Posted tagged ‘Labor Day’

“It is labour indeed that puts the difference on everything.”

September 4, 2017

Labor Day is the proverbial end of summer. I remember the now outdated fashion rule of not wearing white after Labor Day. I remember lamenting this was the last day of freedom, but I also remember being a bit excited about the new school year. The tradition was to barbecue, sort of a last salute to summer. I had to take a bath on a Monday. School dictated cleanliness. It was difficult to go to bed early, but my mother demanded it. Being sent to bed, however, wasn’t the same as sleeping. That took a while. Morning meant an early wake-up, a quick breakfast, new clothes and the walk to school. Everything was familiar. It was the same every year.

The real meaning of Labor Day has been blurred. It was first celebrated in the early 1880’s as a day to honor laborers, “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” The first states to recognize the day were Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, Colorado and New Jersey. It became a holiday in 1884 and was a day for parades and speeches, all meant to honor workers and the contributions of the American labor movement.

Most stores are open today. Municipal and federal buildings and properties like the dump are closed as are banks and those schools which had opened last week. When I was a kid, nothing except maybe a corner store was open. I wish it were that way now.

Today is a beautiful day, sunny and warmer than it has been. I’m thinking I need deck time. I need to bank a few warm days to remember when winter comes and rears its ugly head. I have chicken I can defrost so maybe I’ll even barbecue. I do have to go out for animal food, but that’s it for the day, my only chore, my only to do list item.

When I lived in Ghana, we didn’t celebrate most holidays. We did celebrate the big ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas and one year I celebrated New Year’s Eve at the home of the ambassador to what was then Upper Volta and is now Burkina Faso. We had to work on Thanksgiving, but we did have dinner with turkey and all the fixings. We also added chickens to the menu. Christmas was our biggest holiday. We had gifts, decorated a tree and eat a special dinner. We never celebrated Labor Day. I don’t even think we remembered it.

“To find perfectly ripe fruit, catch it.”

September 2, 2017

Last night I needed an afghan, and this morning is chilly again, but hot weather is coming back next week. Rain is due late tonight into tomorrow, but Sunday will be lovely. Monday will be traveling home day for the tourists. I’ll be happy to wave goodbye and have the roads back, especially on rainy days.

I have a thoroughly empty dance card this weekend. I toyed with inviting friends for dinner and a movie but decided just to hang around and do whatever. I have to go to the dump sometime this weekend because of the full trash bag sitting on the kitchen floor. I dare not put it outside on the deck. Critters attacked a bag the last time I put one out, and it was gross cleaning up all that garbage and trash, especially the coffee grounds.

When I was a kid, I used to spit out the apple skin. My mother would sometimes peel it for me, but not all the time so I’d spit. Oranges needed to be cold. Bananas couldn’t have black spots or be green. Peaches had fur so I never ate peaches. I liked pears even with the skin. I ate strawberries but only in strawberry shortcake. I liked the biscuits my mother made for the shortcake, and I loved the whipped cream. Lemons were only good for lemonade, but my mother preferred a short cut, frozen lemonade. At Thanksgiving we had date-nut bread and tangerines. My mother kept boxes of raisins as a snack for us, but I preferred cookies for snacks. Coconuts and pineapples seemed exotic for me though I probably didn’t know that word back then, but I do remember thinking they belonged on a tropical island, someplace like Hawaii. There were other fruits available but we didn’t eat them.

Every day in Ghana, I had a fruit salad of sorts for lunch. It had cut up pineapple, oranges, bananas and sometimes mangoes. That was the perfect lunch for the heat of the day. The fruits came from Southern Ghana. They didn’t grow where I lived, in the savannah grass land, only the pawpaw did. I could buy whole coconuts but I never did. From small girls who carried a display box of sorts on their heads I bought toasted coconuts balls, brown and sweet. I could buy oranges from aunties selling them along side the road. They would cut off the top and peel a bit around the cut with a single edge razor blade so I could get at the juice. Oranges didn’t have to be cold any more.

“cozy+smell of pancakes-alarm clock=weekend”

August 29, 2016

This morning I was forced to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had no coffee and no cream so Gracie and I jumped into the car and drove off for my morning elixir. When we got there, the outside line was long, but I had no choice. I hadn’t bothered to get dressed or even brush my teeth. Gracie didn’t mind the wait. She just poked her head out the window and took in the neighborhood and its smells. I listened to the radio. The line went faster than I thought it would. I was happy.

Today is already hot and humid so I am back in my fortress having shut the windows and doors and turned on the air conditioning. There are clouds but they do nothing except to obscure the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for the next couple of days. The weekend, though, will be lovely with daytime temperatures in the low 70’s and nights in the mid 60’s.  It is the Labor Day weekend, the traditional last hurrah of the summer.

My sister started work today. She is a pre-school teacher in Colorado. When I spoke to her last night, she was going to take a shower so she could get to bed early. I remember my mother sending us to bed early and reminding us we had school the next day. I also remember moaning and groaning and dragging my feet upstairs.

When I was a kid, I never kept track of the weekdays. I only knew when it was Saturday or Sunday. On Saturday my father was home. He did errands uptown and mowed the lawn. On Saturday nights he often barbecued. Sometimes we went to the beach all day Saturday or the drive-in on Saturday nights. Sunday had the only consistently distinguishing event, going to mass which also meant a change in wardrobe from shorts and a sleeveless shirt to a dress or a skirt and a blouse. After mass, the day was back to casual. We didn’t have Sunday dinners during the summer. It was more of a catch as catch can. Mostly it was sandwiches.

I think my favorite weekends were in Ghana, especially the Sundays. There was a service in the dining hall where the furniture had been reconfigured to look more like the inside of a church. The students wore their Sunday clothes. Each of the four classes had a different fabric for their traditional three piece dresses, their Sunday best. They wore a top, a skirt to their ankles and a cloth wrapped around at the waist. After the service, the older students could go to town. Visitors were allowed. A photographer wandered around taking pictures, always in black and white. I have a few of the pictures given to me as gifts. When I went to town, I could see the students walking in groups and stopping at kiosks to buy personal items like powder. Others went to the market to load up on snacks to keep in their school trunks, especially gari, made from cassava and easily stored.

Being retired, my days tend to run together. I sometimes have to check the paper to see what day of the week it is. My chores and errands aren’t confined to a single day. I don’t ever have to go to bed early.

“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”

August 22, 2016

Today is perfect in every way. It is sunny, breezy and dry. To top it off, it rained last night. I heard it against the window, a heavy rain. I don’t know how long the storm lasted but the deck was still a bit damp this morning. The weatherman says today and tomorrow will be beautiful with cool nights, even down to the low 60’s.

When summer starts to wind down, it seems to die quickly. The darkness sneaks in a few minutes at a time until we realize how early we need lights. We don’t think about the cool nights as we’re glad for a reprieve from the hot days, but then the days get cooler. Labor Day arrives, schools open and summer is unofficially over.

I wish summer were longer. When I was a kid, I wanted it to last forever. My days were filled with bike riding, berry picking and sleeping in the backyard. We had picnics in the woods. Bedtime was late. Dinner was casual. The clock had stopped controlling our lives.

I don’t wear a watch. The last time I remember wearing one was in Ghana, probably the one place where you didn’t need a watch. When I taught, tbells started and ended classes and every room had a giant clock so a watch was superfluous. I’m retired. I don’t clock watch unless I have an appointment. I have no bedtime. I go when I’m tired. No alarm jars me awake. I open my eyes, stretch, say good morning to Fern and Gracie at the foot of my bed, figure out what day of the week it is and if I have anything on my dance card then I get up, and it’s time for coffee and the newspapers.

“My life is better with every year of living it.”

August 19, 2016

This morning I was up and out early to have some lab work done. On the way, I had to stop to let a turkey hen lead her brood of five across the road to the other side. The five were walking all in a row and moved quickly to stay behind their mother. After the lab, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts as I hadn’t yet had my coffee. The ride through had fifteen cars in line so I parked out front and walked inside. I was second in line and got my coffee quickly. I also treated myself to a croissant lemon donut. It was my prize for remembering to get the lab work done.

Today is quite hot but dry. The doors and windows are still open. My neighborhood was noisy earlier. I could hear a radio blasting from the house next door, and I could hear voices from the rental. I shut the door, started to read the papers and fell asleep for about an hour, a weird time for me to be napping. I must have inspired the animals as all three are in the den here with me, and all three are asleep. Gracie is lightly snoring.

Only two weekends left until Labor Day weekend. The summer is speeding away. This has probably been my quietest summer in a long while. We didn’t see a movie on the deck though I am determined to have three, one on each remaining weekend. I have spent most of August behind closed doors and windows with the AC at full blast.

Tonight is another birthday celebration at my friends’ house down the street. They are the balloon friends. We’ll play a few games, drink a little and have dinner. I’ll open another present. Nothing is better than celebrating a birthday over and over.

“Describing her first day back in grade school after a long absence, a teacher said, It was like trying to hold 35 corks under water at the same time. “

September 7, 2015

Labor Day was the last day of freedom for me. School always started the next day. I knew when it was Labor Day even before I mastered calendars as my mother always sang a happy tune. Nothing flustered her. I suspect the chant of one more day was repeating in her head blocking out anything else including our usual squabbles. She forced us to bathe even though we hadn’t gotten all that dirty since Saturday. We complained but she didn’t really care. By bedtime, an early bedtime, more cause for complaint, her inner voice was chanting tomorrow, tomorrow. Had it existed, the song from Annie could have been her anthem.

We were a bit excited but not anything we’d admit. I looked through my pencil box time and again. It could only be new once. Before I went to bed, my school bag was ready with a pad of paper, that pencil box and some crayons, a small box. My mother would make our lunches in the morning and put them in the lunch boxes. She always took out the thermos bottles if we weren’t going to use them. They were easily broken. I can still remember the tinkling sound of thin glass in a broken thermos bottle. Our new clothes and shoes were out and ready. The shoes we’d wear every day but the clothes were only for the first day. After that, uniforms were the order of the day. We already knew our teachers. It was a nun one year and a regular person the next year except in the sixth ad seventh grades. No nuns taught either of those years, but a nun taught each of the eighth grade classes.

I don’t remember when I stopped using a lunch box and used a brown bag instead. I guess it was a milestone of sorts. Gone too were the pencil cases and the school bags. I used pens and carried my books. School wasn’t just the end of vacation. It was also the return of routine. That was the worse part.

“By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.”

September 4, 2015

The morning has been a strange one. Gracie’s constant swallowing woke me up at 6. Figuring she wasn’t feeling great we went downstairs and she went outside-right to the grass and did a bit of mowing. When she came back, I read the papers and had coffee, but at about 9 I decided I needed to go back to bed. I did and was awakened at 11 by the same sound as earlier. Gracie went right out to the grass and munched. Meanwhile, the up and down the stairs gave me the opportunity to find a treasure trove: Maddie had been sick twice. Last night it was Fern on the bedspread. I’d call that a hat trick and wonder how long until it’s my turn. My pets drive me crazy sometimes.

The day is much cooler than it has been, and the breeze is much stronger. I went out on the deck at six and was surprised how cool it was. According to the paper it should be 60˚ tonight and in the high 50’s tomorrow night. The sun has not deigned to appear today. I don’t mind. We’ve had plenty of sun. A little rain would be nice.

This is it: the big weekend, the Labor Day weekend, but it isn’t like the old days when most places closed for the winter. On Sunday you’d drive down Route 28 at night and see everything was lit up: all the restaurants, motels and tourist gift shops. On Tuesday night it was like a ghost town. The lights had been turned off and everything was closed. During the summer, Main Street in Hyannis was one way. On the Tuesday after Labor Day it went back to a two-way street. Most movie theaters were closed. From Hyannis to Chatham only 4 were open, one in each of the four towns. The traffic disappeared as if by magic. I remember driving to the cape in the dead of winter at around midnight. From Plymouth on I saw one other car.

Columbus Day weekend is now the end of summer and right after that the seasonal shops, restaurants and motels will close until next year. The busses will disappear. The problem, though, is there will still be traffic, still be people in all the stores. The difference is they live here now.

“Shedding late-summer tears for the end of cherry season. Patiently and hopefully waiting for pumpkin pie season.”

August 25, 2015

The weather has broken. We have sun and a breeze. It is still hot, but the breeze makes the deck the best place to be. I’ll sit under the umbrella, read and watch the birds. The feeders need attention so I’ll fill them again today. The red spawn was on the deck rail, but it jumped onto branches then scooted away when it heard me. I guess all the hosing worked.

The summer is nearly over. There are fewer cars on the road this week. Some schools have opened and others open next week. Labor Day is in two weeks. That used to be the official end of the tourist season here when most motels and restaurants closed, but not anymore. The season now extends into October and the Columbus Day weekend.

The fall, the nicest time of year here, is probably called the shoulder season, but I always think of it as bus season. Tour buses, filled with older people, retirees, take over where the cars used to be. You can usually see the guide standing in the front of the bus chatting with microphone in hand.

The mums are here, one of the first signs of the changing seasons. They are on display at every garden center, and the ones I’ve planted the last few seasons have buds and flowers. I never noticed flower garden when I was a kid. I don’t even remember mums or a local garden center. I do remember farm stands selling pumpkins and corn stalks. We used to pass them on our Sunday drives to my grandparents. In those days much of the ride was on side roads until we connected with Route 1, but even then we drove through a few neighborhoods before we’d hit the oil tanks where the ships were moored. I remember the farm stand in Revere right near the church. The stand was set at an angle and pumpkins in piles filled both sides of the front. Inside the stand we could see those oblong fruit baskets filled with apples and vegetables. We never stopped there. We never even asked. We just knew my father would say no. He hated stopping. He was a straight here to there sort of guy.

“Education is wonderful – it helps you worry about things all over the world.”

September 2, 2013

Today is damp and cloudy. Maybe rain, even a v, is in the forecast. The whole weekend has been the same. I don’t think we had as many tourists for the weekend as usual. The forecast was spot on.

In kids’ parlance today is not Labor Day. It is the day before school starts. The buses roll tomorrow morning. My neighborhood has kids now, little kids, and four of them are headed to elementary school together: two to kindergarten, one to first grade and the oldest to second grade. They’re outside riding bikes now. I suspect their heads are not filled with images of new clothes, buses and the first day of school. They still have the look of summer about them.

The red spawn of Satan got the hose treatment again this morning. A short time later it was back but ran as soon as I walked on the deck. It didn’t take long for the hose and me to have an impact.

If I were to go back in time, to my elementary school days, I’d choose the fifth grade. We got bused for a while to the next town while the new school was finished. It was an adventure which also shortened the school day. We had the same hours as the rest of the school so we were on the bus for a part of the morning and a part of the afternoon. We always got back just as school was letting out for the day. In the spring we moved into the new school. My room was on the first floor. The nun I had that year was a jovial sort. She used to hand out pieces of candy as prizes. Seldom did she leave her desk chair to walk around the room so she’d toss the candy to the prize winner. She periodically had contests like who could list the most homonyms, now called homophones. I remember that contest because I won, and this was before computers. My prize was a miniature book with Bible verses. I was intrigued by the size of the book and not so much by the verses. I don’t remember what I learned that year, but I figure it was pretty the same as all the other years. Nouns and the other parts of speech never seemed to disappear and once we hit decimals and fractions they followed us everywhere. Columbia and coffee are forever linked. There was only so much geography. As for history, I have no idea what we studied in the fifth unless it was the Pilgrims, but in those days history sort of hopscotched all over the place.

We were still young in the fifth grade. We jumped rope during recess and giggled about boys. Fifth grade was when I punched the boy who constantly teased my friend and wouldn’t stop when asked, even nicely asked. That is probably my favorite memory of that year. I learned to stand up for friends and I learned I had a strong right.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

September 6, 2010

Movie night was last night  and it was chilly. Clare bundled, Gracie slept on her afghan, Tony wore a hat and I wore a sweatshirt. We ate appetizers for dinner, enough for a whole theater full of people, and we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie none of us had seen in a long time. It was fun.

I still think of today as the end of summer. When I first moved to the cape, there was no extended season. The day after Labor Day the motels closed, Route 28 was dark and Main Street in Hyannis had two way traffic again. The cape had been returned to us. Now, the season extends to Columbus Day weekend. Tour buses filled with old people, older than I people, roam the main roads. They stop at Cuffy’s to buy Cape Cod sweatshirts and at the Christmas tree shops to buy bagfuls of bargains. Motels are filled on weekends. Main Street in Hyannis is always one way. It’s not my Cape yet.

When I was young, I always wondered why nobody worked on Labor Day. It seemed a contradiction. No-Labor Day would have been my suggestion for a name. I knew nothing of the history of the day. I knew all about Memorial Day, July 4th, Columbus Day and all the other single day holidays, but Labor Day was a mystery, and I didn’t care. It wasn’t my favorite holiday. I just thought of it as the day before school started.

Now that I know Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, I don’t think one day is enough.