In 1965, like most of the 10-year-olds in my hometown, I joined the 4-H Club. There were two local chapters—the Crafty Clovers (homemakers) and the Four Leaf Clovers (farmers). Although I grew up in a farming community, we didn’t live on a farm. And besides, livestock and poultry scared the begeezes out of me! So I became a Crafty Clover.
Our club met in the Home Ec. room, in the southwest corner of the basement at the 1-12 (no K in those days) Lizton School. I’m specific here about the location because, many years later, the building was converted into apartments and my son has lived in several of them. It’s an inside joke for me to ask, “Which classroom do you live in now?”
Anyway… each meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, the 4-H pledge, and a rousing rendition of the 4-H theme song. The melody is the Caissons Go Rolling Along, and the lyrics—to the best of my recollection, which could be a bit skewed…I mean, I thought it was mairzy dotes until just a few years ago—are as follows:
Over hill, over dale, we will hit the 4-H trail,
As we Club Folk keep rolling along.
For it’s hi-hi-hee, the 4-H Club for me.
Shout out your numbers loud and strong.
For where e’er we go, you will always know,
That we Club Folk keep rolling along.
During the course of a meeting, each member shared her progress on the projects she’d chosen. The goal was to complete or construct an item that could be exhibited at the Hendricks County Fair. We all sought a Blue Ribbon. It was like getting an A at school. Secretly though, each of us dreamed of the purple, coveted prize—a Champion Ribbon—knowing it’d probably never be ours. To be Champion meant that your project was better than all the other exhibits, county-wide, in that group and was eligible for exhibition and judging at the Indiana State Fair. Competition was fierce!
My project selections over my 6 years as a Crafty Clover, ranged from Foods (cooking, meal planning, and food preservation) to Home Furnishings (today’s DIY) to Photography to Clothing (sewing) to Entomology (Bugs!) Most of those skills have since served me well—although I’ve never liked to cook, so I faked my way through many meals throughout the years. But… Bugs!…? Don’t ask me why I chose bugs—I have no idea!
In an earlier post I explained how I learned, and who taught me, to sew so I won’t repeat that here. Just suffice it to say—every year, Clothing projects became more complicated—the seam ripper was my closest friend! Mom coached me in cooking and canning and freezing. And both of my parents helped with the Home Furnishings and Photography projects.
Dad, maybe begrudgingly—I don’t know since he never complained and even proudly told how 3-year-old me played with earthworms while he dug in the garden—supported my Bugs! decision. He took me to the Texaco station in Lizton, owned at the time by The Assassin, a professional wrestler—just a bit of trivia about my hometown. The building’s north wall was a huge, white, windowless expanse that, when lit after dark, became a bug magnet.
We’d catch the specimens, seal them in a glass jar with a formaldehyde soaked cotton ball, wait for them to die, stick a pin through the thorax, and then let the carcass dry out on a board. Eww gross and double yuck! It’s a wonder I don’t have medical problems from the formaldehyde… and… I truly am not a sadist! Hey, I didn’t torture those worms years before, I just played with ‘em!
Dad, coming from a long line of carpenters, built the display box—a varnished, shallow, plywood box that had a fiberboard ceiling tile (probably composed of asbestos!) inserted in the bottom and a sliding glass top. I pinned the bugs to the fiberboard, grouping them into categories—moth, beetle, dragonfly, etc.— and I hand-printed ID labels to go underneath each one. Thus, the culmination of my learning experience in 4-H Entomology. Years later, the glass top shattered and the bugs disintegrated under the weight of a kitchen stool—but that’s another story….
I wasn’t the only 10-year-old crazy enough to choose Entomology that year—there were several other exhibitors at the Hendricks Co. Fair, some even older than me—but my Bug Box won the coveted Champion Ribbon and I took it to the State Fair. Wow! I was even awarded a gold pin—County Honor-1966- Entomology—presented by the electric company. I was sooo proud!
Guess the line between the homemaker and farmer clubs was a little blurred after all, since it’s farmers who need to know how to rid their crops of pests. Oh… I know…formaldehyde soaked cotton balls would work—nowadays the EPA would order a raid!
To relive the Fair Experience with me, tune into this blog for I Was a Crafty Clover: Part 2. It’s been nice chatting with you all! Until next time, I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!