July 24, 1899: “Plan to Down Newsboys”

Plans to Down Newsboys

Hiring Men at $2 A Day and 40 Cents a Hundred Papers

What the Redheaded Extras Pay the Boys is Only 40 Cents a Hundred—Dry Dollar Sullivan and Others Promise to Talk at the Boys’ Massmeeting To-Night

Yesterday was a day of rest for the majority of the striking newsboys because there were no evening papers to sell and consequently no scabs to lick. Park row was peaceful, although in the morning and again in the afternoon the boys came together to talk things over and makes plans for the new week, and occasionally become so enthusiastic that they had to let off steam by cheering their leaders and the cause.

The monster parade which was to have come off on Saturday night, but which the police of the Oak street station broke up, has been fixed for this morning. A meeting to arrange the details was hastily called, and at 8 o’clock yesterday morning there were 500 boys in front of the Tribune building facing Kid Blink. Some of the boys thought the parade ought to be in the evening, but Kid Blink is a far-seeing leader and addressed them as follows:

“De bigger dis p’rade is,” he said, “de bigger success it is. If we p’rade in de morning we kin all go out, ’cause it’s before de evening papes come out and nobody can’t be detained by business. Den again d’yer remember what happened when a few of us went down into Wall street de oder day? Didn’t we got more nickels and dimes in than we’ve had since? We want de business men with us if we’re goin’ ter keep dis fight up, and ter git ’em we must p’rade down deir way. So I say, we start out from here about 8 or 9 o’clock and go all t’rough the lower part of de
city. If we want ter p’rade again uptown where de loidies kin see us, we kin do it in de evening.”

Mr. Blink’s reasoning found universal favor, and so the parade will be held this morning. The success of the parade will depend much on the attitude of the police. If they make another descent like that of Saturday night, the parade will probably have difficulty in getting under way. A collection was taken up at yesterday morning’s meeting and it amounted to $11. Kid Blink announced that this would pay for 11,000 circulars, and it was voted at once to use the money for that purpose. A rough draft of the circular was made and taken around to an east side printing office, the proprietor of which agreed to work all day in order to have the circulars ready for the parade this morning. Every boy in line will have a batch of the circulars, and the strikers will see to it that they are well distributed. The circulars are to be headed in big black letters:

“Help the Struggling Newsboys.”

Following is a recital of the exact situation and a request to the public not to contribute money to the cause but to help it by refusing to buy evening editions of the World or the Journal until the price to the boys is made 50 cents instead of 60 cents a hundred. At the same time any small change thrown into the ranks will not be left lying on the ground.

A half dozen new banners to take the places of those confiscated by the police on Saturday night have been made and will be conspicuous in the parade. Several hundred printed signs reading “Strikers Still Firm,” will be carried by the boys. These were contributed by the World, although that newspaper never thought to their being put to such use when it printed them. Several days ago the evening edition of the World came out with an account of the Brooklyn strike, headed in letters six inches long, “Strikers Still Firm.” Underneath in tiny letters it continued, “but cars still running.” The boys have secured a lot of these papers, cut out the big heads, pasted them on cardboard and nailed them to sticks. In the hope of getting back the banners confiscated on Saturday night, a committee of the boys went to the Oak street station yesterday of arbitrate with Capt. Vredenburgh, but the doorman chased them out.

News of demonstrations in Jersey City and on Columbus avenue on Saturday night reached the boys yesterday and encouraged them immensely. A majority of the Jersey City boys have been with the strikers right along, but there have always been enough scabs over there to make it easy for people to get Worlds and Journals. The strikers concluded to put a stop to the sale of the papers on Saturday night and before the evening papers came over they went down the line of scabs and administered lickings wherever they were needed. When the World and Journal wagons came over they stoned the drivers, tore up all the papers they could get their hands on and finally sent the wagons away again. Later in the evening they collected a thousand of the boycotted papers from newsstands and scabs, took them to an open lot and set fire to them, dancing around the burning pile like a lot of Indians. Then they sent a committee over to this city to give a full account of the affair to the New York boys and to give renewed assurances of loyalty to the cause.

Four hundred uptown boys, who are on strike, went up Columbus avenue on Saturday night taking Worlds and Journals off newsstands wherever they found them, and were invading stores in search of the boycotted newspapers. Wherever they found the papers they seized them and tore them up. No one interfered with them, not even the occasional policeman that they came up with, and they carried all before then. They kept the crusade up until midnight, and then dispersed. Not one boy was arrested. A crowd of the strikers who adopted the same tactics in Union Square were not so fortunate. After stealing the stocks of half a dozen vendors they descended on Daniel Moore of 23 Pearl street, who was selling Worlds and Journals, depending on the fact that he was a grown man to protect him. The boys came at him with a rush, and, in less time than it takes to tell it, his stock of papers had been ripped into a thousand pieces, his hat had been jammed down over his eyes and he was being punched by a score of boyish hands. He bawled for help, and three policemen came up, dispersed the crowd and arrested Samuel Eisenberg, 14 years old, of 157 Orchard street ,who, Moore declared, was the leader of the attack on him. In the Jefferson Market Police Court yesterday Eisenberg was fined $3, which he was unable to pay. He informed the Magistrate that he was proud to go to jail in a good cause and that his friends would attend to Moore.

The strikers heard with interest yesterday of the visit of World and Journal agents to the Bowery lodging houses on Saturday night in search of men to take the papers out on the street to-day. They declared that they didn’t believe the Bowery men would do this, but that if they did things would be made interesting for them. The World advertised yesterday morning for able-bodied men to sell papers at $2 a day and 40 cents a hundred. About seventy-five men called at the World stables, 139 Mott street, in response to the advertisement yesterday morning, and were sent from there to room 25, in the World building, where they found a young man wallowing in unsold baseball extras. The young man closed the door when all were assembled and then addressed the applicants as follows:

“Gentlemen, as you know, the newsboys have refused to sell our papers. Their demands are wholly unjust, and I don’t mind telling you that The Sun is at the back of this strike. Wall street is in it, too, undoubtedly, on account of the policy of our paper toward a certain class of operations down there. It is an outrageous thing to plant dissatisfaction in the minds of these boys, who have always been well satisfied in the past. We want our papers sold downtown to-morrow, and we offer you men $2 a day and 40 cents commission on each hundred papers that you well. Those who are satisfied with these terms step forward and sign their names.”

Sixty-eight men turned around and walked out of the place. The young man called to them to come back, but they laughed at him. Seven stayed behind and signed. The strikers yelled with glee when they heard of all this, and announced that they were ready to treat with the seven as fast as they put in an appearance to-day.

Financially the strikers are in good shape. They say they are able to make almost as much money on the sale of papers as they did when the World and Journal were also on their lists. In addition they got many tips from citizens who are encouraging them to keep up the strike.

The question perplexing the strikers just now is what to do about the women question. The strikers have with them Annie and Mrs. Cry Baby, the only name by which they have ever known the eccentric German newspaper woman who is a familiar figure at the Bridge entrance, but Mrs. Meyers has been found guilty of selling Worlds and Journals from under her shawl, and has been chased a littler further into the recesses of Nassau street. Mrs. Meyers started at the bridge a year ago, but is gradually being pushed away from the desirable stands. Now, in the words of Kid Blink, “a feller can’t soak a lady.”

The boys have induced several of Mrs. Corcoran’s customers to leave her, but that has not done any good. Mrs. Corcoran has threatened to do all kinds of things to the boys who are luring her customers away. On Saturday afternoon one of her best customers bought a Post, an Eagle and an Evening Sun from Annie and left his order for the same papers each evening in the future. Mrs. Corcoran was furious over this and sent word up to Annie that she’d smash Annie if Annie served any of her customers. Annie, who says she can tie seven Mrs. Corcorans in a knot, smiled at this threat and invited Mrs. Corcoran to come up to her stand and take a licking. Mrs. Corcoran didn’t come. Annie says she’s averaging 66 cents a day more in profits than she did before the strike and that she doesn’t care how long it lasts. The woman question is still under consideration by Kid Blink and his colleagues, and some decision will be reached to-day.

Abe Greenhause, Ike Miller, Joe Mulligan, Frank Glasso, Donato Carolucci, “Grin” Boyle and Albert Smith, strikers who were arrested in Frankfort street on Saturday night, were fined $5 each in the Centre Street Police Court yesterday. The court was full of their friends and the pleas of the prisoners almost moved the Court to lenity, but the detectives told such tales of the boys’ doings that the Magistrate decided to give them a taste of prison.

The Strike Committee of the Newsboys’ Union had information to give out last night. Barney Peters acted as spokesman.

“This here is the Strike Committee,” he said. “This one is Jim Gaity,then comes Young Monix, Abe Newman, Dave Simons, the President of the union and the champion prize-fighter of the union; Scabooch, Crutchy Morris, the one-legged news seller; Little Mikey, the newsboy orator; Black Diamond and Crazy Aborn. Crazy ain’t no newsboy. He sells pretzels and other dope to us for the coin. But the other day he donated free, gratis, 1,500 pretzels to keep us from starving, and we elects him a member of the union and a member of the Strike Committee for his services.”

These introductions over, Peters proudly displayed some autographed letters that he had in his possession. One was from Timothy “Dry Dollar” Sullivan, who wrote that he was in sympathy with the boys and hope to see them win their fight. Another was from Christopher Sullivan, his brother. The third was signed by former Alderman Patrick Farley who wrote an even stronger indorsement [sic] of the fight the boys are making. The last was signed by “Jim” Lavelle, who is known as “Scotty, the King of Chinatown.”

“All of these guys are going to do more than write notes,” said Peters. “We are going to hold a massmeeting in New Irving Hall, in Broome street, Monday night, and all of them fellows are going to make speeches for us. We want you to put it in the paper so that the general public can know of the meeting and be there and hear the story of our wrongs. There will be other speeches. Little Mikey will tell what he knows and I will speak, and we will have some other big fellows there. We have paid $1 toward the rent of the hall, and here is the receipt to prove it. We have to pay 44 more to-morrow night at 6 o’clock, and we are going to raise the money somehow. We also have ordered 10,000 circulars that will tell how we are being done by the ‘ristrocrats that talk of the workingman and arbitration in their papers and then do us. These circulars will be passed around by newsboys. We want to have a big meeting and we’re going to have it.”

The World and Journal have not yet printed any news of this labor movement.

FALL RIVER, July 23—The strike begun in New York by the newsboys has reached this city. On Saturday night the boys refused to handle the Worlds and Journals afternoon editions. This morning they would not take the Sunday editions. People who depended upon carriers went without them. One boy who essayed to fill the bill for the agents came to grief. He loaded a small cart and started through the streets. At his first cry of his wares there was a howl from the other boys. They tipped over the cart and scattered the papers and then handled the lad roughly until the police appeared. All day the boys loitered about the corner near the main agency and refused to allow a carrier to bring out a boycotted sheet. They threaten to keep it up.

Source: “Plans to Down Newsboys.” The Sun [New York], 24 July 1899, p. 3.