The Labor Day Circus

“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”
– George Carlin


Circus by Britney Spears


“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.” – Ben Hecht



Haymarket Massacre May 11, 1884

The Labor Day Circus
by Kendall F. Person

I had no idea, until yesterday what Labor Day was really about. I have asked friends and relatives the very same thing, and only a younger sister knew for certain, as she is active in a union, which is what Labor Day is all about.

In the late 1800s, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, it was not at all uncommon for the workforce to put in 12 hour back-breaking days, while the owners ate cake. The self-centered elites even pushed children as young as 5 years old to toil in mills, mines and factories, paying them not much more than former slave wages. Call them socialist or rebel rousers or whatever the term of the day, but when Americans used their freedoms, to demand safe working conditions and ordinary work days, allowed millions to pursue the idea of the American Dream. But the corporate bullies would not easily bend, and with the heavy hand of the US Government on their side, workers resorted to walkouts and strikes, and it did not take long for violence to explode. On May 11, 1884 in Chicago Illinois several strikers and officers lost their lives, and it would not be long before Labor Day was born. It is to honor the men and women of the labor force.

Happy Labor Day

Why has this become of national importance? Turn to the person right next to you, and ask them in truth, if standing for the National Anthem was ever a rule, that any authority had ever told them they were ordered to do. When I was in grade school, every day we stood with our hands over our hearts and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But the National Anthem, we did not. So the masses stood because they wanted to. So the President made up a rule on the spot, “You are un-American if you don’t stand for the flag.” Pure fallacy with the desired and achieved effect to further fan the racial flames. Damn shame. What kind of President do we have?

But enough about him… HAPPY LABOR DAY to the hard working, long hours, underpaid, no health insurance labor force of the USA and around the world.


Big Top

The Greatest Show On Earth

In the late 70s, John Miller and I could not have been more excited to make the final local showing, of the circus under the big top. The tent appeared enormous, erected  on the east end of Sunrise Mall parking lot- which  back then, was the largest mall in Northern California, not in the San Francisco Bay. Although it was not Ringling Bros, imagine the disappointment from two 11-year old boys, who had never seen the 3-rings, when the ticket taker said “Sold out.” But in 1999, the real circus rolled into town. It had outgrown its big top tent, and so Ringling Bros Barnum Bailey Circus (the official name) created a memory-burning experience inside of a 17,000 seat Arco Arena.
The Ringmaster

Johnathan Lee Iverson

But the circus had gone through changes. with animal rights activists having their say  And like everything else, technology started to evolve as competition for the valued entertainment dollar, and relevance as well. But the Ringling Brothers were not through, and among its biggest and most transformational changes is when the 140 year old institution handed over the famed 3-ring stage, to 22 year old Johnathan Lee Iverson, who made history as the youngest and first Black Ringmaster of a major American Circus. Race may have been the draw, but it was his jaw dropping command of the rings and his showstopping presence, that set box office records… for the Greatest Show on Earth.
this is… The Neighborhood 

The Labor Day Circus

History, Labor Day 2018
NPR, From the Big Top to the Big World


  1. Tried to teach my kiddos the origins of Labor day today, they had a hard time imagining what work conditions were like for many Americans. Good reminder, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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