When I met the family of my boyfriend Barry, they made me feel right at home. As we helped his mother to clean a closet, we found an old Polaroid camera with one picture left in it. Having never liked being photographed but with no way to get out of it gracefully, I stood in front of the wood cookstove in their country kitchen. Picture taken, we waited the one minute for it to develop. I was not especially excited to see the result. Mama Rosie peeled the paper and immediately burst into hysterical laughter. Surprised, Barry went over to look and he, too, burst out laughing. It was all I could do not to cry, and I just stood there helplessly for what seemed an eternity. Finally, they brought the picture to me and I, too, could only laugh. The picture had been exposed the year before, and it was of their prized Duroc boar hog!
–Christine Finneyfrock, Lignum, Virginia
Second Prize ($150)
Back when my husband and father-in-law were in the cattle business, they took turns caring for the herd. My husband took the morning shift. His dad looked after the herd in the evening. One summer, my husband began finding the faucet over the water trough running when he arrived. This became almost a daily discovery. Unbeknownst to him, his father had been dealing with the same issue every evening. By Saturday, the barnyard was a flooded, muddy mess when the two arrived. With frustration and anger, the yelling began. Accusations of irresponsibility and hurtful assessments of getting old and forgetful flew back and forth between them. The heated exchange stopped when one of them noticed the bull heading over to get a drink. Both men stared in disbelief as the animal stuck out its tongue and carefully used it to turn the spigot handle. The fresh, cool water spurted up from the well and he lapped happily. After getting his fill, the big beast lumbered away, presumably forgetting to turn off the flow. Father and son laughed heartily, and so has every other farmer who has heard this story.
–Stacey Pauley, Mooresville, Indiana
Third Prize ($100)
In 1951, my brother, Bill, left Tennessee for Flint, Michigan, to take a job in an automobile plant. There, he met and married Rosie Butcher, a dyed-in-the-wool city girl. Shortly after the wedding, Mom went to visit her new daughter-in-law. The two quickly developed a warm relationship. Rosie, however, had heard a lot of misinformation about Tennessee people from comic strips, and she enjoyed poking fun at Mom about her hillbilly ways. Mom had a good sense of humor, and she took Rosie’s ribbing with stoical good grace. Mom’s brain, though, was not idle; she was waiting to get even. Later, Bill and Rosie came to visit us for Thanksgiving. While Mom was preparing dinner, Bill and Rosie went out for a walk. Mom took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, and inserted a stuffed Cornish game hen. Then she restuffed the turkey and placed it back in the oven. At dinnertime, Mom proceeded to remove the stuffing from the turkey. Then, she started to carve the bird. Suddenly, she gasped in horror as she reached in and pulled out the hen. Looking shocked, she exclaimed, “Oh, what am I going to do? I’ve cooked a pregnant turkey!” Rosie started to cry. It took us two hours to console her and convince her that turkeys lay eggs. –Lucy A. Tharp, Crossville, Tennessee
It was 1957. I was in grade 2 and the youngest of a French Roman Catholic family that never ate meat on Friday. That Friday, I could not decide what I wanted in my lunch box. I loved my mother’s homemade bread, and I thought her sliced pickled beets would be just the right taste with it. So the beet sandwich was made and wrapped with care. At lunchtime, all of my classmates were amazed at my pink bread. Where did I get it? Quickly, I had to come up with an answer, so I said, “My parents told me that they love me so much and that I am so special that they make me pink bread to show their love.” That night, the telephone kept ringing while my mother was trying to make our supper. The neighbors wanted to get her “pink bread recipe.” It took a few days for Mother to realize that the beets were the cause of the pink bread that everyone was talking about. I still find myself making tiny beet sandwiches that I toast in the oven for party snacks.
–Andrew Pearson, Coweta, Oklahoma