Tuesday, May 1, 2012


When I was in elementary school, then grades 1-7, the single most eagerly awaited event - other than Christmas, was May Day.  It was the traditional celebration of spring's arrival and clearly pagan in spirit.

Our school, Botetourt Elementary, had each class present a costumed presentation in the form of mini- drama, dance, or other group performance.  In first grade, the year I moved from Flat Iron to a neighborhood near the county seat, I was selected to be "Miss Muffet" in our first grade nursery rhymes review.  I  brought the house down (so to speak) when I sprang from my tuffet, emoted a scream feigning fear, threw my bowl and spoon (of curds and whey), and ran from the huge "sat down beside her" spider let down by a string from the walnut tree gracing the school lawn.

Botetourt May Day 1949
Miss Muffet, Red and White Jumper, Socks and Sandals

In second grade, I was part of a square dance troupe and doe-see-doe was new to me.  Every May Day involved the May Pole Dance, the last attraction and the most fascinating.  Colored ribbons attached to costumed dancers wound around a central pole.  I lived in a camera-less family who thought children were to be seen and not heard," or photographed.  So no pictures, unless a kind stranger with a camera happened along (which is why we have the above photo).

Botetourt May Day 1955
I am queen for a day.
Mother's Aunt Maggie made the pretty dress.
Photo courtesy of a newspaper photographer.

The high school May Day grew more bizarre when, in 1958, the duly elected queen abdicated her throne in protest of the faculty's redefining the festivities as mostly athletic events.  She explained her actions to the student body in a speech saying, "I refuse to be the queen of a potato race."  The maid of honor assumed her duties and a pall fell over May Day from that day forward.

Feelings etched on their faces the Gloucester High School
May Court of 1958, all looking about to barf .
(I am 3rd row, far left)

May Day will forever be reminiscent of political protest and the pageantry is lost to human struggle.  Now when I think of May, it evokes Cinco de Mayo and Mothers' Day.  In our neck of the woods, Cinco is a foreign word and frowned upon as encouraging illegal immigration.  Mothers' Day is when some mother gets to cook and choose the menu.  Whoopee.  How does curds and whey sound?  


  1. What a beauty! Janice is your doppelganger! I will come down and cook for your Mother's Day!! But I bet someone else will beat me to it;)

  2. Frowned upon as encouraging illegal immigration? I can't believe it.
    I have only the vaguest memories of May Day dancing in the late 40s and early 50s. I was always sorry I never got to dance with those ribbons.
    Enjoyed your photos. Keep 'em coming!

  3. Guess WHAT?? I have been invited to a Cinco de Mayo party down Bohannon Saturday night, and I am going to be wearing Maria's sombrero. Of course it's being thrown by a Come Here, but that goes without saying.

    You were and are beautiful.

    What are we cooking for Mother's Day?

  4. Come ahead MPM, you will be welcome!

    Yes, K., we live across the road from the ku klux clan. And husband is in their lair. Although he deceives them.

    OK Why am I not invited? CBW?

  5. Ah, memories...vestiges of Maypole celebrations in 1950's New Jersey. Another Big Thing was to pick a bouquet of posies and tie up in ribbons, maybe place them in a basket, and leave them anonymously at someone's front door...
    (CB Momma, sounds like the neighbors might need a mystery bag of a smelly, but organic, something--and maybe lit on fire?--at THEIR front door)
    Back to lovelier matters, I like your Queenly photo, and must agree--who wants to reign over a potato race, for God's sake ?
    I do not know your family, but from the photos I have seen of CB daughter, she strongly resembles your childhood photo above.Beauties!

  6. I say make them take you to that all you can eat buffet place ..

  7. We never had such structured festivities where I grew up in Maine, but we did have the peculiar celebration of making and leaving May Baskets anonymously at people's houses. They were elaborately decorated little baskets filled with candy. The idea was to sneak up and leave the baskets on the doorstep and ring the bell or knock and then run away. We thought it was great fun. We were a little odd I guess!

  8. LLC: All I need is a cross burning in my yard. I have voiced my opinions more than I should have and who knows what will become of me. If I cared about popularity, it would be tragic. In some ways our area is still in the 1950's, which a lot of people find heartwarming. That and country crapping music.

  9. Windsmurf, our May baskets were also left at doorsteps, with the doorbell ringing and running away action--but we just had flowers in the baskets, not candy. You Mainers had a reverse trick or treat !
    Oh dear, CB mom, do be careful around those in-breeds.Our neighbors love noisy power tools and it is a 12 hr. per day hobby using them.
    My mom in law grew up in Texas, which inspired her taste in country--and even better, RELIGIOUS country music, which she likes to play loudly while doing chores. "Jesus is a biscuit; let Him sop you up!" (That is not from her music, it is from a show about drag queens I watched.)