Today, Americans celebrate the 126th anniversary of the first officially-designated national holiday of Labor Day. While Labor Day was definitely acknowledged in this country before 1894, those thirty states which had previously designated the day a public holiday were closer to the era in which the holiday was, as one organization put it, more a cause for protest than picnic.
In those far-off years when I was growing up, Labor Day was definitely more picnic than protest, yet I hardly remember the picnic. I spent more than my fair share of time on the sidelines, waiting for the marching band to pass by on the parade route for summertime holidays. My dad was, after all, a trombone-wielding member of the local musicians' union ever since New York City's Big Band era. And yet, while I remember Memorial Day parades and parades for Independence Day, I can't seem to recall any such events for that unofficial close of the summer season.
Perhaps it was because we were too busy getting ready for the first day of school. Back then, the official start of the school year arrived the second day after the Monday holiday. That gave everyone a chance to get home from their last-gasp-of-summer vacation weekend and frantically complete back-to-school shopping. After all, most of the stores were also closed for Labor Day. Moms needed to have one last chance to cross everything off their lists.
While it has been a long time since I last headed off for that first day of school—after a fitful night's sleep filled with back-to-school dreams—I never have shaken loose from that "end of summer" correlation with Labor Day. I'm not even in the climate zone where fall weather patterns are crouched and ready to spring—we are, after all, expecting a hundred-degree-plus heatwave to continue for the remainder of this weekend—but it is not lost upon me that we are about to say goodbye to one of my favorite seasons of the year. I'm not sure I'm ready for this.
But what summer are we saying goodbye to? In this year of firsts—as in "first time in recent memory"—those hundred-year historic commemorations such as the Women's Right to Vote seem to pale in the shadows of a corona virus pandemic and ensuing quarantine, or even seeing nearly a million acres of my side of the state burn up in the past two weeks.
Somehow, I keep waiting for summer to start. Perhaps it's just as well that I chose to make my home in "sunny" California. Once the haze clears up, perhaps I can pretend it's June, again. In the meantime, back to research....