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Ruth at Rest: 1943

Ruth at Rest: 1943

June 1943. "Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by a Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Ruth De Roche, 18-year-old 'pit woman,' resting her head on her lunch pail during the lunch hour." Photo by John Collier for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Labor Shortage During WWII

Our photo subject, Ruth De Roche, is included in this article:

"As the United States became more involved in World War II, many of New England's sawmills experienced labor shortages."

Women receive equal pay:

"Women were recruited form (sic) the families of local sawmill workers. It was felt that they would be more reliable and have an understanding of the work requirements. Three left jobs at the State Hospital to work at Turkey Pond while others were recruited form the US Employment Service in Concord. The starting wage was $4.00 per day, well above the typical women's wage in 1942. At the time, a female worker could expect $1.40 per day as a server or $1.80 as a retail clerk. After a one-month training period, the women at Turkey Pond were paid $4.50 per day - the same as men at other government sawmills."

Ruth is also found elsewhere here on Shorpy.

Hardest Job Ever

My dad was a high school football player in 1943 and naturally though he was quite the tough guy. He then got a summer job in a sawmill "pulling slabs". The first day of work he barely made it to lunch. He said it was the most exhausting job he ever had. He didn't go back after lunch, too embarrassed.

Right after that he was drafted into WW2 and then had several careers. He lived to be 85 and until he passed he maintained the sawmill job was the worst he ever had.

What does the 'pit woman' do?

I am really interested to see someone define what this woman's job was. My impression is that a 'pit man' was one who worked in the saw pit, pulling the saw down while a guy above pulled it up while sawing planks from a log. A really dirty job which must have been outmoded by 1943.

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