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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Life in the Slow Lane: 1910

Life in the Slow Lane: 1910

February 1910. "Bowling Alleys connected with Geo. P. Gray's Bastable Cafe on Genesee Street. About eight very small boys employed here. Work until midnight. Photo taken at 11:30 p.m." View full size. Photo & caption: Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Pin alignment

My dad was a pin boy in the 30s. When I was a kid in the 70s we found a place that still had had two manual lanes; my dad said it was the same setup he'd worked with--he thought it was what all the alleys had. Behind the end of the lane there's a little pit where the ball and pins (and pin boys) drop. In there, you step on a little pedal and steel rods about half an inch in diameter and about two inches long pop out of the alley where the pins go. Each pin has a corresponding hole in the bottom. Stick the pins on the rods, wait a second for them to stop swaying, release the pedal to drop the rods back into the floor, and GET OUT OF THE WAY!

What you might be seeing as marks on the floor for pin placement may actually be the little holes that the rods come out of.

Pin Aligner Update

My mom corrected me - she said girls couldn't get the pinsetter jobs, it was her brother who worked at that job for fifty cents a night in the late 40s and early 50s. She made that same rate of pay working as a movie theater usher, starting at age 13 in 1948.

Pin Aligner

My mom was a pinsetter as a girl in the 1940's. They had some sort of mechanical unit like this. She said you'd scoop up the pins and drop them into the slots, then manually press the whole contraption down to set the pins. I don't know how much she made for her labors - I'll ask when I talk to her tonight.

Mechanical Pin Aligner?

Nobody else has mentioned something on this photo that is quite different from all the other c. 1910 pinboy images...

This lane is equipped with some sort of mechanical gizmo above the pins which can be lowered on ropes to assist in setting the pins. All the other pictures show no such device -- there must only be spots marked on the lane to assist in pin placement. These kids had it easier (assuming it worked well!)

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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