August 10th…“IN YOUR YOUNG MINNESOTA DAYS, DID YOU EVER GET SEPARATED FROM YOUR PARENTS AT A PUBLIC EVENT?”
There I stood, lost in a forest of adult kneecaps…and no Momma anywhere to be seen!! It was 1959 and time for the Annual Kiester School Carnival that was held in the “Old Gymnasium” there at our cherished school in southern Minnesota. In November each year, the hectic times of harvest were, for the most part, completed, so farmers and their families readily looked forward to this elaborate festivity in our dear educational alma mater each Fall. Even as a tiny “whippersnapper”, I was quick to absorb the grand class and style with which our hometown could put on a pageant.
The late 1950’s were still a time in our nation when people cared about looking good and doing good. It was a time when core values of decency and good clean fun still reigned supreme. On this occasion, even though it’s true that I had become separated from my mother and father, I wasn’t concerned for my safety and just flowed with this forest of adults around me and drank in the wonder of this fun moment in my tiny life.
A very dear friend of our big sister, Rosemary, had been honored that year with being elected “Junior High Queen Of The Carnival”. This young lady’s name was Gloria Oshiem (now Mrs. Fallgatter). Even being the tiny toad of a boy I was in those days, I was deeply impressed with Gloria’s stunning beauty! And, from the glowing memories shared to me by our big sister, Gloria’s beauty was both inside AND out, for she was a true queen in many ways.
Even an itty bitty widdo kid like myself could still appreciate class and style in the way our school put on the best of the best for all to enjoy!! There was the Royal Court that honored its selected queens, an elegant coronation ceremony and all things worthy of eloquent regalness became part of the fanfare that made this occasion special for all involved.
Now, you have to realize, that when you’re only “knee-high to a hiccup”, anything and EVERYthing is a really big deal!! That was happily the case as this “lost boy” was able to play games from booth to booth there in our Old Gymnasium. I thought it to be magical how I could take my play fishing pole, toss the “hook” through the window of the Fish Pond Game and then feel a tug on my “fishing line”. I would carefully pull back on my play fishing pole and PRESTO!…..low and behold there’d be a prize of some sort hanging from the “hook”…..I was ELATED!!! 😉
The carnival games, with all their colored decorations, had been so much fun, yet I figured it was about time for me to get unlost. As I reflect back on those days of long ago, I’m deeply grateful to the Lord and also to my parents for living in a small town where everyone knew everyone and we all took care of each other. So, in a sense, even though my dear mother was not near me at that moment, I still had the “family” of townsfolk who knew my parents and lovingly looked after their tiny boy.
When you’re barely old enough to know what is your right and left hand, you’re also unable to discern the difference between a polka dot and a spot. I began looking up into the “treetops” of adult heads who could actually see around that Old Gymnasium. I figured I’d pick out a friendly-faced lady and have her tell “shorty me” if she could see my mother from “up there”. After tugging judiciously on the lady’s dress to get her attention, here’s what I said, “Have you seen my Mommy? She’s the lady with SPOTS all over her dress!!” (that evening our mother had worn a dark blue/purple dress with a polka dot print in the fabric). That kind-hearted woman howled with lady laughter as she interpreted my five year old language and, at the same time, could see my mother in the distance. Holding my hand, she gently drew me along with her as we weaved our way through the crowd until she reunited me once again with my loving mother as we, together, relished the rest of this fun evening of classy carnival conviviality for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.