I swore I would not start this blog entry with how long it has taken me to get to. But, in all honesty, where else do I start. I think this introduction is probably expected from friends I work with. Several colleagues rolled their eyes affectionately when I bounded into the office one morning (several months ago) with my arms extended in a triumphant “my blog works” rendition of “Rocky “running the steps! Hahahahha. HA!
But now, I know, as they knew when they smiled knowingly at me, l didn’t know what I was thinking when I reincarnated this blog and committed to making entries. I know, I should know what I’m thinking; after all, it is my brain that’s doing the thinking! But sometimes, it gets carried away, all on its own, with grandiose ideas of how much time the body attached to it has. I advise people all the time— do NOT start a blog, if you don’t have time to update it. So what do I do? I start one! Damn I’m smart. That’s another Hahaha. Ha moment—if you haven’t guessed.
So, lets get back to Scranton! A month + later!
Scranton Lace! Wow! What a history. Yet I feel so let down by what I’ve read and uncovered. It’s so unsatisfying and I’ve been struggling to explain why. And then I realized why I feel let down —what I’ve read is so impersonal—yet what I found was exactly the opposite. Scranton Lace oozed personal— so much of the people who worked there still remained.
The famed lace is still part way through the looms. Unfinished. Tools are still strewn on desks, in what I imagine was the plant/maintenance room. Bowling shoes wait, patiently in booths, for feet to fill them. Multitudes of boxes containing employee stock certificates are hidden in a darkened barely accessible room. Sewing machines languish alongside cones of thread. You can feel the presence of long-gone seamstresses stooped over the machines.
I am always skeptical of information I find on our beloved World Wide Web, but I found the same sentence repeated in every article, web and print, I read: “It closed in 2002 with the company’s vice president telling its employees, mid-shift, that the facility was closing “effective immediately.” This obviously explains the “what remains” factor, I found so moving.
Just to clarify the historical importance of Scranton Lace: “The company was established by the Scranton Board of Trade as the Scranton Lace Curtain Manufacturing Company in 1890 and was incorporated on June 15, 1897. The name Scranton Lace Company became standardized in 1916 when the Scranton Lace Curtain Manufacturing Company and one of its subsidiaries combined their operations.”
Mmmm, so, historically, this is one very important piece of American industrial history. And it was closed mid-shift—really (that’s all we get)— and then left to rot?? I would love to know more. There must be more. As I said previously this information is so unsatisfying —it’s like decaf coffee.
As a photographer/blogger (albeit a slack blogger), and an intensely curious person, I always hope to reach people who were a part of the places I photograph. I love it when every now and then they turn up. I would be thrilled to hear from anyone employed at Scranton Lace on that fateful day in 2002, when over a century of history just ceased midway through a workday. This was a company that cared enough about it’s workers to have an onsite theatre, beauty salon and of course bowling alley.
Just lace. And I say just lace with complete dismay—abandoned on it’s journey. Stuck. Never to attain completion and reach its destiny, never to be removed from the incredible Nottingham Looms (they are another blog post in themselves).
Thank you, Scranton Lace, for the inspiration.