In the early days of ship-building, work in the yards began with sunrise and ended at sunset, with allowance of time for meals.
In later times the work hours were from 7 in the morning until 6 at night with an hour's nooning.
Usually about sixty men were employed building a ship.
They were the ship-carpenters, the calkers, the outboard and inboard joiners.
The wages received were $2 per day, apprentices receiving $40 to $50 per year and board; many of the apprentices boarded with the proprietor of the yard.
To build a 1,000 or 1,200 ton ship required about six months. In early times the timber was obtained in the neighborhood— then in New Hampshire
—from where it was transported via the old Middlesex canal
and drawn by ox-teams to the ship-yard.
It was a sight in winter to see these teams go by—creaking, squeaking, the oxen with frosted backs and icicles hanging from their mouths.
Much might be written about the building of a ship from the laying of the first timber to the finishing touch, but that must be left for another time.
To be in the yard watching the varied processes going on in the ship's construction was the acme of delight to the interested boy. Oftentimes a few pennies were earned by some errand or by tending the steam-shed fire.
‘Looking in at the open door’ of the blacksmith shop never lacked in attraction for the children.
In early days matches were unknown, and old Mr. Lapham
, the blacksmith, would be seen daily coming up the street from his house with his fire-brand to light his forge fire.
What a supply of ‘chewing-gum’ for the children there was in those big kettles of tar where all were permitted to help themselves without spending a cent!
The great day was the day of the launch.
The neighborhood poured out—old ship captains came