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[Xmca-l] Re: Polls are setting to close on article for discussion

A propos of your Labor Day comment, here is a favorite little bit of mine
from Studs Terkel on the problem of memory in the U.S. - particularly with
regard to labor (full text of interview can be found at:
Who knew Studs was such a saucy bloke?

Here it is (interview occurred in 2003, the entirety of what follows is
from the interview):

"Oh, one quick thing. Before we close, we are suffering what I call a
national Alzheimer's disease. That's why Bush and Ashcroft [have] no memory
of yesterday, as though there were no Depression, as though the free
marketeers (I call them marketeer to rhyme with buccaneer) ... The free
marketeers, during the Great Crash of 1929, fell on their knees and begged
the government, "Please help us out." And so the New Deal helped them out
with regulations. And [now] their grandchildren, whose granddaddies begged
the government, say, "Too much big government," when it comes to health,
education, and welfare, and not Pentagon. So there's this loss of memory.
The young have been deprived of this. Many young kids are anti-union.

So here I am -- and this is the anecdote -- I'm waiting [for a bus]. I talk
a lot, as you can gather, and sometimes down the street I go, talking to
myself. I find the audience very appreciative. And so they know me at the
block. They know I wrote some books. But they also know me as the old
gaffer talks to everybody.

So I'm waiting for the bus. But this couple, I cannot reach. There's a
couple, I have to call them yuppies, because they are. Most young people
are not. Most young are lost in the world, and wondering what ... but these
two are. He's in Brooks Brothers, and he's got the fresh-minted *Wall
Street Journal *under his arm. And she's a looker. She's got Bloomingdale,
Neiman-Marcus clothes, the latest issue of *Vanity Fair. *But I can't ...
they won't recognize me. My ego was hurt, you know. Everybody knows me! We
start talking. The bus this day is late in coming. So I said, "I'm going to
make conversation with them." So I say, "Labor Day's coming up." That is
the worst thing I could possibly have said. He looks at me. He gave me that
look that Noel Coward would give to a speck of dirt on a cuff, and he turns

Now I'm really hurt, you know, my ego is hurt. The bus is late in coming.
So when I say something, I know it's going to get them mad. The imp of the
perverse has me. And so I'm saying, "Labor Day, we used to march down State
Street, UAW-CIO. 'Which side are you on?' 'Solidarity Forever.'" He turns
to me and he says, "We despise unions." And I say [to myself], "Oh, I've
got a pigeon here -- no bus!" Suddenly, I fix him with my glittering eye
like the ancient mariner, and I say, "How many hours a day do you work?"
And he says, "Eight." He's caught! "Eight."

"How come you don't work eighteen hours a day? Your great grandparents
[did]. You know why? Because in Chicago, back in 1886, four guys got hanged
fighting for the eight-hour day -- it was the Haymarket affair -- for you."
And I've got him pinned against the mailbox. He can't get away, you know.
The bus [hasn't come], and he's all trembling and she's scared. She drops
the *Vanity Fair. *I pick it up; I'm very gallant. I give her the *Vanity
Fair. *No bus. Now I've got them pinned. "How many hours of week do you
work?" He says, "Forty." "How come you don't work eighty hours, ninety
hours? Because your grandparents [did], and because men and women got their
heads busted fighting for you for the forty-hour week, back in the

By this time the bus comes; they rush on. I never saw them again. But I'll
bet you ... See, they live in the condominium that faces the bus stop. And
I'll bet you up on the 25th floor, she's looking out every day, and he
says, "Is that old nut still down there?"

Now, I can't blame them, because how do they know? Who told them? What do
they know about unions? So that's what I mean about a national Alzheimer's
disease. It's that aspect. So all these books deal with memory as well.
What was it like during World War II? What was it like during the
Depression? What's it like being black in a white-dominant [society]?
What's it like growing old? What's the job of a teacher or a welder like?

So, in a sense, it's memory as well. And that's what we're dealing with."

On Mon, Sep 2, 2013 at 6:01 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> As is our custom, here is a last reminder before we close the voting on
> article for discussion from Mind, Culture, and Activity
> this number. The polls will be open for another day and then lets move on
> to discussion. If you have not voted or a curious about the current state
> of the voting, click below.
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/poll.html
> mike
> (while reflecting on what our society has and has not been remembering this
> past month. No mention of Hiroshima and
> Nagasaki in August, a LOT of remembering of the March on Washington (I was
> driving back to California after a year
> in the USSR and could only take it in on radio), and so far as I can tell,
> no memory of the meaning and history
> of labor day at all. Interesting.)

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602