28,000 at Watermelon Carnival
by Lottie Brown, Mississippi Division Editor
When the melon is ripe, the "curl" which grows out at the stem dies. One may judge the melon's condition by the sound brought forth by thumping it with the finger, very much as a physician thumps a patient in order to judge the condition of the internal organs. A melon pulled green will not ripen. A prime melon pulled when ripe will usually be in good condition for ten days or two weeks, without extra care, and will keep indefinitely when placed in cold storage.
The carnival program on August 27 was ushered in by the noise of many instruments as the crowd began gathering. The Holly Springs' band concert was the first special number on the program. Kermit Cofer was master of ceremonies and introduced the principal speaker of the morning, Congressman W. M. Whittington of Greenwood, Miss., who addressed the farmers in keeping with the spirit and intent of the occasion. During the day thousands visited the melon display where the largest melons produced in this section as well as other farm products were to be seen. There were ten melon and garden display booths that aroused the admiration of the throngs.
At 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon talks were made by Congressman Jeff Busby, H. J. Schwietert, general agricultural agent of the Illinois Central System, and L. A. Olson, extension director of the A. & M. College, Starkville, Miss.
At 3 o'clock a baseball game between the jolly Cabs of Memphis and a home team was the attraction, with Water Valley winning 5 to 2.
At 4 o'clock an important part of the carnival was the cutting of around 1,500 ice-cold melons. The melons were passed out over the long cutting tables to the thousands. The melons were purchased by the Junior Chamber of Commerce from the many growers in the County. W. O. Champion, W. E. Walker, Dixie Davis, Jim Hayles and J. N. Holt donated many of their special varieties.
At 7 o'clock one of the most elaborate parades ever produced in Mississippi proceeded from Blount Street north to Court Street around the City Park and returned to Blount Street, in the following order: mayor's car of welcome; official decorator's car; Sardis Drum and Bugle Corps; 155th Mississippi Infantry, Company "G, Aberdeen, Miss., Captain E. L. Sykes in command; Curtis E. Pass Post, American Legion, and visiting ex-service men; American Legion float; W. S. Turnage Drug Company's decorated car; Memphis Band and Orchestra; Oakland, Miss., merchants' float; Kraft Cheese Company's decorated car; McCullar-Suratt float; Indian Tribe on move; P. T. A. Float; R. L. Mann's Floral Garden float; Chapman Service Station float; decorated car of Mrs. John Dalton; Memphis Illinois Central System Band; queen's float, queen and princesses; decorated car of Lee's Hardware and Furniture; Water Valley Rotary Club float; Oak Grove Dairy float; U. S. Post Office float; O'tuckolofa Consolidated
One of the most impressive floats in the parade and one which was as typically southern as the watermelon festival itself, was the float which was entered by the Daughters of the Confederacy. This float represented "The Old South," a picturesque ante-bellum carriage, entirely covered with 100 old-fashioned red and white (the Confederate colors) hollyhocks. B. Leland, a veteran of the Civil War, and father of Mrs. A. D. Caulfield, wife of superintendent, represented the plantation owners of the sixties, and his posing in character made the pageant seem more real. Mary Lynne Brown was truly a picture of our early womanhood, while Charlotte Blackston, daughter of Engineer and Mrs. H. R. Blackston, was a dainty reproduction of the "Miss" of our revered "Old South."
The carriage drawn by two bay horses was preceded by four "outriders," one of whom, Uncle Frank McFarland, a Negro veteran of the Civil War, accompanied his master and remained with him through the memorable days. The ensemble was a never to be forgotten sight, and when it passed to the strains of "Dixie" and in the midst of a pageant of beautifully decorated motors, there was something in its stately simplicity which touched the heart of every onlooker.
Following the parade, on the platform decorated to represent a large watermelon patch, Mrs. E. L. McVey conducted a beautiful pantomime composed of fifty or more little children who represented watermelons, flowers, butterflys, fairies, etc.
This was followed by the crowning of the Queen of the Carnival, Eleanor Houston, telephone operator in the office of the chief dispatcher and daughter of Chief Dispatcher and Mrs. L. S. Houston, and the presentation of a silver loving cup to Miss Houston. At the conclusion of the coronation, Edwin Blackmur, president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, with the queen, led the grand march for the street dance, followed by the ten princesses, Minnie Sayles Bailey of Oakland, Miss., Catherine Brannon non of Coffeeville, Miss., Lottie Coker, Peggy Davis, Martha Jane McLarty, Maybeth Barber, Lillian Walker (daughter of Conductor and Mrs. H. S. Walker), Eleanor Colson (daughter of Dispatcher and Mrs. J. M. Colson) Ruby Norris (daughter of Engineer and Mrs. L. A. Norris) and Louise Stewart (daughter of Conductor and Mrs. J. H. Stewart), each accompanied in the grand march by a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
The big carnival program closed with a magnificent display of fireworks including six beautiful set pieces, one of which portrayed a watermelon, twelve special arena pieces and fifty-two aerial bombs, the display being handled under the direction of G. L. Gafford, chief clerk to superintendent.
For information about the Watermelon Carnival, please contact the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce:
Copyright © 1999 Jack Gurner