This is from the New York Press, 14 April 1895, part VI, pg. 2, cols.
THEY MAKE OUR GAMBLERS
Street Games in Which
Chance Plays a Part.
MOTHERS HAVE MADE COMPLAINTS
"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
"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.
TEE-TO-TUM STILL POPULAR.
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.
BAD INFLUENCE OF CRAPS.
"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."