Saturday, September 5, 2020

Barbed Compliments and Deep Ambivalence for Labor Day in 1920

Back in 1920 with nativist sentiment and the Red Scare, popular assessments of Labor Day were barbed and back-handed. Still, as long as it could be contained and channeled, properly organized for Capital only, Labor could be celebrated. Especially under Prohibition, now with essentially all hops going to British firms as global commodities, there seemed to be a new nostalgia associated with hop picking as an "old time" activity.

September 5th, 1920

Immediately after Meyers sold to Millers
Reed Opera House
April 10th, 1920
From the ad placed in both the morning and afternoon papers by the city's largest department store located in the Reed Opera House:
Monday is Labor Day

The Day the Whole Nation Takes Pleasure in Honoring

This is not the day or the nation of loafers, of skimpers and scampers, of sabotage, or seditionists. There are wolves hiding under the honored raiment of Labor that might have so thought; but not so of the true American Workingman, the man of brain and skill, who will never be the catspaw of the Bolshevik ape.

Nowhere is there any desire to reduce Labor's prosperity, except by those who are parasites on the workers; and there will be no occasion for any reduction of wages, if Labor will simply be American and give its skill and energy wholeheartedly to producing a good day's labor for a good day's pay.

This is the way true Americans will answer the problem of the day.
All Honor to American Labor and Labor's Holiday

Yet the morning paper had a weekly Labor column, though it was contested and criticized.

Weekly Labor Column, September 5th, 1920

Criticism of the column as Leninist
August 16th, 1920
From the editorial critical of the Labor column:
Under the misleading caption of "labor news," for there is no news printed, a weekly dose of Bolshevism spread before the public to foment trouble, create dissatisfaction and increase unrest - an appeal to "class-consciousness" and class hatred cunningly calculated to undermine society and cause industrial turmoil. Who ever the author, he has revolution in his mind and hate in his heart.

Previously see:

And here's the hop picking nostalgia. Harvest seemed to have started in earnest on September 4th.

August 13th, 1920

September 6th, 1920
For what probably remains the currently most authoritative perspective on historical picking, see "'Hop Fever' in the Willamette Valley" in a free reprint from the Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 112, no. 4.

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