My Polish grandma died five years ago. Babcia lived in the middle apartment of a triple tenement house in New England for all of her married life. She worked all those years, too, in a beat-up shoe factory she called the “coop.” When I was a kid, I thought she meant it like a chicken coop, a place of barbed wire and rows of feathered ladies like hens producing shiny patent leather inventory. Later I learned it was really short for The Cooperative. Babcia spent long days drilling tiny holes into men’s wing- tipped shoes. She was an artist.
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