Sunday, January 11, 2015

4-H

This week I have been scanning old articles and pictures that mom collected over the years.  A couple of things I have to point out are: 1) they are almost entirely of Larry because he is the first child and 2) scanning does not mean looking over like the old days but means taking a picture and storing on magnetic media which also is a new term since my childhood.  Anyway, what I found was that my brother was a lot more accomplished or recognized as a leader when he was in high school.  He was president of the 4-H club, the Junior Hereford Association and many other clubs and organizations as he moved on up to college at OSU.  It included recognition as a smart guy by being on different honor rolls in college, the college judging team, Block and Bridle Club and some fraternal organization for being smart.  Me?, I was just a kid trying to do my best and trying to do everything that was available.  I am not saying I never wanted to be class president or most popular or president of the different clubs because I did.

In fact when I went to Shidler the only thing I had going for myself was I was BIG for my age.  I suffered from not knowing where or how I fit in the crowd.  Living in Grainola and having only 5 in my class did not exactly make me a social animal.  I guess you could say I was the guy who watched everyone and just wanted to fit in.  But what helped me out were those teachers who saw a glimpse of ability and praised me for it.  Coach Gilbreth was the first coach to ever tell me he wanted me on his team.  Coach Brewer made me feel successful when I would run into those tackling dummies and drive them for several yards.  Pablo Alverado complimented me for being good at Algebra and of course Gladys Snyder (Aunt Gladys) encouraged me when she would say that she had seniors who could not do the problems I was solving.  Mrs. Himbury was friendly to a giant kid with a child's mind and gave me some value.  Helen Head told me I was very well dressed and handsome which brightened my day and encouraged me to always look my best.  Even the girls in my class surprised me by telling me another girl liked me when I could not even spell girl.  I was just naive and excited to be there with lots of kids and lots of teachers and coaches.  The guys like Steve Chrisco, AJ, PeeWee, Joe, Ricky, Jim Whitt and many more welcomed me to the school and to the sports teams. Believe it or not David Howell was one of my new favorites in that I loved his humor and Larry York who was always there to cover your backside.  Everywhere I turned I was encouraged to do my best and look my best.

Back to 4-H.  It seemed like we were out of school all the time for special events like judging contests and Spring Livestock Shows and then contests of all kinds.  I know my brother and sister were outstanding 4-Hers and everyone had an expectation for me to follow in their footsteps.  I wanted to but Larry and Debbie were hard acts to follow.  They were both in the 4-H Hall of Fame and 4-Her of the year and traveled on many trips they earned through giving speeches and showing livestock to keeping records.  Debbie could cook and sew like no other and Larry was the most well studied cattle person for his age.  I remember Dr. Totaschek (miss-spelled) at OSU saying Larry knew more than the professors about blood lines and genetics.  I guess that is why he became Dr. Olson from studying genetics in cattle.  Well this is note complaining but I did not win the awards my two siblings did but I enjoyed 4-H.  One of my proudest moments was when Larry and I won the Grand and Reserve Grand Champion at the livestock show in Pawhuska.  I suppose you know Larry was the Grand Champion and I was second.  The Pawhuska paper had a story about us saying "the Olson brothers are not a rock group but ....".

Another great time was going to contests to earn a trip to the 4-H roundup which was right after school was out at OSU and thousands of kids came to Stillwater to compete in all kinds of events for the state championship in each event.  It was there I was in the multiple contests:  tractor driving, speech contests, judging contest and my favorite was the contest to get a girl to hang out with you.  So here goes my favorite about that issue.  Being 6 feet 2 inches tall in the 8th grade was sometimes a really good thing especially if you looked older like I did.  This really good looking senior was introduced to me and we went bowling and out for a date during the 4-H Roundup.  My brother and his buddies were there and saw me with this girl.  They were not so lucky and this is probably the only time I out performed my brother.  Their mouths dropped as they knew she was 18 and I was 14 or 15 but she did not.  Later that evening I told her and she dropped me like a hot rock.  She was nice about it but embarrassed.  Me?, I had never been out with a girl and was pretty proud of myself.

4-H was also where I learned to play poker and where I got in serious trouble for cutting Cathy Eaton's hair with some sheep sheers.  Now I had an excuse!  She had pushed me.  I got roasted over that one.  It was during this time that I saw Harold Codding eat a piece of pie in one bite, yes one bite.  He had a bet with his mom that for each bite of desert they had to put a dollar in the jar.  I guess they were trying to control their weight.  Now I don't know about you but Harold Codding and his mom never had over 1 oz. of fat on their bodies in their lives.  In fact Harold (Chuckles was his nickname) had muscles in his ears, still does.  I think Harold even had muscles in his teeth.  He could run faster with two braces on his legs than I could with none.  4-H was also where I learned to stand up in front of folks and give a speech.  Strange enough, even today I still get extremely nervous when speaking to a crowd.  It just makes me sweat.  About that poker remark:  I think I played more poker while in 4-H than in my entire life as of today.  I was pretty good until I had some little kid from Fairfax who cleaned me out one day during the Spring Livestock show.

Well I better go but I have to say one thing.  Those Grainola Five and sometimes six if Joy came were and are great friends and memories forever.  Jim Heath taught me to laugh and love reading, Jon Tanny Olsen taught me how to compete, Hugh Allen Jones taught me how to be tough, and Denise Logue taught me to be humble and kind to everyone.  And lastly I only had a handful of teachers but they were great:  Aunt Geneva Snyder who died after just a couple of months in the first grade, Mrs. Casselman who just loved us and was patient, Mrs. Shumate who made great cherry pie and taught me for 3 years, Mr. Lewis Morris who taught me to love learning.  You got it: Mrs. Casselman taught 1st and 2nd, Mrs. Shumate taught 3rd, 4th and 5th, Mr. Morris taught 6th 7th and 8th although i went to Shidler for the 8th grade.

So what do you learn in the Osage?

  • Literally everything
  • A persons self esteem is a hidden and fragile and important element of life
  • Big people are fragile so love'em 
  • The little things in life mean the most
Thanks for your time,
gary@thepioneerman.com


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