Sunday, April 28, 2013

Messenger Boy

This is a picture from 1910 showing a Western Union Messenger boy. He was 14 years old, and had been working for 1 year. He was still in school, but worked from 8:00 to 12:00, and then attended school in the afternoon. 


  1. Nice photo. I wonder how many 14YO's today could handle working a daily (part time) job like that?
    -Anne K.

  2. My first job as a carpenter's apprentice was working on the Eisenhower tunnel in Colorado. We had laborers who would set up our tools and keep us supplied with whatever we needed. Our laborer was named Lloyd and was about 16 years old. Apprentices were teamed up with the older carpenters. It was a logical move. My team mate was old Tom and I ended up doing the more physical work. Lloyd would pop by ever couple of hours and say, "How you boys doin'? Need anything? Often as not he would guess what we needed and bring it with him, and say something like, "I see you boys are about out of 16 double heads," and he'd have a bag of the double headed nails with him.

    I tell this story because it was just amazing how good it was to see him. He was cheerful, enjoyed his work, and was never sour the way the older workers get to be. The picture today reminds me of him.

  3. It's amazing to me how old and mature these boys look. Somehow they just look older than 16 and 14. Though they are what we now would classify as "teenager", I think that the term "young men" is much more fitting. Back then there just weren't teenagers.

  4. The look of this young man reminds me of a number of very young ranch hands I knew who were around sixteen with the intensity and focus of a young adult. This was because all hands were held to the same standard of work and ability to learn. They were also expected to keep up with the older young men during the work day. The wage was around $5.00 and meals.

    I don't think many of our teenagers could handle the work done by the messenger or any ranch hands I knew.

  5. I celebrated my 13th birthday in Kansas running a combine on a custom combine crew of 4 combines