Lewis Hine caption: 9 P.M. Gum vendors still selling, near the National Theatre. Eli Marks, 505 4 1/2 St. S.W., (8 yrs. old, makes 25 cents a night.) Morris Marks, 10 yrs. old makes 50 cents a night. Harvey Schneider, 11 yrs. old, makes 50 cents a night, 209 — 10th St. S.W. “When they see us, they chase us home at 8:30, but when we see ’em coming we slid the boxes in our pockets, until the cop gets past. Then we stay ’til – or after sometimes.” Location: [Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia], April 1912.
“I’m sure they were poor. His father died when he was young. He only went as far as the eighth grade. He had problems with the English language, such as knowing the proper verb to use with the proper subject, and that sort of thing. But he was a very versatile person, and very smart.” -Catherine Liggins, niece of Harvey Schneider
According to various official documents, Harvey Anthony Schneider was born in Washington, DC, on June 9, 1900, the oldest of four children of Anthony Schneider Jr., and Ida Schneider. Anthony worked as a salesman, and later as a watchman. He died sometime between 1920 and 1930.
By the time Harvey was 18 years old, he was working as an apprentice plate printer, first for Berry & Whitmore, a well-known jewelry store that specialized in silver. In 1920, he was working for the U.S Government Printing Office; and in 1930, he was working as an auto salesman. Shortly after, he married Irene Fenton. They were to have no children.
In 1932, their niece, Catherine, was born, but four months later, her mother became seriously ill, and Catherine went to live with her grandmother, Maggie Fenton. When Maggie died in 1939, Harvey and Irene took over the responsibility of raising Catherine. Harvey worked in various jobs, and finally retired to a house in North Beach, Maryland. His wife, Irene, died in 1970. Harvey died on February 7, 1972, at the age of 71.
With the help of Eddie Bloom, who posted several items of information on a family history website, I contacted niece Catherine (Liggins), who lives in Virginia.
Edited interview with Catherine Liggins (CL), niece of Harvey Schneider. Interview conducted by Joe Manning (JM) on July 1, 2010.
JM: How is Harvey related to you exactly?
CL: My aunt, Irene Fenton, married him. I was brought up by them.
JM: At what age did you start living with them?
CL: When I was nine. My grandmother had just died. Up to that point, she was taking care of me because my mother couldn’t do it.
JM: What was the Schneider’s address when you moved in with them?
CL: They were renting at 510 Barnum Street, in Washington. Then they bought a house in Northeast Washington, right across from a huge cemetery.
JM: What was your uncle doing for a living then?
CL: He was working for the industry that distributed movies. He would go to the movie houses in several states around the area.
JM: Did that take him away from home a lot?
CL: No, he was home quite often.
JM: Did your aunt work also?
CL: Yes, she worked for a little insurance company in DC.
JM: Did they have any children?
JM: Did you live at the house on Barnum Street the rest of the time you were growing up?
CL: No. We moved to Florida in about 1943. My uncle and his brother-in-law opened a grocery store down there, but we only stayed a year, because everybody was homesick. But we couldn’t find a place in DC. So we moved to Arlington.
JM: What kind of work did your uncle do then?
CL: I’m not sure. At one time, he bought a paint store. And another time, he worked as a printer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. He did that for quite a while.
JM: When did you stop living with them?
CL: When I got married in 1953. My husband and I lived in Arlington for about a year, and then we moved to Illinois, where he finished college after he got out of the Air Force. We were out there a long time. By the time I moved back to Virginia, both my aunt and uncle had died. She died in 1970, and he died in 1972.
JM: Did you see them much during that time?
CL: Some. They came to visit us once. We were living in Indiana then.
JM: Do you know of any other work your uncle did?
CL: I really don’t know what he was doing all that time. They finally moved to North Beach, Maryland and bought a cottage there. I think he was retired by then. Several of the older relatives bought places down there, too. When I moved back to Virginia, I worked for the federal government.
JM: What was your uncle like?
CL: He was very likeable. He was a member of the Variety Club, which was at the Willard Hotel. He wasn’t an actor, or something like that, but they allowed anyone connected to the movie business to be a member.
JM: Did he have any friends in show business?
CL: Well, I met Jerry Lewis once. And he knew Duke Ziebert, who ran a famous restaurant in Washington. They had great lobster.
JM: What did you like to do together?
CL: We went for rides in the country. We went down to Burke, Virginia frequently, because my aunt had quite a few relatives there. My uncle loved the horse races. We used to go quite a bit, and he always went to the Kentucky Derby. I liked it. It was fun to eat up in the building with the big windows, and watch the horses.
JM: What did you think of the picture?
CL: I thought it was amazing. It looked a lot like him, even though he was much older when I knew him. He was very poorly dressed. I’m sure they were poor. His father died when he was young. He only went as far as the eighth grade. He had problems with the English language, such as knowing the proper verb to use with the proper subject, and that sort of thing. But he was a very versatile person, and very smart. He didn’t really succeed in any high-paying job or anything, but he did pretty well. He was very amiable and attractive.
JM: How do you feel about the fact that his picture is in the Library of Congress, and that it was used as an example of child labor?
CL: I think it’s amazing. I am sure things were pretty rough then. My daughter and I are really intrigued by it.
Harvey Schneider: 1900 – 1972
*Story published in 2010.
The stories of Eli and Morris Marks, who appeared in the Hine photo with Harvey, are also on this site.