Photo Friday: Autumn Traditions

With foliage nearing its peak color, there are many reminders of fall here on campus. The image below is yet another tribute to the season—the Kingswood School Autumn Festival. The first Athletic Association Carnival was held in December, 1932, and was the precursor to the Autumn Festival. By 1934 the annual event had been renamed by Headmistress Margaret Augur.

Themes varied, for example, the 1936 festival was fashioned after “modern” America and included an Apache dance and a skyscraper dance by the juniors with the sidewalks of New York as the background set. The 1939 theme was the Old South and ended with a rousing version of “Dixie” as the grand finale. The November 1939 Clarion reports, “Cranbrook as usual was well represented. After their hectic day of soccer, football, tea-dance, etc., we managed to wear them out, so that it was finally decided that bed at eleven was necessary for all. Thus ended the autumn festival.”

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

The 1944 theme (as shown above) simulated South America. Entertainment included costumed students singing “Down Argentina Way” and “Besame Mucho.” In addition to rumba and samba dancing, the night ended with a lively conga to “Cui Cui .” Wouldn’t it be fun if we could revive this tradition?

Gina Tecos, Archivist

The Iconic Kitty Kingswood

A colleague recently inquired about a painting on the mezzanine wall leading to the music practice rooms at Kingswood School. The painting is of a girl, “Kitty Kingswood,” who is holding a pennant and is accompanied by a swan on the waves of Kingswood Lake. Eliel Saarinen painted the image in the 1930s to camouflage clay sewer pipes.

Painting by Eliel Saarinen in Kingswood School of Kitty Kingswood. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Nelson.

In 1950, Lillian Holm (Head of Weaving at Kingswood School from 1933-1965) copied the pattern of the gown from the painting and Louise Raisch hand-wove the first Kitty Kingswood doll. This doll was auctioned at the 1950 Autumn Festival.

The original Kitty Kingswood doll auctioned at the 1950 Autumn Festival. Photograph by Harvey Croze. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Is there more to the Kitty Kingswood story? A recent trip over to the Girls Middle School, as well as a dive into our files here at the Archives, indicates that there is much more—and the iconic Kitty still plays an integral role.

Fast forward to 1964. The Kingswood Alumnae Association presents a new award to a seventh or eighth grade girl who has contributed to the spirit of Kingswood and is an outstanding citizen. The Association commissions Kingswood sculpture teacher, Pamela Stump Walsh, to create a statue of Kitty Kingswood for the award. The Birmingham Eccentric describes the sculpture as “a typical KSC girl who holds a hockey stick and a pennant and stands on the KSC seal.”

A sketch for the Kitty Kingswood award by Pamela Stump Walsh. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Today, the statue resides at the Girls Middle School as does a plaque (also donated by Pamela Stump Walsh) with the award recipients’ names. An additional case at the middle school displays a Kitty Kingswood doll, which was reproduced and auctioned off for many years to raise funds for the school.

Kitty Kingswood sculpture by Pamela Stump Walsh at the Girls Middle School today.

The Kitty Kingswood Citizenship Award is still presented to an outstanding student each year at the Girls Middle School. The award is determined by vote of the faculty. Pamela Stump Walsh presented the award to the first recipient in 1964, and her words still inspire students today: “Good citizenship is more than simple obedience to a set of rules or laws. It is a loving obedience to just laws and the courage to change the unjust…but most of all, it is serious concern for the condition of others, even for the condition of our enemies.”

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: