When I little my favorite time of year was fall. I loved dressing up for Halloween, the Indian corn my grandmother would hang on the front door, going to a pumpkin patch and picking out pumpkins, going to the orchard for apple cider, the pretty leaves and most of all I loved my birthday being in October. Also when I was a kid one of the biggest events my elementary school held was the annual “Fall Festival.” It was quite an event and sparked a lot of excitement for the kids. Each classroom hosted specific games and it was the students responsibility to make posters advertising the games. As you got into upper elementary you were also responsible for making posters to be hung in businesses as advertisements — what local businesses I have no idea because the school sat squarely in the middle of 4 cornfields. I really don’t remember each year what games my room was responsible for but I remember in 2nd grade I was lucky enough to have Mrs. DeMott which was the room the coveted “Cake Walk” was always held in. I remember 15 second graders all drawing pictures of Cakes with smiling faces and walking on legs. The 6th grade would host a “haunted house” through the old locker rooms located under the stage connected to the gym (this might be a good time to mention that I went to a school built in 1911 that at one time was used as and elementary and high school – think of the movie Hoosiers). In the gym you could put tickets in buckets to win prizes like new bikes and trips to the zoo and also a ring toss to win bottles of pop. In the cafeteria there was always a chili supper complete with hundreds of homemade desserts. It’s silly really the stuff I remember about this festival but I remember wanting to win a really fancy doll, the kind with a faux porcelain face and a fancy long ruffly dress. I don’t know why, I rarely played with dolls, but I wanted to win that doll. I didn’t. At least to the best of my memory I didn’t.
So why the trip down memory lane? Last night I returned to my old elementary school to attend the Fall Festival with my niece (who is working there as a teaching aide) and my kids. What I didn’t remember as a child was that parking was not an option. Now I see why as much as I loved the Fall Festival, my mom and grandmother hated it. This school – still situated between 4 cornfields – had little parking and I’m sure had less 30 years ago. The school has changed – a lot. They added on the equivalent of a whole school to the back of the original building. Obviously there are more kids too – hence the need for the addition. Where once there was barely enough students to fill 2 classes per grade there are now 4-5 classes per grade. But the games are still the same… silly things like tossing balls into a bucket, picking a lollipop from the lollipop tree, spinning a wheel for a prize and the ever popular cake walk. I only played the cake walk once, but I didn’t win. And to be honest I was OK with that too because long gone were the fancy homemade cakes hand made by grandma’s and mom’s – they had been replaced with plates of mini cupcakes. The gym is still the same, still holding the ring toss for pop bottles and now upgraded with a Moon Bounce. It was fun to go back and see the new and old mixed together. Long gone is that fancy doll I never won and the bikes… the raffle prizes are more geared towards books and education but it was still a nice visit down memory lane.