Tribute to 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 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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