To get a better idea of how the
poor of Brooklyn live during the
Winter, when all outside work is
closed down, a reporter visited
a large tenement house on Bond
Street, which is occupied by no
less than fourteen families. Not
alone have the laboring man
employed on streets etc., been
discharged, but nearly all the
factories in South Brooklyn have
reduced their help, owing to the
dullness of the market and the
large amount of stuff they all
have on hand.
In the Tenth Ward alone there
are FIVE HUNDRED MEN OUT OF
WORK, and the majority of these
are men, who when working were
unable to earn above a dollar
and twenty-five cents per diem.
The house in question is a large
double tenement, four stories in
height, and built of wood. In
the hallway were a number of
small children at play, nearly
all of them being barefooted.
One of them was a curly haired
little boy, of not over two. He
ran around shouting gleefully,
while his little bare legs were
almost blue in the cold. Upon
seeing the reporter, a girl of
about twelve caught the boy in
her arms. "Is he your brother?"
questioned the reporter.
"Yes," answered the girl. "Then
why don't you take him out of
this cold hall?"
"It is as warm here as any other
part of the house," answered the
girl, "we have no coal."
"What, you have no fire?" "No, I
was going out to pick up some
cinders but for the snow storm."
"How do you manage to cook your
meals?" "We have none to cook.
We are too poor to have meat."
"What do you live on?" inquired
"Bread. Mother baked bread
yesterday. Father broke up the
baby's stool for her to make a
fire with. We had meat at
Christmas, my uncle Mike sent us
a large piece of roast pork, I
tell you it was bully."
"Mary! Mary! come up here, you
rascal, or I'll punch your head
between your two ears," shouted
a woman from one of the upper
"That's mother calling," said
the little girl, as she ascended
the stairs with her baby brother
in her arms, his half frozen
little feet carefully covered
with her shawl.
A Woman walked out of one of the
apartments on the ground floor
and seeing the reporter said,
"And who might you be looking
The reporter stated his business
and the woman said, "Sure I
wouldn't want to have my name in
the paper and the other tenants
wouldn't like it. There's a
Dutch woman that lives on the
top floor, back room, maybe she
might talk to you."
While she was talking a couple
of other women came down stairs.
"Are you from the Board of
Health?" inquired one.
The reporter answered in the
negative, and the woman
continued, "I thought maybe you
might be. I have A LITTLE GOAT
IN THE BACK YARD, and one of the
women in the next house who I
had up in court for beating my
little Larry, made a complaint
about me keeping a goat."
The three women finally gave
their names as Holland, Murphy
and Schwartz. Mrs. Holland, the
woman to whom the reporter first
spoke, is a widow. When asked if
she was married she answered,
"No, my husband was killed three
years ago by a bank falling on
him, while he was working in a
"How do you manage to support
yourself, Mrs. Holland?"
"Sure, I don't live at all, I
merely exist. I can earn about
three dollars and fifty cents a
week by washing, then my little
girl that's out at service pays
my rent for me, it ain't much, I
have only two small rooms."
"How many children have you,
"Four beside Janey, who is
living out: these are all small.
Mike he is twelve and next
Summer I think I will put him to
work. Oh, I live good compared
to many people down here; sure I
can have meat, sometimes twice a
week. Then Janey's mistress
often sends me some nice things.
The only thing that bothers me
is trying to keep shoes on the
children; it would take every
cent that I could save to buy
shoes for them. So I have given
it up as a bad job. If they keep
in the house, they can toast
their feet at the fire."
"Do you have to work hard for
the three dollars and a half?"
inquired the reporter.
"Three days and a half I have to
work at the washtub from seven
o'clock in the morning until six
at night and sometimes later,
according to the amount of linen
I have to wash. There is one
family of ten persons on Henry
street, that I wash for, IT
TAKES ME ABOUT FOURTEEN HOURS
and all I am paid is a dollar.
But I am satisfied, I don't care
how much work I have to do."
A man then entered, and Mrs.
Murphy introduced him to the
reporter as her husband. When
the reporter explained his
business Murphy remarked,
"Indeed it wouldn't be a hard
job to find down in this
neighborhood a couple of hundred
men who have done no work since
Fall. I have been out of work
for two months."
"What is your business?" "I am a
laborer; the last time I worked
was in Bay Ridge, making a
"What were you paid a week?" "I
had a dollar and ten cents per
day, and five days' work was
counted a good week's work, that
was five dollars and a half."
"Then you had to deduct your car
fare." "Oh, no, I could not
afford to ride in the cars, I
walked both ways."
"How far is it from here, to Bay
Ridge?" "About five miles. I had
to leave the house at about
fifteen minutes past five every
morning to get to work at
"How do you manage to get along,
now that you are out of work?"
"That's a question hard to
answer, I pick up a little going
around putting in coal, have a
few customers that give me me an
hour's work now and then,
chopping wood, or doing chores
about their residences. Then my
wife goes out to work when ever
she can get it."
"How much do you earn on an
"About two dollars and a half
per week. Then we have to pay
six dollars a month rent. I have
been looking to see if I could
find cheaper apartments, but I
was unsuccessful, rents are very
"Why don't you apply to the
Commissioners of Charities for
"No, I wouldn't do that, there
is persons even poorer than me
who are refused help there. My
wife wanted me to do it, but as
long as I can earn enough to
keep bread in the children's
mouths I will not ask for
Mrs. Schwartz said that her
husband had been out of work
since July and were it not for
her little boy who earned three
dollars per week, the family
would have died of starvation.
"My husband," said she, "is a
mason, and I remember the time
when he had OVER TEN MEN IN HIS
EMPLOY and was making money at
the rate of nearly a hundred
dollars per week. That was in
war times when wages were high.
He expects to get a position as
conductor, the Alderman of the
ward having promised to obtain
it for him."
"Mammy! Mammy! shouted a little
girl, running out of one of the
rooms on the around floor where
the party were assembled, "Jimmy
has went and spilled the hot tea
all over baby."
The child belonged to Mrs.
Holland and she hastened to the
scene of the disaster, closely
followed by the other woman.
Murphy and the reporter made a
tour of the house and everywhere
the rooms were found clean,
although few of the floors were
covered. Women and children
flocked into the halls and gazed
in wonderment at the visitor.
"Nearly all the women you see,"
remarked Murphy, "go out to
work. There are only two men in
the house who are working. One
of them is employed as a
"longshoreman and the other has
a job in the Department of City
Works. He expects to get
discharged every day as the
force is much reduced."
Even when working there are none
of the males in this house who
could earn over a dollar and a
half per diem, and out of this
small amount many of them have
to support families of six or
seven; food and clothes have to
be bought and the laborer must
endeavor TO LAY BY A SMALL SUM
PER WEEK to support him at the
time he is thrown out of work.
Very few of these laboring men,
even in the Summer time when
work is brisk, taste meat often
or than twice a week, and in
Winter when out door labor is
stopped, if on Sunday they have
a small piece of beef for
dinner, they believe themselves
to be very fortunate.
Very few of these men will apply
to the Commissioners of
Charities for relief, if they
can possibly get along without
it; for the reason that they are
ashamed of having their
neighbors see them obtain