I grew up in Indiana, next door to the Indiana Glass Company, a factory that made glass for over 100 years. My Dad worked at the factory. Many other members of my family worked at the factory, and it was an economic pillar in our little town, which was then known as “The Glass Capital” of Indiana.
After NAFTA, another big company bought Indiana Glass, and my Dad was asked to pack up some of the equipment so it could be moved to Mexico. He did that, but he refused to go to Mexico to set it up there. He took his early retirement, and our neighborhood went silent. I remember, growing up, the constant sounds of the factory, the rhythms of shift change, the muffled voice of the woman on the intercom that haunted me in my bed, and especially the sounds of the trains that brought the sand, and the semi trucks that took away the finished product.
Last year they started tearing the factory down. My Dad, who still lives next door, documented the destruction and made the video. I think the footage is haunting, emblematic of what has happened to manufacturing. And perhaps I am biased, growing up next to the piles of glittering shards that were melted back into vases and fancy deviled egg plates, but glass is so much better than plastic. It’s something we can make here, and it is 100% recyclable. And damnit, your food tastes better when stored in glass. A great industry, devastated. And this is just one tiny little corner of the rust belt. The same thing has happened all over the country.