Labor Day 2022, and a significant birthday has come and gone.

Camps have shuttered. The boys from away met girls from here. They saw the harvest moon come up over the lakes and fell in love. Do they still do that? Don’t make me cry now.

Here are some random notes on how the end of summer was — for a permanent 9-year-old from a long, long time ago, before … everything.

Google tells me that Labor Day — the first Monday of September — became a federal holiday in 1894. I didn’t care. It just meant my birthday was coming.

Today, I put away my three pairs of seersucker pants and white shirts, pulled out 12 hoodies and six pair of corduroys. Done.

No time for sad songs for me today. As summer slides away The World Series is coming, and we all know that “There’s no crying in baseball.”


My mother (bless her) seemed to know about those silly rules. They were important to her, and I think that was the day we always went to visit her childhood friend, Kate Sweeny.

Kate, daughter of a saloon keeper, rose above her class and married a famous chef at the Bevo Mill Restaurant on Grand Avenue. His name was “Otto.” That’s all I remember about him.

Kate would often invite my mother, my little sister, and me to “Tea” around that time.

Mom wore summer white linen with white bugle beads and two tone high heels. That’s Mom in the picture with me at her knee.

Kate’s perfect apartment is where I learned to love cucumber sandwiches on French bread with the brown crusts cut off. I still do.

Who remembers such things? I do. I was born keeping notes. My family always counted on my memory. “Did I do that?” one would ask.


“You did,” I would answer.

A photo of the Devine family. Photo by J.P. Devine

Labor Day picture. Summer was over. My mother and sisters seemed to know about the fashion thing.

I don’t think they really knew why they did. They seemed to enjoy it.

For me, it was near the end of white shorts and shirts for church, and putting away the white prayer book with the pearl rosary attached.

Rosemary De Branco, who had all those angora sweaters and simple strands of pearls, had broken out a nifty white skirt for summer.

It was pleated and crisp, and she wore it to church with white Mary Jane shoes and her mother’s perfume. After that, the Angora thing began.


I remember that well.

I recall that her father had a butcher shop on Michigan Avenue, but her mother, I learned, came from wealthy folks out in Clayton, at the time, an area of old mansions, the kind where you saw Judy Garland living in “Meet Me In St. Louis.”

My father, retired from his ship, always wore white linen suits until my birthday on Sept. 9, because it reminded him of his summer Navy whites.

Pop was a man of Navy traditions, who fell asleep on that bench in the picture after the Kodak was put away, and snored while we ate watermelon and watched the moon come up over the convent walls.

It was a long, long time ago … before everything.

Labor Day 2022. Time to order the oil.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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