CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
THE BOOSTER CLUB [R, 5-3-18]
Later I found out that some folks thought of O.G. Boost as a joke. At least, they made jokes about him. I thought he was great.
When my father lost his eyesight in an industrial accident, my parents declared bankruptcy. We moved from the working-class near east side of Indianapolis 135 miles south, to a hard-scrabble five acre farm near Oakland City, my father’s home town, five miles from my mother’s home town of Francisco.
Our house in Indianapolis was “modern,” meaning it had indoor plumbing—cold and hot running water, a bathroom with a tub—and a modern kitchen—ice box, gas stove—and central heating—a coal furnace in the basement.
Our house on the farm had none of those. We carried water in in buckets and carried it out in other buckets. We had an outhouse instead of a bathroom. We cooked on a wood stove and “heated” the rest of the house with a coal stove. We carried wood and coal in in buckets and carried ashes out in other buckets.
It was a rougher life on the rest of the family than it was on me. I was ten years old. Sure, I had more chores to do than I ever thought possible—splitting kindling, feeding chickens, gathering eggs, hoeing the garden, carrying water and coal in and dirty water and ashes out, taking to the outhouse the “thunder mug” the females in the family used, putting up hay, picking corn, and all the rest of farm life. That wasn’t what bothered me most, though.
I would never be a Boy Scout. I had been a Cub Scout in Indianapolis. I had a nice den mother and a good pack leader. I had friends. I was advancing in ranks. I had a partial uniform—a shirt and neckerchief and beanie. I had insignia on my shirt. [The shirt is long-gone but I still have the insignia.] I loved being part of a group where you could advance by working hard and getting badges. Most of all, I loved having a uniform. It meant I belonged.
Then, after three years of doing chores and having no club to belong to, O.G. Boost showed up. I realized later that he wanted to start a 4H club primarily for his own sons, George and Charlie, and because he didn’t get along well with the leaders of the other 4H clubs and the civic clubs in town. But that was a good reason to do a good thing. The Forsythe community three miles out of town, where we lived, so-called because of Forsythe Methodist Church, was an area that did not have a 4H club. So although the Boosts lived in town, O.G. started a 4H club in our neighborhood.
He rounded up eleven misfit boys in addition to his sons, none of us with access to Boy Scouts or 4H, and named us the Lucky 13 4H Club. I knew even at the time that I got elected president because O.G. maneuvered the vote. I didn’t wonder why he did it. I was just delighted to have a club, to belong, to have a uniform [a white t-shirt with the green 4H clover emblem on it], and to be president.
I think O.G. maneuvered me into election as president because he knew I was so eager to have a club that I would not let it fail, that I would work at it. And I did. I got a notebook and kept a record of everything we did and might do, plus lists of potential members. I invited to membership everyone I could think of. I hounded members to start and finish their 4H projects. I called every member before every meeting to remind them to show up. [Not easy on a 13 family party line.] As I showed my pigs and carrots at the county fair, I mentioned casually to anyone within earshot that I was the president of the Lucky 13 4H Club.
They looked a bit askance when I said O.G. Boost was our founder and leader. Laughed behind their hands. I didn’t care. Still don’t. O.G. Boost will always be a hero to me.