Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | All Access E-Edition | Home RSS

Memories fly in dust when old 4-H building comes down

May 4, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer
Oh, man, the memories.

They tore down the old 4-H building. It’s impossible to explain what ran through my mind when I saw that pile of rubble. A person can’t think that fast without her head exploding. Which may have accounted for the horrific headache I had the day the building went down.

That old, brick building stood as a sign of strength and independence for me. I joined 4-H when I was 10, and at 10 years old I thought I had the world by the tail. That changed in my high school years, but I still have a memory of confidence.

My folks square danced in that building. On family nights, we kids got to go, too, and I remember doing the Schottish, dancing around the building like a grownup. I loved that dance. One, two, three, hop; one, two, three, hop — then hop a bunch more and start over. I can still hear my dad yelling “yeeeee-haawwww” and wiggling his butt when he do-si-doed.

We had all our county 4-H parties — that weren’t skating parties — in that building. Those Christmas parties taught me to stay away from boxes shaped like chocolate-covered cherries might be in them.

We did our clover ceremony for girls’ 4-H on the north lawn of that building and elected county officers inside. We did county demonstrations in the upstairs and had our 4-H banquets downstairs. And that’s where all the girls’ stuff was exhibited during fairs.

But more than all that, I fell in love for the first time in my life walking around that building, holding hands and talking.

And don’t get me started on the old barn area, which seems to be the new dorm area of Iowa Central. Every third fun memory of my youth somehow starts among those old barns, even to the work keeping them clean — 4-H calves don’t wear diapers, you know.

Sitting on my 4-H box, I could watch the world go by. And when the world stopped to talk, why, that was a sure start to fun. I call it “my” 4-H box, but my sister, Cindy, showed calves, too, and it was her box just as much as mine.

She’s a big part of my fair memories, too. When I walked around, she’d sneak close up behind me without actually touching, and others would jump in line and suddenly everybody was singing “the ants go marching one by one,” and I was leading the pack.

A couple months ago I said something to her about feeling so good about always leading the line, and she about choked before she said, “We had to let you lead, you always messed up if you were in the middle.”

Oh, hurt. Not wrong, just hurt. In my own revisionist history, I’d made myself the leader of the pack when I was nothing more than the dolt who couldn’t walk in rhythm with eight others. Which makes me wonder what other memories come back in new form when I think them.

I know we did the clover ceremony because the Nifty Newark club once went into a field and picked a million pieces of red clover to make the chain.

I know we did our demonstrations in there, because two other Newark Beavers members and I won a trip to the state fair on that stage. Mary Lou Mericle (Fraher, now) passed along the girls’ county treasurer-ship to me in that building. Not on her own volition, you understand; I did win the spot in an election.

And I know that’s where I fell in love because, well, because.

And I still see what I remember, whether it’s actual fact or not.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or


I am looking for: