Children on titanic


Dec 6, 2000
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I started working at age 15 at a cannery - in the summer. 40 hours a week, 3 months a year, getting paid the same wage as the men who worked there year round. Many of my friends in school had been working years earlier on the fishing boats - I was kinda late to start.

This was back in the late 60s though.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I worked in my father's pharmacy from 14, on Saturdays and in the school holidays. And the cash register didn't add it up for you - you did it in your head as you went round collecting the items. So did the customer. If they challenged you, you had to start all over again. They also checked their change, which few of us do now. Those were the days! As Bill said, the 60's. Re Dave's comment on apprenticeships. In my college we get the difficult 14 - 19 year olds, as well as the higher ed achievers, and I have to say they ought to be in a job. Education only works when people realize they need it - and many people need job motivation to make that realization. The task for some of my colleagues is really baby-minding surly youths who would be far better off in apprenticeships - if only there were enough. Something's gone wrong when call centres ask for degrees....
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Tracy, I don't know what you call them in the States, but I'm sure you have them. It's where you try to ring up your bank, or a customer help line etc., and you get a computer saying 'Please hold, your call is very important to us', and then you get to listen to some Vivaldi, and then you get to choose an option from a 10-item menu (none of which is quite what you want), and eventually someone answers and says "Hello, I'm Wayne (or Mohinder, or Suki etc) how can I help you?", and it gradually dawns on you that they are in Mexico or Bangladesh, and nothing to do with your bank branch etc., and that there is nobody to help you with anything that does not actually appear on their computer screen. Or else they ring you up in the middle of dinner to sell you insurance or something. Sound familiar?
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Yep, that's what I thought you meant, but I wanted to make sure. And, unfortunately, we have the very same thing over here, with the very same operators speaking mangled English.
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Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I find that the operators in Bangladesh (graduates all) often speak better English than those in England, many of whom have trouble reading the long words in their script. But they still can't help. I like the Irish centres - they can't help either but they always have the best excuses.
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Jan 28, 2003
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Yes, I know what you mean, Bob. I had a most charming and efficient young lady help me when I was trying to buy a bike, and unsure about the wheel size I needed. I only realised she was in India when she asked me to speak up because the monsoon rains were making such a noise. She was an exception though ...
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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I was shocked to see the Bell Boys on the QM2 that Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight interviewed. Why, they couldn't have been more than twelve years old! Did anyone else see this segment? It was on Thursday night's show, I think. Can anyone tell me if this was just "for show" for the maiden voyage, or are they permanent employees, and if they are permanent, are there arrangements for them to have schooling, are their parents also employed by the ship? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Kyrila
 
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Mary S. Lynn

Guest
monica - you have forced me to pick pith from non-concentrated Lots-o-Pulp orange juice out of my keyboard. Thanks a very lot! We all know that there is American "English." We also know that there is Canadian "English", eh? And we know that there is Australian "English" right, Mate? And, we know that our current American Mother Tongue is attributed to British "English". There is also TEXTBOOK "English" - which NO Americans really know or practice. This "TEXTBOOK" English has resulted in Chowdhury's successful enticement of me into his local Indian restaurant for perfect yogurt chicken, at the expense of Bubba's Waffle House, with a side of grits. "How may I best serve you?" won out over "We don't take no checks, and we don't take no S***, neither."
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Was it something I said? I can't make out whether you are outraged or amused, Mary. Still, the chicken sounds ambrosial. Bubba's sounds hell.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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ps One must acknowledge the sheer vitality the Americans have injected into the English language. My US friend describing a colleague "He has a low-resolution brain.."; a nation that calls a supermarket the Piggly-Wiggly. And the crowning achievement - inventing the game Bullshit Bingo, a wonderful attempt to stem the flood of incomprehensible home-grown - and exported to the entire world - business jargon.....only I regret I've never had the guts to play it.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Kyrila,
whilst I'm here - the QM2 bellboys. They may have looked 12, they can't be. They must be 16 at least, it's the law. Whether or not they get any schooling - well - I doubt it. But eventually they may realize they are at a dead-end, and then they may go back to school. Like I said before, you can't do much for them until they make that realization.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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I'm interested in how 14 and 15-year olds would be recruited to work aboard liners in those days. I was recently looking through some old log books of a 1903 voyage and noticed that these young fellows were mostly employed in the stewards department but some were taken on as "Bosun's Boys". What would their duties be?

On the subject of call centres - none can be worse than the replacements for the old 192 Directory Enquiries in the UK. You know you're onto a loser straight away. Some of these operators can barely understand you and you them. Particularly annoying is when you have to spell out every single word, even such things as "Street" and "Limited".
 
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Mary S. Lynn

Guest
monica - I'm so sorry to have confused you! I was laughing so hard about your "monsoon rains in India" that I sprayed the orange juice I was drinking all over the keyboard - and monitor. Great humor! (And yes - Bubba's "Awful" House is truly terrible!)
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Well, that's a relief Mary. For a moment I thought you might have come over all politically correct re English-as-she-is-spoke, highly unlikely though that seemed. We are obviously all in thrall to these dreadful systems. Incidentally, follow the link for Bullshit Bingo, which I'm sure you could have played in school meetings to great delight, until you gave up in despair.
http://www.perkigoth.com/home/kermit/stuff/bullshitbingo/
Take my tip - drink smooth juice at the keyboard. It shorts out the circuits until it dries, but you don't have to get the tweezers to deal with the pith.
 
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Mary S. Lynn

Guest
Thanks for the great link, monica. It has been duly sent to all those about to undergo three days of non-stop inservices. They loved it!

Back to the topic: I'm wondering if these young lads were "apprenticed" for a certain period of time at a certain age to the ship lines. Or was the "apprenticing" concept not practiced at that time. Does anyone know?

Drinking plain old tap water here.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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The system of indentured apprenticeships was practiced in the deck department on ships of the era, Mary. Boys could be indentured from their early teens (usually 14, but sometimes younger or older) by formal agreement. There was a section on the crew agreements where apprentices were required by law to be noted. Formal apprenticeships, as regulated by the BoT and noted in crew agreements, do not seem to have existed in the victualling department. In sail, many ships' 'boys' started out as the cook's assistant...there's a great tale about a young Harold Lowe having trouble in this capacity getting a fire to draw. He finally succeeded with the aid of kerosine...only to find a sail had draped over the flue and, as a result of his efforts, the main sail had a hole burned in it.
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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Thanks, Inger, and so good to hear from you! I will admit that I am very surprised (although I posted the question) to hear that "apprenticeship" was still being practiced in the early 20th century! I think that some/many of us modern "Yanks" are familiar with the concepts of the "indentured servant" and "apprenticeship" practices which brought many of our forefathers (love that word!) to British-settled North America back in the - ahem - 1600's. My understanding of "apprenticeship" (working for seven years to gain a future career) and "indentured servant" (working for seven years to gain freedom) were just that....(and paying cash under the table in both situations.) I'm sure that the technical components of both concepts changed somewhat over 350 years or so, but 1912 was less than a hundred years ago. Guess I'm just surprised that this was still in existence. (No wonder that those BellBoys in ANTR were smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and puffing their little peach-fuzzed cheeks!)

Harold Lowe - are you speaking of my Titanic hero? Harold Lowe burning a hole in a mainsail, and years later having the wherewithall (and guts) to go back for survivors? Harold Lowe, that great Anglo-Welsh guy? You gotta love Ioan Gruffudd! ("Wall, keep lockin'!)

Inger, I hope that you are seething in green jealousy about my upcoming two-week diving trip to Playa del Carmen in late April. I just ordered a fantastic short wet suit from OldLadyWetSuits.com and a great new regulator from OldLadiesWithNoTeeth.com. I paid in dollars, which are much preferred over Euros in Mexico. Hasta la Bye Bye!
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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G'day Mary, and great to be in contact with you again. I'm just getting over the Christmas/New Year/Birth of New Baby Niece social whirl and getting back to a more consistant presence on ET!

British Merchant Marine apprentices did indeed have to sign indenture papers - and their parents/guardians had to pay a pretty hefty premium to the shipping line for the privilege!

Here's an example of an indenture:

http://www.geocities.com/mastermariner1879/indentures.html

The term was usually for four years, although for those boys who had attended a training school (such as James Moody on HMS Conway), two years at the school counted towards one year sea time. Moody did two years on the Conway and then three at sea before he sat for his second mate's certificate.

That is indeed the same Harold Lowe...he came up as an officer via a different channel, working through from ship's boy to Ordinary Seaman to AB to sit his Second Mate's Certificate. He seems to have taken rather a bit of glee in the burned-hole story, and later regaled his family with the anecdote.

I am absolutely livid kelly green over your upcoming dive trip! Will go and check out the location in a sec. No dive trip on my immediate horizon - I'm just paddling around the local 21 degree Celcius waters, getting a lot of swimming in down at our beach. Sister and Brother and Law are keen on going to the Maldives for a dive trip at some point when the newborn is old enough to travel (they took their first baby to Fiji when he was about 6 months), and want to take me along in tow as well. It's all up in the air, though, at the moment. Give us a review of the trip when you get back!
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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I hate you, Inger. I really hate you. Our brutal winter is your glorious summer. (Richard III??) You're luxuriating in 21-degree Celcius waters, and I'm paying $85.00/month for sporadically-heated water. Paid a fortune for my 7 days in Fiji. (15-hour flight, International Date Line, lost an entire day). Can't afford the Maldives, the Seychelles, Solomons, Tahiti (WHO can afford Tahiti, nez pas?) or anything else in the South Pacific. However, the Palancar Reef is only a 2 1/2 hour hop-skip-jump flight from here. And cheap, by US/Euro standards. My professional self refrains from gloating. My true self, taking advantage of 13 free nights at the luxury, all-inclusive resort of my choice says; "na-na-na-na-na." Have regulator, will dive.

Having checked out your link, it seems that indentured/apprenticeship years have been reduced from seven years (1600) to four years(1900). One year per century. Now...that's "Progress"! Moody and Lowe were the lucky ones, in a manner of speaking. More Lowe than Moody. How many other young boys were successful with their indentures in the early 1900's?

Congratulations, Inger, on the birth of your niece! (I hope that she was given a proper British name, like Mary, or Susan)
 

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