Alva Review-Courier -

At age 93,Verna Lee Lawson has Kiowa Labor Day memories from about 1940


August 28, 2019

Longtime Kiowa resident Verna Lee Lawson recalls playing in the Hardtner School Band at Kiowa's Labor Day celebration.

"I graduated from the eighth grade in Hardtner (Kansas) in 1940, " Kiowa woman Verna Lee Lawson said. "I can still remember playing the baritone in the Hardtner School Band. We played in Kiowa's Park on Labor Day around that time." She recalls a big crowd at the park in those early days.

Age 93 now, the longtime Kiowa resident said she's seldom missed Kiowa's Labor Celebration in Progress Park. She's a fan of the free ham and bean lunch that's served at noon. She used to go with her husband Vane, who is deceased. Their grown children are Randy of El Dorado, Tony of Wichita and Sheri of Blackwell. She has at least seven grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. Lawson said sometimes the kids come home and she goes to the park to eat ham and beans with them. If not, she said neighbors are kind and bring her some. She named Buddy Liggenstoffer as one of those nice neighbors.

This year, 2019, Kiowa's Labor Day Cake Walk is 50 years old. Lawson said she's baked many cakes for it through the years. "Bob or Grace always called to remind me," she said with a chuckle. She's baked but doesn't recall ever walking for a cake. "I've always enjoyed Labor Day," she said and has fun memories of taking her children to the carnival in the park. She thinks she remembers some circus animals years ago – specifically an elephant.

When asked the secret to her longevity, Lawson said, "I've always eaten right. I exercise. I didn't ever smoke. I think young and I like to dance. If I had a partner I'd still be dancing. I've always enjoyed life and have a good mind." She still drives "everywhere" and isn't scared to take off to Blackwell to see her daughter. Did she drink alcohol? "Once in a while," she replied and mentioned New Year's Eve. She likes to read, watch TV and go for a walk. She loves to visit and can be found drinking coffee with friends at the drug store.

Labor Day Activities Traditional, Starts with 35th 5K Run

All are invited to attend the Labor Day Weekend in Kiowa. On Saturday are silly sports like Duck Soup Softball, garage sales throughout town and more. On Sunday the Classic Car Show is in the park all morning until early afternoon and then concludes with the Burnout.

Monday starts with the 35th 5K Race and Fun Run at 8 a.m. Registration is at the community building starting at 6:30 a.m. Since this is the 35th race all finishers will receive a medal. Kent McBrayer who started the race is now in more of an advisory capacity. He said Melissa Simpson does most of it "and is the future of the race." Melissa Rector and her husband Tim still help as they can since moving to Pratt. McBrayer thanks the First State Bank for their continued sponsorship of the race.

At Progress Park you'll find all the traditional favorites – food booths, games, a slip and slide for the kids, free ham and beans served at noon, homemade ice cream, the cake walk, Bingo, and hopefully entertainment on the park stage at 3 p.m.


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