Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Theresa of Calcutta, Virgin (died 1997). Today is celebrated as Labor Day in these fifty United States. and today is the birthday of yours truly, the author of this Weblog (1958).
Today’s Saint was born as Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Albania (modern Macedonia), the daughter of an Albanian businessman who died when she was nine years old. She joined the Sisters of Loreto in 1928, learning English before becoming a missionary and teacher in Calcutta, India. She took her first religious vows as a nun on May 24th, 1931; at that time she chose the name Teresa after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries. She took her solemn vows on May 14th, 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta. In 1948 she left the convent to work alone with the poor, and became an Indian citizen. She founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, becoming known as Mother Theresa. In 1957 the Missionaries of Charity started their work with lepers and in disaster areas. She received the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1972, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Today the Missionaries of Charity work in 30 countries around the world. She was Beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II and was just canonized on September 4th, 2016; she is the Patron of World Youth Day. And since today is the First Monday in September, today is Labor Day. The holiday originated in Canada out of labor disputes in the 1870′s, which resulted in a Trade Union Act which legalized and protected union activity in 1872. The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882 in New York City. In the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the US military and US Marshals during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with Labor as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. The NCAA usually plays their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. And today is my birthday; my family was living outside of Pittsburgh at the time, and Dad had ticket to the Pirates – Braves game, but gave them up due to my birth. He always noted that since I was born in the morning, he could have gone to the game anyway, which the Pirates won by the score of 1 to 0 (sounds like my birth was more exciting, anyway). And I am 58 today and the grandmother of a lovely granddaughter, both mileposts my mother never saw at the time of her death in 1985. I share my birthday with actor Bob Newhart and actress Raquel Welch; I have always said that I was blessed with the body of one of those people, and the brains of the other. My Three or Four Loyal Readers might note that they made my birthday a National Holiday this year; this happens every so often (not the year I was born, though; I was a Friday’s Child), and happened on my second birthday (1960), my eighth birthday (1966; I recall that birthday, because we were visiting the West Virginia Capitol building in Charleston that day), my nineteenth birthday (1977), my twenty-fifth birthday (1983), my thirtieth birthday (1988, the one really deserving of a National Holiday), my thirty-sixth birthday (1994), my forty-seventh birthday (2005), and my fifty-third birthday (2011). And, if I live so long, it will happen again when I turn sixty-four (1958).
I posted to Facebook that today was Labor Day, then did my Book Devotional Reading. I also gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb (just in case there was trash pickup today), and put out the flag. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. At the casino, today was both the second of two Heavy Business Volume Days for the Labor Day weekend and a Paid Holiday (time and a half pay for hours worked). It was not until we were at the casino that Richard remembered that it was my birthday; for some reason, he was thinking that today was the 4th. Once in ADR, Richard had a chance to read a text from Derek; he (Derek) is about to move into an apartment, and when he is moved in he will come to collect Bobby Brown. (I will miss Bobby, but none of my other cats will come in so long as he is resident here.) When we clocked in Richard was on a Blackjack table; I was on Pai Gow for about five minutes, then went to the Macau Mini Baccarat table. When that table closed I was on the Shoe Blackjack table in our High Stakes area. I was getting birthday greetings all day on Facebook, Messenger, and text messages (which I answered on my breaks); at one point, I turned my phone off, and I finished reading The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton via Overdrive on my Tablet. I then turned my phone back on, and answered my Facebook birthday wishes. (There have been years when I just did a posting the next day “thanks to everyone”, but this year I wanted to respond to each wish individually.)
On our way home from work I continued reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Once home from work I got a call from Matthew wishing me a Happy Birthday; I then ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper while Richard mowed the grass. I then did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton, and returned the book to Overdrive. Richard and I then went over at 2:00 pm to Quirk Funeral Home for the visitation for the father of our friend Steve in Baton Rouge; we saw his brother Carl, and Steve’s wife Laurie and his two kids. We visited until about 3:00 pm, then headed home. Once home I did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog, then we watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm. Liz Ellen called to wish me a Happy Birthday, and immediately after Michelle (at work) called to wish me a Happy Birthday. Michelle flies up to Connecticut on Sunday, and will be leaving with Callie and the cats in a car for South Carolina on Monday. And once I finish this Daily Update, which is even now nearing completion, I will go to bed.
We have no Saints to honor tomorrow, so we will instead recall that tomorrow is the anniversary of the day in 1901 when President William McKinley was shot and fatally wounded by Leon Czolgosz, an unemployed anarchist, at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. (The President died on September 14th; his assassin went to the electric chair on October 29th.) Tomorrow is also the birthday of my daughter-in-law Callie (1988). Richard and I will wake up early and get to the casino early to sign the Early Out list; if we get out early, we plan on going to the funeral for Steve’s father at the Baptist Church at 10:00 am. And Richard told me he will take me out to eat tomorrow for my birthday.
Our Parting Quote on this Labor Day afternoon comes from Joe South, American musician and songwriter. Born as Joseph Souter in 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia, he began playing guitar at about the age of eleven. By his late teens he was appearing on local radio stations as a country singer, and he joined Nashville producer Pete Drake’s band in 1957. The following year he recorded a novelty single, “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor”, and became a session musician in Nashville and at Muscle Shoals, where he rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. In 1959 South wrote two songs which were recorded by Gene Vincent: “I Might Have Known”, which was on the album Sounds Like Gene Vincent (Capitol Records, 1959) and “Gone Gone Gone” which was included on the album The Crazy Beat of Gene Vincent (Capitol Records, 1963). During the 1960s he began songwriting in earnest, and asked his roommate Billy Joe Royal to sing on some demos. Those recordings, produced by South, included “Down In The Boondocks”, “I Knew You When”, “Yo-Yo”, which became a hit for The Osmonds, and “Hush”, which was to become a hit single for Deep Purple. South was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”, Tommy Roe’s “Sheila”, and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. Some list South on the electric guitar part that was added to Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit, “The Sounds of Silence”, although others credit Al Gorgoni and / or Vinnie Bell instead. Responding to late 1960s issues, South’s style changed radically, most evident in his biggest single, 1969’s pungent, no-nonsense “Games People Play” (purportedly inspired by Eric Berne’s book of the same name), a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Accompanied by a lush string sound, an organ, and brass, the production won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. South followed up with “Birds of a Feather” (originally “Bubbled Under” at No. 106 on February 10th–17th, 1968, more successful as a cover by The Raiders that peaked on the Hot 100 at No. 23 on October 23th–30th, 1971) and two other soul-searchers, the back-to-nature “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home” (also covered eight months later by Brook Benton With The Dixie Flyers) and the socially provocative “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” (also covered by Elvis Presley in a Las-Vegas era version, Bryan Ferry, and Coldcut). South’s most commercially successful composition was Lynn Anderson’s 1971 country / pop monster hit, “Rose Garden”, which was a hit in sixteen countries worldwide. Anderson won a Grammy Award for her vocals, and South earned two Grammy Nominations for it, as Best Country Song and (general) Song of the Year. South wrote more hits for Anderson, such as “How Can I Unlove You” (Billboard Country No. 1) and “Fool Me” (Billboard Country No. 3). Freddy Weller, Jeannie C. Riley, and Penny DeHaven also had hits on the Billboard country chart with South songs. In addition, other artists who have recorded South penned songs include Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Carol Burnett, Andy Williams, Kitty Wells, Dottie West, Jim Nabors, Liz Anderson and k. d. lang, although most covered versions of South’s best known songs. South was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 and became a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1988 a Dutch DJ, Jan Donkers, interviewed South for VPRO-radio. The radio show that aired the interview also played four new songs by South, but a new record was not released. On September 13th, 2003, South performed during the Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony and played with Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb, Jr. and Chips Moman. South’s final recording, “Oprah Cried”, was made in 2009 and released as a bonus track on the re-release of the albums So the Seeds are Growing (1971) and A Look Inside (1972) on one CD (died 2012): “The Grammy Awards are a very nice gesture by the record industry, but they can really mess up your head. The Grammy is a little like a crown. After you win it, you feel like you have to defend it. In a sense, I froze. I found it hard to go back in to the recording studio because I was afraid the next song wouldn’t be perfect.”