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Fruit Growers Express: 1903

Fruit Growers Express: 1903

Circa 1903. "Unloading bananas at New Orleans." Come Mr. Tally Man! 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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It seems to me that stalks of bananas had to be hung from hooks during transportation. I know the grocery store near my home always had the stalks hanging in such a way that you could break off how many you wanted to purchase and I think that is the way they were transported It seems also that the temperature in the reefers had to be carefully controlled. Warm in the winter and cool in extremely hot weather.

The Mystery Ripens

Here's a ship equipped with cargo booms and probably a steam winch to work them, yet the cargo is being unloaded by hand, requiring dozens of longshoremen. Would hoisting out several stalks at a time in a cargo net damage the bananas? Is there some other reason why conventional cargo handling methods of the period are not used?

By contrast, the railroad cars are ready to rush the fruit to market as soon as they are loaded.

Shouldn't be surprised

if those rickety platforms didn't collapse under the weight from time to time. There are a lot of people stood on them not to mention the pounds of bananas. I am sure Health & Safety would have a think or two to say.

Actually none of them in the photo is Mr. Tally Man

The "Banana Boat Song" ("Come Mr. Tally Man...") is about Jamaican workers loading bananas *onto* ships, back when Jamaica was a major banana-exporter (and that's why the words are in Jamaican dialect). This photo shows bananas being unloaded in America (presumably by American dockworkers). A nitpick I know.

Continental Fruit Express

When I look at the men in this picture, I keep thinking that it's probably the first time most of them have had their picture taken.


Check out how many men were being employed in those days! No wonder unemployment is so high now!

That's a lot of Bananas

One of those bunches weighs in at over 100 pounds. I wonder how much the pay was?


Hard to tell which one is Mr Tally Man.

Banana Republic

We Americans love our naners, North and South.

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