Labor Day

Of all the “holidays” on the calendar, Labor Day – the first Monday in September, certainly seems the most elusive, almost perfunctory.  A three day weekend  - reason to hit the road or gather for the last burgers on the grill for the season. Labor Day - just a breath between summer and the return to school or the routine of the work-a-day world we take for granted.

Gone are the days – my grandfather’s days  - where worker’s rights were new,  hard won and worthy of true celebration.

Labor Day. On this day, I think of my grandfather, Alexander (Cop) Kaplan, a labor leader from Cleveland.  Regrettably, his story I’ll never know. Can’t know, as I never knew him, have no personal memories of him. How carelessly, wrecklessly we cast away our family stories -- or the opportunities for hearing, never thinking to pursue them – or better yet, to record more of the details of the life and times of our fathers and mothers before us.

I can’t Google Alexander Kaplan. Other than the fine photos I still have of him, the handsome smiling face in a vintage frame on the wall in my dining room, Alexander Kaplan is nowhere to be found unless I really delve beneath the surface of the 1940 U.S. Census, a citizen of a country at war,  where he’s listed at 51 as head of the household, with my grandmother, Sarah, (40) my parents, Edward (23) and Clare  (22) Goldman, living with them - and my mother’s younger brother, my uncle Arthur Kaplan (20) – noting that  Art’s twin brother, Wilbur (Wil) Kaplan in all likelihood had already enlisted and was stationed somewhere in the South Pacific . . .

Our families, our stories, our life’s labors. . . so many are to be lost.  What do we know?  What do we miss?

My parents, Edward and Clare, gone now for a decade, would be amazed today to see their progeny, their grandchildren, grown to adulthood, and their great-grandchildren:  Zachary and Lauren – my sister’s grandchildren now heading to their senior year in high school . . . and a new set of children . . . ours: and here they are:

Mason, 4 years, b. March 15, 2011

Benjamin, almost 3, b. 2013
Carter, 2 years old,  b. April 18, 2013

Mila, 3 months, b. May 26, 2015

Our labors . . . of love.


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