January 31, 2012

Cadie - That Feisty Loveable Little Bird

Cadie was a Parakeet (aka Budgie) and yes, she was a feisty little bird.

Born thirteen years ago, our daughter Rebecca bought her while attending Boston University.  She had her own apartment and this little bird was good company. Once in a while I would take Cadie home with me and we called it "Budgie Camp".  I fell in love with that beautiful little creature from the get-go.  Cadie was coming to "Budgie Camp" so often that our daughters and then recently married son-in-law decided to gift me with my own budgie for my birthday.  (That's another story for another blog.)

Cadie was an independent little girl.  If she didn't like something, she let you know it in her own little way. After Rebecca and Tyler were married they brought Cockatiels to live with them named Charlie,  Reggie and Tommy. Cadie seemed to get along find with them.  When they moved to the Philadelphia area while Rebecca attended Temple U., I drove my car to help them with the move and Cadie came in my car for the trip.  She was a very good traveler and always had been.  When we stopped for lunch, I opened my car door and Rebecca opened hers (she had the Charlie and Reggie in her car) and both Cadie and Charlie were "talking" to one another.  We got a kick out of that.

A few years later they all moved back to Massachusetts.  Charlie began laying eggs and before we knew it there were quite a few baby Tiels in their home. That many birds surrounding little Cadie was more than she could take so Rebecca called one evening and asked if I would take Cadie.  It was a no brainer.  Within minutes we were on our way to Peabody to pick up Cadie. She was familiar with Whisper (the Budgie given me for my birthday).  She was happy to be here and I was happy to have her. 

Many afternoons I would go in the bedroom with them, shut the door and allow them the freedom to fly, play, sit or whatever.  They would sit on my shoulders one on each side all the while chattering and cooing.

During the cold weather months I kept them in my home office as it was warmer with the computer running all the time. After I covered them for the night, Cadie would let me know she was unhappy if I came into the room  with a ch ch ch type of chatter like you are disturbing me.

In her earlier years she was very feisty. When we opened her cage she would squawk and tried to bite us but after a few moments, she would readily get up on a finger and enjoy being with us.  Budgies are such social birds and that is what makes them enjoyable pets.  In later Spring and throughout Summer she would chatter up a storm when I'd be rolling the cage to the living room.  She enjoyed watching television and being with us.  When in the other room with me, she would "whistle" when I had music playing.  As the years rolled by Cadie mellowed.

Yes, Cadie mellowed so much so that the past few weeks not only would she fly to my shoulder when I opened the door to her cage, but because at thirteen old age was setting in and she wasn't feeling her usual self, she would prefer to get on my lap and snuggle under my sweater to keep warm or fly to my shoulder and snuggle along my neck for the same reason.  I would hold her in the palm of my hand covering her with the other hand and she would sleep... she needed body warmth to help her along. By last week, every time I came into the room she would get near the door of the cage for me to pick her up.  I would take her into the living room with me holding her on my chest and covering her with a small blanket - there she would stay.. never budging.. just warm and comfortable she would sleep.

Cadie was losing weight - never a good thing for a bird.  She had always been a solid kind of bird when picked up.  Never overweight, just good and solid.  Last Friday, it was obvious she was losing weight.  She was no longer eating her pellets or millet (which birds love).  Rather all she seemed to be able to eat was bread that used to be her morning treat. She used to wait on her perch each morning for me to give her a small piece as her treat of the day.  Little did I know that someday it would be all she could eat to sustain her little body.

Saturday Cadie looked like she was making a come back. She felt heavier and she was spry:  ah yes, the tempest before the storm!  Sunday her weight was down again and having a difficult time to swallow she ate very little and was no longer drinking water.  Through it all, the only thing this little bird wanted was to be with me. She wanted to be held and kept warm.  At that stage I always imagine it must feel good for birds to be off their feet for a bit.  I've had other birds and at end stages it was always like this but Cadie was different in so many ways.  I believe that her feistiness was often her strength and when she loved you it was as strong as she was feisty.

When in Pennsylvania she was very sick.  The vet ordered special shots for her and she made a full recovery. She was a fighter!  Another thing about her is that she seemed to really like a clean cage and I cleaned her cage religiously every morning.  She loved to take longggg baths, her last one a week and a half ago.

I don't know where she found the strength but on Sunday, twice when I opened her cage, she flew to my shoulder - that is just how much she wanted to be with me in her last days.

Early yesterday morning, January 30th, our beloved Cadie passed. The wind picked up and I just knew Cadie was flying as fast as she could to be with our other birds - if there is a bird heaven they are all together now. When there is a thaw, I will bury  her under the Rose of Sharon with the other birds that passed on. She will be in good company with Budgies Whisper, Sweet Pea, Kiwi; Tweety Bird (a Canary) and Tommy (a Tiel). As you see Cadie is now in good company with our own familiy of birds.

Yesterday was a very sad day and I cried a lot but at the same time I was very happy that Cadie and I had such a strong bond that she could trust me to the very end.  Throughout the day I wondered how many little birds would climb onto someone, snuggle under a sweater to keep warm and allow themselves to held in the palms of one's hands to warm them up.  This was very consoling as it spoke to me of the trust Cadie had that I would provide and protect her the best I could.  Yes, she was a truly exceptional bird!

I now miss her chatter when I come to the computer to write or to work. This room has become so quiet and empty. Isn't it funny how such a little creature can fill a room?  Of course, with her personality, Cadie was bigger than life!  I miss that feisty and independent little bird who endeared herself to all our hearts. She was our girl and we loved her.

There will never be another little Cadence/Cadie.

All Rights Reserved
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Lucie's Legacy
2012 - Present

January 10, 2012

Bread & Roses Strike of 1912 - 100 Years Later - Lawrence, Massachusetts

The above photo was taken as protesters marched 
against owners of the mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

My mother sometimes talked about this strike. She was already working in the mills. Immigrant families left Canada in search of work and in hopes of a better life. Agriculture had dried out because our ancestors knew nothing back then about crop rotation but they'd heard there was lots of work in the mills of Fall River, Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts as well as Manchester, New Hampshire. Mills sprung up in many cities and towns. It became a way of life until the mills left in the 1950's and headed south where labor was cheaper than in these northern mills where workers had learned to unionize to protect their rights.

On January 12th, 1912 the labor protest that became known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence.

A new state law had reduced the maximum workweek from 56 to 54 hours. Factory owners responded by speeding up production and cutting workers' pay. Polish women were the first to shut down their looms and leave the mill. As they marched through the streets, workers from all the city's ethnic groups joined them. Over the next months, increasingly violent methods were used to suppress the protest, but the strikers maintained their solidarity. After Congress held hearings on the situation, the mill owners were anxious to avoid bad publicity. They settled with the strikers, bringing to an end a watershed event in American labor history.

The Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 changed U.S. labor laws forever.


On January 12, 1912, workers in the American Woolen Company Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, opened their pay envelopes to find that their wages had been cut. They took to the streets in protest, beginning a history-making confrontation between labor and capital. The "Bread and Roses Strike," as it became known, broke new ground in several ways. More than half of the workers in the Lawrence textile mills were women and children, and women played a major role in the strike. Most of the workers were unskilled newcomers from the Middle East, southern and eastern Europe. They spoke more than a dozen different languages and practiced a variety of religions and ethnic customs. What bound them together was the need to improve their living and working conditions.

By the turn of the twentieth century, New England's factory towns were generally miserable places. Wages were low, rents were high, and living conditions were crowded and unhealthy. The factory floors were brutally hot in summer and painfully cold in winter. The machinery was dangerous; pressure to speed up production increased the risk of accident and injury.

The photo below is that of a "spinner" girl. Girls and boys worked as young as ten years of age in the mills. It was the same for bobbin girls or lap boys, bobbin girls kept the spinners supplied with bobbins as needed. I really don't know what my mother started as in the mills but I do know that as far back as I can remember she was a weaver in the weave room. I remember my brother being a bobbin boy when he started working in the mills. Later he worked in the "Mule Room". Actually, it was really the Spinning Room but it was called the "Mule Room" simply because the spinning machine was called a "spinning mule". My grandfather, aunts and uncles were all weavers. During World War II the Lawrence Mills wove material for army uniforms as well as blankets.

Under Massachusetts law, schooling was compulsory for children under age 14, but poverty forced many parents to lie about their sons' and daughters' ages and send them to work in the mills. One boy, asked if he'd like to go to school, said that he would love to, but he wanted to eat. My mother was eleven years old in January of 1912 and had left school in sixth grade to work in the mills.

In response to reports on the deplorable conditions at the mills, the Massachusetts legislature voted to reduce the maximum workweek from 56 to 54 hours. The law took effect on January 1, 1912. Although the legislation was intended to help the workers, many of them feared, correctly, that the mill owners would simply speed up production and cut their pay by two hours a week.

When workers opened their first paychecks in January and discovered that what they feared had in fact come to pass, a near-riot broke out. Polish women were the first to shut down their looms and leave the factory; they marched through the streets of Lawrence shouting "short pay!" They were soon joined by other workers drawn from the city's many different ethnic groups.

Because the country's most established labor organization, the American Federation of Labor, drew its membership from mostly white, English-speaking skilled craftsmen, it had no interest in a strike that involved women and unskilled, foreign-born workers. The AFL denounced the Lawrence protest as "revolutionary" and "anarchistic."

The owners were initially unconcerned. Without the assistance of the AFL, the Lawrence workers would never be able to sustain a strike. But the more radical Industrial Workers of the World, (I.W.W.) stepped in and sent organizers to Lawrence. Relief committees were formed to provide food, medical care, and clothing to strikers and their families. One magazine reported, "At first everyone predicted that it would be impossible to mold these divergent people together, but aside from the skilled men, comparatively few [broke the strike and] went back to the mills...."

The strikers employed some new tactics. Large groups went in and out of stores, not buying anything but effectively disrupting business. Huge marches were organized, with strikers singing songs, chanting, and carrying banners. One reporter wrote, "It was the spirit of the workers that was dangerous. They are always marching and singing."

One group of women carried a banner proclaiming, "We want bread and roses too." Roses signified the respect due to them as women, rather than just as cheap labor. The slogan caught on and provided the refrain for a popular new song—and the name of one of the most important events in American labor history. Once it was clear that the strikers had solidarity and leadership, management and city officials responded with force. The state militia broke up meetings and marches; soldiers sprayed protesters with fire hoses in frigid winter weather.

Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim

As we come marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing "Bread and roses, bread and roses."

As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children and we mother them again,
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread but give us roses!

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes it is bread we fight for but we fight for roses too!

As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the woman means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler - ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses!

In February, children of strikers were sent to live with sympathetic families in other cities, a tactic that had been used successfully in Europe. The exodus of the children was a public relations disaster for the Lawrence authorities, and they forbade children to leave the city. On February 24th, a group of defiant mothers accompanied their children to the railroad station. Police surrounded and brutally clubbed women and children alike, then threw them into patrol wagons; 30 women were detained in jail.

Newspapers reported this ugly scene, and people all around the country were outraged. A congressional investigation began. As witnesses described working conditions in the mills and the events of the strike, President William Howard Taft ordered an investigation into industrial conditions in Lawrence and throughout the nation.

By March, the hearings had caused so much negative publicity that the American Woolen Company decided to settle. On March 12, 1912, management agreed to the strikers' demands for a 15% pay raise, double pay for overtime, and amnesty for strikers. The striking workers had demonstrated a powerful lesson: even traditionally powerless groups such as women and recent immigrants could prevail if they worked together.

Bread and Roses Mural

Here is what the Massachusetts AFL-CIO Labor Union said about it:
"One of the most prolific strikes in United States history was the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. On the heals of a labor victory in legislation, reducing the work week from fifty-six to fifty-four hours, employers in Lawrence’s mills reacted by slashing wages to compensate for lost work. The mill owners expected their workers to be unhappy about the slash in pay, but did not expect the full scale retaliation that followed.
Lawrence at the turn of the century was a city of immigrants from many different backgrounds. These immigrants worked in Lawrence’s mills, and because of their different ethnic backgrounds, mill owners believe that the workers would not be able to organize because of ethnic differences. The owners proved to be wrong. In the first week of the strike, angry workers walked from mill to mill hurling bricks and stones through mill windows encouraging workers in those mills to walk off the job as well as a result of the pay cut. During the first week 14,000 workers walked off the job in Lawrence and were followed by 9,000 more in the coming weeks.
The Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW or “Wobblies,” took a major role in orchestrating and leading the strike. They successfully organized the different ethnic groups who lived and worked together and raised the money necessary to feed and provide for the strikers and their families. Many children were sent away to other cities in order to maintain the resources for the striking workers. This move gained tremendous sympathy from the public, and therefore the factory owners attempted to make sure this practice was stopped immediately. On February 24, 1912, they sent police officers to prevent some mothers and children from leaving Lawrence on a train to Philadelphia. The officers beat up the women and children and caused a public relations nightmare that led to a Congressional investigation of the strike. The owners realized that they had been beaten and finally came to terms with the IWW.
The true heroes of this strike were the women of the city of Lawrence. Women’s neighborhood associations were focused more the womanhood than ethnic identity, and thus became more inclusive and unifying which significantly helped the IWW to organize the striking workers and their families. Women also were prolific forces on the picket lines. They were better than the men at finding scabs who were attempting to cross picket lines, and were often more militant than their male counterparts."


Mass Moments

Commonwealth of Toil: Chapters in the History of Massachusetts Workers and Their Unions, by Tom Juravich, William F. Hartford, James R. Green (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996). Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, by Joyce Kornbluh (Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 1988). Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream by Bruce Watson (Viking, 2005).

Massachusetts AFL-CIO at http://www.massaflcio.org/1912-bread-and-roses-strike

Labor Notes http://labornotes.org/node/679


All rights reserved
Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino 
2012 - Present