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THE STREET BOY.
Who He Is and What to Do With Him.
By MORNEY WILLIAMS, President New York Juvenilo Asylum. The following paper by Morney Williams, president of the a very complete education in the school of the street. The New York Juvenile Asylum, was published recently in the Pitts life of the street has entered his very soul; it is not only his burg Dispatch:
playground—and a playground that is always open and always From the standpoint of the evolutionist, the street boy is the amusing—but it is also his home, generally a far more pleasing selected survival of the human animal at the point of his great home than the inside room of the grimy tenement that is his legal est gregariousness. He is a product of the city; indeed, he may residence. But beyond all this the street is his school. It is there be said to be the product of the city, though in intention he is but that he has learned all the simple inaxims of his code-that he a by-product. I am not one who sees only evil in the great city. who fights and runs away may live to fight another day, that the It is not by idle chance that the course of human events has so blunder of being caught with the goods on is far worse than the shaped itself that with increasing civilization there has ever been crime of stealing, that the blackest offense possible is "to squcal the increasing tendency toward the massing of population in on a pal," and so on. These things with him are the rules of certain circumscribed areas. Nor are the reasons for this mass life, but society, represented to him most frequently in the shape ing together of men merely commercial reasons, nor industrial of a policeman, steps in and forcibly assures him that somereasons, but, unfortunately, we have been too prone to treat the thing entirely outside of his code, the infraction of some ordimatter as if these were the sole reasons; and have, too often, nance or statute of which he never heard and for which he has scarcely been aware of the fact that beyond all other things the no reverence, demands his commital and the deprivation of his city is a man-factory and that the street boy is the typical output liberty. Then the reformatory agency steps forward. The boy is of the factory-a by-product you may call him if you please, sent to an asylum for five days, for a fortnight, for six months, yet the most significant and essential product that issues from a year, two years, as the case may be; or, if there be a juvenile that teeming hive of industry—the city. He is literally a product court, with probation officers, he is released on parole; but in of his environment far more than of his heredity.
either case, in the majority of instances, he goes back to the old He is born to poverty, to unsanitary conditions, overcrowded environment at the expiration of his term, or if paroled, forthrooms and scant fare.
with. The natural result follows; the old companionships, the Having survived the infant mortality of the slums, his environ old fascinations, the old temptations take hold on him again. ment takes hold of him and brings him face to face with three Nay, more; the interference, if it has not been permanently conditions which more than anything else determine his destiny helpful, has probably been positively harmful, for the knowledge until society in some form steps in and interferes. These condi of ood and evil, if the evil be wittingly chosen thereafter, is tions are motherlessness, overcrowding and the street.
worse than simple ignorance of good; it constitutes the difference
between lawlessness and maliciousness. ROOM MORE PRECIOUS THAN LIFE. The effect of urban civilization is to diminish the period of
COTTAGE HOME PLAN PREFERABLE. maternal care and the degree of maternal solicitude. Not that there are no faithful mothers among the children of the poor; The agency at which most criticism has been directed and God be thanked, there are thousands, but there are other thou which has often been made, quite unfairly, to bear the blame sands who go down to untimely graves leaving the brood of little of failure, when failure has ensued, is the reform school; yet ones to the care of that most pathetic figure of the tenements,
there is no more important work to be done than the work which the "little mother," and there are, alas! hundreds in whom the can frequently be best done in such a school. The very first moral dignity of motherhood has been effaced, though not the letter in the alphabet of righteousness is obedience. And the physical fact. Motherlessness, then, I should place first in order street boy must begin with the alphabet; in the learning of of the conditions that make the street boy, and in so far as righteousness he is woefully illiterate. The absence of all rethe mother may be said to make the child's home he is a home straint, the free comradeship of the street is his undoing, but less boy. But beyond this, and in many cases where the bond of he may acquire the new learning best in a school where firmness motherhood is not absolutely broken, the street Arab is prac and gentleness are combined and where he has the companionship tically homeless because of overcrowding. A boy needs room,
of equals as well as the tuition of instructors. This element of and room is more precious than life in many quarters of the companionship must never be overlooked; if it be true that evil great city, so the crowd in the tenement, like the crowd on the companionships are a prime factor in ruined lives it is none the street car, presses the little fellow off and out. How can a less true that companionships, the comradeship of play and young lad live in the four-decker tenement? He may sleep there, study and discipline, is an essential factor in education, and huddled in with a host of others, in circumstances of doubtful with the street boy especially the esprit de corps of a good school delicacy and indubitable dirt, but how can he live his boy life is potentially most effective. In such a school, preferably one on th e? As a matter of fact he cannot, and he does not so live. the cottage home plan, where the influence of family life may Motherless and crowded out, he introduces himself to the street, be thrown around him for at least part of his waking day, he and there he finds his home, his school and his playground. can be taught the rudiments of a well-regulated life. Persever
ance can be developed, his natural aptitudes ascertained, and his
capacity gauged, before he is sent forth to begin the battle of life LAWLESS, BUT HARDLY A CRIMINAL.
outside the school walls. If the natural love of companionship, There are two main types of the street boy presented to the
which was the motive power of the street life, can be turned into student of child life through the law-and-order dragnet of society,
enthusiasm for the school, and the love of a leader substituted the first of which is often, though not always, but the precursor
for the clanship of the gang, much has been accomplished; more of the second. This first type is physically small, lean, wiry and
than one battle has been won by the slogan “Floreat Etona.” nervous, alert of eye and lithe of limb, a young nomad with not a few of the characteristics of the American Indian, somewhat
PROBLEM OF STREET BOY UNSOLVED. callous to pain, but fond of inflicting torture, revengeful with flashes of generosity, despising work, manual or intellectual, and But the school is a means, not an end. In the school the tolerant of control, content to starve one day if he may gorge fundamental rules of living, as well as of grammar and arithanother-in short a reversion to a very primitive type. This boy metic, are taught, but the life lies outside of the school limits. is lawless—a free companion of the street—but is not in any The best way to help the lad himself, especially when he has proper sense a criminal, and generally quite capable with proper begun to feel the stirrings of a new ambition and the kindling fire training of being converted into a moral and upright citizen, but of a new hope, is to find him a new home. Generally that home left alone or stupidly interfered with by state or philanthropic should be in the rural districts. The street boy needs the open meddlers, he can easily be turned into a boy of the second type. air, the warm breath of nature on his cheek, the calm patience This second type of boy is dull, embruted, cunning, but not of her slow processes, the subtle teaching of the changing seaclever, hateful and hating others—a criminal in little. In the vast sons, the new companionships of wild and tamed animals, and majority of cases the street boy of this type has been developed by them he grows into a well-rounded manhood. from the lad first described by alternate interference and non The problem of the street boy is a great problem; in the main, interference on the part of society through its police, and its it is even yet an unsolved problem, but the solution must be charitable and reformatory agencies.
found, and it is for us to find it. Love must spell out what
education has failed to find. Only by the charm of love can be THE STREET IS HIS SCHOOL.
found the way to the street boy's heart, only by it can we have
union among ourselves. Let us not cavil at one another. The As we have seen, the street boy is naturally alert, and while children's court has its place, it is the clearing house of grievuneducated from the standpoint of the pedagogue, has received ances, and there should be one in every city.
ANNUAL DINNER OF THE VISITATION AND AID SOCIETY.
result that it was producing. He informed those present that he was fully conversant with the juvenile court of Illinois before coming to Chicago, and from data obtained from the Visitation and Aid office he personally had drafted the juvenile court law of Buffalo along the lines of the Illinois juvenile court law. He was very pleased to inform his auditors that the law as drafted by him received the approval of all classes and nationalities in the city of Buffalo,
He expressed his pleasure at being present at the gathering, indorsed the work of the Visitation and Aid Society and promised the society support and assistance in its future work.
REMARKS OF DOCTOR HASTINGS H. HART. Hastings H. Hart, LL. D., superintendent of the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, which is the non-Catholic association corresponding to the Visitation and Aid Society, said:
"Of all of the gatherings to which I am invited during the year there is none which I attend with more pleasure than the dinner of the Visitation and Aid Society.
"It has been my privilege to work in close co-operation with this society for the last five and one-half years, and during all of that time nothing has ever occurred to mar the pleasant relations of the two societies.
“I love the Visitation and Aid Society not only for the splendid and beautiful work which it has done in behalf of neglected and dependent children, but also on account of the magnitude and variety of the good works which it has performed. The great secret of your success, in my judgment, is the fact that the Visitation and Aid Society has been accustomed to take up its beneficent tasks one at a time, and when it has attained the mastery of one undertaking, then, and not until then, it has taken up a fresh one. You began with your charitable and Christian work in behalf of the inmates of the institutions at Dunning. Then you developed your work in behalf of unfortunate children, and gradually you became the agents of the leading Catholic institutions for children, thus bringing their work into harmonious and united action. Then the Visitation and Aid Society took up the matter of improved legislation for dependent and delinquent children. It is no exaggeration to say that without the wise and faithful work of your president and his associates in the Visitation and Aid Society we should never have had the admirable legislation which is now found upon the statute books of the state of Illinois. With rare tact, wisdom and patience exercised through a series of years, Mr. Hurley removed difficulties, placated adversaries and harmonized rival interests in order to bring about that splendid result.
The fifteenth annual meeting of the friends of the Visitation ind Aid Society was held the evening of December at Kinsley's. It proved to be the most successful gathering ever held in the interest of the society. One hundred and eighteen guests were in attendance.
The guest of the occasion was the Most Reverend Archbishop James E. Quigley. An informal reception was tendered the archbishop, while all present were introduced to his grace.
Honorable E. O. Brown, chairman ; Mr. W. J. Hynes, toastmaster; Reverend Thomas E. Sherman, S. J., who responded to the toast, “Charity”; Honorable R. S. Tuthill, who spoke on the juvenile court; Mr. John J. Sloan, who spoke on charitable organizations, and Messrs. Michael Cudahy, John Cudahy, Chief of Police Francis O'Neil, Sheriff Thomas E. Barrett, Dr. Hastings H. Hart, Reverend Andrew Spetz, C. R.; Edgar T. Davies, state factory inspector; Honorable Philip Stein and Honorable A. N. Waterman were seated at the head table.
The speeches were all exceedingly appropriate to the work of the society. MOST REVEREND ARCHBISHOP DISCUSSES CHILD
SAVING. The Most Reverend Archbishop, in discussing the question of dependent and delinquent children, stated that he had given the subject considerable thought and consideration since his arrival in Chicago. He had studied the work of the juvenile court and the several Catholic institutions caring for children, and after a complete survey of the situation had come to the conclusion that there was no insurmountable difficulties in the way of the archdiocese taking care not only of the dependent, but also the delinquent children. The dependent children are receiving proper care and the only institution required to make a complete system for the care of our Catholic children was that of a delinquent school. This latter institution was receiving his attention, and in a very short time he expected to be able to care for all the Catholic delinquent children, not only of Cook county, but of the entire state. This to his Grace did not seem a big undertaking when he considered the capabilities of the archdiocese and the clear field there was to be found here in Illinois In his opinion the situation in Chicago was confronted with less complications and difficulties than any place in the United States. It was not hampered with cumbersome institutions nor with legal difficulties, nor with any complications from an institutional standpoint. Everything appeared to be in a favorable condition for a proper and complete system. The archdiocese has some 400,000 children, and the total number of dependent and delinquent children would not exceed 1,200 a year.
In commenting on the general situation his grace took the position that the proper place for a child is in its own home, and when declared dependent or delinquent, after a short period in an institution, an approved family home should be secured for the child. He expressed satisfaction of the juvenile court and the great
WHAT THE SOCIETY HAS ACCOMPLISHED.
“When the juvenile court law had been secured and it had been demonstrated that it was a practical solution of the problem of dealing with the dependent and neglected child, the Visitation and Aid Society, through its admirable journal, the Juvenile Court Record, began an active campaign for the establishment of juvenile court laws with juvenile courts and the probation system in other states. Juvenile court laws now exist in no less than fifteen states, and I believe that it is fair to say that no other agency has accomplished more in this direction than your society. Thus it has come about that you have ceased to be a Chicago society, or even an Illinois society, but your influence and your fame has become national.
“I believe that the time has now come for the Visitation and Aid Society to embark upon another undertaking and to add another beneficent work to those which you have already accomplished. All or nearly all of the Catholic institutions for children in the state of Illinois are placing children in family homes. The whole trend of our time, especially in the great interior states, is in the direction of placing dependent children in family homes after a brief preparatory stay in a suitable institution. Thus the beneficent work of the institutions is greatly increased, for the reason that the children placed in family homes make room for new children in the institutions. In the state of Minnesota, for instance, in a period of fifteen years, while the population of the state nearly doubled, no new orphan asylums were built by the Catholic church for the reason that children were placed in family homes almost as rapidly as they came into the institutions.
WORK IS DIFFICULT. "It is very difficult, however, for individual institutions to do this work as it should be done. In order to do it properly it is necessary to have an efficient corps of visitors to travel over the state to visit the homes of applicants for children and also to visit the children who have been placed in homes. At one time the Visitation and Aid Society undertook the work of placing
HASTINGS L. HART, LL. D., Superintendent Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society. children in family homes and endeavored to obviate the necessity of employing visitors by utilizing the pastors of the local churches, but this plan did not prove satisfactory. It is a very delicate matter for the local pastor to decide adversely against the application of one of his parishioners. He may know, confidentially, sufficient reasons why they should not have a child, but may not be at liberty to discuss those reasons. Not only that, but the local pastors, not having had experience in placing children in homes, are liable to make serious mistakes, which can be obviated by employing trained agents. It is not practical for each institution to employ a traveling agent on account of the expense, but I
THE REDEMPTION OF BILLY.
At the annual meeting of the George Junior Republic Association, which was held November 20 with the New York City Woman's Aid in the lecture room of the Collegiate Reformed Church, President T. M. Osborn of the association told the following story illustrating the work accomplished by the Republic. He said:
"Whereas, in the last report, 13 per cent of our graduates were distinctly not successes—I suppose we might call them failures, though I dislike that word—this year the percentage is reduced to 9/2, and since the 13 per cent report a number of those then believed to be failures have right about faced and are now doing finely. There seems to be something about life at the republic that gets into the fiber of the boys that spend any time there, and sooner or later it tells. And I like to think that even while we sit here and go over the statistics, perhaps some of these in the failure column are climbing over into the success list. Twenty of our graduates have married during the last year, and almost without exception they have vindicated the republic's teachings in the wisdom of the choice they have made. This test seems to me a supreme one of a boy's character."
"I won't talk long this afternoon—that is, I'll try not to; but I'll just tell you, when I begin to talk about those boys and girls of ours up there in Freeville it's hard to know when to stop. We've got the finest set in the wide world. But there, I'll just tell you this one story and then I'll stop. It happened last January, and I don't believe in all my life I've had anything to touch me as that did.
BILLY WAS NOT A FAVORITE "Billy, the boy who brought it all about, F over been a favorite with the citizens. He was bright ane sociable enough, but there seemed to be something sly and tricky about him, and he didn't make lasting friends. He was there some time, had his ups and downs-principally downs-and, though he tried hard to make himself popular, often faking virtues that he didn't own, he didn't get on very well, and at last made up his mind to leave. He stopped over in Auburn a while, and then came on to New York, where he lived a pretty wild life for a while. But at last I got a very homesick letter from him, and he begged to come back to the republic. He said he would do his very best to be a good citizen, if we would take him back again, and the first thing he asked me when he came was, ‘Daddy, do you
would suggest to the managers of this society and to his grace, the Archbishop, the question whether you have not at hand in the Visitation and Aid Society an admirable instrument for doing this work. The Visitation and Aid Society is in close touch with the church, on the one hand, through the religious work which it is carrying on. It is in close touch, on the other hand, with the laity, among whom must be found the homes for the poor children. It is in close touch with the institutions, several of which are already using it as their agent in receiving children. Would it not be entirely practical for the Catholic orphan asylums and industrial schools throughout the state to employ the agency of the Visitation and Aid Society in placing and supervising children? Let the society secure the services of an efficient young clergyman and start immediately in a small way. Let him act as a traveling agent and let him utilize the local clergy as correspondents and local agents, then let the work develop as the needs appear.
IDEA NOT CHIMERICAL. "I am persuaded that this idea is not chimerical. It is already being carried out effectually in the city of New York by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which organized a society for placing Catholic children in Catholic homes some two years ago and is already doing a magnificent work.
"I am convinced that if this plan should be adopted and carefully worked out under the wise direction of the Archbishop, it will be unnecessary for you to add to the number or capacity of the Catholic institutions for dependent children during the next ten years. You may have to make provision for defective children and for delinquent children, but the homes of your people will furnish abundant asylum room for the dependent children if you can only devise means to utilize them.
“I congratulate you upon the glorious work which you have already accomplished. I believe that you have only entered upon the threshold of your usefulness as a society."
Among the principal subscriptions received was that of Michael Cudahy, $1,000; John Cudahy, $750; Most Reverend James E. Quigley, $200; Charles A. Mair, $200; John A. Lynch, $200 ; D. F. Bremner, $100; C. C. Copeland, $100; Rev. P. Ď. Gill, $50; W. A. Amberg. $50; Dr. John B. Murphy, $50; Honorable T. A Moran, $50; W. J. Hynes, $50.
trust me now?' (They call me daddy, you know.) I felt I ought to be frank with him, so I told him no. I said I would try to, but I did not fully—yet.
"Six months passed, and Billy had become a model citizen. There was still something about him that wasn't perfectly open, but there wasn't a shadow on his good name, and I felt the ban ought to be taken from him. There was a Cornell scholarship to the Freeville High School to be given, and I determined Billy should have it. So one morning I told him I believed I really could trust him now, and I would prove it by giving the scholarship. I told him not one of the boys I had really trusted had ever betrayed the confidence given them, and he promised he would not be the first.
BILLY WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT. "Well, at our next presidential election Billy was the unanimous candidate of all the political parties. It was the proudest day in his life. But after he was sworn in, just before the grand inaugural dance Billy disappeared and I didn't see him during the rest of the evening. But early the next morning somebody knocked at my door and told me Billy wanted me. I went to hin, and I never saw such a change in a boy in my life. 'I don't want to live,' he began; 'I can't stand it. Promise you'll forgive me and then I'll tell you all about it.'. Of course, I promised, and the whole story came out. Just before he went to the high school he had connived at the purloining of some clothing from the citizens' stores. He tried to forget about it, and thought if he once got to be president he could live it down and make up for it in clean living later. But it was no use. What seemed to hurt him most was that he had betrayed the trust we had all placed in him. I thought I would give him a final test, so I suggested that one way out of it would be to tell the other boys implicated that the incident was known, but that to save the republic and its president from disgrace we would pass it over. He looked me squarely in the eyes. 'Daddy,' he said, 'you know that wouldn't do. It would be crawling, and I'd feel worse than before.'
CITIZENS SUMMONED TO MASS MEETING. “So he had his way, and all the citizens were summoned to a mass meeting. I never saw a soul suffer as that boy did. Remember, the republic was his world; disgrace before its citizens
"Sequel to the Fencing
meant disgrace before the world. He was voluntarily facing the bitterest trial that can come to a sensitive soul, for he loved popularity, and he had worked hard for it. He hungered for love and trust, and he had almost bartered his soul for the semblance of these. I'll never forget that morning. As he told his story, stammeringly and stumblingly at first, but after a while in a straightforward, manly way, though he was pale as death and once or twice I thought he would fall, I watched the faces of the audience. You could have heard a pin drop, but almost to a man his listeners were with him. There is nothing like straightforwardness and sincerity to bring out the nobility in others, you know.
"When he tendered his resignation to the Secretary of State, that dignitary sat like a log and wouldn't touch the bit of paper trembling in the outstretched hand. Then he surrendered himself to the jailer, but that official might have been made of wood, for all the action he took. 'Well, I know where I belong,' he said, and he staggered over to the prisoners' seats. And then a thing without precedent happened in the republic's annals. Every blessed one of us, Daddy' included, burst into tears, and I don't know what would have been the outcome if the judge hadn't found his voice. 'That,' he said, 'is what I call sand!'
"Well, Billy served his term, despite unanimous offers of pardon, and he's free now, but in all the history of the republic, among all the shining lights of our best citizens, I don't believe anything has had the lasting influence on the character of the grown-ups, as well as the citizens themselves, that this one boy's honesty has. And now do you ask what good the republic is?"
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