenty investigators in two days time. The results of the investigation, while favorable to the legitimate features of the newspaper industry, confirm the impression that Chicago needs a city ordinance which would obviate many of the abuses now apparent in the news trade. It is with this aim in view that the Committee presents its report on Newsboy Conditions in Chicago.
Although the method of distribution of the daily papers, engaging the labor of many people, varies in the different cities, the means remam the same. The newsboy has always been regarded as indispensable for securing a satisfactory circulation. The purpose he serves IS so eVIdent, his place in the system seems so determined by necessity, that the pubhc has grown to look upon him as one of the factors in every-day hfe, able to care for himself and to work out his own salvation. That some do this there is no doubt. The newsboys who have gone from the street into business careers, and sometimes into the larger affairs of state and nation, refer with pride to the road over which they have traveled.
The newsboy becomes part of our city environment. A familiar figure, rather under medium size, as we know him best, “flipping” the street cars with his papers, or, on a street corner holding his stock in trade under his arm. A veritable merchant of the street scanning every passer-by as a possible customer, quick of wit and intent upon his trade he reads their peculiarities at a glance and makes the most of their weaknesses. The public sees him at his best and neglects him at his worst. He is not considered in the problem of “child labor,” because he works in the open and seemingly apart from the associations which are so hostile to the health and happiness of the factory child.
NEWSPAPER SELLING AS AN INDUSTRY.
Chicago at the present time is particularly fortunate in the character of its street trades. Many forces have combined in the newspaper industry to make possible a system of distribution, which, both in simplicity and completeness, excels that of most of the American cities. A system has been gradually developed in Chicago which excludes many of the deplorable tendencies in other cities. This allows the paper to pass from the publisher to the reader with the least possible waste of time or energy, and insures in the case of many of its workers the establishment of newspaper selling as an industry. The industrial possibilities have been largely due to the practical interest that the Chicago papers have taken in the newsboy, and in the development of a regular and methodical system of paper selling. This interest has not merely been evident in the desire to give some pleasure to the newsboy, by means of gymnasium, drill halls and other forms of practical helpfulness, but also, to a much greater degree, In the attempt to put the work on a basis that would insure him a business and a regular livelihood.
THE ROUTE SYSTEM.
Chicago is mapped out by carefully defined boundaries into ” routes,” assigned to men known as “route carriers.” A wagon representing each paper covers these routes, not once, but several times during the day. At regular points along the route the driver is met by the men, owners of the routes, mostly young, though not a few older men are engaged in the business. These men are often accompanied by boys, waiting for a supply of papers for house to hou;e delivery, and for sale on street corners in residence districts. They are the news dealer’s assistants, and as a rule prove themselves reliable as well as prompt. In fact, the competition for this employment is so keen that the boy must ” hustle” or another will be given the coveted position.
In the early phases of newspaper selling the street corner in the down town district became the scene of physical battles for supremacy. For many years the Irish lad held absolute possession. With strong fist and ready tongue, backed by many friends, he seemed almost invincible, but back of it all there was a certain lack of persistence that proved to be his undoing. The Jewish boy came next. H e would not fight the Irish lad with the weapons of his choosing, he knew a better way. Every day he was at his post, in winter and summer, in good weather and bad, the customer could depend on his appearance with the paper. So his trade increased, and at last he gained a monopoly of the corner. In turn he fell, and the Italian, the prince of street venders, because he possessed both of the strong points of his predecessors, secured the monopoly of most of the good corners. He was both a ready figh ter and a persistent worker.
Meanwhile the circulating managers of the newspapers came into the field with assurances of assistance to whosoever possessed the corner. The corner, which had been merely a prize for a physical contest, now came to have a quasi-legal position that implied a pecuniary value. A value so great that it could not pass unnoticed by the circulation managers, and protection of some sort seemed necessary. The social privilege must have a more stable backing than merely the “good will” of the street. Protection finally came from the newspaper in the form of a card bearing the name of the dealer and the position of his corner, with the condition that no one could buy early papers without presEnting this card. In this way they are able to regulate the transfer of the corner. “For, while they do not often interfere with the transfer of a corner from one. boy to another, if they know him to be in the pay of another paper, or If they suspect that he is getting possession of a number of corners in order to speculate on them, or to hold a monopoly, they do not give him a card.” This protection gives the dealers confidence in their position and inspires them to be both regular in their trade and courteous to customers If they wou ld establish a business.
The plan which was so well adapted to the down town district was established on a more liberal scale throughout the city. The principal corners in the outlying districts were occupied by so-called ” Canadian” boys, a title given to the dealer who delivers papers to the smaller boy, and who control the circulation in their district. and are empowered by the papers to arrange the territory each boy is to cover. Some of these boys receive a small salary from the newspaper, others are dependent upon the small sum which they derive from the sub-letting of their districts, and they manage to earn a very fair salary when they combine the actual selling of papers with their other duties. Among the men and boys who own corners outside the down-town district there is a great divergence, both in age and nationality. The boy finally chosen as overseer is usually the best representative of the district in which he lives.
In addition to this selling on the street corner many of the older boys have established regular routes, which sometimes requires the delivery at live or six hundred papers each day. A young man who has a route of this kind has been able to secure an education by means of selling papers. Although he was graduated from high school and medical college, received a degree, and has been practicing medicine for two years, yet he still continues with the old route and depends upon it chiefly for support. Many instances came to the notice of the investigators of persons who have in this way earned a living while pursuing a scientific or professional course.
In return for the social and business privilege the agen t assumes the responsibility for the circulation of the paper on his corner, or in his district. He promises that each paper shall have an equal amount of attention at his hands, and neither shall be favored either in position or method of sale. As long as the bargain is kept he is given perfect liberty and remains secure in his position. If the bargain is broken there are forces in reserve that operate to his undoing.
The business in its present development requires that some one be constantly at the stand. In the morning only one newsboy. or at the most two, are necessary, for the trade in the morning is comparatively dull. This is due to the fact that most of those who come to the city on suburban trains have already purchased their papers before arriving in the city. and those who live in the city have either obtained a copy at their homes or are too busy to read them at their place of business. On the west side few boys are on the street before 6 a.m., except those who have regular routes. A father was found delivering papers at 5 a. m. with his three little dauohlers assisting, but .as a general rule throughout the city comparatively few p”eople are engaged In the sale of morning papers. In the a fternoon from 3 to 7 o’ clock. many of the corner men have from one to a dozen or more assistants. who receive either a percentage of their sales or a small salary. This is the so-called ” hustler” system. which the newspapers claim is ” simply an excrescence, and apparently a temporary one.” The new child labor law forbids the employing of boys under fourteen years of age. but the dealer can easily ” void this technicality by changing wages into commission. the boy will then be working for himself.
The privilege of position. and the regularity of sales necessarily develops a fixed value for the corner, which ranges from $100 to $500. The four corners of Clark and Madison streets are estimated by their owners to be worth $2,000. None of the corner men earn less than $ 1 a day, and many earn from $5 to $10. All this proves that it is possible for the city to make a helpful industry out of a trade which has been long considered irregular and desultory. If legislation is needed for this class it is only that there may be greater security in the business which they now hold as a privilege and not as a legal right. Many of the dealers desire this, as there is always some uncertainty in their continued possession of a corner. Our conclusion is that the older boys and men are taking excellent care of their business, and of those among their number who need help.
Girls have long been selling papers in Chicago, so long indeed that the fact seems to have passed unnoticed. The investigators saw 20, and a moderate estimate puts them at three times that number. They are mostly Italian, with a few Germans. At one time an attempt was made to stop the girls by refusing to sell them papers, but they were able to obtain them from stands. Since that time there has been no further effort to prevent their selling.
The little girls makes good sales, they are very persistent and follow a customer until he buys from them. Some earn as much as 50 cents in an afternoon. They do not hesitate to carry their papers into the saloon, in fact they frequent the saloons and are much more welcome there than the boys. The strange incongruity appeals to the frequenters, and it is here they make their most ready sales, but at what a cost it is difficult to determine.
Be it Ordained by the City Council of the City of Chicago:
- Section 1. No male child under ten, and no girl under sixteen years of age shall sell, or expose, or offer for sale newspapers in any street or public place within the city limits.
Section 2. No male child actually or apparently under sixteen years of age shall sell, or expose, or offer for sale newspapers unless a permit and badge as hereinafter provided shall have been issued to him by the Superintendent of the Board of Education, or by such other officer thereof as may be officially designated by such board for that purpose, on the application of the parent, guardian or other person having the custody of the child desiring such a permit and badge, or in case said child has no parent, guardian or custodian then on the application of his next friend, being an adult. Such permit and badge shall not be issued until the officer issuing the same shall have received, examined, approved and placed on file in his office satisfactory proof that such male child is of the age of ten years or upwards, and a deposit of (25¢) twenty-five cents paid; to be returned upon the surrender of said badge. No permit or badge provided for herein shall be valid for any purpose except during the period in which such proof shall remain on file, nor shall such permit or badge be authority beyond the period fixed therein for its duration. After having received, examined, approved and placed on file such proof, and secured such deposit of (25¢) twenty-five cents, the officer shall issue to the child a permit and badge.
Section 3. Such permit shall state the date and place of birth of the child, the name and address of its parent, guardian, custodian or next friend, as the case may be; and describe the color of the hair and eyes, the height and weight and any distinguishing facial mark of such child, and shall further state that the proof required by the preceding section has been duly examined, approved and filed; and that the child named in [page 26] such permit has appeared before the officer issuing the permit. The badge furnished by the officer issuing the permit shall bear on its face a number corresponding to the number of the permit and the name of the child. Every such permit and every such badge, on its reverse side, shall be signed in the presence of the officer issuing the same by the child in whose name it is issued.
Section 4. The badge provided for herein shall be worn conspicuously at all time by such child while so working; and such permit and badge shall expire on the first Monday in September, next after date of issue.
No child to whom such permit and badge are issued shall transfer the same to any other person, nor be engaged as a newsboy, or shall sell or expose or offer for sale newspapers in any street or public place without having upon his person such badge, and he shall exhibit the same at any time upon demand to any police or truant officer.
Section 5. The parent, guardian, custodian or next friend, as the case may be, of every child to whom such permit and badge shall be issued shall surrender the same to the authority by which such permit and badge were issued at the expiration of the period provided therefor.
Section 6. No child to whom a permit and badge are issued as provided for in the preceding sections, shall sell, expose, or offer for sale any newspapers after nine o’clock in the evening or before five o’clock in the morning.
Section 7. Any child who shall work in any street or any public place as a newsboy, or who shall sell or expose, or offer for sale any newspapers under circumstances forbidden by the provisions of this ordinance, much be arrested and brought before a court or magistrate having jurisdiction to commit a child to an incorporated, charitable reformatory, or other institution, and be dealt with according to law.
Section 8. Any parent or other person who employs a child to sell or expose or offer for sale newspapers, under circumstances forbidden by this ordinance, or who having the care or custody of such child permits him to sell or expose or offer for sale newspapers under circumstances forbidden by this ordinance shall be punished by a fine of not less than (5) five nor more than (25) twenty-five dollars.
This ordinance shall take effect July 1st, nineteen hundred and seven.
Chicago Tribune, February 28, 1902
“Jimmy the Joker,” “Simky,” the “Chinaman,” and “Giant Mose” had an outing last night. They aired their voices and wore out their hands with the other newsboys in their enthusiasm over an organization formed in the heat of battle to voice their protest against an ordinance removing their stands from the streets.
It all took place in a meeting at 187 Washington street. When the “spooching” was over and the noise had abated the Chicago Newsboys’ Protective association had been formed. It was a strenuous session, in which the mighty voices of the “newsys” played the most important part. Now the lads propose to see what Mayor Harrison and the Aldermen will say to their committee which will plead the recognition of what they deem a “public necessity.”
The meeting was called by several of the newsboys, who believed an organization another necessity. Harry Johnson called it to order with a chair rung. “Jimmy the Joker,” Sam Webber, Nathan Stone, Vito Tito, better known as “Billy the Italian;” Gus Roberts, Sm Harris, usually called “Simky,: and Will Weber, the “Chinaman,” made speeches in English and Italian in which they related their grievances.
When they had concluded and Organizer James H. Payne of the Chicago Federation of Labor had explained what the boys could do with a good organization, the following temporary officers were elected:
- President—Harry Johnson.
Vice President—Vito Tito.
Recording Secretary—Nic Vatallio.
Inside Guard—”Steenie” Lawrence.
Trustees—Sam Weber, Patsy Murphy, Giuseppe Yasillo.
Pandemonium prevailed during the nominations. Each newsboy had a favorite whom he insisted on nominating in stentorian tones. The rap, rap, rap of the gavel had no effect.
“Shut up, you’ce!” shouted the chairman.
“Aw, g’wan,” responded the boys. “I’m for Simky,” “I want ‘Sheeny Mose,'” “Steenie de Giant’s good ’nuff for me,” and “Hurrah for Billy de Italian.”
The muscular arm of the President gave out and he left the platform to seat the “boys” forcibly. When quiet was restored the balloting began. The boys voted for their favorites generally, but the election was soon over. Occasional a yell could be heard from the outer hallway whenever an inquisitive lad, who had been thrown out of the meeting, stuck his head through the wicket and received a rap across “de beak” for his trouble.
When the boys realized they were a sure-enough union, they proceeded to express themselves in resolutions, and these were adopted:
The boys agreed upon a committee to visit the Mayor and Aldermen. This was composed of Patsy Murphy, Nathan Stone, Billy Barnett, Harry Johnson, Sam Harris, and Charley Sever.
This committee also is empowered to draft resolutions protesting against the ordinance, and if the Mayor and Council refuse to act an attorney will be secured to test the vailidity of the measure. The newsboys also intend to inaugurate a crusade against the waste paper boxes on the street, as they insist the ordinance provides for the removal of “all obstructions” from the sidewalks.
Aside from the fight the boys intend to make on the removal of their stands, there is a benefit clause to their organization. Membership will cost $1, and the dues will be 50 cents per month. This is to raise a fund for the aid and care of sick boys who are unable to attend their stands. One hundred members were enrolled last night.
Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1918
BY JOHN KELLY.
Lights went out for the first time in half a century last night in famous old “Newspaper Alley.”
Its passing came with the sale of the Herald, and the ending of its night life. For the last four days of last week it still maintained a feeble existence, faintly illuminated for a few feet by the light of the Brevoort hotel bar. This was closed yesterday owing to the fact that it was Sunday, and for the first time the famous street was plunged in utter darkness when the lamps at the stage door of the La Salle theater were dimmed shortly before midnight.
The last all night user of the alley has gone the way of many of its former neighbors. The whirr of the newspaper press is no longer heard, nor the cry of the newsboy bawling out his “uxtry” as he runs through the alley with a bundle of wet papers under the arm.
Between midnight and 5 a.m. the alley in the former days was full of bustle and activity. Wagons and auto trucj=ks were coming and going. At times the alley was choked with traffic.
But now all is quiet as the grave. The “newsie” no longer shoots craps under an arc light while waiting for the paper to come off the press. No one, not even the copper on the beat, passes through the alley, for it is deserted.
Newspaper Alley is one of the landmarks of the city. Originally it was known as Calhoun place, and by such name it is still called in the city directory. It was named for John Calhoun, Chicago’s pioneer printer and newspaper publisher. Mr. Calhoun came here in 1833 from Watertown, N.Y., and on Thanksgiving day of that year he founded the Chicago Democrat. He lived on State street, at the corner of the alley between Madison and Washington streets, and usually walked through the alley, for a short cut to his print shop.
In later years the street became known as “Gamblers’ alley,” on account of the large number of gambling houses that infested it.
The Chicago Times was the first newspaper user of the alley. It was started about sixty years ago on the site of the old University club, now the Iroquois club. Newsboys entered the basement through a stairway off the alley and there received their papers.
Other newspaper users of the alley were the old Herald, the Globe, the Dispatch, the Mail, the Journal, the Morning News, the Chicago Record, the Chronicle, the Times-Herald, the Record-Herald, the Evening Post and lastly the Herald.
Other famous users of the alley, all of whom have passed out or moved away, were the board of trade, the open board, George Clark’s concert hall, “Appetite Bill’s” saloon in which Jere Dunne killed Jimmy Elliott; the Round bar, in which “Doc” Haggerty was killed by “Bad Jimmy” Connerton; the Whitechapel club, Bill Riley’s poolroom, John Condon’s, Pat Sheedy’s and “Si” James gambling houses; Bill Skakel’s “clock,” “Bathhouse John’s silver dollar saloon, Billy Boyle’s chop house, Harry Varnell’s big faro game and Jim McGarry’s place, where Finley Peter Dunne got his inspiration for his “Mr. Dooley.”
Newsboy Alley (Calhoun Place)
Sanborne Fire Map