Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (7)

Two boys standing on Springfield Street in Chicopee, next to the Dwight Manufacturing Company building, in September 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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The 1911 photo was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine of the National Child Labor Committee, and was part of his efforts to document child labor conditions in the United States.  Here, these two boys are posing in front of the old covered bridge on what is now Route 116 in Chicopee.  The bridge over the Chicopee River is gone, as is the bridge that replaced it, and the road itself is substantially busier than the dirt road of 1911.

According to Hine’s caption, the boys are:

“Peter Pluta (right hand boy), 2 Bertha Ave. Works in spinning room. Two years there Henry Fritz (left hand), 56 Cheever St. Has worked in spinning room two or three months. Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.”

I did try looking these boys up through census records and other documents, but Peter Pluta and Henry Fritz were not exactly uncommon names in Chicopee in the early 1900s.  However, it is likely that they were either immigrants or children of immigrants from Poland (Pluta) and Germany (Fritz).

Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (6)

Tony Soccha, employee at Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass, in November 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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This young man was identified by photographer Lewis Hine as Tony Soccha, and he gave the following information about him in the caption:

Tony Soccha, 65 Exchange St., a bobbin boy in Room #7. Been there at work one year. Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (5)

Joseph Maslak, employee at Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass, in November 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Taken at the same spot as Joseph Polchlopek, this photo shows a boy named Joseph Maslak, with the following information provided by photographer Lewis Hine:

Joseph Maslak (alone), 3 Depot St., or 34 Front St., (see 2637). Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Like Polchlopek, he was the son of Polish immigrants, and if the Ancestry.com information is correct, he was born in 1897, making him about 14 when the photo was taken.

Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (4)

Joseph Polchlopek, employee at Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass, in November 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Lewis Hine provides the following information about this young man, working at the Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass:

Joseph Polchlopek (alone), 37 W. Front St. Says, “Been working here two years and a half.” (See #2638). Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Interestingly, I was able to use Ancestry.com to find out more about Joseph Polchlopek; he was born in 1896 to Polish immigrants (if the last name didn’t give it away), making him 15 when the photo was taken, which would mean that he started working there when he was 12.  According to the 1940 census, the highest grade that he completed was 8th grade, which is impressive if he had been working since he was 12.  In 1939, he worked as a laborer, making $1,100 per year.  He died in New Bedford in 1976, shortly before his 80th birthday.

Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (3)

Employees of the Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass, in November 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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In 2014:

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Another photo from Lewis Hine’s documentation of child labor issues in the early 1900s, this one shows a group of young workers at Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass.  Hine writes this in his caption:

Group of workers in Dwight Mfg. Co. Stanley Twarog (one of the smallest boys), 81 Park St. Works in spinning room. Tony Sccha [i.e., Soccha], (Shortest boy in front, overalls. Very young. 65 Exchange St. A bobbin Boy in Room 7; has been there a year. Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.
 
Today, all of the boys are (presumably) long-dead, but I’m sure many of their ancestors still live in Chicopee and the surrounding towns, probably unaware of their grandfather or great-grandfather’s role in changing child labor laws in the United States.  The buildings do remain, although the picket fence has been replaced by a far less picturesque chain link fence topped with barbed wire, and the railroad tracks in the foreground aren’t covered in the snow – they are long gone as well.

Dwight Manufacturing Company, Chicopee Mass (2)

Employees of the Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Mass, in November 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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In 2014:

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Taken in the same area as this photo, this photo shows a group of workers at Dwight Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, in November, 1911. Photographing for the National Child Labor Committee, Lewis Hines writes this about the boy in the foreground:

A young boy, unable to speak a word of English. Working here. A boy said his name is John Krakowski. Location: Chicopee, Massachusetts.