It's Labor Day—the day everyone plans on enjoying a last gasp summer celebration before plunging into the work of harvest, then winter. Somehow, in all those end-of-vacation plans, in times not so long past, today used to be the last day to get ready for another big event: the first day of school.
How many parents have made that a traditional send-off, complete with photos of their cherub stepping out on that big adventure? Marilyn Sowle Bean was evidently no different than so many others, capturing her daughter, then barely five, as she walked out the door to her first day of kindergarten in Santa Rosa, California. So many big hopes, mingled with just as many small-girl fears, as Judith Louise took these first few steps of independence in her new neighborhood.
While hardly anyone now sends her five year old to a first day of school right after Labor Day, I'm quite sure the mementos of the day—whenever it is—capture much the same collection of mingled feelings as have been experienced for generations.