Labor Day Weekend in My Town


Labor Day is the best weekend to be from my hometown.

We know how to throw an old-fashioned town-wide celebration: complete with a street dance and lots of gambling. I grew up in this tiny town and returned here as an adult with my husband. Now we own a house here and it kind of looks like we’re “lifers”.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it here. I’m not stuck here. This is where I choose to be. It’s also where I am choosing to raise my son.

Raising my family in my hometown has involved a couple of surprises for me. The library still smells the same when it is wintertime and you open the big, creaky door and the heat is going full blast. It has this particular musty odor that I find incredibly comforting. Also, I can suddenly remember everything about the municipal pool. The feeling of hanging out in shade under the picnic shelter, getting yelled at for running on the smooth pavement to the vending machine, and then putting your damp hand into a bag of Smart Food popcorn. And running like the dickens into the cold water after the lifeguard blew the whistle telling everyone that a storm had cleared.

I wonder if Wolfy will end up having the same memories that I have of these things.

Labor Day is definitely a hometown experience that I want to share with him. Nothing terribly much has changed about our Labor Day celebration since I was a kid and that’s a good thing. There are still many of the same vendors including the shaved ice tent. If you are lucky enough to be with a group of people from my hometown and ask what Rainbow Ice flavor was always their favorite, almost everyone will simultaneously shout, “Tiger’s Blood!” I know this because I’ve witnessed it on more than one occasion.  And it’s also a childhood tradition to run around frantically selling these fundraising buttons because you get to keep a quarter of the proceeds from each one. When you cash in all your money and leftover buttons, you would always immediately run over to the nearest gambling booth and spend your quarters trying to win big. Such important life lessons! I can hopefully hope to pass on these values to Wolfy.

But seriously, the best part of Labor Day was a weekend spent running around the middle of town.

We didn’t have parental supervision but we always felt safe. That freedom combined with safety is such a rarity in our current culture. I look forward to the day I give Wolfy ten dollars and watch him melt away with his friends into the crowd. For now though, he’s still a little boy who has to hold my hand and listen to what I say. That’s okay; I’ll just buy him a Tiger’s Blood shaved ice to make up for it. Who cares if it’s basically just sugar and artificial color? It’s Labor Day!!

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