Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

M. Bell

They Must Make Way For Death

(December 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 35, 9 December 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

RAVENNA, Ohio – Dawn – the lifting of a shroud – revealed the abandoned, mouldering farmlands of Portage County farmers, forcibly evacuated to make way for the multi million dollar government ammunition loading plant. Seventy-five percent of these farmers forced to give up the source of their lives – for death. As the skeleton of the death factory rises, many of them return for a last look at the fields they had to abandon. Those remaining stare in unbelief as cars from as far away as California and Florida drive by in search of the employment office.

“I sold my farm to the government and, then sold my cows and, chickens – everything I had to depend on for a living,” said W.S. Kirkpatrick, 78, a farmer for 31 years. “The Hunkin-Conkey Co. gave me a job as watchman. Just the same it’s a terrible blow to us. My wife is 70 and she’s taking it mighty hard. Every time we look over these fields and think that from now on they’ll grow up in weeds, or have munitions factories on them, it makes us heart sick.”

Meanwhile, “thousands of men”, according to employment officials, are seeking the means of life – from death. Roads are choked with traffic and a pall of dust hangs over the landscape as hundreds of cars of men seeking employment try to reach the headquarters of the Hunkin-Conkey Construction Co. No men are hired. Applicants are told to “see your business agent”, since the company has a closed shop agreement with the AFL.

Whole families come from out of the state, sitting around in cars or spreading blankets on the ground, A man and his· wife and two old English sheepdogs have walked all the way from Springfield, Ill., in the hope of finding work in the plant. They are housed in the fire department before resuming their endless trek for work.

It all means one thing. The clang of riveters speeding construction, the dust, the endless chain of cars, the hundreds of vacant farms, the thousands of men looking for work, all add up to this: That while the farmers and unemployed workers are struggling for the means of life, the government is preparing the means of death.

Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 13 September 2014