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.
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.
… And another great old photo of a 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.
- Reader’s Choice: Why is Syracuse University in Woodley Park? (ghostsofdc.org)