When we think of Labor Day, we think of a day off work, a day of celebration with barbecues and picnics, and maybe the last official holiday of the summer season. All those things are true, but I think that the last two years of Labor Day holidays have taken on a different and more special meaning. Whether you are an Anti-Vaxxer or a Pro-Vaxxer, you were involved in the Covid-19 Shutdown of 2020. During that time, many businesses were shut down, and life ground to a halt, except for the few people who were deemed essential workers. We were told to stay home unless we qualified as an essential worker, and the workforce in this nation and many other countries took on a whole new meaning. Some of it was good and some of it was bad, but today, I want to focus on the good. I think it’s always best to focus on the good when we can.
The term “essential workers” took om a whole new meaning too. Most of us would agree that in a crisis, hospital workers (from doctors to cleaning staff) are essential workers, really in any situation. The sick are always among us, and they cannot care for themselves when the illness is severe. There are other jobs that we never thought about, or at least most of us didn’t. Suddenly delivery people became essential. Railway workers, truck drivers, mail carriers, and pizza delivery people all fell into the “essential workers” category. What, pizza delivery, are you kidding me? No, and other food delivery people too. Food delivery suddenly became essential, because restaurants were closed, and Americans are notorious for their enjoyment of restaurant food…and as a result of the shutdowns, grocery delivery too. Many people have chosen not to return to “in-store” grocery shopping. Mail order meals, as well as, both grocery delivery and pickup, are completely common and they are not going away.
Our workforce has drastically changed. I could have listed computer and internet technicians…and they are essential, but much of their work can be done remotely. In fact, many jobs that were always considered an “in-office” job, are now being done remotely. That has change office jobs drastically. Companies are finding that they can downsize, which of course, effects the building owners, Remote jobs have become commonplace in many lines of work. Of course, that doesn’t make those jobs any less essential. We still need those workers, they just work differently.
Labor Day was designed to celebrate the workforce. When the day became a federal holiday, the workforce was very different. These days the workforce is very different again. Nevertheless, the workforce still needs to be celebrated, and that is what we are celebrating today. The American workforce.
When our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little, we used to go to visit my husband, Bob’s aunt and uncle, Linda and Bobby Cole every year, right before school started. It was the final trip of the summer…Labor Day weekend. Soon after, they would be back in school, and they lazy days of summer would be over. We all looked forward to going, and it was always a lot of fun.
Linda and Bobby lived in the small South Dakota town of Kennebec. It was one of those towns that you could miss if you blinked on the way by. Back then there was a grocery store, a school, and one hotel…Linda and Bobby’s hotel. We never had to find a place to stay, because we always had a room in the hotel. Their hotel was an old building, filled with antiques that I’m sure were there in the days of the Old West. Well, ok, maybe not, but they were old enough to be from that era.
Kennebec operated at a very slow pace, because there wasn’t much to do there, besides visiting and a good card game. Linda and Bobby loved to play cards, when they weren’t square dancing that is. They belonged to a square dance club and they went to lots of dances during the year. They loved dancing and the costumes.
Our girls always loved to go for visits too. They got to hang out with their cousins Sheila and Pat Cole, and while they were older than our girls, they all still had a great time. The kids all played together with minimal fighting, and there was little they could do to get into trouble. We always enjoyed our visits to see Linda and Bobby and their family, and now that both Linda and Bobby are in Heaven, the memories are even more precious than they were before. Today would have been Linda’s 71st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.
Sometimes, the best of intentions can go horribly wrong, and when things go wrong, it becomes a disaster, and disaster is exactly what happened in Centralia, Pennsylvania when a fire was set to burn out an old landfill before the Labor Day holiday in 1962. The fire that was started on May 27, 1962, seemed like a simple solution to a big mess, but the landfill was also an old strip-mine pit, connected to a maze of abandoned underground mining tunnels full of coal. No one knows how the fire got to the coal vein below the ground, but once it did, the situation was out of control. Some called it careless trash incineration in a landfill next to an open pit mine, which ignited a coal vein, but no one expected the fire to crawl insidiously along the rich coal deposits that still laid deep in the ground. No one expected the burning coal to vent hot and poisonous gases up into town, through the basements of homes and businesses. Nevertheless, with dawn came the horror, as residents realized that the fire was not going to be extinguished, or in fact, ever burn itself out…at least not until all the interconnected coal veins in eastern Pennsylvania were finally burned out. As the underground fire worked its way under rows of homes and businesses, the threat of fires, asphyxiation, and carbon monoxide poisoning became a daily concern.
Probably one of the scariest situations was when a young man, Todd Domboski fell into a hot, steaming hole created by mine fire subsidence. He survived his 45 second ordeal by grabbing onto tree roots, and screaming for help until his cousin ran to his aid, reached into the void, and hoisted him out. Many Centralia residents had worried that a calamity like the one that nearly unfolded that Valentine’s Day in 1981. Four years earlier, Domboski’s father had told a reporter, “I guess some kid will have to get killed by the gas or by falling in one of these steamy holes before anyone will call it an emergency.” Never did he imagine that it would be his kid that would fall through and almost lose his life.
After the near tragedy, signs were posted to warn visitors to the Centralia area about the dangers of death by asphyxiation or being swallowed by the ground, but the old mining town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, was once home to more than 1,000 people. People with no place else to go. Now, it’s nothing more than a smoldering ghost town that’s been burning for over half a century. Though the town was able to extinguish the fire above ground, a much bigger inferno burned underneath, and it eventually spread its way under Centralia’s town center. The fire was so widespread, destructive and unending. It’s thought that there’s enough coal underground to fuel the fire for another 250 years. In 1980, a $42 million relocation plan incentivized most of the townspeople to relocate and most of the homes were demolished, leaving only about a dozen holdouts behind. Today, Centralia exists only as an eerie grid of streets, its driveways disappearing into vacant lots. Remains of a picket fence here, a chair spindle there. Still John Lokitis and 11 others who refused to leave, the occupants of a dozen scattered structures. Over the decades, the ground has opened up with sulfurous gases sometimes billowing out. The road along Highway 61 swells and cracks open. It is riddled with graffiti and hot to the touch. In the winter, snow melts in patches where the ground is warm. While a few holdouts still live there, I have to wonder what they are thinking. That is like slowly committing suicide, because you refuse to leave the past.
So often, when we have a holiday, people tend to think that it is just another day to have a family dinner and a day off of work. Often, they are celebrating the day for the wrong reason, but not so today. Labor Day is a day for our nation to pay tribute to its workers. No nation can be strong if it has no workers. So, as a show of gratitude, Labor Day was set aside to allow a day of rest for the American worker. When our nation was founded, there was largely nothing here. The native Americans lived in Teepees, so they could be mobile. They needed to follow the buffalo because that was their food supply. But, we had come from nations where there were houses and farms, and ways to get the things we needed.
Nevertheless, this was a new nation, and it was going to take a lot of hard work to turn it into the great nation it has become. The work was going to be a lot of hard physical labor. We would also need those who would teach our children and others so that they could become doctors, scientists, inventors, and all the other jobs that would be needed to take this from a vast empty land, to a thriving nation that would be able to bring about the dreams that we all came over here to fulfill.
After a time of hard work, and much growth, the nation began to give increasing emphasis to a Labor Day holiday. It was decided that we, as a nation, needed to thank our laborers for all they had done to build this country. The first bill to be introduced was into the New York legislature, but the first state to pass a law was Oregon, on February 21, 1887. Over the course of that year, four more states passed legislation to honor laborers through a Labor Day holiday that was created by legislative enactment. Those states were Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania were also listed among the states honoring laborers with a Labor Day holiday. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The day began with a parade and continued on with lots of festivities. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883. That was rather odd, considering the fact that the holiday didn’t become official until 1887, and then it wasn’t in New York City. Later, like many holidays, it began to make less sense to keep the holiday on the fifth, and so the first Monday in September was chosen to be the permanent time to celebrate it. That makes sense when you think about it. If you are going to celebrate the laborers, give them a three day weekend. After all, that is cause for celebration for most laborers. Of course, as we all know, the holiday doesn’t give every worker the day off. That would be almost impossible for all the obvious reasons. Nevertheless, as Labor Day arrives, I hope that each and every worker knows that whether they get the day off or not, this grateful nation has set aside this day to celebrate them, and to thank them for making this nation great. Happy Labor Day to workers everywhere!!
They say that girls often marry a man who is much like their dad, and that seems to be the case with Jessi and Jason. Both Jessie’s dad, and Jason are police officers, but that is only one of the similarities between these two men. They are both serious pranksters, which Jessi tells me reminds her a lot of her dad and her grandpa, my dad. Of course, it is apparently pretty easy to tease Jessi, because she is pretty gullible and believes anything Jason says. For that reason, he never misses an opportunity to try to trick her. I would imagine life in their house is pretty comical.
Another way Jason is like my dad, Jessi’s grandpa, is that when it comes to cars, foreign is simply not an option. Of course, there are several people like that in our family. Most of us really believe that it is best to buy American, and that is Jason’s thought too, but there is another reason for him too. Jason was born in Michigan…just 20 minutes from Detroit. I doubt that someone could be born and raised in that area and not know the importance of buying American made cars.
There are many sides to Jason. He has degrees in engineering and fire science, and also has his pilot’s license; and yet he knew that his true calling was to be a Highway Patrolman. He loves what he does, and of course there is more to being a police officer than giving tickets. Jason is the lead Crash Team member in our area, and my kids can attest to the value of that. He was the first one on scene at an accident involving my son-in-law Kevin’s dad. It was such a relief to Kevin and Corrie to have Jason meet them at the edge of the scene and tell them that his dad was ok. He was caring and yet thoroughly did his job on the accident. That is how he handles every accident he deals with…with compassion and professionalism. As Jessi says, “God definitely has special people in mind for every job and this is no exception.” I have to agree. God does place the right people in the right job, and Jason is the kind of person that you want to see after you have been in an accident.
Jason loves kids, and there will definitely be children in the future for Jessi and Jason, but for now he likes to do things with the other kids in the family. On Labor Day weekend, when the family went up to my sister, Caryl and her husband, Mike’s cabin at Seminole Reservoir, Jason took every single kid…10 all together, for rides on the RzR. They all have an amazing time. Jason will never pass up the opportunity to share these kinds of things with a child. He has a very soft heart when it comes to kids.
Like most people, Jason has a nickname. Because of his red hair, they call him Red, Ginger, and a few others that the guys at work have stuck him with. If they tell you to call him one of those, he will probably know exactly who told you to do it. They might think they got away with something…but they didn’t. Jessi says she had no idea that being a redhead was such a big deal, and maybe that’s part of it, but I think it goes back to that sense of humor and a little return teasing, because of all the pranking Jason has done to others in his past. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!