The first Labor Day strip for the comic “Garfield” featured this poem…
Labor Day, Schmabor Day,
What a dumb day!
You hire a guy,
Then send him away
To celebrate work
By playing all day!
Labor Day isn’t until Monday, of course, but the Labor Day weekend started today. It’s the last weekend of summer; any kids who haven’t started school already will be going back this week, and even though the autumnal equinox isn’t for another three weeks, for all intents and purposes summer is over.
Back when I was growing up, Labor Day meant one thing: SCHOOL STARTS ON WEDNESDAY.
I didn’t really hate school when I was a kid. At the same time, I wasn’t really thrilled about going back after three months off. And I hated going back-to-school shopping. It was a real pain in the ass.
There wasn’t a whole lot of deciding what clothes to buy, because we went to a Catholic school. The uniform never changed: light blue short-sleeved cut-and-sewn shirt, navy blue tie, navy blue slacks, black or brown leather oxfords or loafers, and a navy blue blazer. The shirt, tie, and slacks were not negotiable, but the nuns would accept just about any sportcoat. We got hand-me-down sportcoats from my mother’s cousin (who was a couple of years older than I) and her stepbrother (ditto), both of whom seemed to get two or three new sportcoats a year and pass the old ones on to us. Usually the hand-me-down jacket I wore one year would fit my brother Jim the next and my brother Kip the year after that, so that was taken care of.
A week before school started, Mom would tell us to dig out our school clothes from the year before and try them on. Needless to say, none of them fit. So we’d go out and show Mom, who would have us trade clothes and see if they fit. That never worked. Kip and I were on the heavy side, while Jim was always slender, so if my old slacks fit him lengthwise, they were huge on him widthwise.
Finally conceding that we all needed new slacks, we would get in the car and go to Sears. The letter we got from school would tell us where to get the clothes, but Mom never went to those places. Sears had the Toughskins, the slacks with reinforced knees that weren’t supposed to tear. And of course, a couple of us had to have husky sizes, and they were stiff and baggy and always seemed to be too long. We went one at a time, so when I was done I had to wait while the other two got fitted. And there was always a lot of grumbling and complaining, not just from Mom but from the three of us. Then we’d have to go buy shoes, always one of my least favorite things to do. The shoes were stiff and tight, and by the time you got them broken in, it was time to buy new ones.
After I would get home, I’d lay my new clothes out on the bed and sit there looking at them. Yep, summer was coming to a close.
So, enjoy the weekend and the rest of summer.