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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Phone Girl Shot at Party: 1909

Phone Girl Shot at Party: 1909

March 1909. Hartford, Conn. "Newsgirls coming through the alley. The smallest girl has been selling for 2 years." Our revised title for this post comes from one of the newspaper headlines seen here: PHONE GIRL MYSTERIOUSLY SHOT AT PARTY. Glass negative by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Phone girl's name

A search on the archives of the Hartford Courant shows an article from September 16 1909 with title "MYSTERY IN DEATH OF TELEPHONE GIRL - Police Look For Unknown Girl Last Seen With Miss Weber."

Mystery Woman solved!

My first thought re the "Phone Girl" being shot at a party is that it explains the backstory of the haunted look of the woman leaning against the desk at the infamous Western Electric 1925 Christmas party photo. Maybe her arms were crossed over her belly because she had been SHOT!

Who shot her? I nominate the man in the back 2nd from right of the men standing on a desk; I always knew he was bad news and more than likely carried a piece! The woman staring at her (who clearly hates her guts) is my second choice.

I'm tellin' ya, anything that happened in the mid-1920s is only one degree of separation from that office party.

Oh wait, the party doesn't happen for another 16 years. Doesn't matter. I still think one of those 2 people shot her.

Phone girl

To heck with these kids, I want to know more about the Phone girl.
Maybe it was a Western Electric party, they could get pretty rowdy.

Surprisingly

I'd always thought of the children selling papers as urchins, but these girls are very well dressed (for the time), and clean.

Sisters

The second and third girls from the left have to be sisters as they have almost identical pale eyes and faces and the most worn-out clothes of the group, especially the smaller one whose coat is worn clear through to the lining and has a totally shabby threadbare hem. She most likely got the most used-up hand-me-downs. Still, they managed a polite smile for the photographer and looked happy just to be having their picture taken.

Phone Girl

I interpreted it as 'call girl'.

["'Phone girl" was a common term for switchboard operator at the time. This example from 1911 is particularly interesting in relation to our headline. - tterrace]

Braces??

If I'm not mistaken it appears the girl with her hand on the little girl's shoulder has braces on her teeth.

What do ya think?

[Prominent gums. - tterrace]

Interesting depth of field

Makes it look like the kids in front are superimposed on a different background.

Mysterious headline

Does that say "Phone girl mysteriously shot at party"?, and if so, what does it mean?

[Yes, it does say that. I'd say it means that a young woman, who was employed as a switchboard operator, was the victim of a gunshot at a party, and that the assailant's identity has yet to be determined. Wouldn't make quite as snappy a headline, though. - tterrace]

[A great headline that deserves to be recycled! - Dave]

 
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