Monday, September 6, 2010


Labor Day in the United States was started in September 1882 by the Knights of Labor to honor the laborer.  In most other countries, laborers are honored on May 1st.  Labor Day was made a national holiday by Congress in 1894 after US military and US marshals killed a number of workers during a Pullman strike .

When the seasons or year change, it is time to take stock and figure out what was done and what needs to be done.  I never get all the things done I want and plan to do in the summer.  It just goes too fast.  The months turn on the calender.  It seems like it is the first of the month and two days later it is the thirty-first.  It can feel overwhelming with all you want to accomplish as apposed to what you actually do.  However, we do make progress as seen in the pictures of my maternal Grandma and my cousins.

On this Labor Day I think we should honor the women who labor to bring forth babies.  The women who walked across our continent while their husbands sat in the wagon and drove the oxen. We honor the wives who followed their men and sailed alone on the ocean liners with the children after their husbands had left them behind to start a new life in another country.  The women who work along side their husbands to farm or start new business and still have to cook, clean and do the laundry.  The wives left at home to deal with life while their husbands go off to war.  The women who go off to war. Women everywhere.

Recently my church group had a young visitor.  Somehow we started discussing how different her world was from ours.  She can be a pilot, a doctor, fight for her country or be president.  When myself and the other ladies in the group were young our options ran to housewife, secretary, school teacher, or nurse.  Of course, there were exceptions to the rule, but the rule itself was strong and difficult to go against.

I came across these wonderful pictures that my Dad had taken of my Mom's Mother and her two sisters enjoying a summer day in the late 1940's.  I contrast them with pictures taken of my cousins and myself at about the same age while we enjoyed summer.
My maternal Grandma is on the right.  Her oldest sister, Sena or Auntie as we called her is on the left.  Aunt Katie is in the middle.

In their house dresses but without their aprons, they enjoy some quiet time while looking out over the Lake.  You can't see them in the picture but they have heavy, clunky shoes on with nylons.

These sister's lost their parents at a young age.  They had to do laundry on a wash board until the washing machine went into production, they made their own personal products, and cooked everything from scratch.  They lived through the Great Depression and the rationing of food in two World Wars.

My cousins enjoying my garden before the deer problem in Grand Haven destroyed it.  Now we are afraid to use our backyard due to deer ticks which carry Lyme Disease.

No Sunday hats, white gloves and pearls for us when we go downtown.  We are downtown in our bathing suits.  Of course, we are ignoring the sound of our mothers spinning in their graves and yelling at each other, "YOUR daughter is a bad influence on mine."  Our Mothers were sisters and never did get along.

No clunky shoes and nylons for us.  I have no memories of my Grandma or her sister's ever going to the beach; no pictures either.  They stayed up at the cottage and looked at the water.

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