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Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

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3 September 2018

We honored the Labor Day holiday by sleeping in today. That was a more onerous observation than it might sound because our dreams are often exhausting adventures.

In fact, we only emerge from our night's rest after kicking around wildly in the bed sheets, throwing a few left jabs and the occasional right hook, while screaming war chants and last words at our unseen adversaries.

By the time we're on our feet, we're as sore as if we'd done seven hours of manual labor with hand tools. And thirsty for a tall cold one only to find it's not five o'clock anywhere in the world then.

So here's to Labor! Long may you rest.

We learned early in life that the best escape from sleep was to get a job. We held a few concurrently. We cut lawns, we officiated at weddings (in the role of Paid Altar Boy) and we delivered the news.

As far back as our family goes in this country (which is the beginning of the 20th century), we have delivered the news.

A few years ago we unearthed this photo of our grandfather as a young newsie in turn of the century San Francisco. He'd only arrived from Italy a few years ago. And there he was, making a few pennies selling newspapers.

There's no record of him passing through Ellis Island, although he did. He, his parents and his older brother didn't appear on any ship manifest, apparently because ships carried more than they claimed to make a few more bucks on the voyage.

The old print was in bad shape. A tear right through his head nearly made it unsalvageable. But it has survived for over a hundred years. So we shot it in 2004 with a Nikon 990 digicam to preserve it. And filed it in a special spot to make sure we wouldn't find it until now. In fact, our Labor Day piece featuring Lewis Hine's shot of three newsies of the same era all came about only because we had looked for hours for this tattered photo without finding it.

Fortunately, modern technology made short work of the reconstruction.

We started by erasing the yellow stain by changing from RGB mode to Lab mode and using the Lightness layer for our base image.

Settings. Sliders in Basic and Curves adjustments to restore tone and contrast to the image.

That was washed out so we ran it through Photoshop's Camera Raw filter, manipulating the Basic settings (including Dehaze, oddly) to bring up the contrast and dropping into Curves to restore more tonality to the midtones.

We also used Photoshop's Shake Reduction filter on just the body to remove some blurring.

Then it was a matter of retouching.

First, we spotted the image with the Healing Brush, eliminating the obvious defects. Then we switched to the Clone tool to restore a few minor things (flora, for example) before getting more serious about the face.

We copied the one good eye, pasted it to a new layer and flipped it horizontally. Then, after decreasing the opacity so we could see through it, we moved it into position over the damaged eye and rotated it slightly to align with the tilted head before restoring opacity and flattening the layer.

More cloning and a little burning and dodging on the face to create a bit more volume and we were done with the restoration. We might revisit that, though. We have no problem painting deeper shadows around the nose and cheeks.

We made a sepia-toned print of it and added some vignetting to complete the job.

Gramps wasn't the last newsie in the family. His son-in-law was one for the Oakland Tribune and we were a paperboy ourselves for several newspapers.

The big trucks would come by in the dark and throw a few bundles of newspapers on the sidewalk. We'd put our double bag over our shoulders and fill first one big pocket then flip it around to fill the other big pocket with unfolded newspapers. As heavy as we could carry. Then we'd walk the neighborhood, folding each newspaper into thirds and launching it onto a porch with a thud that agitated all the dogs on the street.

By our count, we've been working steadily for at least 57 years. And we're consequently taking the rest of the day off.

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