Lewis Hine caption: John Endyk, 90 Springfield St., been in Mill-room of Wood Mill one year. Birth certificate makes him 14. Location: Lawrence, Massachusetts, September 1911.
“It was amazing to see a photograph of him in that time period. It was a miserable time for those kids then. I remember walking over to my grandmother’s house on the north side of the city and looking inside the mills and seeing these people sweating inside doing their jobs.” -Francis Endyke, son of John Endyke
When John Adam Endyke was photographed by Lewis Hine, he was standing in front of his rented house at 90 Springfield Street. One hundred years later, it is the location of a parking lot surrounded by multi-family dwellings, just a short walk from a park and recreation area called O’Connell South Common. The enormous Wood Mill was only a half-mile walk, a path he probably began at 6:00 in the morning six days a week. His life, and that of his family, had been a tough ride already.
His parents were Frank Endyke (originally Indyk) and Sophia (Jurek) Endyke. They married in Buffalo, New York in 1883, after meeting in the city subsequent to arriving from Poland. Their first four children died at birth or in infancy. By the middle 1890s, they were living in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, where son Adam was born. He was to live to the age of 84.
John Endyke was born in Lawrence, on June 30, 1898. They were living at 39 Common Street at the time, which was a densely packed area populated by immigrants from more than a dozen countries. In the famous Lawrence Survey, conducted in 1911, the neighborhood was described as the “largest population living in wooden houses on any three acres in the State of Massachusetts. In the rear houses, the best light comes from an alley fourteen feet wide.”
Frank owned a grocery store. He and Sophia had six more children after John was born. Daughter Julia died of tubercular bronchitis at the age of one; Mary accidentally set herself on fire at the age of three; and Joseph, the last, died of cholera in 1912, at the age of three weeks. Two months later, Frank, the father, succumbed to tuberculosis. That was the year of the Bread & Roses Strike.
By 1918, the family had moved to Bailey Street. According to the 1920 census, John was living with his widowed mother Sophia, and working as a mule spinner. He married Mary Gage in 1922, and opened a grocery store soon after, and later, a liquor store. John and Mary had three children. John passed away in Lawrence on July 20, 1975, at the age of 77. Mary died in 1986.
An employee at the Lawrence History Center knew several members of the Endyke family. I called one of them, and he got me in touch with John’s son, Francis. I interviewed him, and the family provided some photos.
Edited interview with Francis Endyke (FE), son of John Endyke. Interview conducted by Joe Manning (JM) on January 5, 2012.
JM: What do you think of the picture of your father?
FE: It was amazing to see a photograph of him in that time period.
JM: Were you surprised that he was working in a mill at that age?
FE: No. I assumed, given the circumstances at the time, that children were mill workers. He worked in a mill for a few years when he was young, and then he was a garbage collector. After that, he owned a grocery store, and then he had a liquor store.
JM: Did he ever talk to you about his life as a child?
FE: No, he didn’t. In fact, my grandparents, his parents, never even mentioned the old country. They came from Poland and Lithuania. They were illiterate, but the intelligence was there, and they used it to forge ahead.
JM: How was their original name spelled?
JM: Was your father born in the US?
FE: Yes, in Lawrence. His parents came through New York. They married in Buffalo. They had four children there, but all of them died. Then they went to Turners Falls (Massachusetts), and then to Lawrence, where they lived at 39 Common Street.
JM: How do you know that?
FE: I’ve been working on my genealogy for 12 years now. A lot of the information came from a taped interview with my father’s sister Blanche, as well as the census and newspaper archives.
JM: What were the names of your father’s parents?
FE: Frank Endyke and Sophia Jurek. There were two Frank Endykes at that time, but they weren’t related.
JM: When were you born?
JM: Where were your parents living when you were born?
FE: At 138 Bailey Street. It was a four-family house. At that time, the address of the house was listed as 136 to 142. All of my grandmother’s siblings were living in one of the apartments. My sister was born at the house at 151 Bailey. A couple of years later, we moved back into 138, and my grandmother moved to 136. We were making such a racket at 138, she made us move downstairs, and she moved upstairs. My grandmother also had boarders. My aunt had to sleep in the front hall. My grandmother owned the house. When she could no longer afford to keep it, my father bought it. At that time, my father was running the liquor store and my mother was running the grocery store on Springfield Street. I still live at the Bailey Street house.
JM: In the 1920 census, your grandfather is not listed. Had he died by then?
FE: Yes. In 1906, Mary, one of his daughters, was in the back of the grocery store he owned on Common Street. The Polish men used to gather there. The men would smoke their pipes and talk about the old country. They had taught her how to light a match, and she would light their pipes for them. One day, she was playing with matches and set herself on fire and died. She was only two or three years old. My grandfather became very depressed after that. My grandparents had eight children. They were Adam, my father John, Blanche, Julia, Mary, Edward, Anna and Joseph. Joseph was born in 1912, but he lived only a month. My grandfather died two months later.
JM: Did your father grow up in a Polish neighborhood on Common Street?
FE: No. There were Polish, Irish and Italian.
JM: Did your father speak Polish?
FE: He spoke Polish and Italian. He learned to speak Italian because so many Italians were living in the area.
JM: How far did your father get in school?
FE: I don’t think he got very far, like other children who worked in the mill. He was self taught. He was born January 30, 1898. He was drafted into WWI in 1918. In 1922, he married Mary Gage. In 1926, he opened a grocery store at 62 Springfield Street. In 1935, he opened a liquor store at 77 South Union Street. My parents attended Holy Trinity Church in the north side of the city. The mass was said in Polish. St. Patrick’s School was down at the end of Bailey Street. I attended school there. As a child, I spoke Polish fluently. But as I matured, I lost it completely.
JM: Did you graduate from high school?
FE: Yes. After I graduated, I went into the service, and came out with the GI Bill. I went to Georgetown (Washington, DC) for a year, and then transferred to Northeastern (Boston). I graduated from the School of Pharmacy. Over the years, I worked in a variety of pharmacies in the Lawrence area.
JM: How many children did your parents have?
FE: Five: John, Rita, Francis, Louise and Walter. Rita was a buyer for the Bolta tire company. Louise married a doctor. Walter went into the service, went to college, and worked for the government.
JM: What was your father like?
FE: For a man that was self-taught, he had a great way of doing business. He was a good father. He took good care of us. He always treated his children as equals. For a while, he was running both the grocery store and the liquor store. When the liquor store got busier, he ran it and my mother ran the grocery store. She would allow the customers to pay the bill at the end of the week when they got their pay. When she finally left the store, there was still quite a bit of money owed to her. When my father was running the grocery store, he had a slot machine in there that he had fixed so that there was very little chance of customers winning a lot.
JM: Were they legal then?
FE: I don’t know. When he had the liquor store, he made his own whiskey. He’d take a 5-gallon jug of 100-proof alcohol, dump it into the bathtub, make the whiskey, and put his own label on it. He sold it at a lower price than the other brands. He was an avid gambler. He would go to the Rockingham race track. He would go to where the big money players would play and stand by the window and listen to what they were betting on, and then he’d go bet on a horse.
JM: Your parents must have been awfully busy at the stores. Who was taking care of you?
FE: My mother’s father, Walter Gage, used to take care of us. On Sunday, when the stores were closed, my father would go out and buy lobsters, and we would have a good meal that day. When my father retired, he gave the liquor store to my brother John. My father died in 1975, of lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker. My mother died in 1986.
JM: Did anyone in your family ever talk about the Bread and Roses Strike?
FE: No. I never knew anything about it until much later. It was a miserable time for those kids then. I remember walking over to my (maternal) grandmother’s house on the north side of the city and looking inside the mills and seeing these people sweating inside doing their jobs. Many years later, I remember listening to the tape of my Aunt Blanche, my father’s sister. She said she made $10 a week. She talked about how her mother would let her keep $1.25 of her weekly earnings, so she could buy cosmetics and stuff like that. One time, she kept an extra quarter out of her pay, and her mother punished her.
*Story published in 2012.