You know summer is winding down when familiar faces start disappearing from many of your summer haunts. Waitresses, waiters, lifeguards, store clerks and office assistants have begun the trek back to college having earned some money and plenty of experience to better prepare themselves for the next school year.
The sun and heat of summer provides respite for so many who are tired of the never-ending clouds and cold of winter and fuels the ambitions of so many high school- and college-age young people. The prospect of summer jobs, summer income and job experience to build a resume excites students who flock to the workplace to find jobs.
The economy of the north country provides plenty of opportunity at restaurants, state parks and convenience stores as business operators hire enough workers to serve the demands of tourists who flock here to take advantage of the beauty of St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
Regular customers develop acquaintances with the youngsters who are taking tolls at the bridges, or serving lunch or dinner with the enthusiasm and vitality of the college generation. As August ends, those smiling faces transfer back to campus carrying with them the lessons of working a full shift five days a week.
Northern New York learned the value of summer work long ago. Without a summer of hard work in the fields, the winter supply of firewood and food would be inadequate. Farm families understood just how important summer work was for every member of the family no work in the fields meant little hope for winter.
As our economy advanced from its sole dependance upon farming, the lesson of summer work endured.
William L. Fox, president of St. Lawrence University in Canton, reminded alumni in the universitys summer magazine, The expectation of work for wages and savings in the months after the last final exam traces a particular American history shared between farm and campus. Each place tried to simulate the oldest garden of all, a lost paradise, served soberly by the ancient admonition: You will eat of the produce of the field, and only by the sweat of your brow will you win your bread until you return to the earth. Hard work in the summertime also granted the privilege of hard study in September.
As summer passes, pause a moment to congratulate all those summer workers who have helped you the last couple of months. Wish them well and joy as they return to high school, college or graduate school wiser and better off becasue of the lessons and wages of a summers work.