When I returned to my native home town recently for the Tatianna tour, I was open to any and all surprises. It didn’t take long!  While there, I read the Rural Missouri—a publication my mother always has.  An article about the 2008 Youth Tour essay contest sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and a picture of the previous year’s Clark County winner brought back a flood of wonderful memories for me. I was scheduled to speak to 300 students at my local high school during the tour.  So I added comments about the contest.

I asked if last year’s winner was in the audience, and she was there—beaming with pride. I asked who was writing an essay, and several students raised their hands. I mentioned I was the 1967 winner and what a wonderful writing and travel opportunity this was– a seven day all expense paid trip to Washington D.C. I encouraged students to contact me at a library book signing the next day for editing help.

When I returned to Florida, I found my original hand scribbled essay and the original typed and edited essay (typed on a manual typewriter and edited in pencil) in a scrapbook along with a journal. I saved every Washington D.C. souvenir including a letter from President Johnson.

Here is one of my entries:“When I read in the paper about the REA essay contest with a free trip to Washington, I made up my mind right then to try to the best of my ability to write a winning essay. It took me a while to decipher the essay title—Electric Cooperatives: Pacemakers of Progress for Rural America. Then I began collecting material on this subject and attempted to write something original and different.” 

I smile at how the contest  put my writing dream in motion.  Forty years later I tracked Tatianna’s editorial changes in different colors on the computer.  The Catnip Connection blog is composed at the keyboard. What hasn’t changed is my love of words and connecting with my readers with something original and different!

Bountiful Blessings!