Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • My Dad could shovel sand 12 to 14 hours a day, and he often did so with a Camel cigarette hanging from his lips. “Son, I was young then and just off the road from Seattle. Strong? I could shovel black sand all day with a butt between my lips and never get winded!”

    The small foundries in which he worked during the Great Depression were brutal places of smoke, cogs, wheels, pulleys, and chain-swinging molds that could crush a foot or take a hand. “I could hold my own with the toughest sonsabitches in those places, and they were mean places to work all right.”

    My Dad worked in those foundries for two years because he was skilled at pouring molten metal and because it was the best work he could find. “Son, it was the best job a guy off the bum with an 8th grade education could find in Chicago at the time.”

    His scoop shovel upright in the black sand,
    Grime-faced partner leaning on an iron rod,
    Surrounded by chains, cables, bricks, and girders,
    Callused hands curled and hung by his side,
    My father stares bravely into the camera.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.