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Labor Day Bingo Celebration

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in 1882 in New
York. The celebration of Labor Day was to be a street
parade to exhibit to the public the strength of the labor
organizations, followed by a festival for the recreation and
amusement of the workers and their families. This has
become the pattern for Labor Day celebrations, but it also
marks the beginning of the school year and the last family
holiday before the start of fall. We decided to find the
biggest celebration we could and get a piece of it.

It turned out to be in a small town in Idaho named Appleton
where the parade was very special and the speeches very
grand. We drove there the day before, registered at a bed
and breakfast, and proceeded to look over the town. It was
a lumber mill town, very low key and given up to families
with lots of children. They had a fine Bingo Hall where we
were privileged to play the day before the celebration.
It was a simple, straightforward Bingo game with about
forty participants. We were made welcome and asked our
neighbors about the Labor Day celebration.

“It’s a goodun’,” said an old lady, “They parade and drink
and have a high old time.”
“There’s more to it than that,” said a young man. “We really
honor laborers in this little community. We like to think of
them as the backbone of our country, especially us potato
farmers. We work hard.”
“Yes, you do, Josh,” said the old lady. “Exceptin’ when you’
re in here playing Bingo. Then you’re just a terror on

The first Bingo game started then and Josh won as
predicted, but he was modest and unassuming with his win
and made a good impression. Then we learned he was the
town crooner because he sang as he played. He had a
pleasant voice and it made a nice accompaniment to the
game. No one objected.

The next game was a double Bingo, which I happily won.
And so it went on into the evening, excepting halftime,
which was very special. Instead of the regular snacks
usually provided, they served a huge mac and cheese and
tuna casserole, which proved to be delicious. I didn’t realize
how hungry I was and went back for seconds, astonishing
Kate who was used to my rather picky eating habits.

We played through the rest of the evening, Josh winning
twice and again being very modest about his wins. “He
usually takes home more than he spends on the buy-in,”
said the old lady. “I tell him he should try Las Vegas, but he
just laughs at me.”

We went away feeling happy and welcomed in this little
town and returned to our B&B, feeling replete.
The next day was bright, clear and warm and we enjoyed a
bountiful breakfast before the parade at noon. Words fail to
describe that spectacular parade. It was truly a tribute to
labor. There were about twenty flat bed trucks with scenes
depicted on their backs. There was one with men plowing
and harvesting, another with men sawing lumber. There
was one with women washing clothes on washboards,
another cooking, one with two men, two women, all with
laptops. A teacher taught several little ones, a banker
counted money, a policeman stood guard, and my favorite
of all—there was Josh daubing at a Bingo card just as if it
were real work.

We loved the parade and joined in the celebration
afterwards where we were invited to eat with three different
families and listen to the speeches. The speeches were
political, and we were ready to head for home at that point
anyhow, having had a great celebration.