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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • On that crisp morn in autumn

  • I awoke, My head was still heavy with sleep. The world surrounding me seemed bright and colorful.
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  • I awoke, My head was still heavy with sleep. The world surrounding me seemed bright and colorful.
    No longer were trees a verdant green. No longer could the songs of birds echo in musical harmony.
    The world had changed drastically overnight. I suddenly realized it was September, autumn, crisp and different. A slow, dully feeling of melancholy surrounded me.
    This was not a new condition. It overtakes me when I see all of the green trees and plants have become dead, crisp and colorless.
    I need to work hard, to psychologically realize this is only temporary. The trees and grass will become bright and colored before the leaves fall off the trees and the trees become barren and dull looking.
    When the neighborhood children were on their way to school, they were clad in bright, long-sleeved shirts and long-legged jeans. I was still in a late summer mode with shorts and a tanktop.
    I wonder if I could even find my long-sleeved shirts and other autumn clothing. They were hanging in the closet that had bright soft sweaters. Ah yes, now I could once again wear my beloved cords and turtlenecks.
    When I had realized that the mode of dress had changed, I became anxious to put the summer behind me and start thinking popcorn and apple cider, pumpkins and new crop apples.
    Suddenly my taste had become sensitized to all of the good autumn goodies my mom used to make. End-of-summer vegetable soup and new crop apple for applesauce, and of course pumpkin pie. I hadn’t thought of the autumn cuisine for a long time. I rushed downstairs and Mom had prepared breakfast, pancakes, sausage and Colorado peaches. Hmmm! What a difference one new autumn day could make.
    I opened the screen door to hear the familiar sounds of the high school marching band playing “Hail to the Chief.” It wasn’t long ago they were playing “Elgar’s graduation ‘Pomp and Circumstance’” for commencement.
    Tomorrow evening the football team would play the first home football game. Soon it will be Homecoming!
    You know, I believe I can shake off my melancholy moods and get hooked on a new school year, with all of the fall festivals and programs.
    I am trying to get used to the idea that it is actually 20 years since I was caught up in all the excitement of a new school year: A room full of neat sixth-grade students and some new young faculty members. Well, there goes the first bell, it is time to start a new school year with all the excitement of new students, faculty and activities!
    You know, the simple lifestyles, which most of the people in the late 30s and early 40s lived, lent themselves to rather homespun party fun.
    Page 2 of 2 - There was not a super abundance of candy and sugary treats. Popcorn and fresh autumn apples were the foods of choice in most school parties. Enjoying some hot chocolate and apple cider rather than pop and soda made for wholesome drinks.
    If the parties were held during the school day, the smells of popcorn popping permeated the school halls all afternoon prior to party time.
    Peanuts heated in the shell in the oven of the home economics kitchen were kids’ favorites, as were salted sunflower seeds from the local feed and seed store. A nickel would buy a sizy paper bag of fresh unsalted seeds, enough to make tasty snacks for an entire class of 20 hungry kids.
    Many of the school parties were planned with a huge bonfire as the centerpiece. So... if you have a bonfire, why not have an old fashioned wiener roast with fresh homemade buns and lots of onion, mustard and pickles?
    No, we didn’t have potato chips or cheese-curls, but we did have baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted on very hot rocks that were placed in the bonfire material before the fire was lit.
    Marshmallows on a green tree branch burned to a crisp were a must. When someone introduced marshmallows and Hershey bars placed on graham crackers, we were instant fans of the new treat called “s’mores.”
    As for the games played at these parties, most of them were variations of tag or pom-pom pullaway. Blind Man’s Bluff or threedeep were popular circle games.
    For the littler children, “statue” was found at most parties. The games played with a ball were few, as contrasted the present day parties. In the grade school, there were very few ball games.
    Separation according to the gender of the students in mixed classes was not as prevalent as it became in the later years of my teaching experience. There seemed to be a lot of genuine camaraderie between boys and girls in the grade school classes when I was a school kid.
    Another difference in the games played was the lack of score keeping or winners-losers scenarios. Competition for champions was at a minimum. We played the games mostly for the fun of playing together.
    Finally, there was no mention of an evil intent of Halloween which would automatically exclude the participation in parties for some of the children.
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