Labor Day props for Frances Perkins. She’s a hero in my book.
Goodbye sunscreen. Hello pumpkin spice. Labor Day closes the book on summer.
But as we celebrate the American wage earner, let’s open the book on the woman who established the norms that they (we) enjoy without much thought.
Frances Perkins served as the U.S. Secretary of labor under FDR from 1933 until 1945, the longest tenure of anybody in that position. Her appointment also marked the first time a female ever sat on an American presidential cabinet. On top of THAT, she found even more consequential ways to leave her mark. Check out some of her greatest hits:
- The 40-hour work week. That’s a banger, eh? Sure, sometimes grinding through 8-5, M-F can seem cruel and unusual, but imagine life without the 40-hour standard. I can’t even …
- The minimum wage. Another game-changer from Frannie. (It’s her given name. Another name-related fun fact: when she married, she went to court to keep her maiden name – to protect her new husband’s career from all the political hell she was prone to raising. But I digress …) I’m sure she had higher aspirations for it than its current manifestation, but better too little than none at all, amiright?
- Overtime pay. A third blockbuster from the Fair Labor Standards Act is time-and-a-half. Sometimes it’s a necessary, evil. Sometimes it’s a windfall. Either way, the next time you get a little extra ka-ching for going above-and-beyond, thank ol’ Fannie Perks.
- Unemployment Insurance. It’s like a bicycle helmet. It ain’t pretty, but it can soften a blow. Moving on…
- Social Security. Talk about swinging for the fences. This has helped generations of Americans avoid keeling over in the saddle. It’s some comfort to know that we can hang up the spurs and look forward to a small measure of sustenance after decades of getting’ ‘er done.
The list goes on, but just these high points show that the legacy of Frances Perkins is a litany of privileges still enjoyed by the American wage earner. She clawed her way to an unprecedented position in a man’s world and once she arrived, she did NOT disappoint.
Sometimes, you gotta get a bit high
I never intended to become a rock climber, let alone a rock climbing guidebook author. In fact, during my college years I would drive by the local crags en-route to an afternoon mountain bike ride and shake my head at the seemingly docile figures congregated at the cliffs. Adorned with strange webbing-like things wrapped around their legs and groins, silly helmets on like they were coal miners and even sillier-looking footwear, I often wondered what the appeal was. Climbing seemed like such a lethargic, sloth-like activity and I wanted no part of it. However, I had yet to actually try it.
Fast forward 22 years. Guess who’s wearing the crotch-cinching webbing and silly shoes now?
Yup, I got hooked. A friend of mine convinced me to try it one afternoon. Initially, I was scared shitless but something was sown on those first few outings. What started that summer of ‘98 as a casual, something-to-do-before-beer:30 among friends became an all-out obsession for me.
As I befriended like-minded individuals, I began learning about more and more places for rock climbing in the southeastern Idaho region. I was blown away by how many climbing areas there were (near and far) and by their diversity. I had to visit them all. I began collecting and obsessing over guidebooks and eventually co-authoring one for the southeastern Idaho region. I felt the need to share these local gems with fellow aficionados and perhaps reciprocate the motivation and passion I still feel when visiting climbing areas new to me.
Most local climbers reading this are keen to the many climbing areas in the southeast Idaho region. However, for the uninitiated and inquiring minds, this is for you, an abbreviated list of my personal top 5 recommendations:
Perched above the scenic Snake River upstream from the Heise Hot Pools, this little gem of basalt is host to about 20 climbing routes that vary from short to tall. While primarily beginner-friendly routes dominate here, intermediate climbers will find enough to keep them occupied for a day or two. Wildlife sightings such as osprey, beaver, deer and moose are common. When your forearms are trashed you can pull out the fishing rod and drop a line in the Snake.
Located in the active college town of Pocatello, Ross Park hosts 2 separate short, yet wide, basalt cliffs to accommodate climbers from beginner to intermediate levels. With its ease of access (1 min. walk from car), northeast and southwest facing cliffs (think summer shade or winter sun), and nearly 200 climbing routes, Ross Park is a winner-winner chicken dinner. (History tidbit: The Pocatello Pump, the longest running climbing competition in the U.S., is held at Ross Park every Sept.)
Roughly 10 miles southwest of American Falls as the crow flies, among the sagebrush and junipers, lies Massacre Rocks. Comprised of basalt cliffs exposed over 14,000 years ago when Lake Bonneville (Utah) breached its northern shoreline, the numerous cliffs at Massacre Rocks are home to over 700 climbing routes. Beginners to advanced climbers are entertained here nearly year-round. Warning: don’t pet the rattlesnakes.
City of Rocks
Nestled within the hilly landscape of southern Idaho, City of Rocks is a collection of towering granite monoliths that protrude from the arid landscape just west of Almo. With over 600 climbing routes that attract novice climbers as well seasoned veterans, City of Rocks is literally a mecca for climbing. No B.S. (History tidbit: City of Rocks lies along the historic California Trail used during the Gold Rush era of the mid 1800s.)
The limestone version of Elysium. Even Homer would agree.
Standing sentinel high above the Arco desert, overlooking the small town of Howe and the INL, the bulletproof limestone cliffs of the Fins jut out of the stony ground like the back plates of a stegosaurus. Advanced to expert climbing is the name of the game here on dime-edge sized handholds and double-to-single finger holes. Steel yourself for pain, humility and a crushed ego.
MCS MIXTAPE: Vol. 1
The staff is tossing out a list of tunes guaranteed to help your weekend groove. Enjoy those long and bright Idaho nights while we can — and get out and move.
- Clay Adams – I Wanna Be Sedated by Ramones
- Alaina Robson – Nobody Speak by Run the Jewels
- Steve Fischbach – Uncloudy Day by Willie Nelson
- Lisa Hix Fischbach – Miss Me by Leikeli47
- Sammy Jo Gravis – Hang On with Eskimos by Munly
- Matt TeNgaio – Roots Radical by Rancid
- Whitney Harris – Pep Rally by Missy Elliott
- Dave Oakley – San Pedro by Swörn
- Melva Krell – Let’s Go get Stoned by Bonnie Bramlett
Here’s the full playlist on Spotify.
Lifelong Activism: Lessons from Betty Reid Soskin
“Democracy has been experiencing these periods of chaos since 1776. They come and go. And it’s in those periods that democracy is redefined.”
– Betty Reid Soskin
Political elections, devastating hurricanes, even celebrity marriages are all subjects that have come and gone in waves of sweeping news. They captivate the nation for a micro-season, and then quickly fade into the background. Some argue that news is history in the making, while others claim it has devolved into a form of entertainment–– and both opinions hold some form of truth. When streaming a video or scrolling past a Facebook post, it can be difficult to absorb modern news with the appropriate sympathy; it is only human to derive some form of fascination when the drama of real life does not affect us directly. But true history is made when people are capable of carrying the subject beyond the narrative of scandal, and into the realm of societal disruption.
In recent weeks, the public has faithfully stood by the waters as news media has once again swept the “wave” of civil rights into its tides. But how do we keep the fight for equality from ebbing at the advent of a new scandal, as it has so many times in the past? What happens when proclaimed allies grow weary of posting the trending war cry on Instagram? How do we take the movement beyond popularized infatuation? How do we keep ourselves disrupted?
While we’re in no position to take authority on definitively answering these questions, we do find it important to engage in conversation that might lend to finding individual answers. Rather than inflate ourselves with assumed wisdom and a list of manufactured bullet points, we turned to a source with both past and present day experience: Betty Reid Soskin.
Civil rights heroine and oldest serving National Park Ranger in the US, we featured Betty as our June Cape Girl of the Month. Aside from being Glamour’s Woman of the Year at the spry age of 97 in 2018, Betty’s life has been one of improbable victories. Currently known for her vigor in educating all who enter the World War II Home Front National Historical Park on the trials and triumphs of women and people of color, Betty is no stranger to the hardships of overcoming oppression and bigotry herself.
As a woman of Creole and Cajun descent, Betty experienced the emotional and sometimes physical pain that came with being a person of color in the early decades of the 1900s. She and her husband were even subject to death threats after building their home in a white suburb. Inspired, rather than intimidated by such events, Betty clung to the idea that pain is the usher of progress. “History has been written by people who got it wrong,” Betty said, “but the people who are always trying to get it right have prevailed.” With adversity acting as her call to action, Betty has prevailed in using her voice to transform the flaws of written history into real social change.
From her time as a servicewoman in WWII to her days pounding pavement as a field rep for women in politics, Betty has made it her life’s mission to use her experiences to encourage and enlighten those within her sphere of influence. Betty’s passionate reputation eventually recruited her involvement as a board member in the development of what would later become the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
With a committee of mostly white men as her fellow board members, Betty noticed a one-sided narrative developing in the plans for the park––intended to memorialize the role of women at the forefront of WWII. Rather than be intimidated, Betty used her voice to disrupt the social norm and ultimately pave the way for other minority voices and stories to be heard at the park. “There was no conspiracy to leave my history out,” she said, “there was simply no one in that room with any reason to know it.” To this day, the park includes findings from scholars with all backgrounds of knowledge to assist in the planning of their exhibits. It’s now a site where people can remember the contributions women of all kinds made to the war effort.
So, how does a 99-year-old’s experience as a park ranger inform a modern movement? By reminding us that being a force for good takes a lifetime.
Servicewoman, field representative, park ranger–– Betty has never held the most prominent title, yet her life has made a profound difference. Even after having a stroke earlier this year, Betty has never found a reason to stop her voice from being heard––she lives her life fighting for the bigger picture by doing what she can. Betty reminds us that significance is found in the seemingly insignificant.
The cry for civil equality is not another wave on the sands of news media. It’s an unresolved pattern. So how do we keep it on the shore? How do we make it more than just another event that will drown in the tidal wave of the 2020 tabloids? While we may not have the prescribed answer, we can begin to remedy symptoms by learning from advocates like Betty. We can make the decision to individually dedicate ourselves to change, no matter how small our role. We can commit ourselves to the proven method of maintaining morals, no matter how often they are challenged. And we can remind ourselves that while progress can be made with the collective voice, it is absolutely crippled in the practice of individual silence.
For ideas on how to get more involved with Black Lives Matter, check out the following resources:
The 2020 Field of Honor Memorial featuring 1,000 Flags commemorating every fallen soldier in Idaho shaped up a little bit differently this year — as has almost everything else since we began adjusting to the onset of a world-wide pandemic! The one thread of consistency MCS Advertising is holding on to right now is our outlook of pitching in where we can. Since 2007, when we first had the chance to jump in and donate design time to our local advertising club, we’ve been taking on as many non-profit and in-kind projects as we can each year.
Ironically, upon fresh introspection, it seems our reasons for doing so are completely selfish. First, sharing our talent makes us feel good. It gives us a chance to be experimental. It gives us a chance to meet people outside of the boardroom. It takes the focus off of our own problems. And, with luck and talent, it helps the amazing place we’re lucky to call home grow into an even better place to call home.
But, we don’t want to be talking about ourselves — #yawn. We want to be right in the middle, getting our hands dirty and making a difference where we can. So what should we call this endeavor – this difference we are trying to make – this thing we do for as close to gratis as we can get – making us feel as good as we can? And how do we make it fair, so more entities can benefit from wearing the Cape Girl victory cape? What we’ve come up with is: **drum roll**… Operation: Cape Girl.
This brings us full circle — back to the top of this story and the Field of Honor Memorial hosted by an amazing group of volunteers at the Exchange Club of Idaho Falls. 2020 is their year: We have committed our time and talents to heighten awareness for Field of Honor, so watch for good things to continue. And, our pledge to share with more entities? At the close of this year, MCS Advertising will offer an application process for the 2021 recipient(s) — so keep a close eye on this page for our #gratisStatus.
Signing off with guts and gusto, your original Cape Girl. LF>