Monday, November 28, 2016

Because of Taco Bell

Once a week, after we were married but still in college, I'd meet my mother for lunch at the Taco Bell on Missouri Boulevard in Jefferson City.  It was a treat for both of us back then: a chance to visit for an hour face to face in the days before cell phones when gas was cheaper than a long distance call.  She walked down the hill from where she worked in the Missouri Farm Bureau building; when lunch hour was over, I'd drop her off at the front door.  She worked in Brokerage in those days..and believe me when I say that was just about the sum total of my knowledge about Farm Bureau ...

My folks were members; the Missouri Farm Bureau reward sign was nailed to a post by the driveway soon after they purchased their farm in Moniteau county. And my mom was the one who nudged us into joining once we moved back to Atchison county.

 Harry Broermann was the county president; he stopped by to visit with Blake about Farm Bureau while we lived in the house on North 4th.  We attended a Young Farmer and Rancher conference at Tantara and took our first trip to Washington, D.C. in 1982, staying in the Hotel Washington.  The top floor overlooked the Treasury Department and the White House....not a view available in these latter days! We visited the glorious ballroom at the State Department and toured the White House; quite the coups even in the '80s and nigh impossible these days.  When Aaron and I tried to get a picture of the White House in March, I had to use my zoom lens just to get them both in the picture!

White House aside,  Blake and I, Lee, Ann, and Ben...and other friends and up close and personal with our nation's capital on these three and four day trips; past and present, history and policy, mingled to give us an education and experience most tourists never see from the Trolley or their walk through of the Smithsonian.

Through the years,  the policy wonks and famous authors, journalists and generals,  historians, and of course, politicians we listened to brought D.C. to life for visiting farm families from more than a thousand miles west of the Beltway.

State-side, our family looked forward to attending the Annual Meeting the first weekend in December. It was our first break from farm work after a long harvest.  When the kids were young, it counted as a vacation: Tantara was quite a bit nicer than any motel we ever stayed in.  My mother was personnel manager by then, responsible for the registration process. Not only were we "on vacation", the girls got to play with their grandparents too!  My father took the kids swimming; we would play ping pong around the pool.  Some years we went ice skating; we walked through the shops, bought caramels, and ate a big buffet breakfast with a lake view.  Blake followed the policy discussions closely, learning the nuts and bolts of both process and personalities.  It was our first opportunity to do something on our own.

A trip to Tantara for Annual Meeting has been as traditional as putting up a Christmas tree.  Lee, Ann, and Ben used to sit in the back row with their crayons and the back pages of the Resolutions book.  Our friend Greg Gaines entertained our kids..and has now spent several years entertaining the next generation!  Several years we left for Farm Bureau meeting after basketball in Mound City.  A couple of years we left for Farm Bureau after wrestling tournaments. A free meal or two enticed the college students to join Mom and Dad for the weekend before finals. This year the floor will be littered with Legos, wet towels, hairbrushes, and unmatched shoes as we enjoy this get together as a family affair.

 Missouri Farm Bureau is getting ready to host its 102nd Annual Meeting.  This December 2016 will mark the thirty-fifth meeting for the Hurst family.  That's a lot of farm policy, pork chops, estate taxes, FFA speeches, runny eggs, Star Spangled banners, hospitality rooms, eminent domain, talent finds, and hand shaking.  It is storytelling unto the third and fourth generation.

We used to be the Young Farmers.  Now we're the Old Hands....

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