Industrialization at a price . . .

On a hot summer day, we ventured back in history, on a day-trip to Lowell, Massachusetts.

A small boat took us through part of the 1796 Pawtucket Transportation Canal, with locks so old, their levers are maneuvered above us by National Park volunteers. Green trees reflect in the water marking a beautiful scene. But we’re told that once these waters were polluted thick with textile dyes as industrial capitalists captured hydro-energy from the Merrimack River falls to turn belts and wheels on thousands of textile machines.

In the Boott Cotton Mill Museum, we stand in a long factory room, filled machines, just as they were in the 1830s. Only three of the hundreds are turned on and the noise is deafening. We drip with sweat and imagine women as young as fifteen, standing in long dresses, no electricity for fans, tied to machines fourteen hours a day, six days a week.

sweltering summer
dogs pant laboriously
tethered to leashes

Frank hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Since today is Labor Day in the U.S., a day to celebrate workers, he asks us to write a haibun (2 or 3 paragraphs of prose — cannot be fiction; followed by a traditional haiku with reference to a season) that is somehow about labor. Canada celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September and more than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1.

Photos and video from our recent day trip to Lowell, MA. An amazing step back in time. The Mill Girls, as they came to be known, were some of the first individuals to stage a strike against unfair wages and conditions. They were recruited to this factory city from rural farms in the nearby countryside. Companies required them to stay in the company boarding houses, attend church on Sunday, and live by “the bells” which woke them befroe dawn each morning, signalled meal times, and times to report to the floor. When Mill Girls left their jobs, waves of immigrants came to Lowell, working side-by-side with locals. Lowell did not stay with the times, keeping the hydrology-run factories until they all left for other parts of the country and Lowell fell on hard times. Warehouses were vacant and fell to disrepair. Senator Tsongas, from Lowell, together with Congress, established Lowell as a National Park and the city was “reborn” so to speak, rehabbing and restoring itself as a place to preserve history. An amazing place to visit!

Lost Bell

School was officially out for the summer. But somehow, Bell was lost. A precocious first grader, tall for her age, she’d ended up in an empty hall. I can’t miss my bus! Ma will be so mad! Where is everyone???

She saw a weird machine-thing hanging on the wall. Climbing on it, standing tiptoe, her hand just reached the window. Oops. The black handle-thing fell off. The machine buzzed. Bell pounded on the window and screamed for help. Standing by her small charges in the driveway, Mrs. Verizon heard the ruckus. She hurried inside to find the distraught Bell.

phone-booth-jhc

Word Count: 100  Written for Friday Fictioneers where the inimitable Rochelle Wisoff-Fields presents a weekly photographic motivator for flash fiction (a story of 100 words or less). Photo credit: J. Hardy Carroll. 

Did you know?

Long before Orwell’s 1984
big brother watching you
drones and satellite stations,
there were pigeons in the sky.
Cameras upon their chests,
they reported fowl news
to those who knew.

Jobs stolen,
usurped by technocrats,
they simply gather now
where cracked corn is tossed.
And when they do take flight,
their only sign of rebellion
is the occasional shit upon your head.

julius_neubronner_with_pigeon_and_camera_1914 449px-dr_julius_neubronner_patented_a_miniature_pigeon_camera_activated_by_a_timing_mechanism_1903 800px-pigeoncameras1

Written in response to Miz Quickly‘s posting of the following article from The Public Domain Review:  Dr Julius Neubronner’s Miniature Pigeon Camera
In 1908 Dr Julius Neubronner patented a miniature pigeon camera activated by a timing mechanism. The invention brought him international notability after he presented it at international expositions in Dresden, Frankfurt and Paris in 1909–1911. Spectators in Dresden could watch the arrival of the camera-equipped carrier pigeons, and the photos were immediately developed and turned into postcards which could be purchased.  Photos from same article.  Hope I gave you a smile with this! 🙂