My group met for a family gathering at my aunt's house, where my uncle grilled burgers in the back yard. My mother brought the potato salad, and my aunt always made her particular brand of jello salad. Her jello salad consisted of nothing but pecans and apples and just enough red jello to hold them together. She had the most amazing apple dicing technique. I swear that each 1/2 inch wedge of apple looked as though it had been machine measured. The pecans were small halves of the native nuts that my grandmother gathered every year out in the woods near her home in Boynton. We'd spoon out big bowlfuls of that jello and slather it with so much whipped cream (all right, it was Kool Whip) that you really couldn't see what was under it.
Don's family all gathered at his mother's for fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. He particularly remembers that they had Coca Cola, Royal Crown Cola, Pepsi Cola, and Seven-Up. And you thought they were all the same! His aunt liked to bring her homemade chow-chow, which we determined was quite similar to my grandma's piccalilli. This yellow concoction of corn and pickles and mustard and who knows what else is just delicious on any sort of sandwich, burger, or as a relish with meat. Don, being a persnickety little boy, never touched it. He did get to set the table. They finished up with hand-churned ice cream, one batch of vanilla, one of banana. Don remembers that the homemade ice cream always had a touch of saltiness, since the a little bit of the salt packed in with the ice on the outside of the bucket never failed to seep in. His older brother Gary did the churning, which Gary thought unjust, since he didn't like ice cream. But he did it anyway, because after all, that was the Labor Day tradition.