This is from the New York Press, 14 April 1895, part VI, pg. 2, cols.



Street Games in Which

Chance Plays a Part.


"Craps," Played with Dice, Is Most Popular,

and "Pictures," Played with Photographs

Found in Cigarette Packages, Comes

Next--Boys Always Know How Fast a

"Copper" Can Run--An Idiom (?-ed.) Revived

Nearly every one of the street games played by boys are flavors of

gambling. It has been said that every human being has the gambling instinct

in his bosom, which can be developed at a moment's notice. Watch that crowd

of youngsters swarming upon the flagstones by the side of one of the morning

newspaper offices in Park row! If you are not a policeman you can get near

enough to look over their shoulders and see what it is that engrosses them.

They are throwing dice and exchanging pennies, and are all so deeply

interested that the scene might be Monte Carlo instead of a New York


The game is "craps," and although it is played by many thousands of boys

throughout the United States now, it is a foreign importation. It was brought

from Italy only a dozen years ago. (Oops! See above!--ed.) Two dice are

used and certain combinations of numbers must be thrown to win, while other

combinations lose.

"Seven, come 'leven." yells a boy with a tuft of red hair on his

forehead. A smaller boy, with the sharp, dark Semitic face to be seen so

often in this city, responds, "It's a lie." Then both bend over to watch the

next throw, without caring anything about the imputation of dishonor conveyed

in the last remark.


"T'row de dice square," "Roll 'em out," "Make 'em wabble," "Day's

loaded fer aces," "Shake de bones," are a few of the expressions that ring

out from the mass of squirming arms and legs and bobbing, tousled heads, while

the game grows more exciting every minute. The boys are "shooting craps" with

a vengeance. Some of them have lost or won as much as eight or ten pennies.

A "copper" said that he could not tell much about the minutiae of

"shooting craps," because the boys would never let him get near enough to

investigate. "And you can bet, the boys know which policemen can run the

fastest," he added.

"Shooting pictures" is also a popular gambling game with the street boys

of New York. (Thank goodness they invented baseball cards--ed.) The pictures

are the photographs of actresses that come with packages of cigarettes. They

are about twice as large as a Columbian postage stamp and are fairly executed

representations of stage beauties. The boys do not care anything about the

pictures as pictures, but as implements of gambling they have a peculiar

value. They are usually collected from the gutters, where they were tossed by

the smoker. Each player throws a picture toward the wall, and the one that

gets nearest to it wins the others. Another picture game is "heads and

tails." One boy throws a picture up in the air and the other boy guesses as

to which side will come down uppermost. Sometimes the boys play "craps" for

pictures when they have no pennies, the game coming to an end when some one is

"busted." Pictures are played (?-ed.) when there are no pennies, and when

pictures are gone they play for anything else they may have in their pockets.


The old fashioned amusement of tee-to-tum is as popular now as it was a

hundred years ago. Boys make their tee-to-tum of wood, with figures on the

sides, and they spin it on the sidewalk and get as much fun out of it as do

the adult gamblers in handsomely appointed "rooms."

A game that was in vogue twenty-five years ago, and that has been revived

in New York lately, is called "Ring and relief, oh!" A stick is leaned

slanting against a wall, and one boy is required to keep it in that position

while the others try to knock it down. This may be seen in Harlem and other

resident districts at this time of the year, when outdoor games are just

becoming possible. It is innocent and athletic. Leapfrog, in which the boy

who is "down" gets a kick from every boy that passes over him, is engaging the

juvenile attention now, and "button," hand ball, base ball, tops, and marbles

have all made their appearance within the last week or so, in recognition of

the approach of spring.

The American game of poker is played on the street corners by the boys

who cannot find anywhere else to do it. The technical expressions are all

familiar to the average American boy, who takes to poker as naturally,

apparently, as he does to base ball.


"The playing of craps is becoming dangerous to young people," said a

school principal to a Press reporter. "Almost every day mothers come to me

and complain that their boys 'shoot craps,' and ask me to do something to

prevent it. What can I do? The little rascals (The little rascals?--ed.)

take care not to play around the school, and if they were to see me half a

mile away on the street their dice would be out of sight immediately. Boys

will gamble, if there is any opportunity at all, and how can you deprive them

of all opportunity? Why, men in State prisons manage to gamble. The only

thing to be done is to try to make them see the evil and folly of it, and in a

few cases, by appealing to a boy's better nature, you can keep him from this

kind of wrongdoing, but not easily. One boy will lead another into mischief,

and there you are. Still, I do not think a boy is necessarily bad because he

'shoots craps,' or even plays poker. Some of the greatest men in this country

play poker, and we are rather proud of them--as a nation--too."