THE MAYOR’S REPORT: Labor Day, Sept. 11 and other late summer thoughts

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So, it’s a rainy Sunday, oops … I mean Monday afternoon with Labor Day 2022 upon us. Not much porch sittin’ today as a wonderful rain fell this morning with more on the way. So, is Labor Day really the end of summer? Not by the calendar as autumn will arrive Sept. 22. Enjoy your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or some iced tea and join me for this Labor Day (week) chat.

Walk, ceremony and concert:21 years later, Greencastle to remember Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks

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Labor Day was made a federal holiday in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland to celebrate workers and their achievements during some challenging times in our nation. I take this opportunity to honor all workers whether you’re currently in the job force or retired. Think of those who are in professions that must work holidays. With my prior chosen profession, I worked many nights, weekends and holidays as there are dozens of professions today, including our military, that require essential employees with many occupations very short on staffing.

Historically, what would Greencastle have been like one hundred plus years ago and where did citizens work? The town offered much employment with two industrial hubs at the north end and southern section of Greencastle. Country was just that with a heavy concentration on agriculture and agri-businesses and small stores at all the villages around Antrim and other townships. In the 1920s the Greencastle Board of Trade was an active organization promoting business and industrial growth. Business and industry grew until the great depression of 1929 which affected the community’s economy over the next 10 years. Folks would walk to work and possibly walk home for lunch and return. Work would be six days a week with Sunday being a day of worship and rest. All your businesses and services were downtown, a short walk or bicycle ride from home. Dairy, crop and animal husbandry farming contributed to the Greencastle economy just as it does today. During the depression, farmers converted many fields for raising vegetables that would be harvested and brought to town where the Greencastle Packing Company employed residents processing these products that put food on the table for many Greencastle area families.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

No businesses were open on Sundays as there were blue laws prohibiting them from being open. Blue laws prohibited certain secular activities and were believed to be first printed in Connecticut on blue paper … hence the nickname blue laws. When I first began patrolling the streets of Greencastle over 40 years ago, no businesses were open. Everything was closed on Sunday (except for churches). You got your gas, groceries and provisions Friday night or Saturday. The milkman and breadman would make home deliveries starting around 4 a.m. The milkman would give me a half pint of chocolate milk to enjoy. Henson’s Bakery along North Elm Lane would be baking and making good stuff delivering before sunrise. Oh yes … Sunday was porch or lawn sittin’ time with family, friends and neighbors, as well. What a concept!

So, where were you Sept. 11, 2001? If you’re of a certain age, you certainly remember. Yes, this coming weekend, we’ll remember. You are welcome to join me for the mayor’s walk as “we remember.” Gather on Eastern Avenue around 8 a.m. this Saturday morning (Sept. 10), light rain or shine. We’ll promptly begin walking at 8:30 a.m. using the southern sidewalks on Baltimore Street to Center Square, then to the G-A Veterans Monument and Memorial at 60 N. Washington St. You may also join us on Center Square and walk from that location, or bring a lawn chair and meet us at 60 N. Washington St. by 9 a.m. Half of North Washington Street will be closed for a brief program. A FDNY (New York City) retired fire engine will join us. Bring your lawn chairs to the bandshell at the Jerome R. King Playground at 2 p.m. for the presentation of the colors by the American Legion and VFW color guard and a bluegrass concert by D & S Bluegrass Band until 3:30 p.m.

Congratulations are in order to our G-A Little League team for making it as far as you did for the baseball season. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the LL World Series games on television from Williamsport, Pa.

The 2022-23 school year is in full swing. Please use caution as our students travel to and from school. Best wishes to our sports teams, band members and all students.

Finally, a very special thank you to Council Vice President Jan Shafer for organizing and completing the painting and rehabilitation of the murals on the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge on West Baltimore Street. Thanks to all the volunteers who stepped up and completed this historic project. Another example that we in G-A are so blessed.