Auction has evolved but remains fun

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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As I was leaving the Wise County Youth Fair auction a few weeks ago I heard someone say, “This is a sham, why don’t they just give the kids a check and forget all this auction business.”

Roy J. Eaton

Roy J. Eaton

He is right, of course, but I would hardly call it a sham. I think it’s lots of fun. It is true that rarely does someone other than the buyers associations or Champions and Blue Ribbon Club buy the projects at the champions auction.

The reason is that those groups gather money all year long to make sure that every kid in the auction gets a fair price for their project.

The individual buyers associations, based on how much money they have available, get together and decide how much they are going to be able to pay for the various projects. But that doesn’t mean that an individual company or family friend can’t outbid those groups. In fact, I did that for several years before we joined the Champions and Blue Ribbon Club.

The directors of the Champions Club meet the morning of the sale to determine how much money will be available for the champions and reserve champions and set a “ceiling” price on what the club can afford. The buyers associations do exactly the same thing, and many of the Champions Club members also contribute to the buyers associations.

I try to go through area newspapers from Bowie and Jacksboro and Granbury before the meeting to determine prices paid for projects in our neighboring counties that have similar FFA, 4-H and FCCLA shows.

Some area counties have gone away from an auction and have a dinner for the exhibitors and their parents and pass out the checks for each winning project. That might be an idea for Wise County to try, but it also might not be as much fun.


This is the time of year when Wise County school districts consider teacher contracts for the next year. While reading the monthly newsletter of the Wise County Historical Society recently, I ran across “rules” that teachers had to follow in 1914. I thought you would find them interesting.

They are as follows:

  • You will not marry during the term of your contract.
  • You are not to keep company with men.
  • You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless at a school function.
  • You may not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream stores.
  • You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the chairman of the school board.
  • You may not ride in carriages or automobiles with any man except your father or brother.
  • You may not smoke cigarettes.
  • You may not dress in bright colors.
  • You may under no circumstances dye your hair.
  • You must wear at least two petticoats.
  • Your dress may not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankles.
  • To keep the classroom neat and clean, you must sweep the floor once a day, scrub the floor with hot soapy water once a week, clean the blackboards once a day and start the fire at 7 a.m. to have the school warm by 8 a.m. when the scholars arrive.

A couple of things are obvious, the first is that most teachers 100 years ago were women, and school boards back then were determined to have complete control of their teachers both on and off the job.

Today’s teachers have stressful jobs for sure, but their working conditions are definitely better than those of their predecessors.

At least somebody else is responsible for “starting the fire” every morning.

Roy Eaton is publisher of the Messenger.

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