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Chelsea’s Fall Festival, 1960

September 3, 2011
By John Sheda
It was a time of mixed feelings. The summer was practically over, yet one

of the best times was still ahead. The Fall Festival!

School started the next day and to be honest with you, I was excited to begin school. What was fourth grade gonna be like? But first, it’s Fall Festival time in Chelsea, Iowa. A great time for a kid of nine!

The Fall Festival meant different things to different people.

Mom wasn’t really too excited about it. A lot of work for her.

Dad wasn’t too excited, he had to work Bingo, (which I don’t think he did very often). For the adults, it was work but for a boy of nine, it was a slice of heaven.

Why? Because of all the games. And especially the games of chance. I didn’t care that much about the big dinner, (even though it is always delicious).

I came to realize that as I got older. Homemade chicken and noodles, mashed taters, salads, pies, and the glory of the Czech heritage—-kolaches.

Prune kolaches, cherry kolaches, poppyseed kolaches, peach kolaches and many others. Everybody’s mom baked the best kolaches in the world. I never cared for prunes, but for some reason, prune kolaches were out of this world.

Enough of the food......I was ready to begin the games. All of us kids from seven to the age of accountability were excited about the games. To be more specific, the games that you had to be twenty-one to get in.

“Chuck-a-Luck” was the game. There were also a couple of others but Chuck-a-Luck was a kids dream. Three dice jailed in a cage.

Nice big dice, and a cage that rang when it was flipped from top to bottom. And the rules were so simple. One just put his money on one or more of the circles that were numbered one through six, (the numbers on the dice), and if the dice came up on your number—-YOU WON. Simple.

But you had to be 21 to play the game!! Drat! But in Chelsea, where there’s a will, there’s certainly a way.

I had been saving my quarters for most of the summer and Dad gave me a few bucks to enjoy the day, so I was ready. The booth was crowded. The action was fast and furious. The ringer was ringing constantly. Men shouted their lucky numbers.

For some reason, I never saw many women playing the game. Perhaps they were all too busy making dinner, serving dinner and cleaning up after dinner.

Be that as it may, let the games begin.

Us little kids, (there usually were about six of us), would push our hands past the men and quietly and very, very sneakly slide a quarter onto one of the numbers we hoped would come up on the dice. Number 6 was our favorite. We jumped for joy when six came up. Sometimes it came up twice and every now and then the dice would shout with all three sixes!! Now, that was heaven.

However, as a kid of nine, I learned something about mathematics, statistics and the law of averages. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But if you won several times and were a couple of bucks ahead, I learned again a valuable lesson——walk away with the winnings in your pocket.

I did not do this. When I walked away, it was because my quarters were somehow gone. I had to go find Mom or Dad and beg a few bucks out of them and then go play bingo.

Bingo was a lot of fun. But it was always one of those little old ladies who seemed to win.

Finally as the day would come to an end, I always tried to save enough money to buy a delicious hamburger, cooked by none other than Jerry Veit. Little did I know at age nine, that he would one day be my brother-in-law. Jerry’s burgers were greasy but soooo good. Top it with ketchup,mustard, onions and pickles and again......another piece of heaven. But the cost was extraordinary——-25 cents!

So now the decision. Do I spend my last quarter on one of those burgers or do I take one last chance in Chuck-a-Luck? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!! The decisions a kid has to make.

This year, it’s Fall Festival, 2011. Sunday, September 4th is the date.

Hope to see you all there. And if you can’t find me—-I just might be playing “Chuck-a-luck.” If Deb lets me!!!!! Or eating kolaches. Or playing bingo. And “That’s The Way I See It.”

Let me know at or call me at 319-334-4117 and let me know how you see it. Have a great weekend.

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