About a month ago, my wife and I took our daughter-in-law and two grandchildren to a local county fair that is still a county fair much like the ones we grew up with in the ’50s and ’60s -things to see, things to do, things to eat.
The entertainment starts as soon as you enter the gate so deciding where to go next is a question that is asked throughout the day. One of the events this fair does well is getting people to participate in competitive tasks.
An event that I remember well from several years ago was the bubble gum blowing contest. It was held by age group and everyone had a chance, including the adults.
There was no problem in getting volunteers to try their ability in public, which makes a great show.
It was a hot afternoon the day we were at the fair and we stopped at a gazebo where there were benches and we decided to sit in the shade. The spelling bee had just started and it was broken down by age group.
They started at the youngest age group and worked their way up. A call was made for anyone in the age group 55 and up. I knew this was a chance I could not pass up.
When I was growing up, I was the guy who was always picked last for playing most any kind of sports when choosing sides. Really, I was that bad.
But when the spellings bees were held, I was the last guy standing every time. Here was a chance to prove myself. My last spelling bee was probably around 1958, but I believed I still had it in me.
Another brave and intrepid soul also volunteered so now we had some competition, eliminating the chance of a hollow victory by being the only participant.
My first word to spell was “abdicate.” I happily and confidently spit out correct letters securing my place in the next round.
My opponent was given the word “aghast.” Unfortunately, she left out the letter H, realizing it just after she had spelled it incorrectly.
But spellings bees have standards and she caught her error too late to do her any good.
Now it was my turn for spelling “aghast.” I did spell it correctly and I was the champion of the county fair spelling bee in the age group 55 and up.
In honor of my achievement, a gold medal on a ribbon was placed around my neck. OK, it was actually a piece of plastic painted gold, but hey, it was still presented to the winner which was me.
I wore it the rest of the day and all the way home. It now hangs on public display next to my computer.
When I received my medal, I told the audience that I owed this win to my second-grade phonics teacher who made this possible. Of the subjects I have taken over the 16 years of my formal education, phonics is the one that has been the most beneficial to me.
I spend much of every day reading a computer screen of words by other people and I can see my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Pitts, is still needed. A friend of mine who likes to post his thoughts daily does not know the difference between “loose” and “lose.” His misspellings and poor usage are frequent.
This is from a college graduate with a major in English. Apparently, all the college did was take his money. He will not make it at the county fair spelling bee.
I saw another event, the nail driving competition. I missed that one, but would have sat it out. I worked along side my dad who could drive a nail in a board in two or three strokes, while I was still trying to keep from bending the nail.
There are people born to throw, catch or carry a ball usually while running, or to drive nails, and there are people born to spell.
It is a great big world with room for everyone.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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