Probably the only difference you would notice is that you won't see Nancy selling the books; instead, a member of the sponsoring organization is collecting the money, and the organization pays us about what a bookstore would pay us for the books they sell.
A relevant question here is, "Why would we do this?"
First, our goal is to tell the local story of rural America with accuracy and humor. We believe that preserving stories of the true heritage of the small farm is important and to do so we need to get the books out there.
Well, who better to sell "heritage" to people than people who are already focused on preserving heritage, like museums, historical centers, or people involved in creating the farm heritage of the future, like FFA, 4-H, or elementary students.
Like most of you, Nancy and I buy a number of items from students for fund-raisers: magazines, cookie dough, wreaths, wrapping paper, more magazines, and coupons. I'm not knocking any of these items for any reason at all, but I can say that none of these items represent the rural heritage like our books do.
Our books are collector items that are meant to be passed on from generation to generation. I don't think most other fund-raisers sell those kinds of products.
Hector Historical Center is near the center of the city of Hector, which is about a two-hour drive from our place.
We were worried about the weather, but the day turned out to be sunny and decent. We arrived early for our 1:00 PM show on Saturday, November 27, 2010, and after Alex helped us carry our equipment in the back door, we set up by using the wall for large screen.
The 45-minute show included my story A Farm Country Christmas Eve, and to my satisfaction, it brought the usual head nods of agreement, smiles of memories, and even a few stifled tears when past memories became too real.
After the show, we ate lunch and swapped stories with audience members who treated us as if we had been friends for years.
Hector Historical Center will continue to sell my books as a fund-raiser, and they will invite me back from time to time to visit, have lunch, and, I hope, deliver more books.
Below are a few photos of the event, all taken by my wife Nancy:
I explain the farmer's cure for cold sores to Sharon Stark (red vest) and her brother. Sharon is the active and enthusiastic member of the Hector Historical Center who invited me to the event.
You gotta like Marilyn. She tells stories of the past with humor, but she doesn't exclude unpleasant reality. She's about 85 and came over from an orphanage to the Hector area as a young teen on what was dubbed the "orphan train," because it was filled with orphans hoping to be adopted. Though many were taken in by loving families, many others were simply taken advantage of and put to work in less-than-loving homes. while Marilyn pulls no punches in describing her bleak situation in the home she was in, she goes on to tell humorous stories of how she met her husband and they started a cattle hauling business together.
I explain that when my folks moved onto this farm the only building on it was a house, which was in bad need of repair. In short, it was a shack before they fixed it up one room at a time.
Lee Ann is over by the table ready to sell books after the show.
After the show, everyone is ready to eat lunch.
Since the audience was small in numbers, I had a chance to talk to nearly everyone during lunch.
I enjoyed listening to their stories, and I admit, I especially enjoyed it when they told me they liked my show.