Baby Katie and Irresponsible Parenting In 1904
Today if you leave a young child unattended for any extended period of time and somebody reports you to the New York Office of Child and Family Services, they may eventually come around to pay you a visit.
That was not the case 100 years ago. Parents would frequently leave their children alone and bad things would happen. Generally no one interfered with poor parenting.
So if a child accidentally fell down a 20 foot flight of stairs not once, but twice within a week, you might think the child is accident prone and that’s not the parents fault.
Falling out a fourth story window is another matter altogether.
If what happened to sixteen-month-old Katie Reed in 1904 were to happen today, there would be a public outcry to remove her from her home.
This is the report from the July 30, 1904 New York Times:
” BABY KATIE ” FALLS 4 STORIES
Only Breaks a Leg—Fell Down stairs Twice Last Week.
“Baby Katie” Reed, the sixteen-months-old daughter of James Reed, who fell down a twenty-foot flight of steps twice last week and did not hurt herself, fell out of the fourth-floor window of her home, 211 West Thirty-fifth Street, yesterday, and landed in a big bundle of waste paper with only a broken leg.
“Baby Katie” was left alone yesterday while her mother went to the grocer’s. She soon found her little chair, shoved it next the front window, the sill of which was low, and climbed up on it. The blinds were tied together by a string, but the baby pushed them out just far enough to fall through as she was peeking down Into the street.
Policeman Fitzgerald of the West Thirty-seventh Street Station saw the baby fall. He found the baby in the bundle of paper next to a refuse can. Her left leg had struck the edge of the refuse can and was broken.
“Baby Katie” was not unconscious at all, but strong enough to cry lustily. A crowd gathered. Back of it was Mrs Reed. She asked a woman what the trouble was.
Mrs. Reed’s baby, they say, felt out of the window,” was the reply. Mrs. Reed fainted. but soon revived and learned that her baby was not badly hurt.
Dr. Peabody of Roosevelt Hospital took ” Baby Katie” to the hospital, where she is rapidly recovering.
The New York Sun account of the accident added one important detail: the newspapers that had broken Katie’s fall had been placed there only minutes before!
Did Katie Reed survive childhood? Probably.
Katie Reed (also spelled Reid in the Sun Account) is not listed in the New York City Death Index over the next 20 years. The family could have left New York City apartment life for lower and safer quarters in the suburbs after these incidents.
If Katie lived and went on to have a family of her own, she had an incredible story to tell her children. That is if Katie’s parents ever bothered to tell her that she once fell out of a fourth story window and survived.