Monday, September 01, 2008

Lessons in Boys' Life: Labour Day

Happy Gomper's Day! You know, I'm constantly impressed by the wealth of information that Boys' Life magazine provided to the nation's youth. In a world before Wikipedia, Boys' Life must have been an invaluable resource for any young fellow who wanted a little information about a lot of things.

The comic strip below was likely produced by one of the many fine illustrators at Johnstone & Cushing, the advertising art studio that provided Boys' Life with pretty much all the content of its monthly comic section during the 50's and 60's.

From giving it a quick read, we discover some interesting facts -- not the least of which is that the Labour Movement was born in America. That fact alone is a revelation to this Canadian. I always presumed that we 'Commie-lovin' Canucks' came up with the idea of unions and workers rights, not the 'cruel Capitalists' to our southern flank!

Here in Hamilton, Ontario we have long been the centre of the Canadian steel industry, so unions have profoundly influenced all aspects of civic life for as long as I can remember. What a surprise to discover that an American named Samuel Gompers can claim credit for the eight-hour workday and Worker's Comp! Surely he must have secretly been Canadian (or at least had dual citizenship).

More importantly, if not for Samuel Gompers, sales of footballs, frisbees and fried chicken might not be what they are today. Lets remember that thanks to Labour Day we have a reason to hold Labour Day picnics -- thanks Sam!

But a lot has changed since 1958. Ironically, thanks to another American named Sam - Sam Walton - lots of things that used to be made by unionized Americans ("the highest paid workers in the world with the greatest benefits and the highest standards of living") are now made in third-world countries with no unions, benefits or standards of living.

I wonder what Samuel Gompers would think about that?

My Boys' Life Comics Flickr Set


  1. Hi Leif,

    But, even if people in other parts of the world have to suffer a bit to produce it, haven't you noticed how much happier and healthier we are now that we have access to all this cheap plastic crap and over-processed alleged food?

    Good comments, Leif, and a great job all around as usual.

    Huw Evans
    EYECATCHER Graphics & Design

  2. Yes indeedy, Huw - not to mention the pleasure of working two and three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet! That's a lot of good, healthy excercise... not to mention the opportunity to learn important skills like customer-greeting and burger-flipping while socializing with other members of the eroded middle class -- hooray! ;-)

  3. "We've just got another raise"

    How snug this strips look, along with this happy picnic in the green, with the red complementary-coloured fuel-guzzler so effectively placed in the background.

    Aaah, those lucky-go-happy energy wasting pre-globalization days...

  4. What a priceless panel that is Leif. *sigh*

  5. this is really nice to read..informative post is very good to read..thanks a lot! vac truck gold coast