Perpetual Plan B

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Day I Met President Benson in the Pig Barn at the State Fair

Today in Relief Society, something in the lesson reminded me of this story and that I have never written it down anywhere else.

So, here goes:

When I was a kid, I was in 4-H. I've done quite a few different things with the 4-H program including cooking, sewing, leather work, public speaking (I gave a talk on cuts of meat, of all things) and showing livestock. I showed steers when I was really little - starting at age 7, and still lived in Nebraska, but once we moved to Utah (around 1977) I mainly stuck to lambs and pigs.

Showing pigs was actually my favorite because there is less grooming involved. Also, you can't really train a pig so you don't have to take a lot of time working with them (this all is starting to make me sound pretty lazy, isn't it?) and back then you made a lot more money selling pigs.

When I got older, we started showing pigs at other fairs around the state. I didn't really enjoy this because my dad was too cheap to pay for a hotel so it pretty much involved staying in our horse trailer and sleeping in straw (the same straw that we used to haul the pigs down in the first place). Since I was the only girl (I had five brothers) this was not my idea of fun. I think the State Fair is the one I went to the most. It seems like somewhere there we were able to take showers.

Anyway, the first year I was in college (and actually the last year I could show in 4-H) I was showing a pig at the State Fair. I was right in the middle of the Fitting and Showmanship class. My dad came over to the side of the ring and motioned me over. This was not a good thing in Fitting and Showing because you are judged on what you are doing, not the pig's attributes. It is not good showmanship to be talking to people outside the ring and my dad, of all people, knew this. (My dad is actually usually in charge of all the pig stuff at the State Fairs these days.)

My dad said, "Holly, come here."

I said, "Dad, I'm in the middle of something here." (or something to that effect.)

Then my dad pointed over to a golf cart at the entrance of the barn. I still had no idea what was going on.

Then he said, "There's President Benson over there. Go shake his hand."

Well, the last thing you are supposed to do is leave the ring when you are being judged on your showmanship, so I was somewhat reluctant to do this but I realized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I handed my pig cane over to my dad, hopped over the fence and walked over to President Benson in the golf cart. He was flanked on each side by a young man that was maybe missionary-age or a little older. All three were in dark suits. (President Benson was the Agricultural Secretary for the U.S. under President Eisenhower, I think. I'll have to look that one up.)

I can't really remember what I said as I approached President Benson, but I do remember so well that as I shook his hand it felt as if a jolt of electricity surged from down his hand up into my hand and up along my whole arm. I will never forget that feeling.

It was a great thing for me personally, because I really loved President Kimball so much that I had a hard time accepting President Benson. I remember that I didn't really like the sound of President Benson's voice. I did hear him and his wife speak at Utah State University a while before this experience. I liked his talk and his wife, Flora, was so cute, so I did start to kind of like him at that point.

The whole thing lasted under a minute, I'm sure, because as soon as we shook hands I headed back into the ring and grabbed my pig cane from my dad. I don't even know if the judge noticed that I was gone. I wish I could remember how I did in the contest but I must not have placed too high or I probably would have remembered.

And so, that's the story of how I met President Benson.

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