Listen to this article

Mac peered over his machine.

His frantic foreman missed

the wiser-than-you’ll-ever-be



Mac was never disrespectful.

But nobody messed with

Shop Steward Billy McGuire,

WWII U.S. Army



I caught the big guy’s dry smile myself,

radical know-it-all I was

Back in ’73.


But Mac was never, ever mean.


Truth be known,

big guy had a streak of kindness

running straight down his broad back.

One of those hard-soft, Golden Rule,

“bless-his-heart” folk,

a gravel-voiced shaman,

fix’in to heal even the shop’s

most tenacious fools.


Mac wasn’t like other mill rats,

gnawing only on the sports page

as their machines traversed,

then the racing sheet,

calling their bookies,

forsaking the Baltimore Sun

for grease and oil.


No, Mac revered the whole paper,


even hovered over the editorial page,

that smile leaving every swing’in dick

guessing what he was thinking

‘bout the day’s news,

‘bout damned near anything at all.


Why did this sage of the shop floor

spare me, the Jewish radical,

my dose of derision or contempt?


When given their choice,

why did black men,

fresh arrivals,

integrating the “white-man’s” shop,

pick Mac to learn from?


One scorching shift,

amid grease and oil,

frantic foremen,

the daily news,

Mac swapped out his smile,

gently pried the lid off his secret,

a confidence,






“My unit liberated Buchenwald.”