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 Spe­cial to the Courier

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.

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