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Dawn's Column A Fair-ly Good Memory
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I took an unexpected stroll down memory lane recently when at our weekly staff meeting, my editor and another coworker brought out a couple 20-year-old bound volumes of The Oakdale Leader. The purpose of this was related to something we were covering in the meeting.

As my editor was flipping through pages, near the front she turned to a page that had a photo of someone at the California State Fair with a champion Angus cow and calf. That someone was me. My colleagues seemed impressed that I was in the newspaper, which seemed strange to me since we're all employed at the paper. They also laughed that my cow was so tall, they could only see the top of my head. One coworker remarked that I had good '80s hair.

That really took me back. Those were good times. At that point I found myself curious about what else was in those old volumes. Small town newspapers are always great for keeping the record about what makes their town special.

Way back when, my older brother and I both were mentioned in The Leader a number of times due to our involvement in 4-H and FFA, and in open livestock shows. My mom was good about archiving our newspaper clippings, some reside in a scrapbook and others are loose in a box, but neither have been opened in years.

With the recent wrap up of the Stanislaus County Fair, I've been collecting photos and results for the Oakdale area youth and how they competed. It makes me feel nostalgic about the days when I was in their shoes - or should I say, in their boots.

As I turned the pages of the old newspapers, it felt like such a treat. I saw pictures of friends and classmates who were designated "Athlete of the Week," a group shot of the Oakdale FFA members, and other school-related news and thought to myself, "I wonder what ever happened to so-and-so?"

The strange thing is, I now cover this beat. Because of my job, I know where some of my school peers (and even teachers) are these days, but there were many photos of people I've lost track of and seeing those old pictures brought back great memories of my youth and of those who had become long-lost in my own history.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my FFA advisor and Ag teacher, the late Don Hendricks. He would get upset with me for talking too much in class, but never stayed upset because I towed the line and took care of business - that last part had a lot to do with my upbringing. Mr. Hendricks was always there for his students and made a big impact on many FFA members in this town.

There was the time when I was our FFA Greenhand (freshman) President and one of my jobs was to arrange a petting zoo at the elementary schools with my fellow officers and their baby animals. Patti Hurtgen, who raised dairy cattle, tried to usher one of my young lambs from the stock trailer to a pen at Cloverland Elementary. It escaped from her clutches on the school playground and she chased it to no avail. I soon got her to calm down and we all worked together to corner the frisky 30-pounder.