A Break for the Working Class

Where I grew up, Labor Day wasn’t a holiday.

It was an event.

In Advance, Mo., the Labor Day Picnic was its Super Bowl, the one time each year the sleepy town opened its eyes to amusement.

People lined the streets for the parade, which kicked off everything. The high school band marched, careful to dodge the freshly minted horse turds. Children rode their bicycles and go-carts. Pretty girls wearing crowns waved from the back of convertibles.

Inside the town square was a carnival.

Cash spent on cotton candy and and rides flew from the pockets of kids, who never stopped begging their parents for more money. The loudspeaker at the BINGO stand — “Under the B, 26…B, 26 — echoed through the crowd. Adults surreptitiously sipped pontoon juice while flipping burgers at the food shack.

And the person in the outside seat of the Scrambler always got squished.

My father was in charge of the dance.

At dusk, he began his calls to the masses to shake a leg, wiggling his own hips for good measure. Men grabbed their ladies and the tipsy wandered over from the beer stand, itching to boogie under the street lights.

It is 1973 and “Jim Wiley and the Rebels” is playing on a flatbed trailer.

Oh, what I would give to go back.

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17 thoughts on “A Break for the Working Class

  1. I think we all would Rhett! As I was headed home this evening from the weekend in Advance, I heard Bucky Covington’s song “Different World” and was just thinking all of us that grew up in the 70’s experienced the best time in our life, in my opinion.

  2. What a great walk down memory lane….bruce and I are sitting in our home in groveland il watching the clock discussing what Must be going on pre parade in advance..a phone call from my sister Gail confirms are wondering thoughts…

  3. You left something out. Volleyball practice in the gym where it was typically over 100! Mrs Wiggins was getting teams ready for the Woodland tourney that started in Tuesday.

  4. Rhett, I also remember the little red train and all the events at the town square. I went by today and it was deader than a door nail. A shell of what it once was. The world got uptight, no more drinking. No more dances. No more spirit. No more good times.

  5. Thanks Rhett, loved the article and yes, in ’73 we had volleyball practice that afternoon. I believe it was a combination of getting ready for the tournament and to keep us out of trouble and away from the beer stand. Great memories of Labor Day!!

  6. That was a nice read Rhett. Loved the walk down memory lane! I miss those days and agree the parade and picnic of recent years lack the spirit of the holiday. I fully intend to return to the 70’s in my senility while sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair smoking a doobie 🙂 (joke)…?

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