When I was growing up Labor Day Weekend meant Shrimp Festival Weekend - Shrimp and Petroleum Festival to be precise - in my hometown of Morgan City, Louisiana.
Back in the olden days, you know, when I was in Jr. High and High School, classes didn't begin until September, usually right after Labor Day. So the holiday weekend was our last gasp of summer.
Nearly my entire social universe was populated by the band and choir geeks... some classmates from Morgan City but more-so kids from New Orleans, the Baton Rouge area and elsewhere throughout the state who attended the same summer camp. Band camp, Louisiana Tech Summer Music Camp to be precise - in Ruston, Louisiana.
For two weeks each year, my friends, my soulmates, my fellow outcasts (except for the majorettes, they were always popular), would gather to be our true selves with each other. Oh yeah, we also attended classes and rehearsals but it was the other activities - the dances, the parties, the movies, the picnics and the general hanging about - that sealed our bonds, some to this very day.
Because we were scattered across the state - and remember, back in the olden days, there was no social media, emails or even easy access to long distance phone calls - we only got to see each other a few times a year. If you got selected for Governor's Honors Choir, Band or Orchestra, you kicked off your summer in a different location each year. Then band camp, then All-Star Marching Band in Baton Rouge.
The last chance for us to get together before the busy school year was Shrimp Festival. Not everyone was able to attend; some were too far, some families had their own holiday plans, some had parents who didn't think highly of turning their children over to strangers for the long weekend. But those who were able to come to Morgan City were sent along with full trust by their parents and into open arms by ours.
Mostly, the kids were from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans (Doug Joubert, Scott Landry, the Vinci twins and others), Baton Rouge (David Campo), the Walker Sisters (Debbie, Barbara Sue and Dinah) along with Barbara Duvall from Denham Springs, John Autin from Houma and a few others from here and there. Sometimes even camp counselors showed up. And the locals mingled in with them; we hosted girls at our house and the boys stayed at the Bourgeois home and other places. But we spent all day together, swimming and eating and riding around in cars and in the evening, we went to the fair. Did we ride the rides or just walk around? I can't really remember. Maybe some of both.
But boy, did we have fun. So much fun, there are very few photos from those years.
When we had to say goodbye, we knew we probably wouldn't see each other again until the next summer (unless you were lucky enough to make All-State Choir, Band or Orchestra) or went to each other's school dances.
I miss you guys, especially during those two weeks in June and on this weekend each year. And I miss me too.
Pictured: Coye Kidd, Pat Pierce, David Vinci, Doug Joubert, Donald Vinci, Doyle (blanking on his last name) and Judy Cohn - only a few of the out-of-towners attending. That's the Doug-mobile they are leaning on.