Friday, February 14, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Festival Parade


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt of a busy street scene demands a photo of a scene no less busy.  What could be busier than a town’s main drag on parade day?


Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Float sponsored by Independent Food Dealers
of Winchester

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
? - Republic Oil Refining Co.

In April 1948, my mother made the 2-hour trip along US route 11 from Dayton, Virginia to Winchester just to see a parade.   The same parade still entices people from all over the state and beyond to join the throngs and head to Winchester, but today that drive from Dayton would be just a little over an hour on I-81.

The occasion?  The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.  The reason?  To celebrate spring.  Pure and simple. 

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
This might be the choir from Shenandoah College.


In 1948, Momma was still a student at Shenandoah College & Conservatory in Dayton, Virginia.  Aside from enjoying the break from sleepy ol’ Dayton, the students went to the parade to support their friend Betty Kyle.  All the colleges in Virginia were invited to send a representative to serve as an Apple Blossom Princess.  





Betty Kyle
photo scanned from The Arrowhead
April 1948


According to the school newspaper “The Arrowhead,” Betty Kyle was the obvious choice because of her leadership as president of the Women’s Student Government Association.  Besides, she was a pro at princessing having worn many crowns as part of the May Queen’s court throughout her years at SCC. 


Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Sealtest float sponsored by Southern Dairies

The festival began as a one-day event featuring a fireman’s parade that showcased fire trucks and the latest equipment.  But since 1924 it has grown to a 10-day event with a Grand Feature Parade,  Firefighters Parade, midway, carnival, pageants (including the crowning of the Apple Blossom Queen), dances, concerts, and most recently charity races and walks.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Possibly the VMI Regimental Band

The year Momma was there was the big turning point in the history of the Apple Blossom Festival.  Interest had waned, but all discussions of abandoning the festival ended when a new volunteer with ties to Hollywood scheduled celebrities to attend and to serve as Grand Marshall for the parade.  In 1948 that star was Bing Crosby.


Who wouldn’t want to go to that parade?

I have a confession.  I wasn’t absolutely sure these pictures were of the Apple Blossom Festival until I decided to take a little drive myself.  On Google Maps.  But which street?  A YouTube video gave me “Piccadilly Street” as a clue.  A long time volunteer recalled that as a child her family stood “on the corner of Piccadilly” where there was a hotel; her father always rented a room there in case of bad weather so they wouldn’t miss the parade. 

So I “drove” up and down Piccadilly looking for something familiar of the architecture in the photos.  Or this clock tower.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948








Nothing.

Then I arrived at the corner of Piccadilly and Cameron.  And there was the hotel - The Grand George Washington Hotel.

from Google Maps
corner of Cameron & Piccadilly
Winchester, Virginia

So I made the right turn and “drove” up Cameron and there it was.  The clock tower.  

And the white brick building in the old photos, although surrounding buildings are long gone.

So I have my answer. 


from Google Maps


Momma must have stood on Cameron Street across from that white brick building and watched for her friend Betty Kyle atop a float.  Maybe she even waved to Bing Crosby.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Possibly Betty Kyle - otherwise why the closeup?

I doubt anyone threw candy like they do at parades here nowadays.   But I do know what my mother ate at the Apple Blossom Parade that April:  a candy apple.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Parade April 1948
Mary Eleanor Davis Slade April 1948


I hope you will follow the parade of blogs on the busy street called Sepia Saturday.  



© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

49 comments:

  1. A fun post. Reading it felt almost like seeing the parade in person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recent photos from the Apple Blossom Festival website show floats that look much like they did in 1948.

      Delete
  2. Those floats look spectacular. What a lot of work must have gone in to making them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they were elaborate. Still are -- it's a requirement.

      Delete
  3. Isn’t it great when you can pinpoint a place where the photo was taken exactly and picture the subject of the photo there. Well done on identifying it. That’s a ‘sweet’ picture with the toffee apple (as we call them). In UK they are an Autumn treat, at fairgrounds and on November 5th (Bonfire Night).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't tell from the picture if it's a caramel apple or the traditional red hard-candy coating. Caramel apples are an autumn treat here too, but I'm sure at this festival all kinds of apple goodies were and are available.

      Delete
  4. What fun! I love a good parade. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My favorite parade is the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Norfolk -- so festive! And the crowds are something else -- people all decked in green. It's a parade PLUS!

      Delete
  5. So great, especially your sleuthing to find where the parade passed by your mom, and that she was comfortable having her apple biting picture taken!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet she was a sticky mess by the time she finished that apple!

      Delete
  6. Life was pretty much the same the world over with it parades, its brass bands and its floats. Well done and well done with the identiication you researched.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sepia Saturday has lots of parades this week. You're right -- they all look very much alike.

      Delete
  7. An Apple Blossom Festival sounds so attractive an event. . I love parades, bands and dressing up and have never seen anything like the wonderful floats in your photographs. Here similar parades have now fallen foul of the "health and safety" brigade! .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our local parades are short on beautiful floats but long on bands, cars of dignitaries, and march/dance troupes of all kinds.

      Delete
  8. Betty Kyle looks very 'wholesome' and almost a little scary. It's great that the parade still goes on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She strikes me as Jane Russell-esque.

      Delete
  9. Nice photos, I wonder what happened to Betty Kyle later in life. Good google street view detective work, and if I had to choose I still would take route 11 instead of the I-81.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rt 11 is still a great drive. In fact my husband I rode 11 from Roanoke to Winchester one day just for the heck of it.

      Delete
  10. I don't think I've ever been to a parade like this. I've obviously missed out. Well done on identifying the streets where the photos were taken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not too late to book a flight -- the festival isn't until April, Apr 25-May 4, to be exact.

      Delete
  11. I love "walking" up google map streets. Great identifying here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I like it too, but being successful can become addictive.

      Delete
  12. I especially like that float with the choir, it resembles a giant slide. Many of these local event parades still thrive here in the midwest

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The choir float reminds me of those mega-rollercoasters.

      Delete
  13. Oh my how fun was that. I wish that I could just hop in the car and retrace the steps, (and if I still lived in Michigan) I would be able to see things pretty much as they were. It seems that Michigan is a place that really doesn't change. Great family photos, and it was like following along at the parade too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder why there is no photo of Bing Crosby in a convertible waving to the crowd .

      Delete
  14. How fun to be able to stand where she stood all these years later....way to Google Map It. The floats and buildings were outstanding. Parades are timeless...people still love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you ma'am! I do wonder if that parking lot was there or if there were other buildings where Momma stood.

      Delete
  15. I was truly impressed by the choir (from Shenandoah College?) float. That was a lot of people seated in tier fashion like that on whatever sort of transport that was!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of floats are pulled by tractors. The driver must be sitting pretty high to see out of that slot.

      Delete
  16. You didn't let the parade pass you by on this one, Wendy. The first band is a US Marine band, the second is certainly the cadet band from VMI as you thought, and the last one is a community band, maybe a fraternal group as they look like adult men instead of boys. And now you've given me a new musical genre to hunt - marching (or float riding) choirs! What did they sing for a parade?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well Mr Mike, since the choir didn't have to march in rhythm, I'd guess they sang "Oh Shenandoah" and "I'll Be Seeing You in Apple Blossom Time."

      Delete
  17. I just love pictures of old floats, the themes are always so random. I enjoyed reading of your geographic search, what a treat to find it all in your visit. The idea of apple blossom princess is so sweet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Allowing every college to select a princess if they wanted to participate was smart -- didn't cost the town a lot of money holding a contest. And it almost guaranteed a crowd would show up and spend money. What a great idea!

      Delete
  18. Replies
    1. I've always liked this picture even though we can't see all of Momma's face.

      Delete
  19. Nicely done Wendy. I felt like I was at the parade. Now I'm sitting here wishing that we could bring on spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you. I've requested Spring, but I think it's on back-order.

      Delete
  20. I particularly like the Shenandoah College choir float but I dread to think what would happen if he stamped on the brakes!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everyone but the people on the front row have shoulders to brace against. Maybe there was a bar ??

      Delete
  21. We used to have something in Brisbane called Warana but it's been phased out now and replaced with something else. I haven't seen a float for decades.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have the Rose Bowl parade on TV every New Years and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade plus high school homecoming parades if ever we need a float fix.

      I Googled the Warana parade to check out what it is you're missing!

      Delete
  22. 've always felt that I should visit Winchester, Virginia someday because for many years I lived in Winchester in the UK. I don't think any of the various carnivals and parades there involved floats though.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wendy, your pictures and research were as much fun as attending the parade in person. Thanks for a spring celebration.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The Apple Blossom Festival - what a fun and Spring-y sounding name! And Bing Crosby as the parade's Grand Marshall? That must have been quite exciting.

    Great research using Google Maps. Isn't it awesome that we can travel somewhere while we sit at our computers in our comfy slippers?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you so much for posting these pictures and the story!!! I am currently going through my grandparents unmarked photo's and came across pictures of a parade. Because of the advertisements on some of the floats I believed the parade to be in Winchester, VA. I googled images of "Southern Dairies Winchester, VA" and low and behold a picture pops up of the exact same float I googled!!! I am so excited that I can now positively label the photos!!!! So, Thank you again so very much!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you have made my day. This is really cool. I guess your grandparents were watching the parade too. I wonder if they knew someone in the parade.

      Delete
    2. It is cool!!! From what I can tell through pictures of their life they would go to Skyline Drive quite often, which isn't too far from there. We are assuming that they probably made the trip because of Bing Crosby, but we are not sure. In the background of my pictures it is clear that they were not standing near where your relative was, mine seem more out of town as their are less buildings. It has been a long journey trying to date and identify their family pictures. They have both passed and before the pictures get split up between family members I want to ensure that all of our family members have digital copies of all the pictures. I am probably about 75% done. It has been very fun especially when I find my answers from posts like this one!!! So, again I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this series of photographs easy for me!!!

      Delete
    3. You have taken on a worthwhile project. Most of my old photos are not labeled either. It's fun when I can solve the mystery of who/when/where/why.

      Delete