Childhood Memories Friday has pretty much wrapped up with the publication of my memoir, but every now and then I remember something else fun to reminisce about. Or, in this case, my kindergarten teacher does!
I got an email from her recently, and she shared this memory from her own childhood:
“When I was about 10 to 12 years old, my family lived in an eastside neighborhood in Evansville, Indiana. There were not a lot of children in the neighborhood, but those of us that were there used to do this in the summertime. I can’t remember if we made it up ourselves or if it was some sort of activity that was common to that neighborhood and time — about 1943 to 1945.
“We would take shoe boxes or similar size boxes and cut windows in them so they looked like houses. If we were lucky we could find some scraps of colored cellophane (a clear, transparent wrapping paper that looked like plastic only it wasn’t). We would tape or paste that over the windows from the inside, attach a thin rope or string to the front of the house, put an old candle stub inside. At dusk we would light the candles and pull them along the side walk as in a parade. We called them lighthouses. I no longer have contact with any of the friends I used to do that with. My best friend at that time passed away recently.
“I have just been wondering if that was just a regional thing, or if other little girls in other places did the same thing. I’m also wondering how in the world we kept our “lighthouses” from catching fire and burning up. Maybe the sidewalks were smoother then. Those who had wagons could pull them in the wagon, but the rest of us just drug them along with the rope or string.
“In those days people sat on their front porches a lot in the evenings, so we always had an audience for our parades.
“I tried several phrases on the internet and did get someone’s blog about a shoebox float parade telling how to decorate the boxes like parade floats with Barbie and other small dolls riding on them and have a parade in the daytime.
“Just wondering if any of your contacts might ask their Moms or Grandmas if they remember any such thing.”
I definitely remember making dollhouses and furniture from boxes (large ones for the houses, small Jello and canning lid boxes for furniture). I also remember having parades with my Fisher Price Little People. But parades of shoebox houses? I don’t think I did that. And I’m sure I never lit candles inside of anything. I still remember being traumatized when I lit the birthday bank for the little kids in Miss Fairy’s Sunday School class as a teen, and the flame came up the matchstick to burn my fingernail! I wonder, as well, how the little candles stayed lit as they were pulled along but didn’t catch anything on fire.
Turning to you, readers: did any of you play at a similar pursuit as children?
Update: My kindergarten teacher was kind enough to email that, upon further research, she’s learned more about the origins of the parade. It seems it is called the Lighthouse Parade, and it’s still going on in Evansville, Indiana each year!