Last Of The Labor

Welcome back to more ways to be grateful that we live in the air-conditioned world of 2019. We have spent the week, diving into the classified ads of old Cyprus. Let’s cleanse our palate with ladies on looms or doing needlework.

Nat Geo July 1928

Clothes were important, especially for these deacons in the courtyard of Kykko Monastery, which had fancy new electric lights.

This fine figure was the prelate (not the pre-early) of the Myrtou monastery dedicated to Saint Panteleimon (not pantemime), where he presided as bishop. As to what he is holding, do not ask me.

Less impressive garb was worn by the mountain maids of Platres, a popular summer resort.

The clothes of this young girl working in the bakery seem festive and refined.

But this toddler had the best job of all, grabbing the rear saddle handlebars as she rode her donkey backwards. “Away from Cyprus, mule! Let us be gone!”

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Cypriote Labor

Nat Geo July 1928

Yesterday, we got a taste of the laborious jobs on the island of Cyprus in 1928. But one post could not do the many jobs justice.

The men below are taking a reprieve from sacking, weighing, and carrying heavy bags of carob pods. Carob is the nasty chocolate substitute that my folks made me eat from Whole Foods. No wonder it was so expensive. Most of this crop went to England, France, Spain and Egypt to feed cattle. What? Yes, for energy-rich fiber. But some of it was made into sweets and syrup.

Understandably, men’s work differed from women’s work, though both wore them down. In front of this dyeshop hung with yarn dyed a deep blue for men’s trousers, this elderly woman spins yet more yarn. The trousers had full seats that were tucked into the belt for cross-country walking.

Speaking of walking, here we see another baker (similar to yesterday’s baker), carrying an entire bread counter on his shoulders.

If you didn’t like carrying, you could spend the day tossing, like this man and boy at a Famagusta pottery pile. The ones he neglected to catch would up in the dovecote.

The broken jars became shelters for doves, who made their way into lore in the tale of the Cypriote king who kept himself cool by causing doves to flutter around him. This was before boxed fans.

If you looked like a Mediterranean Charlie Chaplin, you might find yourself in this job, where another version of Chaplin scrunched down inside a kiln.

There they fired oil, wine, and water jars. I would suggest a pair of shoes.

This might be hard to detect against the backdrop of the Sea Gate Tower, part of the city’s Venetian fortification, but here we see a two-man sawmill.

That kind of work calls for Gatorade. But that wouldn’t be invented till ’65.

Join us tomorrow for yet more fun and fabulous career choices! I leave you with this image of a 12-year-old on her day off from breaking rocks, enjoying a day of rest.

Cyprus Classifieds

Finding work in 2019 can be a problem. Otherwise, I’d be working right now and not typing up a free blog post. But the Craigslist jobs of today pale in comparison to the backbreaking jobs available in the country of Cyprus in 1928.

First off, we have the arduous task of rockbearing. Don’t let the smiles fool you; as soon as the sun went down, they were off to the local chiropractor and physical therapist to straighten up those spines.

Nat Geo July 1928

For those of you who enjoy being bent over all day (but don’t like transporting rocks), consider washing laundry with your feet, like the women of Kalopanayiotis traditionally do. Bonus duty: using a paddle to bludgeon the water out of the clothes.

Helene and her mother seem to have found a more suitable alternative to leaning forward. However, they were only briefly upright for the picture, as their job entailed breaking rocks to make them usable for road work.

This farmer may have found the best seat in town, seated on his sledge as the oxen move forward. The children serve as makeweights.

While none of these jobs seem to be pleasurable in any way, the next one offers gluteny fruits of one’s labors. The “itinerant Cypriote bakery” must delight all those who encounter it–despite the dust, flies, and stray dark hairs of the baker who made it. If nothing else, he clearly has the best work uniform among the bunch.

Tomorrow, we’ll peruse yet more want-ads of the Cyprus papers, and perhaps you can find your niche!

Kind Eyes

all images by Carl Mydans, unless specified

Yesterday we visited Yorkshire coalminers sipping pints in a colliery club. Today we visit them on the job. Above is a coalminer from Durham, England in 1952.

The miner with the buoyant tresses is named Dixen Bell, and he’s 300 feet down in the mine.

These snug fellows are working 19 inch narrow seams.

It’s hard to believe those conditions were better than those of the 1890s, such as the East Pool Mine below. Does any of that look stable?

http://www.miningartifacts.org

The men of Dolcoath Mine evidently weren’t claustrophobic.

How nice it must have been to finally emerge into fresh air!

http://www.miningartifacts.org, Forest of Dean, England

Groovy, Man, Groovy

LIFE 3/7/49

Here we see three wasted Indochinese men being unproductive after their opium fix. LIFE magazine didn’t mince words:

This woman took a hard pass on addictive substances and showed up to the warehouse on time to dry some crepe. 

“Frontier town of Dong-Dang, south of China border, was entry point for Jap army in September 1940. American isolationists cracked, ‘We’ll die for dear old Dong-Dang.'”

The article presented a violent look at the Indo-China region, with Tran Dang Man (aka “The Pirate”) lifting his sword in allegiance to the French, whom he and his 25 Annamite troops joined as professional bandits.

French¬†Indochina is now today’s Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Cambodian soldiers man a guard tower on a highway leading to Saigon, while the bullock carts hauled rice below, hoping that the 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun wasn’t pointed their way.

In down times, men in Saigon perched on fences like birds on a wire.

This toddler seems to be wondering what the future holds.

Just The Good Ol’ Boys

“Bust to Boom” by Schulz

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Wright pause for a break on a hot August day in 1939. Both men were Farm Security Administration clients in Syracuse, Kansas who worked to maintain an irrigation well.

Below you see Mr. Johnson irrigating, having just built a dam of board and tumbleweed. Looks exhausting, no?