Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 1910 & Thoughts On Factory Work & Triangle Waist Fire

Did not get to work till 7:45. Kathy up to supper & stayed with Clara. I made a picture frame. Ma not feeling good. 

W. Fine. Colder
R. 11:30

I think he needs to start going to bed earlier. I wonder what time work actually starts. His friend Pearce was moved from 6 to 4 a few weeks back so I was thinking perhaps 6. Although then he seems REALLY late. I also thought the reduction from 6 to 4 might have been days scheduled as Adam recently talked of starting to work full time.

I find it interesting that he started working full time (perhaps there was a slow period and he started back to work full time) and yet he owns his own home. He's 26 and works in a Typewriter factory. The census records state that he does in fact, own it, but with a mortgage. His parents also own their home free and clear and his dad, Oscar & Ray all work at the Steel Factory.  He's involved in outside activities (some through his work), church & Leaders Class and he builds things like shelves & picture frames. He gardens. Ok you didn't know that yet but I had to throw that in there because I know it already and it thrills me! He partakes in various social activities/entertainment, spends time with friends and seems to have a strong family structure.

We often look to the past and compare living conditions. Most often we come to the conclusion that our lives are better, living conditions, more comfortable. But look at the paragraph above. He has a good life. He has a full life. Bess does not work even though they have no children (Who knows if this is by convention or by choice, his sister works so it's obviously not something unfamiliar to him.)

He has an enviable life in comparison to many people today. And yet, he works in a typewriter factory.

Factory work from that time period was often brutal & inhumane, What comes to mind first is the meatpacking industry chronicled in Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle (1906) and The Triangle Waist Factory Fire in 1911.   What's interesting (strange) to note is that when I looked up the Triangle Fire to see when it was, I was shocked to see that it occurred on MARCH 25th, 1911. Today is the 99th anniversary of that fire. (What are the odds that I would comment on Adam's factory work today of all days and then look up that particular fire? I think those odds are kind of staggering don't you???)

That said ,something brought me to that information tonight. So you should check out the link. The Triangle Factory Fire killed 146 people because the doors in the factory (sweatshop) were locked.  It was a horrifying & heartbreaking tragedy & led to many labor reforms. 

But back to Adam. Adam's typewriter factory experience (from the same time period) lies in stark contrast to my beliefs about factory work at that time. It actually seems ok. He routinely shows up late and gets time off to play basketball.  He doesn't seem scarred or downtrodden. His factory job enables him to live what looks like a pretty good life.(On paper anyway.)

PS. I know for a fact that Adam does not remain a factory worker for his whole life but you'll need to stay tuned to find out where he ends up!

1 comment:

Prairie Rose said...

I think home ownership is much more expensive today in comparison to income than it was in yesteryear. Therefore, in 1910, and earlier, people who made much much less money in comparison to what we make today could still afford to own a home. I was shocked when my grandmother who grew up in poverty drew out a picture of her house with its dimensions and I realized doing the calculations that they had an over 3,000 sq ft house!!! Then I realized -- with no plumbing, no electricity, no gas, etc. it was a whoooole lot cheaper to build a house back then. All you needed was the wood. Think too about the Ingalls family who had absolutely nothing -- but Pa could always whip them up a house.