THE summer of '96 I spent on the farm and in the fall I worked for my father in the toy shop during the brief pre-Christmas spurt of employment. There was no official family announcement, but the prospect of college had quietly faded away. My help was needed to contribute to the income of the growing family, and I could not even hope to "work my way through college." After Christmas Father sent me to be interviewed by Mr. Richmond Viall, the superintendent of Brown and Sharpe's, the world-renowned machine-tool builders in nearby Providence.
The interview was satisfactory, and I was to be accepted as an indentured apprentice, in the old tradition of training for a recognized craft. The hours of work were to be from 7:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.m. with an hour out for dinner. This was 10 hours a day 6 days a week -- or 60 hours a week in all.
My wages at the start were to be four cents an hour. That $2.40 a week was not clear gain. There were certain fixed charges, the largest being carfare. A dollar book of tickets provided twenty rides between the nearest railroad station, Woodlawn, and Providence. That accounted for sixty cents weekly. Besides this I was required to don clean overalls and jumpers each Monday morning. This laundry service cost twenty-five cents a week. De