Does anyone else remember the Farm Club? It was in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Families living in the area around Bolivar were members of a group called the Farm Club, whose chief purpose seemed to be having a community dinner once a month at an upstairs meeting room in one of the local feed stores.
There was always an abundance of fried chicken and a wonderful assortment of cakes and pies. School children would look forward to accompanying their mothers, and the women would show off their kids’ skills in singing or reciting poetry.
We had just moved to the farm on Highway D, and the first time Mama took me with her to the Farm Club she couldn’t resist volunteering me to play a piano solo. Of course, I had stopped taking lessons and hadn’t touched a keyboard for some time. Some of the neighborhood boys in Kansas had teased me saying only girls or women played the piano.
Nevertheless, I sat down and started playing the only song I knew — something about “Pirates.” Actually, my fingers were playing without guidance, just by mechanical memory.
About halfway through, they stopped and my mind was a total blank. Not knowing what to do and with all the people watching me, after a few seconds I started over. In a miracle of recall, my hands played the piece completely to the end. There was no encore, and that was the last time I played a piano.
The Farm Club women would also have sales of little cakes at some of the monthly meetings in which a daughter’s name would be secretly connected with a cake. The idea was that whoever bought a cake would share it with the unknown girl.
The price in those days was probably not more than 10 or 15 cents, and the money might have been used later for seasonal decorations.
My mom bought a cake for me and the girl who appeared was Golda Jean. Self-conscious, I cowardly ran outside with the cake and ate it all by myself. That must have hurt the feelings of both her and her mother.
Later when my mom told our neighbor, Ermal Brim, about this, her remark was, “Billy, someday that little girl may grow up to bake the best cakes you can imagine.”
And Ermal’s prediction turned out to be true. Years after that when she was married, Golda Jean Potts not only was well known for her baking but also for the beautiful flowers she raised for her friends and her church. She passed away in 2015.
Bill is 88 and lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, June. He is the author of “I Came from There: A Memoir,” a collection of stories about growing up in Bolivar, which is available on Amazon.