Thursday, September 01, 2011

Triggered Memories

I received an email from Michael Rustad saying my recent post about P.N. Tri brought back some memories of his own, and that he hoped those reading the posts here will share with me any such triggered memories they may have.  That's always been one of my hopes, that people reading these memories and histories, will share their own memories and histories of this little corner of the world.
PN Tri was a major figure in the history of Humboldt and St. Vincent.  I did not know that he was the first advisor to the Humboldt Stick to It Club. 
I belonged to the Stick to It Club and it was one of the best 4H clubs in N.W. Minnesota.  We had great leadership.  Marian Anderson from Humboldt won the state 4H dress making competition and was crowned at the State Farm.  Dennis Diamond was a consistent State Farm prize winner.  We had so many innovative parent and teacher advisors over the years.  Earl and Beatrice Bahr helped us immensely when they built our equivalent of the Diamond of Dreams on their farm.  Earl mowed a field so we could practice for our 4H softball team.  The year was 1965 and Humboldt's Stick to It 4H club was a powerhouse softball team.  It was boys and girls who played.  Dee Dee Diamond played on that team on the girl's side.  My brother Tony and I were the stars of the team.  We were the home run hitters, the ringers of the team.  Tony and I practiced softball daily.  We would pitch to each other and invented a game.  A home run was when we hit it over the barn with a towering drive.  A double was a hit into the chicken wire.  The chickens soon learned that they were to go in the barn when we played. We never hit a single chicken despite many hits into the chicken's yard.
A triple was a hit into the corral.  The cows were slow moving but even they knew that it was time to go to the pasture during batting practice.  We counted a triple when the ball was hit near the pond.  We treated balls in the pond as foul balls to discourage either of us from hitting in that direction.  Ground rule doubles were hits off the barn.  By the end of the summer, we had taken out a window or two so my Dad helped us by nailing durable screens over the most accessible windows.  Our Stick-to-It Team just rolled over the competition.  We beat Lancaster's club by 18-4.  We next took on a club whose membership was from rural Hallock and we rolled over them as well.  No game was close until the County Championship.  We had been on a long family vacation to Colorado and came home in the nick o time to participate in the 4H championship between two unbeaten clubs, the Kennedy 4Hers and Humboldt.  The game was played at Lake Bronson at a diamond specially made at the state park.  Our team which had the Wiese cousins, the Rustad brothers, the Diamond girls, Jay Hoglin, Lee Jerome, et al. took the field.  The Kennedy players were in professional uniforms and Scott Matthews (who grew up in Humboldt) had all of his boys playing for the Kennedy Team.  Scott played ball himself until his mid fifties and was the greatest baseball player in the history of the upper Northwest.  His boys were excellent players.  Jon played later for the UND Sioux and was a fine pitcher.  Ron, too, was a college player briefly and a sure-footed runner and fielder.  Darryl played as did several of the younger Matthew boys.  The Kennedy team just crushed us.  The score was more like a football score 25-7.    Tony and I did hit home runs but it was too little, too late.   We had so many errors in the field that led to a rout.  Our fielding was not up to par.  No one came through in that game but we did Stick-to-It.  I remember my Dad trying to console Tony and I but we learned about the agony of defeat and the perils of too much confidence.  Tony and I always blamed our family vacation for taking us out of practice but the chickens and cows were eternally grateful for the respite from the constant bombardment of softballs into their living space. 
What else do I remember about 4H?  The earliest advisor I remember was Lois Gatheridge, who had assistance from Violet and Ginny Wiese and Bea Bahr.  We proudly wore our 4H club pin.  It was a white pin with the four leaf clover. A green four leaf clover with a white "H" on each leaf.  The four H's stand for: head, heart, hands and health.  The 4-H Motto:  To Make the Best Better.  All former members will remember our colors:  Green and White and our 4-H pledge: 
I Pledge: 
My Head to Clearer Thinking,  
My Heart to Greater Loyalty, 
My Hands to Larger Service, 
My Health to Better Living, 
for My Club (the Stick to It) 
We met in the Humboldt school and there were always lunches made by the Mothers.  In the late 1950s and 1960s, days fathers never made lunch or even bars, but they did advise us on raising livestock and gave talks on how to do 4-H projects.  I never would have attempted 4-H projects like my insect collection without guidance. 
I remember that in 1961 we had a membership drive for the Stick-to-It Club.  We had helium balloons with post cards addressed to club members.  We released the helium balloons near the school woods.  The winner was the 4H club member that had the most post cards returned.  It was a great spectacle to see all of those balloons released and we were so excited by the competition.  I do not remember who won, but I do remember that the Stick-to-It had a large club.  In those days, we had some large families in town and outside of town too.  The Diamonds were all in 4Hs as were the Gatheridges, the Wieses, and of course the Baldwins.  We were a civic-oriented town and I think 4H reinforced those values.  I remember that I had an insect collection that I showed at the Hallock Fair and received a red ribbon.  I showed sheep at both the St. Vincent fair and Hallock fair.  My mentor for everything about sheep was Dennis Diamond who showed me tricks in showing sheep.  I had some of the largest sheep in the county but they were badly behaved.  I could never get them to prance or even walk beside me.  My fear was that they would break away.  Dennis taught me how to groom them and prepare them for competition.  I never placed highly in livestock shows, but I did learn a certain discipline from raising livestock for 4-H projects.  I was responsible for the animals from an early age (10 or so), so I was experienced in caring for animals.  Caring for them and showing them in livestock shows were two different things!