Monday, February 21, 2005

Eric Hoffer and Mike Lavelle

My Dad enjoyed Eric Hoffer and bought me a copy of Working and Thinking on the Waterfront. Found many google hits on Eric Hoffer including a few filled with Hoffer quotes.

It was steady going all day, yet the feeling at the end was one of pleasure. The pleasantness was due largely to the presence of Jack, the headup man--a highly competent and soft-spoken person. We did an enormous amount of work yet did not feel driven or frustrated. It made me realize again how a single individual can count in the development of a pattern of life.
--Eric Hoffer, Working and Thinking on the Waterfront

The Trib ran a column by a steel worker named Mike Lavelle in the late 70s who was Cicero's flavor of Hoffer. Lavelle wrote a book (I've never read it): Red, white and blue-collar views: A steelworker speaks his mind about America with an introduction by Studs Terkel.

Leonard Kriegel wrote a review of it in The Nation, September 27, 1975 .

I just recall reading Lavelle's columns as a high school kid. He had one on draft-dodging youth of the rich. He said he didn't have anything against them (I think Lavelle had been a Marine), and said every guy should be out driving a sports car instead, if they could honorably avoid induction.

For some reason the sports car option has stuck in my head for decades now.


Anonymous said...

Mike Lavelle in this article was not a Marine. He was in the Navy. He served four years. He went in at 17 from the orphanage he was raised in, located in New York City.

I know this as I am his son that located him after he abandoned his mother and I when I was 2.

He had some good notions, but also a lot of anger.

Bill Baar said...

Thanks for correcting this.

What became of your Father.

Please write and let me know.

Socialjunkie said...

Mike did not abandon his mother, his mother abandoned him at the orphanage. The son that wrote the first comment failed to mention that he is also very bitter...and the irony is he's a chaplain and was one in the Navy as well. I am Mike's second son, born to his second wife. I had more time with my father and got to know him but the first son did not and he carries that bitterness over to my sister and I. His first son also found Mike's mother but after a phone call his own mother still didn't want anything to do with him. That sent him in a downward spiral. Mike died in 1996 and is buried at a National Cemetery in Milwaukee. Mike had a third wife and a boy and a girl with her. I am pretty close with them when I get to see them.

ChaplainMike said...

I meant to say he was abandoned by his mother, not he abandoned his mother. Although he did abandon my mother when she was pregnant with his second child.

Also, I am not bitter at all, there is no reason for me to be. I was raised by a loving dad. I did not know Mike Lavelle, but his letters and my contact with him as an adult reveal his bitterness about being abandoned by his mother. That anger that socialjunkie cites as sending him in a downward spiral, is the very anger I cited.

There is no bitterness to socialjunkie, I met him once when he was a boy and that is the only interaction I had with him.