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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • RAINIER NATIONAL PARK: c. 1920s

Goes to School Now (He Says)

Goes to School Now (He Says)

On streets near Daniel Mill. Lincolnton, North Carolina. November 1908. Right hand boy is Dan Biggerstaff. 10 years old. Has worked three years. Goes to school now (he says). Left hand, John Erwin. Said 11 years old. Has worked nights. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

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Work at 8

Children often worked alongside their parents back then. My 87 year old dad is the youngest of seven children & only surviving child. His brother ran away from school and at age 8 began working in a furniture factory; his father would lift him up to reach the time clock to punch in & out. He never learned to read or write, but worked for that company all his life, for many years as a supervisor. My dad's sister worked in a textile mill from age 13. She said the children would be hidden away when the labor inspectors came. She had more schooling, but not a lot. My dad dropped out of high school, but after serving in WWII returned & also went to business school on the GI Bill.

Hot, Hot, Hot

I grew up in suburban West Florida before the advent of home air conditioning. It was used in some stores ("20 degrees cooler Inside!").

We slept on screened-in porches in summer and sprinkled water on our sheets and pillows at night. Sometimes an alligator would stroll by the porch in the moonlight and my sister would always get up and lock the door, which I thought stupid.

My grandmother had brought back two large Hummel dolls, Hansel and Gretel, from Germany and Mother stored them on the top shelf of a closet. They were made of real rubber and melted...actually melted.

Goes to School:

Now I know what knickers looked like. Also, it must have been unbelievably hot there in the dead of summer without air conditioning. Living in the south before air conditioning or never having it would certainly nurture strength of character. Bee.

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