The Gerard family has been involved with 4-H for many years.
Our club was called the Harg Hustlers, and a young Bob Black and five or six other members enrolled in a new project we called "Native Crafts." I was the leader of the project, and we pledged our heads, hearts, hands and health to better living at the start of each full club meeting.
Henry and Dixie Forsee -- now deceased -- were great community leaders at Harg 50 years ago! The three Forsee children were in the Harg club. Henry was knowledgeable about homing pigeons, having often set them off on races of more than 100 miles and then hurried to beat his birds back to their nests at the Forsee farm.
Memories of those early days of the Harg Hustlers are kindled often as former members make an effort to remind me of those days.
A few years ago, a man grabbed me and hugged me tight for a long time -- in public! He said I had "set the ball rolling" for acquiring the gift of more than 70 acres of woodlands as a park for young people, called The Pinnacles.
This beautiful area is free and open to all who love and will take care of the countryside. Drive about 10 miles north on Highway 63, and watch for a small sign on your right.
One of our early Harg Hustlers exhibits at the Boone County Fair declared, "Your Spare Wheel May Prevent a Drowning." We proved that by floating a heavy, aired-up wheel in a big tub of water in the Youth Arts Building.
It got our message across to a few thousand nonbelievers -- and earned a blue ribbon for the Harg Hustlers at the county fair that year.
A couple of years ago, Nancy took me 10 miles north to Hallsville to autograph my books that were being sold at the new gift and craft shop there called Sassafras Moon. It's owned and operated by Sally and Susan, sisters I first knew as "the Reisch girls" at Olivet Church when they were grade-school age. They have an art-gift-book shop that has, as one man put it, "transformed the village of Hallsville!" Their large shop is well-stocked with local art and unusual imported items from the far corners of the world.
They were in my Native Crafts project in 4-H, and one activity was to locate and dig sassafras roots in early March. They dug the roots out of cold mud; see a snapshot in "My First 84 Years," Page 71. Fellows took the muddy roots to my swimming pool, scrubbed them clean and gave them final scrubbings in my kitchen. They cut and bundled the sassafras roots for tea into short, usable lengths and were off to market.
They sold all of their roots to the first grocer they visited!
Our Harg Hustlers 4-H club has been important for more than half a century; we parents learned along with the members. Individuals chose from an endless list of activities that fit their interests. Competing spurred their interests, and the rewards, disappointments and friendships are remembered for their lifetimes.
Remembering those learning days in our elder years, we leaders take pride in the successes of all of those youngsters in our 4-H Clubs.