‘May Day Picnic of Los Angeles I.W.W.’ by W. Ravenworth from Industrial Worker (Spokane). Vol. 3 No. 9. May 25, 1911.
On the 30th of April, while riding in the street car towards Edendale, it appeared for a time at least, we are not reminded more today of the meanness of slavery. Away in the warm fog distance are the mountains which seem to beckon one on to them, with caressing rustle, the leaves of wayside trees invite the eyes’ attention, the yellow water of a lake we now pass, bears upon its bosom a few old scows laden with saucy screaming children, with varicoated masses and perforated hulls, the lazy scows drift wherever the wind dictates, houses, as we pass along become less crowded, which relieves one of the constant suggestion of slum surroundings, the free, cool, soft air, in gentle motion, soothes the nerves and pacifies the soul. As there are less houses met with, there are more green spots, and we find ourselves among trees and rocks, where the dreaded howl of steam whistles and inquisitive policemen need not be present.
“Come on, we get out here,” says Kies, a flat nosed, but not flatheaded individual, descending on innumerable series of wooden steps we plunge into a wood of Australian Eucalyptus trees and saplings; here, we come upon Kemp, well dressed and busily engaged serving the wants of a merry lot, while a Frenchman toots with brass cornet, the Marseillaise. A hum is heard upon every hand, everyone eating, drinking, or heatedly discussing topics of the hour. Kennedy is there, sleek and unabtrusive; Oliver is boiling the coffeepot, Australian style; Petersen is coming in on a tired, hired nag and a youngster also riding is with him; (the youngster joined the union while at dinner) Bell is there, red headed and dolled out for the occasion; he is speaking with “Sulphur Smoke Jones.” A Mexican cowboy utters occasional Indian calls which are answered by straggling arrivals of fresh picnicers through the thick bushes. Castcrino takes from about his neck a flashing, red, silk muffler, arranges it upon a rod and hoists it over-head as a beacon or guide (none will fail to recognize the revolutionary character of the picnicers), and songs are sung while wise heads wag. Sullivan wishes to be rid of something on his mind, mounts and perorates, among many things says, “We are free for at least a day in a year to enjoy the bounties and caress the Mother Earth.”
Ah, Sullivan, a day, only, one day, 364 left, so small surely, but certainly one day is better than none. Ellsworth, a large person with not a little sympathy for the working class, it is thought, produces a smart up-to-date camera. With dexterity and patience, he paces of intervals as though bent on no crude photography, watches carefully, indeed cannot be induced to snap a picture till perfection is attained. Nice groups are posed, four pictures are snapped before the instrument is put into its leather case. We were a very international gathering, some are French, some Australians and English, with a generous dash of Germans, a Swede or two, and even a lot of Americans are guilty of being there, a Mexican, a Jew or two, and a couple of Russians. All are surrounded by trees, not natives or this shore, so we feel not patriotic, but that we all are citizens of earth. Well filled and exercised, full of devilment, unburdened of a few jokes at the expense of the goody-goodies, the picnicers adjourn. Rollickingly we break up and away for Emma Goldman’s lecture.
We have had a day, are prepared to once more face with mobile front the dogs of capital for another year. The I.W.W. boys of Los Angeles leap to the tiller of the Social Ship and so ends May day where a convivial feast, if not of the most luxurious kind, certainly is tending to that when we may all live, not ourselves masters of any, nor, mastered ourselves by any other man.
The Industrial Union Bulletin, and the Industrial Worker were newspapers published by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from 1907 until 1913. First printed in Joliet, Illinois, IUB incorporated The Voice of Labor, the newspaper of the American Labor Union which had joined the IWW, and another IWW affiliate, International Metal Worker.The Trautmann-DeLeon faction issued its weekly from March 1907. Soon after, De Leon would be expelled and Trautmann would continue IUB until March 1909. It was edited by A. S. Edwards. 1909, production moved to Spokane, Washington and became The Industrial Worker, “the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism.”
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/industrialworker/iw/v3n09-w113-may-25-1911-IW.pdf