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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • PAN AMERICAN TO GUATEMALA, 1938

Les Miserables: 1911

Les Miserables: 1911

October 1911. Lowell, Massachusetts. "Pin boys in Les Miserables Alleys. Frank Jarose, 7 Fayette St., Mellens Court, said 11 years old, made $3.72 last week. Joseph Philip, 5 Wall St., said 11 years old, and works until midnight every week night; said he made $2.25 last week and $1.75 the week before. Willie Payton, 196 Fayette St., said 11 years old, made over $2 last week, works there every night until midnight." View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

My dad did this back in the late 30s

We ran into a manual pin setting rig when I was a kid--those pins are heavy, and my dad said a lot of kids were hurt by flying pins. They were "supposed" to go behind a low wall when the bowlers were throwing, but there was a lot of pressure to get the pins up as soon as possible so kids would jump out while the pins were still flying, and sometimes drunk bowlers would roll the ball before the kid got out of the way. Even without that, just those small bodies lifting and setting those heavy pins as fast as they could, all night long...

Not so bad

I'd have to say that late hours and low wages or not, the bowling alley kids all look a lot happier than in the other jobs kids got stuck with then--including some of the farm kids we now often think of as having an idyllic existence.

$80

$3.72 is about equivalent to $80 in 2007 when adjusted for inflation.

Those boys looks happy as

Those boys looks happy as can be.

 
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