Placing of roses

Placing of roses

Drs. Adelman and Rees

Drs. Adelman and Rees

Although the weather was drippy and dreary, the information that was shared by Dr. Adelman was fantastic.  He is a historical gemstone of knowledge and it was awesome to have him as a guest tour guide and lecturer for the day.  I am glad to know that he made some movies that cover his area of research, that will be available to other learners of history even after he is gone from this realm.  I felt that his movies were well done and are still relevant by today’s standards, especially the black and white movie about Packingtown, as black and white can never look dated, as did the color in the 80’s movie about Pullman.  I hope that Jonathan makes copies of the discs to share with our group.

Haymarket Memorial Statue

Haymarket Square is a busy intersection of streets.  The touch of keeping the cobblestone in the alley was nice.  I’m amazed that it took so long for Chicago to honor the site of the Haymarket Massacre.  The statue that was erected was powerful.  Faces undistinguishable showing that it could be any man, woman, or child throughout the world fighting for their rights as working people.  The wagon coming up out of the ground, showing that the movement was resurrecting and not going away was also powerful.  I found the plaques surrounded the base of the statue interesting reading in that included unions and people from all over the world.  I believe that I might start a classroom tradition of celebrating May 1, not as I learned, of leaving flowers on someone’s doorstep, but as a recognition of labor world-wide.

The life of Jurgis and Packingtown!  The lunch at the Lithuanian restaurant was good – the food I found enjoyable – cabbage stuffed with some meat (had me a little worried after The Jungle), potato squares, and some type of dumpling. sauerkruat soup – was a bit hesitant but it was actually good.  This meal helped set the tone for the visit to the gates of the where the slaughterhouses were located, although we probably ate much better in that one meal than many of the residents of Packingtown generally ate.

As we got out of the bus to take photos, all seemed serene but then a stench hit you.  As it had been raining most of the day, I thought that perhaps it was residual smells left in the soil from all of the slaughterhouses.  We found out that one packing plant was still in existence, hence the stench.  From that small dose that we were assualted with, one could only begin to imagine what it was like on a daily operation with thousands of animals being slaughtered and working in that environment.  It is almost an impossible task to describe the smells to students. I don’t know how much a person could find in primary sources written from the immigrant’s viewpoint on how their day to day life was, the sorrow, hunger, helplessness they felt trying to assimilate into a new country.  If such sources could be found, they would be very powerful to students.  Otherwise, books such as Sinclair’s and writings from people such as the settlement workers who worked with the immigrants and who may have documented the hardships these people faced would be a good alternative.

The Pullman trip was interesting, as we learned about George Pullman’s “benevolent” treatment of his workers.  The better off one was with the company, the higher the ceilings in your house.  An analogy I would make to students would be that Pullman thought of himself as the lord of his fiefdom.  He provided for his workers food, shelter, and work but he screwed them by charging inflated prices at the company store, with the housing provided, and the meager wages paid.  His system was set up to “help” the workers sort of, but they were never able to get ahead – only to survive.

All in all, lots of great information was shared with us.  Understanding, seeing, and being in these areas will help to inspire me with my teachings of the labor movement and the very real lives of all of the immigrants who flooded the Chicago area, helping to build this country with their sweat, blood, and lives.

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