Be a laborer,
great or small,
do it well,
or not at all
Every Labor Day weekend I either write something about that little ditty or at least think about it.
My friend and former colleague Sarellen (yes, they made up names 75 years ago too) McAndrew taught me that rhyme when we worked together in the composing room of the Sunday Dispatch for about 20 years in the ’70s and ’80s.
Sara, as I called her, did more that recite that poem. She lived it.
Her work ethic, learned in the Irish-Catholic Scranton home she grew up in along with her brothers Pat Cawley, former administrator at Wyoming Area High School, and Gaynor Cawley, the dynamic former Pennsylvania State Representative, was something to behold. I guess it was most impressive when she would sit all day in front of a computer screen despite fighting a nasty head cold or even burning with fever.
I’ve seen her do that. The paper had to get out and with our small staff, there was no one to fill in if someone called in sick. So Sara never called in sick.
With an example like that, you tended to suck it up yourself. I recall during the Bicentennial year when we were putting out a massive commemorative edition I rolled my ankle playing street basketball. I should have been off that foot, but, with crutches too cumbersome, I spent several days hopping around the composing room trying to live up to the example set by Sara.
If she could do it, I could do it. We all could do it. And we did.
And we were better for it.
To this day, 30 years years after Sara and I worked together, I still think of that little rhyme and give every job my all, whether teaching a college class, or writing a newspaper column or cutting the grass or doing the dishes. I do it well or not at all.
Be a laborer,