A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend the Oregon Steam-Up in Banks, OR. It was quite a throw-back to small town life and it reminded of living at home in Hanlontown, IA. I grew up on a farm outside of a town of less than 200 people so I’m quite familiar with the slower pace of living in a farming community. I wanted to find a way to ‘fit in’ as much as possible so I rummaged through my closet and found my old bib-overalls. I was ready.
What I wasn’t ready for and really should have been better prepared for was the amount of stares I received throughout the entire day. A couple of things you should know: 1) I LOVE being tall. 2) I will slow my walk so that I can listen to the comments and giggle to myself as I walk by a group of people, particularly younger men. 3) I stand up straighter when I realize that I’m causing a scene. 4) Little kids have no qualms about coming right up to me and asking me any question they want “Lady, can you touch the ceiling?” 5) I will never turn down a picture with a short person.
My day was thoroughly enjoyable. The comments were wonderful although half of them I can’t publish here (people in small towns really need to watch their language!). I was asked the usual repertoire of questions: “How tall are you?”, How tall are your parents?”, “Do you play basketball?” however my favorite story happened when I was in the bathroom.
Bathroom stalls, especially those made in the 1950’s are not made for a 6’4” women. When I stand in a stall you can see my head and shoulders over the top. I’m used to it but for someone who is entering the bathroom or coming out of a stall, it can be a ‘surprise’. A mother and son were coming out of the handicapped stall just as I was entering and locking my stall. The little boy looked up at me with his eyes wide open in wonder and said, “Mom! Why is that lady standing on the toilet?”
His mom ignored him which only made him ask the question several more times, point his finger at me and as he walked past he continued to stare. Without even stopping to wash their hands, his mom dragged him out of the bathroom. I was laughing of course and so were the other 4 ladies line. It was quite funny.
I spent a lot of time in the craft/antique areas perusing for good deals. I enjoy getting a good deal particularly on something that has a little history. You can see how tall I am compared to the rest of the people around me. One elderly gentlemen that was running one of the antique booths that I would guess to be in his seventies complimented me on my bib overalls. He said he’d been trying to get his wife to dress like that for 30 years but he hadn’t been able to persuade her yet. I told him to keep trying for another 30 years. She’d come around eventually.
The rest of my day was spent enjoying the logging demonstration (log-rolling, axe-throwing, 2-person sawing, and an obstacle course), enduring the 4 hour parade, watching the steam powered saw-mill, and reviewing the threshing engines and tractors scattered all over. As we walked all over the grounds this little teeny car caught my eye. It was painted green and had John Deere logos all over it. My dad bleeds yellow and green so I immediately went over to check it out. Once I got close I realized that this was someone’s actual car! This wasn’t an exhibit. Amazing. I wish he could’ve been standing there because I bet I could’ve cajoled him into giving me a ride or at minimum at picture with him and his wonderful car….oh well, next time.
A couple of things that I learned while at the Oregon Steam-Up: 1) The bib overalls were the perfect choice of clothing. They not only fit in with what others wearing, but they made me appear taller and stand out even more than usual. 2) A 4 hour parade is too long. Period. 3) $5 for a home-cooked BBQ meal is a great deal particularly when it’s made by someone who resembles my dad. 4) Hot dogs DO taste better at a small-town event. 5) Stand tall and get noticed, it gets you free lemonade!