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City’s “Squeegee Kids” To Begin Officially Sanctioned Work

June 17, 1985

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Some of this city’s ″squeegee kids″ who used to brave traffic to wash windshields for small change will be back at work this week at an official site after receiving training and photo identification badges.

Youngsters who continue to run into traffic to clean windshields without official supervision risk being picked up by police and getting their parents fined $50 under a bill approved recently by the City Council.

On Wednesday, 10 children from East Baltimore will get a 45-minute course in safety, financial planning, organization and attitude under a pilot program set up by the Neighborhood Progress Administration.

Each youngster will receive a photo ID, and the city will post signs alerting drivers to the squeegee business in an effort ″to improve the image of the kids before the public,″ said Pat Chapman, administrator for a city Manpower center in East Baltimore.

After the initial training, participating communities will monitor kids on the job and train others who want to work, Ms. Chapman said.

Lucille Gorham, head of the Middle East Community Association, which represents East Baltimore, said she would rather have seen no ban on freelance windshield washers.

But she said this program ″keeps some kids still working, and if this is the only way, I’m willing to put in the time so they can do it.″

The squeegee kids’ official site in East Baltimore, approved by the Department of Transit and Traffic, is the right-hand curb lane of a street where youngsters have wielded squeegees for the past two summers.

″I wouldn’t do it if it was anyplace else,″ Ms. Gorham said. ″That’s where they’ve been doing it all along.″

Ms. Gorham said she expects the squeegee kids to be back at work by Thursday morning’s rush hour, followed by shifts during lunch and the evening rush hour.

Kevin Archer, 13, who said he makes about $7 cleaning windshields, predicted that an official ID could win him more customers.

″I’m going to get me something on my shirt that says it’s all right for me to wash windows,″ he said.

However, Ms. Gorham said she believes the kids will lose money under the new system.

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