Forty-six years ago I placed second in an essay contest in Kosciusko County, Indiana:
Somewhere I have another newspaper clipping with a picture of me sporting an even toothier (impossible, you say?) smile than this, wearing the Shriner's fez I won, and receiving my cash award, the amount of which escapes me now. Squirreled away in another box is the fez itself. My mother never threw anything away. Eventually I'll find it, but for now, here's a picture of Mr. Magoo to remind you what a fez looks like.
Now, after a quest of almost five decades, I have achieved my goal of being A-number-one, top of the list, king of the hill--not in New York, New York, but in Kosciusko County, Indiana. Last month, the Kosciusko County Literacy Society sponsored The Big Read, a project where the entire county was encouraged to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Part of the project was a contest to write an essay using the descriptive style of Fitzgerald. I entered, and lo and behold, I have won with my entry entitled, "Way This Side of Paradise," which uses way too many adjectives and adverbs to describe the experience of raising ducks in Milford, Indiana. The prize package includes publication in the KLS Newsletter, and two $25 Visa gift cards, which, allowing for inflation, is probably pretty close to what the Shriners forked over in 1962. But as most writers know, it's not about the money, or the fezzes.