For many years now, I have saved a day in early March for Janine Yeske, the Jefferson County Extension youth development lady, to drive me throughout the county to look at windows decorated by clubs to celebrate Ohio 4-H Week.
It isn't just because I like to look at decorated windows. I have to study them the way a mother would inspect her child's ears after a bath each night. They are scanned with great care.
This year, I needed to choose the top 10 out of 23 windows, and I have had even more contestants some years. This makes it hard. I know that each club works hard on making their decorations, finding time to put them in a chosen business or organization window and even before that comes the spark of genius to plot out what they can do with the theme "4-H is a World of Opportunity."
After taking pictures of each display, I have to search for something in the window that stands out and then make a list of these chosen windows. Then I count and find out that I have 16 who really stand out for one reason or another.
Now to whittle them down. And I agonize over this. I will chose one that might not stand out to someone else but I take in the amount of work put in flags of many nations that are included in their depiction. Another could have a story to tell in three different pictures. One club went to the trouble of learning the written language of many nations for their window.
I can't describe them all, but I want everyone to know that I put much thought into each window. I look for little things that make one different from another and after much angst, I send off the top 10 to Janine.
I have come to look forward to this day of traveling the country from the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District office, where the new club, Dusty Boots, had a window decorated for the first time, to Richmond, East Springfield, Bloomingdale, Smithfield, Dillonvale, Tiltonsville, Harrisville, Steubenville and back to Wintersville again.
One year, we had a car door that would not stay closed, and it would swing open at the most inopportune moment. This time, we were talking so much that we completely drove past the East Springfield post office and on to Amsterdam before we realized that we had overshot our mark.
One of the locations that gave us trouble was the Meadowbrook Church, with the door decorated with winners' trophies and pictures of members inside each of the golden treasures by the Lassos and Lace members.
The other was the Buckeye South Elementary School, with darling wooden figurines dressed up in fabric clothes to represent a lawyer, farmer, military member and the medical field. This was put together by the Country Kids 4-H Club.
The reason there was a problem was the closing of state Route 150 due to tree trimming. We had heard that there were intervals when buses or emergency vehicles were allowed through, and seeing a bus in the near distance, we decided we would catch up and go through with the bus to our two windows to be judged.
Janine was stepping it up a bit to get close to the bus, but the traffic director shut off the road with saw horses bearing big signs that should scare off the normal driver. We didn't qualify, though.
The highway worker saw us coming at what might have been a few miles faster than was necessary and jumped to a standing spread eagle position to keep us from ignoring the signs. We stopped, and Janine used her sweetest tone of voice and explained that we needed to get through to judge the windows that had to be done that day. Someone had even told her if she used my name and said it was for the Herald-Star, it could work. Wrong. I found out that my name is not known by highway workers.
He explained that he wasn't from the area and had specific orders that it was only buses and emergency vehicles allowed through. That put a hole in our sails immediately.
We then called Corky Saiter and asked how to get to Meadowbrook from where we left gunning our motor and biting our trembling lower lip. Since I did not know the road that took a motorist from Dry Fork up past the Saiter farm, we took township Road 118, Waligura's Hill to us who live around there. Janine drove through Smithfield, out county Road 15, down Connorsville Hill and then turned right to get to Meadowbrook and meandered left to go to the school.
I had to go back the next morning to judge the Serenity window fashioned by the Warren Ridge Wranglers, as a school snow day had hampered their decorating time. I know which roads to take now, and anyone who finds himself or herself facing the highway department guard who will lay down his body to keep travelers out can contact me. Although two women who were obeying the postman's creed of getting to our determined location despite snow, rain or roadblock failed in our attempt.
We met Vickie Whinnery, the county junior fair coordinator who lives near Harrisville, at the Meyers Family Dining Center. It is the former Harrisville Pharmacy and is remodeled in an attractive style, and their food is plentiful and really good. Janine and I both ordered fish sandwiches and had two gigantic pieces of fish that dwarfed the sub bun, and I swear a pint basketful of french fries.
Vickie is still glowing over the distinction designated on their daughter, Kathrine, who was named the Ohio Fair Queen - a big honor as no one else in Jefferson County, that is written in the fair history, has received this honor. She will be attempting to visit all 88 county and independent fairs throughout the summer and will be one busy young lady. We are quite proud of her.
I mentioned the Saiters some paragraphs back and want to say that our luck in meeting with other members of the family increased when we went to Plain City on the weekend.
Jackson, 9, and Maggie, 6, our grandchildren, both play basketball with a Christian league, and this would be our last chance to see them play this year.
It had been mentioned to us that Jason Saiter, Corky and Judy's son, had moved to Plain City and that Angie, Jason's wife, was coaching Maggie's team. As a matter of fact, their son, Elwyn Henry Saiter Jr., was on the same team.
I didn't immediately recognize Jason when they walked in but ducked and jumped my way past adorable, little dribblers to get to the other side of the court and asked if he remembered me. (I don't like it when people do this to me, because if I don't know, I start getting nervous) but that is exactly what I did to him. As luck would have it, he did remember me, and we hugged and I was introduced to his wife, Angie, and son, Henry.
Angie is a very capable coach for the little team. She congratulated each member who gets a hand on the ball or makes a basket and has loads of encouragement.
The league makes the games exciting for the players as the lights go down, the voice of the announcer rumbles through the building and out come the tiny players running and jumping happily.
There are stars circling the tunnel and a smoke screen to navigate through, and their picture is flashed on a smaller version of a jumbo-tron with them making faces or doing some kind of a trick.
Jackson played on the Junior Lions team and they won handily. He made a basket, and his entire McCoy entourage cheered wildly. Maggie made a few as well.
It was so much fun to watch the tiny players honing their skills for bigger things in later years.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)