Manufacturing stories inspire book of poetry

By Wendy Solomon for

Nov 07, 2016

They worked for manufacturers large and small, global and regional, famous and parochial. Once familiar names that were pillars of the community employing hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees, such as Berkshire Knitting Mills in Wyomissing, Western Electric in Laureldale, Tung-Sol in Boyertown and Arrow International in Wyomissing.

The real stories from more than two dozen former factory workers, many now in their 80s and 90s, are told in a new book of poetry, “The Labors of our Fingertips: Poems from Manufacturing History in Berks County, Volume 2,” (FootHill Publishing), the second in a series by Jennifer Hetrick, a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Boyertown.

In her two volumes, Hetrick creates a kind of documentary history through poetry from interviews she conducted with elderly men and women about what it was like to toil for sometimes 12 hours a day, working with one’s hands, making all manner of products, from caskets to candy bars, batteries to bulletproof vests in plants that largely no longer exist, changed owners and names, or moved off-shore to places such as China and Mexico.

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