Only Through the Innocence of Children…

July 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Our friends at recently posted a newsletter which included an article regarding an early 20th century newsboy.  Please enjoy!

Only Through the Innocence of Children
A Memoir of a Newsboy in 1939

The following is a personal memoir of Stanleigh Nettleton written in 1987. Unfortunately, he died a number of years ago – but his memoir lives on!

About 1939 I was working the complaint desk on the Chicago Herald-American one Sunday morning. The complaint desk was simply where people call in that missed their paper and I would call the branch manager and he would send a kid over there with another paper. However, it was also the message center for 7 district managers and 91 branch managers who were supervising 3000 carriers delivering over 100,000 home delivery papers in Chicago.

About 6:30 I got a call from Freddy, the branch manager in 158. He called in and simply said, “The boss is looking for me, tell him I’ll call him when I get back. I just got a call from Austin Avenue Police Station that they are holding a couple of my kids out there, so I am going out there now to see what the beef is.”

Well, about 8:30 Freddy calls and he says, “I’m back and everything is OK.” I asked “What about the kids the cops picked up?” He says, “Well, that’s a long story. I’ll tell you Tuesday when I come in the office.”

Come noon Tuesday Freddy comes over to the desk and says, “Let’s go eat.” As we ate lunch Freddy tells me about the carriers.

Out on Wilcox Avenue in Chicago’s West Side there was this big apartment building that was entirely occupied by Jewish families. In one of these apartments was an old Jewish fellow who managed to flee the Gestapo and came to live with his son in Chicago. One Sunday morning the father goes out into the hall to pick up the paper and as he turns to come back in the apartment, he freezes with fear, for right in the center of the door was a big “X” mark made from white chalk. This was exactly the way the Gestapo would mark the houses in Germany when they took the Jews away to the concentration camps.

He finally stopped shaking enough to go in… (read more)

Newsies… a tough life…

May 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While movies and stage shows such as Newsies show the life of a 19th century newsboy to be a difficult one, we still walk away with a somewhat romanticized view of their daily struggle.  In contrast, the following article from The New York Times, September 1, 1868, helps us to better understand the conditions under which many of these young boys (barely) survived.  As an integral part of the subculture of nearly every major city of the period, it is interesting to see a contemporary glimpse of the conditions under which they existed.  To better grasp the perils under which they lived, click on the link any of the links to view both “The Newsboys Lodging House” and “A Sheep in Wolves Clothing” .