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Jo Bodeon: 1909

May 1909. Burlington, Vermont. "Jo Bodeon, a 'back-roper' in the mule room, Chace Cotton Mill." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

May 1909. Burlington, Vermont. "Jo Bodeon, a 'back-roper' in the mule room, Chace Cotton Mill." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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The mill still stands

The Chase Mill still stands on the banks of the Winooski River in Burlington. It is now an incubator space for small businesses. Directly across the river is the Champlain Mill building that had been converted to a shopping mall and now office space. Downriver a quarter of a mile is a third mill building converted to apartments. Both buildings are in Winooski, which is still predominantly French-Canadian but fast becoming a home for newer immigrants. The Champlain Mill has a community room reserved for the display of the historic artifacts of the mill, photos much like the ones seen here.

The Mule Room

The name alone of that room gives you pause.

I wonder what the population of Quebec would be today if so many tens of thousands of her sons and daughters hadn't emigrated down to New England at the turn of the 20th Century.

Getting access

I'm always surprised that Hine was able to get into these sweatshops and take photos. You would think the people who ran these operations would want to keep things under wraps but I guess people were less sensitive to bad press in those days.

[Fabric mills and sweatshops were (and are) two entirely different things. - Dave]

Mill Work

I once worked the third shift at the old Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine for just two weeks to earn enough beer money to get me through my final semester of college. The room in which I worked was a spitting image of this young worker's place of employment, even 65 years later. I worked on several dozen carding machines that would have given an OSHA inspector a heart attack. After just two nights on the job, my fingertips were raw with puncture wounds. When our shift ended, we would go across the street, have a plate of bacon and eggs, chased down with a draft Narragansett, and then sleep until about 2 in the afternoon. Longest two weeks of my life. But nothing remotely like the lives these young mill workers led. Mr. Bodeon and his brethren were once the backbone of the American labor force.

Jo Bodeon: 1909

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. Here is what I found out this morning about this boy. His correct name was Joseph Beaudoine. He was born in Quebec in 1894. He served in World War I. He married Menta Stapp in Los Angeles, CA, in 1953. He died five years later in Los Angeles on September 23, 1958, and is buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery. His widow died in Los Angeles on December 26, 1983. I have not located either obituary yet, and there is no one listed in the California white pages with the last name of Beaudoine. That may be all I will find.

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