Thomas G. Plant Shoe Factory Operated Nursery

When the Thomas G. Plant Company, the shoe manufacturing concern in Jamaica Plain, announced a few months ago that it was prepared to employ women who had small children and would give the little ones just as good —-even better—-care than they would receive at home while the mother was at work, some folks were skeptical.  The idea of a shoe manufacturing company starting a nursery and kindergarten for the children of its employees was a new one.

But the plan has worked, — probably better than even the most optimistic official of the company had hoped.  The three-story house adjoining the factory on Bickford St., opposite the Lucretia Crocker school, already is threatened with being outgrown, and the company is prepared to throw open to the kiddies and their caretakers the roomy house next door.

Some time ago a small temporary nursery was established in the factory building itself, to provide for the children of employees.  But with the war, the scarcity of male labor and the increasing number of women entering the field; the need for larger quarters became pressing.

In the new home every accommodation is made for the care and training of children from 3 months to five years of age.  On the third floor are airy sleeping rooms where the babies slumber peacefully in tiny white cribs.  Downstairs is the big kindergarten room for the older children, where educational play is the program.  On the ground level are the dining and reception rooms and the big kitchen where dainty, nourishing food is prepared.

And then the yard!  Out there, in the sunshine, is the big sandbox, where the youthful architects were hard at work.  And around this busy space is the big play space for the little mothers with their dolls and the brave soldier boys in paper caps.  

Manager Charles M. Lawrence of the company has a personal interest in the welfare of these little ones, and frequently drops in to call on them.  Dr. Lewis, the company’s staff physician, not only visits the kindergarten regularly twice a day, but is always within instant call.

Miss Euphemia Christie, formerly a kindergarten teacher in the Boston Public schools and the Perkins Institution for the Blind, is constantly with her little charges.  Miss Mary O’Leary is in charge of the nursery.

Many of the mothers of these bright children are the wives of men now fighting in France.  Others are widowed.  

The mothers come to the house just before 8 o’clock each morning and leave their children.  Following supervised play in the morning, the larger children have lunch at 11:30.  The smaller tots and the babies always have plenty of milk.  Then in the afternoon comes the interesting and instructive play in the kindergarten.  

The children seem to be delighted with their life.  The mothers like it too and new children are constantly being received.  Today, of the Plant Company’s 5000 employees, 2500 are women, and the number is growing rapidly.

This work for the children is only one of the services which the Thomas G. Plant Company gives to its employees.  The factory features include separate rest and recreation rooms for men and women, equipped with pianos and games; reading rooms, with a free lending library of 3000 volumes; a restaurant and dining rooms, with service at less than cost; a hall for club dances and parties; women vocational experts to assist women workers; a hospital supervised by Dr. Lewis, the staff physician, who is in the factory during working hours, and who is assisted by Miss Armstrong, a professional visiting nurse; a private park of several acres, adjoining the factory, with a greenhouse growing flowers for employees, sold at cost; a roof promenade for the noon hour; separate locker for every worker; a refrigerating plant providing chilled drinking water throughout the establishment; a heating and ventilating system that changes the air completely every three minutes; bright, clean factory interior; bowling alleys, billiard and pool rooms; a barber shop and facilities for getting cigars, soft drinks and candy.

A corps of investigators is constantly employed to look up absentees – especially among the younger people, whose parents in many instances do not know when the youngsters stay away from their work.  For the boys and girls a private continuation school is maintained.

This article originally appeared in the Boston Daily Globe on June 23, 1918