Labor ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #36

When I saw the word “Labor” I immediately thought of Labor Day, at least the one I grew up celebrating. As with all things, society changes and so does our holidays. Although my family never had any real traditions while I was growing up, we did always do something for the Labor Day weekend. Maybe that was because my Dad actually had a day off of work!

The first Labor Day was held celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882, and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday. How this holiday is celebrated has changed dramatically over the years, but the ones that have endured are picnics, barbecues, swimming, and shopping!

My Dad belonged to the Carpenters Union. He was very proud of that, and he took it very seriously. Every year we would go to the Union Hall for a barbecue and there were always games and music. After the festivities we would go to Randolph Park (now Reid Park) and my sister and I would run around the small lake and play at the playground. One of my favorite activities was to visit the Prairie Dog village. It was just a fenced in area with a lot of hills in which the prairie dogs dug their holes and tunnels. I would get excited when they would peek out from one of the holes. Their faces were so cute. This area eventually became the Reid Park Zoo with lots of exotic animals.
I remember one year we made a trip to San Diego, and we spent the day at the beach. I believe that is when I first fell in love with the ocean. My sisters attempt to drown me didn’t deter that love. Another year we attended a political picnic at Hi Corbett Baseball Field. It was for Barry Goldwater when he was running for President in 1964. We saw lots of balloons, several music groups, and the longest, most boring speech I ever heard. What would you expect from a 9 year-old girl? It really didn’t matter what we did for Labor Day, I always had fun. By the end of the day I would go to bed excited because the next day was always the first day of school!

Regardless of what we did over the 3-day weekend my Dad would remind us of why we celebrated Labor Day. It was a day to recognize the hard work of the common men and women who toiled to feed their families.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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