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Today's word on journalism

Monday, May 15, 2006

THE FINAL WORD

PETERSBORO, Utah -- Gloom like a Bulwer-Lyttonesque pall hung heavily over the Cache Valley as word came that the WORD had gone.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire. . . ." No, wait. . . . That's actual Bulwer-Lyttonism. Scratch it.

We conclude, with joy and trumpets and a tankard or two, the 10th season of TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM. What began in 1995 as a professor's strategy to get his students to read email (guess that worked!) now has spread, birdflu-like, far beyond that unwilling audience to self-flagellating WORD volunteers on five-and-a-half continents. But the willing and unwilling alike--the halt and addled and addicted and deluded--will have to get a life and smell the roses, for a while anyway.

Today marks the end of the WORD for this academic season. Even ere the rosy dawn that didth bust o'er this glade, this vale, this happy home. . . . ooops. Avert already, Sir Bulwer, you mangy cur!!!!

See you in the fall. . . TP

Richmond old-timers remember cows in the cafe for Black and White Days

By Brooke Barker

April 30, 2006 | RICHMOND -- It's springtime in town, and besides baby animals peeking their faces from behind mothers and fences, there's one other thing about to show its face on the city streets: Black and White Days.

Every year during the third week in May, life as usual stops. Kids are known to be skipping class, farmers show their pride stock and people from all over the country come to this international festival.

"We have tried to keep the show with a small town atmosphere with professional show quality. In that, we have succeeded famously. We have had sunshine, rain and even snow, but people keep coming. We try to welcome everyone," resident Lloyd Walker said.

MOO, Y'ALL: Richmond prepares for Black
and White Days. / Photo by Brooke Barker

He's lived in Richmond for around 40 years, and his family has always been involved with showing horses at the event. Walker was a "temporary" Horse Show chairman for 15 years and now says he's just a "consultant".

People from as far as Wisconsin, Oregon and Canada come to the festival hoping to buy or sell high quality cows and participate in the events. "Horse pulling has become a hobby, and so people from all over the western United States come to Black and White Days to participate in that event," resident Doyle Webb said.

Black and White Days began in 1913 as a local festival to celebrate and show off the city's cows. Local farmers and agriculturalists came to the yearly event to sell their Holsteins for a few bucks.

Some of Richmond's residents can still remember the way things used to be with more locals and carnival rides. A few of them were at L.D.'s Café for an early morning drink before starting their day and were willing to share some of their memories and feelings about the 92-year-old tradition.

Lee Thompson is sitting by himself at the worn orange counter. He must be an early bird around here, because all of the other regulars are just beginning to wander in, and he's savoring his last bite of toast. Thompson is 72 years old and has lived in Richmond for around 47 of those years.

When asking him about Black and White Days, his initial response is to explain the history and list several of the most popular events. You'd think he and all the other locals sitting at the counter planned the annual event, based on how much they remember about it.

"My favorite part was the carnival rides, when they used to have them," Thompson says. A few of the other guys start trying to decide when it was that the city stopped bringing in the rides and decide it must have been around 20 years ago.

L.D. Bowcutt, a former councilman, says the city stopped bringing in the rides when they realized they were losing money, because the weather is too unpredictable in May. Not enough people were taking advantage of the rides, and the company providing the rides began refusing to come to the celebration.

"What do you need wooden horses for, when we have real ones out here?" one of the locals sitting across from Thompson jokes.

"It was a big event for us. We weren't able to go to Lagoon for the day," Doyle Webb recalls about his pre-WWII days in Richmond. Webb is 75 and spent his entire life with the exception of three years living in Richmond. His father was the secretary and treasurer for Black and White Days for many years. Webb believes his father's position made him lucky, since he was able to find out who the winners were before the announcement.

"I remember my dad used to mow the lawn in front of our house on State Street before the festival, and then all these cars used to come and line the streets and park on our lawn. People would actually put 'No Parking' signs in front of their houses, even though it was really city property," said Webb.

In previous celebrations there have been some pretty memorable experiences that still create a lot of laughs and arguments as to the actual truth among these oldtimers.

"There's usually something going on besides the show," one of the locals that have started to gather around the counter says. They all laugh thinking about their own memories.

No one sitting at the counter in L.D.'s has forgotten the time when a Holstein wandered in the front door of the café. L.D. Bowcutt, the owner of the café and longtime resident of Richmond, even acts out the path the cow took. Bowcutt claims that one of the employees climbed onto the cow and guided her out the front door before the cow could get into the kitchen.

"Later that day during the cattle show, that cow sold for $50,000, and here it had been messing around inside the café," Bowcutt says with a smile. "We've even had guys ride in the back door on their horses and order a drink. They just sit here and drink it right in the restaurant. It's a real good time."

Two years ago, a draft horse got a stomach ache and lay down. A lady hit the horse to get him up and it worked. He responded by getting up and hitting the woman in the head.

"The pulling shoes weigh close to five pounds a piece, plus the size of the horse was like being hit with a freight train. When hit, the woman did a complete backward somersault and landed in the sawdust," Walker recalls. Ambulances and first aid people responded during the event, but a day later the woman went home and today she is fine.

"Not all shows are this traumatic, but when you mix people, horses, mules, draft horses and dogs, things will happen," said Walker.

"It seems that one year just starts to run into the other," Thompson said. "I usually just think 'this is a good time for me to be out of town' when Black and White Days rolls around."

This year's event May 16-20 is sure to have the regular horse pull contest, horse and cattle shows, booths, a melodrama, food, contests and the entertainment that has become a tradition for Black and White Days. There will also be the parade, but in order to find out if the historians really ride in an outhouse, you'll just have to come and find out. It is sure to be an udder delight!

PASTORAL: Horses talk horse-talk over the fence in Richmond. / Photo by Brooke Barker

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