Wednesday, March 24, 2004

A Remarkably Earnest Post 

So -- some funny and pointless Times article that I was reading because it had a funny picture:

led me to a website for senior citizens. On the front page, there was a request that members of the SeniorNet community pick the next book for the discussion club. One of the choices was Waiting for Godot, which I found incredibly funny and indescribably sad. I clicked the link, which led to a list of current and future book-discussions, including one by Studs Terkel about activism. I was intrigued by what our nation's old people, usually portrayed on tv as more or less only wanting "that racket" turned off, thought about the work of lovable ol' leftist Studs. The discussion had nothing to do with the book -- it was simply a discussion of activism, how it manifests itself on the left and right, and what it meant to these people. Then, out of nowhere, I saw this post by "Justin":
In the winter of 1946 I worked as a timekeeper in the GM Assembly plant in Linden NJ. The UAW called a strike that year. It was launched during my shift- the 3 to 11 shift. The strikers locked themselves inside the plant and shut down production. They failed to account for the presence of managerial personnel, including time keepers, locked in with them. The strikers had captured the cafeteria and it's staff as well but food was available for only a few days. If the strike were not over in a few days we would all go hungry. Three days passed and the strike continued. One night goons broke all the windows in the plant causing the inside temperature to drop substantially. It was very cold that winter. On the fourth day the strikers traded managerial people for food trucks. But they were short changed on the food. I was released and in the parking lot found my car with a dead battery.When the strike ended I failed to return to work. Reading about Reuther and the River Rouge plants brings all that back in my mind like it was yesterday.

My god -- that's worthy of being in the Terkel book. It's simple, matter-of-fact, but it describes a commitment to progressive values and the living-standard and the rights of workers that is simply not described, discussed, or recognized today.

Anyway, it turns out that even people 4-5 times my age are worth listening to.
(that was irony, for anyone reading over 50)
(that faux-condescension was an ironic device too, I promise)

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