How we got to Labor Day 2019

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Excerpted from

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories,  and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th Century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 1.26.02 PMunpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American

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More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified. Many credit Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.

Labor Day still is celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.


Early fall calendar lining up

We don’t resume weekly dinner meetings until Thursday, September 5, but we’re already filling a lot of early program slots.

You can join in by checking out the program assignment chart on our website’s Calendar page, then reserve a date with Roberto or Bill for your particular program.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at what we have lined up so far for September and October. The Calendar page has a running list for the 2019-20 Rotary Year of club, district, and other events.

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District Foundation gala returning to Proctors

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Inside Key Hall at Proctors. (photo courtesy of Proctors)

Several years ago, the annual District 7190 Foundation Dinner gala was held literally on the main stage of Proctors theater in downtown Schenectady. This year, it will return to Proctors, but in a different part of the entertainment complex.

The venue for the Wednesday, November 13, event is Key Hall at Proctors, a lavish event space catered by the iconc Mazzone Hospitality organization.

Details about theme, reservation information, and the like are being worked on, and we’ll share them with you as they are received. Meanwhile, please reserve the date for an evening that always provides good food, entertainment and Rotary fellowship.


Exactly how busy are you?

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Please note the Rotary pin on Prince Charles’s lapel.

It takes all kinds to make up Rotary International. Such as, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President John F. Kennedy, astronaut Neil Armstrong, entrepreneur-artist Walt Disney, President Ronald Reagan, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, food pioneer Colonel Harland Sanders, inventor Thomas Edison, aviation pioneer Orville Wright, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, President Woodrow Wilson, movie producer-director Cecille B. DeMille, poet James Whitcomb Riley, Pope Francis, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, world boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Holly Comption, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Nobel Prize-winner Guglielmo Marconi, Walmart founder Sam Walton, Mayo Clinic co-founder Dr. Charles Mayo …. and so many, many more.

If they could fit Rotary into their busy schedules, how difficult can it be for us to do the same?


‘SRC Summer Casual’ finishes with dessert

Screen Shot 2019-08-16 at 8.21.12 PMWe finished our “SRC Summer Casual Schedule” with an ice cream social on Thursday, hosted  by Pat Bailey and Debbie Rodriguiez at Debbie’s abode.

Attending, in addition to the co-hosts, were Rotarians Becky Raymond, Murray Forth, Maggie Forth, Jim Leyhane, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Dick Drumm, Roberto Martinez,  Debbie Brown, Peter Brown, Phil Kellerman, and Carol Orvis, and guests Rod Rodriquez, Jeremy Forth, Paige Johnson, Mike Stangl, and Mary Drumm.

We now have a brief hiatus before resuming our weekly Thursday dinner meetings at Quigley’s on September 5. (Note this is a change from the long-published schedule, getting us back into the regular rotation a week earlier than previously planned. Be sure to check the website’s Calendar page for the evolving events listings and program assignment chart.)

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‘Back-to-School Supplies Drive’ successful

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SRC President Phil Kellerman poses with a portion of the donated items collected for our annual “Back-to-School Supplies Drive” for students in need.

The collection, in partnership with the family services agency Circles of Mercy in Rensselaer, is now in its fifth year of SRC involvement. The items were delivered to Circles today. A special thanks to all who generously donated.


‘Picnic at Fox Hollow’ driven indoors

Here’s where we were supposed to be …

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… but, here’s where we wound up when inclement weather forced revelers indoors during Thursday evening’s “Picnic at Fox Hollow,” part of our “SRC Summer Casual” lineup of July-August events.

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Thanks to Dick and Mary Drumm for hosting the gathering. Remember, we have only one remaining summer social event before we take a hiatus — next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. when Debbie Rodriguez and Pat Bailey co-host “Sundaes on Thursday (+ Food)” at Debbie’s residence. If you haven’t sent them your RSVP, please do so quickly.

Here are a few more scenes of Thursday’s event:

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