July 30, 1899: “Striking Newsboys Stand Firm”

Striking Newsboys Standing Firm

Publishers Grant Slight Concessions, but Lads Want None but Sweeping Victory.

Banners are being flung to the breeze, and the newsboys’ fight against the Evening World and the Evening Journal continues. Emissaries haunt Park row with large sums of money concealed in their belts, and the influence of strike leaders yesterday opened at $5 and closed at $150. “Kid Blink” was quoted at $200 and a new suit of clothes.

The strikers were not dismayed by his desertion. The breach was filled by “Young Monix” in Park row, by “Puts” Butler in upper Manhattan and by “Race Track” Higgins in Brooklyn. In the afternoon a monster mass meeting was announced to take place in Harlem last night, and it was proposed to hold another assembly in Cooper Union to-morrow night.

Above Thirty-fourth street the offending papers are barred by a dead line. The Grand Central Station was ably and fearlessly defended. Third avenue and Fifty-ninth street were held as a vantage ground, and Harlem stood as firm as her goats and crags.


Boys Win A Point.

A concession was made by the publishers yesterday. One publisher had taken back one paper in ten, and the other two papers in ten. All copies were made returnable yesterday.

“Win?” said “Race Track” Higgins. “We win in a walk! It’s a 75 to 1 shot. Why, we can’t lose. Easy money; Easy money!”

“Race Track” appeared in Park row yesterday morning and by word and deed encouraged the strikers.

“They say I got $300 for selling out,” he said. “Do I look it? Why, here’s me trousers, fringed like lambrequins, and weighting four pounds less than a straw hat. Look at me shoes–full of holes as a sand sieve. Do you t’ink I’d give up me floral horseshoe for seventy-five cents if I was getting three hundred cold plunks for me inflooence?”

“Race Track’s” appearance did not belie his words.


“Say!” he continued. “It’s a sin and a shame about that horseshoe. ‘Crazy’ Aborn give it to me, after parading all around with it. ‘Crazy’s’ all right, at that. He give me the posies and I sells ’em to ‘Kid Blink’ for seventy-five cents. It makes a man cry to talk about it. And ‘Kid Blink’ goes and has himself photographed along with the horseshoe, and gets his picture tagged, ‘The Young Strike Leader.’ Say, what do youse t’ink of it?”

Kid Blink and His Floral Horseshoe


“Kid” Retires to Coney Island.

“Kid Blink,” so called on account of an irremediable defect of one of his optics, was not in the city yesterday. He caused the news to be spread in Baxter street that he had gone to Coney Island for much needed rest and recreation.

The newsboys are determined to win, and they are gathering their forces for a grand coup to-morrow. Offers of money they regard with scorn.

“Well!” said “the Colonel” yesterday, “they didn’t get Dufty. This morning an automobile drives up to Dufty’s house, and there was two guys smoking cabbagins imperfectos and throwing their chests out to beat the band. ‘Is Dufty in?’ they asks me. I told them that it wouldn’t do them any good to see Dufty, for he couldn’t be bought.

“‘We insist,’ says one of them, taking off his straw hat and looking at the speckled hat band. ‘We desire to see Mr. Dufty.’ Dufty comes down to the sidewalk. ‘What are your plans, Mista’ Dufty?’ says one of ’em. ‘What do you propose to do to-day, Mister Dufty?’ says the other guy. ‘Everyt’ing in sight,’ says Dufty.

“Then they offers Dufty stacks of long green. Dufty said he would starve rather than do honest boys out of their jobs. So, after offering all kinds of money, they whipped up their automobile and coasted down the street.”


Offered $500 to Turn Traitor.

“Puts” Butler says he was offered $500 to withdraw from the strike.

“I looked at the man,” said “Puts.” “I give him such a frozen face that he got a move on and I haven’t seen him since.”

All through Park row yesterday could be seen the flash of the crisp new bills. Mysterious young lobbyists displayed rolls, each with a fifty dollar note on the outside, and then walked through Frankfort street wearing expressions of unconcern.

Some of the youngsters yielded to the blandishments of $1 a day and commissions. Cords of papers were sent out without money and without price. Large quantities of extras were sent up to the Grand Central Station in guarded delivery wagons. Every newsboy regarded himself as a capitalist whenever a bunch of extras from Park row hove in sight.

“Sell them?” they would say. “Well, I guess not! Give me a few shares of stock in the paper and $1,000 a day, and we can get down to cases.”

All of the youngsters were making out schedules for running a newspaper. They passed on the salaries and counted up the price of paper, and always got back to the one statement, that the papers could be produced for less than sixty cents a hundred.


“What do you expect?” said “Cross-Eyed Joe.” “How do they t’ink a man can live? Suppose he don’t bring home any house money. Why, he gets beaten and jumped on when he gets home. I’ve got to take home $6 a week house money. Ain’t that ten cents on a hundred just as good to me as it is to anybody else?”

It was with the idea of arranging for a parade that “Puts” Butler called upon Chief Devery yesterday.

“You go away,” said the Chief, according to the account of Mr. Butler. “You go away, or I’ll send you up for six months.”

“Well, I can take a hint,” said Mr. Butler, “and I said ‘Excuse me,’ and made tracks for Mulberry street. Say, ain’t he a fierce man? Then I went to see the Mayor, and found he wasn’t in town. Guess I’ll go down on Long Island and talk it over with him. He’s great on rescuing. He ought to rescue the newsies.”

The newsboys expect to perfect their organization in a day or two, and under the leadership of such fearless young persons as “Race Track” Higgins and “Puts” Butler they hope to bear their cause to victory. They have received additional assurances from the newsdealers’ associations. By to-morrow they expect to have a phalanx which will present an unbroken front to the enemy.

New lieutenants are constantly arising. “One Legged” Morris came down from Orchard street; “Cross Eyed Joe” announced that victory was near, and “Indian,” of the Tenderloin reservation, said that he would put on war paint and join the fray for equal rights. They went through the city yesterday giving cards of counsel and advice.

Speculators Their Friends.

Between the strikers and the speculators the entente cordiale has been preserved.

“What’s a speculator?” said “the Colonel.” “Why, he’s a guy what returns the papers. Pays half the price. Buys ’em up by the hundred. Lends you money, $3 at a time, to start business. Say, theses fellows is standing by us fine. We never take papers home. It always kicks up a row.

“Say, we’re going to have a club,” continued “the Colonel.” “Every member will give five cents a week. That will rent a club house, have a swell doctor and set up a sick benefit fund, and then we can be independent.”

The Harlem Newsboys’ Union held a meeting in Columbia Music Hall, No. 117 East 125th street, last evening. The hall was decorated with American and Cuban flags. Edward Fitzgerald presided. The meeting was attended by about one thousand persons–newsboys and their friends.

The meeting was addressed by several of the boys. The last speaker was “Major” Butts, the president of the union. He said that two days ago he was offered $600 to call the strike off, but refused, saying that he would not accept $1,000.

At the conclusion of the meeting the boys paraded the streets of Harlem, blowing horns and shouting.

The Evening Telegram continued yesterday to increase in circulation.


Source: “Striking Newsboys Standing Firm.” New York Herald, 30 July 1899, p. 4.