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Working Class Heroes: A Lyrical Essay

Updated on February 18, 2014

Thoughts of the Past


The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.
Helen Keller

My father was a blue collar worker his entire life. He dropped out of school when he was but a sophomore in high school, and for the next two years he rode the rails in search of odd jobs. You see, it was the Great Depression, and his family needed money, and back then family came before education.

When he was old enough he enlisted in the Army, fought in five campaigns in Italy during World War II, and then came home to start a family. He then worked twenty years in a sand & gravel pit, lifting gravel, testing it, shoveling, rain or shine, day in and day out and never complained. He died three days before his fiftieth birthday.

My mother worked as a seamstress during the Depression, and then when the war broke out she was a welder in a shipbuilding factory in New Jersey. After the war, married to my father, she worked retail jobs for twenty years until health forced her to retire early.

My grandparents were corn farmers in Iowa. Up at dawn, working until bone-tired at sunset, then they were back up the next day to repeat the pattern for twenty-three years until they lost their farm during the 1930’s.

I come from hardy stock; honest, hard-working people who understood that there are no free handouts in life. They were determined to make it on their own, and if life dealt them a rotten hand they just played it out and hoped that the next deal came up aces. It never did, but not a single excuse ever left their lips.

This article is for my family, in their memory and written with love.

My father, as hard a working man as I have ever known.
My father, as hard a working man as I have ever known. | Source

Dan Fogelberg "The Reach"

The Sea Giveth and the Sea Taketh


You do not punch a clock when your life is the sea. Ask a fisherman to describe their normal day and they will just laugh. How does one describe a life in tune with the rhythm of nature? Where does one begin? It’s the way it’s been done since the old days, passed down from each generation.

Pull in those nets, hand over hand,

Keep your eye pealed to the horizon, son

The seas roll, the wind howls

And good Lord willing the catch will be delivered.

Some will die at sea and quite frankly it is expected by all. On those quiet mornings when the wind has died and the sun rises slowly in the east, and the gulls screech overhead and the promise of bounty is five miles from shore, those are the times when the fisherman thanks God for the life he’s been given, and can’t imagine why anyone would take a city job and miss out on a higher calling.

Clearing the land
Clearing the land | Source

Spar Poles, High Climbers and Lost Fingers


Work hard and die young; that was the legacy of loggers in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 19th Century. Thousands of immigrants headed west to answer the call. Civilization needed those trees and by God there were millions of them in the mountains of Oregon and Washington. Dangerous work for sure, but work that paid an honest wage for an honest day’s labor, and hard work was nothing new to those Swedes, Poles and Irish.

These were men who had worked hard since they were twelve, and they understood that life gives and life takes with no degree of malice.

No sunlight today, boys, a storm moving in

Check the wind, boys, she’ll shift on you and

Leave you runnin’ for your life on a bad cut

Makin’ widows of your lady folks.

Two men to a saw, back-breaking labor from early morning fog to scorching afternoon sun. Fall into bed after a quick dinner then up the next day to start again, for there was no end to the forest, no end to the dream and certainly no end to the Manifest Destiny. This was God’s land and he willed it to us, a secret handshake between mortal and immortal.

Assembly workers
Assembly workers | Source

Mass Production, Assembly Lines and the Building of an Empire


Massive buildings throughout the Midwest, mostly deserted now. Blocks long in size, windows now broken out or boarded over, but once vibrant and carrying the dreams of a new industrial giant. Ideas carried across the Atlantic. Toss in some steam power, then electricity. Row after row of machines, each producing a specific part; then row after row of working stations, where men fitted the whole puzzle together into a functioning machine or product for purchase.

Off to home after a long shift, and dinner with the family in a row house deep within the bowels of the Italian, or Irish, or Norwegian neighborhood. Watch the kids play stickball after dinner, listen to the Yankees or Cubbies take on their rivals, then lay me down to sleep.

Can’t hear what you’re saying boss.

The screech of those pullies is drowning out your words.

What’s that you say? Overtime, boss? You betcha, boss?

Gotta make it while there’s still life in these old bones.

Neighbors looking out for each other in a microcosm of the old country, that’s how it was in the inner city. A man worked hard and often died hard, but complaining was unheard of and unacceptable. There was pride in those factories, as if each automobile was individually made by each worker. They would point to a washer, dryer or new Ford and proudly tell their kids that they made that product and by God it was the best made on Earth.

Mining
Mining | Source

Deep in the Bowels of the Earth


From the hills of West Virginia to the forests of Minnesota, and a hundred spots in-between, men kissed their wives goodbye and trudged down a dark hole bored into the Earth. Picks and shovels were their tools of trade, as normal a part of life as Black Lung. Punch through that vein, load up that car, cough up that phlegm and pass it down to your children. As long as the Earth was offering her treasures then men were there to gladly accept. We needed those minerals. A whole country was depending on them and we can’t slow down the business of doing business.

Airways, ventilation, backfills and bearing plates.

Conveyor belts, black damp, deposits and detonators.

One hundred fathoms down into the sea of black

And hope that canary don’t die!

Who knows what the average age of a miner was at death. Thirty? Forty? How many ounces of coal dust does the average lung hold? Life was measured by the number of weddings and funerals, births and injuries, and if you couldn’t show up the job was handed over to the next able body. No use whining and bellyaching; it’s just a fact of life…and death.

Are there hard-working blue collar workers in your family?

See results

The Legacy Continues


They are out there among you. Do you see them? The wheat farmer in Cheyenne, the waitress in Topeka, and the long-haul driver crisscrossing the highways of this country, all out there doing what needs doing. Do you see them? The machinist in Detroit, the utility worker in Portland and the oil-rigger in Stillwater, all singing a song as old as this nation.

They are the backbone and lifeblood of our society, grateful for a job and never giving an inch despite the hardships and disappointments of life. Sharecroppers and clerks, firemen and textile workers, side by side and hand in hand, carrying on a legacy as important as the Constitution and every bit as reliable.

These are America’s blue collar workers. I am proud to be their descendant and I salute them.

Blue jeans and Carhartts, no high-brow fashion here.

Rags around the neck to soak up the sweat and RedMan in

the back pocket. Church-goin’, truck-drivin’

Ass-bustin’, easy-laughin’ and loyal as the day is long.

Thank you mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. I love you all!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • bizarrett81 profile image

      bizarrett81 4 years ago from Maine

      What a loving and beautiful tribute to those blue collar workers. "Blue jeans a carhart, no high brow fashion here"... I love that line, I myself have had mostly jobs that require that attire LOL. My family has worked hard and I am proud of them as you are of yours, these people are the ones making it possible for others to have lavish lifestyles...

      Its funny you posted this this morning, I just posted a poem I wrote about my son's great grandfather, also a WWII Veteran and blue collar man...

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Beautiful tribute to those who were blue collar workers in your own family. And you are right blue collar does still exist just in different forms now. Thanks for reminder of that and a look back to the past, too. Have of course voted and shared as always!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Elizabeth, thank you so much. I am proud of my family. I, too, have had blue collar jobs for years and it is honest, hard work and I'm humbled by those who came before me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! Where would this country be without them? I appreciate you more than you know.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Hi Bill, blue collar workers do not often have lyrical essays written about them! My husband was an electrician, and right now I am excited that my grandson is pursuing a welding career. Can't wait to see how wonderful his choice will be! Very lovely Hub.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful hub Billy ;hard grafting and honest hearts !!A great trip down Memory Lane, voted up and shared.

      Eddy.

    • Dancing Water profile image

      Dancing Water 4 years ago

      It is high time that the blue collar worker gets praise and credit for the back breaking work he/she does. Today's Americans practically scorn an honest day's work. The strategy for way too many workers these days is to see how little work one can "get away with," and to live for the weekend.

      My father worked in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee, and he was so proud of his service to our country and for working in construction. I was and am proud of him, too. Your heartfelt tribute to your parents is so very lovely, Bill!

      Thank you for such a well expressed article! This one needs to go in Fortune Magazine! Truly!

      You've hit a home run once again, Bill! And this one is out of the park!

      Blessings and hugs,

      Reba

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I can see why you're proud of this one! We rarely look back and take time to think of those without whom we wouldn't be here. Ok, weird sentence, but you know what I mean. We've allowed materialism to take over, so instead of going out and "getting 'er done" we whine and complain about what we don't have. Great lesson today, Teach.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vicki, thank you! I'm trying to convince my son to learn a trade and make an "honest living." LOL It might be a tough job convincing him, but I lived it and I know how important these jobs are.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eddy and I will be by to visit you shortly.

      love,

      billy

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I think that anyone who is willing to roll up the sleeves and work is a good person. So many people today are complaining about the lack of unemployment..and those very people are unwilling to do work they feel is not to their level. To me if I was hungry I would go in a restaurant and offer to wash dishes for lunch. Of course I do believe that if you are able..you should.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Reba, these people truly are the backbone of this country. Riches have been made on their shoulders, and how would the nation function without them? I am proud of my heritage and I think the average American working stiff deserves more recognition.

      Thank you kind lady and have a great weekend.

      hugs and blessings, today and always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, thank you and yes, weird sentence. LOL I will never forget the lessons learned and I will always be proud of my family.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      If pride be a sin, allow me to sin in being damn Proud to be an American.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I shoveled coal into a blast furnace in the hull of a ship....worked warehouse in sub-freezing temps....worked in a lumber yard....it's honest work and it has purpose and pride in it.

      Thank you my friend and have a great weekend....and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Eric! I'm sinning right alongside you today. Thank you!

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 4 years ago

      Great job, Bill. You have given us a view of the sweat and tears that build this nation. There was no government assistance. If you didn't work, you didn't eat. This work ethic is what made our country strong and resilient.

      These values seen to have gone by the way of the "entitlement" generation.

      Your write is outstanding, as is most all your hubs.

      You write for the love of writing and you share things that you have learned along the way.

      Thank you, Bill.

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, thank you! There seems to be a tendency these days to look down our noses at the workers of the world.....and I think they need praise. It is noble work they do, and without them this country or any country could not function. Take away the legs and a nation cannot walk. :)

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Up,++ my friend. What a beautiful tribute to your family. And what a beautiful tribute to most of our families. Great imagery, Bill! I could really picture them as I was reading! Thank you!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You made clear points here on blue collar workers often they are not given the praise they deserve.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Randi! I thought it was about time someone write about the honesty, hard-working people who make this country rock and roll. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE! The ones I know are good people and deserve some praise.

    • profile image

      mjkearn 4 years ago

      Hi Sir Bill

      Fabulous tribute to those who paved the way for us.

      Never heard of Blue Collar Worker but I've spent most of my life with a Black Collar, Black Face, Black Hands and I'm sure other Black Parts under the coveralls.

      So does that mean I qualify?

      Done the fishing and that I'm sure is the hardest trade I've ever tried. Those boys deserve more than medals. It's definitely one that I lack the motsy (or balls) for. Probably not allowed to say that but what the heck it's the truth.

      Done a fair bit of logging on a much smaller Irish Forestry scale but still had the odd tree come at me even when I cut it to go away. Scary bloody stuff.

      Done the assembly line thingy too but on Jet Engines not cars, funnily enough.

      Never been down the pit but I live on one. Seriously good old Wolfhill was once a thriving coal mine and the slag heaps are still visible from my kitchen window.

      My little old cottage makes many a noise and some nights I truly expect that in the morning I'll wake at the bottom of one of the many shafts running under me.

      Then again I've done most of the repairs on this old house so maybe it's just my wonky work shaking and complaining.

      Just one moan though and I'm sure just a minor oversight on your part but having read this twice, I just can't find any mention of that good old, passion intensive, night and day, community essential, art of Moon Shinning. (Poitin here).

      That's what copper pipe was invented for wasn't it?

      Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Bill and thanks for writing, sharing and causing me to happily reflect on those loved ones who are here no more.

      Voted up, ticked and oh yes, very happily shared.

      MJ. (aka The Mickster)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MJ, for sure the copper pipe was invented for good old fashioned moonshine. How could I have been so negligent? Thank you for steering me straight.

      It does not surprise me at all that you have gotten your hands dirty and mixed it up with the blue collars. You may well have been born with a wrench in your little hands. :) You gave me the laugh I needed this morning, MJ, and for that I am grateful.

      Thank you Mickster....say hello to the lovely Suzie for me.

      bill

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Thank you for telling this story so well with insights from your family--you honor the unsung folk heroes from the seafaring, farming, logging, and mining trades, among others. The classic rock song choices are a poignant addition (note: the Dan Fogelberg link said the video player was too small for me, but I easily found it on YouTube).

      My father retired as a well-loved teacher and guidance counselor, but was also a hard-working young mechanic and son of Scottish immigrants, and he built my parents' first home in the Arizona desert out of lumber scraps. He also is a self-taught bluegrass guitarist; one of my favorite songs that he plays is "Dark As A Dungeon", about mining. He would be embarrassed to be praised publicly like this but I am very proud of him. Here is a version of that song by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3IQpWoK6q4

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      they are the salt of the earth and they keep our country strong. Great write Bill.

      Michael

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, thank you for the visit and I agree, this country would be in trouble if it were not for the hard-working people at the bottom of this economic ladder.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lurana, thanks for sharing that. I love hearing stories like the one about your father. The earlier generations knew what hard work was all about....there are lessons, valuable lessons, that we all could learn from them.

      Anyway, thank you for the visit and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Really great hub and an interesting look into the past of blue collar work.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      You know what's really interesting? My "blue collar" career hubby (facilities engineering, electrical) has made an amazing amount of money compared to many of my B-school peers. Also, a big part of my client base is in the trades (union primarily, which is why I focus on USA made products as much as possible). This segment is a huge driver of our economy. Thanks for supporting these amazing folks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vkwok, thank you for the visit and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      heidi, they are the driving force of our economy and they don't get the credit they deserve. That's what I tried to do here...tell them that they matter. Thank you!

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Fantastic as usual Billy! You took me back to my Grandparents and G.Grandparents and also to my days doing warehouse work. Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      onegreen...I'm an old warehouse worker myself...glad you enjoyed this and thank you!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Beautiful tribute, Bill. I have happily moved away from the upper-crust white-collar neighborhood of my youth to a blue-collar neighborhood. The sincerity, warmth, and down-to-earth qualities of those I choose to be surrounded by are far more important to me than the gated drives and pricey cars driven by those whom I left behind. I prefer potholes to pretense!

    • Annie Miller profile image

      Annie Miller 4 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      Thank you, Bill.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      You couldn't have picked a better subject than the unsung heroes of this country. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them! My father-in-law and his brother worked in a cement mine right here, a cement mine famous for the cement that built the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty base.

      Beautifully done Bill.

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Annie!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mary! I'm a little tired of hearing how greedy the labor force is in America. If it weren't for the labor force there would be no business at all. I appreciate your kind words and have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Potholes to pretense....love that line, Jennifer. Thank you!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, my (step) Dad's parents were Polish immigrants. Gagi (Granddad) worked in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. I remember he had a huge coal bin in his basement in Philly (row house in the Polish section).

      I love the video of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah". I sang right along. I wonder if all kids grew up knowing the words to those songs.....

      Nice hub, Bill. BTW, I couldn't play the Dan Fogelberg video (love him!). I got a message that it's too small. Don't know why - the other two played. Just lettin' ya know....

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      A great write on the unsung heros of what we term the working class here in the U.K. Different in name perhaps, but the same in terms of honesty, determination and bravery. A very fine lyrical essay...must get to write one soon:-))

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I don't know what's wrong with the video but I guess I'll change it and hopefully that will make a difference. Thanks for the heads up my dear. Have a great weekend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Valleypoet! I figured if I was going to suggest to people that they try a lyrical essay the least I could do was write one. :)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      What a great tribute to the hard working folks who made this country what it is today. My grandparents were certainly among those blue collar workers who wore that collar with pride and did whatever was necessary to support their families. A great job Bill. I'm going to pass this one around as everyone should read this, especially the youth of today.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Lots of comments on this one, billybuc.

      Great-great Grandad Lancaster and his son were farm labourers in the Kings Lynn area of Norfolk (overlooking 'The Wash', where King John lost the crown jewels), facing Lincolnshire across the Great Ouse - not to be confused with the other Ouses. They were taken on from a 'hiring fair' in Lincolnshire as mine workers in the iron ore seams of North Yorkshire back in the later years of the 19th C. Being big strapping lads - and unused to the militant ways of experienced miners - they did well. Great Grandad struck lucky and married a local Yorkshire lass who'd inherited her Dad's farm at West Rounton near Stokesley. Grandad grew up on the farm, became proficient but didn't inherit the farm (his mother had married again after Great Grandad died and this one was a 'waster'. The farm went to the youngest two sisters, of 14 children) and he went off running other people's farms. In the 30's hard times hit farming and he went into town at the edge of Teesside, finishing up working for Dorman Long. Dad worked at Cargo Fleet works up the road before call-up, then back again, working the overhead cranes in the blast furnaces (I think). Uncle Ian was a 'brickie', and latterly ended up doing the same job as Grandad, laying bricks in the furnaces before blasting, digging out the old ones and starting all over again. Uncle Harold (married into the family) worked at Lackenby works in the rolling mills before ill health forced him out. Cousin Paul works at the Lackenby plant. I got out, worked in offices (including newspapers) until redundancy put me into odd jobs, finishing up at Royal Mail, Mount Pleasant, London EC1, on the letter sorting machines. Noisy but paid well.

      You could say we're all 'blue collar'. I'm retired now, writing (we'll see before long if I'm making anything out of it!)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill! We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us. I'm very happy that you liked my tribute.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alan, that is quite a history that your family has....a proud history I might add. Mine work, mill work, crafts....here on the west coast of the U.S. most of our parents came from the midwest with farming history and stories of tough times as the price of their vegetables became lower and lower and the hours worked increased. It broke many a family but they never complained, and I have always found that amazing.

      Thank you Sir! Have a wonderful weekend in Forest Gate.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Lyrical is a good word for it Bill! This has a Tom Joad quality to it for sure.

      My dad went up to Oklahoma for a while with his brother during the Great Depression to work in some kind of foundry. He spoke of the intense heat near the furnaces, and there was a rule not to drink anything cold (misinformation I guess) so that is where he learned to drink coffee, he told me. Blacksmiths, Texas farmers, before Texas Georgia & Tennessee was where his family and my mother's too came from.

      Feels like Wintere again here, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jim, a great and hard-earned family history. Thanks for sharing and yes, winter seems to have arrived. Seems like summer never came this year. LOL Thank you!

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Bill, this is a picture of my family: farmers, factory workers, odd jobs. My parents and grandparents lived through the Depression, too. They knew the worth of work to survive. Sometimes I think our educational system pushes the college degree to extremes and not enough vocational skills.

      These blue collar workers were and are well-rounded people in ways that many will never understand or appreciate. This a great tribute!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Susan and I agree about the educational system. Good livings can be made in the trades these days. We will always need electricians, plumbers, builders and the like....and it is good, honest labor.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is a sweet tribute to your family, and to all blue-collar workers. Beautiful!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      After reading this i am more proud to be an American than ever before. We have a lot to be thankful for. Out families built this nation. My grandfather Rob worked building highways where there was once only dirt roads. Great tribute to the blue collar workers..Bravo..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kathryn! They are the unsung heroes of this nation, and of any nation.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I have nothing but pride when I think of my family. I can only hope that my ancestors will look at me with such pride after I am gone. Thank you my friend.

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Sir,

      i like this article , i am a retired blue collar worker. Around 25 yrs i worked in trade that is Refrigeration/Air conditioning mechanic , worked in India and middle east. This was life skill and in my life i had enough.

      Under government subsidies my vocational trade institute trained me without fee, so i was able to become tradesman.

      I worked in star hotels, chemical factories, but all working places were sweatshops and Indian employer were not kind enough to provide us facilities.Later situation improved, i am not graduate and do not regret for less education because skill developemnt is more than rote education and rote learning in universities . i have everything which higher middle class possess.

      In Arabian gulf our job was tough because at construction sites it was all open air erection and technicians used to work and install machines there. I found Koreans and Japanese were hard working people with team spirit, team efforts.

      Before emergence of electronics industry and IT , jobs were available only in construction, services like transport, railways, marine industry.

      These jobs are very tough and no luxury there.In India still blue collar workers have presence and clout in labor market.

      Blue collar workers built important projects in core sector in India.

      Thank you for recollections

      pramod gokhale

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 4 years ago

      Bill,

      Once you again you inspire our gratitude. What a sobering tribute to the hardships of our ancestors. I'm descended from Blue-collar Warriors and willl never take it for granted.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing your history. How different we are.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Awesome. I too grew up where the work ethic was THE way our lives were lived. And I believe that hailing our unsung heroes is a way to honor the lives of each who has endured back breaking work as they walked on this planet.

      Yes, I see them. And I still am awed by their determination to get up each day and do it all over again.

      Another winner, Bill.

      Sending you Angels and hugs and blessings. have a lovely lovely weekend. :) ps

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Bill, for reminding us who really keeps society going. Not the corporate CEOs but the common working man. Without these honest workers, corporations would be nothing.

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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Well said, we should give tribute to those who really deserve it! Let their song be sung.

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      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting Bill. A wonderful tribute to blue-collar workers. They work hard and deserve to be recognized. Things with my dad of course were different because of the war and escaping occupation and immigration but when he live in Latvia well he loved the country life. My dad was born in the country in Ranka, Latvia. Even though he went to university in Riga he was a country boy at heart. When he had time off in the summers when the sun rose up already at 3 AM there would be my dad out in the fields plowing with a scythe and loving every minute of it. Hard work he loved it. He wrote a lot about it in his poems. Sure wish I knew how to translate his poems and get them online. Hugs and passing this on.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, a wonderful tribute to those hard working people who are the back bone of their country. Nice job.

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The sentiments were gobbled up, and scenes of what you penned were displayed before my eyes in black and white with the sound of the times and the trade. My maternal grandfather in PA was in that coal mine with the canaries. My paternal grandfather was in NYC driving a cab, even in the traffic of the Depression. Thanks for mentioning Stillwater, which was once a small town, not that many decades ago. I am second generation in the seeds of growth, and I work just as hard, and I have reaped the bounty of full time instead of part-time employment where I am now. I return home, grab my camera, then trudge to the lake, where the weekend is always in mind for those that expect my column. Then I return home to read and write, fall into bed, rinse, and repeat. Awesome and up on your own thoughts on American history, I love it.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LK, thank you. The comment warm my heart and leave me realizing that many are as appreciative as I am.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, my neck is blue from my blue collar. :) Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I don't need Hollywood heroes or sports heroes....all I have to do is look at the family photo albums. :)

      Sending you blessings and a hug...thank you!

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phoenix, I am convinced that most corporate CEO's could not do what they ask others to do daily. I know who I admire the most. :) Thank you and have a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, I like that...let their song be sung. Thank you for that!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, it would be incredible if you could translate his poetry....that would be a set of poems I would love to read.

      Thank you for sharing that very personal note. Blessings to you my friend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Jo! I believe pretty strongly in the working man of this country.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, you inspired the Stillwater passage. Glad you liked it and I am happy that you appreciate your roots and are a living example of what came before you. Thank you for a great comment. I'll see you at the lake tomorrow my friend.

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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      As my father said, never be ashamed of hard work. He was a pastor but also a blue collar worker (had to support a large family!). I learned much from his work ethic and so glad he taught me that it is who you are that makes life successful. This is a post I found so energizing and touching. Blessings, Bill.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pramod, thank you so much for telling us about the blue collar workers in India. Fascinating recollections from your life. It is so important for us all to remember that the lifeblood of an industry is flowing with the hard labor of those at the bottom of the work pyramid.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna! This is one I felt pretty good about since my entire family comes with blue collars permanently attached to their bodies. I am the only member of my family to go to college, a source of immense pride for the rest of my family. They worked hard and then found joy in my accomplishments. How cool is that?

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      Jane Holmes 4 years ago

      Hey! What a great tribute to your family and ours, as well. From those early days to today, there are still blue collar workings in our family. My grandson just graduated from welding school in Tulsa and has already landed a job in SanAngelo, Tx. He's a big man and a hard worker. We have woodsmen in the family here in New Hampshire - I could go on and on! They are the backbone of this country! Thanks for a great hub!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jane, thank you for sharing a glimpse at your own family. I agree with you; they are the backbone of this country and they deserve a bit of praise. :)

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      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Oh Bill, I love this. Everything good about this country was built on the backs (hard work) of the blue collar worker who struggled to feed their children, came home late and tired, and was proud and eager to get up and do it again. Real people, that's what they were, and they have so much to teach us.

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      Aga 4 years ago

      Wonderful story and a tribute to all of the hard working people.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, they have much to teach us if we are willing to listen and learn. Thank you Kindred! You are appreciated beyond words.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Monis! Thank you very much.

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      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      billybuck

      once again. In India due to globalization and liberal imports our traditional industries such as textile, leather were closed down. Workers who lost jobs there , they can not get jobs in other industries.So rehabilitate them is a big exercise , Government should reserve funds to provide them pension and post retirement benefits.

      Hire and fire works in advanced nations but India a third world nation can not afford such harsh methods.

      Compassion and clemency should be the part of welfare scheme.unemployment of blue collar workers is always hazardous in any country, Infrastructure industries were built by blue collar army and future also they may do the same job.

      thank you

      pramod gokhale

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pramod, it helps all of us to learn how things are in our country. I agree that the government needs to set aside funds to help those who have been replaced. It is a tough situation for all economies right now, but third world nations especially. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Sooo grounded - and so grounding, Bill!

      Awesome tribute to a diverse family of honest and optimistic hard workers!

      It doesn't surprise me that you come from 'hardy stock', my friend - you are nothing if not a survivor!

      A great way to go back in time in order to better appreciate what we have today!

      (i have such empathy for Pramodgokhale...grrrrrrr...)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, thank you my warrior friend. :) Pramod speaks for millions....millions in his country. If that isn't a scary thought I don't know what is.

      Keep battling, Sister! We have work to do.

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      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Definition of working class in our culture is not very different. They are not just blue color workers, but also torch bearers of revolution.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vinaya, what a great description...torch bearers of revolution! I love that! Thank you!

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