Tag Archives: brain injury

Come to the Firemen’s Festival! At Kauneonga Lake!

1 Jan

Anyone who stayed in White Lake and Kauneonga Lake in the 1950s, 1960s and early 70s remember the excitement that led up to the Fireman’s Festival. Even as I write these words I can hear the cry of the volunteer firemen as they drove up and down Route 55 and West Shore Road calling out: “Come to the Firemen’s Festival. This weekend! Come support the Firemen’s Festival.”

I still hear how they drew out the words “Fi- re- men’s – Fes-ti-val!” It was a lovely chant! And gave us so much joy when we heard it. The Firemen’s Festival was a highlight of the summer months.

Each year the volunteer firemen hosted a fundraiser on the empty lot in front of the elementary school that bordered the towns of Kauneonga Lake and White Lake. I was always so excited to go!

First were the signs around town telling us when the Firemen’s Festival would be held. Then the week before, the firemen on the truck would go through town letting us know exactly when. We all knew where.

It was an important fundraiser for these very important men (mainly men then) who helped so many!

At the Firemen’s Festival were all sorts of festival games like ring toss and hitting a weight to make it go to the top of the tower. There was a man who guessed your age.   There was food. There were prizes. There were so many people. It was a great time for all. I remember walking around with my parents and meeting up with friends, at which point we deserted our parents.   With a few dollars in your pocket you had enough money for activities to last the day.

The volunteer firemen had a significant role in the community. Now only did they fight fires, but they also came to the rescue of anyone who was in peril of drowning. At least once each summer the sirens would go off and the many trucks and cars of the volunteers headed toward the lake and the fire station. The volunteer firemen stopped whatever they were doing to help. They could not always save the person, but they tried.

They also had the firemen’s beach, which was located next to the ramp where people could put their boats in the lake on the Kauneonga Lake side. It was close to the fire station, just at the edge of the lake. It was where the firemen and their families could come to enjoy the lake.

The Firemen’s Festival was a way for them to raise the money to keep the station going and upgrade equipments as needed. They took no pay. It was just community members coming together to help. The way it is in many small towns.

Their coming together saved my father’s life in the early 1990s. There was no longer a Firemen’s Festival. The fairgrounds are now covered in knee-high weeds. But there is still a volunteer fire department.

In 1991 my Dad decided to cut some branches off the trees lining our driveway. At first my Mom and sister and her husband, Jerry, helped. But after a while, my Mom and sister decided to walk down the road to visit family. By that time the bungalow colony was closed, but people, including some family members had purchased all the bungalows. Jerry, who had poison ivy, took a nap.

Even though my Mom told my Dad to stop cutting while they were all busy, he did not listen. They are high trees. My Dad fell off the ladder and was knocked unconscious with a fractured skull.   When he did not show up to pick up my Mom and sister as planned, they called the house. They woke Jerry, who went outside and found Dad unconscious under a tree. He called 911.

The volunteered firemen responded. My sister said they saw cars flying past the bungalows and knew something was very wrong even before Jerry called them back. My Mom knew it was my Dad. My aunt or perhaps my cousins quickly drove them up to the house, where by this time many firemen and EMTs had gathered to stablize my Dad and get him to a hospital. Their cars lined our driveway.

Although he was first taken to the regional hospital in Harris, near Liberty, where he was further stabilized, his condition was so dire, he had to be taken to another hospital by ambulance. He was unconscious for a week. But he survived for another 18 years. Thanks to the firemen.

So whenever I think of the Firemen’s Festival, I always think of the firemen who years later were still helping those in need. I feel badly that the event to raise money for the firemen is no longer held. The Firemen’s Festival was a wonderful way to raise money and provide a wonderful summer activity. But with the changing nature of the bungalow colonies it was no longer feasible.

The work and the importance of the Volunteer Fire Department should never be undervalued. They deserve our thanks and high praise.

What’s my Problem with Football? Plenty!

9 Jan

Until I had a son, I never really had a problem with football.  My Mom and Dad had season tickets to the Jets.  Sometimes Mom and Dad went together. Other times my brother went.  When my parents gave up their tickets, my brother took them over.

I went to high school football games. And when I went to Mizzou, my husband and I went to almost every home game.  In fact the last football game I ever went to was a game at Mizzou. It was October 1990, the game with the fifth down.  It became famous.  

Why did I stop liking football?  I think because I realized that boys don’t tell you what is going on.  If they are hurt, they don’t talk about it.  And I started learning about concussions and injuries, as a mom you learn about these things.  It occurred to me that young boys probably don’t realize when they have a minor concussion.  It isn’t till things are really bad that a parent might find out. But by then it might be too late.

When my children were in school, I was very active in the parent organizations and school board committees.  I was the president of the middle school PTA for two years.  That is when my militant anti-football feeling really came out.

Why were we spending tens of thousands of dollars on middle school and high school football, when we were having to fire librarians, language teachers and other important educational staff?  It did not make sense to me.  I even went to town hall meetings to voice my opinion on football and middle school, especially.  We could save a job if we gave up middle school football. It was only offered in eighth grade, and there are many local league teams.  I could not understand why schools had to have football in middle school.  But I could not change the prevailing opinion.

But now with all the information we have about injuries and football, I am amazed that we still have football in the public schools.  When a child is injured and has multiple concussions, his ability to learn is impaired.  So why are school districts supporting a program that impairs their students.

However, I have noticed a change.  With major league football players suing, including Gale Sayers, over brain injuries; with the wives of these players speaking out about had difficult life is for these men, I am finally hearing about parents who do not want their boys to pay football. We are even hearing about studies that the suicides and aggressive behavior of these players are linked to these brain injuries.

Some people think they are helping their sons, believing they will get a college scholarship or go on to professional football and make a fortune.  But what is the benefit of that if they suffer permanent brain damage. Or die young  or be disabled because of the constant battering of their bodies?

Then there is college football. Yes it is a big business for the colleges and their athletic departments.  The students do not get paid; they missed lots of school; some never graduate because they have not learned anything in college.  And the colleges and universities make big money and pay coaches extraordinary salaries. More than the professors get.  The professors who are supposed be teaching the students. I honestly do not get it.

There are the percentages… Of all the students who play middle school or high school football, only a small minority go on to college football. Of those an even smaller number go on to professional football.

But how many have a fall back degree?

Yes things have changed over the years. There are many more rules about education. And more rules about helmets and safety. And more rules about playing after an injury. But when you come down to it, people get hurt.

I recently watched a playoff game between the Chiefs and the Colts.  I thought, okay, the Chiefs are in the post-season play for the first time in 20 years.  I will watch.

I had to turn it off.  In the end four Chiefs players and one Colts player was so badly injured they had to be removed from the game. At least two had concussions.

Parents, educators, really!!!  Students should be in school to learn…not to be battered.