Saturday, September 3, 2011


Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement.
Fearing further conflict, legislation was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law.
The September date--the first Monday-- was chosen by the CLU of New York. The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations.

However, over the decades and an entire century, Labor Day Activities have come to represent many, many more things. As we all well know, there is a list of things that come to an end with
 the Labor Day Celebration.

First off, everyone, at least everyone in the South, knows you cannot wear white after Labor Day. I never did, especially white shoes. To this day, I do not wear white shoes--not even Keds or athletic shoes--after Labor Day. I believe the heavens will open, and an avenging angel will trumpet to the entire world--
"Nine-year-old Celia Ann Davis is wearing her white patent leather shoes to church after Labor Day!"

To prove this is a nation-wide rule, I asked my good Southern friend Maggie Toussaint about the shoe rule. Here is her answer:
"You can’t wear white shoes after Labor Day, everybody knows that. And the people who flaunt the rule are – wait for it – tacky! Tacky is the ultimate insult around here. It means: poor home training and got no chance to ever make anything of yourself. If someone ever called you or anything you did “tacky,” it was a physical slur on you and your family. God forbid we ever did anything tacky. Even today, I stress more about being put together than I should. Still holding myself to the standard of trying not to embarrass us all by my clueless wardrobe choices.
The funny thing is I don’t even own a pair of white shoes now. And how inconvenient it must have been for our parents to buy white Mary Janes for us at Easter and then have to replace them with black patent leather shoes by Labor Day. But I must have subconsciously channeled that seasonal shoe buying as I love to get new sandals for summer, and then comfotrable flats for fall."

...Maggie Toussaint-Award Winning Author of romances and cozy mysteries-see her Amazon page for all releases.

With the advent of Labor Day, all summer activities come to a close.
1. No more "boys of summer," the All-American pastime of sandlot or city-wide baseball games. (This does not include The World Series.) From now on, it's football, football, football, whether you like it or not.
2. No more going barefoot. Oh, you can in the house and perhaps a little outdoors, but you cannot run free all day with no shoes. School...remember? Gotta wear shoes.
3. No more Summer Vacations--obvious reasons. It's not summer anymore and school begins.
4. No more freedom--back to work and school. 

The 1955 movie "Picnic," one of my all-time favorites. It tells the story of an ex-college football star turned drifter who arrives in a small Kansas town on Labor Day and is drawn to a girl who is already spoken for. The cast is headed by William Holden, Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell, Nick Adams, Betty Field, Rosalind Russell and Verna Felton. The film covers a 24-hour period and is sometimes cited as a richly detailed snapshot of life in the American Midwest during the 1950s.

Please remember those who are out of work but are still searching. Bless them all.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


  1. I may...MAY wear white shoes after Labor Day, but just the first week. I have some cute skirts I haven't gotten the chance to wear yet and they only go with white shoes!

  2. I also grew up with the "no white shoes" after labor day. To do this day, I judge women who wear white shoes after labor day. I admit it. I've been known to raise an eyebrow at women who wear white slacks, skirts or shorts after Labor Day.

    I'm always a little sad to see Labor Day come. It is the end of summer, even if there are a few weeks left of hot weather.

  3. MJ, my comment was not directed at you. We were typing at the same time. LOL! Sorry, but the old grannies and aunts in my family were immovable. No white after Labor Day.

  4. Celia, LOL!! I never heard of the white shoes thingie. Then again from the north & Cali, so.

    Growing up, school always started the Weds after Labor Day so that's when I think school should start. BLOWS MY MIND that my boys start school on 11 August. That is just too early.

    Believe it or not, it's a working weekend for me. No rest for 911.


  5. I've never paid much heed to fashion rules. My main objection to Labor Day is it heralds the approach of winter, a thing of much white I do deplore.

  6. Celia, I'm a native Texan and know all about the white shoes rule. You were 'poorly raised' if you were caught wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Heaven forbid wearing them to church!

    I have to confess that you might catch me in white tennis shoes.

  7. We were aware of the don't wear white rule, but for us northern girls it was white anything, except sweaters and turtlenecks. But I DID have a pair of awesome white boots that were guaranteed good to -32 degrees. My feet still got cold, but at least I thought I looked great, and isn't that what it's all about? LOL. Thanks for the insights. Enjoyed the post very much.

  8. I still wear white after Labor Day by pairing my white summer mini skirt with a winter sweater or turtleneck and accessorizing it with white boots. And, hey, I have a white coat. What about all those white sneakers?

    Yes, I relate to all those ending activities. Especially with school starting on Tuesday, and me being back at the frontline for 10 months. Must savor my summer memories.

  9. MJ--then you'll be right in style with Sarah Palin and Coco Chanel--who made "white" the year-round non-color. So...there you go. Right in fashion--Celia

    Keena--I'm always glad to see summer end. I do best with routine and more activities--I'm in some groups, which disband for the summer, and I can't wait for summer to end! Celia

    Keena, again...oh, yes, I remember those grannies...and my mother, even when I was a grown woman, had to please her. And my own little girl...same rules apply. No rules for boys, though...hmmmm. Celia

  10. Celia,
    No white for us after Labor Day growing up, either. My mom called it "tacky" as well, and said it was a sign of (GASP!) "ill breeding."LOL Well, let me tell you, she had a lot more to worry about with this rebellious teenager than whether I wore white after Labor Day or not. LOLLOL Crop tops, bellbottom hiphuggers and the '60's came along and I remember how mortified she was when blue jeans became all the rage and I HAD to have some--I was about 12 or so. She would shake her head every time I put them on and wanted me to wear a "cute" top with them...but I digress. LOL

    We always started school after Labor Day when I was in elementary school, but as time went by, the starting date got earlier and earlier. Still I don't remember ever starting before the last week in August.

    Great post. I loved that bit about Picnic. I have never seen it, and am going to have to get my hands on it. Did you ever watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?


  11. Steph--you are such a Yankee!! And a California girl. Neither one followed as many rules as we in the south.
    School starting so early upsets me, too, and I don't have kids in school. My Gkids in MI begin the day after Labor any sane normal state should do. Celia

    JR--you must live in the north? Snow? What is that? However, I don't even like our Texas winters--I don't do well in cold weather.

    Jerrie---go right ahead and wear those while tennis shoes. Lots of other people will, too. I did not have tennis shoes or athletic shoes growing up. Those were for boys or...heaven forbid...tomboys.

  12. Sadie and Sophie--I can just see you in your white boots. I bought my daught some white "go-go" boots in the early 70's...lord, she loved those boots. Wore them all the time until she outgrew them.
    White turtlenecks and such are certainly acceptable to me-if I wear beige or off-white next to my face, I fade into the woodwork. White makes my face shine--or maybe that's the oil..even at my age, I still have oily skin. Uhhh, how did I get on this topic?

    EA--you must have a wonderful fasion sense. Sounds great to me.'re a teacher. If so, bless you. I was, but retired early. I was sooooo glad.

  13. I am officially tacky. I have no sense of style. My mother did and I know what a disappointment I was to her. I really don't have any white shoes anyway or white pants. I love to wear black and that is it for me. As far as going barefoot, I hate shoes and only wear them because walking without them hurts when you are away from the house. Are you totally shocked and don't want to be seen with me now? I don't shop so have no idea what is in style and didn't have a store bought dress until my Mom put together a wardrobe for me when I got married. Imagine the shock the clerk had when at 24 I told her I had never bought a dress so didn't know y size.

    I do, however, love seeing others looking so pretty and stylish. This was a fun post to read.

  14. Great post, Celia. Reminded me of the time Princess Margaret visited the U. S. after Labor Day wearing white pumps. All the Southerners were shocked and one of my friends said, "She'd never be allowed in Kappa Kappa Gamma dressed like that."

  15. Hey Celia,

    Nice post! I'm flattered you asked for my input and only wished I knew how to spell comfortable. Maybe the spelling police will come after me instead of the "tacky" police.

    Cheryl talked a bit about jeans and form fitting clothing. I remember cut-offs being a huge deal for summer wear. We didn't get much chance to wear them after school started as they were not allowed as school attire. In fact, when I was in elementary school, girls weren't allowed to wear slacks to school. We all wore dresses and my mother always fussed at me for ripping mine on the merry go round, the jungle gym and everywhere else I got into.

    Happy labor day to you, my friend!

  16. Great post, Celia. And nice to be reminded of our "Southern rules." But now I spend winters in Florida and white is allowed all year round. Oh, the joy. When I first started wearing jogging/waling shoes, I thought I should buy a pair of black ones for winter, and I did. But they never looked quite right so now I wear white ones in winter, even in KY! Linda

  17. Facinating, Celia. Of course round where I live you don't where white shoes becuase you'll get lots of mud on them.

    Interesting that 'tacky' means the same in the USA and UK.

    Happy Labor Day!

  18. Being in the UK and not having Labour Day here, I'd never heard of the white shoe/clothes 'rule'. Do you know when or how it originated?
    The only similar thing I can think of here is 'don't cast a clout till May be out' meaning don't change from winter to summer clothes until the end of May, or in some interpetations until the May tree is blossoming.

  19. A very entertaining--and true evaluation of Labor Day in the South. No white anything--shoes, hats, handbags or clothes allowed.
    Goodness, I'm not sure vanilla ice cream is allowed.
    I especially liked you final words in sentiment to those who desperately want and need a job but don't have one. I hope soon everyone who wants work will find themselves employed.
    Wonderful blog, Celia--and Marie, too.

  20. I really resent not being able to wear white jeans or shoes after Labor Day.

    I always remember our end of summer picnic on Labor Day, and knowing I'd be starting back to school the next day. I used to feel sad about kissing summer goodbye, but excited about beginning school again and finding my first crush of the school year. :)

  21. LYNNE--You might, then, be a fashion rebel--you could do it with your good looks!--like Sarah Palin and Coco Chanel. Both went against the grain and wore white--remember "winter white?"
    Such rules we've learned growing up--and many are senseless! I say, wear those white jeans!Celia

  22. Paisley--me, too! I haven't worn a dress in probably 20 years. All black pants for me, and black shoes. Simple basic black, even black capris during the summer--you can dress those up or down.
    With black pants--I have different ones--black shoe, and often a black tee, I can wear all kinds of things on top--and lots of different jewelry. I'm very comfortable that way. I am not a fashion diva.

    Thanks, Sarah. I got so caught up with the shoe thing, I almost forgot what Labor Day really was.
    I do hope people can find work. That's got to be the most frustrating thing.

    Caroline! That is the funniest thing your friend said. Since the UK doesn't have Labor Day, I guess the white rule wouldn't apply.

  23. Maggie--you're welcome. Oh, I was in elementary school and most of high school during the days that we couldn't wear jeans and any kind of pants--all dresses. During the summer we wore short shorts or "girls" jeans. Around 1956, rock and roll brought out the girls' fashion of wearing boys jeans, their daddy's white shirts, tails out, and saddle oxfords--to school. Not me....My mother would have tied me to the bed post if I tried that.
    Yes, I tore many a hem out of a dress on the see-saw and the merry-go-round and the slide.

  24. Celia, up here in Wisconsin, if you live on a lake, the pier goes in on Memorial Day and comes out on Labor Day.

  25. Ilona--now that's something I never heard of. But...I don't live up there. Very interesting! And I can understand the need.
    Here in Texas, the swimming pools sort of follow that kind of pattern.Memorial Day to Labor Day.

    Paula--I love hearing the differences between the US and UK. But is the rule a kind of a fashion rule? Or just because of the weather.I love that saying...Celia

    Lindsay--now, that's very interesting that "tacky" means the same thing in both places. I'm glad to know that tidbit--thanks! Celia

  26. LINDA--and here's another take on the problem. I can see why you in Florida wouldn't pay much attention to summer wear rules--where it's warm almost all the time.
    I actually switch shoes with clothing, more than the white shoes rule--I will probably keep wearing my white Keds with capris for a little while, because it's so much like summer.
    I usually switch when it's cool enough to make my first pot of soup--what we eat a lot in winter. Soup equals black shoes and pants.
    Isn't this all silly?
    Such fun. Celia

  27. I have white sandals, but daughter had them all summer so I haven't worn them. I just saw that movie recently, most of it anyway before fil changed the channel. Great post!

  28. CALISA--Your sandals must have been cute for your daughter to snag them!
    I loved the movie Picnic, and as I said, it's filled with deep emotions and heartache.

  29. I think our 'don't cast a clout' is more to do with the unpredictability of the English weather! I'm not aware of any 'fashion rules' here, at least not nowadays when anything goes!