There are two meetings I will never forget. Both were FFA banquets at the Indian Creek FFA, located in Trafalgar, near my home. Since I know Joe Park, the ag teacher there, now on his 40th or 41st year at the school, he has yet to officially add it up, I was often invited to attend. Since his chapter is famous for grilling smoked pork chops, my wife and I attended whenever possible.
The speaker one year was Captain Stubby, the famous Prairie Farmer man himself, who made a living for years traveling the country, pouring out his corn-pone humor on whomever was in the audience to listen. The magic of Captain Stubby, really Tom Fouts, Young America, was that you couldn't help but laugh. He always said we needed to laugh more in these tough times, and he practiced what he preached.
The year he appeared at the Indian Creek FFA banquet, about half way through his speech, he called four volunteers from the audience to come forward. Naturally, since he knew me, he spotted me right away and I was a captive for his little skit.
Then he gave each of us a silly hat, from a sailor's cap to a baseball cap. He played some dumb music and we were supposed to change hats, and keep changing until he stopped playing the music.
I never actually understood what he was trying to do, but I played along. The audience laughed heartily, Stubby laughed heartily, and I didn't get head lice, so I guess it all worked out in the end.
At a different banquet, the stakes were a bit higher. Tom Turpin, the Purdue entomologist and now Honorary Indiana Prairie Farmer Master Farmer, was at the podium, after dinner, of course, and his talk was all about how healthful it is to eat insects. He talked about chocolate covered grasshoppers and the like. Then he brought out a can of mealworms. Yes, creepy, crawly mealworms. He dumped some on an overhead projector to prove they were alive.
Then he cooked them up. I knew what was coming next. He wanted volunteers from the audience to try his cooking fare. And since I was again a recognized target, I was one of the lucky ones who got the nod. My wife told me to sit down, but what are you going to do when 200 people are looking to see how brave you are?
To Turpin's delight, I ate the mealworms. They really were like crunchy onion rings, the kind you sprinkle on green bean casseroles. I think the last one stuck in my throat.
The only bad part of that gig was that my wife said she wouldn't kiss me for a week. And she kept her word, too!