Sunday, July 9, 2017
a glimpse: mary ann hudzik, born 1935.
the blur of getting the final volume of work for this project done has led to less updates here besides poetry reading scenes. publishing stages are finally just around the corner.
here is a first introduction into samplings from volume three of the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history in berks county.
mary ann hudzik lives in cumru township. i met mary ann through her granddaughter zoe who i met while doing a poetry reading at reading area community college. zoe connected me with her grandmother, and i loved how kind and easy to talk to she seemed right away, waiting for me in the lobby of her apartment to make it simpler on me so i didn't have to hunt my way up to the top floor in an unfamiliar place. i wouldn't have minded walking the stairs or taking an elevator, but it was kind of her to wait for me, and i interviewed her in a community-ish room on the first floor.
below is a photograph of mary ann, followed by a long excerpt of her poem in the upcoming third and final book in this project.
mary ann hudzik, cumru township | born: 1935
never meeting my grandfather who didn’t survive the flu
epidemic, i kept his naturalization papers from germany—
frank cieplinski. his grave shows he made it to 53, born
august 16, 1865, leaning his way into dust by august 14,
1919. grandmother victoria made it through, had a house
built on south tenth street in the city of reading, paid off
that loan on her own. she birthed my father there. my mother
knew final pregnancy pains with me in that home, too. by
1965, narrow fabric in west reading hired me. i ran machines
for four years. maybe you had 200 or so strips processing, but
these machines were lengthy. i mostly remember that we
fashioned the material for fishnet stockings, although we
weren’t the ones who did the final work, shaped where legs
and feet fit into them. bra straps, now those i remember
well enough. they had lace machines for wedding gowns
but only briefly due to the market’s complexity, how
fussy a bride can get, and those designs were more than
just ornate. different machines did different cuts of widths.
we kept several ladders around to replace the enormous
wooden spools, stocked on shelves set back, higher than
our heads. spooling happened on the fifth floor. before i
had a car, i took a few buses to get to work, had to deal
with downpours of rain, hoping to avoid the soaking
of it with what an umbrella could do. eventually, i left
those machines, moved to the office, became a secretary
to the plant’s manager, martin horn. meetings always
blurring the hours, i brewed 7 or 8 pots of coffee a day.
that mr. horn loved machinery, jumped at the chance
to work a plow in winter’s blustery months when snow
covered our parking lot, savored digging holes for trees
outside in springtime. they gave us nicely-sized hershey
bars at christmas...