Self Expression Magazine

It’s Labor Day

Posted on the 05 September 2021 by Laurken @stoicjello

I’d love to say I knew or actually cared more for this day which is duly noted on the September calendar. I mean, it get that it celebrates the American worker, but as a Cold War kid, it always had a Soviet overtone to me. But that was never why Labor Day was of some import to me.

If you you want to get get technical, Fall starts on September 22 this year, but Labor Day weekend is when most of the countries north of equator say goodbye to summer and Brian Hyland rejoices in it’s exit. I mean, he’d just spent three months sending his love everyday in a le-eh-TERR, sealed with a kiss. That’s a lot stamps and saliva, Brian.

Labor Day signals the start of school after the summer break, vacations are mere memories, swimming and sunbathing are no longer pastimes, the BBQ is covered & put away and lastly, you hope that the 2.4 month interim away from the drudgery of education at newly re-named Nipsy Russell Junior High produced some better looking classmates.
Not if you’re a Kendrick.

Those were closing summer thoughts for the fortunate. As kids, we spent our Labor Day weekends removing all traces of summer wear from our closets and dressers, replacing it with fall/winter raiments . Black, brown, navy stuff…. courduroy pants, sweaters, closed toe shoes. It always seemed like such an odd practice to me since I was raised in South Texas and it was nothing for us to endure consecutive 92 degree days in late October. I remember Christmases being warm….in the mid 80’s.

If my mother were alive today, she’d be spending her afternoon performing this twice a year ritual. Replacing her lights with her darks; her nude colored knee highs with suntan ones. She wore them with sandals and rolled up to just above her ankles. That has to be some sort of insignia for little old ladies beyond the obvious. Like a gang or cartel member with tattoos under an eye signifying that they’ve served time for murder. I’d gone to play Bingo with my mother at her community center many times. And there playing a dome a card would be 59 woman snd 100 individual nude knee highs, rolled rolled down to their ankles. Was it gravity? We’re they rolled down on purpose? Could be seen on the runways of Milan or was I just ignorant in terms of couture???

I broke free of this Labor Day habit when I left for college at 18, but it’s still sooooooo engrained in me that today, lo these many decades later, I still bristle (albeit briefly) if and when I see someone wearing white linen, even on a hot day In November.
Now, the the rule, as I understand it, Labor Day means the influx of dark clothing. White, floral and lighter clothing only becomes street legal on Memorial Day in May. But why? My sisters and I blithely did what our mother told us to do. We never questioned why. Good forfend, if we did. But seriously, how did this “rule” come into play? When? And by whom? In my family, for formal occasions, little boys wore short pants (a la Angus Young, the lead guitarist for AC/DC) until about the age of five or six. I have a feeling this black/white/ young boys in shorts mandate all came from the same people.

Turns out, I’m right. It’s a class thing.

In the late 19th century, rich, high society women who came from old, established wealth found themselves rubbing elbows with the so-called “new rich.” In order to distinguish old-money from new money, they used fashion rules that only those who were “in the know” would know anything about.

These rules included things like wearing the correct sleeve length for certain events and, of course, only wearing white in the summertime. So silly. Eventually, when Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, the snobby swells felt it to be the perfect time to consider it an end point for summer and wearing white.

Of course, as discussed earlier, especially for those of us living in the bottom ten of the lower 48….and Hawaii, too, summer can feel endless, but if you were with the tony “in crowd”, you’d know that Labor Day meant putting away, white clothing, regardless of how miserable it would be to wear fall-appropriate clothes in late summer

Suffering for rayon and the automatic B.O. it gives you.

Arcane, Draconian , silly and economically divisive…..even Emily Post , of all people found this practice silly and chided it and defied it every chance she got.

Well, there you go. I learned something today. Hope you did, too. Then again, I find myself learning new things all the time these days. For example, until last week, I thought Critical Race Theory was a NASCAR strategy.

Happy Labor Day, kids and remember: ALWAYS look for the union label.

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