Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir

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Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 280 pages
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This is a unique blend of memoir, myth, and the lost history of a Midwestern labour town. The daughter of a packinghouse worker, Cheri Register vividly recalls the 1959 meat-packers strike that devastated and divided her hometown. Haunted by memories of her confused coming-of-age in the midst of the strike, she embarks on historical research through newspaper items, state records, company and union archives. Where no written account exists, she conducts interviews of participants on both sides of the strike -- all in an effort to understand when the rift between the company and its workers began and why it ran so deep. The more she probes, the more she finds that she can no longer divide labour issues into the simplified terms of her youth. As part of the first generation of her family to attend college, much less attain a PhD, Register struggles to acknowledge such complexities without dishonouring her past. Her journey reflects the inner conflict felt by a generation propelled into the middle class by post-War prosperity, people like herself who feel caught between the blue-collar values of the communities we left behind and our new status as the 'rich' people we used to scoff at.
 

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Packinghouse daughter: a memoir

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This is both a bittersweet memoir of growing up in the 1950s and a history of the 1959-60 strike at Wilson & Co. Meatpacking in Albert Lea, MN. Register (Living with Chronic Illness), the ... Read full review

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Contents

The Field Trip
25
Dad Talks about His Work
36
A Nod to Vegetariaos
47
At the End of the Trail
50
How We Became Working Class
75
A Dream of Joe Hill
99
Hearsay
119
1959
135
English Lessons
192
Under Siege
196
Dear Governor Freeman
213
Back to Work
216
Faith in the Face of Reality
232
How to Make History
243
My Vengeance on the Wienie Moguls
249
Mellowing
259

On Strike
149
Fellow Adversaries
165
The Breaking Point
176
Acknowledgments
277
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