Message from 1940s union workers found at Durham Museum
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Workers restoring the brick facade of the Durham Museum, formerly a 90-year-old train station, found a message in a bottle.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that the bottle was found by Cory Chapman, an apprentice with Local 15 of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, in the two-inch gap between the terra cotta exterior and an interior sub wall.
The bottle was found covered in dirt with a green label that identified it as having once contained whiskey from the King Springs Distilling Co. in Bardstown, Kentucky. Chapman took the bottle home and, with a pair of tweezers, removed a small, rolled up scrap of card stock — a tag for a steel hacksaw.
The tag had these words scrawled in cursive: “William Grabowski, Frank Grabowski, Jack Healy, Making Repairs, Feb 29 1946.”
“I just thought it was pretty neat,” Chapman said. “I wanted to find out as much as possible. And I knew the guys were union because everything was union back then.”
After a bit more digging, Chapman confirmed that these men were in fact union workers. Records listed the year each man joined the union, what they paid in monthly dues and their beneficiaries. Records show Frank Grabowski joined in 1916 and had a wife named Pearl. William Grabowski joined in 1937 and his wife was named Anna. Jack Healy joined in 1942 and had a wife named Theresia.
The World-Herald archives contain brief obituaries for at least two of the men and their wives. John “Jack” Healy died in 1964 at age 79, and Frank Grabowski died in 1953.