Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Day For The Workers - Edcon Publishing

Since 1882, Labor Day has been a time for parades, picnics, and speeches.

Someone you will read about: Peter J. McGuire

Something you will read about: Labor Day

Near the end of summer, we celebrate a holiday in the United States. Many workers are not at their jobs on that day. But the day is meant to remind us of all that workers have done to make our nation great. The holiday is called "Labor Day." Years ago, many people knew the strain of poor working conditions. Men, women, and young children worked for twelve or more hours a day in factories and shops. Their hours of work brought them little money. Old pictures show the sad and tired faces of the workers of that time.

One boy among the workers who would trudge to and from work each day, was Peter J. McGuire. Peter was eleven years old when he started working in a furniture factory in New York City. The money this young boy would earn was needed to help support his nine brothers and sisters and their parents. Peter's parents were unhappy about their child
leaving for work each day instead of going to school. The parents worked hard, but they never had enough money to pay the rent and to buy the food needed for their large family. Many children worked at machines to earn money for their families.

As Peter grew older, he became a carpenter. The skills needed for this job were taught to him when he started his work in the furniture factory. A group of carpenters had banded together. They hoped to win higher pay and better working conditions. Peter had great interest in the aims of the carpenters' group, and he joined them. He was able to perform many services for the members. In a few years, the carpenters chose Peter to be president of their group.

Peter was not pleased with the way most workers were treated. Many of them suffered the strain of long hours at their jobs. Many of them were not paid well. As Peter
watched tired workers trudge home from their work, he had an idea. He thought of a plan that might change the workers' lives. He would remind people in New York City that workers help keep our country strong. The workers, too, would realize how needed they were. Peter's plan was to introduce a new holiday. The day would remind everyone that workers actually help to preserve our land and its people. In September 1882, Peter announced the new holiday and called it "Labor Day."

On that September day, ten thousand workers marched through New York City. Bands played for the marching workers, who wore red, white, and blue. As the marchers paraded through the city, crowds cheered them. At the end of the march, a great picnic was held for the workers and their families. Speeches were made, food was eaten, and games were played. Peter J. McGuire's idea had been a good one. The workers and their families ·felt pride in themselves that day.

A few years later, workers from many states gathered at a meeting. They had heard about the great parade and the picnic that had been held in New York City. They, too, were in favor of a special day to honor workers. A suggestion was made that the Labor Day holiday should be introduced to other parts of the United States. People who had been at the meeting returned to their homes. They told workers in their states about what had been done in New York City.

In five states, people agreed to introduce the holiday as a reminder to everyone of the good that workers do. By 1894, more than half the states celebrated Labor Day. It was during that year that the President of the United States declared that the first Monday in September would be known as Labor Day - a national holiday.

However, more than a holiday was needed to improve the lives of workers. They had done much to preserve our nation. They had helped to make it great. Now laws were needed to actually change their working conditions. New laws were made. Children were no longer allowed to work at dangerous jobs. Working hours were shortened. Workers earned more pay for what they did.

Peter J. McGuire and others like him helped people realize that workers must be treated fairly. Many years have passed since that first Labor Day took place in New York City. Many changes have been made in factories and shops. But we still keep the custom of celebrating Labor Day with parades and speeches and picnics. We continue to do so because we know how important the workers of our nation are to us.

"A Day for the Workers", Comprehension Check

1. Years ago, many workers ______
a. spent twelve hours a day at their jobs.
b. had parades and picnics every day.
c. were paid well for the work they did.
d. had safe, comfortable working conditions.

2. Peter J. McGuire's first job was ________
a. in a shop.
b. in a furniture factory.
c. in a carpenters' group.
d. in a clothing factory.

3. Peter's parents _______
a. wanted Peter to work.
b. sent all their children to work.
c. were unhappy that Peter had to work.
d. did not work.

4. Peter learned how to be ________
a. a teacher.
b. a marcher.
c. a shopworker.
d. a carpenter.

5. Peter became the president of ________
a. a carpenters' group.
b. a marching band.
c. a furniture factory.
d. a strong nation.

6. Peter wanted all workers to know that ________
a. they were not happy.
b. they were helping the United States.
c. they should march every year.
d. holidays were important days.

7. Peter introduced the holiday called _______
a. Memorial Day.
b. Workers' Day.
c. Labor Day.
d. Flag Day.

8. The holiday was first introduced to the people of _______
a. Boston.
b. New Jersey.
c. Washington.
d. New York City.

9. Another name for this story could be ________
a. "The Beginning of a Holiday."
b. "The Worker."
c. "The City's Day."
d. "The President's Day."

10. This story is mainly about ___________
a. how children worked in factories.
b. how Peter J. McGuire helped workers.
c. what marchers wore in a parade.
d. how to get a better job.

Peter J. McGuire in Wikipedia

The History of Labor Day from Youtube

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Jose's Special Gift" from Edcon Publishing

Jose was exhausted, having worked hard since early morning. While his friends spent Saturday having fun and enjoying themselves, Jose was at his job. He saw Marie and Alice through the window as they ran laughingly across the street. Jose thought, "They must be going to the movies." Then, instead of feeling bad, a pleasant smile crossed his lips. "When I get paid tonight, I will have enough money to buy the gift."

It was hard work in the furniture store. He always came home exhausted, sometimes too tired to eat. Jose remembered that day not too long ago when he saw the sign in the window. Large letters announced: "Boy Wanted - Part-Time Work." His heart raced and he could hardly speak when he asked for the job. Now Jose felt that he had been in Mister Berger's furniture store forever.

The money was needed at home. Jose's mother was a widow. His father had died when Jose was only five. It was not easy for a widow, for Mama had to be both mother and father to her children. She did without many things to buy clothing for the children. She never complained to them, but Jose would hear her crying at night. The sound cut him like a hot knife.

Jose had two younger brothers and an older sister. At times he seemed like one of the children; at times he was like their father.

There never seemed to be enough money, since the four children always seemed to need a dollar to take to school or to buy things for class. When Jose wanted to get a job to help out, Mama said "No." Finally, he promised it would not hurt his school work, and Mama said "Yes."

Now Jose spent afternoons and Saturdays in the furniture store working for Mister Berger. He cleaned the floor and packed and unpacked each chair, sofa, and bed. He put a knob on every drawer and wheels on all the carts. He had to breathe dust and dirt as he worked. "If only the clock would move faster," he thought. Mister Berger was a tough boss. He never gave Jose a minute's rest. Jose had to get to the store on time and he could not leave a moment early. There was always something to do.

Sometimes Jose would cover scratches with a furniture crayon, using a pine color for pine wood and a maple color for maple wood. Jose liked to color wood. It was easier than putting knobs on drawers and better than having to pack and unpack or move a sofa. Anything was better than working in the hot, damp cellar.

But as time went by, Mister Berger felt a liking for the boy. "Learn all you can about furniture for you don't want to sweep floors all your life," he once said. Then he put his arm across Jose's shoulders and started to tell how sofas, tables, and beds are made. He spoke about nails and how wood is fastened. He pointed to each piece. and told the boy the name of the wood, repeating every word slowly. Soon Jose learned to recognize woods like maple, cherry, and pine.

Now it was closing time at the furniture store, and when Jose was paid, he finally had enough money. He stopped at the dress store on the way home, the one with the window filled with all kinds of dresses. He had often passed by, but tonight he would buy the best one for Mama. How happy she would be, for on Sunday she would look better than the rich women who had many fancy dresses to wear. Jose chose a dress with shiny ribbons and glittering beads on it. It was put into a handsome gift box.

Even though Jose was exhausted, he ran home. The way seemed longer than ever. He was out of breath as he raced up four flights of stairs. He put the box on the kitchen table and sang, "Happy Birthday." The surprised brothers and sister joined in. Everyone was curious to see what was in the box with the big bow.

As Mama lifted out the dress she thought, "What a funny-looking dress." Then, for a moment, she was angry that her son had spent so much money on a gift, a present she did not like and did not want. The money could have bought so many things they really needed. The childrens' shoes were worn, and Jose's pants weren't long enough for him. How they would like to have the television set repaired! It would be good to see all the stations clearly.

But in a second, as she saw the pride in her son's eyes, Mama's frown changed to a
smile. Tears fell lightly on her cheek while she pulled Jose to her and covered him with kisses.

"It is a beautiful dress, Jose, just what I really wanted. I will wear it proudly for everyone in the neighborhood to know how wonderful you are. Oh, how I wish Daddy were with us today to see this special present."

Jose forgot both the long hours in the store and seeing his friends at play while he worked. He felt joy. The world was such a warm, lovely place, for Mama was happy on her birthday.

Comprehension Check:

1. Jose got his job in the furniture store from _____
a. an ad in the newspaper.
b. his teacher.
c. a sign in the window.
d. a friend who worked in the store.

2.Jose wanted to work to earn money _____
a. for a baseball glove.
b. to quit school.
c. to rent a new apartment.
d. to help his family.

3. Jose worked in the furniture store _____ .
a. after school and on Saturdays.
b. before school and on Sundays.
c. during school hours.
d. whenever there was a school holiday.

4. One type of work that Jose did was _______ .
a. to drive the delivery truck.
b. to put knobs on drawers.
c. to sell furniture.
d. to collect money that people owed.

5. Mister Berger ______ .
a. was an easy boss.
b. felt a liking for Jose.
c. never came to the store.
d. never paid Jose on time.

6. One type of work that Jose liked was _______
a. packing furniture.
b. sweeping the floor.
c. coloring wood.
d. moving furniture.

7. Jose bought Mama a gift ______ .
a. for her birthday.
b. for her new job.
c. for Mother's Day.
d. for Christmas.

8. Jose bought Mama a fancy dress because he wanted her ______
a. to look younger.
b. to be happy.
c. to find a new husband.
d. to admire him.

9. Another name for this story could be ______
a. "Jose's Job."
b. "Working in a Furniture Store."
c. "Mama Raises a Family."
d. "Jose Shows His Love."

10. This story is mainly about ______
a. working in a furniture store.
b. a mother understanding her son's love.
c. the difficult life of a widow.
d. giving up school for a job.