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Monday, 5 September 2011

Russell Lee: Labor Day, Ridgway, Colorado, 1940


Potato race for children at Labor Day celebration, Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=7886704

Boys' sack race, Labor Day celebration, Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=229013342

Spectators at the childrens' races, Labor Day celebration, Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=28342526

Barbecue pit on Labor Day, Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=203387731

Taking barbecue off the fire at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=242048960

Making barbecue sandwiches at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=200677356

Ringing the gong for dinner at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=200286060

Serving barbecue at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=7354352

Barbecue pits and people standing in line to be served at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=230036702

Woman and her baby waiting in line for barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=200822892

Getting barbecue and coffee at the free barbecue on Labor Day at Ridgway, Colorado|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=LOC%20photos%20%26%20prints&__utmv=-&__utmk=237917122

Covering the barbecue sandwiches with paper plates to protect the food from the rain, Labor Day, Ridgway, Colorado

Photos by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration, September 1940 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)


ACravan said...

I am finding these Lees powerful, but also overpoweringly sad. This Labor Day seemed absolutely suffused in collective fear and misery to me, which sometimes produces torpor and at other times eruptions of hate and anger. Curtis

TC said...


I'm glad you said that first.

ACravan said...

Well, the staggered feelings were staggering. I really never spent a Labor Day like this one, and it's not just me. Out very casually in unplanned ways among friends and acquaintances over the weekend, the feeling (or absence of feeling) was palpable. There wasn't any significant discussion, just a sort-of-look and gesture here and there. For most people, I think, who aren't organized labor leaders or politicians, Labor Day has always been a happy end-of-summer holiday pretty much divorced from the meaning associated with its name. This year, though, it was a sad reminder of something people pretty much preferred not to think about, especially because it was a holiday and, therefore, supposedly a day away from troubling thoughts. Curtis

TC said...

Curtis, I must admit, as a member of that great and growing mass, the Invisible Unemployed, that for yours truly the taste of rue and aloes in this "holiday" made it far more bitter than sweet.

There is respect, perhaps rose-tinted by nostalgia, for What Once Was; and then there is the pain of the reality of What Is.

Memories of how, after dutifully and innocently coughing up many thousands of dollars in union dues out of a never-more-than-microscopic-anyway salary, over more than two decades, I was, once "terminated" sans back wages or "contractually guaranteed" (another fairy tale) retirement, left high and dry, without so much as the courtesy of an answered phone message or e-mail, by "my" union -- the Service Employees International Union, to call it by its proper selfimportant title -- make it impossible for me to see the current incarnation of what was once called a "labor movement" as anything more than just another American greedhead charade.

(While doing this post, and feeling a good deal of sympathy for the earnest miners and their families pictured in it, a bit of ancient Dylan lyric kept drifting in and out through the portholes in the mouldy Swiss cheese hulk of the cerebrum... that one about "the mine owner"...)