90 Shine! By Krausz, Sigmund

The little fellow who bears the traces of his vocation on his dirty cheek is down on his knees to lend a new lustre to a pair of shoes that have evidently outgrown their period of usefulness. With the characteristic “get there” of the American street Arab he is certain to succeed in his undertaking. The American bootblack excells in his art, but the type is doomed to disappear from the streets of the great cities. While he may, as yet, occasionally be found in groups, hanging around the street corners, uttering his shrill cry, “Shine!” he is like the proverbial policeman, - generally not to be found when wanted. May be he is getting discouraged. From a dime which used to be the compensation for a shine not many years ago, the price has dropped to a nickel. The competition by “wholesalers” who run basements or other suitable apartments as “fine art boot-blacking parlors” together with their drop of prices, has a tendency to drive the familiar and picturesque boy, with brush and footrest slung over his shoulder, from the streets. He would be sorely missed, for his appearance has everywhere a gladdening effect.

The bootblack, no matter of what nationality, is always goodhumored, fond of mischief and practical joking. Though he dearly loves to fight he does not do it out of viciousness, but simply in an exuberance of spirits seeking an outlet. He invariably has sporting proclivities, and there is quite a different ring in his voice when he has occasion to cry out an “Extra! all about the prize fight!” For he often combines the profession of a bootblack with that of a newsboy. He knows all about the fistic heroes of the world, and the names of John L. Sullivan, Jim Corbett. or Bob Fitzsimmons, are more familiar and dearer to him than those of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Not that he lacks patriotism. But he appreciates valor. His weakness is “craps” and when he is indulging in his favorite pastime at the mouth of a dark alley - when the “cop” is at the other end of his beat - it is hard to call him back to the scene of his duty.

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches STREET TYPES GREAT AMERICAN CITIES