Good morning family, friends and fellow bloggers, it’s Wednesday and August 1st. Where has the time gone? The weeks and months are moving way to fast and even though there are a few things going on this month that I am looking forward to, I don’t want time to fly this quickly.
August 1st brings another challenge, Walt is already preparing himself for the downward slide I take as summer slowly comes to an end. Yes friends, I have a very hard time the closer we get to September. This year though, Walt felt the need to remind me that although it is August 1st, I’ve had a long summer.
Walt’s facts; the weather in Michigan was warmer sooner, we had the warmest March on recorded here, it slid and held on into April and he asked if I needed to be reminded that our May almost felt like an early June. Walt also reminded me that because the temperatures were so warm early on, he opened the patio the end of April instead of waiting for the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. His closing argument was the fact that I have spent more time outside this summer than in previous summers.
I agree with all Walt is saying….the fact remains, I love summer and want to hang on as long as possible. I have fond memories of the month of August, great memories from my childhood and young adult years. One of my most favorite was our parish festival which was always held in August. When I was really young Our Lady Queen of Angels (our parish and where I went to school) held their festival in the hall. The hall was two stories, you had games on the first floor and bingo on the second floor. There was lots of delicious food.
When I say games, I’m talking about booths that were built and filled with handmade gifts or things like stuffed animals, wallets that had money inside, little buckets filled with canned goods, linens, dolls and more. You would walk up to the booth and place a ticket (worth .25) on one of the numbers on the little counter, the person inside the booth would spin the wheel…..round and round it would go…tick, tick tick, tick, tick….and then……….it would stop on the winning number. Everyone would hold their breath hoping it was going to stop on their number and even if it didn’t, people would cheer when someone won a prize!! It was so exciting!!
When the festivals were held in the hall they were only three days, Friday through Sunday. Unfortunately as time went on our little festival was having a hard time competing with other festivals in neighboring cities, the bigger parishes, the ones who had live entertainment and carnival rides and were operating 4 and 5 days.
After a few years our little festival grew, it became a 4 day event with carnival rides. The booths were moved outside into the parking lot that ran behind the church and rectory where the priests lived. The only changes made to structure of the booth was the canvas tops that were put on to protect the people working in them from the hot August sun and hopefully not, any rain.
The bright colors of carnival lights splashed out into the night….they lit up the night sky so you could see them from a few miles away, bringing in people who might not otherwise have known about our little festival. The carnival rides took over the main parking lot, those carny boys were interesting to the very sheltered catholic school girls, we’d never met anyone like them, our parents usually didn’t let any of us out of their sites for very long and of course there was always a curfew so we weren’t hanging out at the carnival after closing time.
The hall became a mini Vegas casino, bingo downstairs, gambling tables upstairs. You had to be 21 to get up there. I remember the first year I was old enough to get past the gate, disappointed that it wasn’t as interesting up there as I thought it was going to be. Funny that’s how it usually is isn’t it?
My Busia Misiak, (Bo) always had her own booth. Bo spent all year knitting and crocheting booties and blankets, embroidering towels, as well as dresser and table scarfs…my Dzia Dzia made shadow boxes and shelves…everything was handmade by our family and all the proceeds from this booth were donated to the church, Bo took nothing and our booth was always manned by our family, we all took turns.
In addition to the big money raffle that was drawn Sunday night just before the festival closed, there were daily raffles, every hour on the hour there was a 50/50 raffle. In June of 1980 I found out I was pregnant, after close to three years of trying, we discovered I had some infertility issues so we felt blessed that it finally happened. It was also the year that I won one of the 50/50 raffle. The prize was more than enough for me to purchase the Jenny Lind crib set that I wanted for the baby, at that time we didn’t know it was twins yet even though at 3 months I was already showing and in maternity tops.
I remember running through the parking lot with my ticket, everyone knew my family, knew me and my husband so they all knew I was pregnant and they tried to stop me, to slow me down. It was actually my Uncle Ed who stepped out of nowhere and grabbed my arm and said, “hey, you need to take it easy, I’ll take you up there.” I was just so excited that I won!
The food was to die for…..the smells in the air were of sausages and kraut, hot dogs and sloppy joe’s. Pierogi, Polish food and chicken dinners were served too. Dinners were served in the hall; the sun-room in the rectory faced a side driveway, the sun-room was turned into a fast food window from where the ladies of the church sold hot dogs, sausages and kraut, sloppy joe’s, french fries, potato chips, and soda. I worked in there too, it was blast!!
As I write this the memories are so clear, like little snap shots and mini movies in my mind. I can see it, hear it and smell it when I close my eyes, it’s so close and leaves me with such a happy, calm feeling. Those are memories that I cherish and will cherish forever. It was a time of family, friends and community. Great times, great memories.
One of my favorite things to eat when we were at the festival were the sloppy joe’s, they were the best I have ever eaten. Over the years I have unsuccessfully tried to recreate their flavor with homemade recipes and canned sauces. Manwhich doesn’t come close. to be honest, we don’t even like Manwhich. The McCormick Sloppy Joe Packet made with tomato paste and water is pretty tasty and has been our sloppy joe preference but it doesn’t come close either.
So I’ve been on a mission for years trying to find homemade sloppy joe’s that taste like the ones from our church festival and believe I have finally found it…..or at the very least, it’s very, very close! I found it on Allrecipes.com and Walt and I loved them. I am going to post the recipe as written, but I want to let you know that I cut everything in half, there was no way two of us could eat 2 lbs. of sloppy joe’s.
Sorry I got so wordy on this entry!!! I got carried away with the memories!!
SIMPLE SLOPPY JOE’S
What You’ll Need:
2 lbs. Grond Round
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, mince
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
12 hamburger buns, split and toasted
- In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
- Stir in tomato sauce and paste, ketchup, brown sugar and soy sauce; mix well.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each bun