Red faces and red bottoms in 1900s New York


Here is another little snippet from days of yore.

New York in 1900 was often overcrowded and many families lived on top of each other and there was often little privacy. The cheap construction of the housing meant that the walls were often very thin.

Things had presumably not changed much 30 years later, a period described by January Eldridge of New Jersey in an article about the early life of immigrants in America. Mrs Eldridge, recalls her young life in the Bronx during the 1930s saying:

“There wasn’t much about life you didn’t learn from a young age. If young marrieds moved in then you soon heard it. If one of the neighbourhood kids was getting a whopping then you heard that too.”

Therefore way back in 1908, it must have been a very serious correction if it resulted in New York’s finest being called to an apartment on account of a mother spanking her child, or else no one would have taken notice.

The child turned out to be a red-faced 30-year-old daughter suffering a spanking from her mother. Satisfied that there was no ‘child’ abuse taking place went away laughing.

“Why shouldn’t I spank my own daughter no matter how old she is? If she lives under my roof and breaks my rules.” A 55-year-old Constance Baumgarten, is said to have later told an inquisitive reporter.

Many such reports like these found their way into the more racy columns of the lesser publications of the day. You can read more on the Network 54 forum, which are also sometimes republished on Voy.

2 Responses to “Red faces and red bottoms in 1900s New York”

  1. Love these old images, blomers parted to received a firm hand.

  2. 2 Emilio

    Excellent mother’s reply.
    30 yo or not, she’s not married and lives in her house: who coulfd defy her mother’s authority to spank when she thinks fit?

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