Faces of Yesterday: Dime Messenger Service Boys of D.C. (1912)

This is a great one for “Faces of Yesterday” … this group of young boys worked as Dime Messenger Service boys, with their headquarters at 1228 H St. NW. Lewis Hine, the American sociologist and photographer took this photo in the spring 1912.

Group of Dime Messengers Service boys, 1228 H St., N.W., at the main office
Group of Dime Messengers Service boys sitting on the steps of the main office, April 1912

The baby-faced boy in the middle is Eddie Tahoory (14 years old) and he recently started working there. The boy with the spectacles on the left is Earle Griffith (15 years old). He lived with his mother — who eloped with a boarder — at 107 15th St. NW (odd, because this is now the Ellipse … maybe it’s supposed to be 107 15th St. NE). Eddie lived at 108 4th St. NE, and surely spent a number of afternoons running around Stanton Park with his friends.

Lewis asked the boys several questions while taking their photograph. They said they never know when they would get home each night as they usually worked one or more nights each week and often worked well past midnight. The previous Christmas, the office has a 9-year-old boy running errands for them, and he made a lot of money from tips (child labor laws were quite different back then). Each week they would pull in about $7 for their work. Evidently, the office policy was to not send the young boys into the tougher neighborhoods like Swampoodle, Murder Bay, or the red light district, but the boys would go when a call sent them in, which was not very often.

Here’s another photo of young Earle and Eddie with their bicycles. Notice the date, April 11th. On April 10th, the Titanic set sail for New York City … four days later, she hit an iceberg and was sent to the bottom of the Atlantic, taking 1,504 souls with her.

Photograph of Earle Griffith and Eddie Tahoory, working for the Dime Messenger Service in Washington D.C., 04/11/1912
Photograph of Earle Griffith and Eddie Tahoory, working for the Dime Messenger Service in Washington D.C., April 11th, 1912

… And another great old photo of a Dime Messenger Service boy.

Happy Dime Messenger Service boy
Happy Dime Messenger Service boy

Oh, here is a contemporary photo of the home where Earle and his mother were boarders. Next time you walk by it, you’ll think of Earle Griffith.

108 4th St. NE
108 4th St. NE

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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