Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day/Furlough Day 2009 - The Real Labor Day 1866

Happy May Day and Furlough Day! It is time to see if I can get back to the keyboard, back to history and move past some of the strain of recent weeks, the unexpected family tragedies, job and economic stress, an incredibly challenging workload and a complete system crash and hard drive loss on my computer. Hence, no pictures at the moment.

Today is one of my “furlough” days. In CA State government lingo, that means I am off without pay. It is a mixed bag, as always nice to have a day-off but the work will only pile up waiting for my return and the hit in the wallet hurts a bit too. However, I remain fortunate that my career, although a bit battered, remains intact. For that I am thankful, as so many others have suffered a much worse fate in our current economy. Just another day in paradise!

To clarify a couple questions related to our recent family tragedies (see previous post), my oldest brother is Walter “Gary” Osborne and my oldest sister is Beckie Osborne Underwood. It was my brother’s son (my nephew) Gary Ted Osborne, who was so cruelly taken from us by some low-life who remains lurking out there in the shadows. Hopefully justice will be done. It was older sister Beckie’s long time partner (my sister-in-law) Sherry-Ann-Nichols-Underwood, that suddenly past away due to illness. We had grown too accustomed to Sherry-Ann’s ability to rally back from physical setbacks. It was not to be on this occasion.

My brother Gary and sister Beckie are the children of my mother, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, from when she was first married to a Walter Osborne (deceased). Hence, the Steunenberg and Osborne connection. Of course, that first marriage was long ago, as I think my mother and father (John Richards Sr.) are now in their sixty-second year of marriage. Yikes!

So does anyone know the origins of May Day and its connections to the labor movement, Bill Haywood and ultimately to the trial and events in Idaho? May Day is sometimes referred to as the "Real Labor Day" as it was on May 1, 1886 that marches began in the streets of Chicago in support of the eight-hour work day.

"The 1886 Haymarket riots, trials, and executions made a deep impression on Haywood inspiring, he would later say, his life of radicalism. The Pullman railroad strikes of 1893 further strengthened Haywood's interest in the labor movement. Then in 1896, while working a silver mine in Idaho, Haywood listened to a speech by Ed Boyce, President of the Western Federation of Miners. Haywood immediately signed up as a WFM member and by 1900 became a member of the organization's executive board."
--From William D. Haywood, Famous American Trials, Bill Haywood Trial 1907

(Half of Haywood's ashes were entombed at the Haymarket Monument in Chicago). jr

What else have I been up to? Doing a little reading as always. I decided to give Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas a cover-to-cover read again, as it had been several years since doing so. It is such a huge monumental work, with many twists and turns and digressions, that items are always missed or perhaps not grasped during the haze of late night reading. I don’t have a very good memory anyway so re-reads are not uncommon. For those not inclined or able to wade through such a book, I suggest getting the audio version. It is still out there on cassette tape and sticks to the main story line if one is not inclined to explore the many related paths and underpinnings provided by Lukas. Listening to the tape, I always thought to myself, “What a great documentary and/or movie this would make.” Assassination: Idaho’s Trial of the Century brought that to reality and I can certainly envision a Hollywood screenplay too. As a side note, it is nice to see that the program is now playing on other public television stations around the country. Check your local listings and ask your public TV station to get it if they haven't already.

Big Trouble came out in 1997. As I mentioned, it was available in abridged version on audiotape but never produced on CD. One project I have not yet gotten to is converting the cassette to a CD version. Simon & Schuster might have something to say about it if I start giving away Big Trouble CD’s but then again they have never pursued it commercially so maybe not.

I have found that with all the events of recent years in Idaho (see blog!) that focused on the events of Big Trouble, and my own participation and study, that perspectives shift and memories ones relegated to the depths of the mind are again brought to the forefront. I will continue to post items of interest and new discoveries. In many respects, and sometimes surprisingly, it seems to be an endless story.

And tomorrow?....It's Derby Day! Enyoy a mint julep or other beverage of your choice and watch the horses run.

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