Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day used to be fun

When I was a kid back in the 40's, May Day was a celebration on the order of Valentine's Day for us kids in elementary school. It was the next-to-last hurrah of the school year.

We'd get to spend time in class making May Baskets out of colored construction paper. The usual type was the cone with a handle attached across the top, although I remember making other styles. The idea was that the basket would be filled with goodies and after school you could deliver it to someone--like a friend or sweetheart. You would hang the basket on the doorknob, ring the door bell and then run away. That was it--not really much of a payoff. That was only if someone gave you a May Basket.



The last hurrah of the school year was Mother's Day. The teacher told us that we should ask our mom for a clean ketchup bottle or pop bottle--but it was a big secret, so don't tell her what it was for. The idea of a conspiracy was great fun.

When everyone had brought in their bottles, the day came for the activity. The teacher spread newspapers on a table and filled trays with a mixture of colored paints. It was serious business taking your bottle and carefully rolling it in the paint to get a variegated, patterned bottle.

The next day, after the paint dried, the teacher passed out sprinkler heads to be inserted into the bottle. (I always hated the sound of the cork squeaking as it was pushed in.) I wrapped the bottle in white tissue paper and tied a red ribbon around it.

After I took it home on Friday, it was so hard to wait until after church on Sunday! It was a very long time for me to keep it secret. The presentation of my homemade gift was delightful, and all the more so because that sprinkling bottle was in use for many, many years.

I went on Google Images and tried to find a photo of a painted sprinkler bottle and couldn't find any. If you should come across one, you might want to post it or even try to sell it on ebay!

                              Borrowed images

11 comments:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I'd forgotten about those bottles. I never got to paint one, though. Sounds like fun. And I also remember the May baskets, but my mom didn't allow us to "bother" the neighbors with them. This year I helped the grandkids make little boxes for their parents. Mostly they have cut-up colored paper in them...something the kids seemed to think they needed. :-)

Pearl said...

I've never seen those bottles, but can verify that as a child in the 60s we, too, delivered May baskets to the neighborhood...

A little piece of nostalgia. :-)

Pearl

Ms Sparrow said...

Blissed, I'm glad to hear the tradition lives on!

Pearl, You're maybe too young to have made a sprinkler bottle. They had the more efficient spritz bottles by the 60's.

Joanne said...

We sprinkled clothes by hand, but our neighbors had sprinkler bottles. I envied them.
On May Day we made little paper baskets and delivered flowers in them. I loved leaving one for my next door neighbor; she was so surprsied and delighted every year.

Ms Sparrow said...

Joanne, I remember seeing someone sprinkle clothes by dipping their hand in water and shaking in on the clothes. I'm so glad those days are gone. I probably use my ironing board only once or twice a year now.

Buttercup said...

We sprinkled clothes by hand, too. I remember making pencil holders out of orange juice cans. That was our big Mother's Day project.

Linda Starr said...

I don't remember ever celebrating May Day as a kid except maybe circling around May pole with streamers vaguely in my mind. Hey my mom had a mangle when I was a kid to iron sheets, and I was the sibling that had the duty of ironing, I don't iron any more at all.

Elaine said...

We didn't do anything like that over here, and I remember back to the 50's! It sounds a lovely way to celebrate.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

We did the same thing in the late 50's and early 60's in Michigan. No one ever heard of this tradition when we moved to Indiana...what heathens!
Was just mentioning May Baskets and how it was done while at work yesterday...they all looked at me like I was nuts! sigh...

Ms Sparrow said...

It's always an eye-opener to learn that the things we did were not what everybody else did. So I say toe-may-to and you say toe-mah-to!

Meggie said...

Hello Ms Sparrow....I do remember sprinkling clothes to iron. I would roll them up after sprinkling and place them in a plastic bag. Let it set for a while, and then spend the day ironing. I'm so glad those days are gone.