Happy 100th, Woody Guthrie

factory windows
Blue and Gold

Even the steel rolling mill is beautiful in a golden hot summer sunset, the windows reminding me of both simple church windows and an old-fashioned door with stained glass rectangles around the outside.

They are working in there in this heat, and all the air conditioning in the world will not keep a steel mill cool in the summer. We still have a few around, just small specialty mills; this is Union Electric Steel in Carnegie, where my mother’s father worked from the time he arrived in Carnegie after 1912.

The contrast of the turquoise and gold is stunning, and the paned windows, open at various angles, reminds me of being in church on a hot summer morning in the long-ago days before air conditioning. This in turn reminds me of attending Catholic grade school and attending mass twice weekly where I paid more attention to the sun through the windows than I did to the Latin recitation of the service by a very old priest who mumbled.

It’s all wrapped up together in the experience of a lot of Americans like me, and those of us from blue-collar families and industrial towns and cities everywhere—the industries, the factories, the people, the schools, churches, homes, neighborhoods, music, food and all that culture parts of the whole that comes back in one photo like this one.

And while many sang about the things we grew up with, there’s one artist who set the standard and made a life of it. No doubt you’ve sung one or more of his songs. Happy birthday, Woody Guthrie, and visit this link to listen to a “sidestream” of his music: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.folkalley.com%2Fsidestream.asx&h=UAQG9e3LK

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