The folks at Jobs with Justice have a fun initiative to celebrate Labor Day this year. They’re asking people to share stories of the work their grandparents did, and to think about what they learned from them.
I’m actually writing this about the one grandparent I didn’t know. My mother’s father, Lionel Morin, died before I was born. (On the other side of the family, I am the granddaughter of a small businessman—catering—and a schoolteacher.)
My grandfather’s father owned a brickyard in Maine. It shut down well before I was ever thought of, but the bricks that came from it dot the town in New Hampshire where my mother grew up, where I used to go to visit my grandmother and still go to visit my aunt and uncle. The church we went to for my grandfather’s funeral was made from Morin bricks.
I can’t say that he taught me anything about work directly. Instead, what I learned about him came from my grandmother and my mother, who were and are both the kind of women who don’t shy away from hard, physical work as well as incredibly precise household labor (and a whole lot of care work).
But a few years ago, my uncle gave me a booklet put together by a man named Edward Vetter (Edward, if you’re out there, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this, and I’d love to talk to you about your research). Vetter had been interested in photography and had collected pictures of the brickyards in Maine.
These are some photos of my grandfather and the brickyard from that book.