We know that female newsies existed, thanks to the photography of Alice Austin & Lewis Hines and the newspaper reporters who mentioned the various newswomen who sold during the strike (including the perennial favorite, “Annie of the Sun” Keeler). But how about the general public of the day? Well, just like many other aspects of newsboys & street urchins in pop culture, then as now, newsgirls were romanticized.
The following waltz was written in 1896, and performed by the Newboys’ Quintet. (The Newsboys Quintet, an act formed in 1896 by vaudeville agent James Hyde, boasted Gus Edwards—who discovered the Marx Brothers; was a founding member of ASCAP; and wrote popular songs & Broadway musicals—as a member.) Doesn’t it read just like a piece of “Newsies” fan fiction?
“They All Love Maggie Grady”
Lyrics by Ed Gardenier & Music by Willim Slafer
Just down there by the ferry, ‘mongst news boys gay and merry,
You’ll often meet a maiden fair and bright.
Who helps support her mother and little baby brother
By selling daily papers morn and night.
So happy once were they, ’till dear dad passed away
Then at the ferry Maggie took her stand.
The boys her story know it, their sympathy they show it,
By giving little Mag a helping hand.
For they all love Maggie Grady,
She’s a perfect little lady
They feel entranced to catch a glance from little Maggie’s eye.
Yes all the lads respect her, they honor and protect her
So tip your hats like ‘ristocrats when Maggie passes by.
When she’s stuck on her papers, the lads all stop their capers,
They know she must be home at nine o’clock.
Then soon you’ll hear them yelling her papers quickly selling
They soon get rid of Maggie’s over stock.
Just to see her home at night, two rivals often fight,
The little maid to stop the jealous brawl
Talks to them like a mother, their anger tries to smother,
Saying lads you ought to know I love you all.