The question whether a fee will be charged for the use of a bath is one which must be settled in every city which establishes a bath house. There is no doubt but that the ideal condition would be free baths, where soap, water, towel and the use of a compartment could be had without cost; but if the cost of maintaining one free bath would prevent the construction of another - in other words, if more pay bath houses could be built than free ones - it is doubtful if the better plan would not be to put up as many baths as were necessary or desirable and charge a small fee at all of them. By this plan the greatest amount of good would be done to the greatest number of people.
Again, as a rule people do not care to be dependent on others for assistance and would sooner pay their own way, particularly if the cost be moderate. That being true, a larger attendance can be expected if a small fee be exacted.
If a fee be charged for the privilege of a bath the fee should be only high enough so the patron's self respect will not suffer, not so high that it would prevent the free use of the bath house by anybody. Children under any condition should be admitted free, and a charge of five cents should be the most that would be exacted from anybody. Where there is no free list outside of children, tickets might be sold at, say, ten for a quarter, making the cost per bath two and one-half cents. This small fee would not prohibit any one, for, even though they could not afford the money, some one would give them a ticket, and even a pauper would feel more independent attending on a free ticket than asking for a free bath.
Where a hot-air room is provided, a fee of ten cents might be charged for what would be equivalent to a Turkish bath. In Glasgow, Scotland, a complete Turkish bath with massage can be had for twenty-five cents, so without personal attention the bath ought to be possible for ten cents. So far as the massage is concerned, that which is given in a Turkish bath may just as well be omitted, and there is nothing else about the process which the bather cannot do for himself.