It’s post-Labor Day and I’ve been off-site for months. Hopefully, I’ll get back into some regular blogging. My 14th novel has been sent to the publisher after tedious months of rewrite editing. I’ve never spent as much time on one of my books as I have with ‘Lester’s Gift’–or money. (It’s well over budget). That’s my problem — not my readers. It’s due to be published sometime in October which is just in time for my abbreviated ‘sales timeframe’. More on that later.
To many of us Labor Day is little more than a long weekend. To some it portends the end of summer. To many young’uns it’s the anticipation of a new year at school. To my daughter in Florida and friends there, it’s the stress of Hurricane Dorian. I can only hope that my little place near the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t experience too much damage. It will get heavy rain, storm surge, and high winds . . . but all that is tolerable.
To me Labor Day, like Memorial Day, has a special significance. (I lost a dear cousin in Vietnam and have had many former students who have served–I’m sure with distinction). After high school and later as a man in his thirties, I worked in the mines–at Erie in Hoyt Lakes and National in Keewatin. I was steelworker’s union strike in ’77 while at National. And fortunate to be back in teaching shortly after the strike was settled. As a teacher and as a mineworker I belonged to a union.
But it wasn’t until years later that I really learned about the significance of unions. I was researching early Mesabi Iron Range history for my first novel back in 2000. I learned about the dangerous efforts of those who tried to organize for a ‘fair deal’ in the lucrative mining industry. It took courage to strike against the Oliver and other powerful companies back in 1907 . . . then again in 1913. But over the years the United Steel Workers of America have fought many battles to make miners’ lives better. The same is true for the NEA — National Education Association. So, organized labor to me and to many others like myself has provided us with livable wages, benefits, and a sense of security.
I spent much of the weekend watching my son ‘labor’ through the grueling Northwest Invitational Golf Tournament here in Hibbing. Chris is a good golfer and played the ‘senior division’ for the first time. He’s very competitive and his game has been solid all year. When he finished his last round on Labor Day he said, “Dad, you should go online and find the ‘Litany of Humility.'” Yes, he was humbled and I was heartbroken for him. But one thing I love about my son is that he gave his best and is determined to try again next year.
Finally, a Holiday is always a time of reflection for us ‘old-timers’. And we reflect on family more than ourselves. I have been blessed with three great kids and six grandchildren. Cali is oldest and serving with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, Jack is a sophomore at Babson University near Boston, Braden and Noah and Madeline started school today in Grand Rapids, and my six-year-old granddaughter Grace has already had two weeks at Saint Ann School in Naples, Florida.
I am certain that each of you appreciates your family as much as I do mine. Warm thoughts and prayers to each of you and yours.