The Man Who Stole Summer

If you feel cheated out of summer fun again this Labor Day, don’t blame yourself. Blame Grover Cleveland.

In 1894, the president proclaimed the first Monday in September to be a tribute to the American worker. And it has since become summer’s last hurrah, the final barbecue before the kids suffer back-to-school jitters, work rips into high gear, and political campaign commercials give us all migraines.

But if you think summer ends too soon, that’s not just a wistful feeling. That’s a fact.

Consult any calendar. The Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal equinox, better known as “the first day of autumn,” does not officially begin until Sept. 22.

Clearly, if President Cleveland wanted to be a true hero of the American worker, he would not have cut the summer short with that three-day buzzkill known as Labor Day weekend. In fact, if he had only pushed back the holiday to, say, Oct. 1, he would stand shoulder-to-shoulder in history books with Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington.

How is Grover Cleveland remembered? Was he the inspiration for that lovable, royal-blue Muppet?

Many people with just a casual acquaintance with history remember the campaign scandal over Cleveland’s illegitimate son and the Republican jeer it gave rise to, “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.”

Cleveland’s daughter — not the fearsome New York Yankee slugger — was the namesake of the Baby Ruth candy bar. But this is hardly the making of greatness.

Indeed, Cleveland had a shot at immortality and blew it. Let’s not beat him too hard. He did give us all a day off. Let’s give him one, too. But, my fellow Americans, let’s not give up.

New Labor Day: Sept. 22

Ultimately, political power rests in voters’ hands. It’s time WE THE PEOPLE stop getting cheated out of the end of summer. We can move Labor Day. It’s our country, our calendar.

The Wolf Files hereby proclaims a national movement to move Labor Day to Sept. 22. As an employee of ABCNEWS.com, I humbly refuse monetary donations. But I urge all sympathetic souls to respond to the e-mail petition below.

As the self-proclaimed leader of what I call The Endless Summer Party Campaign (ESPC), I pledge to collect all e-mails and submit them to the appropriate leaders in Washington. I will report back on our progress and I urge all of you to get involved.

The Beach Boys, of course, will be entreated to lend their star power to this movement. Tom Hanks? Alec Baldwin? If you are out there and this reaches you, get involved. You are always looking for a good cause. Here is a great one. E-mail us the petition below.

Attention John Travolta: Sign on to the Endless Summer Party Campaign and we will forgive you for Battlefield Earth and whatever your next theatrical bomb may be.

Move Thanksgiving: More Shopping

You might think the “Move Labor Day” movement has no chance. I say you are wrong. America has created, moved and removed holidays at the mere stroke of a pen for reasons of much less import.

George Washington proclaimed Nov. 26 a day of Thanksgiving. Lincoln declared it to be a national holiday, but moved it to the fourth Thursday in November. Then came Franklin Roosevelt, who declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated one week earlier because he wanted to extend the Christmas shopping season.

Government documents said the new Thanksgiving would allow Americans to “make proper provision for the Christmas rush.”

Republicans and Roosevelt haters trounced the idea. After two years, Thanksgiving was moved back to its familiar date. But take heart, ESPC supporters! A precedent has been set. We can move Labor Day.

This war is winnable. We must be allowed to celebrate summer until it truly ends.

I’m sure big business will be less than thrilled if folks keep summer hours through September. I’m sure opponents will launch a “Rush to Autumn” campaign. But we must rise above their propaganda and spread the truth.

When you gather ’round to roast that final weenie, don’t let anyone kid you that each season has its own beauty. Would you be happy if your loved one compared you to a winter’s day?

And when you walk to your car in the freezing cold, do you ever say, “Boy, this winter is just flying by”?

Before the screen door slams on the summer of 2000, do something. Join the ESPC. E-mail your support (please include your name, address and phone number), and spread the word. We can change the world. We can restore summer to the length God intended.

God bless you, and God bless Labor Day!

Buck Wolf is a producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is a weekly feature of the U.S. Section. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.