I am standing in the presence of greatness. I am right smack dab in the middle of the National Corn Husking champions’ Richard Hume who hails from Little York, Illinois and Frank Hennenfent from Smithshire. The two demonstrated how hand corn hand husking was performed at this year’s Half Century of Progress.
My grandpa, Ralph Disque before he was a railroad man was a farmer and he too shucked corn with a corn hook. In fact in my husband’s chest of family treasures, I actually have the hook my grandpa used. So when Dick was telling me all about the wrist action it takes to remove the corn from the stalk and slip off the shuck, I was all ears thinking of a young Ralph cutting a fine figure that might have made many a young lass or two swoon.
Frank said that women did swoon back in the 30’s and the 40’s when corn husking demonstrations were big. He recounted stories of men receiving wedding proposals after being crowned National Champion. During the Great Depression, at the height of the corn husking competitions, crowds with 100,000 plus cheering people would gather to watch. While corn husking was hard labor on the farm during the competitions it became a spectator sport. Started by Henry Wallace the editor of Wallaces’ Farmer the first competition was held in December of 1922 and they grew from there.
It was fun to hear the stories and see the amazing wrist action Dick and Frank performed that sent ears flying in the air and landing in the horse pulled wagon. I appreciated the time the two took to share with a girl that sets some stock in memories of a dearly loved grandpa. If you get a chance check out the state and national competitions or be sure to come to the Half Century next time it comes around in 2015.