J.G. Brown is showing us the lighter side of life on the street for young boys in New York in the 19th century. These are not school boys on a holiday. They are boys who work for a living.
Some of them are newsboys who sell the daily paper on the street corners, crying "Extra! Extra! read all about it!" Some of them are bootblacks. They carry a box filled with shoe polish and rags. For a few cents they will shine the shoes of passing businessmen.
There will be no trips to the mall for a new toy when these young entrepreneurs (businessmen) take their pay home. The small amount they earn will help to buy food and necessities for the family.
This is a time for a break from their work. They have organized themselves into a ragtag group of "soldiers" complete with sticks for swords and brooms for guns. One of the bootblacks is using his box for a drum. Only the youngest seems to have failed to find a stick to use, but he seems to be having fun.
The tall boy on the right seems to have another suggestion, but will their "leader", who is reviewing the troops, be willing to listen?
Look at the enlarged version.
How many of the boys have shoes and how many are bare-footed?
Look closely and find out what they have been eating.
The Brothers Vanity
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