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Noon Whistle: 1905

Noon Whistle: 1905

Newport News, Virginia, circa 1905. "Noon hour at the shipyard." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Great Picture

Wish my father was still alive, he used to work at the shipyard and would have gotten a kick out of this picture and would have known exactly where it was taken. I've never been there myself, but many of the buildings probably still exist.

"Pick up a tin of lard!"

I've been enjoying this site almost daily for well over a year but finally registered. First, thank you for this wonderful site.

I always fall into the pictures here but this one looks so familiar! Many of those guys could almost be old coworkers I've known by looking at their faces in conversation. I only see about four women at first glance. The one I find interesting is the nearest just on the other side of the gate. She is peering in through the fence. Probably looking for her husband to pick up a tin of lard on his lunch (if she is anything like my wife).

Oysters a la cart.

I would not be surprised if there were an Oyster cart there by the main gates to the Yard. That area of the James River was at one time a fertile area for oyster-men to do their harvesting. In fact, there are still some areas of the James where they still work the oyster beds. The days of the independent Oyster-man are about gone.

Guillotine Non!

I'd be quick walking under those raised gates!


If I've learned anything from this site is there's probably an oyster house within walking distance, and on the sign, the word "oyster" ends with a period.

[Looks like like oysters on that cart. - Dave]

Where are the lunch pails?

One might assume that the workers are on their lunch hour, but something is missing: lunch pails and foodcart vendors. Perhaps there are diners and bars across the street.

The workforce seems reasonably well-dressed for a manufacturing operation. Lots of coats and ties.

[A food vendor is in the middle of the picture. Wouldn't the lunch pails be inside the factory gates? Workers who brought their lunches would have no reason to leave at noon. - Dave]

I suspect that many of these workers are going to "drink" their lunch at a local bar. If the vendor pictured is selling oysters, I would hope they are on a bed of ice, but I see no drippings on the road - and no one lined up to buy his goods.

[I suspect most of these guys are going home to eat, and that anyone who made a habit of liquid lunches would be fired. - Dave]

Rush hour traffic

This picture looks to be taken at the main gate on 35th and Washington.

Having lived in Newport News for 19 years I can say that this is still a common sight, albeit with many more people. The "yard" employs around 15,000 these days. When I first moved there in '76 it was around 30,000 on three shifts.

If you are driving down by the yard at 4PM when the whistle blows for the end of shift you have two options. Drive like heck to get out in front of the pack, or find a bar someplace and wait for the rush to subside.

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