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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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I'm De Whole Show: 1913

I'm De Whole Show: 1913

Waco, Texas. November 1913. Isaac Boyett: "I'm de whole show." The twelve-year-old proprietor, manager and messenger of the Club Messenger Service, 402 Austin Street. The photo shows him in the heart of the Red Light district where he was delivering messages as he does several times a day. Said he knows the houses and some of the inmates. Has been doing this for one year, working until 9:30 P.M. Saturdays. Not so late on other nights. Makes from six to ten dollars a week. View full size. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. (Shorpynote: Isaac was born March 20, 1901, and died in May 1966 in Waco.)

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Messenger Boy in Waco, Texas

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. I interviewed one of Isaac's daughters. I now have his interesting, but brief story on my website.

I'm going to start playing a

I'm going to start playing a Shorpy drinking game and down a shot any time somebody grumbles about "kids today." Assuming my liver is up to it.

Reply to LC2

You're 12 year olds deliver crack cocaine instead of messages.

Ah, yes...

The "good" old days. As bad as some things are now, at least we have very few 12 year olds spending all their time running messages for ladies of loose morals to their johns.

1913 = today?

Ok, how does a 1913 photo demonstrate child abuse "today"?

As far as child labor goes, I'd say riding a bicycle around and delivering six messages a day is WAY better than some of the coal mining and factory situations we've seen here.

And I bet half the reason he's grimacing is that he's facing into the sun.


This photo illustrates the failure of capitailism and the abuse of children that continues today in the USA. This child should be at home, playing and enjoying childhood while he can.

[Dumb comment of the day (so far). - Dave]

Bicycle Lamps

Peter Card has a richly detailed web site on early bicycle lamps. See the page, especially, on oil (kerosene) lamps, which I think is the type Master Boyett is sporting on his handlebars in this Hines photo.

Agree: this young lad does have world-weary, seen-it-all eyes.

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

[That really is a great Web site. Thanks for the link! - Dave]


Good to know that lamp was non-explosive ...

I love the look on this boy's face, and his world-weary eyes.

Re: Re: Bike Light

It looks like one of the kerosene lamps below. Esp. the "Jim Dandy."

Re: Bike Light

Are you sure of it being a kerosene lamp? Looks like a carbide light like miners used to me.

Bike Light

Probably not many bicycles today have kerosene lanterns on the handlebars. Fascinating.

Not too bad - but

I would bet that this kid gave the money to his mom, who probably had 6 or 7 kids to feed.

Not too bad

Eight dollars per week in 1913 is the equivalent of about $160 today. About $8500 per year. Not bad for a 12-year-old.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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