Recollections: My family in the late 50s

Friday, June 29, 2018
Contributed image: Becky Wickizer with Litton Charolais

In 1953, our family consisted of my husband, Robert Wickizer, our son, Michael, age 11, and our new baby daughter, Rebecca. We moved to the farm where Robert was raised. It was perfect timing, as Mike was interested in 4-H livestock projects and would soon be ready for high school FFA. We had a fenced pasture, barn, water — everything needed to raise a few cattle.

By 1958, Mike was well into grooming steers and heifers for the show circuit. It took months of teaching them to lead and combing and brushing to “gentle them down” for showing at fairs and livestock shows. He had two friends who lived nearby, and they worked together when getting ready for a show. Of course, the dads were involved too. Every kid had to have a show-box big enough to hold his feed buckets, grooming tools, and a sleeping bag, as he/she often slept in or near the pen with the animal. It was always a worry to mom that my boy might get stepped on.

The big year for Mike and his project was 1959 when his Hereford steer won first place in several local livestock shows. Then he went on to the Northwest Missouri State Fair and was there named grand champion.

Contributed image: Michael Wickizer with Curly

It was always an exciting time for the whole family getting ready to show. The stock-racks had to be put on our pickup, and as we didn’t have a loading ramp, the truck was backed into a small ditch and the calf had to be coaxed to step into the back of the truck, and often he didn’t want to go! It was a relief to get everything loaded and road ready.

After the big win that year, Mike decided to take his steer to the American Royal in Kansas City. He didn’t do as well there, just a reserve champion ribbon, as the competition was terrific. But he got to sell his steer in their livestock sale to a Kansas City restaurant — it brought enough that he was able to pay tuition for two years of junior college.

By this time, our daughter, Becky, was 6 years old. Since she had been raised around cattle, she wasn’t afraid of them. Our friends, Charley and Mildred Litton, and their son, Jerry, (yes, our future U.S. House Representative) were deeply involved in raising and promoting the French breed of cattle, the Charolais. They asked if she could be photographed with some of their cattle for promotional purposes. Her picture appeared in newspapers all over the United States.

As I look back on those years of 4-H and FFA, they are so dear to my heart. I now have great-grandsons. I wish they could have some of the same experiences, but they are “city kids,” so I doubt they will. Time marches on.

This story was published in the Marshall Writers’ Guild book “The Late ‘50s” ©2014.