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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Two Dollars a Week: 1913

Two Dollars a Week: 1913

New York City, January 1913. "1 p.m. Family of Onofrio Cottone, 7 Extra Place, finishing garments in a terribly run down tenement. The father works on the street. The three oldest children help the mother on garments: Joseph, 14, Andrew, 10, Rosie, 7, and all together they make about $2 a week when work is plenty. There are two babies." View full size. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Sweet News

Posted today on Gothamist:

"A compact chocolate shop called Bespoke Chocolate opened yesterday on Extra Place, the historic 30' by 120' alley tucked away north of 1st Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue. The shop itself, owned and operated by chocolate maker Rachel Zoe Insler and her fiancé, is a tiny 280 square feet, open production space included."

Round thing on the wall

That round thing on the wall above the little girl's head on the right hand side of the picture seems to be a wooden flour sifter with a wire mesh bottom. I have one like it for decoration in my kitchen (brought over from Italy). Why it would be so important to hang it in the living room is beyond me unless it might be an Italian custom of some sort (good luck perhaps?).

[It's an embroidery hoop. - Dave]

Extra Place

NY Times article about Extra Place, off East First Street near the Bowery. Seems as though there's a dispute about whether or not the byway should be eliminated at the expense of new upscale apartment construction. The back door of the CBGB Hard Rock club exited into Extra Place.

Home schooling

And as for the comment about the wonders of home schooling, at least in my father's and mother's families, (both of Italian heritage) once the children appeared to be old enough to do the work, that's what their parents expected them to do. Reading, writing and arithmetic, even with literate parents (all my grandparents were literate) was not taught in the home. They were hungry and poor and their precious time was spent making paper flowers, sewing, beading, whatever piece work their families worked on.

Threads

My father and his sister were not allowed outside to play. They sat inside and their job was to cut the threads on the purses their mother was sewing beads onto. He does not remember enjoying the activity, but his parents were terrified of losing another child, as their first son was killed by an automobile, part of what was referred to by the local paper at the time as an epidemic. The board of health finally forced my grandmother to let her children attend school when my father was 7 years old.

What money cannot buy

This family obviously had very little in the way of material goods, but that mom was "home schooling" before it became fashionable. These kids spent TIME with their mom, and I am certain they all knew one another as few families do today, what with endless hours of conversation and each expressing their likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams and fears. Mom is probably telling her kids all about Italy and how lucky they are to be in America, even though we today see the scene as pretty dismal. (World War I was happening at this time, and hopefully they all were spared that era of European suffering). How many kids today have heard daily stories of their parents' experiences and details of their country of origin? And I am impressed that even though they work at home, each one is DRESSED in real clothing and not pajamas or sweats. When one is a child, there is nothing so precious as your family spending time with you, talking and listening to you, acknowleging your existence, making you feel useful and needed. Yes, they were poor in being without luxuries, but they were very rich to be blessed with such close family relationships and time spent together. Lots of today's kids should be so lucky.

Beautiful but Sad

What a beautiful little girl that is third from left. Such a wistful and sad expression, though.

Extra, Extra

Extra Place on the Lower East Side today in Google Maps Street View. The plywood construction fence is the east side of Extra Place.


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The Cottones

Onofrio Cottone of 7 Extra Place became a United States citizen on Sept. 9, 1920, at New York County Supreme Court; volume 430, page 198 per Ancestry.com.

Thank you all Americans.

Joseph William Cottone of 7 Extra Place was born Dec. 2, 1898, in Italy according to his World War I registration card.

Mrs. C.

What beautiful needlework on the tablecloth and curtains! And an embroidery hoop on the wall. This lady knew her way around a needle and thread.

 
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