July 25, 1899: “Newsboy Strikers Orderly.”

Newsboy Strikers Orderly.

Driven to Shelter by the Rain—Discussing the Prospects.

The leaders of the striking newsboys though this morning (possibly influenced by last night’s meeting) that they “are goin’ t’ win.” Said one of the youngsters: “De oder side has got de coin in chunks, an’ maybe dey kin t’row us down, I dunno, but say—yer oughter seen der gang warm up las’ night. If de push’ll stick like dat, all de clouds ‘ll float away. We’ll win.” The speaker stood in the middle of City Hall Park, the centre of attraction to half-a-dozen small boys. He was “Sliver” Higgins, a twelve-year-old delegate from Long Island City, who had come down to the meeting, and shared the bed and breakfast of his new-found friend, little “Jo” Freeman, whose nickname is “Brownie”—a small, poorly clad lad with long thin hair, wet and plastered across his forehead.

“Brownie” gazed at his friend and said in a shrill voice: “He’s our insp’rator. He never gits de dumps, he don’t!”

As a result of last night’s meeting the “newsies” were late in getting around this morning, and when they did appear they were more quiet about the streets than heretofore. In halls and doorways, and under the trees along the walks in the parks, they waited for the morning editions and discussed speeches made last night. In nearly every group assembled this was the topic of conversation. In Nassau Street, near Beckman, “Little” Fisher,” “Kid” Blink’s lieutenant, was telling a circle of visibly impressed urchins “dat de word had been passed fer less vi’lence. Dat goes,” he said. “De fellers tuk a vote on de question at de meeting. Now don’t let me catch any of youse doin’ stunts. We’s respectable now—meetin’s, flowers, perades, an all t’ings like dat.”

Kid Blink, who won the floral horseshoe for the best speech at last night’s meeting, came along, bearing his prize, at this juncture, and ordered Little Fisher, whom he calls his “Corprul,” to take the horseshoe and follow. The “Corprul” responded with alacrity, and the two went across to the park. Blink explained to the reporter, “If dey’s goin’ t’ ‘lect me master workman o’ de strike, ye see, I’s got to carry me dignity wid me. Dat goes strong wid de gangs in dis row. It counts. I won de coffin piece, what de Corprul’s totin’, wid me looks—and me gang sittin’ in de right parts o’ de house.”

When Blink and his “Corprul” reached the park there was a crowd of curious persons gathered about the “floral piece,” which by this time had begun to wilt and look thin and scrawny from the numerous thefts of flowers made by his adept followers. The leader surveyed the scene with apparent delight, and, throwing out his chest a bit, and pulling his old Fedora over his eyes, he launched forth in a declaration of the newsboys’ rights to the reporter.

“Win? Why, course we will!” he said. “Like one, tu, t’ree. An’ if we don’t, we’s can make more mon’ sellin’ de t’ree-cent papes dan handlin’ de yellow rags. I’m givin’ it t’ youse straight. We’s ain’t ‘pendent on de sales o’ Woilds or Joinals fer a livin’. We kin do widout ’em. We’s quit all punchin’ now, an’ we’s goin’ to strike on de square. Wednesday night we has a parade, and we’s got de price o’ a full brass band. Devery t’rew us out er his office, and calls us slobs, but Jimmie Scabooch and Dave Simon ‘r goin’ to see Mayor Van Wyck.

The strike has extended to Westchester County; neither of the tabooed papers could be purchased on the streets. The newsdealers are in sympathy with the strikers, and this morning they took up the boycott in White Plains, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle, and other towns in the county. There have been several small riots in Mount Vernon and Yonkers over the attempts of several wholesale dealers to dispose of Worlds. Two of the strikers were arrested in Mount Vernon last night; one of them, John Gulliver, was discharged by acting City Judge Bennett, while John Charge, another, demanded a trial. The attempt to send men from New York to the suburban towns to sell the papers has been attended with difficulty; almost every time a “scab” appeared he was attacked and his papers torn up.

New Irving Hall was crowded to the doors last night by some thousands of enthusiastic boys. Fifteen policemen armed with switches were required to keep them in order. The call had been sent to every section of Greater New York, and the response was general. Half the crowd could not get in for lack of room. Kid Blink, who is now called the General Master Workman of the strike, was the moving spirit, and he and Joe Bernstein (a pugilist), Reiss (who runs a lemonade barrel on Printing House Square), Leonard A. Sutkin (appearing for Charles Alder, an east-side Assemblyman), Frank B. Wood (who used to be a Polo Grounds boy), and Shorty Simons (President of the Newsboys’ Union) made speeches or had other prominent parts. Every sentiment was enthusiastically applauded. Quiet conduct in carrying on the strike was generally advised. The great parade, planned for yesterday afternoon, had to be abandoned because Chief Devery denied the boys a permit.

Source: “Newsboy Strikers Orderly.” Evening Post, 25 July 1899, p. 10.