On the lighter side

Guest editorial

Guest editorial by Arnold Malone

These are heavy times. I listen to the morning news for about an hour and then watch the late night news in the evening. In between I listen to music or silently make things in my wood shop. Sometimes I get out for a brisk walk. Distracting yourself from this anxious time is good medicine.

Survival is, as much as anything, a matter of attitude. We need to know that the world will again get better. Humans have been in the depth of the valley many times before and still climbed back into the sunshine. My parents lived through two world wars and a Great Depression. So, if we now stay apart, we will again come together.

So, this article is not about heavy stuff. Everyone who has ever had a job has been witness to some funny stories. Get ready to write yours. We will need them.

While working as a provincial supervisor of the Alberta 4-H Clubs movement I was once attending a field crops Achievement Day in the Peace River region of Alberta.

In part, we were testing the 4-H members on plant identification and their knowledge about field sprays.

The members were lined up at a long table where specimens of field crops and weeds were pressed on plastic sheets. Each member had a moment for identification and was then to move to the next specimen. At one point the line did not move when requested. I went to the boy at the front of the line and asked, “Are you having a concern?” He responded, “I know the name of this plant and I can say a name very close but I know it is not correct.” I told him to put down the name that was similar and if I thought he was close I would give him full marks.

The plant he was looking at was a clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil. When the group handed in their exam sheets I set his aside and looked up the relevant question. He had written Crows foot Tin Foil. He got full marks.

On that same day a 10-year-old member – the minimum age to join 4-H – was responding to a question of, what sprays would you use on wheat and what spray would you use with oats. The answer, in that time long ago, was 2-4-D in wheat and MCP in oats. The 10 year olds’ answer was, 2-4-D in wheat and TNT in oats. No doubt the dynamite was intended for the bigger weeds.

On another occasion I was asked to be the quest speaker at an awards banquet at Tomahawk, Alberta located west of Edmonton. I was seated at the head table along with eight others. A young boy was sitting beside me. His anxiety meter was in the red zone. I tried to engage him in conversation but got either no response or a one-word answer.

“How old are you?” I asked. He whispered, “10.”

During the banquet I was trying to bring comfort to this nervous boy. Finally I left him alone. I was certain that I was making him increasingly anxious.

Then a boy, about seventeen years old, who was doing a splendid job of chairing the banquet, announced, “I now call upon Johnnie Doe to introduce our guest speaker.”

To my surprise the terrified boy sitting beside me rose from his chair and went to the microphone and with a fairly crisp voice said, “We will now have a speech from Arnold Malone.” Then in a loud voice while leaning close to the microphone he shouted, “Is he here?”

The audience offered the wrong response. The room filled with laughter.

Do you have a funny or light story to share? Why not send it to the Pioneer? We can all benefit from a little levity in these times.

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