7-Year-Old Gerald Schaitberger Sells Newspapers At Columbus Circle – October 8, 1910 At 9:30 p.m.
We Answer The Question: What Became of this Little Boy?
This scene captured by photographer Paul Schumm at 9:30 in the evening of Saturday, October 8, 1910 shows 7-year-old Gerald Schaitberger selling newspapers at Columbus Circle in front of a subway kiosk. The Library of Congress holds two photos of Gerald (misspelled as Jerald on the LOC website) seen here.
Over 100 years after they were taken, these two photographs still stir strong emotions about child labor and poverty.
According to 1910 census records, Gerald lived a couple of blocks away from Columbus Circle with his 36-year-old father Emanuel, mother Julia, six siblings and grandfather Michael. Emanuel was a clerk working in the fur industry and his eldest son Joseph, 15, worked at the newsstand to help make ends meet.
Apparently this cool October evening Joseph enlisted the help of younger brother Gerald to aid in selling the papers.
Here is the second photo of Gerald taken a few seconds after the first. After he has apparently made the successful sale, Gerald looks up for approval at his older brother.
Young Gerald is so eager to help his poor family. When you zoom in on the photographs, you notice some interesting details.
The first is a close-up is of Gerald himself.
The anticipation shows in Gerald’s eyes as he meekly offers the paper to the awaiting customer. The evening newspaper headline says that the “Yankees Win Two” and that the Giants lost the second game of their doubleheader on the final day of the regular season.
Being poor in New York was a hard fact of life for so many young people. Children were steeped in poverty without necessarily knowing how poor they were, but they all had dreams for a better life.
I wondered… what ever happened to Gerald?
Did he escape poverty?
Did he continue to work at the newsstand?
Tracing the Schaitberger family was tricky because their name was spelled differently by census enumerators in every census from 1900 – 1940, respectively as Schafberger; Schwartzberger, Schatiberger, Schartberger and Schaitherger!
By 1920 the Schaitberger family had nine children living in the household. In the ten year period between the 1910 and 1920 censuses the Schaitberger’s had four more children. A daughter, Irene had died at the age of six in 1913. The father, Emanuel, now owned his own newsstand. One son, Henry who was living at home had become chauffeur. Two other children were in the automobile supply business. Gerald was no longer living at home at age 17 and is nowhere to be found in census records.
In 1923 Gerald Schaitberger married Marion Nihill. The 1930 census shows they had two children Gerald Jr. and Anna, and the family was living on West 49th Street. From the census we find out that Gerald’s occupation is given as chauffeur.
In 1934 Gerald’s father Emanuel passed away at the age of 61.
The 1940 census lists Gerald, Marion and their two children living on West 180th Street. That census reveals that Gerald had stopped attending school after completing the 8th grade around 1917. Gerald Schaitberger’s occupation is given as newsdealer.
In subsequent telephone and business directories up until 1949 Gerald Schaitberger is listed and he eventually moves to nearby Wadsworth Avenue in Washington Heights. Then all traces of newsboy / chauffeur Gerald Schaitberger vanish. His wife Marion dies in Georgia in 1985 but no record can be found of what exactly happened to Gerald. Hopefully he had a fulfilling and happy life.
Gerald’s son Gerald Jr. who went by the name of Jerry Schaitberger moved to California after World War II and successfully raised a family there. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 82.