hereford-calfThe 2014 Gray’s Harbor County Fair opens today in Elma and runs through Sunday. Forty-five years ago, in 1969, I was there when my cousin’s 4H “Scramble Calf” won “Grand Champion.”

A year earlier, my cousin had been lucky enough to beat out several dozen other 4Hers racing to catch one of 10 Hereford calves running loose in the arena (hence the “scramble” part of the name) and lead it by halter across a finish line. Then the calf officially became her 4H “project” and she fed and cared for the animal, grooming it for auction.

And therein lay the catch—at the end of the year, these beef animals would be sold to the highest bidder to be butchered. Naturally, everyone wanted to have the animal that would weigh the most, cause they were auctioned by the pound.th

And just as naturally, some of the teens had made pets of their projects and it was very difficult for them to watch as the animals were sent to slaughter. My cousin wanted me to swear off eating beef for a year, but I was far too fond of hamburgers to do so.

Emotions ran high on Sunday, and not just because the participants had to part with their calves, which were now 900+ pound animals. Many friendships had been forged in “The 4H Barn” during the “showing” part of the fair. And even though I was the city cousin, I’d parked my butt on a hay bale for hours on end and made some new friends too.

One of those new friends was named Bob. And as the lights were literally being turned off on Sunday night, Bob and I shared our first kiss. First for me, and first for him, and as it turned out, also our last, as I never saw him again.

Oh, we wrote letters for awhile, but summer romances have a habit of fading fast once school starts. I’m not sure who dropped the ball in our correspondence, but it probably wasn’t me. Forty-five years later, I’m still wondering how his life turned out.10308553_875923245758472_600075435335860941_n

I’m a curious little bugger.