Halloween carnivals and Thanksgiving Day memories
What have I missed all these years? The light finally came on recently when I realized that I have never been trick or treating nor did I ever have a Halloween costume as a child. However, I do have one now and it will scare anyone who sees it.
I don’t know if it was religious beliefs or just the fact that Mother didn’t relish the idea of her child being out after dark gathering treats in a paper sack.
Did I really miss out on anything? I think not. I was always a little scared of the dark and once inside as the sun went down, I had no desire to wander out again.
When Bauxite was a young, flourishing community, there were always activities for the youngsters at Halloween. The annual Halloween carnivals were the highlight of the day and greatly anticipated by all of the youngsters.
A costume parade was held through downtown with the local children of Bauxite fully dressed as ghost, goblins, hobos, majorettes, cowboys and cartoon characters among the many.
The Boy Scouts directed traffic during the parade, ensuring the safety of participants. The parade began and ended at the Community Hall after marching around the long downtown circle. At the Community Hall, the children were entertained with a good old fashion Halloween carnival.
In 1952, the PTA sponsored the Halloween carnival and cleared $300 profit from the event. The funds were divided equally among the three PTA chapters for the three schools, primary school, Pine Haven and intermediate grades. Supervised by PTA volunteers, Halloween carnival activities included “Go Fishing,” a cake walk, apple bobbing, and the costume contest to name a few.
Each of the three schools in 1952 had a Halloween king and queen. Gail Fletcher and Corky Chenault represented the primary school; David Schroeder and Barbara Chambers represented Pine Haven School; and, Joyce Hart and Larry Land represented the intermediate grades.
That same year best costume prizes were awarded Karen Cordell, Jeanie Cowden, and Mary Setzler, who were dressed as Wynken, Blynken and Nod in the primary grades division. For the Pine Haven School, first prize went to Randy and Kenny Bell, who were dressed as skeletons and pulled a homemade casket with corpse on board.
Second prize was awarded Ronnie Daugherty, who was dressed as Old Mother Hubbard leading her dog. Katie Chance, dressed as a pumpkin, was awarded first prize for the intermediate grades.
Most likely these prize winners have not thought of these good times since the event, and the kings and queens no longer know where those coveted crowns have been stored.
As I have said before,
I had no interest in being a Halloween queen. My dream was to be Mary in the Christmas pageant at school. However, to my disappointment, a little girl with tightly home-permed hair that frizzed easily was never given that honorable role.
I felt lucky to be in the all-angel choir with a white choir robe made from a square yard of white cotton material purchased at the Company Store. That was the usual routine.
The beautiful little classmate with the long blonde hair was always chosen to portray the Mother of the Christ Child. I am just happy I was not one of the donkeys that stood around the manger. An angel in the choir was much better than that. I love Christmas songs anyway.
While thinking of something to write for this time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I remembered a copy of the newsletter written by Kenneth Chambers from the early years in Bauxite. His newsletters held reports of Miner football games, church news, school news and other community happenings.
Chambers’ news publications were typed onto mimeograph paper while using a standard typewriter, no electrical cord attached. Upon completion of the newsletter, copies were printed on a mimeograph machine and distributed to the town folks.
In one such newsletter, Chambers outlined the program of the November 21, 1934, PTA meeting at the Alabama School in Bauxite, That PTA meeting included Thanksgiving songs and short plays performed by first- through fifth-grade students, a tradition of the time.
Alabama School first and third graders sang
“We Thank Thee,”
“Indian Lullaby” and
“A Little Pilgrim Girl.” Thanksgiving poems were read by Christine Fowler, Alma Lindsey and Junior Moore. A second grader, Charles Dewey Broadway, portrayed an Indian in a short play titled, “Our First Thanksgiving.” Broadway’s son, Shane, has said he would cherish a picture of that event.
My oldest brother, Fred Fox, once portrayed an Indian in an elementary school play in the mid-1940s. Until his death in 2012, he could recite his one-liner,
“Ugha guma how.” I think they must have made that up.
In addition to Chambers’ details of the traditional Thanksgiving school plays, he wrote of the much anticipated Benton/ Bauxite football game. Chambers referred to the annual Thanksgiving games as “Saline County’s Gala Event,” and were comparable to the present day
Salt Bowl games between Benton and Bryant.
A usual crowd of fans sometimes exceeding
2,500 would fill the old Bauxite gridiron on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving Day. The games were played in the afternoon because there were no stadium lights at the field.
Modern day tradition is after Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, the big screen TV is turned on and football games are watched. It is always a good time when the group is divided to cheer for the opposing teams. The competition can get heated, but a great time together is always the final outcome.
The Halloween carnivals and memorable football games were just a few good times during the fall and winter holidays in early Bauxite. Many people were not so privileged, nor do they have the fond memories of their home town as we are fortunate to have.
One thought that has often occurred to me is wouldn’t it have been wonderful had the children from the Mexico Camp and Woodlawn schools been invited to join us for the Halloween parade and carnival. That is another story for a future article.
These are Miner Memories and some of them are not so minor.
“Miner Memories” is published exclusively in The Saline Courier. Ginger English can be reached by email at vaenglish1[email protected]
The 1952 Halloween Carnival Queens and Kings, from left, are Barbara Chambers and David Shroeder, representing Pine Haven School; Joyce Heart and Larry Land, representing the intermediate grades; and Gail Fletcher and Corky Chenault, representing the primary school.