Dutch and the Boys by Thea McElvey
Mixed Media on gallery wrapped canvas 24″ x 48″
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These three young “Newsies” (boys selling newspapers on street corners) were photographed by Lewis Wickes on May 9, 1910 in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Wickes, a school teacher, sociologist and photographer, took photos of child laborers at the turn of the century. His work helped to bring about social reform and change child labor laws. One of his most compelling photos is of an 8 year old oyster shucker named Rosy who worked from 3 a.m to 5 p.m. She and her siblings began their careers “as soon as they were old enough to hold a knife”. So many things about this photo compelled me. The boy on the left with his up-turned collar, buttoned coat and ‘his old man’s pipe’ I picture as being from a higher class who really just wants to be one of the boys. The youngest to the right is seemingly cared for by the older two. My story of the young man in the middle is that he comes from an abusive home. With his over-sized coat and black eye I can hear a gruff father saying, “Come back when you are big enough to fill that coat!” It would be so interesting to hear the real stories from these three.
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