By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
When I was a young sprig, the last hurrah of summer was spent swimming, fishing, and boating at our summer-house on the lake. Amid whoops and splashes, diving, and floating, we frolicked throughout most of those sun-drenched summer days. We also feasted in between swims. At least one Labor Day Weekend dinner included hamburgers and hot dogs on the old brick grill my grandfather had built. There was Mama’s homemade coleslaw [light on the mayonnaise], Aunt Agnes’ potatoes and side dishes, and Aunt Adelaide’s homemade German chocolate cake. Life was good and mighty tasty too.
We cousins knew that after we bade one another adieu on Labor Day itself, the school year commenced the next day. Labor Day heralded the end of summer; it placed the cherry on the cake of summer. Labor Day also paved the way to autumn. We donned new school attire, and polished saddle shoes and penny loafers, we headed for the classroom, armed with our metal lunch boxes, and new pencil cases in hand. In an uncertain world, we could count on school commencing the day after Labor Day. There seemed a kind of security in knowing that.
Back then we understood the cyclic nature of the seasons: Autumn equated with school; Winter meant snowy white nights and Christmas; Spring reminded us Nature awakened; and Summer beckoned with the lure of languid days at the lake. My daughter fell prey to the lunacy of the extended school day, the elongated school year, and the mania of increased standardized testing. School began for her in the oppressive heat and humidity of the August dog days of summer. I haven’t observed youth getting any smarter or adept at the traditional 3 R’s of writing, reading, and arithmetic with this prolonged school year. A wave of sadness overtakes me to know that the young cannot partake in the ritual of summer’s end that Labor Day used to offer my cousins and me.
Ciao for now.