Industrial ValleyPosted: 2009/04/08
McKenney, Ruth. Industrial Valley. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1939.
I love first editions of books. I don’t know why. As a rule I don’t collect books based on what edition they are, first or last. Generally, I like books for what is between the covers. Still. I can’t help but be a little excited by reading the first edition of Industrial Valley. Please don’t ask me why.
The controversy surrounding Industrial Valley reminded me of the controversy Billy Joel faced when he wrote “Allentown.” In the begining townspeople didn’t really care too much for Joel’s bleak description of factory life. Yet, it was the truth. Ashamed or proud, that’s how it was. Same with Akron, Ohio. “Rubbertown” as some would call it.
Industrial Valley was written in a diary-like format. Near daily events, both political and social, between January 1, 1932 and March 21, 1936, recount Akron’s depressed economic state. Some entries seem unrelated to the depression (a boy’s death after being hit by a truck) while others hammer home the effect the ecomony had on daily life in an obvious manner (the suicide of a man who couldn’t feed his family). In the end, it was the historic Goodyear strike that changed the industrial climate. Democracy reined.
Favorite lines: “The bitter realities of unemployment and salary cuts conquered, in the end, any sophorific West Hill could imbibe” (p 60).
“All of Akron jumped like a housewife getting a shock from a loose electric wire on her washing machine” (p 219).
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter, “Big Ten Country: The Literary Miswest (Ohio)” (p 29).