To the editors:

Congratulations to Kitry Krause on a remarkably realistic portrait of American Indian ironworkers [January 20]. Having handled publicity for the construction of dozens of Chicago skyscrapers including Sears Tower, John Hancock and Standard Oil Building, I have come to know and admire ironworkers–both Indians and others. (Only a small percentage of ironworkers are Indians though the myth persists that all ironworkers are Indians or that the best ironworkers are Indians.)

What I like most about ironworkers is their elitism and their passion for hard work. Unlike painters, plasterers and other tradesmen whose most notable traits are long coffee breaks and shoddy workmanship, ironworkers really put out. The results of their work become monuments. True, it is dangerous up there high on a steel beam. I have walked the beams myself in the pursuit of a dramatic photo, but was damned scared.

The boss of an ironworker crew is almost always named “Tex.” Big, gruff, a four-letter word man. But the job gets finished–almost always on time. And the boys of summer, fall and spring move on to another job. Ironworkers are the Wild West cowboys of today’s construction business. Small on talk; big on action! Heroes all.

Tom Ward

Lecturer in public relations

Columbia College and Northwestern University