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Harper's Young People, July 27, 1880   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S

YOUNG PEOPLE

AN ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY.]

VOL. I. NO. 39. PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK. PRICE FOUR CENTS.

Tuesday, July 27, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per Year, in Advance.

[Illustration: A FREE SWIMMING BATH. DRAWN BY A. D. SHULTS. [SEE NEXT PAGE.]]

PODDIE AND DICK AT THE FREE BATH.

BY UNCLE FRANK.

"Dick, Uncle Fritz'll never come!" exclaimed Poddie Monell, with an impatient stamp of his foot, and once more he peered anxiously through the bars of the gate at the South Ferry.

"Hold on; don't be so sure, old fellow; there he comes now," said Dick; "look just beyond the Elevated. Let's go meet him."

"Keep cool, boys, keep cool; don't rush; there's plenty of time," said the gentleman, kindly, giving a hand to each; and crossing the street, they sauntered leisurely along one of the broad walks of the Battery.

"Which of the free baths are we going to, and what are they like?" asked Dick, whose mind was always travelling ahead of time in a curious fashion.

"We are going to the Battery bath, because it is nearest. They are all pretty much alike, however," replied his uncle.

"Do tell us all about them," begged Poddie, earnestly, "for I want to know if they're anything like our bath at Central Park whether they have hanging rings, a flying trapeze, and places to dive off of."

"Well, no, they don't indulge in the first two luxuries, but they have plenty of space, ropes, diving places, and a fair depth of water. But let me tell you how much good they do.

"There are four free baths stationed on the East River at One hundred and twelfth Street, Thirty seventh Street, Fifth Street, and Gouverneur Street; and three on the North River at the Battery, Bethune Street, and Fifty first Street; and one floating around without any home at all that is, it is built, and the authorities have not decided where to anchor it."

"Well?" exclaimed both boys, interestedly.

"Now, boys, in order to understand thoroughly how much these free baths are to the people who use them, you must put yourselves in some other boys' boots, or perhaps I should say jackets, so many of them have no boots at all.

"You and Dick live in a very lovely home. Just imagine yourselves in a dingy tenement house, shut up for the night, with three or four other boys, to sleep in a dark room where never sunlight or breeze enters through the whole year; the heat is suffocating; you toss uneasily back and forth, more than likely on the floor. You have heard during the day that to morrow the Gouverneur Street or some other bath will be open. What do you do?

"Before the day breaks you leap from your bed, waken your brothers or comrades, fling on your jackets and trousers, rush down the rickety stairways out into the cooler air of the morning, and scud down to the docks.

"When you arrive there you find already quite a line of boys and men ahead of you. You can not go above them the policemen won't allow it so you take your places at the foot of the line, glad that it is no longer. Poddie is number fifty one, Dick fifty two. By twos and threes the line grows to be three hundred strong. At five o'clock the doors open, the keepers appear, and one hundred are admitted. But here we are: you shall begin to judge for yourselves."

"Whew!" exclaimed Dick, looking up and down a long line of ragged, grimy urchins, who were tiptoeing in impatience to enter. "How will all those fellows get in? Shall we have to foot the line?"

"Not while I have my 'open, sesame,' with me," replied Uncle Fritz, pointing to a small silver badge on his coat lapel.

The keeper just glanced at it, and Dick was greatly surprised to see how politely they were invited to walk in, "all through a bit of shiny silver," as he expressed it afterward.

"What a crowd of boys!" thought Poddie, as his eye roved from one to another of the hundred ducking, diving, splashing little and big fellows, who were laughing and shouting with delight... Continue reading book >>


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