Richmond, Indiana

Off to the Preble County Fair this afternoon. Preble County is just east of here, over the border in Ohio.

Preble County still has a large agricultural base, so we saw lots of animals. The Lincoln Sheep were pretty impressive, with their beautifully groomed woolly coats. We watched a little of the judging of goats, but I didn’t understand what was going on. The judge said things like, “I have to compliment number three on good mammary development,” and “The sides slope into the [incomprehensible], and the rear legs are nice and wide-spread.” Not sure what all that means. Personally, I liked the ducks the best. And the big beautiful Barred Plymouth Rock rooster, with his finely-barred black-and-white feathers. We also saw apples that were shown by one of Dick’s children at Wechsler Orchards, with lots of blue ribbons.

While we were looking for some shade, we wandered in to grandstand for the horse races, just as the pacers and trotters were warming up. Jean, being a horsewoman, had to stay and watch the horses, and then she said, can’t we stay and watch one race. Why not, Dick and I were game. The horse pulling their little sulkies behind were fun, but I liked watching the people watching the horses. Two older men sat just in front of us, racing programs well-thumbed. The one man had on a robin-egg blue polo shirt with eyes exactly the same color. His friend said one or two things in a low voice, but the blue-eyed man did not say a word that I heard. They were both intent on the various horses warming up.

In front of the, two people struck up a desultory converstaion. “What did they pay last year?” she said.

“Well, last year they didn’t pay much,” he said, “the ones that should’ve won did win.”

“See anything you like so far?” she said.

“Number 8 just rode by, and he looked pretty good there,” said the man.

Their conversation went on like that. Behind us, a similar conversation between people who just happened to be sitting near each other, and who shared a passion for horses, started out about which horses looked good, and did you see such-and-such a horse race, and then it turned from horses to the bypass surgery one man had had, and whether you’re a Hoosier or a Buckeye — “I may live in Indiana, but I say I’m not a Hoosier, I’m a Buckeye who happens to be a Hoosier until retirement” — to other odds and ends of conversation.

At last it was race time. The race was over pretty quickly, and it was exciting. Jean said, “I can see how people could get addicted to this.” The horse I had liked the looks of finished dead last, ten lengths or more behind the rest of the pack.