1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Memories of the State Fair
Mary Margaret Steele Morgan, age 82 AHS'42

Ah, yes, the fair. It was a big event in my life too but I didn't get to go every year--money, transportation both a problem.

Sometime in the 30s, I was about 9 or 10, our father told my sister Virginia and me that if we were up early the next morning we could go with him to the Greenbrier County Fair. You can rest assured we were up early.
We loved to look at the "domestic" exhibits--cakes, cookies, canned vegetables and fruits, breads, garden displays, and wilting bouquets. Then we would head to the quilts, crocheted work, knitting, bedspreads and other textile entries. We saved the Midway until later in the afternoon when the "show" tents with their barkers would open. The two of us would have to decide which show and which ride we would buy tickets for. There would be money for 1 each. We would never agree at first but it always seemed that we ended up on the Ferris wheel which scared the bejabers out of me.

Late afternoon we headed for the animal barns where we would find our traveling salesman father (Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corporation.) His biggest selling item was V-C fertilizer and he knew all the dealers and many farmers would be at the barns. He always had a supply of advertising pencils and little memo books and used those to meet men he didn't know.

We were getting tired and it was turning dusk. A group of men were busy discussing something new--someone had thought up the idea of parading the winning livestock in front of the grandstand before the evening performance began. They were proud of their animals and believed they were not getting enough recognition. One owner who had several prize winning entries said, "I don't have enough people here with me to do this. Most of our fellows have gone home for the evening. I need at least three more to lead my Blue Ribbon winners." There was a silence and then I heard my father say," I'll lead one and I've got two daughters here who could help." The owner looked at us. I wanted to become invisible but he addressed me directly, "Do you think you could hang on to this one?" he said pointing to a hornless Hereford. My father answered, "Yes, we have a cow. She can do it." I was trapped and scared out of my wits.

The owner took the animal out of the pen, showed me how to hold the halter with two hands. With heavy seriousness he said, "No matter what happens, never let go of this rope. If s/he(?),it(?) starts to run just keep up and NEVER let go of this rope." He required a promise and I answered, "Yes, sir, I understand. I won't let go of the rope."
I'm sure I knew something about cattle but now I can't remember if it was a cow or a steer. I do know it wasn't a bull because his prize winning bull came 4 animals behind me. He had a huge ring in his nose and the ring was attached to a long 2X4. You could tell that it hurt his nose when the pole was twisted or dropped. I didn't like the looks of it at all but the owner was going to lead the big fellow.

It took a while for the parade to get onto the track. By this time it was dark and the stage was aglow with bright lights and the grandstand was also lighted up but not quite so brightly. My animal was big, heavy and swayed from side to side. To keep from getting stepped on I had to almost jump from side to side with each step. Actually I believe I was holding the rope too close to its head but I never moved an inch from where the owner had placed my hands. I could hear the people clapping as the loud speaker gave the names of the winners that were front and center. But I hadn't even gotten in front of the grandstand and was already getting very tired. I didn't know the race track was so long.

About that time I heard shouting and a commotion and looking behind me I saw the bull charging straight ahead with the owner trying to hold onto the 2x4. I knew I was going to get run over by the bull or caught by the 2x4 which seemed to be flailing through the air. I was so scared I thought I was going to pee in my pants. But I would die first before I would do that in front of all the people in the grandstand.

The bull and the owner continued on past at breakneck speed until the bull saw an opening into the infield and headed for that grassy area. I could breath again and set about praying that I would make it all the way around the back side of the track to the barn before I collapsed.

The leaders who had gone first put their animals away and came to help us get our animals back to the right barn and in their pens. The owner probably would have thanked me but was very engaged with his prize bull that was thinking about getting back onto the track.

Papa Steele, Virginia and I walked quickly through the grounds and out to the parking area. With three of us looking we found his salesman coupe quickly. I silently vowed that never again would I accept an invitation from my father to go to the Greenbrier Valley Fair. I believe I was asleep before we reached Ronceverte.

For A. H. S. Ever Always - In Every Way For A. H. S.