Human Reclamation Through Bricklaying

By George F. Will, Cleveland Plain Dealer

In the 1940s, Steve Shelton's grandfather dressed up — white shirt, tie, fedora — to take the streetcar to the steel mill where he would change into work clothes, and would shower before dressing up to return home. ''There was,'' Shelton says, ''such dignity in the trades back then.''

There still is at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh that Shelton launched. There, in what used to be a Westinghouse Electric factory, some men, many in their 30s looking for their first legal jobs, and a few women learn to wield trowels and mortar, thereby deriving from bricklaying (and welding, carpentry and painting) a dignity they did not feel when they grew up on this city's meanest streets, or when, for 85% of them, their incarcerations ended.

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