I don’t recall many Labor Days as a child. Growing up, those carefree summer days of Midwestern humidity melted together into one big holiday. One day, I was celebrating the end of school. The next, I was headed back, pencil and notebooks in hand, wondering how summer skipped by so quickly. My first recollection of this weekend as a Holiday always sends my mind back to the Labor Days spent at Purdue University. Those weekends were some of my best.
When I attended Purdue, 1977-1981, classes started the week before Labor Day. This meant the first full weekend back on campus, was three days of welcome. It was my first weekend of regained freedom. College summers in Wabash, Indiana were long drawn out affairs with nothing going on. The parents still held the reins and fun was pulled in. Labor Day was the kick-start to the freedom of campus living. On that particular weekend homework was a distant thought, classes having just begun. The next few days sprawled in front of me seemly endless.
Those Labor Day weekends began with slowly waking to sweat beginning to form as the heat, which truly never left over the night, began to rise. For a few moments I would lie still on the upper bunk and listen to the hum of the many fans whirring in the windows of Windsor Hall. Soon the day was calling and the excitement of discovering friends I had missed since last May, forced me from my bed and down the hall to shower. By midmorning the dorm rooms were so stifling everyone spilled outside. Frisbees were flying, Doobie tunes were blaring, and cheap beer was flowing. Three full days of getting back into the groove of life on The Purdue University campus lay before me. There were girlfriends to confide in, boys to drool over and a full year of weekend parties to anticipate. I took full advantage of these first few days and allowed the Purdue campus atmosphere to once again seep into my pores, returning me to college life.
Eventually, the weekend would wind down, sometime on Monday. Some students, anticipating classes on Tuesday broke from the parties early. Others kept going late into the night, neglecting sleep before the rigors of classes began. For me, falling asleep to the laughter of fellow students meant the start of another good year. Summer never had a better ending and smoother transition into the fall.