Bill Haywood's Book: The Autobiography of William D. Haywood

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
THE PAGEANT

PATERSON, the silk city of America, is built near the mosquito- infested swamp lands of New Jersey. It is a miserable place of factories, dye-houses, silk mills, which are operated by from 20,000 to 25,000 workers. There is not a park in the workers' quarter for the children to play in, no gardens or boulevards where mothers can give their babes a breath of fresh air.

Into this town there had thundered weekly a silk train from the West bringing the raw material from Seattle, where it had been shipped from Japan.

The mammoth Doherty mill, owned chiefly by Japanese capitalists, and the other mills, the dye-houses and the factories were all closed down by the great strike of 1913.

The workers were on strike for better conditions and to prevent the companies from increasing the number of looms that they should operate. Among these workers, as in Lawrence, were many nationalities--Italians, Syrians, Armenians, French, Germans, Jews from all countries, and many others.

Daily meetings of the strikers were held in Turn Hall and other places. We often had great mass meetings in the adjoining town of Haledon where we spoke from the veranda of a house occupied by a Socialist.

While this strike was on I learned something of the methods of producing silk. After the cocoons were unwound and the silk was whipped into skeins it was dyed with the glorious colors seen in this costly fabric. All of it went through a process called "dynamiting" where it was loaded with metals of different kinds--lead, tin and zinc. From a fourth to a third of the weight of the silk was of these adulterants, which shortened the life and durability though temporarily adding to the gloss and weight of the finished goods. The owners of silk garments could not understand how a folded or hanging gown would rust and break in the creases until this

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