Back in Cincinnati, where I was born and grew up,  it was in the autumn that all of the

Catholic Churches  held festivals and we would make noble attempts

To attend all of them, even if we didn’t have any money to spend.

At St. Leo’s festival, there would be a fried chicken dinner

Served in the church basement, which also doubled as the

School cafeteria and, on occasion,

Where suitable films such as one about Our Lady of Fatima

Were played for all the students.

But getting back to the fried chicken dinners,

I think a meal was about 25 or 50 cents and

if you were in the 7th or 8th grade, girls could

wait on the tables, fetching more bread or salt and pepper.

Sometimes you might get a small tip for performing these services.

I think only those of us from the poorer families were willing to

Be waitresses for a day.

Whenever I won any prizes at any of the booths,

I would try to select something that

my mother would like, perhaps a small vase

Or set of measuring spoons.

If you had a little money you might want to get some cotton candy

Which was my favorite.

Members of the church manned the booths and it was a strange

Sight to see, someone’s father beckoning passersby to try a

Wheel of Chance.

Stranger still would be to see Father Lauber or one of the sisters

Walking around looking at everything at the festival.

You just didn’t expect to see a priest or a nun like Sister Josetta walking

Around a festival, even if it were on Church grounds.

Like wondering if nuns had hair under their habits

Or ever used the bathroom.

Priests and nuns didn’t seem to belong at the Church Festival when I was a child

growing up in Cincinnati.

–Sandra Lee Smith Posted 10/24/09 updated 5/13/18

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