Bob Mitchell: Living Cross gone, but not forgotten

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter has come and gone and there wasnít a living cross displayed anywhere in this community!

As an old-time saying might exclaim, ďThatís a poor kettle of fish.Ē

The living cross that was once a part of Easter Sunrise Services in Cassville and was with us actually about 70 years ago. Itís been mentioned before, but never actually caught on again, usually with the comment that it was too difficult to organize.

Seventh Street hill

The cross came as a part of the elementary school in Cassville being located atop the Seventh Street hill. It was a well-orchestrated event, requiring several grades of the school. Rehearsal sessions were organized well in advance of the actual Easter sunrise services each year, with the cross being completely outlined in chalk on the pavement. The teachers were never sure how many youngsters it would take to fill the space, so they would march more than enough outside in the yard until the proper number was achieved.

Each of those in the lower grades chosen for the actual event would be requested, or instructed, whichever might have been appropriate, to bring with them to school a bed sheet. This required costume should be in their desk days before Easter, to make sure of the availability.

Easter Sunday, always weather permitting, so far as no falling weather was around, the cross crew would arrive at school early enough to become organized by remembering who they stood by during making of the cross rehearsals.

Never got to see it

Since I was one of those under a sheet and either standing or sitting on the pavement, I never ever got to see the cross, but was told it was somewhat of a sight. After a brief program, actual services were held at some church, further down the hill and a community breakfast was provided for those who were up early enough to witness the sight.

It must have been quite impressive with the sheet-clad youngsters forming a Living Cross as the sun came up over the hills to the east of Cassville.

Some tried to avoid

There were always a few of the youngsters involved who attempted to avoid participating in the event by forgetting to have a bed sheet available on the program morning. Actually, there might have been a few in those days who might have been in a position of having to take theirs off a bed to meet the requirement.

Thatís when our fourth-grade teacher, the late Grace Hawk, came into the picture. She had anticipated this possibility and provided extra costumes, if they could be called this, and the Living Cross was always a solid white.

Viney Creek event

On the agenda for Easter for several years was photographing Golden Baptist Churchís sunrise service on Viney Public Use Area. The thought being the sunrise over that Table Rock Lake arm would be spectacular.

However, it never did materialize as each of two or three years for the event, there were downpours of rain that forced the service to move back to Golden for an indoor event.

Followed spring carnival

Just before Easter, the arrival of spring always placed the Spring Carnival especially on the elementary campus. This was after that unit of the school moved to its present location off North Main. That was when our class moved from the fourth to the fifth grade.

Spring Carnival time was an event that actually raised funds for various campus projects, sometimes including providing playground equipment that wasnít in budgets for the district during those days.

As an excellent opportunity for bakers and canners to show their abilities, such wares would provide points for individual classes providing the most sellable merchandise. The Rock Gym on the campus was chocked full of tables offering eats of all types, providing patrons and plain customers alike an opportunity to acquire their choices at reasonable prices.

In many cases, buyers would become accustomed to and recognize various wares with their providers and make an attempt to be on hand early enough to gather some of these offerings before they were snatched up by someone else.

King and queen

Then there was always the selection of King and Queen of the event, which was decided by the class that had earned the most points in filling the country stores.

It seems as though there was never much of a problem in the classes to have a queen candidate, but it was a different story in the king choices. While girls were willing to make the race, few boys were willing to go through the traditional ceremony that led to coronation.

A personal note, happy birthday Bruce!

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State Universityís Regional Media Hall of Fame.