March 1909. "Widow & boy rolling papers for cigarettes in a dirty New York tenement." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.With the economy is in the dumps and financial woes widespread, it may be useful to look back at how our ancestors coped. The photo above depicts a mother rolling cigarette papers (not cigarettes - just the tubes) in her tenement in 1909.
Her oldest child joins her in this endeavor, though his tubes appear less cylindrical than mom's. The photographer or editor captioned this as being a "dirty tenement," but I would note that mom is dressed in clean clothes, with a ?Gibson-girl hairdo and an earring in her pierced ear. The boy is also clean and nicely attired.
I'm also intrigued by the calendar, which has some days shaded. They are not "crossed-out" because the later days are darker. I presume this is a visual depiction of the phases of the moon, for a time period when outdoor lighting at night may have been minimal or absent. But why are Sundays blacked out altogether?
And what is the wood-and-rope domestic instrument hanging on the wall above her head?
The photo is from Shorpy; if it interests you, be sure to click it to fullscreen to explore.