Tail Gate – Musings from the Editor

Speech Contests

This edition of the Dialogue is short for a very simple reason. Almost all of the contributors are deeply involved one way or the other with the fall contests. Which brings up the question: “Why are the contest so important? “

Despite the fact that many of us object to competition on the basis that it demeans the “losers,” competition is part of our natures. We do it constantly, often without realizing it. In Toastmasters we try to do it so there are no losers. Instead, we recognize the winners as role-models who have set examples for the rest of us, competitors or not, to follow. They have demonstrated what effort and persistence can accomplish. In most cases they have shown us a better way of doing whatever they’re competing in. We can learn from them.

The other competitors have stepped up as well, and even if they didn’t give their best, they aren’t losers. We recognize them for their efforts and, perhaps, for their courage. If nothing else, they have learned, and chances are they too have shown us something we can learn from.

A contest is an opportunity to push our limits. It has more at stake than just standing up in front of our club. Our skill is compared to others’ skills. We learn from our experience, and If we advance to the next level, we face an audience we haven’t been in front of before. Regardless of how we place, we have stretched and grown.

So, contests aren’t for showing off or boosting our egos. They’re learning opportunities we can’t get any other way. They are important.

Letter from a Farm Kid

Dear Ma and Pa:

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before maybe all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late.

Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you till noon when you get fed again

It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much. We go on “route marches” which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different.

A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

The country is nice but awful flat.

The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake. I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6” and 130 pounds, and he's 6'8” and weighs near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter

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