In our last two stories, our little group of Future Farmers of America members have had half a day of fun-filled adventures at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh. We had eaten some mighty good food — even though it did cost us an arm and a leg. Now, what were we going to do till 4 p.m. when we would start our journey home?
With very little money between all of us, some of the older boys said we could go down by the lake where a lumberjack show would be starting at 1 p.m. The show was free, but we were told if we had any extra money, we should rent one of the canoes to be able to get a bird’s eye view of the show.
Off we went, but when we got there, three young boys had rented the last canoe. That was OK; we just backed up on a little hill so we could watch the show a little better.
I watched the three boys launch their canoe and paddle within a few yards of where the lumberjacks would be strutting their stuff in just a jiffy. I also noticed there just happened to be a large flock of Canada geese flying over the top of the lake; “Honk, honk, honk.” ‘Bout that time, the lumberjack show started.
Why, them lumberjacks were chopping logs, sawing logs and racing up them poles as fast as lightning. I just happened to glance back at the boys in the canoe and those geese were right over the top of those boys about to land. For some reason, those geese just happened to want that spot where the boys were at in the canoe.
Those geese was a-backpedalin’ and had done set their feet — and you know if a goose sets his feet, he’s going to do one of two things: It’s going to land; go to the bathroom or both, heaven forbid.
Those boys hadn’t spotted those geese till they were right on top of them, don’t you know. The boys all leaned to the same side and flipped that canoe right over. “Help us, help us,” they said. “We can’t swim.”
Well, folks, they stopped that lumberjack show and went out there and got those boys. The funny part was that they weren’t in but a foot of water — all they had to do was stand up.
We finished watching the show, and you know a teenager gets powerful hungry mighty often, but our money was all but gone. Some of the older boys said, “If’n you go up to the N.C. Products Building, they’re giving away free samples of food.” Free food! Why, us young boys couldn’t get there fast enough.
Sure enough, you could get in one line and someone would give you a small plastic cup of cold North Carolina sweet milk. In another line, someone would hand you several big North Carolina peanuts. In another line you would get a nice large Mount Olive dill pickle. Folks, we went through them lines 10 times or better. Why, we was a-changin’ hats, jackets or whatever thinking those folks wouldn’t recognize us, but shucks, it didn’t make no matter — the food was free anyway.
I looked at my watch and it was 1o till 4 and our bus was parked clean across the fairgrounds. We ran as hard as we could to get back on our bus by 4 p.m. I was feeling a little yucky from all that sweet milk and those dill pickles sloshing around in my belly, but we made it to the bus just in time. All the bus seats had been taken except the very back seats which my friend Bubba and I fell into.
U.S. Highway 1 was our way back home and it was just a two-lane road with some rather large bumps in it about every 20 yards apart. Bump, bump. Slosh, slosh!
Folks, it took me a long, long time before I wanted any more sweet milk or dill pickles, but I wouldn’t take anything for those memories of going to the state fair with the FFA.
J.A. Bolton is a member of the N.C. Storytelling Guild and the Story Spinners in Laurinburg.