Happy Labor Day!

Labor-Day-Picnic-Clip-Art-PicturesWe hope you have a fantastic upcoming extended weekend. Although, I feel, the end of summer is a bit sad, there is much to look forward to come fall: beautiful mild temperature days, family visits to the pumpkin patch, leaves changing color, Halloween, and of course… football season. The shift always begins on the first Monday of September, or better known as Labor Day.

While most everyone is a fan of Labor Day and the three-day weekend, the history isn’t as well known. Labor Day is dedicated to the achievements of American workers and a celebration of how important they are. The state which first created the holiday, by legislative enactment, was Oregon on February 21, 1887; soon followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York (the first state to propose Labor Day as an official holiday). By June 28, 1894, Congress made Labor Day an official holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday of September throughout all of the US.

Labor Day comes from one of the worst time periods to work in the trade, the Industrial Revolution. Many Americans worked 12 hour a day, seven days a week, and close to 365 days a year. In some states, families had to send children as young as 5 years old into the workforce, just to get by. With little regulation, workers were forced into extremely unsafe and unsanitary working conditions. With no other options, they had to take the chance in order to keep food on the table.

Eventually, enough was enough. Labor unions formed and, throughout the beginning of the 18th century, they grew larger and more vocal. For the first time, a group was standing up for the working man. Strikes, protests and rallies started to take place, demanding safe/clean working conditions and realistic pay. On September 5, 1882, over 10,000 workers left work to march from City Hall to Union Square, this would later be known as the first Labor Day Parade in New York City. The Unions made significant progress and eventually the idea of a “workingman’s holiday” started to float around.

In 1894, Eugene V. Debs of the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling all railroad traffic throughout the US. This eventually led to riots and the deaths of many protestors, leaving government and worker relations severed. In an attempt to gain the trust of the American workforce, Congress officially passed the act to make Labor Day a legal holiday in the United States.

To this day, there is still a debate of who came up with the original idea of Labor Day. Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others argue it was actually Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, who originally proposed the idea.

Whether it was McGuire or Maguire, Labor Day is now a weekend that is always circled on the calendar. Working hard is part of our culture at DWM. We take pride in knowing we can add value and better the lives we touch every day. At the same time, we don’t take for granted the people whom we collaborate with and who allow us to provide more comprehensive service to our clients. So while it is a great weekend to barbeque with the family, it is also a great time to reflect on all of the hard labor done before us in order to make our lives better.

Here’s to a Great Holiday Season!

santa grinch (002)We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Everyone on our DWM team certainly did.  Next stop: Hanukkah and Christmas.  A great time for presents of all sorts, and particularly wonderful for children’s books.  There have been some great children’s authors such as J.K. Rowling, Shel Silverstein, Richard Scary, Beatrix Potter and Maurice Sendak.  Yet, by far, Dr. Seuss has outsold them all.  His 46 books have sold over ½ billion copies. His latest “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!! (1990) is still on the bestseller list.

There are lots of interesting facts about Dr. Seuss.  Theodor Seuss Geisel wasn’t a doctor, and took the name because his father wanted him to practice medicine.  He had no kids and didn’t want any.  He is reported to have said, “You have ‘em, I’ll amuse ‘em.”  He coined the word “nerd” in “If I Ran the Zoo” (1950).  “Horton Hears a Who” is about Japan. And, “Yertle the Turtle” about Hitler.  Dr. Seuss wanted kids to start reading early.  “Oh the Places You’ll Go” was meant to be read in utero.

In the 1950s, parents and educators began to fear that American children were falling behind their European counterparts in terms of their educational achievement.  Dr. Seuss was convinced the reason that reading levels were down was because “Dick and Jane” books were so boring. (Hear Hear!) In 1955, English professor Rudolf Flesch published the influential book “Why Johnny Can’t Read.”  William Spaulding, who headed the educational division at Houghton Mifflin books, agreed with Mr. Flesch and presented Dr. Seuss with a challenge.

Spaulding had identified 348 words that first graders should know and asked Dr. Seuss to write a captivating and imaginative book using only those words.  Geisel’s first response was that the challenge was “impossible and ridiculous” but decided to try anyway.   The result:  “Cat in the Hat.”

“Cat in the Hat” (1957) used only 236 words.  It became an immediate best seller. Within three years, it had sold over one million copies.  Today, almost 60 years later, it is still a bestseller.

Flush with the success of brevity of words, Dr. Seuss produced another bestseller using only 50 words.  Yes, “Green Eggs and Ham” uses only 50 words, none of them more than 90 times.  “I” is used about 85 times as is “not”.  Then, it scales down from there with all the familiar words such as Sam, I, am, house, mouse, here and anywhere.  It has been a tremendous perpetual best seller as well.  From 1957 to 1965, Dr. Seuss wrote eight of the 35 bestselling children’s books of the 20th century including these two and
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” and “Hop on Pop.”

What’s really amazing is that Dr. Seuss’s success is increasing, not waning.  In 2013, his books sold 4.8 million copies.  A 50% increase over 2010.  Part of this popularity is certainly the impact of the baby boomers.  In addition, his publisher, Random House, connects the books to major calendar events.  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at this time of year, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” at graduation time, “The Lorax” for Earth Day and “Horton Hears a Who” for the newly created Anti-Bullying Day.  And, Random House has published seven new Dr. Seuss books posthumously.

My personal favorite Dr. Seuss book is “Horton Hatches the Egg.”   Horton, the faithful elephant, has always been one of my heroes.  “And he sat, and he sat, and he sat. And he sat all that day, and he kept the egg warm. And, he sat all night through a terrible storm.”  Horton sat there all winter through and when springtime came his friends gathered round and taunted and teased him for sitting on the nest.  But, Horton continued to sit on the egg and continued to say “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.”  What a great lesson of accountability.

We’re right in the middle of the holiday season.  For me, it’s not complete without reading a few Dr. Seuss books to some little ones or, better yet, have them read to you.  Priceless. We hope you have a wonderful Holiday season.