"Squeegee kids," the free-lance, inner-city windshield washers shunned by many motorists and cursed by some City Council members, entered the entrepreneurial world of product management and public relations imagery tonight.

A pilot group of 10 youths, aged 9 to 13, spent an hour learning about courtesy, proper clothing, grooming, correct use of squeegee equipment and safety measures, all in hopes of winning the minds and hearts of skeptical Baltimore drivers.

They were led by organizers from the city government's Neighborhood Progress Administration.

The youths should be on the street Thursday hustling motorists for dimes and quarters, armed not only with their accustomed buckets, Windex bottles and squeegee sticks but also with official "squeegee kid" badges complete with photo and ID number. They will also be restricted to a designated east Baltimore intersection, where signs are to be posted saying, "Squeegee Kids Ahead, Move to Right, Contributions Accepted."

"No horse playing or jockeying around at the work site," snapped Bob Owens, a manpower specialist with the Neighborhood Progress Administration, at tonight's session. " . . . Dress neatly. It could make a good impression on the job you do."

"Your attitude is extremely important," said manpower center Director Pat Chapman. " . . . You're operating a friendly business, so let's smile."

Each youth was given a pocket-size pamphlet entitled "Squeegee Kid Service Guide," with such advice as "dress neatly, comb hair . . . . Don't use street lingo . . . . Always say 'thank you' even when told no . . . . No profanity at or around the job site."

The pilot program, initiated with the help of the Middle East Community Association, a neighborhood group in east Baltimore, grew out of recent legislation passed by the Baltimore City Council restricting the activity of the squeegee kids. For years, they have been a familiar sight to Baltimore motorists at busy downtown intersections where the youths, most of them black, dart among cars stopped at traffic lights and wash windshields unsolicited but in hopes of a tip.

City Council debate over the issue drew veiled comments from white council members that white motorists were intimidated by the squeegee kids, while black members protested that the legislation would kill the youths' free enterprise spirit.

Now with the apparent blessing of police and the city's Department of Transit and Traffic, the 10 youths in the pilot project will be allowed to wash the windshields of cars entering the north curbside lane of westbound Madison Street at Broadway.

The "Squeegee Kid" signs will invite cars into the lane, and the youths will assume motorists want their windshields cleaned, explained manpower center's Chapman. Other similar programs supervised by neighborhood groups are planned elsewhere in the city, and youths trying to operate without going through the program risk being stopped by the police and having their parents fined $50.

Will it work? "Yeah," said Michael Williams, 12, who said he has made $15 in tips on a good day. "If they pull over in that lane, that means they want it, and we won't get no bad attitude and people saying bad stuff at us."

Lucille Gorham, director of the Middle East Community Association, who recruited the 10 youths, is not so sure, but added, "I'm willing to give it a try . . . . It's better to be a squeegee kid than knocking somebody over the head for money." CAPTION: Picture 1, Michael Williams took part in training session. (WP) Baltimore's Squeegee Kids Get Squeaky Clean Image By Paul W. Valentine Washington Post Staff Writer

BALTIMORE, June 19 -- "Squeegee kids," the free-lance, inner-city windshield washers shunned by many motorists and cursed by some City Council members, entered the entrepreneurial world of product management and public relations imagery tonight.

A pilot group of 10 youths, aged 9 to 13, spent an hour learning about courtesy, proper clothing, grooming, correct use of squeegee equipment and safety measures, all in hopes of winning the minds and hearts of skeptical Baltimore drivers.

They were led by organizers from the city government's Neighborhood Progress Administration.

The youths should be on the street Thursday hustling motorists for dimes and quarters, armed not only with their accustomed buckets, Windex bottles and squeegee sticks but also with official "squeegee kid" badges complete with photo and ID number. They will also be restricted to a designated east Baltimore intersection, where signs are to be posted saying, "Squeegee Kids Ahead, Move to Right, Contributions Accepted."

"No horse playing or jockeying around at the work site," snapped Bob Owens, a manpower specialist with the Neighborhood Progress Administration, at tonight's session. " . . . Dress neatly. It could make a good impression on the job you do."

"Your attitude is extremely important," said manpower center Director Pat Chapman. " . . . You're operating a friendly business, so let's smile."

Each youth was given a pocket-size pamphlet entitled "Squeegee Kid Service Guide," with such advice as "dress neatly, comb hair . . . . Don't use street lingo . . . . Always say 'thank you' even when told no . . . . No profanity at or around the job site."

The pilot program, initiated with the help of the Middle East Community Association, a neighborhood group in east Baltimore, grew out of recent legislation passed by the Baltimore City Council restricting the activity of the squeegee kids. For years, they have been a familiar sight to Baltimore motorists at busy downtown intersections where the youths, most of them black, dart among cars stopped at traffic lights and wash windshields unsolicited but in hopes of a tip.

City Council debate over the issue drew veiled comments from white council members that white motorists were intimidated by the squeegee kids, while black members protested that the legislation would kill the youths' free enterprise spirit.

Now with the apparent blessing of police and the city's Department of Transit and Traffic, the 10 youths in the pilot project will be allowed to wash the windshields of cars entering the north curbside lane of westbound Madison Street at Broadway.

The "Squeegee Kid" signs will invite cars into the lane, and the youths will assume motorists want their windshields cleaned, explained manpower center's Chapman. Other similar programs supervised by neighborhood groups are planned elsewhere in the city, and youths trying to operate without going through the program risk being stopped by the police and having their parents fined $50.

Will it work? "Yeah," said Michael Williams, 12, who said he has made $15 in tips on a good day. "If they pull over in that lane, that means they want it, and we won't get no bad attitude and people saying bad stuff at us."

Lucille Gorham, director of the Middle East Community Association, who recruited the 10 youths, is not so sure, but added, "I'm willing to give it a try . . . . It's better to be a squeegee kid than knocking somebody over the head for money."Picture, Michael Williams took part in training session. By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post