Getting a shock at the county fair
Every once in a while I am shocked by something.
It doesn’t happen very often. I am, after all, a newspaper editor. In my 45 years of covering the news in various small towns, I have seen a lot of strange, and yes, shocking things. So I am not now easily surprised by much, and it really takes something to actually shock me.
But I was shocked last Thursday night at the Faribault County Fair.
It was “A dark and stormy night,” as the first line of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy’s oft-started, but never finished, novel states.
Well, maybe it wasn’t stormy, but it sure was dark and rainy. The Kiddie Tractor Pull was moved inside the old 4-H building, and the Mutton Bustin’ was inside the new 4-H show arena. Which is very nice, by the way.
But I digress.
I stopped into the Veterans Memorial Building, sometimes called the Saloon, to grab a beer and take a few photos of the entertainment which was there that evening. And, of course, to get inside out of the rain.
There were two men sitting there eating popcorn and listening to the music. I had often seen them at the fair over the years. They were obviously twins. I had never seen them talk to anyone, they just always sat by themselves and watched whatever was going on at the fair.
So, having a half hour to kill before my next event to go take photos at was scheduled to start, I decided to sit down and try to visit with them.
It’s what I often do. I like to visit with people. Just ask my wife or my co-workers.
But when I sat down with these two guys, well, that is when I got shocked.
After a little bit of small talk about the rain and the fair and the fact that I had seen them often at the fair over the years, they suddenly asked me if I liked card tricks. I replied, “sure,” wondering why they would ask such a random question.
Turns out, it wasn’t so random.
Both of them started pulling out decks of playing cards from their pockets and began alternating doing card tricks. Sometimes they cut the deck between seven and 13 times and then revealed the cards were back into the right suits, or some other astonishing result. Sometimes I cut the cards. Sometimes the cards were revealed to have ended up in perfect poker hands. (I resolved then and there never to play poker with these two, but they said they never play poker.)
The card tricks went on for a time, with only a pause once in a while to tell a joke. A funny joke. That’s right, they had a comedy and cards routine performance.
What the heck is going on here, I kept thinking, pretty much in total shock. Who the heck are these guys, anyway.
Turns out, they are twin brothers Brian and Bradley Hodge from Minnesota Lake. They live in town and have run a scrap metal yard for about 67 years.
And, for the last 35 years or so, they have done their card tricks to entertain adults and kids at various fairs and events. They had been at the Blue Earth County Fair earlier in the day, they told me, in between card tricks.
Eventually I left them there, putting their well-worn decks of cards back in their pockets and going back to their popcorn.
I thanked them for the great show, and went back out into the rain to go and take some more photos at the fair.
But I walked away in shock, shaking my head in amazement at what had just happened.
It just goes to show that you can’t judge a book, or a person, by their cover.