The Daily Heller: A Day for Laboring Over the Drawing Board

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, which happened on Feb. 21, 1887. That year, four more states—Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By 1894, more than two dozen more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday. The first federal Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.

For 30 years (from 1924–1954), six days a week, Denys Wortman produced cartoons under the title “Metropolitan Movies” for newspapers, depicting the lives of an assortment of haves and have-not characters. In addition, his cartoon vignettes of “Mopey Dick and the Duke” presented two lovable vagrants commenting on life in America from the Depression to the early ’50s.

A website devoted to Wortman shares his wit, empathy and insight for the working man and woman. Per a note that appears there, “In viewing his cartoons, one will find a striking resemblance to the plight of today’s realities, reminding us all of the timeless humor of social and cultural mores.”

These images are from a 1930s-era book of selected vignettes from “Metropolitan Movies.”