It was America, of course, but he would not feel himself really in America until he was in White Haven, secure in a job and a place to live.
She had to work hard, cooking, washing, scrubbing; and what pleasure did she ever get? Women had a hard time of it, Dubik said. Put yourself in her place. How would you like to live her life, eh?
I work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, until there are times when I couldn't tell you my own name. And every other Sunday the long turn, twenty-four hours straight in the mill. Jezis!, what a life!
These were the same people who snorted disrespectfully when they were reminded that in books and speeches Carnegie had uttered some impressive sounds about democracy and workers' rights.
Hope sustained him, as it sustained them all; hope and the human tendency to feel that, dreadful though one's circumstances might be at the moment, there were depths of misfortune still unplumbed.
That hostility, that contempt, epitomized in the epithet “Hunky,” was the most profound and lasting influence on their personal lives the Slovaks of the steel towns encountered in America.
I feel restless. I want things I can't have—a house with a front porch and a garden instead of this dirty alley—a good job—more money in my pocket— more time for myself, time to live.
They ceased to be men of skill and knowledge, ironmakers, and were degraded to the status of employees who did what they were told for a wage, whose feelings didn't matter, not even their feelings for the tools, the machines, they worked with, or for the work they did.
Once I used to ask myself, Is this what the good God put me on earth for, to work my life away in Carnegie's blast furnaces, to live and die in Braddock's alleys?
A widow is outside everything. Even work is given to her more out of charity than because people want something done.
She felt, in those closing days, as though all the evidence that she had lived, all that had made her a person, an individual, was being stripped from her bit by bit.
There were few who didn't find something brave and hopeful in its mere presence, the soiled curtains across the windows of what had been a vacant store as heart-lifting as a flag in the wind.
The very things the Irish used to say about the Hunkies the Hunkies now say about the niggers. And for no better reason.
You know, you really ought to be allowed to pick your own place to be born in. Considering how it gets into you.
They were all sorts of men, Scotch and Irish and Polish and Italian and Slovak and German and Jew, but they didn't talk and act the way the steel towns expected men who were Scotch and Irish and Polish and Italian and Slovak and German and Jew to talk and act.
That was where a hearing of this kind should have been held, in the mill yard or in one of the First Ward's noisome alleys, where words and names were actual things and living people, beyond any lawyer's dismissal—smoke and machinery and blast furnaces, crumbling hovels and underfed children, and lives without beauty or peace.
All over America men had been permitted, as a matter of business, as a matter of dollars and cents, to destroy what neither money nor men could ever restore or replace.