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Labor Day rules relaxed

September 01, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Begun in the 1880s as a way to exhibit the strength of labor and trade organizations, Labor Day used to be more clearly defined.

In days gone by, public schools rarely started classes until after Labor Day. Colleges operated on a fall-spring semester schedule that traditionally got under way toward the end of September.

Most families begin settling into a routine that signals the end of summer and beginning of fall on that first Monday of the month - earlier bedtimes for children, less TV, more homework, and so on.

Even fashion rules used to be strictly delineated by Labor Day.

At Lena's of Hagerstown, at 1 W. Franklin St., many customers still adhere to the time-honored rule about not wearing white after Labor Day.

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"It depends on the customer," said Pat Wolfe, a sales representative at the dress shop. More mature customers strictly follow the rule, while others aren't concerned about it, she said.

"Jackets and sweaters in white are OK after Labor Day but not white shoes and white pants, to some," Wolfe said.

Winter white has become popular over the years, somewhat easing the strict rule about white, Wolfe said. Items in the creamier shade of white can be found on Lena's racks.

A Labor Day Web site says men also had rules to follow about their attire before and after the holiday in earlier times. Straw hats were to be put away on Labor Day in favor of felt hats until the next spring.

There was no mention of baseball caps, which seem to be suitable for all occasions among more casual dressers these days.

Labor Day still stands as a start-up date for many sporting activities, such as professional, college and high school football.

With warm weather lingering, some public pools have extended their hours to at least encompass the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The War Memorial Park pool in Martinsburg, W.Va., and the Claude M. Potterfield Pool in Hagerstown planned to be open Saturday, Sunday and today, weather-permitting.

Often it's not the temperature that governs, it's the availability of staff, many of whom are students who go back to school before Labor Day.

Lewie Thomas, recreation facilities manager in Hagerstown, and Steve Catlett, executive director of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation, said staffing is key.

"Lambert pool closed in early August because there wasn't enough business to justify staying open," Catlett said of the other public pool in Martinsburg. Private pool parties and camps were the exceptions.

Northside Pool in Waynesboro, Pa., remained open until 7 p.m. Sunday and will be open again today until 7 p.m.

Hotels and motels traditionally lower their room rates after Labor Day, according to Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"That's a national trend, except for the year-round attractions/resort areas," he said.

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