Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

I doubt many people know what Labor Day is all about. I vaguely remember a brief mention of it in American history in the 11th grade.

Labor day was supposed to be a holiday to celebrate the fact that every Mother's Son of us has gotten up and gone to work everyday since Adam and Eve. I really think it had more to do with some long forgotten politician wanting to get reelected by giving the country a day off every year. It also was the unofficial date school should start every year. Boy, we screwed that up.

Let's see what Wiki has to say...it's always entertaining, and not informative.

In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York.[1] Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,[2] after witnessing the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada.[3]
Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday in 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.[2] Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with Reyes[clarification needed], leader of the labor movement. Fearing further conflict, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.[4] The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation's trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers' Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers' Day.[5] All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

There were exclusions, as always. Railroad personell, dairy farmers, park personnel, professional baseball players,and hundreds of other occupations couldn't day off. People don't just sit around the house and scratch on a holiday. They want to DO something.

I have a few Labor Day remembrances:

Labor Day is not for football players. Coach Sellers was determined to have his starting line up posted by the time school started. We minions were in the throes of two a day practices; one in the morning from 10:00 to 12:00, and one from about 4:00 until it got too dark to see. We were told today's practice would weight heavily on who had a first string position. Most of us knew "who" did, but the coaches wanted to instill hope in some aggressive pitiful sophomore to go beyond the call of duty and hurt someone.

One had to protect you position, keep an eye out for cheap shots, put up with unsportsmanlike conduct brought on by thirst, heat, and just plain irritability. These shows of temper were taken by the coaching staff a outburst of passionate play; it was really just a way to get a 2 minute breather. The coaches worked the pea-turkey out of us, no water, 95 plus temperatures. I'm sure there are laws about the inhumanity now, or should be.

Another Labor Day memory:

School started on Tuesday after Labor Day. We were summarily marched to the confines of a 30' by 30' room by bald-headed, 4 eyed, green-toothed, ruler swinging ogre of indeterminate age. She (really?) sat behind a desk and spoke Arabic/Greek and Inuit about arithmetic, gerunds, 1776 and other things non essential to my life. I understood bathroom, lunch and recess. Homework? Never!

My schooling, until Christmas vacation, was spent daydreaming about the past summer. The next semester, I dreamed of Memorial Day, nearly failing 5th grade. I was told in April that if I didn't want to spend a whole extra year in school, I had to do enough to " pass on" to the next grade. I always thought that was a strange way of saying you were going to the next grade. Sorta like you were dying. Hell, I'd been doing that all year!

I was told later by my Mother, also teacher, without glasses and green teeth, that her intervention was all that saved me.

I worked in the Park and Recreation. I breathed a sigh of relief Labor Day night each year. All the tourists and weekenders went home. No more 500 pound garbage bag full of yellow jackets and watermelon rinds. No more scrubbing bath houses and bath rooms 5 times a day.

There are outraged/outrageous park patrons on Labor Day. Typical of Labor Day in the park.

"Yes, I do know all the picnic tables are taken"

" No I haven't seen your key, can I call a locksmith for you"? 

"Your son is in the middle of the lake in a homemade raft, and it's sinking"?

"Sorry, you'll have to pour that beer out, leash you dog, and please tell you kid not to chop on the trees with his hatchet".

Yes, I know it rained, those are mosquito bites, no, you don't need to call 911 to treat them, any other questions"?

Ah, Labor Day in the Park. Nature at it's finest

I am not terribly fond of holidays in general, and Labor Day in particular. I think everyone should LABOR on Labor Day, just to see what it feels like. I won't win any elections with that statement!

It think I paid my dues. I'm staying home, Thank You.

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