Writing by Women Workers at the
Bryn Mawr Summer School, 1922-38

Appendix to Introduction: Working Women on Women's Issues
of the Twenties and Thirties

"Monotony in Industry"
Ida Lambert
Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1922

How can we, and by what devices, eliminate this monotony in industry which has become one of the most important questions this modern world has to deal with? I have seen many of the girls whom I come in daily contact with, have the most pitiful nervous prostration or being consumed by the sex inferno; I have also seen girls plunge into the most impractical, unreasonable, even criminal marriages, and they are honest to admit that they are tired of the monotonous work in which they are engaged. The usual cry is change. The average girl sets at her work and weaves the most beautiful romances; usually the hero of her future life is a business man, or a professional, a man who will be able to give her all she has always longed for, and has been denied heretofore, a man who will liberate her from her economic struggle. Thus she goes on dreaming, year after year; work becomes more monotonous, the dreams turn into sad facts; and to my mind there is nothing more pitiful than self-pity. Finally by the urge of the family and public opinion she becomes practical and marries a workingman with a "slack and a busy"; and thus the circle goes its round. The same economic problems confront her again, the monotony of the home, the children, the daily routine, the constant fear and insecurity of the bread problem, the strong feeling of responsibility for the little lives which she has brought into a unjust world. I for one, feel that I can safely say that most of them would welcome back the monotony of the factory.

For myself I can say that the only elimination for monotony in industry is education. It is a proven fact to those who are interested in the question, that the average working girl who has outside interests, something to look forward to when she leaves the factory, will not mind the monotony in her work as keenly as does the girl whose only life is her work.

I do not want to play with the word education. Too many wise people have done so and are still doing it at the expense of the great mass. I have tried my utmost to detach monotony in industry from that of the economic problem of the worker, but to be honest with myself, I cannot. For no matter how I try to analyze the question from all angles, I always come back to the same point, namely that while production is for profit and not for need, while the few exploit the many, and while people have to live in the most nerve-racking conditions, as most people do in the industrial cities, and while people are considered just a certain number of hands, machine fodder, there will be monotony to speak of in industry. Only a complete economic freedom and a complete reorganization of the educational system where educators will be free to teach the truth as they see it and not as they are dictated to by a group of politicians, with the release of the present mental strain upon the average worker's mind, will give the average worker the chance to see the wrongs of the world and prepare a much better world for those who are to come after us.

"Our Forefathers"
Mildred Scharfberg
Shop & School, 1936

The dressmakers' agreement had expired. A strike was on the order of the day. A meeting of the entire one hundred thousand members was being held to decide the fate of the dressmakers for 1936. The forty thousand which Madison Square Garden held were already there, and Pat, an active, young dressmaker who was that day an usher, was directing workers to other aisles, for her front section was already well filled.

The atmosphere was tense. What did our leaders have to report? Were we to have a strike? How long would it last? As they passed by, Pat noticed how worried they all were. Out of the whole crowd one old woman was determined to get a seat herself, and Pat could not stop her from walking through the center aisle.

A moment later there was a skirmish. A young man who a moment before was peacefully in an end seat glowered at the red band on Pat's arm and cried, "usher, usher, come here!"
Pat was there in a moment. "What is it, Brother?"
"What is it? Why do you let people pass when there are no seats in this aisle?"
"What do you want?" Pat countered. "You have a seat, haven't you?"
"Have? Had, you mean, sister. Look!"
Glancing down, Pat saw the determined old Negro in his seat.
"Yeh!" the man cried, "I bent down to pick up her purse (she dropped it) and there she is plastered in my seat. Go on, tell her. Tell her I came first. Go on, show what that red band's for."
Pat looked a moment at the benign old face full of wrinkles. In a hesitant voice she said, "I'm sorry, Sister, but he did come first."
"What do you mean, first?" a rich old voice asked. "How do you know, honey child?"
"Why," Pat began, baffled by the old woman's look of injury, "I came before you, you know, and he was here already. He did come first."
"First," the old woman cried. She uttered a laugh a thousand years old, "First, eh, he came first. Was you here in 1909 when we first striked? Was you? Was you here in 1913 on the picket line maybe? When did you come to be here anyhow? Let me tell you, honey child, there wasn't so many of us then. I didn't see him first and you is only a little girl. Go on, you got a band there. Go up on the platform there and ask the leader who come first."

"Prejudiced White Trash"
Mildred Kuhns
Shop and School, 1933

"Watch out for tomorrow, girls. Here comes a black cloud."
Tittering and scornful laughter mingled with a few "Oh don'ts".
A negro girl passes by. Her head bent low in shame. Shame from her color.
And then to my great surprise, I heard those words come from my throat:
"Shame on you. How can you say such things. You think you are white? You are. White thrash. Low down white thrash. You're worse than thieves or liars for you're trying to break the spirit and soul of this girl."
"Ah, she's only a nigger," someone said.
"A nigger, is she? Maybe she is black, but if there is a choice between being black and like her, or white and like you, I pray God may make me black."
One by one the gang melted away. I stood on the street corner, a sob in my throat, tears in my eyes.
I had spoken.

"A Need For Workers' Education"
Anne Butler
Shop & School, 1936

The workers' education program in Philadelphia has failed to take into consideration an important group of people whose influence if directed in the right channels would be of inestimable value not only to the workers' education program, but also in the Labor Movement.

I refer to the group of young girls who are being trained in the vocational schools for work in the factories. We have several of these schools which are excellent and whose purposes are admirable. Together with several academic subjects such as algebra, English, and history, complete two-year courses are given in all types of factory work. Power operating and lamp-shade making may be cited as examples.

There is also a placement bureau which tries to place the graduates in factories where they can engage in the type of work for which they have been training.
These girls ranging in age from 16 to 18 years enter the worker's world as we know it with no knowledge of trade unions, the economic rather than the emotional reasons for strikes, or any matter closely allied with the Labor Movement. And what a tremendous assistance training of this group would be to those organizers who are sent to organize an open shop! How very much training of this kind would facilitate this work by having increased the understanding of a greater percentage of the workers in these factories! And how much more quickly their ends would be attained.

It seems to me that a great injustice is being done these young people. They are completely unaware of the vast power which will, if used in a skillful way, gain for them the more than decent living to which they are entitled. And to take little or no recognition of this power or to fail to impress the significance of it upon the minds of these young people would be a great mistake.

Here is a great need and a wonderful opportunity for those engaged in workers' education. The education of these people may mean not only good trade unionists, but able efficient leaders which we need so greatly in our Labor Movement. It is a need that must be seriously considered, and every care taken that we should not heedlessly allow an opportunity to slip through our fingers.

In Philadelphia, this fall, I expect, and am anxiously awaiting the chance to convey at least some of the valuable knowledge which I have gained here at Bryn Mawr to some of these young people. I shall try to help them go forward to a clearer sense of their present economic status, and to show them ways by which that status may be raised to provide a measure of contentment and security.

"The Rest Room In My Shop"
Marion Jackson
Shop & School, 1936

The rest room in my shop is oblong in shape. It is about six feet by nine in dimension. You enter by a door that is in the extreme right hand corner. In the other corner along the same wall is a toilet. It is partitioned off and has the one and only window in the room.

Between the toilet and the door is a wash basin. This basin supplies water for forty-three pairs of hands' five of them being the hands of men, while the remaining thirty-eight are women's. Along the other long side of the room stretches a rod for hanging coats. Just beneath the suspended coats is a cot. The Board of Health requires that every shop must have a cot or some form of bed, to be used during rest hour and for illness. According to the law, the cot is there, but never free to serve its true purpose. On a rainy day, it serves as a drop pan to catch water from the dripping coats and hats. Girls sit upon it to change their shoes, thus making it one sided. Dirty smocks from previous weeks are tossed upon it. Old worn out shoes are thrown upon it. Umbrellas, both wet and dry, collect there. It is always filthy dirty, and the girls who do rest upon it at lunch hour always have to clear off the accumulated rubbish first. The room is always close and stifling hot with a sickening odor.

A girl may have her dress off preparing for the street, when suddenly the door will open and the boss's son or a presser will enter to wash his hands. He generally announces himself after he has entered.
This is our cloak room………On the door is written, "Ladies' Rest Room."

"Women and Low Wages"
Bertha F. Walker
Shop & School, 1936

One hundred years ago, women were at work. They always have worked. But it has been chiefly in homes, providing food, shelter and clothing from dawn till dark.

Today more than ten million women in the United States go out to work daily. Whenever work is to be done in our vast industrial world, it is the hands of women that aid in doing it.

To tell the story of the changes that have taken place in women's work during the past one hundred years is to tell the story of the industrial expansion of a nation.

Women today are contributing their share to the economic situation as before. The new factor is the increase in the number working in factories and stores. It is new and characteristic of this century, that women's work, once expressed in delicately fashioned quilts, smoothly woven clothes and well baked food, is now lost in industry, in the machine labor of making standardized products.
The invention of machines, the growth of the industrial system, the Civil War and the World War, these sum up the economic history of two centuries, in which working women have played an important part.

The history of women in industry has been darkened by the low wages they have been paid. Their wages were looked upon as extra spending money, not as earnings on which they had to depend for their support. This idea still prevails with many employers and has a great deal to do with keeping women's wages at a low scale. Whatever excuse there may have been for this idea in the past, today the wages of most women are as necessary as the wages of most men.

The fact that there are more women anxious to work than there are jobs open forthem has been a very good excuse for keeping women's wages down. Low wages, moreover are disastrous to the industrial system. As long as the workers, who largely make up the buying power of the nation, are not paid sufficient wages to buy back the goods they produce, our industrial system, based on production for profit, cannot operate successfully.

"Married Women and Industry"
Fannie Daum
The Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1924

Married women should be allowed to work in industry if they wish to do so. It is true that it is very hard for a woman to take good care of her home and children, and go out to work at the same time. But we live in a society at present where not every husband earns enough money to support his family.

Very often the mother of such a family decides to go to work in order to help to better the conditions of her home. Almost all mothers want to give their children a comfortable home and a good education, but not very many mothers are financially able to do it because the cost of living is too high. For example, the average break maker in the city of Boston does not earn more than twenty-five dollars a week. How can parents who have five children hope to give each child a fair education and a comfortable home when the father of the family earns twenty-five dollars a week, when a pair of children's shoes costs the lowest two dollars a pair, and when a more or less convenient flat of rooms for a family of seven to live in costs at least forty or fifty dollars a month these days? It is evident that in such cases a mother will do almost any kind of work in order to help to provide her children with plenty of food, clothing and a home, not mentioning education. It is true that some mothers work when their state of health should not permit them to do it, but it is also a fact that such mothers are willing to sacrifice their health for the sake of their children. This is the fault of the society we live in as I mentioned above. But since we live in a society where a husband is not getting paid enough to meet the requirements of his family, and his wife is willing to help him carry this burden by engaging in a certain industry she should have the privilege of doing so.

"German Laws for Women Workers"
Erna Schenk
Shop and School, 1930

We have in Germany, in order to protect women-workers in industry, some very important and useful laws. I think you as Americans will be very much interested in this legislation, so I will tell you something about these laws.

First, there are some kinds of work entirely forbidden for women. They are not allowed to work in mines and in gas-works and in the transportation industry. Further, there are certain kinds of work that women are not permitted to do in quarries, brickworks, glassworks, in factories where lead-colors are produced, and so on. All these kinds of work which are much more dangerous for women than for men, are forbidden.

Women are not allowed to work from eight o'clock in the evening to six-o'clock in the morning. The worktime of the whole week cannot be more than forty-eight hours, that is, eight hours a day. But most factories work eight hours and a half from Monday to Friday in order to have a short Saturday. On Saturday women must have their work finished by five o'clock at the latest. In a worktime of eight hours women must have a rest of half an hour in the middle of this time. If it is necessary to work more than eight hours a day--for instance in a seasonal industry--they must have a rest of one hour. But even in a seasonal industry women can never work more than fifty-eight hours a week, that is, ten hours from Monday to Friday and eight hours on Saturday. A woman may work only thirty days overtime in the course of a year. There are a few exceptions to this regulation as to overtime, but it would take too long to go into this matter here.

Formerly it was possible for an employer to give his workers home work. The women, who were in the factory the whole day, did this home work at night. Now, no employer is allowed to give his women workers work to take home.
I think one of the most valuable laws we have is that which has to do with childbirth. A woman who expects a child must have six weeks at home before the birth of a child and six after the birth of a child. Also, an employer is not allowed to dismiss a woman because she is expecting a child. He must take her back if she wishes to come. During these twelve weeks the woman gets sick insurance somewhat less than her wages would be.

The last law I wish to mention is the home work law. We have in Germany many people who work at home for employers. This law regulates the conditions under which they are allowed to work. Some kinds of work are forbidden in order to protect their life and health. This law also provides that these workers shall have a living wage.

You will say, all these laws are fine, of course, but who sees that they are enforced? We have a dignified institution called factory-inspection. The factory inspectors look after the enforcing of these laws. If they find anything wrong they summon the offending employer to court, and he is punished accordingly.
I was formerly a worker in the clothing industry but for about eight months before I left Germany to come here to school, I acted as a factory inspector and I shall take up my work as factory inspector when I return to Germany.

"A Working Girl Speaks"
Malvina Brooks
Shop & School, 1931

All year we live in the large, congested city. Most of the day we spend in the factory working. While working at the machine, we have no time to think. The forelady is watching us, and we think if we work faster, the boss will probably pay us more for our work. The end of the day we come home tired. Some of us have to take care of an old mother, others may have a child and house to take care of. There is no time left to study, to read a book, to see a good play, or to learn about the beautiful things in the world.

At the Summer School, first of all, we are relieved of the economic pressure. This means so much to a working girl. Then we find different surroundings. The people are so pleasant, the place is beautiful, and we are educating ourselves. We read, we study in the classroom, we express our opinions, and we discuss our industrial conditions. We are taught something about this universe. We learn that the world is not made up of just a mass of good and bad people. We find out that different conditions have made different classes of people, and that conditions can be changed. It is up to us, the working people, to change these conditions for a better world.

I am sure that two months' study at Bryn Mawr Summer School will make each and every one of us go back to the factory with a healthier body and mind. We shall be able to think better, to reason better, and be able to give more convincing arguments to our fellow workers. We can show them that by organizing and educating ourselves, we can have a better world for all of us and not a world only for a few.

Appendix to Chapter One: Reflections on the Bryn Mawr Summer School and Workers' Education
"When Students Turn Teachers"
Margaret Morton
Shop & School, 1931

When students turn teachers at the Bryn Mawr Summer School, as they often do, they teach not only from books but from personal experience. You can see student-teachers all along the campus trying to talk to other students about a point of view that seems important to them. We have also had student speakers at assembly and at Sunday meetings. Programs have been arranged along a particular topic and students have been the main orators.

We had first-hand news about the textile strikes from students who took part in them. Grace Elliott, who was very active at Marion, spoke dramatically and sincerely of how the strike affected her, and her family and the community at large. Clemmie Handy, a Danville girl, told of her experiences there. She gave us a picture of the terrible living conditions that brought on the strike.

Estelle Dye, a Negro girl at the Bryn Mawr Summer School, talked to us in assembly about the Scottsboro Case. She told her story very well and without bias. Eight Negro boy shave been sentenced to die from an alleged assault on two white girls. It has been proven that the boys are not guilty, but due to racial prejudices and mob action in the South, the verdict was, "Guilty". The day before the execution was set aside by various organizations for a world-wide protest demonstration. At the end of Estelle's talk a motion was made and carried that the students and faculty of the school should send a telegram asking for a pardon for the boys.

There have been other occasions when groups of students have been the teachers at meetings. The forum of Unemployment of July 4th, discussed in another article, was perhaps the most interesting of them. But there was another important meeting in which the students from various workers' schools described these institutions to all of us.

We met on Sunday evening at dusk. First we sang workers' school songs, not only of Bryn Mawr but those from workers' schools of the world. Then the speeches followed. Ellen Elving, from Denmark, told of the schools in her country, and Eva Anderson, from Sweden, told of the ones in her land. Mille Sample, who was an English student at Bryn Mawr last summer, told of the English system. The American schools were described by those that knew them at first hand. Tillie Plebanek, who is at Bryn Mawr this summer, spoke of her experiences at Wisconsin last summer. Grace Elliott, Clemmie Handy and Mattie Bell Woods spoke of the Southern School. Freda Daum and Fannie Zinkoff told us about Bernard. Other students discussed the programs at workers' winter schools. Mary Koken, who now runs our cooperative store, discussed Brookwood; and Ellen Elving, the school at Vineyard Shore.

At the Women's Trade Union League conference, which was held on July 17th, the girls of Bryn Mawr told of what unemployment had meant to the workers. Mildred Miles, Estelle Dye, Sarah Greenspoon, Nora Quimatte, and Constance Hopkins spoke. All phases of unemployment and its effects were covered by the girls in the few moments of their talks. I doubt if our most expert economists could have done a better job in such a short time.

We expect at least two more students forums. The first on "The Need for Independent Political Action for Workers", and the second on "Looking Forward-What Can I do when I go Home?"

"The Organization of the Bryn Mawr Summer School"
Alma Polkoff
Echoes of the Bryn Mawr Summer School, 1927

The control of the Bryn Mawr Summer School during the summer is vested in the entire school, the Executive Committee of which is a council composed jointly of the students and faculty. The day following the arrival of the students a meeting is called and the girls nominate and elect a president and secretary from their ranks, and also seven members to the council. The faculty then elects four of its members to this council and they, with the Director of the school, the publicity agent, and the executive secretary, who is from the ranks of organized labor, form the seven faculty representatives of the self governing body.

This Council meets each Friday during the school term, and all matters of interest to the school or students are discussed and decided upon.
As agents of the Council we have a Speakers and Programs Committee, a Recreation Committee, Publicity Committee, a Committee on Courses, and a House and Health Committee.

These committees are appointed by a Committee on Committees elected by the Council. Papers are posted on the bulletin board, and any girl who desires to serve on a committee writes down her name on it. From these lists the committees are appointed.

At the meeting of the self-government body, that is the entire group, students and tutors living in the halls of residence, rules for dress, conduct, days for receiving visitors, hours for retiring and study, and so forth, are discussed and voted on. After these matters have been decided, each hall elects a head proctor and a proctor on each floor whose duty it is to see that these rules are obeyed and the halls are kept orderly and quiet for study.

Another big feature in the school is the Co-operative store. At the beginning of school anyone may buy as many shares in the store as she wishes; these shares are two dollars each. With this money we purchase a supply of merchandise. A business manager is employed by the school, and a committee of five is elected by the students to assist her. This committee then elects a president and a secretary, and each member of the committee works in the store one day a week. The store is opened just one half hour after each meal.

At the end of the term the money for the shares is given back to the shareholders, and the student body votes on what is to be done with the profit that has been realized. This profit, I am told, has never fallen below two hundred dollars. Sometimes books are bought for the Summer School library, sometimes the money is given to the school for scholarships. If the girls should want it distributed among shareholders that could be done, but the value of education for the working class has been so clearly seen by each girl, that each year it is returned to the school in some form.

Mistakes have been made at the Summer School, but as we progress, as our outlook, our view of life broads by education and association, we shall remedy our mistakes, and the Light of Bryn Mawr will show us the way to make life better and more worthwhile for all workers.

"Thoughts of Utopian Education"
Faye Eudovich
Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers, 1930
Had my parents lived in a perfect society since I was born, I would not be writing this today.

My childhood was more or less carefree; perhaps that same period of my life was not the same for my parents.

At the age of four I was sent to school. Here, I remember the reverential fear we had for our teachers. There was no feeling of friendship or easiness in their presence. It was almost a feeling of awe. What a chance it was for a young, sensitive person to develop an inferiority complex that would be a great handicap in the future. To this day, a teacher, executive, or anybody at the head of something, frightens me for a little while.

And then the "stuff" which they taught me! All the history and geography that was instilled into our young minds has had to be uprooted from my mind since. Later, the sudden realization that my country was not what I had been taught it was, affected me deeply. To think that the country which had been glorified for me, the country around which was a halo, had the character of a very selfish, mean person, was something which I could not make out. Perhaps if teachers were especially trained to teach young, sensitive minds the truth about things, the whole matter would not "strike home" so hard later.

Instead of trying to develop our natural inclinations, they taught us the things that the Board of Education wanted us to learn. Because I could not draw pictures very well, I was reprimanded so harshly that I took very little interest in the other subjects. That probably accounted for my indifference to education later in high school. Instead of taking subjects for what I could get out of them, I took the required subjects, always steering clear of art, sewing or anything else that the teacher of the lower grades had impressed upon me I was an absolute failure at. It never occurred to me to like any of my subjects. If the teacher conducting the class was sympathetic and had an understanding of her pupils, I responded without any difficulties. However, if I felt that the teacher was the last bit antagonistic or prejudiced against me, no amount of studying would have done the trick, as I was soon discouraged and lost all interest in my work. To this day I think that the great tragedy in my life, so far, is that I can't find anything that I really enjoy doing.

Then, the attitude towards the opposite sex, and toward sex problems as a whole, as ridiculous. The height of punishment was for the teacher to order a little girl to sit with a little boy. It was never taught us that little girls and little boys should be friends together always. There was nothing done to help the future when one became sex conscious. There was nothing taught us to explain such matters.

Of course, some may say that such things should be taught in the home. After all, because of our imperfect society, parents haven't the time for such things. The teacher is our trained educator. Have we not spent the greater part of our day in the schools? Parents, in our class, are too busy making ends meet to do very much more than provide for us, and perhaps speak kindly when they have the time. Their own lives are so worried and harassed with difficult living problems that they cannot give us very much. My father should have time to study and write; my mother should be able to study. How much more beautiful their lives would be!

Later, when I started to work, I was very unhappy. All my life, it had been impressed upon me that working, especially in a factory, was degradation. My father, probably because of his difficulty in getting his own education, had made up his mind that I should get the very best he could give, without working.

When I completed my high school course, I felt that I had all the education I ever wanted. I never wanted to enter the portals of a school again.
Soon, I found that my father's plans for my not working were against me. I soon realized that I needed more financial support than my father could give me.

From now on I got my real education; now I realized how much I had to learn about this world; now I realized how little the smattering I had received in the schools was going to do for me.

How different things would have been if there had been the right understanding of children, especially in the schools!

Perhaps if my boss, and my other bosses had had the right kind of education, we should all stand a better chance of better conditions at our work, and so live a happier and fuller life.

"Something Which Deserves Consideration"
Bella Rondar
Echoes of Bryn Mawr, 1927

As a child I learned from books about the different parts of the world, about the population map, and maps showing physical features. I learned about different nations, their religions and languages. Still, when I came to a foreign country, I was very much surprised to find that all the signs and post bills were not written in my language. This proved to me that to know about something was not enough; to come into person contact with a person or place is of more value. In course of time I forgot about this experience, but history, which is forever repeating itself, reminded me of it.

In spite of the fact that I expected to meet in Bryn Mawr people who came from all parts of America, with different backgrounds, different views, and different outlooks on one and the same situation, I was nevertheless shocked to find out that the entire group did not agree upon one of the most vital questions of today, namely the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Furthermore, I learned that some had no idea about the case and didn't know what "Sacco and Vanzetti" stands for, and that many of the girls, who did know about the case, did not consider it of great importance. But this realization brought to my mind something still more shocking.

Ramsay MacDonald, the great leader of the English Labor Party, refused upon his arrival in New York to comment upon the Sacco-Vanzetti case. He only said, "This case concerns America only!" Mr. MacDonald's coming to New York to attend the thirtieth anniversary of the Jewish daily, Forward, and the fact that the English workers asked and accepted support from workers of other countries during the general strike, negates this statement. Still, whatever his reasons may have been for expressing such an opinion, no one can dispute the fact that he has injured morally the Sacco-Vanzetti case as much as if he had said, "This case concerns Italians only!"

It seems to me that information which has been obtained upon the case points to one great outstanding fact - Sacco and Vanzetti were tried, found guilty and condemned to death because they have dared to express ideas, views and truths, which were a challenge to those who are misusing their powers today.
This case brings to my mind another case, which came up in Kiev, Russia, early in the spring of 1913. Mendel Boilis, an honest, religious, middle-aged Jew, was accused of kidnapping and killing a thirteen-year-old Gentile boy, and was convicted on the ground that the Jews used Gentile blood in their celebration of Easter. Liberal-minded people generally, and Jew, especially, all over the world, used all means in their power to prevent the Russian autocracy from condemning Mendel Beilis to death, for it was obvious that the whole procedure was based on a general prejudice against the Jewish race.

Now, when it can be seen that the Sacco-Vanzetti case reflects the subversion of the rights and interests of the working class, it becomes inevitable that the workers all over the world should not only become as active as possible, but even do the impossible to save Sacco and Vanzetti, as the Jews saved the life of Mendel Beilis.

Only two weeks intervene between now and the date set for the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti; they are tortured today as much as they were tortured during their prison life. If this case has not aroused every awakened worker on the face of the earth, if this case has not compelled the workers to use all the weapons they could in order to save the two victims, if this case has not convinced Mr. MacDonald that mass demonstrations in foreign countries before the American embassies are of great importance, what will then teach the workers their interests?

"My Reaction to Bryn Mawr"
Margaret Klein
Bryn Mawr Echo, 1928

In the eight weeks I have spent here, Bryn Mawr has done more for me than I can ever tell. I will never miss an opportunity to praise it and help it, or to win the good will of others to its cause.

As a workers' school it has made an everlasting impression on me. It is a model in that it brings together so many different types of girls, of many nationalities and races, and for two months can direct their studies and play so harmoniously. The Peace Festival was a lovely, colorful testimonial to this and to me the program seemed like a united, fervent prayer for Brotherhood.
Bryn Mawr has given me a feeling of security. Through the classes, lectures, and informal discussion groups, I have learned to distinguish prejudices in myself as well as others. Each course I studied has helped me analyze a statement, reason well, and form a very careful opinion. I am not only better able to think but can express myself more clearly, as well.

New interests have developed in me through close contact with the students and teachers. Coming from an unorganized industrial city, and having given little heed to such progressive movements, I have listened attentively to discussions as to just how beneficial organized efforts are for workers. Though I haven't arrived at any definite opinion either for or against organized labor and what it stands for, I mean to study the question thoroughly when I return home. I mean to have others study this question with me.

Nothing will make me happier than to pass on to others what I have learned here. I have no definite plans for the coming year; but I do know that through study classes and discussion groups at the Y.W.C.A. and also in individual contact with the girls in the mill, the Bryn Mawr Light will be shining, though I be ever so feeble a glow.

"Adult Workers' Education"
Elizabeth Gerst
Outcrop, 1929

Education contributes greatly to our development, and helps us to adapt ourselves to our environment. When we think of workers' education, we must have in mind the fact that the worker's environment is different than that of a member of the wealthier class. The worker in his childhood receives a very meager education. He is kept in school only until he reaches the age required by public school authorities. During these few school years the child has hardly any time to do his homework. If the latter helps the upkeep of the family by taking home work from some factory, the child very often helps her in this work. If she goes to work in a factory or mill, the child coming from school has to prepare the meal for himself and often for his parents. The short time that is left for the child to prepare his homework is spent in a crowded room together with the rest of the family. Sometimes he is annoyed by his sisters or brothers. Sometimes a sick grandparent tells him to keep quiet when he wants to read aloud, or forbids him to open a window when there is not enough fresh air in the room. One can imagine the kind of education the worker, in such an environment, received in his childhood.

Such education hardly leaves any ambition in the adult. He can be stimulated to study only by something that interests him very much. What will surely interest him is the problem that troubled him before he came to school. He can benefit by study only when the course includes, among the other subjects, the study of labor problems like unemployment, long hours, low wages.

The students could be divided into two groups: one of union and one of non-union workers. To the non-union workers should be explained the benefit or organization. They should also be taught how to get organized. The union workers should be aided in the study of the problems that are confronting them. If the worker's course does not include the study of these problems, the worker coming back will think for a while about the knowledge he has gained. But knowledge that cannot be applied to practice gets lost in the dulled mind, which has to encounter monotonous work, great fatigue, and fear of losing the job. If, on the other hand, in addition to the general education, the worker studies labor problems, and learns more about the problems in his particular trade, he can apply the theories learned in school to practice.

When he learns, for instance, that collective bargaining is more beneficial than individual bargaining, he will talk to his fellow-workers about it. After gaining their support, he might suggest the demand for a high wage. If this demand meets with success, it enables the worker to live a more comfortable life. When a person is more comfortable, he can think more clearly. Then, the next step could be a demand for shorter hours. Then only - when he leads a more comfortable life and has more leisure time - is the worker able to go to school and get a more liberal education.

In other words, in order to educate the workers, help them first through education to change their environment.

"Thinking and Feeling"
Sheila Calderon
Shop & School, 1937

Seven weeks is a very short time in which to study anything. When one tries to study English, Economics and Science with a heavy sprinkling of special projects, garnished with dramatics, it becomes apparent that only the b are essentials can be discussed in an intense study course. English is certainly an important subject for workers to know about, and no one will question the importance of workers having an understanding of economic and trade union problems. Recently science has been added to the "must" list. But now one asks why should sex hygiene be taught at a workers' school where time is so short and money so precious? Surely the last person you would expect to ask such a question is Miss Grant, and yet she did. You see, that is one of the things she has learned from us, asking a question (for reasons of our own) to which we know the answer perfectly well.

What would you do if, when you were interviewing Miss Grant, she insisted upon asking you questions, when you had a long list in the back of your mind to ask her? It seems to me, however, that out of the jumble of questions I asked her and she asked me, she raised the most fundamental one. Should workers study sex problems? That is why I am going to deal with this particular question she raised rather than tell you about all the others. Before we even attempt to answer that question let us stop a moment and see what we have really gotten out of the three weeks with Miss Grant.

Certainly she has added a list of words to our vocabulary such as: cerebral, cortex, thalamus, cerebral thalamic complex, ovation, and so on. But are these words important even if they do have meaning to us? We would not doubt or question the importance of such words as unionism, craft, industrial, collective bargaining, strikes, and so on, which have come to have more meaning to us during the course of our stay at the school.

Somehow the latter list is different, you say, and you don't even see the connection. Boss and worker, yes, there is an essential difference: night and day; yes, there is an essential difference: capitalism and socialism; yes, there is an essential difference. Yet in all those instances there seems to be a relationship of opposites. We don't want to be thalamic Hitlers, do we? We don't want to be cerebral Einsteins, do we? At best we want to be intelligent, class-conscious workers with an even balance of thinking and feeling on our part. If so, then can we minimize the importance of understanding our sex feelings and sex behavior? "When we, the workers, reach to all the workers, when we, the workers, know who are the workers, then we will arrive," but first let us arrive at a healthy and intelligent cerebral thalamic complex.

"At Bryn Mawr"
Elizabeth Hall
Sound and School, 1933
Here in dear old Bryn Mawr I lie in bed until ten minutes before breakfast. It is such a pleasure to have someone prepare it for me. I eat and then have someone clean the dishes, which is the one job in the house I hate most. I go back to my room and straighten it up, which usually takes about five minutes.

Then I am ready for class; if it isn't time to go, I sit back and read or write - whichever I like. Then I go to my class, I am well refreshed and feel like a real person. After sitting and listening to the teachers bring out the different points and explain them, I look to each student for her different ideas and from them learn something new. After my lessons are over, I go to assembly to sing and hear announcements, then come back to lunch which, like breakfast, is prepared for me. After lunch I stand very hopeful in line to receive my mail.

Then off to my room to rest or away to some sort of recreation. On until supper; then another hopeful hour for mail. Rest, study, writing or miscellaneous duties until bed hour; then to sleep and dream such beautiful dreams.

"At Work"

My first thought is, "I hope I didn't sleep too late to catch my regular street car." I jump out of bed like wild, dress and run to the car, and ride for one hour. My lingering thought is, "I hope I am not late." Finally I come to my journey's end; I rush in, undress, sometimes I don't change until breakfast is nearly ready. I must be dressed, have the breakfast cooked, make some kind of bread, set the table and be ready to serve at eight-thirty.

After serving the meal, I eat myself, then start washing the dishes. After many interruptions I succeed. Next I prepare the menu for the other two meals. Now I dust up the apartment, thinking at the same time about lunch; my mind and eyes are again on the clock. At one-thirty everything must be ready to serve. After going through the same process as at breakfast, I begin to look around the kitchen and usually find many things waiting to be done. Whatever it is, I must have time to prepare the dinner, be freshly dressed, the table set with much more care, and at six-thirty begin serving more elaborately than the other tow meals. Then comes the final clearing up. Most times I find myself hurrying to get out; sometimes I plan to go somewhere so I rush home and sit down to rest for a moment. '"Oh, I am too tired; I don't think I feel like going; I am too tired and sleepy; I think I'll go to bed early because I must rest for tomorrow's work."

The Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1924
Fannie Luchkofsky

It is strange to feel the end, although there is still another week of school. But the last few quiet words in the English class one day suddenly brought the end so near, that I startled unconsciously. I looked quickly around the class room as though to assure myself that I was there and not away. Yes, we were still at the class table. The lecture was not completely finished. But, why this heavy gnawing feeling that gripped me suddenly and is taking a hold of me more and more?

A sudden strong desire to know if everyone of us felt this approaching end as keenly as I did came over me. I wanted to know, and after the class I looked into every face I met. I looked at those I knew so well, I looked at the more familiar faces and the less familiar faces and at those I somehow had failed to approach at all. Without exception, it seemed as if all of the students had acquired a new individual expression. How did this sudden transformation come? I tried to answer this. And other questions came one after the other. Is it the end of the term and the approaching return to our former life that makes us look and feel different? Is it the problems of the individual life of every one of us with its big and little secrets that have gripped us as the end approaches? While absorbed in the life of the school, had we forgotten that the end is inevitable? We kept on going. Suddenly the end came. And what comes after?

Without having asked ourselves these questions we all flocked to the Summer School. To all of us it meant a desired break of the twenty, fifteen or ten years' work, work, work. Some had little conception of the nature of the school.

Some had none at all. But each of us carried with her a vague hope or wish to find in the school something that would make life take a little different form. Though every one of us dreamed that perhaps in these few weeks we would get a little glimpse at something we have missed all the time before, and just this little glimpse may afterwards become tiny rays of happiness to lighten our days of work when they sometimes will become exceptionally dull and dreary. One day perhaps some one of us will suddenly hum a melody that will seem unfamiliar to her fellow-workers, and she will tell them of the day when the wonderful tunes of Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner revealed to her the beauty of the music she had never heard before. If a strong ray of sunlight falls upon the loom or machine, will it not fill us with the recollections of those delightful hours when the secrets of the rays have been revealed to us? Shall I wonder further?

Shall I venture to think of the time when some of us will be confronted with a economic problem that will be so much easier to understand than before? And if needed we may apply some of the methods to remedy these problems. If in a moment of depression we begin to doubt if we are really able to accomplish anything even with the best of opportunities, this thought will seen be banished when we shall suddenly remember at least one day when we created something we never thought we could. We shall perhaps remember the secret pride when our first poem was written? And the Agolden star",--the reward of a golden soul for the work we did in science?

Deeply and more deeply we feel the end; The day will come,--perhaps a far-off day,-- when, working at our daily task, we shall be filled with longing. Yet the realization of that distant hour brings assurance of a sweet memory of the days when we lived a different life.

"Bryn Mawr: A Rendezvous for North, South, East and West"
The Bryn Mawr Echo, 1928
Clarence Goodwin

We have come to Bryn Mawr, a group of vigorous, knowledge-seeking girls from the northern, southern, eastern, and extreme western sections of America, and from far away across the sea--England, Germany, Sweden, and Russia. We have brought with us not only personal experiences in every walk of life, but also ideals of the goals towards which we are striving.

In accepting this wonderful opportunity of a lifetime, which one of us has not made a sacrifice to come? But you who have given up jobs which you know cannot be secured again; you who have sacrificed pleasure and luxuries; you who have crossed the wide ocean, and you who have spent tiresome days journeying across the country--has not each one of you been repaid three-fold?

What have we gained during our eight weeks sojourn in this wonderful place, and what are we carrying away? First, the knowledge and understanding gained thru contact on the campus and in the classroom with girls of many different nationalities--a knowledge and understanding which will be extremely useful to us as we go back to confront many new problems,--in addition, the new interests aroused by our studies. In our study of economics we have realized our position as industrial workers, and have learned how best we can attain the ideals for which we are striving for our fellow workers. Our other studies have made us understand our associates better, have helped to free us from prejudices, have broken down barriers, and have given us a broader outlook on modern social life.

We shall each carry away with us not only grateful memories of our classmates who broadened and influenced our lives, but also a wonderful vision of the future. The knowledge we have each gained here will enable us to tackle home, civic, and industrial problems with greater zeal. We shall each carry away the spirit of Bryn Mawr and contribute to its further achievements, so that it will continue to be a shining light and guiding star to girls who may enter its gates from all parts of the world.

"A Southerner's Point of View About Bryn Mawr"
Naomi Brooks
Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1922

When I first came to Bryn Mawr, I had the very faintest idea of what to expect. My girlfriend was here last year, but she said very little about the real work of the school. She told me all about the grounds, the buildings, and most of all the swimming pool; abut the different trips, such as those to Atlantic City, Valley Forge, and other places. She did tell me several times that I would come home with a different view of life; that I would never be as contended to let my work go on and not feel a personal interest in it as I had before, but that I would experience a great awakening. I have found all of her words amazingly true.

I feel that the eight weeks that I am spending here has been the turning point of my life. I have found out things that I could never have found out any other way. It has shown me just how little I know about my own country, state, and city. It has brought out the desire to know these things and the determination to study them out.

Before I came north, the work union" was just a word and that was all. I had never thought of the What is it?" and What of it?" part. I have always worked in a place where the employer had everything in his hand and our conditions we took as a matter of course. We have never thought of organizing or what the results would be if we did. I have never before felt any particular interest in the workers as a whole, because at home, girls form their own little groups and pay no attention to the other groups; or if they were interested in other groups their interest never went outside of the boundaries of their own industry.

I have while here found out the good of mingling with other people regardless of nationality or creed. The kind of people I had never taken time to speak to have proved to be the very best of company and have taught me a lot. The experience of just meeting the girls from everywhere and getting their points of view on different subjects, and discovering the conditions under which they work has been well worth the sacrifices which were made to come here, to say nothing of the courses of study which have been of great value to us all.
I now realize that we are all one great big human family, regardless of sect, creed or nationality. We all have the identical problem to face, the great problem of making this world a place better fitted for God's noblest creation, man. It is my earnest wish that every girl here in the Summer School will be made to feel her personal responsibility in this matter and will not be contented until she has done her bit.

"Six More Days"
Shop and School, 1936
Lillian Sipple

Just six more days before I leave this lovely place called Bryn Mawr College. As I set here at my desk, dreaming and writing, I begin to wonder where we will all be this time next year.

Here we are representing nearly every state, being taught to take a stand in the world, to help fight for our rights. It is a serious thing when you feel that in six more days you will begin to feel the pressure of the yoke again, going out into the world again better fit than before.

I then begin to wonder if we really appreciate and realize the obligations that have been placed upon us, to try to use the knowledge we have gained here. We can do so much. Such opportunities and fields ahead. So few to do those things. As the song goes, "Take hold of a book. Let that be your weapon!"
May it be ours!

Appendix to Chapter Two:  Expository and Collaborative Writing

"My Last Job"
Wilma Gerhart
A Scrapbook of Industrial Workers Experiences, "Group Action" section, 1932

In January I started to work in a drapery shop. It was a new shop started by two brothers. Four skimpy windows facing a narrow alley were the only ventilation. The sewing machines were against an ice-cold wall, so that we had to wear our coats nearly all the day. Mr. A-did not like this as it hindered us in our work, and the work was not going out so fast. If he said anything we told him to give us more heat, or we would walk out on him. We were not allowed to talk but we did just the same, for half the time he wasn't around. The floor lady was only a young kid and she didn't know anything about the work. We kept working quite steady for about four months when suddenly the place went bankrupt. The landlord was not paid, the girls were not paid, and Mr. A-was not home when we called him on the telephone.

We girls then got together and marched up to the county clerk, to ask him to help us get our pay. He talked to us for a while and then called up Mr. B--, but the secretary said he was at court. The county clerk thought about ten minutes, and then said, "I can't help you girls, you'll have to go to the District Court Attorney." We asked why he couldn't help us, when the laws printed on a cardboard notice on the wall said to go to the county clerk for compensation. And he said, "I told you before I could not help you." As much as to say, get out. Just before we left the office, one of the girls asked, "Do you know Mr. B-very well?" He said, "Yes, why?" "Oh! Graft works better with graft. Good day." We left right after that without giving him time to say anything, then marched to the District Court Attorney. People turned out to stare at us for we looked like we were on parade.

The District Court Attorney sat in his chair, as comfortable as any political person could look. Feet high on the desk, smoking a cigar that looked a little better than a five or ten cent cigar, and gazing at cars slowly passing up and down the business street. He looked at us and asked when we wanted, without even taking his feet off the desk. We explained to him the same details, as we had to the county clerk. He again turned away and looked at the traffic. Suddenly he came to like, so that we all jumped at the suddenness of it. He said he would call Mr. B--. His secretary connected them. They conversed for about ten minutes. He then said to us, "Mr. Potts had no money and can't pay you, so I can't do anything more." We left him without further remarks, but we all had decided to write to the Department of Labor. One woman hired a lawyer, who immediately got in touch with the Department. He took down our names, and how much money we all were to receive. I've heard no more since then for I had to leave for Bryn Mawr.

"The Right to Eat"
Shop and School, 1935
Estella Geller

Three girls entered a popular cafeteria. It was lunch time and they met together to enjoy the preciousness of friendships during the short space of time which was theirs. They were young and gay, and very much like any other group of girls save that two were dark skinned and the third white. All three of them had so much to contribute to the enthusiastic planning of a week-end trip to a camp which they were to enjoy in the near future.

What fun they had in choosing food that seemed most palatable and nourishing, and oddly one could notice that their tastes in food didn't utterly differ. They received their checks and were making their way to a table when two bellboys appeared and offered to help them with their trays. They were led to a table in the far corner of the room, yet there were many empty tables nearer the center. One of the boys glared at the white girl as the three of them sat down to enjoy their lunch and talk over their plans.

Very shortly after, the boy returned with a folding screen and, to their confusion, partitioned them from the rest of the dining room. The girls objected to this and one of them asked, "Why must we be screened in order to eat? I insist that you remove the screen or let me see the manager." To which the waiter merely replied, AI am sorry, but our patrons would disapprove, and the management is not in a position to lose their patronage." They arose from the table and demanded to see the manager. One of the girls spoke to him saying, "We refuse to eat in a partitioned nook. Perhaps two of us are black, but we pay the same price for this food as your white patrons; and we also need to eat."

They left the cafeteria and were not gay now, but humiliated and discriminated against. And yet we have the "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"The Scottsboro Case"
Anna Kelleher
Shop & School, 1937

It is six years since the nine Scottsboro boys have been in prison. July 12, 1937 was the beginning of a new trial for them. On that date Clarence Norris was the first to be brought to trial and for the third time was given a death sentence for a crime of which he and the other eight boys are innocent.

They are charged with having raped two white women. In the trials these boys have been proven innocent. Victoria Price still sticks to her story of having been raped by these Negro boys but has not been able to prove it. In every trial she has contradicted her own statements. Ruby Bates, the other white girl, has stated that these boys never raped either her or Victoria. Other witnesses have also given facts as to the innocence of the boys.

Why is it then that the state of Alabama refuses to set these boys free? Because they are Negroes. Throughout the whole South the Negro people are oppressed and discriminated against. They have poor housing, poor schooling and their whole living standard is very low. Since the Civil War there have been over 5,000 lynchings of Negroes.

How much longer must we be blind to these facts? We must all understand that as long as labor in the black skin is oppressed, labor in the white skin will never be emancipated. We must all go back to our own communities and work for the passage of the Anti-Lynching Bill that is before Congress now. We must have the organizations we belong to send resolutions to our Representative and Senators in support of this bill. We must also send resolutions and petitions to the Alabama Supreme Court that they free the nine Scottsboro boys. It is only by mass pressure from the workers that we will ever be able to gain anything under this system. Forward to the unity of the working class!

"The Strike Call"
Mary Beckman
Shop & School, 1933

The German woman who sits next to me is about the only one that I have confidence in. She has a lovely, motherly face with mild blue eyes that caress you every time they rest on you. They simply invite confidence. We were both new hands and very eager to keep the job.
"What a time to call a strike," she exclaims.
"But, Helen, you know that conditions are unbearable, and it's high time that something be done to stop this misery!"

Helen bends her head lower. Instinctively I look up and meet the steely gray eyes of our boss. Hi look is like a dagger. It penetrates one's very soul. All morning he has been like a lion in a cage. He smells danger in the air and keeps his eyes on those he suspects to be troublemakers, as bosses love to call the ones that have courage to demand what is coming to them.
"Helen, please don't be frightened. He don't know that you belong to the union. He suspects only the Jewish girls."
"But Mary, it's not the lousy job I care for. It's only that I am so nervous I simply can't wait till 10 o'clock."

I look up. Only 8:30! What a long half hour! I look around me and take stock of those who will be likely to go down. On the other side of me is an old, fat woman who hardly fits in the small hard chair. She would make a fine picture on a circus poster. I look at her out of one corner of an eye to see the expression on her face. It's blank. No hope! Opposite, two Italian girls who have probably never heard of a union. I try not to lose courage but my heart quivers when I think of what's in store for me.

The shop is unusually quiet this morning. It's before a storm and we wait impatiently for the cloud to burst. At 9:30 a young girl with a red ribbon on her hair runs past me and whispers, "Comrade, get ready for the struggle!"
The older worker looks up with contempt. "She must think it's a picnic! A fine time they pick to call a strike!"
"But what have we to lose?" I say. "Nothing but our misery."
Will 10 o'clock never come! Fifteen minutes more! One feels like a death call waiting for the last few minutes to pass.
What's that! Like a black cloud the colored pressers are moving towards us, 53 strong, the first ones to throw their work down! Like a flame spreading, through the shop, shaft after shaft is cleared. No power in the world can stop this moving cloud!
At the moment I felt like shouting, "Beware! You have pulled the rope too tight. You can never tell when it's liable to break!"

"An Experiment with a Sweatshop Boss"
1933 Scrapbook: Stories from the Shop, "The Shop" Section,1933
Virginia (no last name given)

In 1924 I moved to Philadelphia from a small country town in the southwestern part of Florida, and finding the living conditions somewhat different from what I had been accustomed to, I saw it was necessary for me to go to work to help balance the family budget. As I lived in the mill district, I found work in a near by hosiery mill. A neighbor who was the forelady of the mill took me in and taught me topping.

While learning I thought it was the hardest thing I had ever tried to do, but after a month or two I was getting along fine and only needed to acquire speed. In most of the hosiery work, speed is a very important thing as you must be able to keep up with a machine.

After about a month or when they saw I was going to stick, I was asked to join the union, which I did. I had been very fortunate in having steady work, good pay, and nice working conditions until the depression came along. After I had worked stead for seven years, the firm I was then working for packed up and in December 1932 moved out of the city, and I found myself one of the unemployed.

I tried to find work, but aft4er tramping in the streets day after day, in and out of mills, and always hearing the same thing, "Nothing today," I returned home tired and discouraged. I tried answering some of the advertisements in the Help Wanted columns. Taking the ones I thought I would be most likely to get an answer for, as answering them meant buying stamps, and getting stamps is a big item when funds are low. Out of about thirty I received one reply and that was from the sweatshop boss, but when I answered the advertisement, I didn't know that.

In February I saw an advertisement asking for seamless loopers to learn full fashioned topping. In answering I told them I was not a seamless looper, but I had a little experience at topping and thought by doing so I might get the job.
In May I received an answer asking me to come to a certain mill at one-thirty that day. Well, I guess you know how I felt. When I arrived I was told to wait as the boss was out to lunch. After waiting for about an hour, I asked the office girl when she expected him back and she said, "Any minute now," and could I wait a little longer. Finally the phone rang and after talking for about five minutes she came and told me the boss was detained and would I mind coming back tomorrow. Yes, I would mind coming back tomorrow, but I said I could come back even though I knew I must walk home so I would have car fare for the next day. It was only three miles home and walking is good exercise anyway.

The next morning found me waiting again. When the boss arrived I was called in the office and in a loud roaring voice, he asked me where I had worked last, why I left, how much I made, if I was living with my people, how many in my family, how many were working , how much they made, and a dozen others. He had me so frightened I hardly knew what I was saying. He said being as I was living at home and my father working part time, he wouldn't be able to pay me such a large salary, but I seemed like a nice girl and he would do me a favor and find me a job. I asked him what would it be and he said, "Oh, just doing odd jobs around the shop. It won't be hard." The pay would be $4.00 per week. The hours from 2 p.m. till 11 p.m. The first two weeks I would receive no pay, but after that I could have steady pay as long as I cared to work.

I was so shocked at the offer that I couldn't speak for a few minutes, but when I found my tongue I told him to take his job and go to the devil, that I refused to work for such starvation wages. This made him blue in the face with anger and he started yelling that such ungrateful people as me should starve and then I made a hasty exit, leaving him cursing and swearing.

"The Strike Call"
1933 Scrapbook: Stories from the Shop, "The Union" Section,1933
Mary Buckman

For months I searched for work, from shop to shop, day in day out. I walked through the dress market looking for one that needed my labor-but in vain. Worn out and fearful of those eager, searching eyes that met me every morning on the market, and as competitors, we stared at one another.

Millions unemployed, breadlines, starvation, misery and evictions knocking at the door! Yet within the midst of the depression, a strike of dressmakers is called!

The German woman who sits next to me is about the only one that I have confidence in. She has a lovely motherly face with mild blue eyes that caress you every time they rest on one. They simply invite confidence. We were both new hands and very eager to keep the job.
"What a time to call a strike," she exclaimed.
"But Helen, you know that conditions are unbearable and it is high time something is done to stop this misery!"
Helen bends head lower. Instinctively I look up and meet the steel grey eyes of our boss. His look like a dagger. It penetrates one's soul. All morning he has been like a lion in a cage. He smelt danger in the air and kept his eyes on those he suspected to be troublemakers-as bosses love to call the ones that have courage to demand what is coming to them.
"Helen, please don't be frightened. He don't know that you belong to the union. He suspects only Jewish girls!"
"But Mary, it's not the lousy job I care for. It's only that I am so nervous. I simply can't wait till 10 o'clock."
I look up. Only 8:30! What a long half hour! I look around me and take stock of those who will be likely to go down. On the other side of me is an old fat woman who hardly fits in the small hard chair. She would make a fine picture on a circus poster. I look at her out of one corner of an eye to see the expression on her face. It's blank. No hope! Opposite, two Italian girls who have probably never heard of a union. I try not to lose courage, but my heart quivers when I think of what's in store for me.
The shop is unusually quiet this morning. It's before a storm and we wait impatiently for the cloud to burst. At 9:30 a young girl with a read ribbon on her hair runs past me and whispers, "Comrade, get ready for the struggle!"
The older worker looks up with contempt. "She must think it's a picnic! A fine time to call a strike!"
"But what have we to lose?" I say, "Nothing but our misery."
Will 10 o'clock never come! Fifteen minutes more! One feels like in a death cell waiting for the last few minutes to pass.
What's that! Like a black cloud, the colored pressers are moving towards us. Fifty-three strong, the first ones to throw their work down! Like a flame would spread through the shop, shaft after shaft is cleared. No power in the world can stop this moving cloud!
At that moment I felt like shouting. Beware! You who have pulled the rope too tight. You can never tell when it's liable to break!

"My First Job"
Shop and School, 1934
Mary Anne Cassiani

With my heart pounding against my ribs as if it would suffocate me, I approached the girl at the desk. In vain did I strive to find my voice. It was as if some power held it back. With one motion I extended the newspaper and pointed to the advertisement which read: "Girl Wanted".

"Up one flight, the door on the right." High and sharp came her voice as she tried to talk above the metallic click of the typewriters. Slowly I climbed the stairs; on the door the sign read Cutting Department. As I entered it seemed to me the noise was absolutely deafening. On one side of the room were huge machines of iron. Those machines swing up and down, looking as if they would devour the men that stood before them swinging their slightly bent bodies back and forth, back and forth, while they pressed the pedals that controlled the giant machines.

The floor was littered with little half moons of leather. White leather, brown leather, black leather. Girls too were there setting at long benches, hopelessness in every move of their hands, dejection in every move of their bodies. It was then as I beheld them that a feeling of dismay gripped me. Would I become one of these?

"I Make Belts"
Emma Fickhart
Shop & School, 1937

If blouses were made without belts I should be without a job, yet there are times when I wish there were no such things as belts.

At eight-thirty in the morning the factory gets busy, and the whirring noise of the machines increases as each operator contributes her machine power to the general confusion.

Then I start making my belts. They are about eighteen inches long and twenty-four to a dozen. They have to be stitched around and turned inside out. It is one of the simplest operations in making a blouse, and consequently one of the most boring.

The first hour of the morning my mind is not as clear as it should be, and the belts get stitched in a steady stream, but as the morning progresses, my mind begins to functions, and the work goes a little slower until the interruption of the lunch hour. After lunch my system is sluggish and I begin to look at my work as at a person. I dislike but can't do anything about. At two o'clock there is a pall over the whole factory, and I stitch my belts in a daze that continues until the power is turned off at four-thirty.

The repetition of this day for nine months in a year is what makes me say that sometimes I wish there were no such things as belts.

"Portrait of a Face"
Katherine Scanlon
Shop & School, 1937

Standing out among many interesting people whom I have met here, there is one whose face will always be a vivid memory; not because it is stamped with beauty in an accepted sense, or that artifice has subtly covered up nature's neglect, but rather because an undefineable something, probably a fleeting expression, shows that life has toyed with a heart which, having been broken, comes back to live again with a wistful and subdued outlook. It is not a tragic face, because the eyes still glow with interest and soften with tolerance and understanding and the lips still smile genuinely and infectuously. Struggle and rebellion have been replaced by the compensation of work, study and an active interest in people until the song of a chastened heart bursts forth in richer melody.

"A Letter"
Katherine Kreisler
Shop & School, 1937

I have to use writing to communicate with you even though we used to see each other daily. But we are not on speaking terms since the strike.
Please don't throw away my letter without reading it. Don't commit the same mistake I did when I let my emotions and wrath overpower me, turning away my head when you, my old friend and schoolmate, greeted me. I hate to confess it but it was very, very stupid of me and I am ashamed of myself.
Right after this awful act of mine I realized that, knowing you and your circumstances so well, I should have used other means to show you that it is not right that you help the boss to deprive us of a living wage. Because that is what we want, a decent wage and some security through our union.

I think I understand your motives now. I know you well enough to realize that your responsibilities toward our family made you feel that you should not risk your job by walking out with us.

I know I touched a very sensitive point. I had always hated to intrude into your family matters even thought I had always felt a temptation to tell you the truth. But now I feel I should not keep silent because this case has ceased to be merely a personal and family matter. You have to realize that you have other responsibilities too. You have to regard your fellow workers as well as yourself and your family.

I am going to tell you straight that you made a fool of yourself when you let some members of your family exploit your kindness. You are the only one who feels responsible for having the rent in time, while the others have to have their new dressed every season regardless of circumstances. And that made you a scab.

And besides you swallowed the promise that the boss made to your mother (how well she knows the influence of your family upon you) that you will be a forelady sometime in the future.

You will find out sooner or later that this promise is one of her dirty little tricks she used to play upon people. Believe it or not, she promised me the same thing also, and there was a time when I believed her. But now my eyes are opened, I don't care for her promises. Neither do I care for her flattery when she says that a nice girl like me, of a good family, should not mix with the riffraff in the union. I know that she deceived me.

She just aroused your (and your mother's) ambition and I guess I will have a hard job to convince you that she has never had the slightest intention of making you or me a forelady. We are not the kind that would be able to squeeze the girls the way she would like to have them squeezed. We are not ruthless enough, we are not foxy enough and we are not hypocritical enough.
It is almost certain that you will remain a worker throughout your life. You must not deceive yourself about that. It is not easy to throw away all the beautiful illusions and hopes. It was very hard for me to do it too. It was a long and painful process until I dared to face the truth. But I realized that I had to face life without self-deception. I throw away all my beautiful but dangerous illusions about life. And to my great surprise my reward has been greater than I expected. Strangely enough I now feel a greater sense of security and real, honest hope. I am standing firmly on the ground and not in the thin air. Because my honest facing of my problems has put me on the way that every worker should walk, on the way that loads toward a safe and prosperous future: on the way of the labor movement and unionism.

I now realize that remaining a worker does not necessarily mean being a failure. We workers supply the world with the necessary things. Why should we be looked down upon?

No, there is nothing wrong, nothing derogatory in the idea of being a worker. The trouble lies in our position, in our relationship with the means of production which are in the hands of the bosses who exploit and oppress us. And if we don't take our destiny into our own hands we will remain oppressed and exploited because we will have no choice between accepting and starving.
Of course, they will do anything to wipe out our stronghold: our unions. They will use violence and they will use libel. They will brutalize and kill us and they will tell you that our unions are the hotbeds of rackets.

It would be foolish to deny that there are racketeers in some of the unions. But in a union where the rank and file are alert and vigilant, there are no racketeers.
I hope you will think over what I have said to you. I have a faint hope that you will be on the picket line tomorrow with us.

"Creatures That Once Were Men"
Sophie Ruttenberg
Shop & School, 1937

I am a milliner from Chicago. Fortunately the millinery mart is situated in one of the best parts of Chicago: on one side overlooking Lake Michigan, on the other, facing the river.

Sometimes I like to put away my work for a few minutes, and look out the window at the lake. In the early spring, when it is dull in the shop, I very often quit earlier and go to Grant Park. I like to sit there for two reasons, first, to get the benefit of the fresh air, and secondly, to study "political economy" from so-called "steady occupants" of Grant Park. We know that many men make their homes in Grant park, not because they are great lovers of fresh air, but simply because they have no money to pay rent.

Once I watched a man who was asleep on the grass. After he got up, he went to the fountain and took a shave. He had a little mirror and a razor with him. Many times I have watched these men search for food. You can find them very often in the street between the library and the next building. There they search the garbage cans from the Black hawk restaurant and the fruit store.

Sometimes I like to follow them from Grant Park. I shall never forget the expression on their faces. I saw two men bending over the garbage can and after they dug out some kind of rotten food, they had the happiest expression on their faces. I watched them for a while and then it came to my mind, that the Russian writer, Maxim Gorki, was right when he said "those creatures that once were men."

"On The Job"
Nida Panglo,
Shop and School, 1925

When I was offered my job as Business Agent [for a labor union] some years ago, I took it with great reluctance. I had joined the waitresses' union, while working in a restaurant in a department store, and had got fired for doing so. I was out of work, but I hesitated before taking a job with such responsibility.
I started on my job, as Business Agent of the Waitresses' union with many misgivings. On Monday morning I started on my duties assured by the Business Agent of an affiliated men's union, of his help and advise. With this hope, I entered his office.

"Well, I see you are on the job," he said "what do you think you should do first?"
AI came here," I replied timidly, "supposing you would tell me a little of what my duties would be."
"You will visit the various restaurants," he said as he busied himself with the mail before him, "talk to the waitresses and try to get them to come into the union."
"Well, what shall I say to them, what argument may I use?" I asked.
"Use your own argument," he answered, as he turned to answer the telephone, "You'll have to learn by hard knocks how to get them in."
I started out on my journey, filled with mixed emotions. I wondered where I would go first. I had an impulse to run away because I felt that with no more definite ideas, I simply could not go and talk to girls. I went into a restaurant, approached a girl and asked her to join the union. She looked at me and said, "Aw! What do I want to join the union fer? Hain't no good." And walked away.

I felt like going through the floor, my heart sank. How little I knew! Tears came to my eyes, and I hurried out, to walk along the street talking to myself. After many similar attempts, I finally learned how to talk to girls, how to persuade them to join the union for their own good. After many experiences, disappointments and discouragements, I saw our union grow.

After about six months, came the question of a raise in wages, betterment of conditions and reduction of working hours. The union members had to agree upon what increase they would ask, and after days of arguments, the agreement was ready to be presented to the employer.

We found a man who refused to give the raise, tho he had stated that he had made a profit, and that his business was a paying institution. Every effort having failed to bring about a settlement, the inevitable strike came.

I shall never forget the bitterness and suffering of that, my first strike! I had to be on the picket line to encourage, and oversee the others. As we walked up and down, men and women would go into the restaurant, and as they passed us, they offered insult after insult until we wanted to scream and strike some one, but we always had to be careful, for there was the law, to protect the employer and the public. A woman started into the restaurant; she stopped, look at me contemptuously and said "You ought to be home, washing clothes, instead of here hurting this poor man, you nasty thing." I couldn't stand it any longer; so I answered her back. Then the long arm of the law reached me, stuck me into the patrol wagon, and then into jail. After weeks of struggle this employer agreed to settle and everyone went back to work, and I had to go on to the next task.

The tasks of a Business Agent are many and varied. In the course of a day she is called upon to meet many different situations. A girl comes to me crying. Her baby is sick, but she can't quit work for baby needs food, and medicine. I have to help her, find care for the baby, encourage her to keep up her spirit. Then some girl has a grievance against her employer, and I must iron it out. A girl quits her job, and I must find her another if possible, and fill the place she left.
I have the union books to keep, the dues to collect, the treasury to watch and social affairs to manage. I must keep my union on the map by telling every other union that we are organized, and by reminding them to eat in union restaurants.

I close my desk at the end of the day and wend my way homeward to my family, feeling happy that I shall have a few hours rest that night. I got myself all comfortable, when the telephone rings, and someone says, "Jennie Smith was badly scalded in the kitchen and we have sent her to the hospital." I wearily dress, and then hurry to Jennie, see her cared for and then fill the place she has just left. I drag myself home again, wondering, "What next?"

Appendix to Chapter Three:
Autobiographical Writings by Bryn Mawr Summer School Students

"How and Why I Chose My First Job"
Lillian Wolfe
The Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1922

I started out quite alone and unrecommended at the age of thirteen to seek my first job. Having finished grammar school at that age decided that. Coming of a family in which each member would, as a matter of course, be expected to contribute his or her share to the family exchequer just as early as possible, and who considered industry almost a religion, it was the thing to do, as inevitable as eating and breathing and finally dying. It was just part of the scheme of life.

I did have other dreams it is true. But a child of thirteen has little command over her own existence, or at least I hadn't at that time. It wasn't so much that I was ambitious as that I had a passionate love for books-"a feeling for literature and poetry" my teachers called it-and I begged my mother to permit me to go to high school. I went so far as to register at one of the local high schools in order to be able to attend should mother relent by the beginning of the fall term (I graduated in June). To do mother justice, she understood, a little, my longing to go and would have like to have me continue, but it seemed neither practical nor sensible to her. I was to earn my living of course, for a time at least, and it was up to me to get as great a return as possible in the shortest time.

Had I been a boy instead of a girl, with my natural love for my studies, mother might have struggled to send me ahead, much as she needed what little I could earn. But a girl didn't need an education. In fact, it might very well be a mistake to teach her too much, for several reasons. First, she would no doubt be married by the time she was twenty. That gave her family only a few years in which to expect financial return from her, and the years spent at school would be wasted. One could get the same return, in some cases a greater return, by starting out as early as one could be hired and getting practical experience that way.

Then there was another thing to be remembered from mother's point of view. Girls of the middle class hadn't so great a choice of possible husbands. Men having the initiative and the choice in such matters, usually looked somewhat above their own station in seeking wives. Therefore, if a girl reached the point where she thought too deeply and knew too much she would be less likely to be contented with the eligible young men who presented themselves for her consideration as life partners. This would be a very bad thing for her.

This last theory of mother's I think had some basis. Girls who did think were less likely to accept whatever offered, or to think of marriage as the only goal. Of course, woman's attitude in that respect is greatly affected, I might say wholly, by woman's comparatively new economic independence. Before that, she either had to marry and bring up her own family, or be tolerated in some relative's family life and work twice as hard in their home helping to bring up their children, while they probably looked upon her as a necessary evil.
Well, then, at thirteen, with mother's advice I set out to conquer the world and "support" the family. $2.25 per week was the fabulous wage with which I started. Out of this, of course, came my carfare and lunches.

The labor laws at that time did not permit the employment of children under fourteen except for certain specified periods so I had to take out vacation papers which permitted me to work through the summer vacation period. That vacation has continued ever since.

The path of least resistance then for an untrained worker was the Department Store. One could secure employment there without much trouble (without much pay, too, for that matter!) and one could rise to great heights, so I was told, in that field of endeavor. There were a few other paths open for the untrained girl, the factory and housework; but these were considered déclassé! The shop girl (I don't know how these conclusions are reached) seems just a grade higher in the social scale.

My first duties were those of a messenger girl and a collector of parcels to be routed to the delivery department. Being rather a serious kind even at that tender age, I did not accept the position without first ascertaining its possibilities. I gravely asked the superintendent who engaged me what chances there were for advancement. He assured me that I could reach almost any heights. He must have thought me very funny. After six months I received my first raise in wages, bringing that wage to $2.75. Encouraged by this apparent success, I heard of a vacancy in one of the offices of the store and immediately applied for the privilege of filling it. The superintendent was agreeable and encouraged ambition, and I was given the opportunity I sought. I remained in that office just two days. The first day I struggled with the unaccustomed quiet of a perfectly soundless auditor's office in which my part was to sort sales checks by the sales numbers all day long. The second day I fell fast asleep.

Next day I was returned to the humbler but more active job on the busy floor where people came and went, and I was happy again. I remained in that store for eight years, going through all the grades from parcel wrapper up through clerking and on to head-of-stock, in which last capacity after some time I received the wage of $10.00 a week. For this salary I assumed many responsibilities. I helped select the merchandise, placed prices on same through my knowledge of what the materials would bring, and was in a measure responsible for the salability of the merchandise selected. I had now probably reached the pinnacle of the heights that could be attained through faithfulness and industry rather than special fitness and genius. It was then I sought another field for which I was better fitted and therefore made rapid strides ahead-but that is another story.

"Help Wanted"
Rae Brandstein
The Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1924

In the last few days, two young women have spoken to me in regard to looking for a job. One thought it must be very interesting and exciting; the other said she dreaded the thought of going back to the city to watch the morning papers for a job.

The first one asked me to tell her some of my experiences in industry, for she too expects to get some experiences of her own in her father's factory. She is one of the many who do not know what one often has to go through before someone is kind enough to accept one's offered labor for a bare existence. Too often they come with a sufficient knowledge of a girl's life in a factory to be able to testify at investigation committees, become educators, or social workers, and pass judgment upon the average working girl and her job; but that is very different from having that job the only thing between them and starvation.

Those of us who have gone to bed with the thought of getting up early in the morning and looking for a job, will bear witness with me, that often there was a secret feeling of not wanting to wake at all. The thought of looking through the "Help Wanted" ads and the fear of arriving late at the advertised place, when you do find something in your line; the impertinent elevator boys, the many unnecessary questions of unpleasant men and women who have the authority to hire you if you make a favorable impression,--all these humiliations do not tend to further one's happiness.

When applying for a job, one never meets the real boss who may be humane, but instead, a hireling who sells his conscience for a few dollars a week and does the hiring and firing at his will. If these people who think it a great experience to look for a job would ever feel the unnecessary pressure of an unpleasant man's hand on their arm; feel the chill going down the spinal chord at such a moment, the hope that one would not be accepted by this kind of man, the fear of having to go to another one, the thousand unpleasant thoughts chasing each other at such a moment; I wonder if they would still think the experience exciting? Or would they realize of what little significance their investigations and uplift work are and how decayed the very foundation of our society is at present?

Now as for the other young lady who does not believe that a union can eliminate the humiliation of looking for a job, I would like to tell her of how the union to which I belong eliminated most of the mental strain of which I have spoken above.

We have inserted a clause in our agreement, that whenever an employer is in need of help he is to call up the union office and ask for some. An employee is to call at the union office, get a pass to the place where help is wanted. At the factory, the shop representative is called out to meet the newcomer, the worker is taken in to the factory, is introduced to some of the workers, the shop representative brings over some work for her. Soon she is made as comfortable as it is possible to feel at a new job and this eliminates most of the unnecessary humiliation one has to go through in finding one's own job.

I hope that some of my fellow students will agree with me that it is a method worth while trying, and thus help the existence of a job seeker to be a more tolerable one. But you must remember that only through and only by organization is it possible. Any person who is at all honest with his conscience will admit that organization is the workers' only weapon.

"My Recollections of a Massacre"
Sophie Weinblatt
Bryn Mawr Light 1926

The year of 1905 in Russia was a year of historic upheavals. The Revolutionary attempt had been of the greatest significance in the consequence of the other events following. A manifesto issued by the tzar, restoring some liberties to the Russian people, was the culmination of the revolutionary movement. The violent wave of massacres that swept through most section of Russia, where there was a Jewish element in the population, can be accounted for as instigated for the purpose of directing the attention of the people from the withdrawal of the issued manifesto.

My most vivid recollections are; of a clear sunny autumn morning when I was playing with the heaps of dry fallen leaves which were generously scattered around the court-yard. Suddenly I was startled by hells and shouts of many people. Forgetting curiosity I ran into the house to tell my parents that something unusual was taking place in the street. It was the demonstration of joy by the people, when news of the manifesto reached them. That kept the city in commotion almost all day. I was only seven years old then and could not understand the cause of that celebration, but the immediately following events aged me and they left a deep imprint on my mind.

About five o'clock that same afternoon, when so much joy had been experienced, bands of organized soldiers and peasants, who had been gathered from all over the vicinity to be sent to various military camps, and were temporarily stationed in the city, started out on a deathly march. They were armed with picks, shovels, and that peculiarly Russian tool called "lum" which is a heavy iron bar with a flattened and sharpened edge and is used for breaking up the heavy ice, accumulated through the long winter. (Snow was not cleared away until the spring) Windows were smashed and people brutally beaten, as the bands marched along the street. Age or sex were of no consideration; all that mattered was race. This march was to be the formal introduction to the onslaught which seemed to have been well planned out.
The houses in the city were all built around large court-yards, some facing the street and others scattered all around the court. My family lived in a small house in the extreme rear of the court. We were having our dinner when a number of people rushed into the house, crying out for protection from the drunken mob. The meal was forgotten in the excitement of the alarming news.

The lights of the house were immediately turned out to conceal the presence of the people. Shortly all the other Jewish tenants of that court gathered in our house, as it was the most obscure spot they could reach by that time, without risking their lives. We children were all huddled up in the corners, afraid to stir, instinctively feeling the danger which loomed up before our imagination.

Suddenly an immense flame swept across the street, illuminating the dark deeds of people robbing, and murdering, who seemed like black demons in the night, surrounded by the unearthly fire. The flame came from a wholesale drugstore, occupying a square block, and containing many explosive elements, that had been set on fire after it had been robbed. It was the general practice of the leaders of the mob, to burn down all stores, after they had carried away all the valuables. Whether it was done to save the time of their comrades from looking for booty, or to satisfy their thirst for destruction, remained unknown to me. This state of looting kept on through the night, instigated by the so called "Black Hundred" a body consisting mostly of wealthy citizens, who were anti-Semitically inclined. The following three days were the scenes of hunting human beings, as if they were mere prey of the chase. Jews dared not show themselves in the streets; they were dragged out of their houses and hiding places and were mutilated and killed. Shrieks of the agonized victims filled the air.

My two sisters, who were slightly older than myself, and I, were taken by my father, through back-yards and over fences, to a relative living in a more remote part of the city. He then rushed back to the family, leaving us to God's mercy among many strangers, for many people came to find protection in the dark cellars owned by a Christian landlady. She was one of the few who showed sympathy to the persecuted. Although the cellar was crowded, no one who came to look for shelter was turned away, there were those who kept us informed about the outside. And many were the messengers who brought dread and anxiety into the cellar by relating the scenes they had witnessed. We felt so helpless to be without our parents in such a critical time of our life, that the lack of food or drink mattered little, particularly since there wasn't any.

However, on the third day, someone of the people, who could not endure the hunger any more, broke up a barrel of preserved pickles. Each one got a share of it, but lips parched from hunger and thirst could not stand the touch of pickles. By the time the rumors became so alarming that despair dictated our actions and we decided that no matter what the dangers were, we must go in search for our parents; no one interfered, nor discouraged us, each one being absorbed in his or her own fate.

That day will remain the most memorable of my life. When the three of us, holding on to each other, started off in the direction of our home, the sight of the streets paralyzed us with horror. We dared not share our impressions with another because the faces we saw along the way betrayed the people who were responsible for what we saw. The streets were white with feathers (the satiated mob not caring to drag all the bedding home, had ripped it loose in the streets) windows and front doors were smashed, houses deserted, and here and there groups of people were finishing up their share of ruin.

After a long and miserable search, we learned that our parents were hidden in the house of one of the judges of that city. With the help of some kind people we reached the place and joined them. When my mother saw us, I am sure it was the joy of seeing us alive and the horror of the change in us that the few days had wrought, that made her faint. Our lips were soaked with hot milk to soften and to release the dry blood on them. We were cared for and carefully nourished until we recuperated from the effects of the damp cellar with all the dread of the massacre.

By the end of the week the massacre was over, and all of the Jewish population who were left in a condition to return to what used to be their homes, left their hiding places. It was a very sad return to many; some had lost their parents, others a husband, a brother or friend. An elderly couple had been burned alive, holding the Bible in their hands. Hospitals were filled with the wounded. The largest synagogue was burned down, so were many stores; homes were ransacked and destroyed.

Out of this grew up a spirit of hatred among people who were neighbors and friends before. Undoubtedly that the massacres and persecutions in the days of the Tzar, made the Jewish people to be among the first to welcome the present government in Russia.

"Never Before"
Rose Kurstin
Shop & School, 1932

Never before outside of my public school days, have I had such an opportunity as this, -- to study, to play, to wonder, and to observe.

I feel as if my mind is cracking into pieces. My desire to learn is much greater than my mind can grasp. I feel as if time is rushing ahead of me, and I am almost out of breath to keep up. Some times I compare myself to a fertile soil which from lack of rain or sunshine had dried up a bit.

Often I ask myself, "Is it not too late for me? Will the spirit of Bryn Mawr help me to continue or will the daily struggle devour me again and crush in me my last strife for education?"

"If I Were Master of My Life"
Sorel Balazowsky
Outcrop, 1929

"Join the navy and see the world." A very appealing sign. But I am a girl and I can't join the navy, and I do want to see the world, and I am not rich enough to travel (of course we all know that those signs do not mean anything; in the navy they see hell - not the world.) Well, we are all dissatisfied. I often have wondered if there is a sane person in this world who is really satisfied. Experience and history show us that there is no permanent satisfaction; we always aim for something better.

Still, I would like to speculate on the theme. If I had my choice I would like to live on top of a high mountain from where I could look into the distance, a mountain where the sun is always shinning (for variety's sake I would like occasionally a good storm). I would not wear any shoes, but I would wear a wide linen dress.

I would not have my lover work in the shop or be at home only when we were very tired.

I would have my large white painted house, on top of the mountain near the forest, as a place for joyful games where my lover and the children would all be happy. I would be the shepherd and the twelve boys and twelve girls would be the herd.

I would never worry about losing a job or about my friend's losing one. It is better to play with the herd; to go beyond the mountain and see the water of the river.

Running water is great, much greater than people. We would go to take an example from it. Nothing is precious to running water; it aims forward.
Suppose I want to fit myself to present society. Then I would like to be a teacher and teach children when they are at the beautiful age of trustfulness. But in the long run we all get dissatisfied. When I'll look for something new, one can't be happy by oneself. I would learn to be a nurse and help other people to keep happiness.

In conclusion I'll say that the only way I see myself or anybody else satisfied is through a chance to do what we want. And we do not want one thing, but many.

Appendix to Chapter Four:  Labor Drama

"A Conversation Between a Forelady and a Trimmer in a Millinery Shop
Lillian Wisso

A millinery shop in Chicago in 1927. It occupies one room about twelve by seventeen feet. The ceiling is low; there are three windows opening into a passage-way between this building and another nine-story building which is taller and therefore shuts out the daylight completely. There are electric lights above every worker in this room; the air is circulated by electric fans.

Everything is located in this room; even the office, which is separated by a partition and takes up about one-fourth of the room. The show-room is also included, and therefore there is very little room left for the machines, the tables for the trimmers, and the cutter's table. The workers are crowded and uncomfortable; the trimmers have to be very careful with their needles not to stick their neighbors while sewing. There are fifteen girls employed: three operators; nine trimmers; a forelady; a girl on the floor; and a colored girl, a cutter. It is Monday, a week before Easter. The place is rushed and everybody is working overtime. The forelady approaches Anna, one of the best trimmers in the place.

Forelady: Anna, I was told that you belong to the union.
Anna: Yes, Sadie, what of it?
Sadie: You know that Mr. Levittan is against unions and if he finds it out, he'll
fire you and suspect me for keeping a union girl in this place.
Anna: But don't you see, Saidie, how we slave here for three or four dollars a day! We must make a start and organize in order to improve our conditions.
Sadie: Listen, Anna, you are a good worker and I hate to see you go. You'd better get out of that union and let somebody else join it.
Anna: I'm surprised to hear that from you; you know well enough what I am talking about, because just two years ago you were a trimmer yourself and even now you are not secure with your twenty-five dollars a week. Mr. Levittan can tell you to go any day and then, what will you do? You may have to become a trimmer all over again and then I'm sure you would not talk the way you do now.
Sadie: Now let's not talk about it. I think you are making out fine. Didn't you make twenty-two dollars last week? I believe you made more than any other girl in this place.
Anna: Do you know that I worked fifty-five hours on that, and can you call that a good week?
Sadie: Why, certainly, you made more than Sally; she only had twenty-one dollars and sixteen cents.
Anna: That does not make me feel any better. How about those weeks when we have to sit here and wait for work for two or three hours? Don't I make only ten or twelve dollars then?
Sadie: Well, listen, Anna, this has happened because there are too many trimmers here. As soon as we get slow I am going to tell some of the girls to stay home so you'll have more work, and you'll be able to make more money.
Anna: Don't you think those girls have to make a living?
Sadie: Why should you worry for them?
Anna: I certainly have to worry for them, because they are my co-workers, who are being exploited just as I am. I am going to stay here and l'll try to make them understand their position.
Sadie: Well, Anna, I am out of it, but you are taking a chance with your job.
Anna: That is all right. Mr. Levittan is not the only man to work for, and you don't have to worry for me. I can stand up any time for my rights.

Victoria Grala
Shop & School, 1937

Drama in a workers' school is the means through which workers can show their thoughts and feeling about themselves and about their world, by working out impromptu skits and plays. The whole theme can be very simple-merely a loose thread tying the production together, but the incidents portrayed in it must spring out of the lines of the workers and should be planed by the group as a whole.

This group planning of a play is the tremendous value educationally, because although it gives the individual the chance for self-expression, it makes the individual's place only one part in a movement which is greater than himself.

There is also psychological value if the entire school works out a play, because although small units in the school have separate parts in it, there comes an emotional feeling of unity because no one individual or group is left out.

This was what the play "Who are the Workers" has done for the school. It was a play in which the entire school was participating and yet there were separate sections in it which stood out individually, such as the pantomimes which each industrial group put on.

Drama can have great individual value, for the public can see what workers create themselves when they plan to do a thing together. There is nothing stereotyped about the production if it comes from life itself, as did Rose Travis's play, "The Whistle Blows," because the audience is forced to recognize the truth of the life situation and cannot help but be impressed by the sincerity with which the play is enacted.

But of what value would drama be if it did not do something intellectually for the worker, who is the actor? Workers' drama forces him to face problems and to think clearly in an attempt to solve them. This is effective because his thoughts are carried over into problems of his own life and he is able to see solutions more easily for having thought more clearly. The play about the Supreme Court is the best example of this. Another good example was the play "War Drums."

Lastly, there is the drama which teaches a lesson, but which is an effective combination of various forms of art, such as dancing or group speaking or singing. In "The Pied Piper" we saw the effect of the individual dance with a background of group chanting.

A unique and somewhat startling technique which was used over and over again in our drama this summer, was that of actors speaking from different parts of the audience. This was first experimented with in "The Whistle Blows". Later on in "Who are the Workers" we found that we could use all parts of the audience as well as the balcony to bring this out. Then again, in "War Drums," the same technique was used. We discovered that an emotional feeling of unity resulted from such drama, because we were sympathetic with those audience actors and felt in our own hearts what they themselves were speaking in the play. Then again, it broke the sharp line which is usually found between actors and audience and we were as one with the players.

Some of the plays, and parts of plays that our director, Esther Peterson, thought were most essential, are included in this magazine. They were chosen not only for their content, but for the effectiveness with which we can use them when we want to put on a play. Then again, they can be used as guides for any original plays we may want to put on ourselves, without using the same subject matter that was used at Bryn Mawr this summer.

Appendix to Chapter Five:  Poetry and Essays about Literature

“A Review of Maxwell Anderson’s ‘Winterset’”
Helena Cooper
Shop& School, 1936

To my mind, there is no doubt that the play “Winterset” by Maxwell Anderson is built around the Sacco-Vanzetti case.  Most people remember these famous trials and executions which took place in Massachusetts .

Sacco and Vanzetti were radical leaders in their communities.  Sacco was a shoe worker in Stoughton and Vanzetti was a fish hawker in Plymouth .

In 1920 a man named Salsedo was arrested on “suspicion of radicalism” and crashed to death from an eleventh story window of the Department of Justice New York City.

Sacco and Vanzetti were arranging for a protest meeting when they were suddenly arrested on a street car in Brockton .

The following day they were charged with robbery and murder, and accused of being members of a gang of motor bandits who had committed a robbery, and killed a paymaster and his bodyguard in South Braintree .

The trial, which took place fourteen months later, lasted for seven weeks and was conducted by Judge Thayer, who was notably anti-radical.  In spite of witnesses who testified to having seen Sacco in Boston and Vanzetti in Plymouth on the day of the robbery, the jury believed the testimony of state witnesses, all of whom were in conflict with each other.  The men were found guilty and the judge sentenced them to death.

An appeal was made to Governor Alvin T. Fuller, after appeals to the higher courts had failed.  He appointed an advisory council, three men, all anti-radical and anti-alien.  He announced their final decision which was that the trial had been fair and both men must die.

In spite of nation-wide protests, Sacco and Venzetti were executed on August 22, 1927 , after seven years of alternate hope and despair.

Sacco had a family which consisted of a wife, a son, and a daughter.

Maxwell Anderson bases his play, “Winterset” around what might happen to Sacco’s son if he should ever start to investigate the death of his father.

He seems to feel that a thing like the Sacco-Vanzetti trial is a thing that does not die even with the executions of the men.  It goes on affecting the lives of everyone who was in any way connected with it.  The people in “Winterset” who are implicated besides the son are hi sweetheart,, her father and brother, the Judge in the case, and some under-world characters.

The play also points out how justice may often go astray especially where a man who has been radical in his thinking is concerned.

“Winterset” is written in verse and is one of the most interesting plays I have ever read.  The speeches are so much more effective and dramatic, written in that way.  It makes them clearer and they are very easy to understand.

I think Maxwell Anderson tried to show that important evidence was withheld in the Sacco-Vanzetti case and that the real Braintree murderers are still at large.


“Summer School Girl”
Gay McNamara
Shop & School, 1936

Bryn Mawr Summer School – you are the mixing bowl of women in industry.
To you comes shirt maker, textile worker, baker, clerk, milliner, garment worker
and countless others,
Sharing their rich experience one with the other,
Strong hands, friendly eyes, glowing faces, steady feet of girls who are workers,
Surging to Bryn Mawr from factory, kitchen, and mill.
Little, timid, conservative girls, tall, swinging, militant ones – Laughing girls, serious girls, lazy, sweet and funny girls.

Crowding into tall-backed chairs at classes.  Listening and interrupting speakers.
Smoking cigarettes and begging lights.
Running down the halls, eating meals, good naturedly grumbling.
Always eagerly discussing their problems, here and there and everywhere.
Sing, laugh, study, talk and share together summer school girls.
Each is necessary.  Strong girls, timid girls, eager and seeking all
To keep alight the lamp of Worker’s Education.

Anne Butler
Shop & School, 1936

I saw a miracle today,
A man made sky,
A moon, a sun;
I saw the daylight softly fade
Into the shades of deepest night;
I saw the stars leap into sight
Across the blue-black midnight skies;
I saw the moon, full, crescent shaped,
I saw the planets Jupiter and Mars, and Saturn with his rings;
I saw the constellations, bear and lion, swan and scorpion,
And I saw a man-made dawn,
Saw the faint rays of the sun
Touch softly and make azure blue, the blue-
Black of those midnight skies.
I saw a rosy glow of dawn creep slowly through those azure skies,
And it was morning!

I saw a miracle today.

"Depth of Contrast"
Emilie Chalupa
Shop and School, 1934

I know now when or whither it had come;
I know not if it wasn't always there;
I only feel it gnawing deeper at my heart
Till now of it I'm but a part.

I hear sweet strains of music, but I too am hearing
The Shrieky, painful cry of constant jeering.
I see no pretty silk-clad maiden, but his I see:
The dirty, torn, and wretched folk a part of me.

Harriet Spector
Shop & School, 1936

Working, working, never shirking,
Trying with all her might,
To please the one who is robbing
Her of all her human right,
The worker looks about her,
And slowly begins to see,
That all this will get her nowhere,
And never set her free,
Free from this never-ending
Struggle of toiling endlessly
Of never seeing the beauty,
And only the world of poverty.

"Reading, PA."
Mildred Kuhns
Shop & School, 1933

Autos whizzing and tearing along the pike.
Banners flying gaily, joyously in the breeze.
Strike, Strike.
People joyous, laughing.
People quiet, determined.
People, people, thousands of them,
Applauding speakers. Cheering for comrades.
Singing, fighting, working, striking for union.
My people!
My home town!

Celeste Bonsignore
Shop & School, 1937

Enthusiasm - what is it? pep?
Is it the fire or the power
That guides my every step?

Enthusiasm - now let me see -
Shall we let it sweep us off our feet
So we can't think intelligently?

Enthusiasm - ah. Yes, it's good and real
But - let us not forget
To think, as well as feel.

"That Awful Man"
Frances Wertz
Shop & School, 1938

"The Lord only knows
How that man gets me goin"!
The way he keeps throwin' my own words
Right back in my face.
One day he wanted to know
What I think democracy is.
I told him what I knew,
All about our rights and everything.
And right off the bat
He up and told me
I had no rights.
Humph! I guess I got
Just as much rights as he has.
Then he wanted to know
What is wrong with our democracy.
Well, I didn't know, exactly,
But I tried to answer.
Then he thumped on the desk,
Till the windows rattled,
And rumbled in that deep voice,
"Sister, see me at five."
What! See that awful man, alone?
God forbid!
Well, I just started goin'
As fast as my rattling knees would take me
Back to my room
To think.
This is a problem.
What shall I do?
Have a headache
Or take a chance?
I sat down, chin in hand,
And began to wonder
About that awful man.
How can I find out
Just what is right?
He gets me so mixed up.
I wonder if I do know
What democracy is.
Shall I ask him?
No, I can't do that.
He would just ask me back.
Then there's that other question
He wanted me to answer,
What is wrong with our democracy anyhow?
I'm sure I don't know.
But I must.
I must find out, but how?
I could try the library.
Maybe he would believe a book
Even though he doesn't believe me.
I went to the library
And read a book.
Then I thought a while.
I read again.
Then things began to seem
Quite a little bit clearer.
Thinking helped a lot
And I'm sure it didn't hurt me.
At least, I formed one conclusion:
That what our democracy needs
Is more people
Like that awful man.

"Life at Summer School"
Margaret Muir
Bryn Mawr Echo, 1928

Summer School life
Is often filled with strife
Just because we all have come
From a different life.
Many times we don't understand,
What it's all about
Somebody gets hot headed
And begins to shout.
If we'd only wait awhile
Things would turn out right
Nobody has come out here
Just to have a fight.
Let us see the other side
As often as our own
Other folks know lots of things
We can make out own.

Emma Bernhardt
Bryn Mawr Echo, 1928

The class in economics decided on a test
To study all Utopias and take out what was best.
After reading on the subject, all the books which were well known.
We decided then, to build a Utopia of our own.

Mr. Werne went out a seeking, and he found in course of time
The island of Kaintuck, in a rich and temperate clime.
A million population, smart folks like you or me
Spread over twenty cities, and all the people free.

Economic worries, very strangely to relate,
Are unknown in Utopia, model nineteen-twenty-eight,
And so the men and women with this much off their mind
Have time to seek most wisely, and so their true mate find.

Or course mistakes will happen, should the couple disagree
And refuse to stay together, then divorce will set them free.
Should the unfit want to marry, the Kaintuckians gently try
To persuade them to stay single, and by and by the unfit die.

Birth control and how to use it is accessible to all
Those who want a lot of babies, and those who want their families small
Men and women are both equal, no one less, no one more.
For they understand each other as they never did before.

The children from divorces, and the orphaned children too
Will be nursed by those who love them and who knew just what to do.
Mothers are not tied to housework and to babies all the day.
They have time for work, for pleasure, for study and for play.
Each family has a home with a kitchen or without,
And a common dining room for the thin and for the stout.
Trees and flowers, in a garden, furnishings good and plain
For the people are intelligent and they don't care for show or gain.

A power system, new, for heating, keeps you warm while you sleep
No ashes, fuss or worry, about coal with prices steep.
The walks are never slippery, snow's shoveled off most clean.
Machines at their disposal for the jobs most hard and mean.

No wages there or money, envy, hate or bitter greed
In Utopia all are equal, they can have whate'er they need.
Factories are beautiful, not at all the sights of old.
Workers, healthy and upstanding, they are fine and brave and bold.

They are the workers and the masters, they have the right to say
When to work, how to work, they have four hour day.
The control of their production is done "per Stuart Chase"
They couldn't find a better, so left it on this base.

Free speech so common is, they need not jail no "cops"
No criminals or "hoboes", seeking winter "feeds" or "flops".
No penalty of death for them, they do not have the "chair"
Electric power is used by them to lighten work and care.

They have no army there nor navy, war glory leaves them cold.
They honor artists and poets, researchers young and old.
They have taken off the padlocks and have opened wide the door
Of all research and learning as they never did before.

Professors, men of science, they can lecture as they please.
For they fear not press nor bankers, and are very much at ease.
Narrow creeds and customs, they are rotting on the shelf.
For in our good gold island, you have the right to be yourself.

And when all the men of science agree no harm there is in beer
The Kaintuckians will have it and drink it without fear.
But if the men of science decide that drugs will mean your fall
Our Kaintuckians will forbid them and they won't be made at all.

They don't ban your recreation, you can ride or flirt or hike,
Each one in this Utopia can do what he would like.
There is no idle class, no shirkers, each one has work to do.
Now this is our Utopia, we hope you like it too.

"All Through the Day"
Anna Segal
Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, 1930

R-r-r goes my machine as I step on the treadle. -
It gets warmer and warmer B
I wipe my forehead with the back of my hand
And look out of the window C
I see the blue sky and the grey clouds floating above,
And then I notice the tops of poplar trees
Softly swaying in the breeze,
My heart fills with longing.
I turn my head away and begin to sing,
And it seems to me that the machinery
Gets noisier still.

"Worker's Heart Like a Storm"
Milly La Pointe
Shop and School, 1934

Did you ever watch a storm
With uncertain fear in you heart
Knowing well the storm was coming?
Fierce was the wind and the rain;
Thunder roared: lightning flashed C
Darkness. C Then what turmoil!
A worker's heart is like a storm
After a day in search of work
When hungry, tired and spent,
Wearied, she turns, homeward bound.
As suddenly and softly out of the clouds
Appears the sun with brightening rays
Changing the world to its glory
Increasing instantly the joy of living,
So with a job, a home, the right to live
The worker's heart is joyful again.

"A Dream"
Anna Mock
Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, 1930

I dreamed a dream - of quiet halls
Of gardens fair - and vine-clad walls.
Of sacredness, as twilight falls
On you, Bryn Mawr!

I knew the thrill of friendship's bands;
Communion too - of other lands,
In work, in play, in clasp of hands -
Through you Bryn Mawr!

I marveled at traditions old;
I learned of greater things than gold.
My life was cast in finer mold
By you, Bryn Mawr!

I dreamed; but then my dream of you
Just proves that sometimes dreams come true.
And finer than my dream was, too,
Are you, Bryn Mawr!

"The City"
Helen D. Meltzer
Echoes of the Bryn Mawr Summer School, 1927

I never walk on spacious lawns but what I think of slums,
Nor ever enter marble halls yet hear machinery hums,
I dare not think of feasting hordes but hungry faces see,
Costly garments, bodies softly bound; no naked children free.
Life and truth so twisted, bent - for such ugly creeds -
No dreams of flowers, birds or trees but like a monster lies
The city, where that grim Reaper plies.
Where men are cast in dungeons dark for voicing faith or vision
And labor feels the lash of power and gropes for light and reason.

"Night Shift"
Gay McNamara
Shop and School, 1936

The Stars are shutting off their lamps
And slipping down the skies,
When the girls who work the night-shift
Are still a-making ties.

Hunched at machines in flickering light
That paints their faces gray,
Till the colors of yellow and blue cravats
Are a mocking bright array.

Still girls must sit and stitch and sew
And hardly pause for sighs.
No starlight for the night-shift,
Whose job is a-making ties.

"After Reading Carl Sandburg's Mayor of Gary"
Agnes Bole
Shop & School, 1933

Oh, I've things to do to the mayor of Gary.
I've his face to smudge with sweat and grime;
I've his pants to change to fit the clime
Of a blacksmith's shop.
I've his arms to pockmark with slivers of steel
That fly from the forge - and the scars never heal.
I've to change his time from a twelve-hour day
To one of which he'll never say,
"Workmen steal time on the job in Gary".
I've his muscles to harden so that he might
Feed the hungry furnace from morn to night.
I've a boss to hang over him and urge him on,
Cursing and swearing when things go wrong.
Oh, I've things to do to the mayor of Gary,
But the working man - he's all right.
Besides - he wouldn't be happy in pants of pure white.

Appendix to Chapter Six: Poetry of the Body by Summer School Students
"An Unusual Day in the Factory"
Esther Blatt
Bryn Mawr Light, 1926

The elevator stopped at the seventh floor,
I got out as usual.
"Mendel's Hat Factory," read the sign,
The whirr, whirr, whirr, of the machines greeted me,
Then voices shouting above the clamor.
I felt someone in back of me.
"Ah, Miss! You're late!"
The usual voices with its usual gruffness,
"Only five minutes," I said
Turning to face the voice.
Here was a boss of the regular kind,
One could see him whip in hand,
Driving the slaves into submission.
His cold grey eyes followed me to my seat.
"Never mind your impudence!
I need hats, straw hats,
And plenty too!"

Hats were piled high on long tables,
An indication of a strenuous day.
Needles were being pushed in and out;
Scissors were going snip, snip,
Bare hats were changed to trimmed ones;
Creation, the girls like to call it.
Soon another girls came in,
She too received the same greeting.
I noticed a strained expression on her face,
As if she were the bearer of a secret.
"What is it, why the mysterious look?"
I asked,
She held back awhile,
Reluctant to speak,
Then pointed dramatically to an empty chair beside her.
"Oh Anna, is her father still sick?"
I ventured.
"Sick, no, no more, dead."
"Dean!" came from the girls in chorus.
"When?" "How did it happen?"
"So sudden!" "What a pity!"
Exclamation after exclamation,
Question after question,
Addressed to no one in particular.
Hats were thrown on the table,
Scissors went clattering to the floor,
Needles were stuck in girls' blouses.
In the midst of the confusion,
A demand was heard,
"What's the matter, what's a matter?"
He stood angrily at the head of the table;
The girls looked up,
Not sheepishly down at their work as usual.
A girl answered rather solemnly,
Hoping to touch his heart a little,
"It's Anna's father, he died!"
"Hm," He paused for a moment.
"Well, I need hats, straw hats,
And plenty too!"

"Scales of Injustice"
Jennie Previti
Shop and School, 1933

Once a man named Christ was on this earth;
For a better world he tried.
Those in power did not like it,
So on the cross he died.
Italian Giordano Bruno tried
To let humanity see
How wonderful is science;
And so with death met he.
Eugene Debs of the U.S.A.
Dared to speak against war;
So they locked him up in prison
Where folks could hear him no more.
And Sacco and Vanzotti tried
In a State that calls itself fair,
The working men to organize;
They went to the electric chair.
Mooney and Billings were also men
Who wanted unionism;
Wall Street thinks it is safe for
Such men to stay in prison.
How can we hope for a better world
When we tolerate injustice
And let capitalists say they are
The survival of the fittest?
But if united we would be
And learn to fight against them,
Our leaders would not need to die,
And we'd be led to freedom.

Ethel Gregory
Shop and School, 1930

I like to hear the happy song of birds and bees,
I like to see the tall, green , stately trees,
I'd like to sit by some babbling brook
In some secluded shady nook.
But all these things I can never do,
My leisure hours are much too few.
I must look at tall brick walls,
In whose air no bird's note falls.
I can't hear the song of bees, or hear the wind blow through the trees.
I must stay against my will
In some noisy Textile mill.

Ethel Gregory
Shop and School, 1936

The clang, clang, clang of the noisy loom,
The swish, swish, swish of the sweeper's broom,
I close my eyes, I think, I can't,
All I hear is the ceaseless chant
Of whirring wheels and flying spindles.
I listen awhile, then within me kindles
A hatred for all that my eye can see,
I stop and I think, why must this be?

"Forever Step"
Mildred Kuhns
Shop and School, 1933

It's hot. God, it's hot.
Feet burning, stinging, aching,
Going, going, going in an endless
Step, step, step.
Clothes sticking in a wilted damp way
to my sweated body.
First one mill, then another, and yet
Dark, gloomy mills, sunny mills,
monster mills.
Not alike and yet alike,
For on each door a card -
No Help Wanted.
So I turn my body, my tired, aching body,
In search of another, and yet another mill,
While my feet step, step, step.

"A Determination"
Violet Wilson
Shop and School, 1933

Get to work, get to work, get to work,
Never stop, never stop, never stop -
They seem to be taking their spite out o me.
O machines, my masters, pray what may it be;
You can live, I cannot, you can live,
I cannot, you can live, I cannot.
They answer my prayer in sad mockery.

Oh! What good is my life if my masters you'll be,
Even the living should not master me.
Pray isn't there something I might do for you,
That I might have freedom and my living too?

What to do, what to do, what to do,
Nothing now, nothing now, nothing now.
O machine, you shall free me, to that I will see,
Or else I shall fight you throughout eternity.
Fight you must, till you're dead, fight you must,
Till you're dead, fight you must, till you're dead.
How can I down them that I might go free?

"My Machine"
Jean Bloom
Bryn Mawr Outcrop, 1929

I am so lonesome for you,
Oh, my machine,
You are like a wanton woman
Who lures men to their destruction,
Yet whom they cannot deny,
Even though they know the
Fickleness of her heart.
What power have you over me?
I know that you will work
As well for another hand.

An how I hate you,
Oh, my machine.
Hate the hold you have
Over me, and yet also do I
Admire you.
Up and down go your fine
True drills, round and round
They turn. What hand could
Do such an accurate job?

What a brain it was
To conceive you,
Oh weird monster
Beyond our ancestor's dreaming.
What a hand to mold your
Exactness? Yet like a soulless
Woman you crush those
Who would care for you.

"The Song of a Factory Worker"
Ruth Collins
Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1924

Red-brick building
With many windows
You're like a vampire
For wherever I go,
You know
I'm coming back to you.
You have held many under your spell,
Many who have sewed
Their life away,
Within your walls.
You say to me,
Oh, you may leave
But you'll come back.
You'll miss
The whur, whur of the machinery
The click of the tacker,
The happy laughter of the girls,
Telling jokes.
You'll miss the songs,
They sing,
And the tired-eyed ones,
Watching the clock.
The pieceworkers,
Sewing fast
So fast till it makes you dizzy
To watch.
(They haven't time to look up.)
And under the skylight,
The red-haired girl
When the sun sets her head aflame
You'll miss the noise and the bustle and the hurry.
And you'll come back,
You'll see.
All this and more
You say to me,
Red-brick building
With many windows.

"The triumph of the Age"
Fannis Luchkofsky
Bryn Mawr Daisy, 1924

With his magic wand the conductor stilled the sounds of the multitude.
Joyful laughter, loud talking, lovers' whispers, children's voice,
All yielded to the coming sound of the music.
Higher, higher rolled the sounds of the bugles, horns and trumpets,
It was a march triumphant!
And the tramping, marching, shouts filled the night with ringing sounds.
But the silence of the night was not disturbed by all these sounds,
With all its wonders from above it seemed to listen to the music.

What is this sudden mass of mighty sounds? Who is this approaching giant,
Whose tremendous heavy breathing drowns the sounds of the music?
of the trumpets and the bugles?
The engine of a freight train -
Moving proudly at the head of an enormous load of heavy freight,-
The engine took possession of the night.
With its mighty thundering on the rails
The engine conquered all sweet sounds,
And the night no more was listening.
It was not the magic wand of the conductor,
Not the voices of the multitudes that destroyed the peaceful night,
It was the engine,
The triumph of this age!

"O, Machinery!"
Clara Steller
Shop and School, 1928

How beautiful the construction of you, O, Machinery!
It is very hard to count your endless screws.
The things that you produce,--the people would never be able to reach that high wave.

When I see you moving from one furnace to another,--
Automatically open the little door, throw in some metal, and close it,
When I see you turning out from a piece of orange-colored steel shaft,
When I see the lathe making the steel round and shiny, I am really enthusiastic about it;
I am proud of the 20th Century, how it has reached such a high degree of civilization.

But when I move further through the factory,
Looking at the product, at its fruit,--
An eight-inch gun,
I am getting disappointed deeply in my heart,

Where are you, Engineers, you who have invented these machines?
Why did you spend so many years in the colleges?
Why did you spend so many nights in making plans for the various bridges?
Were your intentions that they should be destroyed by these guns?

You Workers, why are you making these guns; and for whom?
To kill your brothers and comrades who are working for existence like you?
I think it is time, O Workers, for you to control these machines,
Time to wake up and turn around these guns in the opposite direction.

"Impressions of a Ford Factory"
Edith Daum
Shop and School, 1930

The rattling of wheels,
Everything moving.
Chase the machines,
Catch up with the belt.
And the belt is moving,
Moving continually, moving mechanically.
There is no time to stop and breathe.
To think?
Why, that's out of the question.
You are a machine
And you have to catch up with that monster, the belt.

Look out, there is a wheel coming along.
Bend your head, there is a fender above you.
Workers young and workers old,
All trying to catch up with the belt.

And as to skill, why that's too old-fashioned.
No need for that.
We have a new system -
Speed up, rationalization.
Just attend to your screws;
Another worker will attend to the next one.
Screw after screw.
Hurry! Hurry!
Within forty-five minutes the machine must be done.

A man fell down.
That's not important,
Don't look around, catch up.
He'll be replaced by another one,
For aren't the streets full of men waiting for jobs?

Speed up! Speed up!
This is the symbol of Ford's efficiency.

Rose Papp
Shop and School,1931

Youth stands on a hillside
Amid the swaying trees and flowers,
Her head thrown back,
Letting the wind play with
the golden hair
Arms outstretched to a world
of gayety.
Now and then a ripple of
laughter floats o'er the breeze.
There youth stands
Dreaming of great things
to come
She builds her castles one
by one until the sky is
covered with them,
Youth's dream castles.
With a start youth awakens.
What does she behold?
Slowly the swaying trees and
flowers fade.
With a crash the air is
filled with smoke, noise and dirt.
She looks on as the huge
Wheel of industry crashes
into her castles.
Now they are nothing
but a heap of ruins.
Young gazes at them
With pleading eyes she turns
to the world for help,
World busy with many
things, glances at her
Then turns aside.
Youth takes her place
behind the huge wheel,
Helps make it turn faster and faster,
The wheel of industry.
Time goes on.
Youth now tired and sad
Turns to the world again
and asks,
"Oh, how long shall this
go on?"

Helen Sharkey
Shop and School, 1931

I see sometimes in my dreams
Vast differences it seems
Instead of my clanking, clanging press
I see hills and woods with birds at rest,
And instead of the wheels that always turn
I see the radiance of the sunsets burn.

Nor do I try to hear the roaring powers;
Instead I hear the hush of the flowers.

But just for a moment do these molded dreams last
For I hear a noise far worse than the past;
And my dreams all shatter, again I hear
Clanging, turning, roaring and a voice within ear-
(Saying "get busy").

"In the Factories"
Adeline Margott
Shop and School, 1932

Whir, whir, whirr-rr,
That is what machines say.
Tut tut, tuta, ta tut,
The same noise every day.
Clang, clang, clang, cling clang,
A metallic noise which resounds.
Bang, bang, bang ----- bang bang -
Even our thoughts they drown.
Whir, whirr, cling, clang, bang -
They go on forever it seems,
Tut tut tuta tutut ta -
Endless noises which haunt our dreams.

Nellis Bobolovick
Shop and School, 1932

Oh hum, another day of work.
Machines screaming,
Screeching voices trying to be heard above
the thunder and roar of machines,
With a sudden course holler of "Shut up!
and do your work or another day off this week."
Same thing day in and day out;
Same voices; same machines;
But - not always the same people.
Why can't we workers do something beside
The same thing day in and day out?

"A Determination"
Violet Wilson
Shop and School, 1933

Get to work, get to work, get to work,
Never stop, never stop, never stop -

They seem to be taking their spite out on me.
O machines, my masters, pray what may it be.

You can live, I cannot, you can live,
I cannot, you can live, I cannot,
They answer my prayer in sad mockery.

Oh! What good is my life if my masters you'll be,
Even the living should not master me.
Pray isn't there something I might do for you,
That I might have freedom and my living too?

What to do, what to do, what to do,
Nothing new, nothing new, nothing new.

O machine, you shall free me, to that I will see,
Or else I shall fight you throughout eternity.

Fight you must, till you're dead, fight you must,
Till you're dead, fight you must, till you're dead.

How can I down them that I might go free?

Anges Bole
Shop and School, 1933

Start up the music, you machines of labor
Now that the lever has been put into place.
Come now, you belts, revolve around your pulleys,
Make the temp faster, the silence erase.

See here, you gears, combine your speaking chorus,
Entwine the grunt and the hum into one.
Get going, you spindles, whiz into action,
Set the bobbins singing ore the music is done.

Tune up, all you guttering oily motors;
Drum out your song, let each bolt take part.
Get going now together in one grand crescendo.
The worker is ready whenever you start.

"Earthly Hell"
Mildred Kuhns
Shop and School, 1933

Black inky clouds of sulphurous smoke,
Dirt, oil, soot,
Steps, railings covered with it;
Furnaces boiling, bubbling, seething,
The giant rolling of cranes overhead,
The grumbling and roaring of rollers over red hot pillars of steel.
Splashing, sizzling, water,
Heat, heat, smothering heat.
Men calling to other men,
Their voices unheard, understanding only motion -
Hell on earth. Steel.

"Why Minds are Dulled"
Margaret Darin
Shop and School, 1934

The humming of motors,
The clanking of chair,
With hammers a-pounding
Just one mad refrain;
Electric trucks rushing
With breakneck speed
To bring to the sections
Whatever they need.

Brains that are aching
And backs that are breaking
From grind and turmoil;
Hearts that are heavy
And footsteps that lag
Towards home from their toil;
Just for a while, then back again
To humming motors and clanking of chain.

Hit Counter 10/10/04