Something special missing from Labor Day these days

Richard Carter | 10/12/2011, 2:34 p.m.
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Pure Kansas corn, you scoff? Could be, but that, too, is one of the fruits of labor. Think about that as well while you're taking advantage of all those Labor Day sales at department stores, discount stores, auto dealers and supermarkets.

There was a time when nobody had ever heard of such things. The old days, again. However, these are the new days, and our thoughts are far different. But are they better, more meaningful, more worthwhile or even worth thinking? Hmm...

Think about that when every other thought of many is about the greater glory of the New York Giants, New York Jets and the frustrating lockout threatening to deprive us of cheering on the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets and the rebuilt New York Knicks.

Of course, in the specific scheme of things, holidays mean different things to different people. Labor Day-wise, my thoughts drift back to the halcyon days of my youth in Milwaukee, a Midwestern city renowned for many leafy green parks-several of which were nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan.

How well I remember the fun and games of festive church picnics with a wide variety of people I normally only saw all dressed up on Sundays. While sampling a wide variety of mouthwatering delicacies, we played and, best of all, made new friends. In my case, this sometimes meant smooching with pretty girls I had only seen from a distance.

In the years since, as I think of those stimulating, outdoor boy-girl things, I often recall the musing of Academy Award-nominated actor Arthur O'Connell in 1955's "Picnic." To wit: "I say to myself, Howard, old boy, you look all you want. But you couldn't touch her with a 10-foot pole." Uh-huh.

And, of course, there were family picnics I went to as a kid with my parents and as a father with my wife and our kids, relaxing on that last lazy day of summer. As the song says, "Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end." But end they did.

Finally, what would be a fitting way to observe Labor Day in 2011? Well, how about trying to put aside our political, racial and social differences and come together as Americans of all races, colors and creeds for the greater good of us all?

In the immortal words of Rodney King after he got his ass whipped by racist cops in Los Angeles: "Can't we all just get along?" Sounds naive today, but if you think about it, he made a lot of sense. And that's the name of that Labor Day tune.