The News Boys Bank
by the American Sunday-School Union
"How much money have you in the bank?"
I heard a gentleman inquire of a boy. "A dollar
and a half," he replied. I looked up, and saw before
me a slender, bright-looking lad, about fourteen
years old. The pantaloons he wore had evidently
belonged to a full-grown man, and were rolled up at
the bottom to make them short enough for the present
wearer. His coat had been cut short in the
skirts, and the sleeves hung loosely about his hands.
His shirt was not particularly clean, neither was it
very dirty. His face, however, had been nicely
washed, so that there was nothing repulsive about
the fellow. The gentleman talked with him a few
moments. I was quite interested in the conversation
and learned from it that he was one of the
news-boys of New York.
First interview with the news-boy.
Patrick—for by this name I shall call the boy—sleeps
at the lodging-house for news-boys, and is
there learning to read. I concluded that I would
go there, and see for myself what had been done for
the improvement and salvation of these energetic,
active boys. I found the building to which I had
been directed, but could not readily find the entrance
which led to the room I was seeking. I
inquired of some poorly-dressed children where it
was. A boy about ten years old guided me. He
asked if I wanted a boy. I was sorry to say "No,"
for he looked so bright and active that it seemed a
pity not to give him some employment.
I ascended one flight of stairs, and another, and
still another and another, before I came to the right
door. I knocked, and was admitted by a gentleman
who has the oversight of these boys. The room
which I entered was nicely painted and whitewashed.
There were many seats with desks as in a
a schoolroom, and there were books and slates on
them. Maps and pictures hung on the walls, and
there was a library for those who could read.
The room was neat and tidy, and quite inviting
in its appearance. At the farther end of it was an
office for the caretaker, and a bathing-room, where
water can be used without stint or measure. The
boys enjoy the free use of the water, though probably
many of them never bathed in their lives,
before they came to the lodging-house. If "cleanliness
is next to godliness," much has been already
The school or sitting-room opens into the dormitory.
This is a large and well-ventilated apartment,
and, being in the sixth story, overlooks most of the
buildings in the vicinity. There were accommodations
for fifty boys, and the room is large enough
for eighty. Each boy has a separate bed. They are
arranged in two tiers, as in a steamboat. The beds
were all neatly made, and looked quite comfortable.
Many of these boys have never slept in a bed except
in this room. The remarks which they make to
each other, when comparing their beds, with their
clean sheets and pillow-cases, with the boxes, areas,
and crannies where they have been accustomed to
sleep, are very amusing.
I am happy to know that there has been a constant
improvement among the boys. They grow
more orderly, and are more easily restrained, and
some of them give promise of making useful men.
They are not allowed to use profane language, to
fight, nor to smoke in the rooms, and generally
manifest much kindness of feeling toward each
There was a table in the room, which interested
me greatly. It was of black-walnut. In the top
there were one hundred and ten different holes,
large enough to admit a half-dollar. Each of them
was numbered. This was the bank in which Patrick
had deposited his money. There were one hundred
and ten little divisions in the drawer, corresponding
with one hundred and ten openings in the top. The
boys each have a certain number for their own use,
and if they choose, can safely secure their day's
earnings for a time of need. The superintendent
keeps the key of the drawer.
Several weeks ago, the boys voted not to take
their money from the bank till November, that they
might then have the means of purchasing warm
clothes for the winter. I had quite a curiosity to
look into the bank, to see how much the boys had
saved. In some of the divisions there were only a
few pennies, while in others there were several
I never looked upon any bank with so much
pleasure, as I did upon this simple one of the news-boys.
It was teaching them a lesson of economy
and forethought, which I trust they will never forget.
When they enjoy their comfortable coats and
warm pantaloons in the cold weather of winter,
they cannot avoid remembering, that it was by
taking care of the pennies, that they were enabled
so nicely to clothe themselves. The news-boys have
never been taught the true value of money. They
have not hesitated to gamble it away, or to spend it
for segars and tobacco, and other unnecessary and
hurtful things. They have been exceedingly improvident
and have had no idea of laying up any
thing for the future.
One evening, as the boys were gathered in their
sitting-room, one of them was leaning on the bank.
He held up a quarter of a dollar between his thumb
and finger, and, looking at his companions, said,
"You know Simpson, the pawnbroker?" "Yes."
"He is a friend in need, but here is a friend
indeed!" and the bright silver dropped, jingling,
into his bank.
Those news-boys all of them possess more than
ordinary intelligence and energy of character.
"Every one of them," as a gentleman said, "is
worth saving." They are sure to make men, and
to exert an influence in the world.
After my return from my visit to their rooms,
I told some children about the necessities of these
news-boys, and how much they need better clothing.
A little girl, whom I know, has determined to make
a shirt for one of them. I am sure it will be acceptable;
for, frequently, when they first go to the
lodging-house, they are so filthy that something
must be given them to make them decent. Perhaps
other children may like to do something to benefit
those needy ones, who have no father nor mother to
take care of them and provide for their wants.
When the bank was opened, the first of November
it was found to contain seventy-nine dollars
and eleven cents! This sum of money had been
saved in seven weeks, by twenty-four boys. They
were quite astonished at their own success. They
learned the lesson by personal experience, that if
they took care of the pennies, the shillings would
take care of themselves. Some of them had saved
enough to buy a new suit of clothes, others enough
for pantaloons, and others for a cap or shoes. They
were advised not to spend their money hastily; but
a few were too impatient to wait, and the same
evening they received it they went out to make
their purchases. Others laid by their money till
The news-boys found it was so much better for
them to put their money in the bank, than to spend
it in gaming, or for cigars, or in other useless ways,
that they voted to close it again, not to be opened
till December. During the month of November,
nineteen boys saved sixty-three dollars and forty-seven
cents. One of them had put in thirteen
dollars. He did not spend it all for himself, but
gave a part of it to his mother to pay her rent.
The boys were delighted with their wealth. "No
hard times here!" they cried. "Money isn't tight
with us. There is plenty of it."
One of the boys purchased an entire suit of
clothes; and when he made his appearance among
the others, in his nice blue jacket, with bright buttons,
his pantaloons to match, and his blue navy-cap,
he was greeted with cheers. One and another
examined his wardrobe, and all enjoyed his success.
"Who are you? Who'd think this was Charley ——?
Is this a news-boy? Who'd believe this
was a news-boy?" and various other exclamations
escaped from them. "Charley has done well this
time." Yes, Charley did well, and he will not
soon forget the lesson he learned that month. He
knows more of the true use of money than ever
The first of December the boys voted to keep the
bank closed till the third of January. They decided
not to have it opened on the first, because
there are so many temptations to spend money that
they feared, if they had it in their pockets, they
should part with it foolishly.
One of the news-boys has been recently run over
by a stage. I inquired about him, and learned that
he is the very boy whom I met in a friend's office,
and my interest in whom led me first to visit the
lodging-house. This is the third time he has narrowly
escaped death. The omnibus passed directly
over his body. When he was taken up, his companions
thought him dying. He was conveyed
immediately to the hospital.
The boys at the lodging-house were saddened by
Patrick's troubles. They expected he would die.
They recounted his excellencies of character. His
cheerfulness and ready wit were not forgotten.
Patrick is not a boy of many words, but when he
speaks, it is to the purpose. The boys called at the
hospital to see him. The door-keeper said he never
knew a boy who had so many cousins!
The next day Patrick was better. It was found
that he was not so much injured as was at first supposed.
There was great rejoicing in the evening at
the lodging-house. A heavy load had been lifted
from their hearts. Patrick would soon be among
them again. They were cheerful and full of life
and spirits. "Patrick must be half made of India-rubber!"
they exclaimed, gleefully.
This sympathy with each other is one of the
most beautiful traits of their character, and shows
a nature that may be nobly developed. They cannot
but learn much that is good in the hours spent
in their reading-room, as they listen to the instruction
of those interested in their welfare. Many of
them have already found good situations, and give
promise of becoming useful men. They appreciate
kindness and civility. "Mr. —— spoke to me in the
street, when he was walking with another gentleman
and he shook hands with me too," said one of
them triumphantly, as if he had risen in the scale
of being, and was more worthy of respect, in consequence
of the respect with which he had been
treated. Few can estimate the power of sympathy.
"Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
Let no harsh term be heard;
They have enough they must endure,
Without an unkind word."
"I have never forgotten your words of kindness,
when I was poor and almost discouraged," wrote
one lady to another, and no more will any child
of want forget the utterance of a warm, generous
I should have told you, that besides the money
the boys put in the bank, they earn enough to pay
for their lodging, six cents a night, and to purchase
their food, and, sometimes, various articles of clothing.
They are obliged to be very active, and to be
up early in the morning. They may be found in
all parts of the city, crying their papers with loud,
piercing voices, and running at full speed from
street to street, stopping only to sell papers to any
who may buy.
It would be well if they had some occupation
which would expose them less to bad company and
unsteady habits; but a news-boy can be honest,
virtuous, and temperate, as well as any other boy,—if
he will take the right way to be.