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A look back to the year 1979, Oklahoma State Science Fair

January 20, 2012

AWESOME A.J. — A.J. Higgins poses with this 5.68-pound smallmouth bass he caught on a recent fishing trip to Lake Eufaula. Photo by Jerrid Keller

In 1979, I was in Betty Nichols' eighth-grade science class. The LeFlore County Science Fair was coming up, and she asked us if anyone wanted to enter.
I kept thinking all day what I could come up with for an entry. I was walking home on South McKenna that afternoon, and I looked over into the ditch. I saw water running down the side of the hill because it had rained, and the water cut through the red dirt like a knife through hot butter. That showed the scientific property of erosion, and I thought to myself — erosion. I had finally come up with a plan and a project for the science fair.
I built three narrow wooden boxes in Mr. Harris' woodshop class. I put rabbit wire on the front of them, and I put dirt in them. I planted three different types of grasses — winter wheat, winter rye and bermuda.
After the grass grew in a few weeks, I jacked the boxes up and poured water through them to see which grass protects from erosion and which grass helped speed erosion along.
I entered the science fair, and I won a trip to the Oklahoma State Science Fair in Ada. I didn't even know where Ada was, and this is where the story gets interesting.
I saved money from mowing yards ($5 a yard back then was my going rate), selling pop bottles (just like Traci Barnes) and selling Grit newspapers door to door in my neighborhood.
By the time it was time to head to Ada for the Oklahoma State Science Fair, I had amassed a small fortune — $83, which was a lot of money for an eighth-grader back in those days.
My mom, JoAnn Mattox, packed my only brown Elvis suit that I only wore for Christmas photographs. The shirt was green and white with flowers all over it with a big collar and a crushed velvet brown jacket.
We all get on the school bus and head for Ada. We checked into the hotel, and Mrs. Nichols wanted to run into Walmart to get a few things, and then find a place for dinner for all of us. I asked, “What is Walmart?” I had never heard of, let alone seen, a Walmart.
We got there, and I had never seen a store that big. Mrs. Nichols told us as we got off the bus that we had to be back in 30 minutes so we could go to dinner.
Let me tell you, friends. When I saw that sporting goods section, they had all the fishing lurer you just either read about or dreamed about. My eyes were as huge as flying saucers, my heart was racing and I knew at that moment I was in heaven.
I gathered all I could, and when I checked out the cost was $79.97, but I didn't care. I knew I had to have all this new fishing tackle because it was so beautiful.
I told Mrs. Nichols what I had done, and I wasn't taking any of this stuff back. I had $3 for the rest of the weekend — and I had only been in Ada for an hour.
Luckily, Mrs. Nichols was really nice about my situation, and she floated me a loan to help me eat for the rest of the weekend.
I won first place in my category at the Oklahoma State Science Fair. A man that built highways was there, and I told him that winter rye grass held the soil together best and prevented erosion.
Ever since then, I see that they plant winter rye grass after they get the highways constructed. I'd like to think I had something to do with it, but they probably already knew about the properties of winter rye grass.
I got home with all my fishing tackle, and I embarked on a fishing journey to every pond in LeFlore County with my friend, Mike Seymour. I still have to do a “drive-by” at every Walmart sporting good department to see if there's anything else I need.
Let's not even talk about Bass Pro Shop — I just lose all my senses when I get into the fishing tackle warehouse. It's as if time just stands still.
I thank Mrs. Nichols for putting up with me that weekend, and for paying my way for the rest of that weekend. I had a time in Ada that weekend of 1979.
The Backlash Fishing Report
The LeFlore County Bass Club will have its first meeting of the 2012 season at 7 p.m. Thursday at LaHuerta Mexican Restaurant. The membership dues to join the club are $30.
I've been changing all the lines on my fishing poles and cleaning my reels in getting ready for the 2012 circuit to begin.
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Any questions or pictures, make contact with Jody Ray Adams on Facebook, on the “Jody Ray Fishing Hotline” at (918) 649-7387 or email to jodyray@classicnet.net.

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