Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 378
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 378
 
nearly five years the Public Education Association has kept school in the Tombs, for the boys locked up their awaiting trial. Of thirty-one pupils on this school register, when I examined it one day, twelve were charged with burglary, four with highway robbery, and three with murder. That was the gang run to earth at last. Better late than never. The windows of their prison overlooked the spot where the gallows used to stand that cut short many a career such as they pursued. They were soberly attentive to their studies, which were of a severely practical turn. Their teacher, Mr. David Willard, who was a resident of the university settlement in its old Delancey Street home has his own sound view of how to head off the hangman. Daily and nightly he gathers about him, in the house on Chrystie Street where he makes his home, half the boys and girls of the neighborhood, whom he meets as their friend, on equal terms. Mr. Willard, though a young man, is one of the most unique personages in the city. He is now one of the probation officers, under the new law which seeks to save the young offender rather than to wreak vengeance upon him, and his influence for good is great. The house in Chrystie Street is known far and wide as “the Children’s House.” They have their clubs there, and their games, of which Willard is the heart and soul. “I never saw anything remarkable

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