Labor Day in Norwalk, Ohio – 1908

Labor Day in 1908, was on September 7, as it is this year. The holiday in those days was nothing like the family barbecue event it is today. Back then, unions were just gaining strength and Labor Day was a collective holiday that appealed to the general public.

For Harriott Benedict Wickham, great-great-great granddaughter of Norwalk, Ohio founders Platt and Sally Benedict, the holiday was the most exciting day of the year. Here’s what she had to say about the day in her diary:

Labor Day, the most exciting day of the year in Norwalk. The Labor Unions always have lots of doin’s on Labor Day, the town is full of people, and it is just like a carnival.

1908 Labor Day Parade in Cincinnati, Ohio

1908 Labor Day Parade in Cincinnati, Ohio

I didn’t go downtown till about 2:30, just too late to see them climb the greased pole. Eddie and Irene and I were together most of the afternoon, taking in the different races, and watermelon & pie eating contests. The streets were jammed, but everybody was good natured, and so nobody minded the crowding & shouting and showers of confetti. About five o’clock we met Lucy, Ellen, and Gladys, and went with them down to the water fight which the fire department men had in front of the High School. That was lots of fun. We stood on the fence where we had a good view, and just yelled ourselves hoarse.

Fireworks Image

After supper, Lucy, Edna, Ellen and myself took in the band concert, and then went down and watched the fireworks from the roof of Fulstone’s barn. They set off the fireworks from the middle of the high bridge and they were very good, and what a mob there was on the streets. You could scarcely get through. After the fireworks, we went up to the Electric Theatre. My hair is so full of dust and confetti I don’t know as I shall ever make it presentable. Walter Hoffman was in town this afternoon, but I didn’t see him. I’m sorry for I would like to see him again.

Happy Labor Day!


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