May Basket Memories

May day2

A Little May Basket Skit

The scene: Nodaway, Iowa

The star: Miss Dorothy Stanton, 3rd and 4th grade teacher

The setting: Mr. and Mrs. Williams’ rooming house, situated across the street from the post office and the Pond gas station.

The date: May 1, 1953

The backstory:

Miss Stanton, who was about to complete her first year as a teacher at the local school, had been warned by her landlady that as May basketing was very popular in Nodaway, she should be prepared.

Action! On May 1st, Miss Stanton hurried home from school and quickly changed from her dress into slacks. (Lady teachers in those days weren’t allowed to wear slacks when they taught.)

She and the Williamses had their supper and then sat down to keep watch out the big bay window on the south side of the house. Very soon, the trio saw a little boy walking across the street, coming from the direction of the gas station and carrying a May basket. Miss Stanton sneaked out the east door and waited for the boy to set the May basket down. When he did, she ran around the corner of the house, and much to his surprise, caught him as he ran away and proceeded to give him a big smackeroo on his cheek before she let him escape.

A similar scene unrolled four more times, each time featuring a different little boy. But it didn’t stop there as the little guys came back again and again, one at a time, carrying all kinds of things as alternative May baskets, like boxes and empty oil cans.

After awhile, “I was surprised to discover it was a repeat of the same boys,” the former Miss Stanton remembered recently. “I was also amazed to find out later that a group of men who frequently went to the station after supper to loaf had been behind the repeat visits.  I heard that they’d never seen anything like what happened that evening: a teacher in slacks running after the kids!”

The men were the ones supplying the little guys with the “fake” May baskets and they were having just as much fun as the boys.

Epilogue: Miss Stanton, who soon after this became Mrs. Harlan Pond, didn’t tattle by telling the names of the men who were involved in her first May basketing experience in Nodaway. But the boys she caught included Bobby and Kent Dunn, Gayle Heard, Dennis Bartz, and Dennis Swartz.

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