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Black Monday '77

Louis Delbarre tells the sad story of a small rustbelt town in rural Ohio, still suffering the consequences of decisions made 50 years ago.

This story is about the effect of one event that occurred in Youngstown in Ohio in 1977, and the lasting effect of the people left behind.

Youngstown City Centre
Abandoned house on Main Street

The workers and the people living in Youngstown, as well as the media, refer to it as 'Black Monday'.

Abandoned Buckeye High School

Black Monday was the name given to a mass lay-off that took place at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Factory in 1977, where 5000 people were let go by the company. This episode shocked the whole of the Steel Valley and was the first instance in a succession of companies closing or being bought out.

Abandoned worksite in Youngstown, Ohio

'Black Monday' was tragic, nearly half of the population had to leave the area for lack of employment, and that was just the beginning of it. Soon afterward, a wave of unemployment hit the state of Ohio.

Advertisement for a local demolition company
Decrepit warehouse deep in the Valley

The focus of this project on two workers, both now retired, Eddie Scantz and John Julien Fusco. John lived his whole life in Youngstown, Ohio. He was lucky enough not to be let go on Black Monday, but still witnessed the transformation of his hometown during this turbulent period. Eddie was let go during the second wave of layoffs.

Eddie Scantz

A trophy awarded to Eddie for his hard work
John Fusco

The Sheet and Tube Company hospital

John started working when he was 18 during the weekends. He stayed with the Youngstown sheet and tube factory until he was 51. He was one of the lucky ones who did not get fired in September 1977. He was born in Youngstown and spent his whole life there.

John's old unoccupied house

The Sheet and Tube Company was so important in the valley that they bought in a hospital to treat any accidents that occurred in the workplace, as well as building houses which they let to their workers.

Abandoned Steel and Tube Company house

John couldn't afford the company houses. So he and his wife rented the basement of a house by the valley.

John outside his old home

John and his wife Lucinda

The job was hard, but it allowed John to raise enough money to provide for his wife and children. Years of working with hot metal eventually started taking their toll. John used to work by the furnace. Manipulating heavy metal all day. All those years of physical work have left scars inside and outside of his body.

Scarring on John's hands
Dust in John's lungs

Every social issue is a matter of scale. Reminding us that every decision affects the daily lives of the people and communities who rely on one source of employment for the livelihood of them and their families. A single signature on a piece of paper can change the landscape of a place like Youngstown fo decades to come.


Louis Delbarre

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