Cullman Senior Magazine Summer 2019 - Page 55

Ms. Cleo McLeroy at the 2017 Alabama State Nursing Home Pageant shared that his grandmother might not enjoy being in the pag- eants, but she always seemed to be ‘top pick.’ “I am just very proud of all she has accomplished,” he said. 
 Today, his grandmother en- joys meeting new people, helping others as much as she can, and enjoying every second of life to the fullest. 
 Following her Strawberry Princess days, she also fondly remembers working as a secretary and book keeper at Cullman High School.
 “I really loved my job,” she said. “Those kids kept me young.”
 While McLeroy said that she is now enjoying herself and having a pretty good time at the nursing home facility, she did admit this was initially not the case. 
 “When we fi st came to Wood- land Village, I was not the happi- est person about the situation. I was planning on my husband and me getting better and returning to our home,” she said with tears in her eyes. It obvious from the way she talked about her late husband, Buddy B.F. McLeroy, she misses him terribly. 
 McLeroy said B.F. was her high school sweetheart who was literal- ly and figur tively her best buddy. 
 One of their highlights was traveling to 48 of the 50 states. She said they had a truck and camper, and when they would decide they wanted to go somewhere, they would just go.
 “My wonderful husband, unfortunately, passed away and I miss him every day. So I had a decision to make, “What’s next for me?” said McLeroy. 
 She talked with her family and they decided her residing at Woodland Village was the best choice, although at fi st, she was not happy about the decision.
 “But, deep down I knew it was the best thing,” she said. Today, she said her decision to live at Woodland Village is one of the best things that could have ever happened – defini g it as her home. A few Strawberry Festival milestones:
 Cullman’s annual Strawberry Festival was first held in 1939. The first festival was held on Saturday, May 13, and featured a large parade, a floral show, strawberry exhibits and auction, a fiddler’s contest, music, a dance and a pageant. 
 The first strawberry queen was Elenore McGlawn of Hanceville, and the winner of the prize for the best parade float was a float entered by Colonial Poultry Farms. 
 The first festival was considered a success, and planning began for the festivals the following the year. The Strawberry Festival quickly grew into a major local event, particularly during the 1940s, attracting large crowds and visitors from throughout Alabama. 
 It was estimated there were around 50,000 visitors at the 1941 festival.
 The festival was halted several years during WWII, but quickly resumed once the war ended. 
 Throughout the 1940s, the program remained similar to the first year. A strawberry queen was crowned each year. Some of the early queens included: (the aforementioned) Elenore McGlawn (1939), along with Margaret Engel (1940), Mamie Deer (1941), Peggie Sue Gorham (1946) and Charlotte Marle Rosson (1949).