October 30, 2007
Baker Co. -- Many people enjoy reading history, but others like to see it, to touch it and to hear from those who lived it.
Some people got that chance in Baker County last weekend when a lady decided to have a real-life history class. She brought the past to the present.
Exceptionally few people farm, relying on using worn out freezers and refrigerators to grow a crop.
"About 50 billion worms," says Lucile Benton as she pulls back a piece of black plastic that exposes soil. She pushes her hand into the dark soil, turns it over and dozens of earth worms wiggle out.
She started growing them for fish bait 30 years ago, and become a grandmother to lots of the wigglers.
"The great, great grand to some," says Lucile with a big smile.
She can fill a 100 white bait cups on a good day selecting them by their length and width. The bigger ones get sold. The smaller ones get spared until they grow.
Occasionally, she stops and thinks about her past while sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a log cabin that sits close to her home.
"This year I had a dream. I saw all these people here," says Lucile. She was talking about people attending her first Old Fashioned Country Day Festival.
"I like people," says Lucile who says health problems keep her from traveling to see friends.
Instead, people traveled to see her.
Lucile likes for people, especially kids, to learn about the old days.
"I didn't expect this," says Kathy Benton who came to the festival.
Lucile fears the days of hard living could return.
"We raised chickens and eggs. Milk cows and all that kind of stuff," says Elvis Moore, a festival visitor.
Back when people used wringer washers.
"When you pull that lever there it tightens it down," says Joyce Rains as she explained how people washed and dried their clothes.
She remembers sheets blowing in the wind as they dried on a clothes line. When they ran out of line, they would put clothes on rose bushes to dry. Joyce enjoyed smelling the clothes after they dried outside.
"See the old washing machine. That was what stood out to me," says Kathy who appreciates her washer and dryer a little more.
Cattle roping stood out to Vernon Screen.
"I use to rope a lot," says Vernon as he watched a couple of cowboys work a long-horn.
Seven year-old Tyquan Ware had a lot of patience watching an old tractor hand cranked. Asked why he wanted to see the old John Deere putter to life, Tyquan spoke from his heart.
"Cause I love ‘em," says Tyquan.
"Lucile put her heart and soul in her festival along with $30,000.
"It's paid in full," says Lucile with pride.
Some of the money went to move an old house to her farm where people could see how they lived. An old piano was key to hours and hours of entertainment, and where homemade quilts covered beds like oils on a painter's canvas.
"Had a nice turnout as I expected," says Lucile as people sat around and talked about the good ole days.
Was it worth $30,000?
"It's been worth $30,000 or more. And, I enjoyed doing it," says Lucile.
Sometimes sharing a person's past means more than money.
Lucile plans to have her country festival next year and says to expect a bigger and better one.