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Sewing gloves in New York.  Postcard.

Sewing gloves in New York. Postcard.

two hundred needles
chug-chatter-chug-chatter
behind the locked door
.
just women – just immigrants
[just poor]

Coffins of Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Victims. Library of Congress.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Victims. Library of Congress.

“I used to creep up on the roof of the tenement and talk out my heart to the stars or the sky. Why were we cramped into the crowded darkness? Why are we wasting with want? Who is America?”
          — Factory Worker (16:51)

“I liked music. I liked lectures. I wanted to learn things. I wanted to learn everything. The only thing is — the time. I needed time.”
          — Factory Worker (16:30)

“It was Mama’s hair. I braided it for her. I know. I know.
……….— Family of Factor Worker (47:36)

March 25th is the 104th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This was one of the deadliest fires in American history. It happened in Manhattan, where 146 garment workers (123 women, 23 men) either perished by fire, by smoke inhalation, or by jumping to the sidewalk below. The oldest victim was 43-year-old Providenza Panno; the youngest were 14-year-old Kate Leone and Rosaria Maltese. They were mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women.  And they died after a long struggle to get safer conditions, shorter hours, and better pay.  

Mourning the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Victims. LOC.

Mourning the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Victims. LOC.

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15 thoughts on “two hundred needles (tanka)

  1. That was such a terrible tragedy .. so many years later, here in Italy we remember this as a symbol … especially on March 8th, International Woman’s Day. A great and moving tribute to those poor women, but also a remainder that indeed these things continue to happen even now, 104 years later … and not only to women, but also to children and men as well, in fact, if anything, thanks to outsourcing, what we don’t allow to be done in our own country is being encouraged by us, through our purchase of things produced by cheap labour in precarious work conditions, outside our borders.

    Like

  2. Pingback: A B&J Renga – March 27, 2015 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

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