Thursday, December 27, 2012

1898 - From Sabatis by Electrics

SABATIS, Me., Nov. 11 (Special) – When car 18 slid up the main street of Sabatis and finally anchored in the driving rain and slush by the co-operative steps at 6.20, Thursday night, a good number of passengers for Lewiston furled their umbrellas and boarded the car with a rush. Two people bent on seeing Old Kentucky in Music Hall; a number of day laborers 8 miles from home and supper; some Germans who intended to meet their brethren in the Shillerverein in Central Block; and two students were among the party, to say nothing of the dog – a black and white purp with solemn mein and melancholy eyes, whose cognomen “Sport” was as belying as the name Lillian when tacked on a plump brunette. Everyone settled himself for an immediate start, when the motorman grabbed the lever and started for a lunch room, and the conductor, with the remark that he “shouldn't start for fifteen minutes sure,” slumped after him. The student slammed his Latin grammar shut. “Ain't yergoin'?” said somebody. “Goin' home and go ter bed,” growled the student.

The man with the dinner pail started out to do a forgotten errand and the car door stuck. He struggled silently till he felt something violent was expected of him, when he remarked without a show of enthusiasm, “Damn the door.” And with that the jeers of the passengers proved the open sesame.

The man in the soft black felt passed his pocket piece across to the man in the brown felt, who carried off a hunk, and both ignored the City Hall motto that gentleman will not, others must not --. The purp rose and humped himself against the seat with a conscious air when any one moved. A kid on the platform suggestively shouted “all aboard” and another swung the go-ahead signal with a white lantern. The man with the burr of the Teutonic race under his tongue remarked on the apparent appetite of the motorman, while the quiet man broke his silence to move an adjournment. The car finally rolled out of the village at 7.15. The trolley buzzed and whined on the wire. The flames danced overhead in glints of diabolical fire and flashed peppermint greens and goblin blues on the snow. The power came in jerks that made the teeth of the purp rattle like castanets. Four and five lunges were made at every grade, and six and seven times did the car go back to gain impetus at the foot of Thorn Hill, which retreating, the man with the burr in his speech said was like the Spaniards. In an interval of inky blackness while the power was off, a cheery orchestra man piped up on the “Georgia Campmeeting.” The car finally reached Lewiston at 8.35. The theatre-goers looked blue, the vereiners had missed their meeting, the purp gingerly picked his way through the icy mud on Lisbon street, and sighed for a warm Sabatis fireside – and the slush on the rails was at the bottom of it all.

Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, November 11, 1898

Thursday, December 20, 2012

1911 - Triangle Waist Company Fire, New York City

 “...I learned a new sound--a more horrible sound than description can picture. It was the thud of a speeding, living body on a stone sidewalk.

Thud-dead, thud-dead, thud-dead, thud-dead. Sixty-two thud-deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant. There was plenty of chance to watch them as they came down. The height was eighty feet.The first ten thud-deads shocked me. I looked up-saw that there were scores of girls at the windows. The flames from the floor below were beating in their faces. Somehow I knew that they, too, must come down, and something within me-something that I didn't know was there-steeled me...

I looked upon the heap of dead bodies and I remembered these girls were the shirtwaist makers. I remembered their great strike of last year in which these same girls had demanded more sanitary conditions and more safety precautions in the shops. These dead bodies were the answer.

Article written by eye-witness - William Shepherd. Published in Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin, March 27, 1911.

In November of 1909, 20,000 women garment industry workers went on strike to protest poor working conditions. These women worked long hours in horrible conditions. In some cases, their employers even locked the emergency exits to keep out the labor unions. In March 25, 1911, their nightmare came true. Workers, mostly in their teens, were trapped inside the burning building in which they were employed, the Triangle Waist Company in New York City. With emergency doors locked from the outside and a failing elevator, they had two choices: burn in the fire or jump out the window. Unfortunately, they were on the 8th floor. 141 people perished that day.


A STUDY IN SOCIOLOGY – A Lewiston woman tells the following story of an experience on a Lewiston city street, suggestive, yet humorous in its climax, but worth the telling for the revelation it is, of the conditions altogether too prevalent and in the utmost deplorable. The woman in question, not “young and giddy,” but well settled down in years, was passing down Park street last Sunday evening a little before seven o'clock. She had nearly reached the church door when two men came along. One, as she neared, spoke naturally. “Good evening.” Thinking he was one of the church attendants, she returned the salutation. Upon this, the other man dropped behind and the first speaker stepped along beside her, continuing the conversation with an inquiry if she could tell him where he could find any good lodging for the night. This might have been embarrasing, but the woman was quick witted and answered, “Why, there are plenty of good lodgings to be had in the city. If you are a stranger here come with me and I will introduce you to someone who can assist you.” By this time she had reached the church door, and as she stepped upon the threshold repeated her invitation, “Come in: I know some young men here who can help you.” But the “stranger” had disappeared.

Pertinent to the question in point was the incident and conversation observed and overheard scarcely three Sundays ago on Sabatis street. Two church-going people, one elderly and therefore a slow pedestrian, came along on their way to the morning service. Near the old cemetery on that street they approached a group of three, two young girls, neither of whom was out of her teens and one man, not under forty years of age. It was evident from their conversation, which was easily overheard, that the two girls and the man were strangers. He was trying to persuade one of the girls to go with him to meet another man. As the two pedestrians passed by and along, the three moved after them. Just over the brow of the hill they met another elderly man, leaning against a tree, loitering there with no apparent purpose. As the group of three approached in the rear the man was overheard to say to the girls: “Ah! Here is the man I was telling you about. Let me give you an introduction.”

What the outcome was with those two young, light-hearted though giddy maidens and the two old and wily men can only be conjectured. But that these are the genesis of Jessie Cobb tragedies and Abbie Whitney cases cannot be disputed. “These things are a menace,” said a Lewiston citizen in speaking emphatically upon this subject. “They are a part of the lawlessness which seems of late to have taken possession of the city. At least it has become more self-evident, perhaps because the public is awakening to it, the Journal is pointing it out.

Evil seems to go on unchecked. This may sound pessimistic, but these are facts. Dr. Stuckenburg states the truth of the case, that before anything can be accomplished for the betterment of conditions, the latter must be faced and understood. These things are going on. Can they be stopped? By whom? When? Dr. Stuckenburg gave the answer when he said: 'The good people must unite against evil and for the enforcement of law. Not till then will anything be accomplished.' Do away with party politics in municipal affairs. Let a clean, honest, law-abiding citizens' ticket carry the day at the March election.”

Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, December 13, 1900

1896 - Love Lessons from the Lowly

Indeed we may smile, as we often do, at the primitive customs of the lowly, and their homely phrase of “keeping company.” It makes a delightful jest. But beneath it is a greater regard for the rights of a man or woman in love than one is apt to find higher in the social scale. With them to select one another “to keep company” is like an offer of marriage. “To keep steady company” is the formal announcement of an engagement, which is a potential marriage. It is the first step toward matrimony, and it is almost as sacred and final. With their moro fortunate and envied sisters in the smart set and engagement is the loosest kind of a bond, and neither man nor woman is safe from the wooing of other men and women until the marriage vows have been pronounced, and, if your society is very fashionable, not even then. So that this society of which I speak would undeniably be called “good.” - Ladies' Home Journal
Plain Dealer, Ohio, November 16, 1896

1886 - History of a Pill Box

Hello, what's this!” exclaimed a Lewiston sewing-machine agent, as he picked a pill-box out of the drawer of a sewing-machine, Thursday morning, and unscrewing the lid disclosed a very pretty gold locket. “She didn't happen to open the the box, now did she.” continued he, musing. Finally, when he got ready, this was the story that he told. The sewing machine was rented to a Lewiston woman who shortly after receiving it, died and was buried. The household was broken up and the house girl claiming the machine, was allowed to have it removed. The family scattered, the sewing-machine man lost trace of the machine and so far as any income to him it might as well have been interred with the woman who hired it. The other day, however, he got a clue of it. It was still in the possession of the house girl, and one day recently the sewing-machine agent stopped before her door, told her of his discovery of the little game, and like a sensible girl she made plain and satisfactory the explanation and delivered over the machine. Preliminary to doing this, however, she ransacked the drawers of the machine. Everything of value was hers. Of all the many things in them, only a few did she leave. Among them was the pill-box which she tossed over with a remark, “I don't take pills. That ain't mine.” The pill-box when opened, revealed the gold locket.

Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine, May 6, 1886