I watched as a man walked up to the donation table. "Would you like to donate?" the lady asked.
"Giving something for nothing ain't our way," the man replied. "We give value for value. But I did bring in some fudge that my wife made for the baked food table."
He plopped it in front of the lady who was tagging such things. He stayed there and watched as she put a price on it.
"Ten dollars?" he said, almost in disgust. "You ain't never tasted my wife's fudge, have you? Ten dollars don't even come close to how good it is."
"What price do you think we should put on it?" the woman at the table asked.
"I don't think you should sell that fudge for less than 25 dollars," he replied.
"But I'm not sure it will sell priced that high," the lady answered.
"Oh, it will sell," the man answered. "I can guarantee it."
The lady looked doubtful, but changed the price. "That's more like it." the man said. He then plopped down $30 on the table, and picked the fudge back up. "Keep the change," he said.
A man in our community had had a farming accident, and while he was in the hospital struggling to live, our community was having a fund raiser. It was spring, one of our busiest times of the year, but all work was set aside. Everyone was doing whatever they could to support the family and help them defray the hospital costs.
Everyone donated something. Women had brought hand tied quilts and lots of baked goods. I brought books. Others brought paintings. Farmers brought potatoes, gravy, beef, and all the fixings. A meal was five dollars, but more than once I watched as people plopped down a hundred dollar bill, and then left before change could be tendered.
When my family finished eating, I purchased a pie and some cookies, then we joined others in the auditorium for the auction.
The auctioneer held up a painting, and began his singsong bidding. "How much will you give me for this painting? Who will give me a 50 dollar, dollar? Who will give me a 50?"
A hand went up, and the auctioneer pointed to the man. "I've got a 50. Who will give me a 60 dollar, dollar? Who will give me a 60?"
Another hand went up and the auctioneer pointed at the woman. "I've got a 60. Who will give me a 70 dollar, dollar? Who will give me a 70?"
The bidding continued with the man and the woman continuing to bid. "Hey, John," someone yelled. "Ain't that your wife you're a bidden' against?"
John and his wife turned and looked across the auditorium at each other, and sure enough, they were the two bidding. Amidst the laughter, John said, "Well, maybe she didn't think I was bidding enough for it since she is the one that painted it."
John ended up winning the bid at $100. He paid the money and took the painting from the stage. He disappeared with it out of the back of the auditorium. A few minutes later I saw him, ever so carefully, trying to stay hidden, slip the painting back through the side stage door.
Soon the painting was brought to the front of the stage again. The auctioneer raised his hand. "We have a nice painting here. So who will give me a 50 dollar, dollar? Who will give me a..."
The auctioneer paused and looked deeply at the painting, then turned to John. "John, didn't you just buy this painting?"
John shrugged. "My wife is a prolific artist of one landscape."
He paid another $100 for it. And two times more he bought the same painting. I watched others buy something only to donate it back to be auctioned again.
Yes, sir. That's how it is in our farming community. We don't just donate; we expect equal value for things.
But the true value is never in the things that are sold, but in the hearts of these good people.
* Pilot contributor Daris Howard stands in this week for Jacob Olson, who is away for a death in the family. Jacob's column returns next week.