In 1973, 21-year-old Barbara Moore became the first woman to enter the apprenticeship program of Bricklayers (BAC) Local 1 of Maryland. A couple of decades later, she served as both president of the former local and as Baltimore chapter chair of BAC Local 1 MD/VA/DC.
“A lot of people thought I wouldn’t make it this long,” Moore said at a ceremony honoring her 25 years of union membership in 1998.
In fact, she just retired after more than 40 years of laying masonry, a tenure that included work on a number of Baltimore landmarks, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and the (Baltimore) Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"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," Moore says in an interview with her daughter, Olivia Fite, for NPR’s StoryCorps project. "But I believed that I could do that job."
And she did. She credits the mentorship of Tony Anello, a World War II veteran and bricklayer, early in her career as instrumental in helping her learn the trade.
"He was, you know, really an old-school guy, but he was willing to work with me when a lot of other people did not want me as their partner," she says. "And when he passed away, his daughter called me and said that he wanted to leave me his tools....If you're getting tools from the bricklayers that have gone before you, that would be a sign of respect."
Much deserved respect, indeed. Listen to the full StoryCorps interview.