There are 1000s. . . millions? even of halls and church basements in North America. And each year community groups gather for bake sales, dinners, Christmas pageant planning, piano lessons, service club meetings, teas, dances, lunches, bazaars, wedding receptions, book sales, and anything else you can imagine. Almost all of the basements seem to have similar design and layout. Almost always support poles, a kitchen off to the side (stocked with mismatched dishes and dull knives) and stairwells that are just low enough you feel the need to duck coming down. The hall walls have historical information in there – plaques for former presidents of this or that, newspaper clippings, thank you certificates, etc. And in my experience, all seem to be just slightly cluttered in the closets, kitchen and storage area with items from previous events – one offs that someone deems useful one day.
My husband and I volunteered at the Lioness/Rotary Lobsterfest on Saturday evening. 150 lobsters and about 15 Roast beef dinners. We started at 1 pm, but other volunteers decorated the hall the previous evening with shells, nets, lobster traps, etc. We set up the bar, tables and chairs, decorated the tables, and set up serving stations. We were smart enough to stay well away from the kitchen where several family matriarchs battled for kitchen leader status.
The lobsters were from New Brunswick and had arrived via plane that morning. Each was at least 1.5 pounds each. The roast was rare and in a wonderful rosemary garlic. Both served with coleslaw and potato salad. The scones were homemade and then served with fresh Ontario berries.
I sat in my Lobsterfest apron in the basement of the hall during the predinner lull and thought of the basement of the Anglican church in Cranbrook, British Columbia. I remember I played Mary in the Christmas pageant one year and we did some rehearsals down there. I remembered the basement of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of the Assumption in St. Catharines, Ontario. I hid down there when my now sister-in-law got married (I didn’t want to be in family pictures just in case) and a church pig roast dinner for the congregation. I remember craft shows and Stag and Does, engagement parties, Maple Syrup festivals. All held in these aging halls and basements.
Community halls are the vehicles. Right now as I type, many are planning events to raise money for good (or questionable, I’m sure) causes. People will volunteer, people will gather and memories are created. We are linked in these basements.
June 23rd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: Part of the traditions in hall basements.