Monday, September 5, 2011
What Labor Day Meant to Over-Fifties
The first of my nine lives began in 1876, so the part of moi that goes from one kitty body to the next (we get a new one each time, like the Doctor in Doctor Who) remembers everything I've learned over the years. As you might well imagine, I've seen quite a bit of action in my days (though not as much as the Doctor, but that's science fiction, and I'm the real deal). Anyway, I don't have a TARDIS, although Scowl-Face used to have a TARDIS key (eye-roll). Why am I not surprised?
For many years, I recall Labor Day as being the end of summer vacation for kids, for whom public elementary and secondary school began the following day. This was carved in stone in those days; ask anybody over age 50, and s/he will tell you that this holiday was anything but a pleasant day off when they were younger than age 18. Sure, they enjoyed (more or less) getting together with all their relatives at the big Labor Day reunions, but the dark clouds loomed on the horizon. The end of fun as they knew it was fast approaching.
Today's children, of course, begin public school in early or mid-August and attend through the end of May or beginning of June (at least for those schools that still schedule about nine or ten weeks off during summers). I can tell you that I'm glad that felines don't have to attend school, especially when it has been as hot as August was this year.
The over-fifties wax nostalgic about their post-Labor Day starting dates. They'll tell you how they enjoyed more summer vacation than modern counterparts, neglecting to note that today's school kids get more time off during the regular academic year than their elders. It basically balances out, in terms of classroom chair occupancy time. I know from first-hand observation that today's grade school attendees are given more homework than their grandparents did during the 1950s and 1960s. These "good ol' days" stories are mostly folklore and should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
On the other paw, we may readily acknowledge that starting school the day after Labor Day did provide a nice sense of closure to summer's pleasures. The over-fifties won't admit it, but they were probably bored out of their tiny skulls by Independence Day or certainly (around these parts) by the Old Settlers Festival (always held in early August), so returning to school wasn't all that emotionally jarring. They got to catch up with friends whom they hadn't seen since the end of the previous academic school year in May. That was always fun, if I'm any judge of human behavior.
So, for all my old people pals out there, as you return to work tomorrow (unless, of course, you're retired, but who can afford retirement nowadays?), as well as for kids who have been in school nearly a month already, remember that summer is a state of mind. That's what daydreams are for.
What a Day for a Daydream,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Real Holiday News Beat
P.S. Let's jog some memories of those post-Labor Day school startups with "David Watts," by The Kinks, from the album Something Else by The Kinks (1967). Of course, this song harkens English public school experiences, but, hey, it's a pretty cool song, and Americans can recall knowing somebody in their classes that seemed to be good at everything. This recording is the original 45 r.p.m. single, like the one (maybe the same one) spinning in the video. (Yes, the record skips near the end.) This is how over-fifties listened to pop music back in the day, with all those pops and scratches. Hence "pop" music! Well, pop meant popular, of course, but it could just as easily have been the sound quality of those old vinyls.
P.P.S. Speaking of summer daydreaming, The Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" reached number two in the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1966. The song appeared on the album by the same name (1966).