By Cathie Shaffer
The Greenup Gazette
Well, I’ve survived the quilt festival in South Shore, Old Fashion Days in Greenup and am about to sample the fun at the Flatwoods harvest fall this weekend.
We didn’t do much festivaling when I was a kid, but I don’t think we had as many then. Of course, I grew up in a tiny town of 450, too small to have even one police officer, so I may just have not been in the right place.
The school was the center of our social life. I spent so many hours in its corridors and rooms but my fondest memories come from the gym.
No, I didn’t play a sport. I was in the band and so I sat on the bleachers on the stage, tooting my clarinet and shouting along with the cheerleaders.
The gym was the site of our annual science fair where I ate my first – and last – chocolate-covered cricket.
The gyms were where we had our proms and after-game dances, the basketball pep rallies and our high school graduation, of course.
But the big fun thing in the gym was High School Night. That was when the whole town was invited to come on down and spend some time in what was, for many of them, their old school.
Being a small town, we had just the one school building that housed grades one through 12. The elementary school was on the first level, the high school was upstairs and the gym was used by everyone, as was the lunch room on the other side of the building.
Our band played for everything and so, of course, we were featured on high school night. We would practice and practice to make our performance perfect but, of course, our parents and neighbors didn’t care if there was a wrong note somewhere along the way.
I also sang in the choir and in a special group called the Teen Troupe. We weren’t really a show choir, although we had a move or two. We were the ensemble of the best choir singers among the juniors and seniors. That probably wasn’t saying much as the pool was pretty small to draw from.
High School Night was a preview of what we would be singing at the regional choir competition, so we poured our hearts out. My parents always said I was magnificent, but they had to. I’m still not sure what they really thought.
A big feature of High School Night was the raffle. Local merchants, and a number beyond the borders of Ridgeville Corners, donated prizes. We high schoolers sold tickets with the money divvied up along the four classes for whatever was needed.
My folks and grandparents bought tickets, and my dad would give us girls a dollar or two to buy some of our own. The excitement built in that gym when the time came to draw the winning tickets. People clutched theirs in anticipation, hoping for the grand prize which was generally a nice amount of cash.
I have never been one of those lucky people who always seem to win. If I bought 99 of 100 tickets for any raffle, the other guy would win. That’s just how things go for me.
Back then, I was young and more optimistic. I was just sure I’d win. I had my eye on a clock radio, if I remember right.
I found my folks and sat down with them in the seats overlooking the gym floor. I had a good view and listening with great hope as tickets were drawn and numbers read. People kept claiming prizes while I sank lower in my seat.
Then my number was called. I jumped up and claimed my winnings: A can of pipe tobacco from the local manufacturer.
I was less than thrilled but I took it anyway. And my dear daddy made me a deal the next day: He’d trade me the clock radio of my dreams for the tobacco which became the stuffing for his roll-your-own cigarettes. I’m not sure how great his lungs were but he sure had a good heart.