Saturday, October 14, 2017

tom mauger's poem in volume three, which is now for sale.

last sunday, i hosted one of the last poetry readings for this project besides any which are requested by local organizations (boyertown area historical society reached out afterward and wanted a poetry reading for this work for their february 2018 program–more on that later).

poems from volume three of the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history of berks county, the final book in this project, were the focus of this particular afternoon at studio b in boyertown.

copies of volume three are now available for purchase for $20 each (including tax) the old-fashioned way by cash or check (email thelaborsofourfingertips at yahoo dot com with your request) or through donating to the gofundme campaign for this project.

only one of four special featured guests were able to attend, tom mauger, but i'm very grateful for that because one is far better than zero, and tom had some good prank-rich stories to share from his old jobs, including ones outside of his poem which is below. 

and poetry reading photography was kindly contributed by laura kline.


tom mauger, amity township | born: 1948

too young to get hired by some factories, at 17, i took a truck
route delivering bottles of milk, ice cream, eggs, and butter
for longacre’s modern dairy, still in washington township
today. one of my stops at unicast in boyertown involved

pushing a cart to sell bottles of milk, before they installed
a machine to keep it cold, automated for quick grabs.
some workers paid in cash right away. others paid their
tabs to me weekly. anybody who didn’t pay didn’t get

more milk—the same went for families i delivered to—
they didn’t get more milk until they paid up, either.
but the trips into unicast led to them hiring me
part-time. weight-moving, inspecting, grinding,

and pulling castings out of sand, swatting or sawing
off excess molten iron where it first and last entered
the cavity opening to meet the pattern. we called that
knocking off the gates. i might have done that job

first, before the others. we made trivets for resting hot
skillets and casserole dishes, to let them cool, little
toy trucks, nutcrackers, even the meowing persuasion
of cats crafted in cast-iron. itty bitty-sized cars and

motorcycles were produced, too. charlie miller taught
me how to mold, fiery foundry minutes bringing out
my sweat. on the hottest days, molders went home
early—too hot of weather for pouring. the guys there

called me a blond-headed kraut, combining my german
heritage and the hue of my hair. one guy only spoke
pennsylvania dutch, so you had to know the dialect,
or you couldn’t talk with him about work or anything

else. coal crackers came from up north, carpooling
to work with us, maybe from schuylkill county. some
men would find an ideal second to drop a lit cigarette
butt into a guy’s back pocket as he worked, waiting

for the stench of the smoking to catch up to his nose.
even a cut-off pig’s tail made it into some back pockets.

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