Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- August 22, 1873The Lazzarones from Chicago
The poor boys and girls who have suddenly been transplanted from their sunny homeland "far down South" into our rough climate, and have to secure through begging and singing a sum sufficient to save them from punishment on their return home, have become recently an object of public attention.
A reporter from the Staats Zeitung went yesterday to interview the Italian Consul, Mr. Cella, an educated and friendly gentleman. Here is what Mr. Cella had to say: "In my opinion most of the reports concerning the Italian musician street children are exaggerated. My compatriots and I feel deeply the degradation of the life of these children. It is true that these children must bring home a certain sum every evening to escape 2punishment; it is also true that this roaming about causes the moral ruin of these children; but it is not true that there are here from 400 to 500 children, who depend on their "padrone" and belong to him. The total number of Italian inhabitants here does not exceed 4,000. The number of children musicians, according to my estimate, runs from 125 to 150, and most of them are under the supervision, not of a padrone, but of their parents.
"To my mind," concluded Mr. Cella, "the only way to stop this practice is to have a city ordinance passed forbidding begging by playing music." Mr. Cella's plan seems very sensible to us. But we do not consider it a mitigating circumstance even if the "slaveholders" are not strangers but the parents of the children. We hope that the Italians will put an end to taking advantage of these children.
I B 3 c, I B 3 b, I H
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