Labor Day

It’s Not Just An Excuse To Have A Long Weekend.

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Here we are at the beginning of September. The long Labor Day Holiday weekend has for many years been considered the end of summer celebration, the return of students to school, and a celebration of the hard work of all employees. We often forget the real meaning of Labor Day when we get wrapped up in picnics, back-to-school sales, and the realization that summer has just about had it.

Labor Day | Image by thepopkavoice.com

How did this celebration of labor get started? We have all heard stories of sweatshops that exist even today with laws against them. During the industrial revolution workers were needed, but they weren’t always treated fairly. The average American in the late 1880s worked 12-hour days, usually 7-days a week and there were not many restrictions on the employers. Child labor laws were were only in effect in some states and not always enforced. Children as young as six-years-old were working for much less than than there adult counterparts with not much recourse. Workers began to push for better working conditions which led to strikes. Demonstrations in front of the workplace often led to violence between the workers and employers and the police had to get involved.

Haymarket Riot Of 1886 | Image by allthatsinteresting.com

The one event that was the spark that ignited the worker’s movement was the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago, Illinois. According to History.com “On May 4, 1886, a labor protest rally near Chicago’s Haymarket Square turned into a riot when someone threw a bomb at police. At least eight people died, including police officers, as a result of the violence that day. Despite a lack of evidence against them, eight radical labor activists were convicted in connection with the bombing. The riot seriously hurt the labor movement. The efforts for an eight hour work day and better working conditions blew up with that bomb.

The first Labor Day parade took place on September 5, 1882 in New York City when some 10,000 workers took time off from work to march from City Hall to Union Square. Many states celebrated the first Monday in September as a workingman’s holiday, but Congress didn’t enact legislation to make it official until some twelve years later.

Eugene V. Debs | Photo by truthdx.com

Employees at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago in 1894 went on strike because of the firing of a union representative and wage cuts that management had made. A little more than a month later Eugene V. Debs leader of the American Railroad union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. Serious damage was done to railroad traffic and government troops were sent in which caused many riots to break out. More than a dozen workers died in those riots.

American Federation Of Labor | History.com
Grover Cleveland | history.com

Congress passed legislation making Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law June 28, 1894. There is still some dispute over who actually was the first to suggest a holiday for workers called  Labor Day.

Matthew Maguire & Peter McGuire

After all of these years the debate goes on. One side supports Peter J. McGuire who was co-founder of the American Federation of Labor for suggesting it and the other side says it was Matthew Maguire, Secretary of the Central Labor Union who first proposed the holiday. You’ll notice that Labor Day is not celebrated on September 5th as originally proposed. That’s because the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was signed into law June 28, 1968 making sure that Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Labor Day would always be celebrated on Mondays producing a 3-day weekend.

American Federation Of Labor | History.com

There you have it. Rather than actually celebrating workers most Americans simply enjoy an extra day off to spend with family and friends by having picnics, going boating, swimming, and other enjoyable activities. Maybe we should all take a moment to thank those who worked so hard all those years ago to give us the benefits that come with the jobs we have now.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

It’s Not At All Like I Remember It.

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It used to be a time of anticipation the week before it. Back then we had only three television stations to watch and one of them had nearly all of the audience for about 21 and a half hours. If you weren’t going to a family picnic at a park or at the beach you sat in front of the television watching a myriad of big stars “doing their thing.” The day is Labor Day and the event was the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. With only three stations available there wasn’t much else of interest to watch. Growing up in Rochester, New York we were in the first group of cities in New York State to receive the telethon on our local station. A short time later it became a nationwide telethon and the stars became bigger and more numerous.

MDA
Muscular Dystrophy Association Logo | Image by Black Baud, Inc

How did this spectacle come into being? According to MDA.org “In June 1950, Paul Cohen, a prominent New York business leader living with muscular dystrophy, invited a group of individuals to meet him in his Rye, New York office. Each had a personal connection to muscular dystrophy, and the gathering focused on the urgent need to raise funds to advance research seeking treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy. The group – so vested in the fight against neuromuscular diseases – formed the organization that became the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”

Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Early Telethon | Image from telegraph.co.uk

Their goal was to recruit celebrities who could help them promote this great cause. Cohen met with the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to get them to become “champions for the cause.” Martin and Lewis ended their popular television show with a pitch for people to support muscular dystrophy research. The first telethon was broadcast June 29-30 in 1956. Jerry Lewis hosted telethons in 1957 and again in 1959.

The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon
The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon | Image by c2staticflicker.com

The first official MDA,Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon was broadcast in 1966 on only one station WNEW-TV in New York, City. They assembled small group of local television stations in New York State including WHEC-TV in Rochester and  WGR-TV in Buffalo and WTEV-TV in Providence Rhode Island, and WKBG in Boston, Massachusetts to broadcast the telethon. That’s when I first saw the telethon. It would start Sunday evening and continue for 21 and a half hours concluding Labor Day evening.

Back in 1976 Frank Sinatra set up a reunion between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis who hadn’t appeared together on stage singe they broke up their comedy team. Video is from Youtube submitted by Dynamite Joe. Entertainment of all kinds was featured throughout those hours and many of the performers became regulars returning to donate their services to help “Jerry’s Kids” as he liked to call them. For many years Johnny Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon acted as a co-host with Jerry.

The Labor Day telethon in 2010 was the last one hosted by Jerry Lewis. It was said that he was retiring from the MDA telethon, but it became obvious to me that there was much more to that story. Over the years the telethon is said to have earned 2.6 Billion dollars for MDA. The telethon lasted for a short time after that becoming a couple hour entertainment show. The official reason given for ending the telethon tradition was  “After careful consideration and analysis and as families and supporters began looking for new ways to support and get involved with the organization, MDA once again evolved with the times to create new opportunities through social media and other digital channels to inspire the nation in support of the fight against muscular dystrophy.”

Death
Jerry Lewis | Image by media.graytvinc.com

Do I miss the telethon? You bet I do, but times have changed and you have to change with them. With the recent death of Jerry Lewis it really marks the end of what was a great era in television entertainment and fundraising. Labor Day will never be the same again for me anyway. It’s like when band leader Guy Lombardo died in 1977.

I grew up hearing his band every New Years Eve playing “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight to welcome the new year. Dick Clark started his “Rock’n New Years Eve” which was very entertaining and a lot of fun, but it was just not the same. Over time things change, but we can still have fond memories of those “Good Old Days.”

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Oregon Was The First State To Make It A Holiday.

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The first one was celebrated in Oregon February 21, 1887. Thirty states already celebrated it as it became a federal holiday in 1894. I’m talking about Labor Day. A machinist named Matthew Aguire is said to have first proposed the holiday when he was secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) in New York in 1882. There seems to be a dispute as to whether he actually was the first to propose it. A man with a similar sounding name, Peter J . McGuire, is thought to have proposed Labor Day as a holiday in May 1882 while he was a member of the American Federation of Labor (AF of L).

Labor Day Bill | Image by www.dol.gov
Labor Day Bill | Image by www.dol.gov

It all came to a head when workers were killed in a scuffle with the US military and the US Marshals during the famous Pullman strike. The proclamation making Labor Day a federal holiday was signed by then President Grover Cleveland just under a week after the deadly strike ended. The bill was rushed through and approved quickly by the US Congress.

Hmarket Riot 1886 | Print by Granger fineartamerica.com
Haymarket Riot 1886 | Print by Granger – fineartamerica.com

May first had been International Workers’ Day since the Haymarket Affair that occurred in Chicago on May 4,1886. President Cleveland didn’t want the US celebration to be connected to the Communist supported May Day Labor Celebration, so the Labor Day holiday was set for the first Monday in September.

Labor Day
Labor Day | Image 9pics.com

Over the years Labor Day has marked the last big weekend of the summer. Students return to school in many areas just before or soon after the holiday and stores celebrate with big sales every year to commemorate the day and increase their profits. Families have picnics and to celebrate and so do organizations. This year’s picnic at Jack B. Lively Park in Springfield, behind the “Splash!” swim center at 6100 Thurston Road, was sponsored by the Lane County Central Labor Council assisted by the Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network, Jobs with Justice (ESSN), The Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) – American Federation of Teachers (AFT) local 6732, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) who were in charge of Bar-B-Quing the hamburgers, hotdogs, and veggie burgers, and cooking the corn-on-the-cob. Picnickers brought their own favorite dishes to pass. The family-friendly event features live music, door prizes, Labor Recognition Awards, and speeches by local dignitaries. Local politicians attend the gathering to “press-the-flesh” with their constituents, show their support for the unions, and gain the support of the union members to get themselves re-elected. Other Labor Day picnics were being held at the same time in Portland, Astoria, Bend, Central Point, North Bend/Coos Bay, and Salem.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Police Crack Down on DUIIs

Drunk DrivingMEDFORD, Ore — Medford Police are urging people to think twice before they get behind the wheel this Labor Day weekend.  This is because officers are cracking down on people driving under the influence.

On Friday night, Medford Police arrested seven people for DUIIs.  On Saturday night, the same amount of officers are hitting the streets again.

“Typically on a holiday weekend you are going to see a bigger crowd at the downtown bar scene, and I think that’s because there is just not the fear of having to work Monday morning,” said Sgt. Kirkpatrick with Medford Police.

Sgt. Kirkpatrick said when looking for people driving drunk, officers typically look for people driving poorly.  Those who fail to maintain a single lane of traffic, are driving too slow or too fast, or blow past a traffic light or stop sign, often send up a red flag.

He said the best way to stay safe while enjoying holiday festivities is to plan ahead of time.  If you know you are going to be drinking, have a designated driver in place or call a cab.

Labor Day Gas Prices Lowest Since 2010

pumping gas(CNN) — Motorists have something to celebrate this Labor Day weekend.

Gasoline prices will be at their lowest levels since 2010.

Regular gas will average $3.41 a gallon–that’s 18 cents less than last year and 42 cents lower than in 2012 Labor Day weekend.

South Carolina has the lowest average price at $3.15 a gallon, and Hawaii has the most expensive at $4.31 a gallon.

According to GasBuddy.com, prices at the pump should continue to drop through early November.

Making the Most of Labor Day

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By Sandy Harris for Eugene Daily News

For most people, Labor Day means camping trips, barbeques, and gatherings with friends and family.

A U.S. federal holiday, Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. The day celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, 30 other states had already followed in Oregon’s footsteps.

I set out on a mission to find out what Labor Day means to Eugene residents and how they celebrate. I found that for most people, Labor Day means camping trips, barbeques, and gatherings with friends and family. Unlike most other holidays, there are no set traditions that are held any more — such as parades in times past. Labor Day simply means a new season is around the corner — and that school will soon begin.

Labor Day signifies the beginning of the football season. NCAA teams usually play their first game the week prior to Labor Day and the NFL traditionally play their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. But to most, Labor Day simply means a long weekend.

Still wondering what to do for Labor Day around Lane County? Here are a few different ideas to help fill up your holiday weekend:

• Labor Day Weekend on the Territorial Wine Trail, September 1-3. You will enjoy approximately 40 miles of meandering country hillsides, small local shops, and farms along the way. Call 541-221-8592 for more information.

• Pack a picnic and enjoy a summer day at Lavelle Vineyards. They are having an open house Labor Day weekend, September 1-3.

The Oregon Coast is always sure to offer up some spectacular views. Photo: Sandy Harris, EDN.

• Load up the kids in the car and head up to Belknap Hot Springs. It is a wonderful place to relax and is located a mere 56 miles from Eugene up the McKenzie Highway. The springs boast beautiful gardens with paths meandering through natural settings. Stay in the lodge, cabins, tents, or at an RV sight. Belknap has two pools that are fed by natural hot springs. Belknap has a wonderful outdoor barbeque serving up burgers, hot dogs, etc. If that does not sound to your liking, you can always head to Sisters for lunch. You can also enjoy Belknap’ sister site Camp Yale, only 1 mile from Belknap Hot Springs. The site has full access to the pool at their main location. Local attractions are mountain biking, numerous hiking trails, and fishing in the nearby river and reservoirs. Biking paths include the 26 mile McKenzie River Trail which is famous for its biking paths.

• Did you know Willamette Pass is open during the summer too? You can take the Oregon Skyway to the top of Willamette Pass and hike or bike back down the mountain. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery from the top of the mountain. You just might want to put a boat in at one of the lakes that you can spot from the top of the pass and fish for dinner.

• Play disc golf at Willamette Pass. Enjoy 18 holes of downhill disc golf. Purchase a ticket for the Oregon Skyway and enjoy hours of fun as you make your way down the mountain on September 1 and 2. A course map is available in the store at the Willamette Pass Lodge.

• Check out Salt Creek Falls. We have all heard of Multnomah Falls, but did you know that Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second tallest waterfall? Falling an impressive 286 feet, it is located approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass.

• Don’t have a boat? Rent a kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard for the day or the whole weekend! Northwest Canoe Tour at Alton Baker Park rents by the hour and by the day.

• Don’t have a bike? Rent one from Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life in Eugene for the day — or for the weekend for that matter!

• Hit the Oregon Coast. Head out to Florence and visit or camp at Cape Perpetua. At the campground, you will be in awe of The Giant Spruce, standing nearly 200 feet tall.There is a lookout tower built of rock on the bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. If you have never been, I would highly recommend the trip, whether it is for the day or the weekend.

A hike in the Willamette Pass is always a great way to spend Labor Day weekend with friends or family. Photo: Sandy Harris, EDN.

• Roll down the dunes at Honeyman State Park. Great swimming holes, fishing, camping, hiking, and biking are all favorite activities. Across from Honeyman is Whoahink Lake.

• Check out the Three Rivers Casino & Hotel in Florence. I spoke with Matt Walton of Sand Master Park in Florence and they are holding their second annual Pro/Am Sandboard competition at Three Rivers Casino. The event is free to compete or watch. Walton promises a pretty spectacular show. You will find some of the best pro-sandboarders competing, including Digiacomo Dias, Brazil’s champion — “easily the best sandboarder in the world,” according to Walton. The competition is Saturday, September 1 from 2-4 pm.  Warm-up will begin approximately two hours prior, so there will be plenty to see before the actual show starts! September 1st is the final sandboard event of the year in the U.S. so grab your board, some wax and head for the dunes. According to Walton, “You will see tricks that you never thought possible on a sandboard.” Some boarders will be catching 30 to 40 feet of air. Sand Master Park also has rentals available to go play in the sand.

• Watch a movie in the park. Did you know that movies are held in various parks for free in the summer? For example, on Friday, August 31st, Happy Feet 2 will be playing for free at Ruff Park in Springfield. The park is located at 1161 N 66th St. Springfield, OR 97478.

• Dance in the park. Sunday, September 2, grab your dancing shoes and head down to Sladden Park where you will find local DJ’s mixing it up. Bring your chair or blanket and sit back and relax.

• Eugene RC Aeronauts are holding a Labor Day Fun Fly on September 3 from 9 am to 4 pm at 92560 Alvadore Rd in Junction City. More than 50 remote control planes and helicopters are expected to be in the air at this event.

Without a doubt, there are numerous activities to take part in if you do not have any plans yet for Labor Day Weekend. From the Oregon coast to the city of Eugene, many businesses and communities will be hosting events that are sure to pique the interest of many travelers. As always, be safe and have a wonderful holiday weekend.