Front Street 1918
Front Street 1918
But this – is America
where dreams come true.
No one listened to the women.
Women, complaining when they
visited the butcher’s shop –
about the price of meat, and
eggs costing more, brown sugar
instead of white.
No one listened. Women were
immigrants, can’t write, or
read. . .
Men complained, those who
delivered coal – then the
strike began and schools closed,
theaters – and half the workers
at the plant, out of work from
a lack of heat.
No one listened to the men.
Near the Mohawk River streets
would flood after a hard rain,
or thawing of winter, and boats
were rowed up and down the street
collecting victims from a second
Immigrants gathered where customs
were like home, a mountain village
against open fields of wheat: women
shopped, bargained for the best
price as pushcarts rolled through
village streets. But women wore
a golden cross attached to their
sweater – it was a Sicilian way.
Men never noticed.
On Front Street, near the Locomotive
Plant, and the big plant – known
to light the world, it was the
industrial revolution – but war took
the men while women worked with
children at their side.
Women complained about the war.
Men came home in baskets. Immigrants
were clueless about their relatives
No one listened.
War heroes returned, bringing some
kind of sickness, some kind of virus,
and the sickness crept into a town
taking more lives than war. . .
No one listened as men and women
ached with pain.
America – where people gather under
lamp posts in a winter storm, and
dreamed of a better life.
Remembering wheat fields in the mountains
and the owner of the land – you had to
listen – immigrants remember – they
And on the door of the dead a black
wreath hung, and a sign for those
sick inside, for others to keep away.
Men and women talked about the day
they cheered when paperboys ran up
and down a city street, yelling,
“The war is over, the war is over.”
Church bells rang.
But no one knew another
killer would be ravaging the streets.
Someone understood – long before
the illness struck – understood people
needed to compromise and provide health
But no one listened.
Not until war and sickness killed –
enough to compromise. No one had to
read or write – in plain sight was
all it took to know, and understand.