Sunday, July 29, 2012

Women's Work

The women in the photo appear pleasant although few are smiling. Surely they welcomed a short break from the heat and noise inside the building to pose for the photographer. Their employer, the New Colorado Laundry at 2207 Larimer Street, was the kind of business that hired women in the early 1900’s, since they could be paid little money and required minimal training. Many ladies from Globeville worked at one of the commercial laundries in downtown Denver, such as Silver State at 2441 Broadway, Ideal at 2500 Curtis Street and Enterprise Laundry at 17th and Champa, all within a couple of miles from Globeville.
These women weren't pursuing satisfying careers but supplementing the family's income with the kind of jobs available to them. Steve Machuga remembered, "My mother worked outside the home when I was growing up, scrubbing floors and cleaning rooms at the Brown Palace Hotel for 50¢ a night. She walked with two other ladies from Globeville, up 38th Street to short Larimer and 20 blocks to the hotel. The street car cost 10¢ each way, so they walked."  
Many other Globeville ladies worked as "domestics" doing cooking, cleaning and laundry in the homes of Denver's wealthier citizens. There were also situations available in the many local family-owned taverns, with the bar in the front of the building, living quarters for the family in the rear, and rooms upstairs for the men employed in the smelters. Newcomers like Jennie Hocevar could prepare meals for the family, pack lunches for the boarders and begin the process of learning English and American ways. Jennie later worked at Cudahy, trimming the fat from meat as it came down the chute. “I trimmed more than anybody else and I couldn’t even speak English,” she remembered.
Most women in the 1900s regarded work was a necessity and appreciated the kind of job that would help their family live a better life.

Photo used with written permission from Agnes Tanko. Her mother, Mary Holland, is one of 
the young women in the photo.

Jennie Hocevar Sadar, photo used with written permission from Dorothy Nevelos

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