To girls and women reading this, an advance apology is in order, although it was the custom of the era.
This entry is a boys’ only invitation as we go back to August 1923. Oneonta’s Rotary Club inaugurated a Back to School Campaign and invited schoolboys in the city from 12 to 15 years old for an afternoon of food and activities at Neahwa Park on Thursday, Aug. 23. Nearly 200 attended.
As The Oneonta Star previewed the event that day, “Bright and early this morning Ed Barnes will embark for the park with the famous Dell Kohn clambake outfit, for it’s going to be an honest to goodness clambake, with only the clams missing. The arrival of the cooking outfit at the park will be the signal for the start of the parade of ice cream trucks, soft drink wagons, grocery carts laden with sweet corn, sweet potatoes and what not, and market conveyances crammed with hot dogs. By the time the boys arrive the meal of the century will be ready to serve.”
The Star added, “If any arises from the table hungry it will be entirely his fault.” None did, in fact it was told how third helpings were the rule and several boys were noticed at the ice cream table five and six times.
When each boy had completed his fill, Jerry Wilson led in singing “America.” Accompaniment was furnished by Keeton’s Band, which also played during the meal.
After a feed like this, it was time for the boys to let the food settle in their stomachs. There was a purpose for this day, with a bit of a serious message, that of the importance of staying in school and getting a good education, as well as living a clean, moral life. Boys at that time were much more inclined to drop out of school than were girls.