Monday, September 5, 2011

Grateful for Labor

twelve inches of rain and it is still coming was the perfect day to drink a cup of hot tea and read a good book, but that was not to be.  Spent most of the day on the road, in the rain......that is just how it goes sometimes.  But it does sound so good tonight on the tin roof!

Labor Day, I have thought about my dad, his dad and my brothers and uncles today.  I come from a blue collar dad's dad was a coal miner and union organizer, my dad was a coal miner and plumber, my brothers were/are welders, coal miners and plumbers and my uncles were coal miners.  My dad went to work in the coal mines when he was twelve years old for twenty-five cents  a day ( twelve hours a day).  When the war broke out, he joined the Air Force, became a medic and after the war, came back to Alabama  and the coal mines.  Not longer after, he was in a mining explosion and almost sixty percent of his body was burned.  That's when he became a plumber, but he ended up back in the mines in the seventies(only way to get retirement and health insurance) only a few years later to be diagnosed with black lung and heart disease.
He died in 1991, he could not beat those two diseases.

I think of him, going down into that dark dirty hole, of the coal dust that coated his lungs and choked him to death......I think of laborers all over this country, who have died from asbestos, white lung, black lung, from explosions , and all kinds of ungodly working conditions, including exposure to chemicals and lord knows what else.  Any time I hear people talk with disgust about the labor unions, it causes my heart to ache.......I know that the unions have become just like the politics in this country, full of greed and corruption, but I know that people like my father benefited from the good of the unions.........he had health insurance and a retirement
check.......because trust me, if it had been left up to the companies that owned the mines, miners would still be making twenty-five cents a day, and children would still be working in them.

I am proud to be the daughter and sister and grand daughter and niece of blue collar workers, people who worked long hard days, who risked their lives for their jobs, to put food on their tables and a roof over their families heads.  It seems that now, blue collar is such a dirty word, no one wants to work with their hands and every one wants a college degree.  I hear my brother and nephew talk about their work(they are plumbers) and they take such pride in doing a good job.......I think about Ray, our friend who has helped us all summer, rebuild the barn, our house, and the old farm house, he loves working with his hands and takes great pride in what he does......he is seventy years old and still going strong.

So tonight, I just want to say how much I appreciate those who labor and toil in this country, who work in the heat and the cold,  the rain and the snow, whose skin is weathered and worn, whose joints hurt with every movement, but they do the jobs that many of us would never do.  They build highways, and houses, and skyscrapers, bridges and oil rigs, they drive trucks, and farm, they plumb, and dig ditches, they build pipelines, they work the mines, and the fields, they build cars and trucks, and I am grateful on this Labor Day for their labor.

Good night, Sweet dreams.


  1. This really touched my heart. My husband belongs to a union and if he hadn't I'm sure he would have been let go because he got cancer years ago and missed a lot of work. I'm very thankful for our union who gets us good pay, benefits and safety rules.
    The men in the mines should be paid huge salaries since their lungs are blackened by the work. Actually, this shouldn't happen in this modern age. I'm sorry you lost your father this way, Jilda.

  2. Here in England, it seems everyone wants to push the young into university, whether they want to go or not; and yet, the only people who have steady work are those who have learned a useful trade.

  3. Story about your dad is full of love.And his love was no fun wgen it came to work.What a hard life.We often forget taht some people worked really hard in those days.Where is the work etic gone?

  4. Awww Jilda!! This is the best Labor Day celebration post I've come across. Your dad is a true American hero. Your dad and his brothers and your nephews and the women too of course!

    You've come from a proud and honourable ancestry. Yay!

    And I'd much rather workers had/have labour unions than not.

    Take care

  5. Hi Jilda, you have made a beautiful tribute to your dad and to all those who work so hard. I gave a small tribute to my grandfather who worked in a textile mill all his life, not written so eloquently as yours, but I think of him also on Labor Day and all those who work with strong hands and tenacious minds. Hope it stopped raining! I think it moved north because we have rain today. Have a great day!

  6. What an interesting story about your past.

    You're a coal miner's daughter and proud of it. I didn't know there were minds in Alabama.

    Your dad sounded like a wonderful man.


  7. My Dad was a tool and dye maker and worked in a factory all his adult life. My Grandfather who came from Greece was a miner in Penn. and Utah. He was in a mine cave in too. But being an immigrant he worked hard to feed his family, learn a trade, learn a new language..he never depended on the Government to take care of him. I'm also very proud to come from hard, working class folks..the ones that helped build and make this country the greatest place to live.