Labor Day Celebrations

 

In the early years, our former Labor Day Celebration were called Field Day; held in month of August. The Brooklyn newspaper editor in 1909 wrote of the hot weather, “Perhaps a little rain would have helped the large crowd more agreeable.” Yes, that crowd was neighboring villages joining everyone from this area.

Claude DeRemer won the pony race, winning $2. DeRemer, also, won the boy’s foot race too. Gladys Luchsinger won the girls ball throwing contest. The ball games were played with the neighboring villages. The day always ended with a big dance.  About thousand people were here at the 1910 Field Day to see the baseball game between Monroe (3) and Stoughton (9). The dance in the evening was successful too.

The local celebration was moved to July 4th the following year. It was estimated the count about two thousand people coming to see the street parade in the morning. The editor counted more than 20 floats and rigs representing the local stores, post office, bank, lodges, etc. Anderson had the newest auto model on display. Speeches were listed to by our leaders and minister. The game between Brooklyn and Evansville went into nine innings, 11-10, in favor of Brooklyn. In the evening was the wrestling match and of course, the dance.

Skipping to 1915, there was band music on the street in the morning with a concert with the Stoughton band through-out the day. Meals were advertised at the Hotel and at the church if you didn’t want to bring you own picnic. Wrestling matches with big men from Chicago were popular and the George L. Hatch Harp Orchestra played at the dance. These Field Day celebrations were held at the present school grounds (there was only one school then). In the early thirties, the Legion purchased the upper portion of the now, Village Park along Railroad Street from George Waite. They built a small hamburger stand in 1936 that was used during the future Labor Day celebrations. The Thousand Club cleaned up the debris of our first school at the Village Park that had burned (after 1908), planted new shade trees and erected a concrete bandstand near the street. Shortly afterwards, the park was cut by a lawnmower. In the past seasons, a hay crop was allowed to grow; it was slowly becoming a park).

In 1936, there was an accident on the bleachers; constructed with planks laid over wooden sawhorses. Heavy rains from the night before had softened the ground causing the whole five sections to swerve and collapsed. The people had their feet and legs caught under the planks causing fractured legs, ankles, heels, bruised and skinned shins. They were watching a baseball game. A colored team called The Giant Collegians competed with the Brooklyn Cardinals. The players were described: Pee Wee Dunn who stretched a mile, Moon Mullens with his big bat, Duck Wucky Payne- real fast ball, Kid Casher, a speedy third baseman, Happy Holson, Young Satchel Paige- speed ball and Bing Miller- a fast shortstop of Piney Woods, Mississippi. No one sued.

Other than the local basketball and baseball games, no Field Day celebrations were held until 1919. The weekend of July 4th honored the servicemen. Gov. Emanuel P. Philips and Mrs. Patters Flying Machine came which twenty bravely flew. On the 3rd, the ex-servicemen and the Legion followed the Wagon City Band of Stoughton in the parade. Later the band played at the park with many speeches. The picnic dinner, foot races, ball game, pony races, and ended with Mussehl Ragadours of Fort Atkinson at the dance. On the 4th, a very patriotic service was at the church. Showing support to the local servicemen, the Legion didn’t think it was right to celebrate any big celebrations here while they were fighting over there. In 1948 the Legion encouraged everyone to have a flag in their yard. Entertainment following the big parade was Otto Zeller in charge of the horse-pulling, free acts, Madison Boy Scout & Bugle performance and the nightly dance. This year, (due to an oversight) two bands (Armond Huseboe and another) had been signed up; raising the price of admission

During the 60’s, the Brooklyn Boosters were helping the Legion in September with the parade, tractor pulling, horse show, little league games, talent show, teen dance, sky divers, music by the Don Ward Trio were highlighted by the chicken barbecue. Tickets for big prizes were awarded. There was adult entertainment in the beer tent, a big money maker. Remembered through the years was ‘The Red Garter Girls’ with their high-kicking presentation.

In the 70’s, The Brooklyn Fire Department joined in by planning the event; always on a volunteer basis. (There were always local volunteers that didn’t belong to any of the organizations that were not recognized). A new event that drew lots of fun was the ‘cake walk.’ The Firemen’s Auxiliary had their ‘pie booth’ which was very popular. Proceeds of 1972 went towards purchasing more ground in the park on the south side, the new softball lightening system and remodeling of the food stand. The ‘battle of the bands on the tennis court’ excited the younger crowd in 1973. A tradition for many years came to a close in 1978.

All documents and photo’s are property of Sharon George, who has graciously offered to share them.