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Culture

July 11, 2003

100 YEARS AGO

• When it was first announced that Mother Jones and her army of child protesters would be descending on Trenton, N.J., to demonstrate against the exploitation of child labor in the mills, the mayor declared that they were not wanted there. However, after being visited by Mother Jones, the mayor changed his tune and now will not only be allowing a massive open-air meeting, but he says he’ll actually be taking part in the demonstration. The city will also be providing housing and food for the children, who were rescued from factories in Philadelphia during their stay in Trenton.

75 YEARS AGO

• During the slack months in the needle trades, a large number of Jewish workers have become taxi drivers. In fact, it is said that of the 35,000 taxi drivers in New York City, about 20,000 are Jews. But sweatshop workers who think that driving a cab is easy should think again. Taxi drivers work 12-hour shifts and don’t know from weekends and holidays. In fact, weekends and holidays are the busiest periods for drivers. To add to these difficulties, cabbies don’t have a union and are constantly badgered by the police. So when sweatshop workers sitting outside on a break see a taxi driver roll by and think what a great job it might be, they might think again.

• It’s already been 11 weeks that the weavers of New Bedford have been on strike since their bosses tacked up notices that their wages would be slashed by 10%. And these heroic strikers are willing to keep going as long as their children have enough food to eat. The Forward, the Workmen’s Circle and the Jewish Bakers Union, among a number of others, have all been sending bread to the striking workers. What’s more, the children of the strikers have taken a shine to Jewish rye and have made special requests for it.

50 YEARS AGO

• Dishwashers — the electric machines that wash dishes — are becoming more and more popular. You can find them in the most modern apartments, those that have been built within the past few years; they cost about $40 or $50. These machines have become standard features, just like electric iceboxes and sinks. Dishwashers, however, are not exactly new. They came out around the same time as televisions. If one remembers the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, they were exhibited along with washing machines as the salvation for poor housewives who spend hour after hour washing clothes and dishes by hand.

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