Old Mission Peninsula School Carnival, 1958 | Old Mission Gazette Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Carnival, 1958 | Old Mission Gazette Photo; Mary Johnson Archives
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Today’s installment of Old Mission History comes from my Mom’s scrapbook, which is a wealth of fascinating information about not only her life growing up in the south, but also after she married my Dad in 1946 and moved to the Old Mission Peninsula in 1947. They met at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Now in my possession are many large scrapbooks full of super-cool stuff dating back to her childhood through her school and college years to life on the OMP.

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In one of those scrapbooks, I came across a newspaper clipping about the first carnival that took place at the NEW Old Mission Peninsula School on Feb. 21, 1958. The carnival has been a mainstay at the school through several generations, and they’ve continued the tradition since it became a charter school in 2017 and opened its doors in 2018.

Like most kids who grew up on the Peninsula back in the day, I remember the fun of going to the school carnival and fishing for toys in the “fish pond,” doing the cake walk and hoping to walk out with a cake, and eating pastel-colored cotton candy.

In 1958, the president of the PTA was Baxter Elhart, father of local attorney and friend Craig Elhart. In Mom’s newspaper clipping, Baxter assures that “supplies of refreshment items are going to be sufficient to handle a large crowd. He urged all parents and friends of the school to come.”

Below is the full text of the clipping, and you might recognize some of the names – Mrs. Gaylord Grubb, Mrs. Merton Gilmore, Mrs. Elmer Warren, Marvin DeYoung, Mrs. Lyle Johnson, Mrs. Leonard Sobkowski, Mrs. Marshall Griffin, Mrs. Pete Neason, Mrs. Fred Carroll and more.

How fun that Fred Dohm gave tractor rides, and of course, Kenn Haven, who worked at WTCM radio, handled the publicity. By the way, at the end of each “Limelight” broadcast, Kenn would always say, “The best is yet to come.” Thank you for that reminder, Kenn!

And thank you, Mom, for adding “1958” into the story. I did find the story on Newspapers.com (Traverse City Record-Eagle dated Feb. 18, 1958), along with the follow-up story, “Old Mission Carnival Night is Successful,” dated Feb. 27, 1958. I’ve included both Mom’s clipping and the Newspapers.com clipping below the text.

Old Mission School to Have Carnival

Traverse City Record-Eagle story dated Feb. 18, 1958

This is Carnival Week at Old Mission Peninsula School, and a gay, festive spirit is developing as the date approaches. The event is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 7:00.

Mrs. Lyle Johnson is the general chairman for this PTA sponsored Carnival Night. It’s the first time that an event of this kind has been staged at the Peninsula school.

Here is a list of committees and chairmen for the Peninsula school carnival: cake walk, Mrs. Marshall Griffin; country store, Mrs. Elmer Warren; fish pond, Mrs. Ivan Nordstrand; popcorn, Mrs. Arthur Wysong; movies, Marvin DeYoung; snack bar, Mrs. Leonard Sobkowski; plants, Mrs. George Munson; bake sale, Mrs. James Houdek; white elephants, Mrs. Gaylord Grubb; beauty shop, Mrs. Fred Carroll; tractor rides, Fred Dohm; ice cream and pop, Baxter Elhart; games, Mrs. Merton Gilmore; spook show, Mrs. Chester McManemy; publicity, Kenn Haven; and candy Mrs. Pete Neason.

Students have been busy working up posters and advertising signs for display in the school classrooms and in neighborhood business places.

PTA President Baxter Elhart said that supplies of refreshment items are going to be sufficient to handle a large crowd. He urged all parents and friends of the school to come.

In the follow-up story on Feb. 27, 1958, it notes that “a total of $363 was realized from the carnival, and will be used for school projects under PTA direction. $68 was raised in the lunch room, $53 from the fish pond, and $52 at the bake sale, to point up the results of some of the individual projects.”

That fish pond always was a crowd-pleaser.

Old Mission Peninsula School Carnival, 1958 | Old Mission Gazette Photo
Old Mission Peninsula School Carnival, 1958; Traverse City Record-Eagle stories dated Feb. 18 and Feb. 27, 1958 | Old Mission Gazette Photo; Mary Johnson Archives

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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