Friday, July 29, 2005

May Day Celebrations

(Run originally 2/5/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

I think I might be able to answer whoever it is asking about May Day celebrations, but I'd need to check with a few people first, the main one being Paula Windsor Thompson and I think they are currently on a cruise, the lucky bums. I'm thinking we - at Searcy public schools - didn't ever celebrate May by winding the May Pole but Harding did, every year, and it was a big deal. When I was in a social club in my freshman year ther, I was "selected" to wind and, believe you me, it wasn't easy.

Paula Windsor Peacock Thompson

In response to the anonymous inquiry about May Day events, my earliest memories of May Day Celebrations are from the first and second grades at Harding. After that, I remember the 6th grade in Searcy Grammar School, when I was a Herald and the 7th grade girls made up the court. That time was particularly memorable because, the day before, I had cut my right arm trying to stop a closing door in school and missed the frame. My arm went through the glass and two gashes of 6 inches and 2 inches were the result. I remember Dr. Edwards was at a Kiwanis luncheon, and I waited an hour before getting stitches.

My mother, Annie Windsor, made the Herald outfit from pictures. She also made a gold painted horn of cardboard. She even gave me a page boy hair style. I was determined to give my memorized lines, so the show went on. I remember the event was held in the high school auditorium, but can't remember who was queen.

That airplane tail is in Punky Caldwell's back yard. I think his dad did some salvage work.

I can only remember the next year when I was in the court. Others were Carolyn Thompson, Julianne Rand, Peggy Palmer, Marilyn Coward (I think), and one other.

As to why the celebration was discontinued, I'm not sure, but I think it was at the time the grammar school burned. Hmmm, maybe the May Day pagan roots have something to do with that. I found some tidbits on the Internet that might interest you readers.

Roots of May Day celebration in America:

May Day, which children do enjoy with all vibes, was not an overly prominent holiday in America. Yet, it does have a long and notable history as one of the world's principal festivals. The origin of May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it, too, has a Pagan connection.

The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition. The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the streamers, choosing of a May queen, and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks -- are all the leftovers of the old European traditions.

Face washing in May Dew: Washing the face with May dew was yet another custom. There was a belief among the women in Great Britain and other parts of Europe those days that May Day dew has the power to restore beauty. This why, in the Ozark Mountains, a cradle of American folklore, girls used to nurture a belief that having their faces washed with the early dawn dews on May Day would help to be married to the man of her choice.

When I was attending Harding College in 1955, there was a May Day celebration. Don't know about Searcy Public Schools, so you readers jump in and tell us what you remember.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please note that this rat, Paula, said not a word about that Mexican cruise. But thanks for the May Day info, anyway. –tlp-

Photo above, right: Paula as a Herald
Photo above, left: 1948 Searcy May Day Group
Below: 1954 Harding May Pole Ceremony


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