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A legendary longshoreman: Eric Hoffer

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2017 | blog

“It is often the failure who is the pioneer in new lands, new undertakings, and new forms of expression.” – Eric Hoffer

Longshoremen have been long held as the “backbone” of this country. On their backs the ships (trains, trucks and airplanes) get loaded and unloaded. Without these men commerce as we know it would stop.

These stevedores, dockers, wharfies, and lumpers contribute much more than just a hard day’s work to this country. Consider legendary longshoreman Eric Hoffer.

Born to immigrants

Eric was born to German parents in 1898 in the Bronx. He lost his vision at age five when his mother fell down a flight of stairs while carrying him. Eric’s mother died a year later from the injuries. Remarkably, at age 15 Eric’s vision returned. With his regained sight he became a voracious reader. He read everything he could get his hands on.

Early hardships

Eric’s father, a cabinet maker, died when Eric was 15. Eric received about $300 from the union for his father’s death. Eric went to California and did a variety of jobs. He had deep respect for the working men of this country, the underclass, and called them “lumpy with talent.”

Finding his voice

His first work, Four Years In Young Hank’s Life was partially autobiographical. A version of his article about his time in a federal work camp, Tramps and Pioneers, was later published in Harper’s Magazine. By 1943 he was working as a longshoreman in San Francisco, still reading and still writing. In 1964, at age 66, he left the docks to teach at the University of Berkeley. According to Wikipedia,  he died in 1983 at the age of 84. To the end of his life Eric considered himself first and foremost, a longshoreman.

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” – Eric Hoffer. For more quotes by longshoreman Eric Hoffer check out Brainy Quote.