Monday, June 17, 2013

Breaking Blood chapter 4 visuals and info

Newsboys had a 2 week strike in July of 1899, refusing to deliver the papers. The price per paper bundle (100 newspapers) went up from $.50 to $.60 because the newspapers had an increase in sales. That was quite a big deal since the newsboys only got paid $.30 a day and could not return the papers they hadn’t sold during the day. The boys refused to deliver the papers and held rallies and protests.
Remember that dude that played Batman in the new rebooted version? Yeah, he’s hot. Well, he was in a Disney movie years ago called Newsies about this very subject. A dancing, singing Christian Bale is kind of amusing.

Why do I mention this? Because the newspaper business was volatile in a lot of ways. Created a lot of controversy.

Also, wanted to mention that in 1901 in New York City, 25% of the workforce were women, so it wasn’t completely unheard for a woman to work, but for the sake of the story, I’m gonna take artistic license here and say it was highly irregular in the newspaper industry.

I thought you might also like to know that in 1901, the average household in New York exceeded their incomes monthly by spending 20% over what they made. 43% of wages went to food, 13% to clothes, 23% to housing, and 21% to other. Household supplies or entertainment maybe? Maybe doctors? Who knows… And since there was no refrigerator back then, people in tenements stored some of their perishable food items out on the fire escape or balcony outside their window (if they had one) and they had to shop for food frequently at the market. Frequently most likely meant every other day? I would think meat you’d have to buy daily if you could afford it; same with milk. Think about how their drying laundry was hanging outside that window as well off lines strewn from one building to the next. Sound like where you want your food stored? Probably not, but they had little options.

Now, you might be wondering why Rose mentioned that there were 2 other widows living in the apartment building Isabella’s residing in. Oftentimes, a widow would almost act like a cleaning lady, tidying up walkways, cleaning halls and stairs, things of this nature, in exchange for free rent. It kept the place clean, and gave the appearance of a more upscale type of tenement, so it would attract more tenants. If there were already 2 there before Isabella, then she would not be able to go this route. She had to find some other means to support herself, hence the art.

Burlesque dancers at this point in time made on average $75 per week! That’s a ton! Imagine how much a high class call girl would fetch? I couldn’t find any numbers on that, but I’m thinking at least $100 to $150, depending on if she was attracting wealthy men that were generous or not. Contrast that kind of money with a typical factory worker that made about $12 per week. As you read future chapters of this story, keep an eye out for how much money you see Edward giving people, and you decide if he’s generous or not.

On to Pig Alley… There was actually a movie about this very area, called The Musketeers of Pig Alley, filmed in 1912, and released in 1915 to audiences. They actually used real life gang members in the film from the area. It was considered the first gangster film in history, so that should tell you this was a very rough area to live in, and yet, Bella walks through there frequently. Not necessarily overly-frightened, but prepared for something to happen. That’s why Roman taught her how to defend herself. It was originally named Pig Alley because pig farmers in years past (1840 was when it received this name, before that it was known as Mixed Ale Alley) would allow their pigs to roam through this area, rather than keep them in their homes. Can’t blame them, really.

Here’s a depiction of Pig Alley from 1892. Picture taken from this amazing website: I’ll be posting more pictures from this website in future blog posts.

This is what the market would have looked like for her when she bought her food.

This is supposed to be the typical cramped tenement. As you can see, some of these people here are ill or injured in some way. Probably from their jobs.

This is the type of thing Bella might have seen at surrounding tenements on her street:

I love this picture of these ladies gossiping. It’s said that at night, the streets would be very lively, and there were many a lady that would take the time to gossip. It’s very easy to imagine them talking about a very busy, very infamous Mr. Masen here.
Bella was quite progressive by trying to work daily at the paper. Here’s a depiction of what other working women were dealing with:

This is what it said below this picture (and no doubt, a lot of the children that worked were most likely newsboys, and a lot of these newsboys didn’t even have shoes or coats, were filthy, and spoke like they were almost illiterate):


"The Enemies of the Working Girl"

The title of the image makes reference to the numbers of families who did piece work at night and/or or using underage children as laborers. "Working girls" of the time were trying to get improved working conditions and wages through unions and strikes.

 There is this amazing sketch for some reason blogger won't let me post, so I tried to put on my facebook group and on my wall, but that didn't work either. It showcases the type of amazing art work I would think Bella capable of selling to the newspapers when she had the time available. It has this outstanding reflection of the street. I can imagine that she loved capturing moments like these. Absolutely stunning, and there's a great look at a typical woman, crossing the street. Classic female Edwardian figure with a tight corset under her dress to get that S shape. Wow. I have no idea how she could breathe, let alone walk.

I'll keep trying to figure out a way to post it, since I love it so much.

Life was obviously hard for Isabella, and for the people residing in her area of town. Unfortunately, families did not have a lot of options in regards to birth control. This website talks about the types of birth control used at the turn of the century:

Usually men would withdraw (coitus interruptus). If they had money, they used a sheath, which was a type of condom, not always very reliable though.

Women were told to avoid intercourse right after their period, which is actually a safe time to have sex unless the woman regularly has short cycles of around 21 days. Otherwise, for women with a 28 day cycle, it’s the week following when a woman usually ovulates and is most fertile (this based on my own research with natural family planning which has a 99% success right when followed precisely).

Prostitutes, like Rosalie, would have used sponges dipped in vinegar, or lemon or various other astringents in an attempt to kill sperm. Some of these solutions used in conjunction with a sponge actually caused deaths.

Now you can see why a lot of poor women resorted to performing their own abortions since many of them already had 10 or more people living in their tiny tenement apartment. It wasn’t unusual to have 12 people sleeping on the floor side-by-side.

I didn’t even bother to look up how they performed their own abortions. Frankly, I didn’t want to know. I figured it’d be pretty gruesome, and not something I even wanted to think about.

Hope this gives you a glimpse into their world I’m trying to share with you. More posts coming soon with more visuals and even more information.

1 comment:

  1. Another VERY interesting post. Hope you can post the picture you're talking about.


I love hearing from you. Share, share, share!