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Idlers: 1916

Idlers: 1916

June 29, 1916. Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. "Hanging around the saloon -- 5 p.m." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

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Grandpa!

That guy on the far left looks a lot like my grandfather, who would have arrived in Chicopee Falls about 1914.

Cyran and who?

Trying to read the cafe sign in the window.... Checking the U.S. census (1910 and 1920) reveals several Cyrans (of Polish-Austrian descent) living in Chicopee, Mass. Most are listed as mill laborers rather then cafe owners. I can't make out the second name of this joint cafe venture. Visually, the best I come up with is "Bjercasinski" which yields no results in a census search (nor Google search for that matter). Any suggestions?

[Twelve letters. Vanna? - Dave]

The Temperance Movement

I wonder what Hines's opinion was on the temperance movement. Do we know? Given his social activism, and some of his comments on alcohol in his various photos of tenement life, one wouldn't be surprised if he were a prohibitionist. Indeed a photo like this would have been just the sort of thing that the Women's Christian Temperance Union would have seized upon in this period in support of the ban on alcohol - men at the bar wasting their money getting drunk instead of taking it home to the benefit of their families (who, the WCTU would insist, were destitute because of booze), associating with unsuitables (Negroes and Italians - the WCTU was very WASPish to the point of not accepting Catholics, Jews, African Americans, or women not born in North America), and getting violent. Whatever Hines's personal opinions, this sort of picture would be just the sort of propaganda piece that the anti-saloon advocates would use.

[As LWH's PR man here in the 21st century, may I take this opportunity to point out once again that his last name is Hine. Not Hines. Thank you and good night. - Dave]

Shake On It!

Looks like the dapper young thing in the white shoes doesn't want to get his pants dirty, so he is sitting on a towel. Sort of out of place with this rough-and-tumble crowd. I notice their ale comes from Springfield -- wonder if it's Duff.

Outdoor Types

My friends and I used to go inside.

I love these guys!

They worked hard and they played hard. Stopping at the gin mill after work to "turn over a few" was a ritual and I well remember my uncle and his friends ending the workday with a drink or two and an (illegal) street game of shooting craps for pennies. The police would just tell them to go home and move on. Those "bucket of blood" saloons had signs in the window saying they had "tables for ladies" but no lady ever entered therein. Sometimes when the playful shoving and pushing got out of hand (i.e. that guy falling off the stoop) a real fist fight would break out, there would be blood, usually from noses, and the next thing being heard as someone was dragged away was "Did he have a hat?" A GREAT and unexpected scene from my childhood. Thank you for this unusual photo to bring it all back.

Boys on the Stoop

"Range in age from 18 to 65. After working 10-12 hours at mill, cannery and factory, repair to the saloon for alcoholic beverages at 5 o'clock on a Monday afternoon. All said they had been doing this since they were old enough to see over the bar. Most smoke. Whites sociliaze frequently here with Negroes and Italians."

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