For Laborers
Off the Wall, August 28,

As many of you know, I am the type of guy who likes to keep people smiling. Liking to erase frowns and create smiles, I often make little quips that change people’s moods at least momentarily.

So when the subject of Labor Day arises in our conversations, I often tell individuals that “I was born on that holiday, all one had to do was ask my mother if she was still with us.”

Of course, I usually add, “You know, we were all born on Labor Day; all we would have had to do is ask our parents, particularly our mothers. They would have said the same thing.” And there is a lot of truth to that statement.

But with all kidding aside, Labor Day is always the first Monday in September. According to the website,, “It is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well –being of our country.”

Being now in observance for more than 100 years, “there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.” The website goes on to point out, “Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the America Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

However, as further research revealed, it was Matthew McGuire who laid claim to founding of the holiday. A machinist and secretary of Local 344 of the International Associate of Machinists in Paterson, N.J. “proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

By 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

But what started off to be a day whereby laborers could kick off their shoes and throw their feet up for a day of rest soon took an opposite swing, at least to some citizens of this country.

At one time there were large parades going through these major cities highlighting the fact that one should give attention to these hard-working Americans. This isn’t the case anymore. Sure, some businesses will close, but in my opinion, many will remain open to draw people to large discount sales to celebrate the festive occasion.

Of course, retailers have traditionally gotten into the habit of trying to get the interest of consumers by holding special sales for any holiday.

“Lottle Lots Linens is holding its special Labor Day Sales with the unbelievable discounts of over 44%,” may be heard over the television by a man speaking with animated voice tones.

But one doesn’t only hear this type of thing for Labor Day but for other days of celebration, as well.

We have heard such sounds vibrate over the radio airspace, “Take part in our Christmas sales from Dec. 20 through Dec. 26 here at Petey’s Pants and Bloomers up here at Windocutcho Mall, South Bagypantz.”

How about this past Independence Day? Did one spend time with the family or head over to Woody’s Whistles for a blowout sale that can’t be beat? “I had to go,” said Bobbie Fingerknucal. I’d never find those types of prices any other time of the year.

And I bet the same thing is going to happen when it comes to Thanksgiving. I can just hear it now. While watching one’s favorite television station where it is seen, there is an interruption in the programing, “This is your man, Stan, hoping you will come over to our farm in Comeifucan to get your bird. You can have your choice pick, just point at the one you would like to have, and I will have Tony, Gerry and Russ clean and wrap it for you. You will be eating an organic bird, people, so come today and choice your pick. Our birds, their relatives, and particularly our prices are the very best, better than you would ever find in any large department store! They are gobbled full of goodness!”

But seriously, if one has to labor that day whereby others don’t, “Let he who has a day off personally thank those who are working."

- Paul J. Volkmann
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