Monday, January 25, 2010

RIP Union maid Stella Nowicki

I attended a memorial service for Vicky Starr, a union organizer in the 1930s on Chicago's South Side, mother of my husband's very good friend, and a subject (she's Stella Nowicki, her "underground" name) of the Academy Award-nominated 1976 documentary Union Maids. Time passes, and that's history. In attendance, all these white-haired folks, singing the chorus of Union Maid by Woody Guthrie (as sung by Pete Seeger). These used to be dangerous Commie agitators; now they've got white hair and walkers and have outlived chief FBI paranoid J. Edgar Hoover and are a little forgetful of who is listening to their stories. We listeners forget that cops shot union organizers; we forget a whole lot. Union Maids is a great little slice of history, showing how history is made: somebody decides to do something, and that somebody is not a hero, just a mom of someone you know. Vicky did her job with dignity. Amen and thanks.

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