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Gangelin, Paul; Hanson, Earl; Gregory, Horace (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XXI, Number 1 (October 1921)

Hanson, Don
Labor Day,   pp. 4-5

Page 4

Labor Day
A boy sat at one of the tables and watched the
Labor Day crowd dance by. His hand caressingly
embraced a pipe. On the table before him stood an
untouched glass. A soft lake breeze blew through
the sides of the pavillion. It ruffled his hair and flut-
tered the open collar of his shirt. And he sat and
listened to the clanging of the orchestra, and watched
the hilarious week-enders dance.
There was one girl whom he had watched for some
time. She was keen, he thought. He admired her
well-shaped body. He admired her clothes, from
her saucy hat down to her high-heeled pumps. He
thought her dark suit was good taste; better than the
shriekingly elaborate clothes of the other women. He
admired her hair; a rich blonde, luxuriously marcelled.
He admired the toss of her head when she laughed,
and the sparkle in her eyes, and her teeth, framed by
the crimson of her lips. But more than these he ad-
mired her dance. She could do a better shimmy
than he had seen at the Carnival Inn that week-end,
and the Carnival Inn was of all places the place to
see the shimmy. It had a reputation.
She was in the corner near the orchestra platform
now, dancing with a tall, black-haired man. Her
lithe body went through snake-like contortions which
drew to her admiring glances from all the tables.
Yes, she was some dancer. And keen! He must
get a dance with her. So he caught her eye and
signalled for a dance, and she nodded her head. And
he sat and watched her, glued his eyes on her, for she
was keen!
He was anything but disappointed when he danced
with her. They did whirls and slow steps, and her
shimmy was marvelous. It was a glorious dance.
The boy danced with eyes half-closed and hoped the
orchestra would play forever, and the girl threw back
her head and laughed, the uncontrollable laugh of the
They danced another dance, and another. The
black-haired man was furious, but the girl didn't care,
for she liked the boy. "I'm going to call you 'Red' ",
she said, "I like your hair." And she laughed and
outdid herself in the shimmy.
Once she ceased laughing and became serious.
"I wish they had some Bourbon here", she said.
"That always makes me feel better."
"What's wrong?"
"Oh, they had Dolly and me so drunk Saturday
night that we didn't even recognize each other." And
she laughed again at the memory of it.
The boy thought a while.
"I've got a pint out in the car. How about a lit-
tle spin?"
"Bring me back right away?"
So they went out together, while the black-haired
man swore and half the people turned to watch them
"It's fine stuff, Red," she said when they had
stopped on a side road to drink. "I needed it. That
everlasting moonshine is fierce. We killed a terrible
lot of it Saturday night."
"Don't you ever get tired of all this?"
"Drinking, and that shimmy, and all the rest of it."
She looked at him queerly.
"Are you going to preach?" she said.
"Hell, no! But it's tiresome in the long run."
She was silent a long time. A different creature
from the laughing girl of the Carnival Inn. Then she
"Listen, Red. You're right. I get so disgusted
with the whole thing that I want to quit. Actually
want to kick in. Commit suicide. Don't sit there
and grin at me. I've come close to it many times. I
hate the whole business. But I always come back to
it. Men! Always the same,-greasy and pop-
eyed. All alike. And it's at my expense. They
don't lose."
"Well, then, why don't you quit it?"
"Quit! I do, afterwards. But it's always the
same. I come out here to some place where nobody
knows me. That's the way it always starts. No-
body knows me. So I shimmy and drink and enjoy
myself,--just let myself go. And then things begin
to look rosy and soft, and before I know it I'm ready
to quit again.
She laughed, quite a different laugh from the one
in the Carnival Inn.
"You think I'm a damn fool, Red, and you're right.
Tomorrow the bluff starts again. Have to be back
in Chicago and work, and be a sweet young thing.
October, 1921

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