Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2018/Fall/Section 3/Jake Bryant

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Jake Bryant[edit | edit source]

Jake Bryant's birth date is unknown. Information on his early life is not clear, but at some point he got married in Atlanta, Georgia. He then moved to New York where he ran a hotel with the help of his wife, whose name is also unknown. His purpose of pursuing this occupation is also unclear. He often complained that many customers did not pay for their rooms, and acts of thievery were common. Soon after, Bryant abandoned his hotel and went to Alabama to deal with the will of his dead mother. Afterwards, Bryant drove up north in search of a job, and his car burst into flames. His valuables and savings were all destroyed. This event started his hitchhiking trip with his wife when they met a man, name unknown, who drove them to Ila, Georgia. The same man introduced Bryant to a man named Wilson, who gave Bryant and his wife a job as cotton-pickers. After making enough money for a bus fare to Augusta, Georgia, Bryant was hired at a store in which he made $25 a week.[1] $25 in 1939 is the equivalent to $440.22 in 2018.[2] With this salary, Bryant and his wife were able to move to Madison County, Virginia. There he decided to become a hitchhiker, again, for reasons unknown other than wanting "to get the thrill of it once more." The date of his death is unknown.[3]

Hotel Industry[edit | edit source]

Women's Roles in Mangement[edit | edit source]

Throughout the 20th century, hotel management had been a male dominated industry, as it continues to be today. There was a positive correlation between an women's education and women's involvement in the hotel industry during the early 1900s. A higher education meant greater opportunity in the industry. Traditionally, the industry has been a result of education, status attainment, and experience. According to Farrar, "The report lists cultural bias among the factors generating the wide gender gap, which experts and insiders attribute to hospitality being a very old industry with long-standing traditions and generational issues that in many instances are just now being addressed to promote diversity."[4]

The start of WWII influenced the change in women's roles within the industry. Women were still not given positions of authority, yet many were offered jobs while men fought in the war. "It was a new beginning in hospitality as the '40s dawned. Women became hotel 'bell girls' and schools became the training ground for studies in hospitality service excellence."[5]

In 1993 there were only 100 women amongst more than 44,000 basic hotel managers in total in the United States. The gender diversity of corporate managers was even less.[6] Twenty-three years later, CEO positions within hotel companies were made up of just barely five percent of women, thus showing inadequate yet evident change.[7] The oppression of women, particularly in the workforce, is ongoing. Diversity has yet to be attained in the United States hotel industry.[8]

Before and During the Great Depression[edit | edit source]

A new idea of "paid time off from work" began in the early 1920s while the economy was booming. This extra time encouraged many in the work force to travel which further pushed a need for hotels. In 1925, the first motel made in the United States cost a visitor $2.50 a night. Motels became popular due to Route 66, a highway extending from Chicago to Los Angeles, that made traveling easier.[9]

"By the end of the roaring 20's in 1929, the Great Depression Hit."[10] The Great Depression of 1929 started the deterioration of the hotel industry. Many could no longer afford to stay in a hotel, a place of leisure and rest. From 1928 to 1932, occupancy levels dropped from 71% to 50%.[11] Most hotels went into bankruptcy. In just 10 years, the price of hotel rooms went from roughly $2.00 to $5.60.[12]

Premarital Sex[edit | edit source]

Prostitution[edit | edit source]

During the 20th century, premarital sex was taboo, yet many hotel owners ignored fleeting sexual relationships. Their priorities were set on financial gain. Prostitutes were customers too, as long as they paid their rent. During the Great Depression, hotel managers were even more inclined to allow any customer to rent out a room due to the poor economy and business, thus indirectly promoting premarital sex. For many working-class women, prostitution was an economic solution. "...Women took advantage of the new residential patterns to practice prostitution in secret."[13] With the poor economy and oppression of women, specifically in the hotel industry, prostitution became the only way of survival for many.[14]

Childbearing Trends[edit | edit source]

Between the 1930s and 1960s, an increase in the proportion of premarital births took place. There may be a relation between premarital first births and race, as well. "For Black women 15 to 29 years old, the percentage of first births either born or conceived before first marriage doubled from 43 percent during the 1930-1934 period to 86 percent during the 1990-94 period (Table 1)."[15] A social trend following an increase in the sexual activity of women and delays in marriage facilitated the increase of premarital births. Cheap hotels also promoted this increase in providing a place for sexual activity regardless of marital status.

A major decline in premarital births occurred between 1960 and 1980. This time period demonstrated great social change: availability of effective birth control, relaxed abortion laws, and improved educational attainment. In 1960, "the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as contraception" yet only for married couples.[16] Twelve years later, birth control was legalized for all citizens.[17]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ina B. Hawkes, It Wasn't So Easy, Chapel Hill, Federal Writers' Project Papers, 1936-1940, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1-5.
  2. Value of $25 in 1939. Inflation Calculator for Today's Dollars.
  3. Ina B. Hawkes, It Wasn't So Easy, Chapel Hill, Federal Writers' Project Papers, 1936-1940, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1-5.
  4. Jeri Clausing, Women in Hospitality Management: The Gender Gap is Wide, 2018.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Angela L. Farrar, It's All About Relationships: African-American And European-American Women's Hotel Management Careers, (Ann Arbor, MI., UMI Microfoam 1998), 1.
  7. Jeri Clausing, Women in Hospitality Management: The Gender Gap is Wide, 2018.
  8. Ibid.
  9. “100 Years of Trends In The Hospitality Industry: Hotels.” Gecko Hospitality, 1.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Kostuch, Looking Back at the Hospitality Industry in the '30s and '40s,2013, 1.
  12. “100 Years of Trends In The Hospitality Industry: Hotels.” Gecko Hospitality.
  13. Elizabeth Alice Clement, Love for Sale: Courting, Treating, and Prostitution in New York City, 1900-1945 Chapel Hill, NC., The University of North Carolina Press, 2006, 94.
  14. Ibid., 94.
  15. Amara Bachu, Trends in Premarital Childbearing: 1930 to 1994 Minnesota, University of Minnesota, 1999, 3.
  16. Kirsten M.J. Thompson. "A Brief History of Birth Control in the U.S." Our Bodies Ourselves. 2018. Accessed October 07, 2018.
  17. Ibid.