Some random thoughts went through my mind as we quickly approach Labor Day. The first obvious thought was that I would have the day off. Of course, there could be a breaking news story somewhere or some photos may need to be taken. You are never really off in this business.
I can’t say that I have any special feeling when Labor Day approaches. When I was young, I knew it was my last day of summer vacation. I shared those depressing thoughts in last week’s column. By Labor Day, I grew to accept the fact that school was on the horizon. The next day was kind of exciting in that you were eager to see who was in your class.
You have an opportunity to meet up with some friends that you have not seen in a while. On the other hand, you might be in a class with your close friends. That meant you had someone to goof off with for the next coming year. That made school more palatable for me.
Besides school, no specific memories come to mind about Labor Day. As we get older we realize the importance of Labor Day as we recognize and salute the American worker. I think I’m more aware today how important that is as opposed to when I was young.
Parades may be occurring in certain suburbs and communities in Chicago as residents are reminded that we should honor the American workforce. Labor Day also represents the unofficial end of summer. When I entered my classroom for the first day of school, in my mind summer was over. Actually, summer continues until the middle of September. The first day of fall this year is Thursday, Sept. 22.
So, we actually have many summer days ahead. But on Labor Day, we feel the tug of autumn. That’s why some of us have friends or relatives come over for the last summer bash. That is why we set up the grill one more time. Brats, hamburgers and chicken sounds good on Labor Day.
Speaking about football doesn’t seem early anymore. The high school football season already began this past weekend. Reports on the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks will soon be appearing on TV. And if you step into some stores now, you will begin to see some shelves stocked with more candy. Halloween is no longer a day, it is a season. TV and print ads will have specials on candy and costumes, if they haven’t already.
With the arrival of September and Labor Day, the major league baseball season is coming to a close. In Chicago, September usually meant the season was over because both the Cubs and White Sox were well out of contention.
Not this year. Even after losing a weekend series to the Dodgers, the Cubs were 82-48 on Tuesday with a 13-game lead over their closest rivals in the National League Central, the St. Louis Cardinals. Even though some cracks have appeared in the Cub armor, they will win the division title and should be a force in the NL playoffs.
The White Sox, at any rate, guaranteed or not, are mediocre. They are not terrible, but they are also not that good. They took three out of four from Seattle this past weekend but lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to Detroit on Monday. They were 63-67 as of Tuesday and in fourth place in the American League Central. Injuries and a lack of a consistent offensive derailed the Sox.
One more thing used to remind me of Labor Day. For many years, the Jerry Lewis Telethon would be televised beginning on Sunday and through most of Labor Day. It was covered by stations throughout the country and was shown locally on WGN-TV (Channel 9). It was for a great cause, raising money for research to find cures for adults and children who have muscular dystrophy.
I would watch portions of the show from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Where else can you see Norm Crosby, Ann Miller, Joey Heatherton, Lola Falana and even once Dean Martin? Heck, even John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared and sang on the telethon.
But times change. The organizers managed to steer Lewis away from the telethon a few years ago. And due to social media, websites, fundraisers and other events, the telethon is a thing of the past. They can raise more money by not filling up air time and save on costs.
Labor Day has changed in that regard. I say enjoy your day off and get the grill ready.