Who Do We Thank (Or Curse) For “Black Friday”!

Written by Tom Petty from Examiner

Link to EXAMINER ARTICLE:  http://www.examiner.com/article/who-do-we-thank-or-curse-for-black-friday

Call me old-fashioned. Call me a “fuddy duddy”. But at this time of year, I wax nostalgic about the idyllic days of my youth, when Thanksgiving was a family weekend that focused on things about which no one could feel anything but great: a) no school; b) our parents were home, c) we enjoyed a weekend of turkey and turkey sandwiches, stuffing, and pies; d) watched the Macy’s Parade and lots of college and pro football games (both NFL and AFL in those golden years); e) played games (together, not on smart phones); and f) gorged on cartoon shows and “Rocky and Bullwinkle”!
In those days, life in the Chicago area did not include “Black Friday. Thank heavens!
I know many folks will take exception to that sentiment, but consider the very history of “Black Friday” (according to Wikipedia.com)!
Philadelphia (and it's<br />
 "Inquirer" paper) developed the now famous term "Black Friday" to describe the day after Thanksgiving. It was intended as a very negative term!
Philadelphia (and it’s “Inquirer” paper) developed the now famous term “Black Friday” to describe the day after Thanksgiving. It was intended as a very negative term!
Photo credit:
It’s Our City, licensed through Creative Commons (onflickr.com)
The first known use of this term appears in the mid-nineteenth century as a reference to the 1869 U.S. financial crisis! That appears to be the only use of the term until 92 years later, when a public relationsnewsletter in Philadelphia identified the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday” because of all thenegative consequences of rampant consumer shopping:horrendous traffic jams, overcrowded sidewalks,overloaded escalators, and overzealous shoppers. Of course, all that hyper-activity in downtown Philly creatednightmares for members of the Police Department, so officers began making regular reference to the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving as “Black Friday” and “Black Saturday” – a development that was chronicled in a published story from January 1966. The story made itabundantly clear that these common police descriptors for those days were not used as a term of endearment!
Not surprisingly, Philly retailers did not appreciate the implications of this standard police reference to the retailers’ biggest day! They put pressure on one of the nation’s most prominent public relations executives (also a Deputy City Representative), Abe Rosen, to put an end to the “Black Friday” sobriquet. Rosen gave it a valiant try, pushing a more positive spin to the day by calling it “BIG Friday”. Needless to say, the effort fell on deaf ears.
One interesting aspect of this Philadelphia slant on the story is the area’s enduring attachment to Eastern college football! Philly police and bus drivers often referred to “Black Friday” as the daybetween Thanksgiving and the Army vs Navy football game… both annual traditions!
As late as 1985, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that shoppers and retailers in Los Angeles and Cincinnati were still blithely (blissfully?) unaware of the “Black Friday” term. Obviously, “Black Friday” was largely a local Philly phenomenon for at least 25 years!
I do make one request of you, please! Do not disparage Philadelphia because it bequeathed to the rest of the country two dastardly developments: 1) big banking (seehttp://www.examiner.com/article/the-re-birth-of-bank-power-and-privilege-part-i andhttp://www.examiner.com/article/the-re-birth-of-bank-power-and-privilege-part-ii ) and 2) “Black Friday”. Instead, try to remember that two of the most essential and cherished treasures of our history were given birth in Philly: the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution!
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