Thursday, April 12, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 6)

Silverwood surrounded by newsboys.
[Continued from Part 5]

Remembering his difficult years as a newsboy in New York, Frank Silverwood thought of a way to use music to change the lives of newsboys throughout the country. In 1909, he made an offer to an initial group of 500 newsboys: He would send them six copies of a popular song, which they could sell for 25 cents each. Of the resulting $1.50, 25 cents went to the publisher, 25 cents went to the newsboy, and Silverwood used the remaining $1 to start a bank account for the lad. If the account remained open for five years, Silverwood would deposit a dollar of his own for every dollar added by the boy in the interim. By 1920 he had already given away countless thousands of dollars to some 12,000 newsboys across the country.
Shriners at Bluebird Studios in Universal City in 1917 hear actress Dorothy Phillips (right) sing the new Silverwood song, "Honolulu, I'm Coming Back Again." The song was adopted by the Honolulu Chamber of  Commerce and Hawaii's Shriners. (Daddy Silverwood seen on the left.)
Daddy Silverwood wanted each lad to learn to save and invest and to "decide to be one of the great men of the future." In a letter to them, he wrote, "You are living in a land where nobody is held down by caste -- in a country where poor boys from the farm go to the White House; where brakemen, and even section hands, become railway presidents; where the poorest boys become our merchant princes; where the factories and institutions of every description are built up by boys who have had no opportunity except their own energy and their own integrity."

Although he was a benefactor to poor newsboys and various community charities and even served as president of the Strickland Home for Probation Boys, Silverwood had long shunned personal publicity for these efforts. But when word got out about his newsboy project, he found that other wealthy businessmen were copying him. Seeing that he could do even more good by inspiring others to get involved, he began consenting to media interviews. Silverwood’s became known as “the store with a conscience.”
Strickland Home for Boys orphanage, Highland Park. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)
Next time: Happyland!

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