I’m originally from Ohio, the Cleveland area, and my dad worked for General Motors for more than 40 years. He was, is, proud of his work, proud of Chevy, proud of being a union man.
I’m proud, too.
So when I saw this article by Connie Schultz on steelworkers, it really resonated with me. She talks about how people are more concerned with where their food comes from, and the huge local foods movement. But why aren’t people as concerned with where their manufactured goods come from?
I wish we had this same growing awareness about manufacturing. Most of us have no idea what goes into making the things we take for granted in this country. Everything we use comes from somewhere and is made by somebody. If we knew more about the process and the men and women behind it, we’d be less likely to fall for partisan attempts to dehumanize Americans who still work with their hands.
My father was a utility worker at the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. He made electricity. My mother loved pointing that out whenever she saw us switch on a light or turn on the TV.
“You can thank your dad for that,” she’d say, her face beaming with pride.
I grew up with Chevy. My first car was a Chevette. My second was a Cavalier. I remember taking tours of the plant with my dad when I was a kid. I remember wearing his “Palfy for Committeeman” union shirts to bed. I spent a summer running a thousand-ton steel press in college, taking a lunch break and doing a crossword puzzle with my dad, so proud to work with him, so proud to see all his friends. Even thinking about it now, I feel really emotional about his career there.
My dad loved working for General Motors. When he gave me a small box of his cherished items a few years ago, an old Fisher-Guide pin was in there. I remember playing with that as a kid, knowing it was something special to him.
But sometime between graduating from college and now, I lost some of that connection to my dad’s longtime career. It was really hard to tell him when we bought a new car — a Subaru. I still feel guilty when he comes to visit and I pick him up in it.
Connie’s column reminded me of where I come from. And to be proud of it.