{ Pants For Sale }

For Father's Day my husband received:
  • One watercolor painting of a tree frog from our oldest son.
  • One watercolor painting of a sword fish from ... our oldest son.
  • One card expressing gratitude to my husband for his abilities to finish levels on the Lego Batman game, heretofore unattained by our 2nd son.  (The card was written by our oldest son.)
  • One bar of Lever soap taken by my daughter from the hall closet, wrapped in homemade wrapping paper and tied up with a ribbon.  She thought this was very funny and quite frankly... so did I.
  • One breakfast in bed.
  • One Father's Day dinner.
I made braised short ribs, and I'm not gonna lie about this, they were good.  I consider ribs "man food" which basically means food that either requires no utensils and therefore a lot of finger licking (example: ribs), is totally disgusting (example: a hamburger with a fried egg on it), or both (example: a hamburger with a fried egg and a slab of ribs on it.  Don't think you can't order this somewhere people - this is America).  I also made Man Food's best friend - mashed potatoes, and rounded out the whole thing with some green beans, pineapple and corn on the cob.

Corn on the cob is one of those things that reminds me strongly of my own childhood and my own father.  (If you are picturing me sitting on the porch shucking huge ripe ears with my dad ...  not so much.)

When I was a kid, our church would earn funds for our budget every year by raising and selling corn.  (Who knew there was such good money in small scale farming.)  Each family in our congregation was responsible for tending a certain number of rows... and don't think my dad let a little thing like him being in a wheelchair get us out of weeding the weediest and most boring rows of corn in the history of corn.  We kids did the hands and knees thing, and  I'm pretty sure I remember him using some kind of homemade weed digger contraption assembled from various pieces of broken garden tools that were held in place with black electrical tape.  He was constantly taping stuff to long handles to make his tools handi-friendly since he and bending over were not good friends.  (Where the heck was Billy Mays then I ask you?  Seriously, if there's a market for Life Alert, there's a market for Shoe-Horn-On-A-Stick...although we might need to work on the name.) 

Once the "raising of the corn" was complete, it was time for phase two of the Great Mormon Corn Expansion Project.  Also known as "the selling of the corn".  Apparently, my family was like the Little Red Hen of Billings Montana, because we did  it all while many of the other congregants ( "able bodied men" mostly) played the dog, the pig and the cat... or in other words, were too "busy" to help with anything.

I hated the weeding, but I loved the selling.  My father, three younger sisters, and I would tow our trailer full of golden corny goodness to a spot where we would get lots of foot traffic (the parking lot of the Maverick truck stop and gas station), place our signage (a piece of cardboard with the words "Fresh Corn" written in spray paint) and wait for the cash to start flowing in (12 ears for $1 - I'm a little murky on this detail, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.  I distinctly remember putting 12 ears of corn into old paper grocery bags, hoping that they didn't rip when I handed them out).  I don't know how many hours we spent selling corn, but I do know that we sold a lot of corn.  I think that we basically sold out of whatever corn we were selling.  We sold more corn than anyone else in the church.

As a child, I thought that our  fundraising success was due to our superior corn selling abilities.  As an adult I realized that it was likely for a different reason entirely.  Frankly speaking, who is not going to buy corn from a man in a wheel chair, parked at a truck stop in the middle of August, sitting next to a trailer full of one mountain of corn which is being scaled by four barefoot little girls in varying degrees of late summer shabbyness? (In my parents' defense - we had a bath every night and started the day with combed and braided and curled hair... but childhood is a messy thing.  Especially when there's corn to sell).
Seriously, we could've inspired our own Dickens novel.

Clearly, my dad was a genius and this remains, in my opinion, the most genius marketing strategy in the history of church corn sales.  I still smile everytime I think of what people must have thought as they drove by us, turned around, pulled into the truck stop and forked over their dollar bills. (This happened a lot.) I'm guessing we were the topic of more than one car ride discussion on the importance of family planning.

Maybe this year we'll get all of our corn u-pick style - for old time's sake (and because I love to listen to my kids complain - it's my favorite).  Just don't think you're going to find me selling it wholesale out of the back of my minivan.

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Nika, Travis, Ayda and Zander said...

I had a lot of laughs over this, number 1: I like Avery's gift. two: I love thinking about Dad and selling corn. The only other memory I have of childhood besides this involves phonebooks and bricks.

e. said...

Delivering phone books - another of my favorite church fundraisers... should've been given hazard pay for this one.

Matt said...

I would like to add the sign was an old piece of wood nicely painted with red and white paint. You remember the tubes of dad's red and white paint, right? Good times, good times.

e. said...

I stand corrected. You are right about the red and white paint.

Carlie K said...


Amy Jo said...

Hysterical. I can just picture it!

grammy said...

You left out the part where dad got up at the crack of dawn and met Claude at the corn field to pick the corn fresh for the day's sales. We learned how to pick corn without pulling back the husks to see if it was ready (or Claude would have beat us with a corn stalk). Good memories.

e. said...

It occurred to me that I had no idea who actually picked the corn. Talk about The Little Red Hen.

MTGrace said...

We must have been one of the dog families because I absolutely do not remember corn for fund raising.

Phone books on the other hand! Hazard pay was definitely a MUST!! I even got a black eye delivering those buggers one year!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. That was so funny. I can see the whole scene before me now. I was never part of the great corn sale. BUT I was involved in the phone book drop off. I am not really sure how many phone books that trailer held. I just remember delivering a few loads over the time you guys did that gig.