19-teens Labor: Major holiday marches, brewing concerns and Colonel dogs

Above: 1914 Labor Day photograph of workers in front of Maverick Building on Alamo Plaza provided by Connie Fuller to Paula Allen for The History Column appearing in the November 7, 2013, issue of the San Antonio Express-News

Labor Day was the only national holiday between July 4 and Christmas.”

Carol Boyd Leon, “The Life of American Workers in 1915,” Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Typical 1911 Fat Men’s Race from Kickass Fact Encyclopedia

With a dearth of holidays, it should come as no surprise that more than 50 unions turned out for San Antonio’s Labor Day Parade in 1911. A crowd of 5,000 gathered at the fairgrounds. “Colonel” Otto Wahrmund, vice president of the San Antonio Brewing Association which produced Pearl Beer, remarks in An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes, She Shot Him Dead, that there they encountered the excitement of the beer drivers’ union striving to have their candidate crowned queen; sporting events such as the fat men racing for 75 yards or the old men (50 years and up, how insulting!) crawling 50 yards to win a purse of $2; and fiery political speeches.

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Postcard from Valencia, Spain: A merry May Day to you

Monday, May 1. Another weekday holiday in Valencia. By the time we leave after four weeks here, I think there will have been five.

Strolling around, the time off obviously means different things to Valencians. There was a rather loud but small group participating in a labor march we encountered. The original point of the holiday.

Their message was lost in translation on the way to me, though. Unsure whether their point was workers are treated like animals; pets are as well-regarded as people; or more of a PETA protest for protecting animals because they are equal to people. Most Valencians they passed appeared unbothered and more focused on their beer or gin tonics in the outdoor cafes than politics.

But celebrations weren’t restricted to that. Turia Park was filled with bicyclists, joggers, walkers, picnickers and people simply sprawled flat-out on the ground to absorb the sun.

In the midst of our walk in the park we encountered an exuberant admission-free festival spotlighting Andalusian culture – with dancers jumping on stages ranging from skilled flamenco practitioners to enthusiastic never-tried-it-before volunteers. All seemed welcomed equally by imbibing attendees.

And then, cutting back through town, we came across some of the more sedate regionally costumed families who have been parading formally through town for the past week or so for different events.

All wonderful encounters for us idly ambling along the streets on a magnificent sunny afternoon.