“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.” Barack Obama
Known as International Labor Day in 80 countries, May Day arrived with reports that an agreement has been tentatively reached in the three-month BP strike involving Whiting refinery workers – good news if true. In America May Day used to be a big deal, but there was hardly mention of it in the paper.
1915 May Day event at University of Wisconsin, Madison posted by Steve Spicer
Ron Cohen, who attended a Roger McGuinn concert at Memorial Opera House, passed along Howard Blum’s “American Lightning.” It deals with the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times building that killed 21 people. The book leads off with a quote by historian Richard Hofstadter: “I know it’s risky, but I still write history out of my engagement with the present.” To be honest, I suppose I do that, too.
Driving to Miller to have lunch with Anne Balay, I saw countless posters touting Gary candidates in the upcoming election plus a couple signs urging people to help save St. Mary of the Lake parish from closing. At Flamingo Pizza, packed with people at the noon hour, Anne told me that UTEP director Rochelle Brock, is leaving IUN – sad news indeed. Communication prof DeeDee Ige is retiring, so the number of black faculty is rapidly dwindling. Hollis Donald eulogized Ige as one who “played so many positive role models that not seeing you around will leave a blank space.” Our bill for a hamburger and cheeseburger was just $16.05; I left a twenty-dollar bill.
The Cubbies won an afternoon game 1-0, with Jon Lester getting his first victory of the season and Addison Russell his first major league HR. Dave called, pumped that his East Chicago girls tennis team beat Hammond Morton, 3-2. At dinner James said he was just starting a unit on Reconstruction. Be aware, I told him, that white racists were the villains, foiling attempts to assure first class citizenship to former slaves. Let’s hope his textbook takes a similar approach rather than give credence to the Southern apologists who made “carpetbaggers” and scalawags” the heavies.
Commenting on celebrities who died in 1985, WXRT deejay Frank E. Lee quipped that the gavel came down for the last time for 88 year-old former North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, whose finest hour was chairing the Watergate Committee that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. In the background was Ervin “singing” Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over troubled Waters” from a hookey 1973 Columbia Records album entitled “Senator Sam at Home.” Other cuts include “If I Had a Hammer,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Country Ham” (the latter a fitting theme for the entire project). On the show I heard such hits from 30 years ago as The Cure’s “In Between Days,” Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing,” and “Rain on the Scarecrow” by John Mellencamp, who with Willie Nelson put together the first Farm Aid concert that year.
I wished Brenda and Samuel A. Love a happy first wedding anniversary. They are away on a trip north and presently are in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
R and B legend Ben E King passed away at age 76. With the Drifters he was lead singer on such hits as “There Goes My Baby” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.” As a solo artist he recorded such classics as “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.” I saw him perform at a Bucknell fraternity party; few people could dominate a stage like he could. Also in the news: B.B. King is apparently very ill and under hospice care.