Looking Back: Our Fairy Godmother
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
“The Fairy Godmother should have a kindly voice with a certain age in it. I don't see her as being goofy or stupid, but rather as having a wonderful sense of humor.”
The Fairy Godmother is a supporting character in Disney's 1950 animated feature film, Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother is a motherly, kind, and genuine character with an optimistically pure heart. The physical embodiment of hope, she is a kindly fairy that is devoted to making dreams come true for the pure-hearted and noble.
When I was in first grade, in 1952-53, our Fairy Godmother came in the form of Mrs. Lula Preston. Granted, that was a very long time ago and I’m relating this article as I can best remember, so don’t hold me to this memory as being 100% accurate. After all, good memories are just that – memories.
In first grade, we had a Fairy Godmother. The name may or may not have been a result of the Disney movie, Cinderella. Our Fairy Godmother was Mrs. Lula Preston. She definitely had a kindly voice, and she was “of a certain age.” I remember that she came to our classroom nearly every week. She usually came in the afternoon between our noon recess and our afternoon recess. In first grade we were just learning to read a clock, so time was generally marked by recess; before morning recess, after morning recess, before noon recess, well you get the picture.
Mrs. Preston came in the afternoon, and she always read to us. Sometimes she would talk to us about upcoming school or community events or what her older children were doing.
Sometimes we sang while she was there. I do not remember if she played the piano or Miss Mary, our teacher, played the piano, but I do remember there was a piano in our classroom, and we sang. In first grade we had a rhythm band, and often she would help us with our parts. She always wore pretty clothes, she always wore pretty shoes, and she always smelled of nice cologne, like roses!
And I also remember that when our Fairy Godmother came, she often brought homemade cookies or a piece of candy. Our favorite candy was Tootsie Rolls!
Lula* Gertrude Pettigrew was born on March 24, 1902, in Andrew County (Northwest Missouri.) She was the 5th of six children born to America Virginia and John Pettigrew. She graduated from high school and attended one year of college before marrying Edwin A. Preston on her birthday, March 24, 1922. The Prestons lived in Kansas City before moving to Grain Valley in the late 1930s. They had four children: Edwin (1923-1937), Patsy Chiddix (1927-2020), Stanton (1929-2011) and Sara Rogers (1931-1984).
Mrs. Preston served two terms on the Grain Valley Board of Education from 1948-1953. During her time on the Board, she often served as the secretary.
“Nonsense, child. If you'd lost all your faith, I couldn't be here. And here I am.”
―The Fairy Godmother
*While it is “Lulla” in the 1952 Treasurer Chest yearbook, it is Lula on her tombstone! Either way, she was OUR Fairy Godmother and we loved her.
Mrs. Lulla Preston, Secretary, Grain Valley Board of Education.
(Photo from 1952 Treasurer Chest)
Mrs. Preston, Secretary; Elby Adams; Carl Heuman, superintendent; Clarence “Pete” Shippy, president; James Casey; George Taylor; Elmer Duncan. (Photo from 1949 Treasurer Chest)
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