Recently, I received an email from a friend who grew up in North Bloomfield not many years after I did. Tim Rodgers had read my recent column, and his email was titled "Random Rural Ruminations." He is a retired school teacher now living in Hubbard.
In his retirement, Tim has become a dedicated historian with a wealth of information about northern Trumbull County. He was recalling several activities and experiences he had, and I remembered most of them, too, while growing up in Bloomfield. Most of them are no longer a part of our society but were important at the time.
One activity he mentioned was church bazaars. These were and still are important functions in many communities. They can include different activities and displays and all most always include a good meal. Church groups hold them to help fund various programs and missions.
Another activity I remember that was always fun was church "penny suppers." Each ingredient would cost so many pennies. At that time, pennies were worth more than they are today. Meat would be so many pennies, potato or vegetable another, coffee another and dessert would bring a premium price depending on what you wanted.
Once you had your tray of food, you would go by a cashier, who would add up your pennies and tell you how much your bill was. If you were hungry, the pennies could add up. Since most of the foods were donated by church members, it was a nice way for folks in the community to enjoy a reasonably priced meal and the church groups could make some profit to again fund worthwhile programs.
I haven't heard of penny suppers recently, but perhaps some churches may still hold them.
During World War II, there was an early form of recycling called "paper drives." People were asked ahead of time to save all their old paper because new supplies were short and old papers could be recycled into reusable paper again. Then a truck would go around the community and pick up the stacks of old paper that had been saved.
Several paper drives were usually held over the years in many communities.
One community activity that we don't hear much about anymore was donkey basketball. These contests were held in the very small gym at Bloomfield High School and involved two teams, usually one from the community and one from the company providing the donkeys.
Donkeys ridden by community team members were usually the mean, cantankerous ones, hard to handle and would often throw the riders off their backs. They didn't have many chances to make baskets. Donkeys were no doubt trained to make sure of that. The contests were funny and enjoyed by the audience.
Then there was horseshoe pitching during the summer in the village commons at the center of town. There were at least two sets of horseshoe pits that were used by the horseshoe pitching experts. Contests were often very close with a lot of good, friendly competition. It was fun to watch those who could pitch ringer after ringer, where the horseshoe goes around the metal peg, without missing many times.
Sometimes competition between two individuals got to be very interesting and would draw a lot of attention. Some of our friends who are in Florida now write back and tell us about horseshoe pitching in the parks, so it's still a good sport.
I can vaguely remember another activity called "The Womanless Wedding." This was a play that included a wedding, but had only men from the community in the cast. These were held in the Town Hall when it still had a sloping floor with permanent seats and a raised stage. They would draw a big crowd and were popular in their day.
So thanks to Tim for his "Rural Ruminations." If you want a good speaker on rural Trumbull County history, give him a call.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle.