Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pilgrimage to Lowell

It's a tough go down at the Mill these days -- not tougher than usual, I suppose, but an accumulated toughness that has become hard to rise above. Like a seige. Where the commodity being withheld is good sense.

But I've mixed my metaphors again.

During this week off, I have been "calling in my people," as we say in my circle of friends, including the real mill girls themselves.

At the national park in downtown Lowell, I sat outside the replicated dormroom in the French St boarding house and listened to the voices of the girls as they prepared for bed. This is not a metaphysical statement - they pipe it in.

This photo is Eliza Adams, who really worked in the drawing in room and left letters and scrapbooks of her time in the mills. I couldn't read them; I could only stand this close to a trunk behind glass, bearing her initials.

A block away from here I found St Joseph the Worker shrine, and said a quick prayer for Eliza's soul, and for Harriet Robinson, and Lucy Larcom, and for all working women. I lit a candle for us all (that is, I clicked the button on top of the candle, which lacked some of the ceremony). I didn't know this prayer then; I have only found it now.

I have also begun reading The Lowell Offering again, which contains prayers of its own.
.... an answer to the question, why we work here?
The time we do have is our own. The money we earn comes promptly; more so than in any other situation; and our work, though laborious is the same from day to day; we know what it is, and when finished we feel perfectly free, till it is time to commence it again.

~~ Josph. L. Baker, 1845
From the girls who brought you the 10 hr work week. Amen.

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