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Larry Welch (ca. 1902- )

Larry Welch, Portland, 1982
Larry Welch, Portland, 1982

Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

Larry Welch (1902-1992), who was interviewed January 6, 1982, was born in Portland.

His father was from Half Mace (Carna), his mother was from the island of Dinish.

Welch's nicknames were "Breathnach," Irish for Welch; "Dinish," from his mother’s birthplace; and "Loftus," his mother’s surname.

He worked longshore in the 1920s after going to sea as a young man. For most of his adult life, he worked for the Telephone Company. When he retired, he and his wife, Ethel, moved to Yarmouth.

When asked about his memories of longshore work unloading China clay, which was used in the paper-making process, Welch said he remembered "…my skulldragging days shoveling that God-damned stuff [and that it was] terrible hard work."

Asked to name products shipped out of Portland he recalled, "B&M shipped out corn, succotash, beans, canned lobster – what the longshoremen didn’t steal – very little of that got out. [also] crabmeat, a creamed fish like haddock that was delicious. B&M did a big business."

Asked why the Irish were attracted to work on the docks, Welch replied, "They’re the only mucks that would tackle it years ago before the union got any wages. It was not a good job, you know. They were driven in those days – no safety precautions, nothing! I imagine just like any immigrant class, they got the shit jobs. I suppose that’s how it started."