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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Fat Willie and Napoleon: 1909

Fat Willie and Napoleon: 1909

6 p.m., May 18, 1909. Somersworth, New Hampshire. "Group of boys working in Great Falls Manufacturing Co. Smallest boy is Alfred Ouellet, 212 Main Street. Fat boy is Willie Laudry, 35 South St. Boy on right hand end is Napoleon St. Lawrence, 23 Union Street." View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

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I bet Willie's last name was Landry, not Laudry. Landry is a common Acadian name (descendants of the French colony in the Canadian Maritimes). Many Acadians emigrated to New England during the late 1800s/early 1900s.


It's as if they just stepped off a movie set. I wonder how these grim kids turned out - I hope they did well for themselves.

Four Canucks

The three kids have French names - although in the case of Napoleon St. Lawrence it's probably been anglicized from the original St. Laurent - so I think it's fair to assume that their parents were among the French-Canadians who came to Maine New Hampshire and Vermont to work in the mills. They'd be called "Canucks" as an insult by their Yankee neighbours and employers, which is vaguely ironic since we Canadians don't find that word the least bit insulting.

There is a movie about these kids

Okay, so it isn't about these actual kids, but it's so close. Check out "Once Upon A Time In America," made in 1984, I think, directed by Sergio Leone, starring Robert DeNiro and James Woods - but make sure you see the directors cut. In this form it is one of the best movies ever made. The shortened (totally butchered) version, often seen in early releases, is one of the worst. It kept the movie from receiving the accolades it deserved, until later DVD releases finally made this right.

It is a gangster film, but totally different than the usual fare.

The childhood flashback scenes, which take up a good part of the film, are heart-rending. and the photography is beautiful...every scene could be right out of the Shorpy archives.

Fourth Boy

Nothing on him? You'd think he was related to Alfred, considering how close they seem. He's also the only one without his cigs, assuming that's what's in Alfred's box.

In a way, Hine is in the shot, too... his shadow's on the ground.

Our Gang

Wow. They should make a movie about these kids, they have so much character.

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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