From “Spanish Stone Cutter” by Roaldus Richmond

“Loyalist? That sonofabitch Franco, who wouldn’t be a Loyalist? We’re all Loyalist. My brother was killed fighting at Teruel. My mother was killed by bombing in Madrid. My kid sister died on the way to the French border, starved to death. By Christ. If I had been back there, I would’ve been dead too. I know it. I would’ve grabbed a gun and fought those bastards until they got me. I wanted to get into it. I had letters from home all the time. But I never could save enough money for the passage fare. I can’t save money. It burns my pockets. I get drunk and spend it all.”

López was dark, gaunt and wild-eyed, with the protruding false teeth and a hilarious laugh. Laughing and singing, Lopez hides his bitterness, lives his life with a brimming glass in hand, emptied to the music of his Spanish laughter. Ugly as a gorilla, Lopez still has in him something of the sunshine and a gayety of Spain, a Spain that now lies under the wreckage of modern warfare.

“I worked the quarries of northern Spain before coming to this country. I came here for the adventure of it, I guess. Quincy was where I went from New York. But I didn’t like Quincy. Stonecutters there told me about Barre. I quit my job, got a quart of whisky, and took a train out of North Station. I got goddam drunk on that train. I woke up outside Montpelier. I had to ride the gasoline Toonerville Trolley to Barre. I felt awful by Christ that morning I hit Barre.”

Together with Mari Tomasi, Richmond worked for the WPA’s Federal Writers Project in the 1930s, recording the life stories of many people in Barre. The portraits are available on line via the Library ofCongress (Google: “American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project”); they are also collected in a book “Men Against Granite” (Edited by Alfred Rosa and Mark Wanner), Shelburne, VT, New England Press, 2004. Photo is of a granite quarry in Barre, and comes from the Barre Granite Museum