What was the procedure for spending a night at the DSLH?A boy entering the DSLH had to go up to the third floor. There, near the door, was a platform surrounded by a railing. Behind it stood or sat the Superintendent or his assistant. The boy had to give his name, age, and occupation, say whether he could read/write, and possibly answer other questions.
Then he paid six cents (or ten, if he wanted the fancier "private" beds) for his stay. If he wanted supper, he had to pay for that in advance as well. He was required to wash up at first opportunity. A key was given to him with a number on it, which corresponded both to a locker and to a bed. The locker was for his clothes.
"The boys troop in with a rush, as they usually do at about 6 o’clock" (The Journal, Feb. 16, 1896). A boy who came in was expected to attend that night's classes.
In Newsies, the registration area is moved to the first floor, the railing is gone, and the boys keep their clothes on their bunks.
(As a side note, here is an interesting excerpt from one New York Times interview with seven newsboys/bootblacks on a street corner:
"Yes, I live in the Newsboys' Home," the blue cap continued, putting away his brushes. "Supper is 6 cents, and breakfast is 6; and lodging the same, if we get in before 9 o'clock. After 9 it costs us 7 cents, and if we don't get in till after 10 it costs 11 cents. Dinner is 20 cents, but we generally eat somewheres outside. A man can get a very good dinner now outside for 15 or 20 cents."
New York Times, Aug 17, 1879
Note, however, that this was in 1879, and I have not found reference to either a 20-cent dinner or an escalating cost (with respect to time) in any other report or article, so either this system was tried out and abandoned, or the boy could have possibly been referring to one of the non-CAS lodging houses.) [Later edit: It's possible that the escalating cost referred to the fines boys sometimes had to pay (see "Was there a curfew?" below). There is still no mention of a 20-cent dinner.]
What about other costs?Dinner was six cents. Unlike in Newsies, breakfast could also be got at the DSLH, for another six cents.
What if a boy could not afford to stay?The cost of lodgings would generally be deferred until the boy could afford to pay back his debts. Sometimes, other boys pitched in to help out one of their own.
How about general rules of behavior?
Riis reports that a "notice" over the door read: "Boys who swear and chew
tobacco cannot sleep here."
During the big holiday dinners (an average of nearly 1000 boys at Thanksgiving, an average of 600 boys at Christmas), police were often recruited to help keep order.
For special events, especially those with visitors, the boys attending had to have washed up and were expected to sit quietly (if the event was a speech or some other presentation) and behave themselves. It was the Supt.'s job to keep order at these events, such as at a 1901 banquet at the DSLH, in which a dozen boys got rowdy concerning which of them would lead the singing. Supt. Heig quickly put a stop to it.
Did things ever get out of hand?
Unfortunately, yes. A sample of the incidents:
In 1893, the night-clerk disappeared, after having been accused
of borrowing money from the boys and not returning it.
On New Year's Day, 1897, two newsboys quarrelled in the reading room of the DSLH and went out into the hall, whereupon one stabbed the other twice with a penknife. Supt. Heig and the clerk caught the attacker in the hall; the wounded boy was carried into the reading room and an ambulance from the Hudson St. Hospital was called, as were police from the Oak. St. Station. The victim was taken to the hospital in what the New York Times said was a "serious condition," but I do not know what became of him.
On June 3, 1900, two newsboys living at the DSLH quarreled in front of the LH, and again one stabbed the other, this time in the back of the neck. The victim was able to return to the DSLH after a trip to the hospital.
What were the rules for the morning?
How early the boys were wakened depended on where they worked. Some had
to get up as early as 2 a.m., others at 5.
Everybody had to be out by 7 a.m.
Boys were expected to take a bath before the morning meal.
Was there a curfew?
At 9 p.m., the light were turned on in the dormitories, and the boys were expected to begin going to bed.
After 9:30 p.m., no boys were admitted to the LH unless they had obtained a pass earlier in the evening. These passes allowed the holder to remain out until midnight. As going to the theater was a popular pastime among newsboys, much use was made of the passes.
A boy without a pass was charged a fine according to how late he came in.
It is interesting to note that boys entering the LH were expected to attend that night's classes, which were held from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The 9:30 deadline for having a pass, plus the fine, likely made it harder for a boy to skip classes by merely showing up late.
No boy, even with a pass, was let in after midnight.
Any other obligations?The boys had to help with the upkeep of the place. In the mornings, they had to open the windows and throw the bedclothes back to air, and shake out pillows and put them in the windows. Several boys had to help the cook at breakfast and help serve it. A few (I don't know how they were chosen) stayed in during the day to help with dishwashing, sweeping, dusting, making beds, and mopping the gym.
Mondays were laundry day. The boys didn't have to do all the laundry, but they had to help.
Windows were washed on Wednesdays.
A visitor to this place [the DSLH] says that when she entered early one morning she found two or three boys sweeping the dining room floor, several more making beds and still others with mops and pails washing the hall floors. A little later boys were found in the kitchen doing kitchen work, and other boys were setting table.
--The Lima Times Democrat, Feb. 8, 1902
The New York Times joked in 1902 that after all this, newsboys would make good husbands.
Was there an age restriction?All boys had to be under eighteen, though I have seen newspaper articles listings lodgers' ages as nineteen.
Who wasn't let in to spend the night?Boys who were discovered to be simple runaways, without a good reason for being away from home. They were sent home when found out. (More on runaways.)
Girls. There was a separate girls' lodging house in another part of the city. Even holiday dinners at the DSLH, which were open to all lodging newsboys and any friends they wanted to invite, did not allow girls.
(Women were not forbidden to simply enter, of course. Many did, as visitors to special events held at the DSLH. At least one teacher was a woman, and some of the day-time students were girls. The official 1900 census shows that the cook, servant, and house-keeper, all of whom were women, lived at the DSLH. And, last but not least, there were the Superintendent's wife and children, who also lived there.)
Known trouble-makers. For instance, on one occasion in 1895 several boys, who had been sent to the Society's Farm School, ran away from work. When they tried to return to the DSLH, they were not allowed back in.
Note, however, that the DSLH would "[reject] no boy on account of color, nationality or religion" (The Journal, Feb. 16, 1896))
Were there really never any girls at the DSLH?There are two curious incidents:
In spring of 1904 a boy calling himself "Joe" showed up at the DSLH. He told of the cruel treatment he'd had at home, leading his to running away. The other boys teased him for his voice, nicknaming him "Sis." Joe was soon sent, willingly, to the Farm School, where he was popular and did well. But he "developed sudden fits of bashfulness, and in this way the secret came out." (The Galveston Daily News, May 6, 1904.) Joe was actually Josephine Beck, a fourteen-year-old girl who had run away from her home in Newark, NJ two weeks before. She was immediately made to change back into a dress and was escorted by a CAS employee back to NYC via train, where she was was reunited with her mother.
She had run away from home in her brother's and father's clothes. Her tales of cruel home life appear to have been a fabrication; her brother revealed afterwards that she had said she thought running away to live on her own would be "fun."
According to Supt. Heig, she was the only girl who'd ever stayed at the DSLH, and only then because they hadn't known "he" was a she.
2. "Narrow Mike"
I could not possibly improve upon Supt. Heig's telling of the story:
"He was a youngster of Irish parents [...] left an orphan [...He decided] that if he was a girl he could sell more papers than a newsboy could. What does he do but buy a cheap outfit at some woman's clothing place and for a couple of months used to leave here in boy's clothes and then put on the girl's dress in the vestibule and sell his papers dressed this way. It proved a success and it was several months before the other boys reported it to me. 'Mike' is now a lawyer in an up state [sic] city and I don't think I ought to mention his name."
Lincoln Evening News, July 7, 1910
In addition, a more minor incident occurred just before the 1902 Thanksgiving dinner. Supt. Heig identified and pulled seven newsgirls--dressed as newsboys--from the crowd waiting to get into the dining-room. "No girls are allowed in the lodging house, of course, but the Superintendent told them to come back later and he would give them their dinner." (New York Times, Nov. 28, 1902)
On the topic of runaways.
Un uncredited newspaper clipping (likely written by Campbell in 1891, due to circumstantial evidence) had this to say on the subject of runaways at the LH:
"Long practice has made this gentleman [the Superintendent] a master in the art of detecting runaways. By certain symptoms he knows them the moment he caps eyes upon them. Or if his first glance does not satisfy him a few well-directed questions usually bring out the truth, and the would-be adventurer is turned away to spend the night in the streets. [...] It is a good thing for these wayward lads that the men at the desk in the lodging houses are not easily deceived. Sometimes the pretended newsboys get by them into the dormitory, and awake in the morning to find a policeman waiting to see them home..."
Most of the runaways turned up during the summer.
Were pets allowed?It appears dogs were allowed, although not in large numbers. An illustration from Darkness and Daylight shows a dog lying at the boys' feet while the boys play dominoes on what appears to be the third floor. A visitor to the DSLH in 1900 (Brooklyn Eagle, Dec. 24, 1900) reported being almost attacked by a vicious dog on the second floor (fortunately, one of the boys grabbed hold of it).
At some point during Supt. Heig's tenure, the LH's resident dog was a Russian poodle owned by Heig. He was known as the "Walking Mudgutter" due to "his habit of flopping into every street puddle he can find," and according to Heig was a great listener to the boys' troubles. One incident was recorded (no date found yet) in which William Johnston, publisher of Printers' Ink, was accosted by the dog during a visit to the DSLH. Fortunately, the leg that the dog chose to bite was a wooden one, prompting Johnson to laughingly tell Heig, "Let him chew away. I can stand it if he can. But I'm afraid he'll have indigestion. If he wants to eat that leg, I can get another."
In its Sept. 13, 1892 issue Harper's Young People reported that the current resident dog was named Carlo and had belonged to the previous Superintendent (which would have been O'Connor, although there is some discrepancy there: the article states that the previous Supt. passed away "two years ago," whereas O'Connor had passed away in 1887). The article also related an incident in which Carlo followed two newsboys named Tip and Whitey to the Windsor Theatre; this small adventure resulted in a fistfight with the usher and the boys' subsequent arrest. (The boys escaped a hefty five-dollar fine the next morning by swaying the judge with a tearful explanation of the fight, which been in staunch defense of the dog.)