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JOHN E. GUNCKEL Figure REDPATH By way of introduction to our clientele, we know of nothing better to offer than the interesting and instructive article by Professor C. L. Van Cleve, Superintendent of Schools, Toledo, Ohio, published in The Westminster Teacher for March, 1908. John Gunckel and His Work on Behalf of the Boys By professor C. L. Van Cleve Superintendent of Schools, Toledo, Ohio John E. Gunckel is a practical philanthropist. His love for his fellows has not diliquesced [sicdeliquesced]into sentimentality, nor has his hard-headed business experience made him merely a human machine. Naturally of a benevolent disposition, he saw, nearly twenty years ago, the deplorable conditions that surround the lives of the little street merchants of the city in which he lived, Toledo, and straightway, without flourish of trumpets, he set about devising ways and means of alleviating the situation. He sought no help in this work at the beginning; he simply made friends with a few newsboys whom he found to be promising, and let the circle widen as circumstances directed. At the time that this work was started, Mr. Gunckel was the local ticket agent of the Lake Shore Railway, and filled in his busy life as an employee of a great corporation with odd hours of fellowship with his young friends. As soon as the nature of his work became understood, the railway company gave him full freedom on Saturday afternoons to see his boys, and for many years he had a weekly gathering, at which all matters pertaining to their life and work were discussed and their conduct passed in review. A little more than a year ago, Mr. Gunckel was persuaded by a group of public-spirited men to give up his railway position and to devote himself entirely to the labor of love to which he has given himself so unsparingly in the years gone by. After he had found his group of little friends in the beginning, Mr. Gunckel soon recognized the value of organization, so he established the Toledo Newsboys' Association, whose membership was limited at first to street sellers of papers and deliverers of news routes. He later enlarged the conditions of membership so that any friend of boys who wished to aid in the making of better boys could enroll. The principles of membership were almost the same from the inception of his idea, although some slight changes in method have come into effect as experience has shown the wiser way. Believing strongly that he is well governed only who governs himself, Mr. Gunckel early set about finding the fundamentals of boy nature. He has applied the knowledge gained by experience and study to the solution of what to teachers seems the greatest problem of the school—the growing boy. Mr. Gunckel called his first group of street-merchant friends the Toledo Newsboys' Association, and constituted himself president. He separated the members into smaller groups, according to residential relations, gave each group boy officers, drew up a simple constitution, abolished all dues or assessments, impressed his followers with the thought that only their own bad conduct could break the tie binding them to the organization, and that once a member always a member. He furnished each member of the association, when enrolled, with a card which read as follows: No......... THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT .....................is an active member for life of The Toledo Newsboys' Association. He does not approve of swearing, lying, stealing, gambling, drinking intoxicating liquors, or smoking cigarettes, and is entitled to all the benefits of said association and the respect and esteem of the public. (Signed by the officers) Figure 5000 NATIONAL NEWSBOYS ASSOCIATION A shrewder pledge for a boy than this can scarcely be devised. No boy is asked to pledge himself to refrain from any of the vices named in the membership card, but, as he says he does not approve of these things, he is very apt to set himself to see that his fellows abstain. In practice it is found that a more effective observance of the principles of the moral law is thus secured than could be had through a straight pledge to abstain. Mr. Gunckel believes in the corrective influence of responsibility. In each subordinate group, he sees to it that officers are chosen from the ranks of the worst boys and not from the best. He practices to its limit the principle expressed in the homely proverb: It takes a thief to catch a thief. He understands the enormous effect of solidarity. He constantly emphasizes the thought of the value to the organization of the correct conduct of the individual members and makes every boy believe that as he honors himself, he honors his association; and as he disgraces himself, he disgraces it. The outward sign of membership in the Newsboys' Association is a badge, which the boys are proud to wear always in plain sight, to be deprived of which is a real grief to the owners. The boy officers correct the offenses of the members in all minor matters, and sometimes in the most serious, but a threat to tell Gunck, is often the means of immediate and genuine reform. From the obdurate offender, the badge is taken, and a return of it is conditioned upon a longer or shorter period of good works, as the judgment of Mr. Gunckel may determine. Among the privileges which attach to membership in the organization, is entertainment. These consist of Sunday afternoon concerts and miscellaneous attractions dear to the boy heart, furnished by some of the most distinguished local and foreign entertainers, programmes of various stunts which the boys can do themselves, free theater parties, complimentary dinners, beach parties, free baseball admissions, etc. In 1904, the widespread reputation of Mr. Gunckel's work led to the organization, at St. Louis, of the National Newsboys' Association, which has grown in a healthy fashion until it enrolls more than ten thousand members. The national organization is not a new idea, but simply the enlargement of the Toledo plan, and is the sole product of Mr. Gunckel's genius. He is also president of this association for life. Among the numerous moral principles inculcated and enforced by Mr. Gunckel are two that may be mentioned: It is mean to beg; and it is dishonorable to keep valuable property found upon the street, or elsewhere. The limits of a short article prevent details of many of the hundreds of instances in which money and other valuables have been returned to rightful owners; but one instance may serve as a sample of the weekly, even daily, practice of fundamental honesty. One day a boy, who was called Bundle, found a roll of $56, which he brought without a question to Mr. Gunckel. After proper advertisement, it was restored to its owner. The rule of the president of the association relative to lost articles, is to keep them thirty days, and, if diligent effort does not suffice to restore them to their owners, they are turned over to the finder. A visit to the president's office any Saturday morning would show a curious collection of valuables, either about to be restored to their owners, or about to be turned over to the finders. Another fine lesson in conduct is taught the boys when the sturdy spirit of independence is so inculcated that every boy scorns to beg. A Gunckel boy who either whines at misfortune, attempts to play on the sympathies with hard luck stories, or short changes a customer, is so rare as to seem quite a curiosity. While, despite his best efforts, Mr. Gunckel fails with some boys, I wish to state, as my testimony to the efficiency of his work, that I have not seen anywhere street merchants so uniformly polite, energetic and clean-mouthed as they are in Toledo. It is given to few men to see in a lifetime such results of consecrated Christian activity as have followed the efforts of this noble man. Figure THE ORIGINAL CHARTER MEMBERS 5000 NATIONAL NEWSBOYS ASSOCIATION I regard John E. Gunckel as one of the greatest champions of boyhood in this country, and his work, especially with the newsboys, is unexcelled by that of any other man. Teachers, parents, and others who wish to gain an insight into a combined method of firmness and kindness in handling the boy and making of him a good citizen should not fail to hear John E Gunckel when the opportunity presents itself. — Ben B. Lindsey, Judge Juvenile Court. Denver, Colo.
|Title||John E Gunckel|
|Topical Subject (LCSH)||Philanthropists|
|Personal Name Subject||Gunckel, John E.|
|Digital Collection||Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century|
|Contributing Institution||University of Iowa. Libraries. Special Collections Dept.|
|Archival Collection||Redpath Chautauqua Collection|
|Rights Management||Educational use only, no other permissions given. U.S. and international copyright laws may protect this digital image. Commercial use or distribution of the image is not permitted without prior permission of the copyright holder.|
|Contact Information||Contact the Special Collections Dept. at The University of Iowa Libraries: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/contact/index/|
|Number of Pages||3|
|Digitization Specifications||Scanned at 600 dpi, 32-bit color. Master image available in tiff format.|