Labor Day has come and gone. Did anyone even notice, or remember what it once meant? Or was it just another day for some Republicans to declare what is wrong with our world today, and why many people's income is barely enough to live on, while one percent of American citizens enjoy a hog's share of what is produced, and that's fair because the struggling folks did not work hard enough when they should have.
Whenever I hear that excuse for greed, I can't help thinking about my father's father. I wonder whether any of those greed defenders could begin to match his work record.
He was 87 when he died. He raised five children and a couple of them went on to become Harvard graduates. He worked in what was essentially a factory that produced things like doors and windows, in an area where logging and loggers were common, so there was a lot of material. The town he lived in had many prosperous folks; many lived in mansions that were enhanced by those materials.
Grandpa must have been a good worker, because he worked for one company for 50 long years and get this -- he never missed one day of work in those 50 years!
Grandpa was a religious man and he sang himself to sleep every night by singing hymns. We kids would sit on the stairs and listen to him, even though he didn't seem to know who we were.
Perhaps his forgetfulness could be explained by the fact that when he worked, workdays were 10 hours or more and he only had Sundays off. There was no such thing as vacation time or sick leave. And even though he was a big man, he must have been sick sometimes, or exhausted, and so were his co-workers. That and other things led to a strike by some of the workers against the company owners, who had built an incredible mansion for themselves to live in.
So, whenever I hear comments from folks who have spent their entire adult lives in college classrooms and offices, and have never done a day of hard physical work, I remember Grandpa.