I don't remember Labor Day being a big thing when I was growing up. I grew up in a community where almost everyone worked at New York Ship Yard, or the Philadelphia Navy Yard. So, I know they were union employees. But Labor Day was just the end of summer, that's all. No big deal.
Oh, the traffic on the pike going toward Philly was bad -- those were the days before the bridge was put in that went over to South Philadelphia. And that was just another sign that people were coming back from the shore and summer was truly over.
School would start the next Monday. School in New Jersey never, ever started before Labor Day. Out here in Kentucky, every since we moved here in 1975, school has started at the end of August -- usually the last Monday. Lately, though -- that is in the last couple of years -- school has been starting earlier and earlier and earlier (in August) and this year in our county (counties are big things out here in Kentucky) school started on August 5th.
I think it's terrible that they take a whole month of summer away from children. They got out of school around June 1, so they only had June and July. Two measly months! Man, I'm glad I was kid back in the good old days when we got a FULL Summer's worth of days off!