September 5, 2011

Fondly reminiscing about Labour Days past

Day 248 of Vintage 365


Though nowadays the school year sometimes starts on other dates across towns and cities in North America, traditionally - and still to this day for many - Labour Day marked the last day of summer vacation, the very next morning ushering a return to classrooms everywhere.

It was a bittersweet day, as I recall. On the one hand you were crushed to see the weeks of summer fun come barrelling to an end, in no way ever fully ready to delve back into another ten month stretch of books, homework, teachers, and student life, yet on the other, part of you knew deep down inside that you needed to buck up and face the next leg of your future.

I remember many of my childhood Labour Days with startlingly detail - perhaps because as the hours of each ticked past, I tried my hardest to make them seem as though they'd stretch on until the end of time. Obviously though, such was never the case, and come the very next morning it - the brand-spanking new school year - began anew.

Truthfully, sad as I was to leave behind summer, I rarely minded returning to school. I enjoyed my academic days a lot and always liked the serge of excitement and possibility that the fresh school year held in its grasp.

Labour day always meant that there was new clothing (often the first since the prior school year began) to be laid out, golden yellow number two pencils to sharpen, notebooks to neatly write your name inside, shoes to shine, lunches to make, and a night of sleepless anticipation ahead.

{Vintage first day of school photo of a cute little girl in 1953. I remember posing in much the same way in front of my elementary school for my mother when I was little, too. Image via Ireed76 on Flickr.}

The next morning, butterflies swarming in my stomach, awake ages before the alarm went off, I'd get ready quickly, triple check that I had all of my school supplies, head downstairs for a quick breakfast, then open the front down and take a deep breath of the first day of the unofficial end of summer (after all, the start of a new school year really was the clincher when it came to summer's demise for any school aged youngster).

Yes, summer was as good as over, but there was so, so much possibility looming on the horizon. So with a blend of nerves and excitement, I'd take up my packsack laden with new supplies and walk to school, find my name printed on a sheet tapped to one of the windows (that being how kids at my elementary school knew which classroom they were destined for), wait for the morning bell, slide into a fresh desk and smile, ready for another intriguing year of learning.

Though my school days are long behind me now, it's still impossible for Labour Day to pass by without a hint of all those same childhood emotions rearing up, a pleasant reminder of every first day of school I ever had - and the fresh start that September always promised.


  1. Beautiful post Jessica. We all have those memories of the jangly night before nerves.

  2. I felt the same way about the first day of school each Autumn. The school supplies were always my favourite part, of course!

    Wishing you a lovely September!

  3. What a beautiful coat on such a pretty little girl. I don't remember my first day of school but loved school and learning...always!