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Packinghouse Daughter

About the Book

Packinghouse Daughter

In 1959, the normally quiet town of Albert Lea, Minnesota, jumped into the headlines. A sometimes violent strike at the local meatpacking plant made national news broadcasts, making Cheri Register-then just fourteen years old-realize that the excitement she'd always assumed existed only in larger, distant cities, was suddenly on her doorstep. The strike divided her hometown yet left her with lifelong loyalties to those who labor, whether well-paid American electricians or indentured children stitching soccer balls in a third-world country. 

In Packinghouse Daughter, Register blends personal memory as the daughter of a striking worker, oral history interviews, and historical research into what is both a private and public memoir, a chronicle of loss of innocence for a town and for a young girl. Years after Register graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and attained the white-collar lifestyle her parents dreamed of for her, she still closely guards her loyalties to the working-class community she left behind. Register's memoir combines the story of the divisive strike at Albert Lea with a portrait of small-town America in the 1950s, the author's discovery of her own rich family history in the area, and meditations on the dignity of those friends, family, and neighbors who did the essential but awful work of processing cattle and pigs into more familiar cuts of meat. In the process, she brings character and passion to the subject of social class, a topic of conversation that most Americans avoid. And she paints a tender portrait of those who, like herself, "have felt alien, caught between the blue-collar values of the communities we left behind and our new status as the 'rich people' we used to scoff at."

Packinghouse Daughter
by Cheri Register

  • Publication Date: August 21, 2001
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060936843
  • ISBN-13: 9780060936846