Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good News, Love On A Picket Line, Trolls

It's good to be back home in New Mexico after spending time up in Michigan helping Mom out and celebrating her 91st birthday with brothers and sisters, their kids and kids' kids and some close family friends. Below is a picture of Mom, Agnes May (Stull) Conway, with brothers Bob, Bill and Frank behind her and flanked by sisters Jackie Poff and Sandra Mortenson. The pretty brunette next to me is artist Kathy Goldstein of Jackson, MI, a good fiend of the family who I got to come down and surprise Mom.




Hometown New Buffalo is on the lake in the state's southwest corner and was once a big port town. It was named by its founder, Buffalo, New York merchant marine captain Wessell Whittaker, who turned developer in not long after he shipwrecked in 1834 on what is now New Buffalo's beach. The main street, which Whittaker named for himself, ends at Lake Michigan, next to the mouth of a beautiful, lush estuary that winds through the wooded sand dunes where I romped and tromped and sometimes hunted and fished as I went through that process where everything becomes less and less certain that we know of as growing up. 

Properties on and near the lake sell for more than a million dollars. Those are the "Chicago people." The working class of New Buffalo, including some in my family, do the Chicago peoples' carpentry, remodeling, painting and wallpapering, mow their yards, do their plumbing, electrical work and lay their carpeting. While I was home I spent a few days helping Bill paint a house a few miles up the lake in Bridgman.

The picture below is of a little creek that runs through Mom's seven acres, which is across the New York Central passenger tracks from the lake. You might be able to pick out the gravel embankment of the C&O freight switching yard. I grew up to the rumbling of switch engines and the banging of rail cars as they were shunted off to different tracks, but the yard isn't used any more. Michigan has been de-industrialized by Capitalism and its Democrat and Republican handmaids.






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The above picture shows where the estuary I mentioned empties into Lake Michigan at a nice little US Army Corps of Engineers built taxpayer funded harbor. One river bend away from there is the beginning of a lush duneland ecosystem supported by a marsh populated with deer, ducks, geese, herons, foxes, cougars and all kinds of birds and critters.


Photo by Kevin Dooley - flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/




Love On A Picket Line

One of the long conversations I had with Mom during my visit led to her telling the tale of how she and Dad met. I'd never heard before and am very glad to have now. It goes like this: One morning in 1944 she was on her way to work in the office at the big Oliver Farm Equipment company in South Bend, IN, and there was a picket line in front of the plant. Mom did the "foreign billing." Lots of farm equipment was being sold to Cuba.

There was a man  in a suit and tie there who represented the International -- union headquarters in Washington -- and who also operated a steam powered crane in the plant's foundry, my dad, Maurice Conway. She asked him what she should do and he said she should go down to the union hall and have a doughnut and coffee.

What he meant was, 'Don't cross the picket line.' This is something you don't do in union country. My Mom knew about such things. Her family had fled the potato famine that followed the Revolution of 1848 along with millions of other Germans who helped build the American Labor Movement and who spread prairie populism through US farm country, built Grange halls, formed grain and milk cooperatives and burned their crops and dumped their milk on the ground in fights with the big distributors. She went down to the union hall and he came down later, sat across from her, they started chatting, one thing led to another.

The union my Dad was a member of, Mom said, the United Farm Equipment and Metal Workers Of America, would soon be disbanded by the government because it's leaders were Communists, and after that the workers were represented by the United Autoworkers Union.

I searched for more details about that and they weren't readily available, but I did come across a web site that talked about the Farm Equipment union becoming the subject "raids" by the United Auto Workers and the UAW forcing the Farm Equipment union out of some workplaces.

Both stories are in keeping with the history of the major industrial union leaders' collaboration with the US and state governments in their McCarthyite witch hunts for Communists and their suppression of Socialism in the Labor Movement. Most of the big unions at the time conducted well publicized purges of their Communist members. Recall also that the then president of the actor's union, the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan, was giving the names of friends and colleagues who he suspected of being Communists to the FBI, leading to them being blackballed and usually ending of their careers.



And Not Even A Trot Line Was Thrown Out

A retired male nurse trolls my blog and leaves comments that I delete without even reading because they never vary in tone or content. He concocts arguments against me by saying I said this or that when I never said this or that and is seemingly obsessed with getting his version of what I said into print. At one point he tried commenting anonymously using a John Wayne-like alter ego he slips into now and then.

He wanted Hillary Clinton to be president and like many people simply can't wrap his head around the fact that her and her brand of conservative, corporate friendly Democrat, who completely control the party apparatus,  have been nothing but one big disaster for the American working class, even worse for working people in other countries.

People really do need to get a grip. For all the horror and panic about Donald Trump you hear he's accomplished nothing and his prospects for getting anything accomplished diminish every day and with each gaffe, overreach, tweet and ignorant misstep his bumbling administration takes the opposition to him grows, enabled by massive working class resistance to everything Trump tries to do that affects working peoples' bottom line.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, there would be no resistance. Government would be working smoothly and relentlessly on behalf of corporations and the wealthy and no one would even notice because the media would be going about business as usual, willfully oblivious as Clinton and her $250,000 per paid speech Wall Street benefactors further eviscerated American living standards and murdered countless innocent brown skinned people abroad with complete impunity.

No one makes an argument against that. There isn't one. The argument people use is that they can't believe anyone would ever want Donald Trump to be president and not Hillary and they stew in childish anger until they find an object for it that they can lash out at.








2 comments:

  1. Interesting story on your visit and family. Sometimes important family facts slip into oblivion for lack of letting anyone know about them. In my opinion in a world where everyone with a bumper sticker, pin or patch wants to be a hero people like your parents were the unsung, unknown heroes. There were a lot of them back then before the "information age".

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  2. Yes, our parents were real working class heroes. So is my brother Frank. "A working class hero is something to be." -- John Lennon

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