Life’s a Party

A back porch Halloween party, probably 1960. Front row: Linda Dribben, Mary Carol, ?, Cathy. Back row: Durden Pillow, Ann Wade, Ann Tucker, Jeannie Young

“We had birthday parties, Halloween parties, Christmas parties and I loved decorating cakes for all the occasions and collecting and using all kinds of cookie cutters.

One of Sara's bunny cakes

We had added the back porch in 1953 and it came in handy for all kinds of parties. When Cathy was five we had a big party at the Confederate Memorial Building and invited about fifty kids. When Mary Carol was six we had a big one for her at the American Legion Hut. We always had a theme for the parties and decorated accordingly. I had as much or more fun than the children.

The infamous American Legion Birthday party, 1960.

“Cathy’s one big party was a disappointment in one way, though, when she received fifteen boxes of bubble bath, all of which had probably been received by the givers. It was kind of like the Christmas to come later when she was about twelve or thirteen and nearly every gift she got was a sachet or several sachets.

“We had lemonade stands in the front yard. I always ended up on the short end of the deal because I was expected to turn out brownies and cupcakes (decorated no less) and some of the neighbors [Sara gives a name here but we will leave that out] came over and filled their freezers with the cheap goodies. The children made money, but I always went in the hole. We did have fun though.”

Making money on East Adams

Martha Stewart would have thrown herself in the Yazoo River if she had ever been to one of Sara’s birthday parties. Planning began weeks in advance, usually for a Valentine’s theme (Cathy) or Easter (me). Elaborate decorations were created, cookies baked, cakes crafted and surprise balls filled with favors. The anticipation was almost unbearable and presents were just an afterthought. And since her girls only had two birthdays per year between them, Halloween and Christmas filled in the gaps. Skeletons were hung in the October hallways and grape eyeballs and spaghetti guts lined the staircase. Life-sized Santa was hauled out of the attic right after Thanksgiving and his bag was full and ready for visitors by December 1st. The kitchen seemed to operate non-stop and looking back, I simply don’t know how she did it. She had a job, a very demanding and unpredictable job, but somehow she always pulled it off.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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One Response to Life’s a Party

  1. Debbie Wiles says:

    “Martha Stewart would have thrown herself in the Yazoo River if she had ever been to one of Sara’s birthday parties.”
    hahahahaha! love.

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