ten, twelve hours a day
8 cents a box, drops to 6
pictures for today
Today’s haiku comes from the poem, Onion Days, by Carl Sandburg, that I recently ran across.
It is a poem about a woman who picks onions 10 to 12 hours a day for 8 cents a box.
The owner of the farm worries about how to make his farm produce more efficiently so he hires more workers so he only has to pay 6 cents a box.
The poem was written in 1916.
I also recently watched the movie ‘The Irishman”.
I wonder if its time for DeNiro and Pesci to close the door on mob movies but I digress.
The movie was about Jimmy Hoffa, a man today more famous for not being here than for what he did when he was here.
And that’s too bad.
Right or wrong in his methods, Hoffa cared about the people who did the working.
Not sure there is anyone in that role today.
His first strike was on the loading dock of a grocery company in 1931.
The crew on the loading dock was expected to work 12 hours shifts.
They were paid 32 cents an hour.
12 cents in cash and 20 cents in credits at the grocery store.
BUT they were only paid for the time they spent actually unloading trucks.
Hoffa organized the crew and on a hot summer day when truckloads of strawberries rolled in, they went on strike.
They demanded a full 32 cents an hour in cash and a minimum of 4 hours pay for a 12 hour day.
The grocery store, a place called KROGER, gave in a signed a one year contract.
Congress will meet this week to ‘discuss’ a further stimulus package.
How many of them are really thinking of the people who work.
Don’t the men and women of Congress enjoy chanting the Nicene creed with their daughters on each side of them joining their voices with theirs?
I am lucky.
I have a well paying job and am allowed to work from home.
No one would ever write a play about me.
But as Mr. Sandburg says in his poem about Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti …
or the crew on the loading dock …
or the people who need to work and can’t work because there is not enough work …
or can’t work enough because stores are closing …
because restaurants are closing …
because businesses everywhere are closing …
No dramatist living COULD put them into a play.
No one could capture that.
In 1916, in 1931, or today.
But I hope the men and women in Congress at least think about them this week
– – – – – – – – – – –
Onion Days in Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg, (1916)
Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti comes along Peoria Street every morning at nine o’clock
With kindling wood piled on top of her head, her eyes looking straight ahead to find the way for her old feet.
Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, whose husband was killed in a tunnel explosion through the negligence of a fellow-servant,
Works ten hours a day, sometimes twelve, picking onions for Jasper on the Bowmanville road.
She takes a street car at half-past five in the morning, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti does,
And gets back from Jasper’s with cash for her day’s work, between nine and ten o’clock at night.
Last week she got eight cents a box, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, picking onions for Jasper,
But this week Jasper dropped the pay to six cents a box because so many women and girls were answering the ads in the Daily News.
Jasper belongs to an Episcopal church in Ravenswood and on certain Sundays
He enjoys chanting the Nicene creed with his daughters on each side of him joining their voices with his.
If the preacher repeats old sermons of a Sunday, Jasper’s mind wanders to his 700-acre farm and how he can make it produce more efficiently
And sometimes he speculates on whether he could word an ad in the Daily News so it would bring more women and girls out to his farm and reduce operating costs.
Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti is far from desperate about life; her joy is in a child she knows will arrive to her in three months.
And now while these are the pictures for today there are other pictures of the Giovannitti people I could give you for to-morrow,
And how some of them go to the county agent on winter mornings with their baskets for beans and cornmeal and molasses.
I listen to fellows saying here’s good stuff for a novel or it might be worked up into a good play.
I say there’s no dramatist living can put old Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti into a play with that kindling wood piled on top of her head coming along Peoria Street nine o’clock in the morning.