Female Bricklayer Defied Doubters To Build Baltimore Landmarks Barbara Moore was the only woman bricklayer in Baltimore when she started the job in 1973. "A lot of the older guys didn't think I should be there," she tells her daughter on a visit to StoryCorps.

Female Bricklayer Defied Doubters To Build Baltimore Landmarks

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Time now for StoryCorps. Olivia Fite recently interviewed her mother, Barbara Moore, in Baltimore where she just retired as a brick layer. During more than 40 years on the job, Moore laid the masonry for many Baltimore landmarks, including Camden Yards, where the Orioles play baseball.


She started lugging bricks at age 21. Moore weighed just 115 pounds, and she was the only woman in Baltimore doing the job. Here she tells her daughter how it all started.

BARBARA MOORE: Right out of high school, I worked in an office. But a couple hours behind a desk, and I was falling asleep. So I became a bricklayer.

OLIVIA FITE: Well, I specifically remembered getting bullied at school and telling boys that were bullying me you better watch out, my mom is a bricklayer. And she'll come beat you up if you mess with me.

MOORE: (Laughing) Well, it was kind of rough at first 'cause, you know, a lot of the older guys didn't think I should be there. And I was taking a job from a man, but I believed that I could do that job. And I was working with this guy, Tony Anello, who was a World War II vet, and he had a plate in his head. And he was, you know, a really old-school guy, but he was willing to work with me when a lot of other people did not want me as their partner. And when he passed away, his daughter called me, and said that he wanted to leave me his tools. So I think that's probably - if you're getting tools from the bricklayers that have gone before you, that would be a sign of respect.

FITE: I can't even really remember a time that you came home and you said, oh, I'm going to quit, or this is too hard. And I, at a very young age, learned how to massage your calloused hands. And then a little later on in life, sometimes I would paint your fingernails.

MOORE: Not that a manicure lasted very long.

FITE: (Laughing) I noticed that throughout my life, people always come up to me on the street and say are you Barbara Moore's daughter? There's a lot of people in this town that have a great respect for you. And you've earned that.

MOORE: Well, you're very kind.

FITE: (Laughing) Well, how would you like to be remembered?

MOORE: The only thing that's important to me, my dear, is that you remember me.

FITE: But you've had in your hands in so many things that will last for so much longer than either one of us.

MOORE: I know. I don't care about that. Whatever I did - I was - always something that I wanted to do for you.

WERTHEIMER: That was Barbara Moore and her daughter, Olivia Fite, in Baltimore. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Hear more women talking about their work on the StoryCorps podcast. Get it on iTunes and at npr.org.

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