Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fathers Read Every Day (FRED)

Photographs removed 11-25-12

After driving a little over two hours, we enter the town of Franklin to do a show at Cedar Mountain Elementary School. I spot a big cottonwood that spans the street. "I'm going to turn around so you can get a shot of that," I say to Nancy, who usually keeps her camera handy.

"Yes," she agrees, "we may forget it on the way home."

 I'm glad we're early. I'm looking forward to this unique audience of fathers and their kids. Although I I know keeping these fathers interested in my program about a book written for children is my challenge, I take comfort in the fact that these are special  fathers because they commit to read to their kids every day. This commitment will change the lives of their children!

Since we are really early, we decide to drive around town a while. As we exit Franklin toward the southeast, we begin to descend rapidly. Looking at the water ahead of us and then at the map, Nancy proclaims, "This is the Minnesota River and I think it's flooding."
By the time I figure out what is going on, it's a bit late to turn around. "I wonder if the bridge is open!" Then I add, "It must be or barriers would be in place."
More than a bit worried, we keep driving and I mutter, "Well, we were early but now I just  hope we get back to the school in time." Then I see a truck coming toward us. "Well, either it's possible to turn around or the bridge is open." We both sigh in relief.

We pass the oncoming truck, drive on, and eventually see a driveway to use for a turnaround.
 "This could be tricky," I mutter."I can see the headlines in the local paper, "FRED speaker and wife drown on the way to event."
  "Not funny," Nancy says.

We make the turn and hurry back to the school where a friendly person named Molly opens the locked door and guides us to the performance space.

We meet Patti Machart, the energetic elementary principal, and she asks, "How was the drive? 

"Good, until we decided to tour the river," Nancy says.

 "If the road was open, they must've just opened it up. It's been closed because of the flooding."

We discuss where to set up the equipment and several teachers help bring it in. We set up and we're ready to go. 

From where I'm standing, the men look interested but skeptical as I introduce the children's  book.

But as I begin the introduction and explain the differences in the countryside between 1950 and now, I see several of the men nod their heads in agreement.
I continue, "In the 1970's Elm trees were wiped out by Dutch elm disease, but in 1950 there were elm trees towering above all the other trees along the roads, much like that tree I saw as we entered town, but I think that is a cottonwood."
One father raises his hand and says, "Yep, it's a cotton wood."
Another father exclaims that he has one of the last remaining large elms in his yard. "Stop by to see it before you leave!" he adds. I agree that we will. 

After the show fathers buy some books and send the kids to have me sign them. Several fathers stop to chat with me. We take some pictures and share some stories.
Though it's always hard to say boodbye after spending such a short time with nice people, we pack up and prepare to leave as we chat with Patti, who assures us she liked the show. Several people help carry our equipment to the truck as we load.

As Nancy and I settle in the truck, I remark, "Another great rural school. Another group of friendly people. We made some friends and sold some books. It's been a good day."

I start the truck to leave and Nancy reminds me, "Don't forget the elm tree!"
We drive past the elm tree father's place and he immediately comes out of the house. "Glad you stopped. Be sure to get pictures."

I tell him it's a beauty and thank him for providing the opportunity. He waves as we drive away.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

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