Over Thanksgiving I read an article in the November 25, 2010, NY Times about the last commercial blacksmith in Hanoi. Mr. Nguyen Phuong Hung has a shop on Blacksmith Street, aptly named for all the once thriving tradesmen who practiced their craft there. Today, at the end of the street, his shop is the last one. Clothing shops and jewelers make up the rest of the street. He is 46 years old now and has no one to pass along his trade. He son and daughter are both university trained and have no intention of entering such dirty work. In fact, Mr. Hung says, it was tough getting married when his wife found out what he did for a living.
Blacksmiths, working around coal and fire, are looked down upon as marriageable suitors.
I hope to visit Hanoi in 2012 and have sent a letter to Mr. Nguyen letting him know there are supporters of his trade in North Carolina. I hope to write an article for our quarterly blacksmith’s magazine about Mr. Nguyen in The Hot Iron Sparkle, the official publication of the NCABANA.