I see that Labor Day is upon us once again, with the drifting away of another summer and, as Bob Seger wrote, autumn closing in.
The number of issues and topics the first Monday in September presents, somehow seems to approach that of the leaves this old spruce my kitchen window frames every morning, as she begins her yearly shedding.
I thought about and recalled the blues and highlights that back-to-school days always ushers in. I pondered a tutorial on the history of Labor Day commencing with its ushering in when our sister state Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday in 1887, followed shortly thereafter with its sanction by the federal government in 1894. For a brief moment, I set upon the importance of weekend discounts and allowances by many retailers and how that affected back to school sales and its effect upon our local economy.
Hard to avoid politics of late, how would a potential bailing out of NAFTA affect us all? What is President Trump’s view on the minimum wage this week and what can we take from the recent dissolution of his economic councils? And then there’s the glass ceilings women still face in the 21st century. Also, why did working men and women abandon their traditional democratic roots in ’16 and what drove it?
Almost leading me to land on whether Martin Truex, Jr. could repeat at the traditional Labor Day running of the NASCAR Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington.
Tongue in cheek and heartaches aside, I thought of the working men and women of my community and settled on that part of Labor Day that most appealed to my pen and heart. A good starting part being Alabama’s “40 Hour Week”:
There are people in this country
Who work hard every day
Not for fame or fortune do they strive
But the fruits of their labor
Are worth more than their pay
And it’s time a few of them were recognized.
Given the need for sustenance and an ongoing scrap with a cancer bug, I find myself several times a week at Safeway. After 12 years shopping there, many of the folks at their check-out stands and pharmacy have become friends. Notwithstanding the sometime attendant waiting in line or table at any service, there’s always time for a smile and kind word. Thursday afternoon, Assistant Manager Bonnie Weaver retired after 27 years. Giving her a hug, while thinking of all the kindness she’s bestowed upon me through the ups and downs of Life, she and her colleagues continue to be just one of the reasons I stay in this small town.
This is for the one who swings the hammer,
Driving home the nail
Or the one behind the counter
Ringing up the sale
Or the one who fights the fires,
The one who brings the mail
For everyone who works behind the scenes
As I stood in line there the next day, I saw Jean Olsen in front of me and had to ask her if the new Tom Cruise movie was showing. If you haven’t met Jean, I’ll bet you’ve seen her one time or another. She’s the petite lady who has run our local movie theatre for the last 20 years. Always friendly to effervescent, that day she worried that even after two weeks, the distributors still hadn’t come to remove “Dunkirk” and she may have to go to matinees with the new shows to ensure our viewing ability..
A couple folks have asked why I don’t bring my flag in at night. Living 500 yards north of Pelican Bay right on Lake Earl, I guess it’s my way of saying to Night Watch that someone’s holding a prayer and a good thought for them all through the night, while they do their job in protecting the rest of us.
You can see them every morning
In the factories and the fields
In the city streets and the quiet country towns
Working together like the spokes inside a wheel
They keep this country turning round.
I think of Drs. Greg Duncan and Kevin Caldwell, not just content to provide such excellent care and treatment to this community, but they battle they selflessly and pro bono wage to protect us from the forces of greed and avarice.
I think of men like veterinarian Mark Franusich, who also selflessly gives of his service and practice, often to the Humane Society or those who cannot pay for their family’s beloved pets and his colleague Dennis Wood who has always taken in the birds and owls that survive one violent attack or accident, as well as his care of marine animals at the Marine Mammal Center. (One of these days, I gotta remember to keep a blanket in the car to avoid getting the heck bit outta me.)
I think of a man like Randy Hatfield, the manager of our Fairgrounds, retiring after 29 years of being chief mechanic, road grader, electrician, construction director, cook and bottle washer, as well as a kind uncle figure to every Del Norte kid that ever stabled a horse on his grounds down there. Hard not to think of the word “irreplaceable” when you think of Hatfield.
I think of a man of incomparable integrity, kindness and wisdom, not to mention a killer work ethic, having seen him every single weekend when we held down opposite ends of the courthouse. After 17 years on the bench, you call him the Honorable William H. Follett or Bill. For me, all the very best, Boss.
I think of all the teachers and after school monitors in this county, charged with the care and growth of our most valuable assets. Also our county and tribal social workers, who are there to pick up the pieces, too often thanklessly, and mend the broken and battered lives entrusted to them.
I think of all the men and women who work the sea, the dock and the highway to get their catch on down the line and to our tables.
I think of our brothers and sisters who tirelessly work the fields and sheds to bring us everything from milk to flowers bulbs.
And, of course, Ron Phillips, who runs our Farmer’s Market, year in and year out, something he seamlessly cobbles together, which I call Del Norte’s “Fifth Season,” that somehow brings together much of the best of our community.
This is for the one who drives the big rig,
Up and down the road
Or the one out in the warehouse
Bringing in the load
Or the waitress, the mechanic
The policeman on patrol
For everyone who works behind the scenes
With a spirit you can’t replace with no machine
Hello, America, let me thank you for your time…
Yes, America, and here at home in Del Norte County, let me thank you.
Apropos: And for Texas, our eyes and prayers are upon you.
Angels and Desperados appears the first and third Saturdays of each month. Reach Jon Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org