Labor Day - A Story
Waiting With Elmer Chapter Six
Seemed like everyone in town was talking about Labor Day: Labor Day picnic, Labor Day parade, mayor’s Labor Day speech, Labor Day this and Labor Day that. Willy didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in Labor Day. He was interested in the Wednesday-After-Labor-Day; the day school started. But, Labor Day had to come first.
“What’s so special about this day anyway?” he mumbled to Drum, while they made sandwiches in the kitchen.
“Well sir, it’s a day to honor all the working folks. The miners and the factory workers, the textile mill workers, folks like that, you know?”
“Well, all the stuff we use every day, comes from their working. The money that keeps our town’s businesses from closing down? It’s all from the workers, too. I reckon we need to have a day to let them know we ‘preciate that, don’t you? Give ‘em a day off work. How many sandwiches you got made? I got four here, how many you got?”
“I got you beat, Drum. I made six sandwiches.”
“Ooh, you’re a fast sandwich maker.” He wrapped the sandwiches in waxed paper.
Willy thought about the folks he saw around town. Mill workers, factory workers, walking home down Harmony Street at the end of the day with their empty dinner buckets hanging from their hands. They were dirty and too tired to laugh or joke around with each other. Too tired to light the bent cigarette dangling from their lips. He’d seen the factory smoke in the sky and heard the shift whistle three times a day, but he didn’t know what they did in the factory. And the trains. They came through the town several times a day. The sweaty engineer waved to everyone and the station master checked his pocket watch against the big town clock at the depot. Folks set their watches and clocks by the train’s whistles which were always on time. Labor Day’s for all of them? What about those that have no work? Those like my dad.
“You like parades, Willy?” Drum asked. “You like picnics, I’ll bet.”