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February 2, 2013

Lagoulis column: Leaving one's mark somewhere, somehow

Two beings, the grizzly bear and mankind, share a common thread. Both leave their mark.

Mankind left marks in caves, which are still being discovered today in all parts of the world; the huge grizzly bear always leaves its claw marks on the trunk of a tree. I share this with you because I, too, have left my mark.

Years ago, when I was a youth searching for work in and around Newburyport, jobs were almost nonexistent to a young man like me. Due to the ongoing Depression, my family was in dire need. I’d tried everywhere. I, having recently graduated from the Newburyport High School Class of 1938 and being a member of the first class to graduate from the new high school on Mount Rural, combined with my having earned good grades and teacher references, believed I would certainly find work.

I was willing to work anywhere and do anything. I was tall and strong and willing to be a laborer. Still, I was unable to get a job.

While seeking work, I had gone north to the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, N.H., where some of my classmates got jobs. I hurried there seeking work, but all I got was these two questions, “Are you a veteran?” and “Are you able to weld?” I answered “no” to each question.

However, some of my classmates and friends did get jobs there. I was denied a job because I was not a WWI veteran, but neither were my classmates. I was denied a job because I could not weld, but neither could my classmates who were hired.

After a while, I went back and tried again. Yet, again I was asked the same two questions which I had to answer “no” to. And, again I was denied work there. Each time, while there seeking work, I saw my classmates and friends lining up, waiting for the work day whistle to blow so they could go home. It hurt me to see them working while I was still seeking work. It confused me. My mother and father had broken up a few years before. My mother was left alone with several children to raise, and I was trying to be the man of the family. It was very difficult for me. Unable to find work, I decided to do something about it.

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