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Labor Day

 

 

1904

09 09       Monday was Labor Day, and it was celebrated here on a larger scale than ever before.  The weather was pleasant and all who possibly could turned out to join in celebrating the event at Tivoli island, where a fine program was arranged by the Central Labor Union.  All the unions of the city turned out and the parade started to the island at 1 o'clock from Union hall west to Fountain Street and back again to West Main and Main street.  It was an interesting sight to witness.  The streets were crowded with people to witness the parade, and those taking part in it were highly complimented all sides.  Each union wore a distinguishing mark of their trade.  It was made up of one of the finest bodies of men that has ever taken part in a parade here . . . Labor day, 1904 will pass into history as one of the most enjoyable that Watertown people have ever enjoyed.

 

1906

09 08       The national and state government in recognition of the dignity of American labor, having set apart the first Monday in September of each year as a holiday in honor of those whose honest toil is the foundation of national happiness and prosperity . . . and it being appropriate that all join in paying homage to those who earn their bread by the sweat of their face, our factories, the banks and business places in and about the city close on Monday and everybody united in the exercises becoming the occasion.  One of the events of Labor Day was the grand picnic and celebration of the various labor societies of Watertown at Tivoli island  . . . Everybody was invited and hundreds took advantage of the affair and enjoyed every minute. One of the principal features and first event of the Labor Day celebration was a parade which took place shortly after 1 o'clock, p.m., marching on Main street to Tivoli island via Cady Street . . . The exercises at Tivoli island opened with a couple of selections by Thacker's band after which the literary part of the afternoon's program took place . . . The literary portion of the afternoon program was followed with some sports that brought forth considerable enthusiasm among the spectators and kept them in the best of humor.  The first event was a tug-of-war between the plumbers and tinsmith for a purse of $1. The victory was to the first mentioned.

 

The next event was of the same character, a tug-of-war between painters and cigar makers. The honors and the prize of $1 went to the cigar makers. The watermelon eating contest was a laughable affair indeed. In the first contest Alvin Conrad demonstrated the fact that he has a great face on him for melons by capturing first prize, a catcher's mitt, while Arthur Justman won second prize, a baseball bat.

 

As a fitting close for the day's festivities, a dance was given at the island Wednesday evening, which was participated in by a large crowd. Every moment was enjoyed till along in the small hours of the morning. Throughout the evening the island was a scene of merriment, many partaking of lunch under the shade of the trees and remaining until the dance was on.

 

1908

09 04       Labor Day was appropriately observed in this city on Monday.  All the factories and banks were closed for the day, and in the afternoon all business houses suspended business.  At 2 o’clock the labor unions in the city, accompanied by the Watertown and Independent bands, paraded our principal streets and made a very creditable showing.  The parade being concluded, the various unions passed the balance of the day in visiting and entertainment of a private character, the usual labor day picnic having been abandoned.  The parade was made up as follows:  Committee, Color Bearer, Band, Barbers, Painters, Carpenters, Bricklayers and Masons, Band, Sheet Metal Workers, Plumbers, Tailors, Printers, Brewers, Cigarmakers.  In the evening a grand ball was held at Turner opera house, and a right royal time was enjoyed by the large number present.

 

1917

09 03       UNION LABOR CELEBRATES DAY DEVOTED TO CAUSE

 

Today is Labor Day and it was generally observed in Watertown.  During the afternoon business about town was suspended and the factories were closed for the day.  A monster picnic given at the instance of the Central Labor Union was one of the big features.  This included a parade in which all the local unions took part, marching from Union hall through Main and West Main streets to Tivoli Island where a picnic is being held afternoon and evening.

 

Shortly after the arrival of the parade at Tivoli island Mayor Charles Mulberger delivered a short address and introduced County Judge William H. Woodard, whose address will be found printed below.

 

The arrangements committee had planned a large number of amusements for the visitors and this was carried out this afternoon and a dance will follow this evening.  The City Band and Carnival Band took part in the afternoon parade.

 

The News herewith prints the Labor Day address delivered on Tivoli island by County Judge William H. Woodard this afternoon at the picnic given by the Watertown Central Labor body:

 

Judge Woodard’s Address.

 

The people of our country have set aside seven great days of each year, seven legal holidays on each of which every American is expected to show in some measure gratitude for his being able to live in a free country. 

 

Our democratic principles demanded that we not only celebrate a day in honor of the “Father” of our country, that our children might learn to cherish the name of Washington in their hearts, but those same principles also demanded that we show appreciation for the backbone, the life preserver of our nation, the laboring man.  And we are, therefore, assembled today to show all the world that America is no despiser of the laborer, but that with us the toiler is “king,” the grand conqueror, who has enriched and built our nation. 

 

Labor Day has an especial significance to each and everyone of us today, in this first year of great affliction, —the international war.  It means that today has seen the passing of the idler, that every citizen has found a niche in this vast workshop of ours, that our government has tasks for each one of us and that every individual is expected to perform his duties to the extent of personal ability.  Today there is no excuse for any able-bodied person to be without an occupation, as even in our own community, the demand for help is greater than the supply.  Henceforth this holiday will have a greater universal import; a new note will be predominant.  It will be heralded as the day when every loyal citizen, every true patriot, became a laborer for a great cause and a staunch supporter of his government in the hour of need.  Labor has responded nobly to the call of the hour and has received its just recognition.  With such aid the ultimate outcome can only be “victory.”

 

The purpose of any organization is to further its own aims and it is perfectly legitimate for organized labor to work for its own welfare.  But no man lives or works alone.  The modern world is a vast workshop in which men and women are thrown into the closest relations and every man is related not only to his own work, but to the work of others.  This demands a thorough cooperation between capital and labor, so that both may derive the greatest benefit from their efforts.  The greatest harmony is necessarily a prerequisite, as labor without capital is dead, while capital without labor must remain idle and idleness, we know, never builds up, but always tears down.  As Daniel Webster said a century ago, “Labor in this country is independent and proud.  It has not to ask the patronage or capital, but capital solicits the aid of labor.”  Perhaps we may never know a general dissatisfaction locally, as it has occurred at large centers, because with us capital and labor live closer together and are more fraternal.  We know each others needs and respect them.  But both parties should attempt to blend into a perfect union, so that no disrupting influences may tend to break the harmony in the constructive work for mankind, especially during the present crisis.

 

That the government is heartily in sympathy with this attitude was emphasized by the recent agreement into which the government and labor entered.  The provisions of this treaty require that three adjusters representing the public, the federal government, and labor shall settle all industrial differences and shall have authority to handle any controversy which may arise.  This will mean that the nation will be protected from a stoppage of work and that laboring men will be assured a just consideration of their demands.

 

Capital is a power which quickly senses and responds to the needs of labor.  There was a time when the working man and the working woman —yes, and the child—were looked on as so much material out of which profit was coined.  But this condition is passed.  The employer has realized that in order to derive the greatest amount of good from the capital invested, he must have a satisfied employee.  Sanitary working conditions have made a big stride during the last decade.  New safety appliances are continually appearing in order that the laborer may be further protected.  Our legislature has enacted the Workmen’s Compensation Act and new revisions and new laws are continually being made for the benefit of labor.

 

The most recent of these revisions of the statutes is a change in what is commonly called the “Child Labor Law.”  Many of you may feel that, it is unjust to demand that no child under seventeen (17) years of age may work without a permit.  But have you stopped to consider that if the law restricts child labor, it then gives the workingman of today, yes, and of the future—a better chance and a larger field to work in?  That children up to seventeen (17) years of age may not voluntarily work, does not necessarily mean that they are to be reared in idleness.  On the contrary the government desires that they should be entered into a more necessary field of work, the work of education.  Modern conditions demand an intelligent laborer and education has been found to be the best medium towards this end.

 

It is proper that any body of men should organize for legitimate purposes; but every organization should realize that it is not only responsible to itself and to its country, but especially to its own community.  Civic pride demands that the welfare of a community always remain uppermost in the minds of any local organization, even to the extent of curbing personal aims.  It should be a matter of pride that each member has at all times endeavored to give his community the best public officers, the best public representatives, the best public facilities.  This is not a question of morals or ethics, but every just code of laws demands that every man should share in the protection of all, and in the protection of the rights of all, as well as his own.  No citizen is exempt from a summons to the national defense.  He is equally required to contribute to the common good through the equally important ordinary relations with which every day labor is allied.  It is the duty of an organization to stimulate a more intelligent and active interest in public affairs.  We not only need the capitalist, but also the intelligent laboring man as a good representative in the common council and on the board of education.

 

Labor can use its influence particularly in one direction and that is towards the education of the children and young people of our city.  Direct your attention to the future happiness of your children.  Give them a better chance than you yourself had, by giving them education necessary to cope with present day problems.  As Lowell has said: “It was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled.”  Encourage the younger members of your organizations to work towards that end, where they may some day not only represent labor, but also capital.

 

One often hears the remark that many intelligent young men and women must work of necessity.  This is true, but for them our state has instituted the continuation school, of which our night school is a part, so that they may receive the education necessary to conquer new fields.  It is a deplorable fact that so few of the younger generation make use of this fine opportunity.  Too many feel that they have not the necessary gifts, but they should remember the words of Edison that “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”  Hard work and consistency always win out. Others again lack the necessary ambition, for there are no disinteresting things, only disinterested persons.

 

Too many feel that they would be losing time which might be expended in the pursuit of pleasure, if they were to make use of this wonderful opportunity, but here a few encouraging words often have the right effect.

 

Remember;

 

“The heights by great men reached and kept

 

Were not attained by sudden flight,

 

But they, while their companions slept,

 

Were toiling upward in the night.”

 

Organized labor can exert a great power and a great Influence, but let it be for the common good.  The present crisis demands a united effort, for in unity there is strength.  Let us feel that we are all a part of ONE great organization, a part of that great organization called “our government.” Let us, therefore, make “Loyalty and Cooperation” our motto.  Loyalty and cooperation not only to the country that protects us and guarantees our freedom, but loyalty to the community that holds our interests, and above all, loyalty and cooperation with capital, with the employer who furnishes a means for a livelihood.   The Watertown News, September 03, 1917

 

1956

 

Labor Day has been a national holiday in America for 87 years. The purpose is to honor the working people of our land.  In 1956 a commemorative Labor Day stamp was issued with a picture of a strong man holding a sledge hammer, a pick, a hoe, and an ax over his shoulder. His wife was seated by his side with a book in her lap showing a small child how to read. In the lower left-hand corner was a large block with words of Carlyle carved into it: "Labor Is Life."

 

The meaning was clear and I think it is true: without industrious labor there will be no life—no means to feed, clothe, house, and educate a family or oneself.

 

1965

09 10       One of the features of Watertown’s three day weekend Labor Day celebration at Riverside Park will be the appearance Saturday night of Watertown’s popular rock ‘n roll band which now is augmented by a girl vocalist — Marta Brennan.  The other members of the group are Pat Vandenberg, bass guitar; Don Bast, rhythm guitar; Tom Schumacher, lead guitar; Jack Gutzdorf, lead singer; Jim Owen, drums.

 

 

 

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