St Catherine’s parish in New Haven, Kentucky ran a fundraising summer picnic each year, not unlike many others of the 1950’s. Now, this was called a picnic but was much more akin to a carnival. A ferris wheel presided over many other motorized rides that have come to be a common sight in small town carnivals. There were many booths with spinning wheels, cotton candy, popcorn and soft drinks and there were long tubs of bottled beer in ice. I’m sure the picnic helped finance the new high school that was to be built later with the labor of many of the kids in town.
I was among the many 12-13 year old kids who dug the foundation with picks and shovels for 15 cents an hour. Only later did I wonder whether back hoes had been invented back then. Back to the picnic.
In that day the main entertainment was the single television set in town at Howard’s Store on Main Street where we all watched Howdy Doody and Captain Video in black and white every afternoon. So the attractions at the picnic really captured our attention. All the kids were there and parents didn’t have to worry about child molesters or kidnappers then, especially with Ned Bell Johnson on duty.
As several of us traipsed through the area gawking at all the sights we found ourselves walking behind several older boys who had obviously been at the beer tubs. My smart aleck mouth was running as usual and was loud enough that a wisecrack about the boys in front was heard by one of them. Before I could figure out what happened, he was on me, swinging lefts and rights at my chin and making a lot of connections. And it was over in a few seconds with me wondering what had hit me. One of my brothers ran home to tell Mom and Dad. Hugh Louis dropped everything and headed to the picnic grounds for a bout of revenge. But the drunk boys had moved on and we were all left with me a bit the wiser about smarting off.
Keep it a little quieter, next time