Summer’s End


Teacher's desk

Tomorrow is Labor Day—the end of summer for most people. If you’re a parent with school age children, many of them are probably already back in school. Once school is back in session, no matter how high the temperature remains, it’s not summer any longer.

Labor Day weekend is a longer weekend for many who take advantage of the extra day for camping, short vacation trips, or just enjoying extra grilling and picnic sessions. Since I live on the shore of Lake Michigan and the weather has been hot and humid all week, the lake has been very busy with sail boats, pleasure boats, speed boats, jet skies, kayaks and canoes. Because we’ve had a warm July and August the water temp is warmer than usual and we even see brave swimmers out there.

But fall is coming. Our nights are getting much cooler. Worse, the days are getting shorter. Since I love fall, I don’t mind this fact at all.

However, all this emphasis on the end of summer sometimes keeps us from remembering why we have this holiday—the purpose for Labor Day as a holiday. It became a federal holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland rushed the legislation through Congress in an effort to ease tensions after a long and nasty strike. The 1890s was the era of great industrialization in the US and with that the rise of unions.  Their goals were to work towards better working conditions and decent wages.

A factory

When I was very young, my father worked in a factory. The conditions were terrible and the pay was very low. There was no union. When my father got sick and was hospitalized, he was fired. That winter was a very difficult winter for my family. After that experience, my dad regained his health and eventually found a different job. It was a union job.

My dad always reminded us on this weekend, that we were mostly celebrating what labor and laborers do for us. Not just here in our city, state, or country, but world-wide. Think of them all and celebrate their sweat, their productivity, their energy to do their jobs.

If you are a laborer, thank you. Tomorrow is your day. I hope you are able to enjoy it. And I leave you with this short video clip of Katy Couric on her views of labor and Labor Day. 

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6 Comments on “Summer’s End”

  1. Elle J Rossi Says:

    We do tend to forget why and how each holiday originated. Thank you for the reminder this Labor Day.

    And I can feel “fall” in the air. This year I’ve decided to have a better attitude about the winter eve season!

  2. caseyclifford Says:

    Elle,

    I fall camping with the fire going all day and the weather perfect for hikes. I know you love the summer and I do also, but fall the colors are so vibrant and the skies are so very clear and with those blue skies everything in nature’s palette seems so much more intense.

    Yes, think of those who labor for us from the store clerks to the factory workers, to the sanitation crews and and everything in between.

  3. Edie Ramer Says:

    I actually liked the coolness today and lower humidity. I’ve always been a proponent of unions, and more so this last year in this awful blame-the-unions political atmosphere.

  4. caseyclifford Says:

    Edie,

    This has been a terrible year for unions actually a horrid decade. Historically, unions really grew during times when those with money abused labor. I fear in a more modern sense that same situation is repeating itself. Not a good thought to have on Labor Day. 😦

  5. carol gianforte Says:

    my husband and I are perplexed and frustrated that unions and their members are not recognized today as a significant part of the American dream. Recently, we toured an abandoned copper mine (in Canada) that dramatically brought home the horrific conditions of the brave men who worked there from about 1905-1970. The dust, the noise, the darkness…How easily we take for granted the progress that has been made; often on the backs of laborers.

    I lived on Carlisle Avenue in Racine from 1950-1965. The smoke and soot from Belle City Foundry covered our house at times. I think of those workers inside with the dust and the noise. I, selfishly, think of the grass I played on… How easily we forget!

    carol gianforte

  6. caseyclifford Says:

    Carol,

    Very interesting memories you’ve given along with your opinion. I grew up within a block off the factory my father had worked at. It was recently torn down and the soil reclaimed. Now it contains an elementary school and a grocery store and some apartments. The increased level of sunlight in the area is so very interesting.


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