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MOST YOUTHFUL LABOR ONION IN U.S.
Organized by Bright Boys and Girls Concerned in the Great Cotton Mill Strike in New England—One of Their Leaders Expounds His Up-to-Date Views. There is one phase of the great strike Bow going on ln New England that has ■o far escaped attention. It is that the boys and girls share In the contest. Of the 40,000 cotton mill workers in the cities of New Bedford and Fall River, Where the strike is on In greatest force at present, there are at least 10,000 un der twenty, and half that number are mere children, not sixteen years of age. These young workmen are as enthus iastic ln the fight against a reduction of pay as are any of the older hands. They were even more ready to go out on strike; for being young and not hav ing outgrown a fondness for holidays, they did not object to the prospect of a rest from their unceasing round of toil. The backboys have probably the youngest Labor Union In the .country, for the average age of its members cannot be more than sixteen or seven teen. But trades unionism Is born and bred in these youngsters: indeed, It was brought over from Lancashire by their parents, many of whom came from the great cotton spinning distrlot of Eng land. Most of the boys are well versed In the arguments of the labor leaders, and can reel them off at an astonishing rate. Here is what the secretary of the Union, a bright-eyed Englishman of eighteen, gave as his idea of what that organization will do for the boys: "The doffers and backboys have al ways been put upon because the man agers and superintendents think it per fectly safe to dock or discharge one of the boys. They look nt it this way: 'There are plenty of others to take their places, as almost any strong boy can do the work; so we can make them crawl as much as we want to.' But when they find that we have a Union ELLEN OSBORN'S FASHION LETTER. New York, Feb. 25 —The little dress maker and the engaged girl made a tour of the shops yesterday. Both were happy; they were shopping for the trousseau. The little dressmaker took the engaged girl from counter to coun ter and showed her "woven air" and "woven wind," delicate and transpar ent summer tissues, more filmy than any muslin. They looked at "microbe" nets with fine, Irregular meshes, and at striped and plalded silks patterned like "go-bang" boards and combining reds, greens, blues, and yellows so vivacious ly that nothing short of a breakfast food advertisement could countenance thejr colore. The little dressmaker caused the en gaged girl to notice how soft and pli able are the spring wool goods for easy draping, and how popular is the old fashioned tarlatan. They pulled over stuffs for day wear and evening wear till the counters ran pink in twenty shades and forty materials and dripped with Roman and Russian reds and cranberry jelly color. The little dress maker tiptoed her way to certain rooms where new French models were to be peeped at, and let the engaged girl set how long the shoulder seam 1b now to be cut, so that the modern athlete and Amazon may give her muscles the He with an aesthete's sloping shoulders. They inspected sleeves severely tight and bare of ornament, and stood before skirts planned to give a slim, picket fence result, by means of trailing draperies, closely fitted. They looked at the revived Yak laces, at the huge picture buttons that come with the Louis styles and at hundreds of other things It would take a page of type to mention; then the little dress maker cried out ln her enthusiasm: "To think that I used to be little 'Fetch-and-Carry" in a black Jersey, and a white apron watching you meas ured and now I myself am going to make you all these bea-u-u-tlful gowns!" So they sat down at a round table in a restaurant to consider samples, and the little dressmaker sketched and added figures and rubbed out and made more sketches on the corners of the bill of fare. "I don't believe you can do better," she said, with brows knit and pencil poised, "than to have your travelling dress of this new royal blue camel'B hair. All my customers say their hus bands like blue better than any other color." The engaged girl blushed and dim pled. ''I'd have quite a simple French tailor and will all stand together, they will be more careful what they say or do to us. We don't suffer much from fines, as some of the others do; our wages are so low that if they took much away in fines there wouldn't be anything left. But with our Union we shall be able to demand as good treat ment as the other workmen receive, and we sha'n't be discharged except for some good cause. Besides, if we can get an organization started with money in the treasury, we can hold out better when there is a strike or lock oat." There are at present about two hun dred members In the Backboys' Union, but It Is expected that when they get started their membership will grow rapidly. Whatever outsiders may think of their association, it Is certain that the boys know what they are about The Backboys' Parade. and that they believe tho Union will bring them many advantages. The question that naturally rises on hearing of this army of youngsters among the factory operatives is: What on earth do so many children find to do in the mills? The answer is simple enough to anybody who has seen them in operation, for it is a fact that a large part, of the work of turning out the millions of yards of cotton cloth that are made in this country every year is done by boys and girls. They are em ployed to assist the spinners who run the mules and the weavers at the looms. Some of them are carders, em ployed in the lighter work of almost every department. A "mule," remem ber, is the great frame, twenty feet or more wide, on which the cotton fibre is converted into thread, or yarn, as it is called in the mills. It moves back wards and forwards on an iron track, LOS ANGELES HERALD) SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 27, 1898. drawing out the fleecy cotton Into fine strands which are reeled off to big spools, ready for the looms. On the looms these threads are unwound, and are united by the swift moving shuttles to form the fabrics which we see piled up in the stores. Both in the spinning and the weaving rooms each operative attends to sev eral machines and has one or two as sistants, who are boys or girls. These are, in a sense, apprentices; they are learning the trade and In time are likely to become spinners and weavers themselves. Like apprentices, too, they do a great deal of work and receive very small pay. As one old workman put It, "there's a lot of leg work In a cotton mill;" and most of this falls to the share of the youngsterß. They run for bobbins, help watch the looms lo see that the yarn is unreeling properly, and in gen eral do everything that the workman tells them to. They don't often get a chance to try running tho looms or frames until they have been a long time in the mill; for the operative is wary of letting the ambitious young ster touch his own part of the work, since any flaw in the cloth costs him part of his wages. The doffers, backboys, and helpers of all kinds who work in the cotton mills have no easy life. They are up at six In the morning and away to the mill at 6:.10. There they remain until six at night, not even going outside the factory during the noon hour unless they happen to live near by. This is their regular round every day but Sat urday, when the mill closes at four, and Sunday, when they do not work at all. For their fifty-eight hours of work they receive $2.50. or possibly $3.oo—about four cents per hour! They all come from poverty stricken homes, where father, mother and chil dren all work at the looms; and their home life In the bare and dreary tene ments is scarcely more pleasant than the hours they spend in the mill. Some of their lives make very sad stories. The superintendent of schools in Fall River told me of one such case. In the night school, where the boys and girls who work during the day have a chance to learn to read and write, a composition was set, and the scholars were asked to write on the subject: "The Happiest Day of My Life, and What Made It So." When the papers were handed in It was found that one boy had written under the title: "I can not write on this subject, as I never had a happy day in my life." The case was looked up, and the boy's state ment was found to be perfectly true. He was a cripple, the only support of an invalid father; and both father and son had to live on the pitiable wages that the little cripple earned. I am glad to say that, as soon as the facts became known, the boy's cheerless life was gladdened by at least one happy day which he is likely to remember. But in spite of the hopeless lot of a few, most of the boys and girls who work in the mills are ambitious and full of fun, like others of their age. It is amusing to an older person to note the business-like ways which the boys quickly take on. As has been stated, the backboys of Fall River—which Is the capital of the cotton-spinning in dustry in this country and contains 30,000 operatives—have formed a Union, (iowiis for a Spring Trosseau. and I attended one of its meetings. The boys had evidently learned from the older men how to conduct a meeting, for everything was done in due order. It was decided to ask the Weavers' Union for recognition,—which was af terward granted. This means that while the strike lasts the backboys as well as other workers will be able to draw on the full treasuries of the older associations. In case there Is a strike In some other district after they go back to work, they may be asked to contribute twenty-five cents per week from their wages to help support those strikers; but so firm is their faith In the benefits of their Union that they will willingly give up one-tenth of their scanty earnings for its sake. Copyright, 18H8, by Bacheller Syndicate. BAD BOYS MADE ELECTRICIANS. The State of New York has opened the path of learning that leads to science to the boys for whom it Is forced to care. As a result of this, the electric department of the State Indus trial School at Rochester is a constant object lesson to those who believe that l>oys who have once started upon a life that pointed toward an evil ending can not he made good citizens. It was a good deal of a venture at first, but every day is now showing the wisdom of the movement. The elec trical machinery that furnishes the electric light for this institution is prac tically operated entirely by boy elec tricians, there being, of course, several instructors to give the boys counsel and be present in ease of an emergency. When the plant was first put in it furnished 1,500 ligihts for the buildings, but this number was increased to over 3,000, and the source of light from a 15 --horse-power motor to four 5-horse power, one 15-horse-power, one 10-horse power and two 2-Worse-power motors. The additional motors, with the excep tion of the 10-horse-power, were all de signed and built at the school by the boys, and all are giving everyday ser vice. These boys, most of them declared in corrigible when they were sent to the school, set up and aligned a 50-horse power engine. They also changed the electric wires from overhead to under ground, and conducted the operation with such care that no shut down of the plant was necessary,—a feat which would have reflected credit on skilled electricians. The experience of the boys is made as varied as possible. The repairing donf is as different as the many electrical appliances call for. Every bit of this, except the repairing of the testing In struments, is done by the boys. This includes repairs of motors, the wiring of chandeliers, the rewiring of new de partments, caring for bell circuits, re pairs on arc lamps and the trimming of the same. Not only do the boys per form all the work in the electrical field proper, but all that is directly connect ed with it as well. This Includes en gine work, caring for fans that are run by motors, and the wiping and clean ing of machinery in the power house. The cardinal principle of the Instruc tors is to trust the boys. Much of the work is placed entirely In their hands. With experience grained and under proper instruction, they have handled many tasks entirely alone and greatly to the satisfaction of the management of the school. The result of all this is that every boy whom Jit is found has a bent in the direction of electrical work is. given an opportunity to develop along this j line. The results have been astonish ing; and even now, a number of the boys who went to the school hopeless and without ambition bid fair to be come electricians of a high order. Copyright, IS9S. by Bacheller Syndicate. MOUNTAIN BUILDERS Dmidicaf Ants Erect the Biggest Structure in Proportion to Their Size of Anu Creature on Earth. COL. JOHN HOBBS DESCRIBES AN AUSTRALIAN EXPERIENCE, Man looks at the pyramids of Egypt or the Eiffel Tower, then at himself, and marvels at the massive proportions of these works when compared with the size of the builder. The druidical ants of Australia are not so conceited. They haven't time for conceit when at work upon their gigantic mounds. Yet there isn't a creature upon the earth which constructs a larger work in proportion to its size tha.t (io these Indefatigable tollers. A traveller who was new to the bush gown, If I were you, with a smart little open jacket effect, so as to vary the toilet easily by a variety of blouses. Then, of course, you want a skirt that won't fro out of fashion quickly. No body can cut one in these lightning change days; but the drop skirt with full length overskirt will last as long as anything, and, probably, cut over. Would you have black braid trimming or black and metal? You'll want a small black 'Marquise' hat to corre spond; I'd have very pale La France roses on it, with a largo black bird." "No; no bird;" the engaged girl shook her head, blushingly. "Dick—l mean Mr. Spring Bridegroom—has made me promise not to wear birds; he says fur, feathers and beads remind him of Lo, the poor Indian." "No fur! No beads!" The little dress maker, aghast, stopped ciphering. "Men who object to women's clothes ought to understand that men make the fashions." The engaged girl had a scrap of fine white cloth, and was holding apple green silk and Mandarin yellow againßt It alternately. "Oh," she said, absently; "you mean the great men dressmakers." "No," answered the little dressmak er; "I mean—the apple green goes bet ter, don't you think? I mean small men dressmakers, poor men-dressmakers with no more money than I have to carry out their ideas. Do you know, it's the rarest thing for a fashion to be invented by a woman?" "But," objected the engaged girl, puckering a bit of black silk and laying it beside the white and apple green; "I thought that actresses " "Not a bit of It," said the little dress maker. "Men in Paris whom nobody ever hears of spend their slack time of the year thinking out novelties. They take their fashions to the great houses, the most striking ones are bought—for a few francs often and a 'mercl, mon sieur,' for these small men dressmak ers live from hand to mouth—and there you have a style. Models of these models are sent to America; women dressmakers copy and adapt: other women like, dislike, wear. Probably every novelty we have looked at this morning was a man's fashion." The engaged girl was comparing small pieces of lace critically. "It does seem queer," she admitted without much show of interest. "Anybody would suppose, when women spend so much time on dress, they would orig inate their own fashions. There's so much talk now about money-making occupations." "There are a few women designers," the little dressmaker conceded; "if wo men have any inventive talent it ought to be a splendid field. If It weren't for Boy. I'd —I think myself you'd better settle on the string color." "I think so, too," said the engaged girl, brightening. "Now, as this dress is for really nice wear, I would have either the delicate engaged two bushmen to pilot him through the back-blocks of Queens land. They went out of their way in search of water, which was finally found in the early dusk of the evening; then they lined themselves back to wards their proper route by the caps of the hills out beyond Yandilla. These went down in the night behind the forests, and after wandering aimlessly in the dark until long after midnight, A Druidical Ant Village. they built a Are with which to dispel the dampness. They slept until the sun was high up ln the trees. Then, look grey cloth or the white or the putty color. The white? Very well. You are tall enough to stand some trimming on your skirt. I don't recommend trlftmed skirts to all my customers, even if everybody is wearing them. Suppose you have two fluffed-out ruchings of silk; set them in a deep point in front and behind, half way down. Black would be the most effective. For the waist I would have narrow ruchings of black, or of green if you prefer, to out line a square yoke of the white cloth. The rest of the bodice I would make of this apple green glace covered with string colored lace ruffles. You want close white sleeves and a folded waist band of green silk fastening at the back under a paste buckle and hanging to the ground in chiffon-trimmed sash ends. It is a great mistake to have your sash too Bhort or too wide. Long and rather narrow ones are the most becoming. As to quantities, with your skirt length—" "How can you remember any meas ures?" "How do you remember where you left off in a book? I know all the meas ures of every customer I ever fitted. But for that other calling or reception dress you wanted, what do you say to this soft, powder blue chiffon? It's not durable for daylight wear, but trous seaux aren't expected to be indestruct ible. The prettiest spring dresses in chiffon have cream-white lace ap pliques in flower patterns half way from the hem to the waistline. For the waist you would want puffed yoke and sleeves and a huge pink tulle neck bow. You don't like powder blue? Pinkish mauve then or mignonette with bow of cerise tulle. "If you need one of the spring silks for theatre wear or for daylight, take one of those fleur de velour novelties so sheeny that they look almost laminated with silver. The coral and white is wonderfully pretty. You could have a fanciful collar with coral ornaments and coral buttons. Groups of puffs or shirrings, set at wide intervals, would trim the skirt handsomely. "Of course, a tea gown. The prettiest thing you can have is a blouse and plain skirt in pink crepe de chine with darker belt of velvet;- over this a lace yoke, shaped like a short bolero, from which hangs an outside princess dress of a gauzy, transparent tissue. Then for evening dresses " But here the engaged girl said she mustn't get too tired, because her evenings belonged to "Dick" more than to dresses. So the little dressmaker swept the samples into her shopping bag and took the girl home with her to try on things bought on a previous expedition. The dressmaker's Boy, aged three, looked up at the slim young fig ure in the beautiful half finished bridal gown and said gravely. '.'You mustn't hurt it, or mamma'll whip you!" ELLEN OSBORN. Copyright, 1898, by Bacheller Syndicate. ing up, the traveller peered through the straggling low forest and exclaimed: "Why, here are the ruins of an old town!" His companions simply laughed. "Can't you see the high, broken walls there?" he demanded somewhat piqued at their levity. His anger stirred their mirth still fur ther. "Them ain't no ruins, mate; them's ant hills." "Heh!" the traveller grunted, staring at the bushmen. They were familiar enough to the first settler who had "humped his swag" and "hooked" it on those hot plains for years. The great mounds stretched up far above the lower branches of the trees. From where the traveller sat they looked like broken columns; others resembled bifurcated spires, and unfinished bastions and parapets. Little mounds squatted here and there like the drums of a Maori graveyard, broken at the top by the weather and long exposure. In tho village nearest the camp Are, there were sixty spires of these colos sal hills within a radius of two hundred yards. The tallest measured forty feet In height, and its base, which was Ir regular, had a circumference of more than eighty feet, being twenty-five feet long, and about fifteen feet thick. The others varied in height and depth, the smallest having its apex scarcely four feet above the ground. The clay which formed them was hard; the outer sur face, even after its exposure to the hot sun and heavy rains, was firm and did not crumble. These big heaps of dirt felt like solid stone when touched. The traveller had with difficulty dug into the side of one of them, and was in the act of cracking off the side of a smaller spire with a cudgel, when one of the bushmen, noticing him called out: "Say, there, mister stop that!" "Why?" the experimenter asked. "If you open that stink-pot there'll lie no use tryin' to eat in this paddock. It'll smell like mashed ants until it'll make us sick at the stomach for days." When his guides had explained the effect of the pungent fumes of the formic acid on the inquisitive "new chums" who tamper with ant-hills, their charge quickly desisted; but a de lapidated mound further on enabled his curious eye to inspect the Interior laby rinth of these engineering little insects: and the work showed an Intelligence as amazing as was the size of the outer structure. There were chambers, nests, galleries, storage rooms, and cells, which It must have taken miirions of workers years to construct. But the fortress was deserted. It had evidently been ten feet high, and the big pieces lay about like honey-combed terracot ta, much worse for wear. These monster ant-hills extended for more than fifty miles through that straggling eucalyptus forest. They are said by old "swagmen" to extend for hundreds of miles without break in the northern and western gulf country of Australia. In digging for water in the vicinity of the mounds, workmen have cut through tiers of passages at depths of from six to twenty feet, and as much as three hundred yards from the spires. Often the digging had to be abandoned for fear of contaminating the water. In one place in the Peak Downs coun try the earth had been so perforated with these ant bores that the diggers incontinently fled from the horrible ef fluvia which the earth emitted. It seems that the ants had so perfectly cemented their little subterranean pas sages that they became round flues; when cut they looked like quills of ter* racotta drawn through the earth. The appearance of this cobweb of ant tracks in the ground has led to the statement that those areas are simply a bed of ants: but this is the reverse of the fact. The ant lives only in the hills, and merely drills out the earth for building material. The traveller who investigated this subject conclud ed with the remark: "Well, Australia beats the world. It has a white ant which eats up a whole house, leaving only the outer shell, and a dark ant that eats up the earth, leaving it also a mere shell." Co#irriff_t, 1888, by Bacheller Syndicate.