Charles Frederick Holder.

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and roar his elders make at their
gratifying game of getting dollars, so
he thinks it might be a pleasant tiling
for him to be busy too, and to make a
noise and to get some nickels if he
can. Of their own will and with joy
the children here undertake whatever
work they do. This, ot course, applies
to that cheerful crew of yonngsl
who ply their peddler's trade upon
the streets and sidewalks.

Having made up his mind that be
must do something, the boy looks for
a place where a small invested capital
will be sure to yield him a fair amount
of fun, in addition to the money
income. His temperament as well as
his funds will have something to
in this matter of a choice of occu-
pation. A curious boy, who is fond
of noise, will take to selling papers.
A boy who is lazy, with a love of
color, will plant himself and hisflov
near Lotta's fountain. A drudge of a
boy who likes to trudge, will get a
calico bag and fill it with matches.
A boy who has the sense to love the
smell of the sea and the feel of cold
water and the swift dipping motion of
a small boat— he goes to the water
front and pulls and hauls there among
the fishing boats and luggers of the
Italians and Sicilians. And so their





tastes lead them on until they fill the

places of available work for children.

There is one thing which a healthy

boy loves almost as well as he loves

to be busy, and that is to make a
noise and thrust his identity upon
others. Now, the high tide mark of
being busy, making a noise, and pester-
ing or pleasing people with one's
identity, that is what it is to be a
newsboy. The newsboy is a clamor-
ous, ubiquitous sprite, untidy, nimble,
cunning, coming always with a halo
of ringing din around him. He buys
three papers ior five cents and sells
them for five cents apiece. So every
three sales that he consummates nets to
his pocket a whole dime. He is found
stationed along the sidewalks and in
the middle of the streets. With an
amazing sang froid he risks his neck
and bones in getting aboard of moving-
cars and in dropping off the clanging
dummies. He waves his papers in
the face of passenger or pedestrian,
and often makes a sale from sheer
force of personal magnetism.

A big solemn man was once very
weary and rather wished there were
no world that he must learn and hear

of. He was swinging along Kearny
street at the close of the business
day when the street was filled with
wagons and trucks, and the pavement
was thick with a rushing crowd — just
at that particular hour which is a
prolonged agony to a person with
nerves. A newsboy spied him out,
and tagging at his heels demanded
that he buy a paper. The man half
turned around and was on the point of
refusing. "I don't want your paper,"
he said. " But I'm only a little bit of
a chap!" responded the mite. He
sold his paper and the man went on,
laughing to himself.

The newsboy is a blessed thing ill
that he nibbles at the fruit of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil
with never a price to pay. He is a
thesaurus on legs. He knows every-
thing, and he knows no evil as yet.
His startling cries on sin and crime
are only abracadabra to him. But it
is appalling and bewildering to hear
the joyous trebles of these small
human entities piping murder, war,
fire and explosions. The most ghastly
formula of all is the cry of " All about
the suicide!" This comes from his
lipS with a glib cadence, yet what
does he know of the tragic agony of a
soul self poised for flight into the
black invisible ?




A heyday time with him is just
after a lottery drawing, when all the
world is giddy with hopes of a visit
from King Mammon — as Jupiter vis-
ited young Danae — in a glittering
shower of gold. A man with a lottery
ticket hidden in his pocket book, and a
lottery number tucked in a corner of
his skull, has no mind to grudge a
dime to a boy who may be the mes-
senger to tell of a change in Fortune's

The boys, as a rule, are kind to
each other in providing change and
exchanging papers. But when they
quarrel, they suggest the chittering and
flapping and squeaking of the battles
of the brown sparrows out on the
cobble stones.

The small, irregular place
which opens into cable-laden
Market street, and which we
all call Lotta's Fountain, holds
the gathering of the clans
of bronze-complexioned boys
who sell to the marching pop-
ulace, flowers which are a little
older and much cheaper than
may be had at the florist's. ,
When the blue sky gleams
through white heaps of irreg-
ular clouds, and the sun streams
down in blinding showers of light,
the Lotta's Fountain square looks
like a topsy turvy rainbow. The
greater number of the boys are
in competition with the regular
florists. They bring their flowers
direct from the suburban nursery-
men of Berkeley, Alameda or Oak-
land, and make them up into the
generous bunches which they retail
to the swiftly passing crowds. The
flowers are so radiant in their heaps of
pleasant color, that the boys are seldom
put to the bother of a cry to attract
attention to their treasures. They
simply sit and dream and drone upon
their baskets, and the colors and the
sunlight do the rest. Clairvoyants,
too, are these dusky-skinned young-
sters, quick to know if one is only
a robber of the fragrance and the
glow r of their flowers, or if there is a

Vol. IV— 34

fair possibility of a sale. They know
which way the traflic runs, and like- a
ing Iris, they fol
movements of the

:is it takes its wav
ward up Kearny


low the



the busi-
ness nun
and clerks

ward to-
ward the
ferries ;is
the traveling public
makes its way; with

the swarming multitude
which has its prom
enade around Cape
Horn, going either up
or down " the Rialt<».'
or the constantly shift-
ing crowd which ascends or dismounts
the dummies as they stop in front of
the fountain.

Many of the boys are as pleasant t«»
look upon as the flowers which they
carry. Some days it does not need
a heroic reach of imagination tochai
that Lotta Fountain crowd of lads into
a bunch of Roman boys in a corner of
the Piazza di Spagna, or in a nook on
the white marble stairs of Monte
Trinita. They are, for the most part,
Genoese with beautiful eyes and
skin, but their features lack the deli-
cate and regular beauty of their
Roman brethren.

Of late the heavy hand of the



law lias been working woe for the
littl«e flower peddlers. It would seem
that, the big city of San Fran-
cisco could get on in its finances
with- out pestering these young ones
for money. But it is not so. For the
righ t to sell their flowers they must
pay iten dollars per quarter, and each
one carries under his little coat a three-
cornered tin tag, like a miniature
family shield, on which is stamped his
number and the date of issuance and
expiration of his license. At any
time a stalking autocrat in bine may
demand to see this precious piece of
tin, and if it is not forthcoming there
will be a sorry boy and a basket of
drooping flowers up in the vicinity of
the police courts. Indeed, the' flower
boys do not go the primrose path of
dalliance. They have orders as to
the exact places where they may safely
set their baskets and where they may
safely stand. Kearny street is forbid-
den ground for all day ; and then there
are police orders which regulate their
positions on all the sides of the square.
Their only haven of uniform peace is
just where the Chronicle Building
abuts on Market street. One day a
blue-coated czar gathered them in,
one-armed men, big boys and all, sud
marched them up to police head-
quarters. This was just after the
licensing and regulation ordinance
had been passed. Most of them were
fined five dollars. But one boy with
a round brown face and very red lips,
whose number is 13, was "let off for
nothinV lam inclined to think he
was '* took up" for nothing.

There is a tribe of philosophers in
small breeches whose avocation takes
them to the quiet streets, where the
people live in ugly houses with bay-
windows that look out on cobble
stones and pavements. These are the
boys who are not obtrusive, not fond
of noise and crowds, and boys with a
very small capital to invest. A match
boy ' s complete stock in trade consists of
four dozen bunches of matches swung
over his shoulders in a calico bag, a
good pair of legs to pack him, and a

solemn air of unconcern as to the
general wagging of the world. His
four dozen bunches cost him twenty-
five cents, and when Ik- retails them at
four bunches for five cents, he nets <>u
his investment thirty - live cents.
There's many a mile, though, to be
trudged before that big sum is cleared.
Their business takes them toward the
kitchen where nickels are scarce, not
out on the thoroughfares where I
change flows free.

One day I met one of these small
gentry who had sold only five cents'
worth of matches in four whole daw
of marching. There was a meekness
in his habit of conduct which gave an
extra value to his matches. To hear
him laugh and see him take his nickel
would make one desire to buy his
matches all day long, just like the
man who despised trade and whose
dream of opulence and wealth was t,,
go along the wharves and flip dimes
into the water, because he got nothing
in return for them. This mild man-
nered child, in an amazing way, dis-
cussed the fluctuations of the match
market. And as he faced about to
ring the bell of a "no peddlers" De-
signed house, he sapiently remarked
that "matches would go Up next


Questo what/ appartiote exdus\
mentc per il uso e benefizio dei Pescatori

del la Citta e Contra di San Frana



5 22



This is the big notice which scares
the troublesome, idle small boy off the
1 ' fisherman' s wharf. ' ' The boys who
work about there have very little
heavy drudgery to do. The men
look to the boats, mend their nets and
do the fishing. The boys do what
they can as the boats go out and
as they come in, heavy with their
quivering, silver spoils. Yards upon
yards of beautiful red-brown colored
nets are draped to dry upon the rail-
ing around the wharf. The nets are
the special treasures of the fisherman,
and here the small boys' assistance
is invaluable. With the greatest care
they are freed from any debris which
may cling to them, mended, and
strung up. They are manipulated as
gingerly and as anxiously as a lady
handles her Valenciennes or duchess.
An enterprising boy has a corner on
the tanning of the nets. He goes out
on the bay, and besides his fish he has
a long prodded pole, with which he
hauls unto himself all the driftwood
which passes by his way. This is


brought in and boiled in great iron
cauldrons, and twice each week « every
inch of net along the wharf is dipped
into the bubbling, steaming, rich- hue 1
liquid. This tanning process makes
the nets more or less impervious to the
rot and ruin coming from the salt water.
It is by this same method that the
sails acquire their deep-hued gor geous-
ness, so like to the very Venetian
fisher-boat sails.

The boys hang the nets up to dry,
and smooth them out with the lead
sinkers all on one side and jtne cork
floaters on the other. When the nets
are dried, the hatches ot the boat are
lifted, and then the daintiest bit of work
IS done. One boy stands on the wharf
and another gets into the middle of the
boat's small hold. The upper boy
flings the net to tin one. and

then a hand over bar, ng of the

net begins. The heavy sinkers bal-
ance it as it goes down, and it is set
into smooth round I . ithotit a

knot or disturbing twist in its million
folds. The boys laugh and talk and
whistle while they do !ie would

think them wizards or spiders not to
have a horrible mixture of lead and
cork and thread ready for the fishers,
when they are out on the uneasy
waters of the b;i summate

is their skill, that when the time comes
for dropping it. the net is Teeled off




into the water without a break or

A pleasant place to work is the
" Fishermen's Wharf." The rows of
round piles that support the wharf are
just far enough apart to make the
space between them seem like the
cool, dark cells around a convent
cloister. Here the green boats rock
and swing up and down with every
movement of the water. It is quiet
enough about there, too —

"The noises of the city
Drift away thro' sultry streets and alleys,"

— and the crisping ripples leap and
roll against the piles and wharves
in a languid melody. Lazy boys
who have no call there, hang around
and play at fishing with hook and
line ; fishermen mend their nets and
gossip from shadowy cell to cell ;
the boats go out and the boats come
in, and one could never tell that one
was on the very jump-oiF spot of a
continent, with a blustering, roar-
ing, tumultuous town behind one.
At certain times it is the very

"To lend our hearts and spirits wholly

To the influence of mild-minded melan-
choly ;

To muse and brood and live again in mem-

With those old faces of our infancy — "

Thursday evening is a brisk time
about the wharf. Then all the boats
come in filled with the fish for Fri-
day's market. The boys are useful
in lifting the fish out of the boats,
isorting them and putting them into
le wagons sent from the fish-stalls in
te markets. During these times there
no place for dreams of peace and
le past. A polyglot pandemonium
iges. The assembly of fishers and
teir assistant lads is made up of
rreeks, Genoese, Austrians, Sicilians
md Spaniards. They shout and swear
and quarrel, and make an uproar to the
confusion and fright of the stranger,
who of course expects fights and dis-
asters unnumbered. It is only sound

and fury signifying nothing, for
though the Southern tongue be loud,
the Southern arm is slow to strike.
and a noise is quite a- - a blow

when one wants only to bully. The
boys make their share of the row. but
they keep themselves well out of the
range of a kick, and they know how to
duck from a. well-aimed cuff.

When the great ships come in from
Mexican and Central American ports,
or from the Islands of the Pacific, the
market becomes crammed with the
tropical fruits they bring to Califor-
nia. The fruit hawkers fill their little
wagons with huge loads of fragrant
pine-apples, bananas, mandarins, lem-
ons, limes or oranges. Then are they
seen climbing the hills and crawling
through the streets with a juvenile
annex on the seat holding the reins.
or on the sidewalk, crying out the
fruit and its price. Though only de-

wn.n oaki



sultory, this is a most pleasant busi-
ness, the boy being allowed to have as
perquisites as much fruit as he desires,
in addition to the compensation tor
his services. Sometimes the boys go in
for fruit peddling on an independent
basis. They invest in a big box of
limes or lemons, and station themselves
down town just off the sidewalk where
Grant avenue, Kearny or Stockton
streets open into Market. There they
gather in nickels, with nothing to do but
sit on the edge of their boxes as they
tell the people going by how cheap
their yellow fruit is sold. These boys
find in the crowd the fun that the
others find in holding the reins over
a jaded nag climbing up a hill.

Something of the same order of em-
ployment comes to other boys when the
game laws expire, and quail, dove,
duck and rabbits are in season. The
game boys are like the fruit boys :


sometimes they go as assistants to
carry the game, to ring the bells, or
trump up purchasers ; again, they in-
vest for themselves early in the morn-
ing at the big markets, trot the
streets by themselves and have all the
profits for their own.

"Progress" is the tired old pack-
horse that must carry all the sins of a
selfish, precipitous age. So progress
is responsible for the decay of the
bootblack's occupation, and the ex-
istence on the street corners of the
hideous stalls, bedizened with mir-
rors and high-colored lithographs,
where men go to have their boots
made shining. Counting them all,
perhaps there are a dozen regular
boot-blacks in San Francisco. They
are very small boys with an invincible
cheerfulness on their laces, a "jocund
din*' upon their lips, and, strung like
a soldier's knapsack over their shoul-
ders, their small black boxes which hold
the trappings Of their trade. These
little fellows have small luck among
the multitude which fills the thorough-
fares of the town. Their well-stationed
and well-caparisoned rivals, with cush-
ioned chairs and mirrors, are too
powerful in the splendor of their

added comforts. For where is the
man who wants to be jostled and
hustled as he stands almost helpless,
on little more than one foot ? So the
boot-blacks take their places along the
quieter streets where their occasional
patrons undertake no risks of trips
or stumbles. A favorite rendezvous.
of these small cavaliers is along the
graveled walks that run among the
grass plots in Union Square. Many a
hurried pedestrian discovers the dust
upon his boots as he speeds from out
the madding crowd, and the grimy-
faced youngster is hailed with a pious
gratitude. Even if there be no pair of
boots to polish, the square is no mean
place to spend the shining hours, and
a boot-black is not the boy to let time
hang heavy on his hands. Are there
not sparrows at which one may shie
small rocks? Are there not police-
men to dodge and vagrants to tease.



and benches on which to lounge, soak-
ing through and through with sun-
shine ? And whatever are nursery
maids for, with their " bald-headed
dabs of humanity," (that is Jerome
K. Jerome's affectionate definition of
a baby) sitting w T ith dignity in peram-
bulators, or rolling as if with boneless
legs on the grass — what indeed are
they all for, if not for the sport of these
tattered Gavroches t

In the district which lies between
Market street and the Potrero, from
vSecond to Fifth streets, there are in-
numerable timber yards and saw-mills.
These furnish a small
revenue to both girls
and boys. Blocks,
chips, the fragments
of beams, rafters, shin-
gles, planks and the
useless ends of the
milled redwood lie
about in profuse
heaps. The children
for mere asking may
have however much
they can carry away
with them. They pile
the small litter into
grain or gunny sacks,
and pack the remnants
of the boards and
planks upon their
heads or shoulders.
The girls are as nim-
ble as the boys at this,
and get a fair share of
the spoils. The boys
are more inclined to
sell their wood for
whatever trifling sum they can get lor
it. The girls usually are out to gather
it for home consumption. To a poor
family this wood is no mean saving,
and the scattered stuff gathered during
the weeks of vacation and after school
hours,often makes a well filled kindling
shed. Along North Beach and where
the bay washes the edge of the Potrero,
piles of drift-wood are swept in. This is
also picked up by the children. Always
soaked with the sea and often being
nothing more than fibrous pulp, it is


not so profitable as the trash of the
mills and yards.

The intricate tangle of tracks run-
ning through and about the- freight
yards at Fourth and Townseud sti
is a veritable mine to the- children of
industrious habits. Here they are
thick, boys and girls, with their b
and sacks, picking up truck of all
kinds, no matter what it ; >, BO Lonj
they can fill the bags — coal, ground
to a shining black gravel or in big
chunks ; transparent glittering lumps
of ice in every conceivable shape;
handfuls of wheat or corn all mixed
with dust ; fruit and
potatoes — anything
that could possibly be
in proees> of transpor-
tation before it fell out
of a box-car. The peo-
ple in authority have
no objection to this
promiscuous picking,
and the children are
in for it simply t<>
cape the tedium of
unvarnished idling.

Travel to the tune
of " Over the hills and
far away " and find

yourself up in the other

part of town, and there
you will discovi

rare order of the small
human buds. In that
curious quarter, China-
town, a hoary Oriental
civilization has
dumped a Mongolian

detritus of strange-
faced yellow men. Along the dirty
streets and on the reeking pavements
the baby offspring of this alien pack
trot and run. and laugh and chirp.
Tiny things they are. of the delicate
color of cream, with eyes as black and
bright as a squirrel's or a rat 'a : be-
decked and gaudy are they with the
colors of their little quilted jackets and
their funny pantaloons. There serine
to be no transition time for these small
Chinese- from the fluttering little
mysteries they evolve instantly into



those astute, sphinx-faced men who
are their fathers. Nowhere more than
up among these heathen hordes, does
the pathetic trustfulness of child-
hood "transform the sullen street."

The hardest highbinder of the lot
loves all the pig-tailed mites who
trot the alley - ways, and jabber
in the language of their common




THE Pacific Slope is so remote
from all the great centers of ac-
tivity and mature civilization,
that it is seldom quickened into con-
certed action on any question of vital
social import until long after the older
communities have taken the initiative.
Once awakened to a necessity, how-
ever, the West takes its place and
maintains it with the vigor, sponta-
neity and enthusiasm of youth and

Until within two years and a half,
no provision has been made on the
Pacific Coast for the protection, benefit
and advantage of the working news-
paper woman and woman author. In
other parts of the United States, these
associations have been established

ever since 1880, most of the earlier
ones being organized for purely social

In September, 1890, after nearly
three years of preliminary investiga-
tion and preparation, one hundred
and fifty invitations were sent out to
newspaper women and authors in good
standing on this Coast, asking them
to meet in San Francisco on a certain
date at the writer's home. As dis-
tances are so great in the West,
not more than fifty women responded
in person, but every one invited sent
letters of cheer and encouragement
and pledged herself to the unwaver-
ing support of the movement.

The Constitution and By-Laws of
the New England Women's Press




Association was adopted, for it was
felt that its simplicity and force was
the outcome of mature consideration
and experience. The election of offi-
cers then took place. Mrs. Nellie
Biessing Eyster was unanimously
elected president. Mrs. Eyster is an
enthusiast in all that she undertakes,
is gifted with great tact, accustomed
to public speaking, a woman with
hosts of friends in every part of the
world. For many years she has been
a correspondent to many influential
Eastern papers. She has written
for Harper's Magazine and almost
every other leading magazine in the
United States. At one time she was
associated with Gail Hamilton in the
editing of Wood's Magazine. She
has written a number of books, chief
among which are the "Sunny Hour
Series" and the " Colonial Boy," the
latter being published in 1890 by the
Lathrops of Boston. At present she
is the State President of Juvenile
Work of the W. C. T. U. of California.

Mrs. Eyster taking the chair.
the following Executive Board
was nominated and elected : M rs,
Jeanne C. Carr of Pasadena.
First Vice-President; Mis. Sarah
B. Cooper, Second Vice 1
dent; Mrs. Ella Higginscm of
Whatcom. Washington. Third
Vice-President; Mrs. J. T Y
Parkhurst, Corresponding S
tarv ; Mrs. Sam Davis
City, Nevada, Recording S
tary ; Mrs. Mary O. Stanton.
Treasurer; Mrs. Isabel Raymond
of Santa Cruz, Auditor ; and a
supplementary committee con-
sisting of Mrs. Man F. Hall
Wood of Santa Barbara, Mrs.
Frances Bagby-Blades

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 70 of 120)