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Now Let’s see Labor Day was established as a national holiday back in 1882. Yup, there was a whole lot of labor going on back then and people probably appreciated the day off. Now, how many got the day off with pay is another question. We have to remember that most of the work we did with our hands. There were no farm tractors, combines, balers, televisions, radios. What we accomplished, we accomplished with our hands. So, when congress said we are going to establish a holiday honoring our labors, the day was really a big deal. Especially when it became a day off with pay.
But the day was not equal for all. A large percentage of people were farmers or self-employed, the day was not all that special for them. It meant much more to the ones who worked for an industry, factory, or the Government. We people out here in the country just got to watch guys uptown celebrate.
I remember as a kid growing up on the farm, we still had to take our hoes to the corn field and know the burs out of the corn so to speak. Dad was not a very good paymaster as kids we used to pray for school to start.
Then, I remember Labor Day was a little more celebrated than today especially at our end of town. We lived just across the street from the St. Joseph School. Parochial schools were not state funded so the parishioners funded their schools. One of the ways St Joe did this in Edina was to celebrate Labor Day was a Labor Day Picnic on the school grounds. Thus, they invited the Hartsock Carnival Group out of Brashear, MO to set up their Ferris wheel, merry go round, and the swings or whip along with other carnival concessions on the school ground and invited the public to come celebrate Labor Day. Oh yes, there was other forms of entertainment on the grand stand. I remember Coca-Cola would bring in a truckload of Coca-Cola, Strawberry, Orange, and white soda. They dumped caseloads of soda into a 500-gallon water tank that had chunks of ice floating, talk about cold soda. The celebration lasted from noon till midnight. Then, at 9 o’clock a local band would start playing on the upstairs floor of the school house. We could hear it at our house across the street. More than one band might play that night like the Tiny Parrish Band, The Chance Gilbert band, and others. As I remember admission was a dime per person. By 11:00 in the evening the whip, Ferris wheel, and the merry go round would fall silent, people would be finding their way home. Hopefully, the school made enough to pay school expenses which would be possible, giving what the nuns gave themselves.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring ourselves to celebrate the indigenous people whose land, we somehow call ours today? The American Indian.