Let’s Talk with Terry Ambrose

Labor Day Celebrations

by Terry Ambrose

Labor Day Parade - Sept. 3, 1894

“A lovelier day for a national holiday could not have been asked for. The smoky haze that filled the air kept off the hot rays of the sun, but it was still warm enough to make out-door life attractive.” — The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., September 3, 1894.

Next Monday is the 127th celebration of Labor Day. Since its beginnings in 1894, Labor Day has seen some tumultuous times. A depression (or two), world wars, and tremendous social change. And yet, the holiday lives on. Whether you think of Labor Day as a day to recognize how laborers helped build America, as the official end of summer, or just another day to rock those online sales, this one’s got something for everyone.

Before we get into the more modern meanings of Labor Day, let’s take another look back at what that first Labor Day looked like. 

Organized labor on display“Organized labor will be on dress parade today in honor of the new national holiday. It is Labor Day by legal designation and the industrial hosts of the country have made elaborate arrangements to give it a christening worthy of the name and occasion.” — The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., September 3, 1894

Aha! Elaborate parades and auspicious guests! And those celebrations weren’t just in Washington, D.C. Even Topeka, KN, had a celebration. It just didn’t look the same as the Capitol’s.

Organized labor“The Labor Day observances at Kerr’s park were not of an inspiring nature. About the worst enemy of labor is beer. Under the grand stand, while we looked on, seven men were engaged in dishing out beer, and we are told that at other times there were ten or so engaged.” — The Topeka State Journal on September 5, 1894: 

 Okay, so not everyone dressed up in fancy suits and frilly dresses. But that wasn’t for lack of opportunity. In fact, even 127 years ago, they had the equivalent of online sales. Just look at this ad from The Evening World (New York, N.Y.), September 3, 1894, (LAST EDITION). I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to head on over to Bloomingdales to pick up some of those books for ten cents!

Bloomingdales Ad - September 3, 1984

Congratulations, Labor Day! You matured, but you have changed so little! And with that, it’s time for a little Labor Day celebration of our own.

Do you have a favorite Labor Day story from years past? I’d love to hear it, so leave a comment. One lucky commenter will receive a Kindle version of any of my books. Learn more about the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries, the Trouble in Paradise Mysteries, and the License to Lie Thriller series here. Contest ends September 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

While you’re here, check out our September contest, which runs from September 1-18. The winner selects a book from the book vault on the contest page, with print books limited to US mailing addresses. Enter here!