Bolton: Going to the State Fair with the FFA

In today’s world we use abbreviations on a regular basis. Some examples are D.O.T., D.O.C. or F.C.C. The one I want to talk about in this story is the F.F.A. or Future Farmers of America. This was the organization I belonged to while taking Agriculture in High School. Ah, those four wonderful years at the old High School.

By J.A. Bolton Storyteller

By J.A. Bolton

In those days, if you were a boy and didn’t much plan on attending college, you would take courses like Industrial Arts or Agriculture. Well being raised on a farm and not having much ambition to go to college, I took four years of Agriculture.
My Agriculture teacher was getting on up in years and had taught at our high school for most of his life. A lot of his hair was missing; I reckon he’d pulled it out while dealing with so many young boys like myself.

He was an excellent teacher though and had the patience of Job. I do remember a few times he got upset; like the time some of the young fellows nailed his chair to the floor when he had stepped out of the room. Also the time a couple of the young fellows got into a fight in the room where our finished woodworking projects had been on display. Why he just picked them two boys up by the seat of their britches and threw them out the front door. “Now finish it outside,” he told those boys. The rest of us boys just laughed at them so they forgot about fighting.

In the back of the Agriculture class was a large woodworking shop. It was our job as freshmen to keep the shop clean and stain the picnic tables the older boys had made during the year. The cypress tables were well made and would be sold to the public. The money collected would be used to help fund our yearly trip to F.F.A. camp, replace wood in the shop; and if any was left over, we would use it to go to the State Fair in Raleigh in the fall.

Every year around the middle of October, our Agriculture class would load up on the Activity Bus and head to the State Fair. Just about every boy would be proudly wearing their blue F.F.A. jackets. There would be a lot of excitement on the bus from the older boys telling about their past trips to the fair. This was a big trip for us because some of the boys had never been out of Richmond County before.

When we arrived at the fair the teacher told us we could split up and go anywhere on the fairgrounds but to be back on the bus by 4 p.m. sharp and if we were not, the bus would leave without us. Well our little group started out where the Equipment Dealers displayed all their farm equipment. The dealers had put the equipment there supposedly to help save the farmer some labor but I think they were more interested in the farmer’s pocket books because that stuff was high.

After viewing the farm equipment our little group headed on down to the livestock barn where they keep those large hogs and cows. While walking through the stalls we met this here fellow leading this big Holstein cow. I asked him, “where you going with your cow?” He said, “going to hook her up to an automatic milking machine, you ever seen one in operation?” Well I said, “no sir, but I’d like to.”

You see I’d been raised on a farm and we had a cow or two but we did our milking the old timey way; by hand. Well we followed behind the guy until he lead the cow in a stall which had this machine that had all types of hoses and tanks hooked to it. To tell you the truth I don’t think that cow had seen many of these machines because that cow was a looking around and mooing every breath. The guy hooked all the hoses up to the cows utters and flipped the switch. I didn’t know where to feel sorry for the cow or run. Why it looked like an octopus had a hold of that poor cow. She was a mooing and milk was going everywhere. Well they finally sucked her dry and was a going to get another one.

I had seen all I needed to see of that ordeal.

Next week more about our trip to the State Fair.

J.A. Bolton is a lifelong resident of Richmond, member of the North Carolina Storytelling Guild and The Story Spinners in Laurinburg.

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