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The Kid of Coney IslandFred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements$
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Woody Register

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167320.001.0001

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The Moon for a Plaything

The Moon for a Plaything

Fred Thompson's Apprenticeship in Play, 1873–1901

Chapter:
(p.23) Two The Moon for a Plaything
Source:
The Kid of Coney Island
Author(s):

Woody Register

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167320.003.0002

Thompson was born on Halloween in 1873. He was not born to a world of leisure or play; in fact the opposite. He came of age in steel towns from western Pennsylvania to St. Louis, and the expectation was that he, like his father, would find his calling in the promise of the industrial nation. But even as he served his apprenticeship in factories and internalized that culture's myths and promises, he never fully accepted the terms of Gilded Age industry. The keenest insight he acquired over the course of his apprenticeship, which ranged from steel mills to the gaudy midways of the fin de siècle world's fairs, was that he was not alone in his discontents. Other men shared the desire to have more fun. Instead of censuring or repressing this wish, Thompson ultimately exploited it by applying his industrial patrimony to produce a marketable and fantastic form of rebellion against the diminishing rewards of work in an industrializing corporate society.

Keywords:   Fred Thompson, early life, apprenticeship, work, steel

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