By the time I was growing up, blue laws were a matter of retail stores being shuttered on Sundays. I knew that things were different in Colonial times, but I didn't realize just how recent widespread work restrictions were.
Boston Daily Globe January 21, 1907
Obstacles In Sewer Work
Danger of Cave-In at Stony Brook.
Overflowing Waters May Mean Damage to L Structure.
Contractor Puts Blame on the Blue Laws.
Sunday blue laws and the elements have operated to the great disadvantage of contractor J.D. Fallon, who is constructing section 4 of the Stony brook sewer at Jamaica Plain. He estimates his loss thus far as $4000, as a result of the overflow of the waters of the brook into the trenches on Jan 1, which he says might have been prevented had he been permitted to work his men on Sunday, Dec 30.
The rain of Saturday and the melting snow yesterday caused an undermining of the flume through which the water flows at the side of the open trench, and the flume settled 3 1/2 feet, threatening at any moment to cave in and fill the open trench with water, gravel and quicksand, and destroy completed work on the sewer and adjacent property.
"Should such a thing happen," said Mr Fallon, "the elevated structure on Washington st, near Willaims st, would be in grave danger."
In consideration of these alarming conditions, a gang of workmen labored yesterday to prevent such a disaster, if possible. The names of workmen were taken by the local police for working Sunday.
The flume through which the water of the brook is diverted is within two feet of the sides of the excavation on section 4, near its head on Williams st. It is only 6x6 feet, built of two-inch plank, tongued and grooved, with one-inch timbers. For a considerable distance the flume, with its weight of water, has sunk 5 1/2 feet on account of the shifting quicksand under it.
"I am working today to concrete the bottom and sides of the sewer excavation, to secure the trench proper and the flume, as the water is causing the quicksands under the flume and the trench to shift," said contractor Fallon. "I got to work today to save the conduit already built. Had I been allowed to work three weeks ago today I could have saved the financial loss and trouble to me at that time, and the difficulty I am having today. If the sides of the trench, which is about 30 feet deep, should cave in, there is no knowing what would happen, but it would probably mean the destruction of that wooden building at the corner of Williams and Washington sts and possible damage to the elevated structure on Washington st. To get this trench covered down and weighted with concrete is the only way of saving the work already completed, and that is what I am trying to do by working night and day.
"Yesterday, engineer Mahoney, in charge of the work, ordered the dam of heavy timbers and bags of sand cut down, so that if the brook should rise to such a height the flume could not care for the water, it could pass over the dam and flood the excavation and pass out through the work. The height of the dam was lowered about 1 1/2 feet. I have had so much trouble with the job that I have got beyond the point of worrying about it, and I am going to to the best I can to finish the 120 feet more of conduit I am to build as quickly as I can, and be done with it."