So, the picture above describes one of the biggest fears in my life. Heights! This photo depicts NYC steel workers taking a break 840 feet in the air, in late September 1932, from building Rockefeller Center.
Having been to Manhattan and looked at this and other old, magnificent buildings, I always think about this picture. I think only half of the men have been identified and there seems to be some controversy about who took the photo but it amazes me that these guys, who weren’t even aware they were doing anything remarkable, and in one of the most famous pictures taken, were largely unknown.
It was the Great Depression, they didn’t have much money, they didn’t even get paid for posing for this picture. Many believe they were Irish immigrant trying their luck in America and as it became more and more well known, they never even came forward for recognition.
I often wonder what my ancestor might think of my life, my family, my children. Would they be horrified, would they be amazed or would they just be confused at what has been created on their backs, sacrificing for their generations to come. I think the women would be floored!!! Seeing how the rights of their female descendants had changed, I’m not sure what they would feel about seeing them in the workplace but I’m sure a level of pride and slight longing would be there at the independence of it all. I do think they would see the family’s closeness and success, largely the responsibility of the women and I do think they would be disappointed in the breakdown of so many families. I actually think the men would be the biggest critics s and I don’t think they’d like what they see. Not because the men today are lazy or bad but because the men of the past would probably see them as the caretakers, no matter how many rights the women had. I think they would see chaos, no control and back then men if anything would be in control. I think all would be impressed with our inventions and discoveries, with many being fearful of them.
I have actually become one of those people that say to my kids you have no idea how different and harder it was in my day, with only Walkman’s, record players and no social media. Ugh, I cringe and shudder as I write that because I do realize every generation has it really hard in their own way. My 98-year-old grandfather used to go to school on horseback and I think how we went from there to here and his ability to adapt to all of it is mind-blowing!
I bet aside from the hard, difficult and dangerous work these men faced every day did to put food on the table, they lived simple, quiet lives that were steeped in family, tradition, loyalty and let’s face it they all look like they know how to throw down a pint and have some fun.
What do you think your ancestors would think of you in your life or life in 2015??