It's Fun to Stay at the Y. M. C. A.
This is not the first time I've run across a family member/connection in a Y. I once located a distant Lantz relative in a Y. M. C. A. in Newport, Rhode Island. As in the case above, the year was 1920. In this case, John P. Lantz, the son of Samuel Lantz and Sarah Zook, was the General Secretary of the Y. M. C. A.(2)
According to the YMCA's web site, the Y. M. C. A. was founded by George Williams in London in 1844. I found it interesting that the first "Y" for college students in the United States was at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1856. I guess that there's more to Lebanon than Cracker Barrel. The Y in Cincinnati, Ohio (another city where I've lived) was the first to offer ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in that same year. They offered them to the German immigrants. Sometime in the 1860s, they began to offer affordable housing to farm lads who were moving to the "big city" and needed a safe place to live. If the web site is any indication, the rooms in these facilities were similar to hotel rooms. [You can read more about the history of their services at the link at the beginning of this paragraph.]
It is obvious from the large number of persons residing in the Memphis "Y" in 1920 that the facilities met a need. The young man I was following had indeed left a rural place some 450 miles distant. He fit the demographic of the persons to whom that housing was targeted.
Was it fun to stay at the Y. M. C. A.? I guess the approximately 250 young men residing at the one in Memphis in 1920 could tell you a definitive answer to that question. In the mean time, I'll just always think of it as a place where "You can get yourself clean; you can have a good meal."(3)
(1) 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Shelby County, Tennessee, population schedule, Memphis, Ward 4, SD 10, ED 83, p. 89 (stamped), sheet 5A (written), entry for O. W. McClure, dwelling 29, line 48; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 29 June 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1763. The enumeration of the YMCA begins on page 4A and continues through page 6B.
(2) 1920 U.S. Federal Census., Newport County, Rhode Island, population schedule, Newport Town, ED 52, sheet 17A (written), John P. Lantz household, dwelling 261, family 256, line 44; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 4 Jan 2003); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1670.
(3) "Y. M. C. A.", from Village People, Cruisin' (New York: Casablanca, 1978), lyrics by Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali, and Victor Willis.