July, “HHH” what’s that mean? Hot, Hazy, and Humid. The “professionals” record that the average high is 83 and average low is 62 degrees. I’m no professional, but I believe they have underestimated July in Fulks Run.
As a youth I kept track of the time of the year by the occurrence of events:
–First day of fishing season, first Saturday in April.
–Schools out for summer, first of June.
–Fireworks, of course July 4th.
But one of the main events, end of July, was……. Fulks Run Lawn Party. Now for the people like myself you remember it was once held in the field behind Turner Ham Store.
This is where the croquet course is presently. The main entrance was off of 259 between the store parking lot and Garnett’s driveway. Parking was in the area right below Garnett’s house and also below in what was then Davey Fawley’s hayfield. This is the big white house on the left before you cross the bridge. A small orchard and white board fence would eliminate any parking in that field now. In early years I remember the event took place on Friday and Saturday night.
Live bluegrass music by the Cookus Shoemaker Family and friends, and most important they played for the cakewalk. This was one of the most supported games of the lawn party at that time. I can’t remember exactly, but I believe it was for 25 cents you could join in a big circle. A base was placed on the ground and the music started. The circle of precipitants would walk and each one would step on the base. The group turned their backs to the circle of people and started playing a song. As they were playing suddenly the group would stop, and whoever was on the base, or the nearest approaching person would win the cake. Of course, as each person approached the base they would slow down or hesitate with anticipation of the music stopping while they were on base. And what made the prize even better was that these cakes were homemade and baked by some of the best bakers in the valley. Oh, those great memories. But why does such a popular game no longer exist? Glad you asked, because as the old school singers became fewer the new younger groups “did not play cakewalks”. I suppose that was beneath them.
Another game I remember was the fish and win. You would buy a ticket to fish, now not in the river but in a large cardboard box. You took the plastic fishing pole, with the plastic hook and cast it into the tall box. Then of course wait for a bite, I suppose the amount of time it took to get a bite was determined on how many children were in line to go fishing. Then suddenly a nibble then a jerk, and you had one. As you pulled out your line there it was, a small plastic wrapped toy. You were the winner. And of course, every child wanted to do it again, didn’t want to stop while they were biting so well.
Another memorable item was the raffle tickets. Best I can remember a ticket was 50 cents each or three for a dollar. Well almost everybody took the bargain price. One year first prize was a pony. A pony? Yep, a pony. Second prize was a Turner Country Ham, and third would vary from a fishing pole to 25 dollars. After that one year they realized that a 100-dollar bill as first prize was a little more attractive prize than a pony, easier to keep or you might say to get rid of.
Now a game dear to my own heart was BINGO. I heard it said, “how can you make 10 old ladies curse?” Yell BINGO! Enough of that, I started helping in the 70’s and Calvin Ritchie was running the Bingo stand. When you won you would receive a ticket for the prize board. If you won twice an additional ticket was given which put you on to another shelf of more valuable prizes because of two wins. These prizes were supplied by a wholesaler of Shenandoah County, and what was not given away, they would pick up, give you credit, and you paid them for the ones that was given to the winners. This method had a lot of drawbacks. One, most prizes were for the female gender, second it was a lot of work unpacking prizes and being sure you had them on the right shelf, waiting for the winner to make up their mind which prize they wanted, third for the left over prizes you had to repack for the wholesaler so they could be picked up, and last to mention the wholesaler needed to make money and it took away from the quality of the gifts.
Now a year or two after I started helping Calvin, he decided to go to another stand to work in, and this was not unusual, many times people would change stands to work in, and it appeared that I became the low bidder to be in charge of the Bingo stand. Funny thing is I don’t even remember bidding! But it became my responsibility. The first executive decision I made was forget the prizes and go with CASH. It worked perfect for both genders, didn’t need to unpack or repack, no decisions on what to pick, and it eliminated the middleman. WIN, WIN! Ten cents a card 3 for 25 cents and split the pot with the winner. First years actually used cards that you needed CORN to cover the number. More on that in another issue, so for approximately 30 years I was the bingo man. Over the years I had dozens of volunteers that helped in the stand, and I want to thank each and every one, but I need to mention my equal partner in the stand, for if not for his help it couldn’t have been done. My brother from a different father and mother Jerry Shiflet. Thank you, JJ,
Lastly, I already told you about the old location of the lawn party, and when it was held there, I had an advantage. I could park at our store (Macs Superette) and walk down. Well for those of you who can remember even in those days 259 was a busy road, and the club would put out Smudge Pots along the road and entrance to warn travelers of the unusual volume of traffic, this was most important especially after dark. Today e-bay calls them, Toledo Torch Smudge Pot Road Flare Construction Light. Vintage available on e-bay for about $70.00, on with the story. These pots were filled with kerosene and had a large wick that went into the “pot”. The wick was lit, and the pot became a flare. It was on one occasion about 11:00 PM and the lawn party was winding down. In the cover of darkness, I was walking up the hill to the store, when a car full of what seemed to be young teenagers pulled to the side of the road at one of the pots. It happened so fast, but I then realized they were going to steal one of those pots. As the front passenger opened the door and leaned out, I saw him start to grab the pot, now I didn’t recognize them, but I think they could have been sailors from the language I heard when he grabbed the pot “OUCH, THAT BLANKY BLANK ##* IS HOT!”
This is what led me to believe they were sailors instead of rocket scientists. Maybe they just wanted to look at it, but if that was the case, I know this, it didn’t take long to look at that pot.
Now again this year the end of July, July 21,22,23 Fulks Run Lawn Party, come for food, and fellowship, like a family reunion. Over the years there have been quite a few people that have passed and the last time I saw them was at the lawn party.
Believe it or not
Until next time