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Bellevue Strawberry Festival: Childhood Memories (ca. 1925)
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The following short essay was written in 1934 by Bellevue native Patricia Groves Sandbo (b. 1916), a freshman at Seattle Pacific College, for her English II Class. She received an "A" for her story that tells about her fond childhood memories of Bellevue's renowned Strawberry Festival ca. 1925.
If I were to be restricted to but one more visit to my native town, I think I should choose to make that visit at the time of the Strawberry Festival. In my eyes it holds all of the glamour and sparkle of a trip to a foreign land, so completely is our town changed while it endures. As I see it now it is through the eyes of the child who saw it then.
I can't seem to keep my eyes to the ground as I walk down the street, for there are so many intriguing things to be seen above. There are the great, splashy signs across the street saying that this is the way to the Strawberry Festival. The street is strung with lovely brilliant lights that shine overhead at night and transport one to Fairyland. All of my friends, both young and old, are laughing and gay. We all feel that it is our duty, and a delightful one at that, to don our festive manners and welcome visitors to our fair city. When we reach the gates there is a great deal of good natured bantering going on. As ever there are the very impressive state patrol men in their immaculate uniforms. My extreme respect for officers of the law never fails to make me sidle past them with down-cast eyes. The boy-scouts, who are parking cars so methodically, are included in my awe of official uniforms. I have nothing in common with them today. I have a hearty respect, too, for the men who manage the last details, and, despite their shirtsleeves and bare heads, retain their dignity. Safely past the "powers that be" I assume my air of nonchalance once more, although I am fairly bubbling with excitement inside.
I have always thought that our park was beautiful, but today, teaming with life as it is, it is even more beautiful in its cool, green wildness. It is not in the least a civilized, citified park, but now with its neat rows of tables and striped awnings it has the air of being dressed for the occasion.
The most impressive structure (next to the band stand) is the serving booth. Here I take my stand to feast my eyes upon the visions of snowy biscuits oozing with juicy, red strawberries and topped with a luscious mound of whipped cream. Finally, clutching my pennies in my fist I push my way to the front, no longer content to merely look. Because I am such a little girl, the lady-who-works-in-the-post-office gives me an extra large helping. With my precious burden balanced safely, I trot to the table where a group of children of my own age have gathered. With a sigh of relief I note that they all have shortcakes too. It is not long before the band begins a stirring concert. From that time on, much to my joy, there is a succession of skits, songs, and dances upon the platform. When it begins to get dark people become more and more hard to recognize until the lights come twinkling on one by one. Then my land of fancy is a reality.
A typescript of the essay may be found in the Strawberry Festival Resource Binder, Eastside Heritage Center, Winters House, 2102 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, Washington 98015.
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