BMI Audio Guide: Garment Loft Oral History

BMI Audio Guide: Garment Loft Oral History


My name is Ed Hawkins. I’m a museum educator here and I’d like to welcome you to the Baltimore Museum of Industry’s Baltimore Clothing Company. When I was 16, I worked in a shop just like this. My father was a master cutter. My father thought I should have a summer job. I would get up at 6 in the morning have to take the old streetcar down here to work. and I would take my work order and go get my cloth, put it up on this so-called spreading machine (which we have right here on one of the tables). The spreader’s job was to spread the cloth on the table by placing a tailor’s weight (the small iron weight, containing a handle) on the beginning layer and walking the entire length of the table there by laying the cloth out as he goes. His work order could tell him the number of layers of cloth he must place on the table. It could be as much as 80 to 100 layers. It wasn’t a nice place to work, in the garment business. Long hours and it was terribly hot in the summertime They would not let us open the windows because the soot from burning coal would be blowing into the windows and in the winter the radiator pipes were going right behind that wall where that woman standing (the supervisor) so the backs of those ladies are only about, oh, two feet from the heat pipes. And it was filthy working there if you didn’t bring your food in pails, or metal boxes, by the time you got to your paper sack, the mice would have eaten half of your sandwiches I hated that job. Not only did I do it for one summer, I did it for two! I would have been preferring to go out and play baseball!

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