Lane County, Oregon

Saturday, September 4, 2010


When I think of Labor Day visions of small town parades come into my head. I was raised in what was then a small town and I guess it still would be considered a small town had it has not been swallowed up by nearby growth, giving it the appearance today of being a larger whole. 

On Monday we will celebrate our federal holiday -- Labor Day -- established so in 1884 although its beginning really began in 1882. It came about thorough the labor union movement advocating for an 8 hour work day -- its proposal for a federal labor holiday said that there should be a parade to exhibit the strength and spirit of trade and labor unions. Thus, began the pattern of our Labor Day celebrations. 

The photo at the top of this post was probably taken in one of the many small towns of our country in the 1940s. I picked up the photo in my wanderings through second hand stores -- looking for old photos and ephemera. Although I can't say it is a Labor Day parade -- it is similar -- lots of crepe paper decorating floats and trucks. I believe it is a forties photo as the women are in slacks probably a result of the WWII Rosie the Riveter influence. And, the fact that the cars along the side street were made in the 30s -- it was tough to get new model cars in the 40s because metals were needed for the war effort. Also, it was probably a small town as the crowds along the sidewalk are minimal. 

In this top photo we have the typical material used in parades to decorate floats, trucks, cars, and even people -- crepe paper. Crepe was a light weight paper that could be bought in either rolls or sheets in all colors. This material was great to twist and turn around vehicles in Labor Day parades

I was subject to my mother's addiction for crepe paper decorating.. With love in her heart she produced a crepe paper dress for me to wear in our small town 40s parade and even decorated my bike  in matching colors with the paper.  I think the colors were red, white and blue if I remember correctly. But as a child I loved the dress and rode in the parade with a smile. 

The photo above is the parade I rode in. Children were encouraged to participate in the parade as well as citizens, organizations and politicians. It was a gathering of community for the small town. 

And why do I remember parades so fondly -- because I won a prize for being the best decorated person in the children's part of the parade -- thanks to my mom!

Have a good Labor Day everyone!


  1. Hurray for you -- or your mother. I remember such parades, although we were a purely agricultural area and did not have Labor Day festivities. But September and October small towns had fall festival celebrations, ours was called The Pumpkin Show and had a parade, [plenty of crepe paper], marching bands, a few rides and a display of harvest, especially farmers vying for the biggest pumpkin. It continues although I have not attended for a great many years. Reading your posts is SO often a nostalgia trip for me. Thanks.

  2. Oh, Barbara! What a great post! You were a real cutie and right in swing with the times. Wonderful photos and the sentiments expressed resonate with me. Isn't it interesting that the people of this country were advocating for an 8-hour day back then. Now, we're "advocating" for a job...no matter how long (or short)...just a JOB!


  3. Very nice. Cute photo of you and congratulation on winning. Very informative and I have learned something about Labor Day, which I hadn't known before.

  4. dog Pedaler -- Today, most folks don't know why we celebrate Labor Day. It has become past history -- today its just another day off to clog up the highways driving long distances to have a three day mini vacation. -- barbara

  5. Elora -- Your point is well taken. Our unemployment problem is a disgrace. A good discussion on unemployment and related factors is on the blog QUESTION EVERYTHING found on my sidebar. Hopefully we can find some way to balance out this situation. Thanks for the nice comments -- barbara

  6. June -- since we both were raised in middle America we were exposed to all things agricultural. Your festival called the Pumpkin Show would certainly be a name I would expect coming out of the area. Pumpkins were and probably still are traditional fall items in mid-America. Now I live in a "somewhat" pumpkin-celebrant area -- I still practice my Midwest feelings by getting a harvest pumpkin for my porch -- just for old times sake. Your Pumpkin Show was certainly festive! It surly provided good memories that you seem to still carry with you today. -- barbara

  7. We have our Labour Day in Victoria in March, the other states and territories have them on different days/months and our parade was replaced with Moomba.
    Labour/Labor/8 Hours Day started here in Melbourne, here's a good summary of it.

  8. Jayne-- Your link was a good one. Your labor movement, to achieve the 8 hour day, was quite similar to ours. It seems that some kind of Labor Day is celebrated in many countries. Your linked article used a name for the Labor Movement that really told it like it is -- "a no-sweat movement." Thanks for the informative comment -- barbara

  9. Love the picture of you and your bike! And such an interesting post!

    We use quantities of crepe paper every Easter when we decorate our barn for our annual party/potluck/egg hunt.

  10. VICKI -- thanks for the nice comment. Your Easter must be lots of fun for everyone. Crepe paper is still going quite strong in sales but it has to compete with all the retail specialty shops that sell decorating stuff for events and parties. I'll always be a fan of crepe paper!-- barbara

  11. Now today is the big day to celebrate, and if go to Google's search page, you won't notice anything that different except a American flag below its search box.

    In one of responses, you had wrote that "most folks don't know why we celebrate Labor Day. It has become past history..."

    I believe, by Google displaying only an American Flag, reinforces your comment. Google's Doodles are usually elaborate painting, sketches, etc. of a particular event.

    After reading your blog, I felt Google should have given Labor Day celebration more attention than just the American flag. Maybe a Doodles of gears, hammers, and a Union solidarity flag, however this may conflict with today's national thinking.

  12. Yes -- very good idea for Google. Perhaps we should all wonder why the true meaning of Labor Day is not expressed by the media? Not giving notice to workmen and women that are the spirit of the 8 hour week is like having Easter with a bear instead of a bunny.

  13. When I was a kid, we lived out in the country. I loved reading books about "city" kids with their sidewalks and parades. I thought that would be the perfect life.

  14. NCmountainwoman -- I grew up in a small town with sidewalks and dirt streets. I loved to read about country places. An early on favorite was about the city mouse and the country mouse. I always choose the country mouse lifestyle. Maybe you read such a book like this too. -- barbara

  15. Very nice post. I don't remember Labour Day parades, but I love that photo of you, and I'm pretty sure I had a pair of T-strap shoes just like those! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Barefootheart -- Thanks for the nice comment on the photo. I think those shoes were very popular for for little girls for quite sometime. My mom was quite the seamstress so it is no wonder she made the dress out of crepe paper to match the decorations on my bike. And if she could have figured out how to sew up some shoes she would have. -- barbara