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Benjamin Chernorudsky (aka Share) circa 1917

My grandpa Benjamin Chernorudsky (aka Share) was an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union in the 1920s. According to family stories, grandpa was on the negotiating team for the first 40 hour work week for tailors and cutters in Chicago – back then, a 6-day 48 hour week was standard.

While visiting the Chicago History Museum archives in 2008, I found documents from the Amalgamated Chicago Joint Board. In an old box that hadn’t been looked at in 40 years, I found a panoramic photograph, 17” x 11” in size, of a union picnic dated 1922. The formal photo showed about 200 men, and about 30 women, ranged in rows in Lincoln Park. The men were dapper but sweltering in woolen suits they had probably made themselves. I didn’t have a magnifying glass, so I couldn’t determine if my grandpa Ben was in the picture, although one fellow near the front looked like he might have been a younger version of a photo of grandpa I had in my collection. So I arranged for it to be digitized and sent to me on a CD. I took the disc to my mom’s, installed it on her computer, and opened the file. I called mom into the room. I had not told her that I thought her dad might have been in the picture – I just asked her if she recognized anybody. Imagine my delight, when she looked closely at each face and suddently said – “That’s my father!”

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