Friday, September 21, 2018

Where In The City, Do You Stay?

Facade Balconies Urban House Architecture Many years ago, if you moved to the city you had a choice of two places to stay.  That is if you were a respectable young lady who wanted to earn money by working in a factory or store.

One was the YMCA or YWCA or girls chose a boarding house.  If you watch enough television shows based in the late 1800's or early to mid 1900's, these girls always stay at a boarding house.  I've been watching a show which takes place during World War II in Canada.  The single girls all stay at the local boarding house where they hang out when not working.

One will find boarding houses mentioned in literature such as when Jo March out of "Little Women" moves to the city to find a job and write, she ends up staying at a boarding house. Boarding houses were filled with strangers who lived under the same roof while sharing meals at a common table.  This was the standard accommodations for singles of the time.

Often in major cities, boarding houses filled whole neighborhoods.  There'd be boarding houses for African Americans, the Irish, Jews, and other groups so each neighborhood got named after the groups such as "little Italy". 

The use of boarding houses began growing in the 1830's and 1840's when people flooded into the cities looking for works.  They couldn't afford their own houses so they'd rent a room in a house.  Sometimes, it might be renting a room with a "gentile" family while other times it might be a room in a large building with others.

Boarding houses might be run by an private individual or they might be associated with a company.  When the Lowell textile mills opened, they provided boarding houses for their workers so they'd have a place to stay, do laundry, and have minimal meals provided.  It is estimated that between one third and one half of the population of Boston lived in boarding houses in the 1830's.

By the 1930's the boarding house was becoming a thing of the past due to improved transportation.  Before people needed to be close to their place of work but once transportation improved, people could live further out and commute in.  There are a few boarding houses that have been preserved around the country but they are gone because they've outgrown their need. 

In addition to finding boarding houses in the United States, they were found in England and Canada.  Many of these places were run by women in England where they ruled with an iron hand. 

I'm off, please let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Harvey Girls

Bar Barmaid Barman Bartender Buffet Cafe C  Back in the wild west in the late eighteenth century, there were not that many jobs available for women other than marriage.  Most of the jobs available were saloon girl, teacher until she married, seamstress, laundress, or other similar job.  None had much future because it was assumed she was either fallen or would marry shortly.

This was true until a man, Fred Harvey came round with his idea that helped improve the image of meals available when traveling cross country by train. He could be said to be the father of the chain restaurant since he created the first string of restaurants.

Before he began his chain of restaurants in 1878, people were expected to bring their own food onto the train with them or stop at a boarding house restaurant for a quick meal during a "water stop".  Unfortunately, many of the more isolated water stops tended to be robbed quite often so it wasn't that safe.

Fred Harvey got the idea to open restaurants at various train depots beginning in Florence Kansas in 1878.  The idea was so popular that pretty soon he had a string of Harvey House restaurants running east to west.  What made his restaurants stand out is the elegance of each eatery and the high quality food.

Bread was baked fresh daily and sliced to 3/8th of an inch thick.  The cooks only squeezed fresh orange juice when it was ordered.  Any perishable fruits or vegetables were shipped on ice to the destinations.  He gave patrons a choice of food each day so they could order what they wanted instead of taking what was given.  Service made his restaurants so successful because all patrons were served a four course meal within 30 minutes.

He started using male waiters until a bunch in Raton, New Mexico got involved in a major fight. So he fired them and hired females to do the same job.  Unfortunately, at this time female waitresses were considered on the same level as prostitutes so Mr Harvey had to establish standards for those he hired.  All female employees underwent a 30 day training session before being allowed out on the floor.

All women wore a black dress with white apron, no jewelry, no makeup.  In addition, they were expected to sleep in the dormitories provided by the company after working a 12 hour shift six to seven days a week.  When customers were in the dining room, the women waited on them, making sure they had a great meal.  When the dining room was empty, women spent time cleaning it so it remained spotless.

These women made a flat rate a month plus tips with laundry, travel expenses, room and board included so they had few expenses and could either save or send money home to their families.  In a west where men outnumbered women, many of these respectable women were snatched up by farmers, ranchers, etc.

  Although women could not rise higher than supervisors over the dining hall, Harvey house changed the way society looked at waitresses and changed it into a respectable profession.  Fred Harvey made it possible for women ages 18 to 30 to have a career before marriage.  

Harvey houses profited during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century but as other forms of transportation such as cars and airplanes became more popular, these restaurants slowly closed until they were all gone in the 1960's.

There are still a couple left as museums so people can check it out.  I visited one at a national or state park years ago and found it impressive.  let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Employment Agencies? When and Where?

Looking For A Job, Work, Silhouettes  Do you want a job?  Temporary or full time?  Where do you go?  Most of us pour over the want ads, check the job board places such as Indeed or Monster Board or network to find a job now but how long have employment agencies been around?  Can you tell me?  I can't.

According to my research, employment and temp agencies are a very recent thing.

There are records of at least three agencies dating back to the 1890's but they specialized in placing domestic help in wealthy homes.  They were not large and they certainly were not nationwide like many of the current ones.  Employment and temporary agencies really got their start in the 1940's due to shortages created by World War II.

When World War II began, there was a major exodus of workers who enlisted in the military to fight but in the process they left a bunch of openings.  Industries worked hard to fill the positions left open by recruiting housewives and others.  This eventually lead to specialized businesses designed to help fill those positions.

Just after the war ended, the first real employment agencies as we know them began.  The first and most well known agency formed in 1946 in Detroit, Michigan when William Russell Kelly created the Russell Kelly Office Service.  Kelly services advertised themselves as a company who could provide office help on demand.

Originally, he arranged to pick up typing assignments at offices, bring them to his company, have his people type it before returning the finished product to the original company.  One day, he got a call from a company requesting a temporary secretary because their own one had not shown.  This gave him the idea we see today.  He sent typists off to companies who called for temporary help.

The Manpower agency founded in 1948 by two attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who desperately needed a secretary for a project. When they could not find one, they checked with other businesses to find out what they did for temporary help.  Realizing there was a need, they founded Manpower designed to find temporary workers. 

In 1948 Kelly Services, Manpower, and other agencies avoided clashing with the unions by claiming temporary work was actually "woman's work" since most clerical workers were female.  They took advantage of this idea by associating temp work as a wonderful way for women to earn a bit by working outside the home.

This field continued to grow.  By the 1960's companies were earning between 12 and 24 million per year. As demand continued to grow, a new designation arose, the semi-permanent employee who remained employed by the temporary agency while working at a company or was hired for the duration of a project.  It was cheaper for the company because they didn't have to pay for holidays, insurance, or any of the extra benefits.  In fact, many companies hired their full time employees via temp agencies.

In fact during recessions, the number of temporary employees increase.  Currently agencies place over three million workers every week.  These agencies place people in jobs from janitorial, to medical, to CEO's.  I worked for a temporary agency at various points in my life because I could take time off as I needed and enjoyed the varied work.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Where To? For Dinner?

Restaurant, Gastronomy, Guest Room When you are feeling lazy you sometimes head out for dinner. Some times its a fast food place while other times its something a bit more expensive but all of them are classified as restaurants.

I live in a location with an eatery that comes and goes depending on whether the house is needed for living space.  Otherwise its a small coffee shop/takeout with food that is over priced.  You are talking $25 for a plain burger.

The eating places we know as restaurants have only been around since the mid eighteenth century in Paris.  The word restaurant comes from the French name of a meat broth or boullion made for people who were unable to eat a full meal.

Usually restaurants were associated with health institutions which were well decorated, quiet, and attracted the wealthier clientele.  They were several steps above the inns and taverns of the time which were noisy and served the common man. The standard of sitting people at individual tables, ordering food off a menu, and having hours of opening came out of the original restaurants. 

One story about the beginning of a restaurant, states a man added cooked lamb to a stew he sold in his shop somewhere near the Louvre.  It was actually sheep's feet in a white sauce which moved it from a soup to a stew. At this time in 1765, it was illegal for anyone other than the charcutiers guild to cook and sell meat.  The guild sued him for violating rules.  He won by arguing that since the sauce was cooked separately before being poured over the meat he did not tread into their territory because it was not cooked altogether. One book published in 2000 claims it was false because no evidence could be found to support these claims.

This is just before the French revolution.  According to various sources, when the French revolution began, many of the chefs who worked for the wealthy were suddenly out of work so they opened up their own places.  To set themselves apart they began offering the formal seating, menus, etc to provide a more equal experience for the middle class.

Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau in Paris is said to have started the first restaurant in 1766 in Paris while Beauvilliers opened his establishment, Le Grande Taverne de London  in Paris in 1782.  Beauvilliers is credited with listing dishes on a menu, much like the daily specials and having small individual tables available to eat during specific hours.

The first American restaurant opened in 1793 in Boston, run by a French chef who'd lost his job during the French revolution.  This establishment specialized in turtle soup and even went to the extent of advertising in the local newspaper.  Since then, this type of eating place has spread out across the world.  There were ways to eat out before this time but they were much different.  I'll talk about that another day.

I hope you enjoyed reading this.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Apgar Score? Do You Know Of It?

Baby Newborn Tears Sad Cry Scream Emotion If you've had kids, you probably have heard of the Apgar score.  If not, you'll hear something about it right after you've given birth.  You may have heard of it, on a television show or maybe you've never heard of it.

Today, I plan to give you a bit more information including its history.  This particular medical discovery came about due to a woman's observation of newborns back around 1950.

Dr Virginia Apgar, a well known American anesthesiologist is responsible for the scale named after her.  Before this simple system was developed, many infants who were born blue, had trouble breathing frequently were said to be stillborn because the belief at the time was these infants would have difficulty living and die.  Many could have lived with a bit of oxygen or help.

She became an anesthesiologist because that field was more open to women at that time.  She was good enough to be offered the post of  professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons which she held for at least a decade. While at this post, she taught students to look at the baby as soon as its born.  The story goes that one day a student asked her what they were supposed to be looking for. Instead of answering directly, she wrote five things on a napkin for him to look at.

This list told students to look at appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration.  In other words check the heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, appearance etc at birth and then five minutes later.  In 1952, she presented the score at one of the national meetings on anesthesiology and published a paper on it in 1953.  Soon after, this scoring system came into common use at hospitals across the United States and the world.

One reason, the use of the Apgar Score spread so fast is that it is extremely easy to use and to teach trained medical personnel to use it.   The Apgar score ranges from zero to 10.  A perfect 10 indicates the baby has the best possible health while a score of 0 to 3 indicates a need for immediate resuscitation.  Ordinarily, the baby's health is checked at 60 seconds and again 5 minutes later.  It could be done again after 10, 15, or 20 minutes if the child's score is lower.

The invention of this scale also had a side effect that no one could have predicted.  This score lead to the creation of the field of neonatology and the creation of neonatal units to help those little ones with problems.  As time progressed, neonatal care has improved tremendously, allowing babies to survive who might not otherwise make it.

This score helped medical personnel determine the odds of a baby surviving and the type of treatment it might immediately need to survive.  This simple score created by a woman, changed the face of medicine in a short time.  One of the women whose contribution was huge but who we know little about.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.  I hope you have a great day.