A Memoir. I could not have read Cheri Register's book at a more
timely moment. Every morning on the way to work as my bus crossed the
Bay Bridge I would raise my eyes from the pages of Packinghouse
Daughter long enough to look at the veritable armada of container
ships in the Bay waiting for some resolution to the lockout of the
West Coast longshore workers by the Pacific Maritime Association.
Flaming liberal that I am, it's not hard to guess where my loyalties
lay in that particular dispute. When Register decided to tackle the
story of the 1959 Albert Lea, Minnesota, meatpackers' strike, she was
also willing to admit the prejudices she had due to the fact that her
father was one of the meatpackers. After all, she was only an
impressionable 14 at the time. However, the story she meticulously
uncovers and records is truly one of hard-working men and women
standing up to their company to ask for fair compensation for their
labors and what happened when the company seemed unwilling to listen.
She combines interviews with company representatives and strikers with
her personal recollections of life in Albert Lea to create a wonderful
testament to one town's working class.
The one irrevocable limitation is that we cannot go back to where we
were. We must face the new horizons.
Pearl S. Buck, quoted on the cover of the 1963 commencement
program, Albert Lea High School