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Random Thoughts from a Random Memory

By Edward Master

Autumn leaves are starting to change, soon to adorn our landscape with hues of gold, orange, and red. Oak leaves will blanket the earth along with aspen and maple. Football and soccer will draw into focus as summer morphs into autumn. And so, it is that ALF (Autumn Leaf Festival) returns for its, now, 70th year Groovin into Autumn.

ALF is chock full of daily and nightly events, ranging from kiddie touch-a-truck to adult auto show. Miss Teen as well as Junior Teen Scholarship pageants will be held. On Friday, Oct. 6, the crafters take center stage and fill/invade Main Street for nearly six blocks in length.

Foodstock, music/concerts, cornhole tourney, and junior olympics will also be conducted. Tractor, motorcycle, and automobile rallies/displays will be available for visitation. On Saturday, Oct. 7, in conjunction with Penn West Clarion's Homecoming will be the Tournament of Leaves parade.

I was probably in grade school when I enjoyed my first ALF, and back then the festival was just plain 'autumn leaf' to me.

The festival then to me was hot dog/hamburger/french fries and very little of the carnival rides or games of chance. At one ALF, however, I strayed from the ordinary downtown carnival attractions in the park. I teamed up with Jackie and Ronnie Klingler to meet up with their Clarion cousins Fred and Mike Klingler. The Klingler mothers were married to brothers.

Instead of focusing on the parade, we snuck into the college football game. This was long before the days of Memorial Stadium. The football field was next to Davis Hall, where the player locker rooms were. The field at Davis later became a parking lot for Davis and the science center during campus expansion.

We got into the game by crawling under the fence in a small grove of pine trees in the southwest corner. I have no idea with whom Clarion U. was playing.

During my years in college at Clarion U., however, my perspective of the festivities changed as did my participation in ALF. First, I became a parade participant again as I had marched with the A-CV band. I was brass (baritone horn).

In college my fraternity teamed with a sorority for a couple of years to build floats. I guess we always felt we had a 'winner,' but I don't recall even a top-3 finish in judging. We really did stuff chicken wire with tissues at a borough garage on 2nd Avenue in Clarion. At least once we by-passed on a flatbed truck with the float, and pulled the float on a wagon as a group. I sort of liked that idea.

I became a parade member a third time when my fraternity, as university alums, decided to join the parade again. This time a small vehicle pulled 'our' cannon that was once used to celebrate touchdowns in football games. We also decided to handout beads in our fraternity colors: red and white. Unfortunately, we had to go with silver (and red) as no white ones were available. The beads were a real hit. We usually ran out of beads before the end of our march. I think I've done the parade thing enough for one lifetime.

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