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Of cheeseburgers and pomposity...

“The promise of better days through better ways…”

If you recognize the above quotation, you were probably involved in the FFA. More properly called The National FFA Organization, the “Future Farmers of America” is still an integral part of many local high schools. The preceding quote is taken from the official FFA Creed, written by E.M. Tiffany. The Creed, nearly 260 words in length, is still “required reading” for all new FFA members.

Whenever the first cool breeze of autumn stirs, I am reminded of my freshman year in high school. Like all FFA recruits, I committed the Creed to memory. I even competed in a few recitation contests. I cringe to recall my performances, recited with such ham-fisted pomposity to make Shakespeare’s worst imitators blush. Still, the message conveyed by the written Creed is a good one. It speaks of the unique experience of a farming family, including struggles and accomplishments. And even if the language invites a touch of theatricality, there is an earnestness of feeling on the part of the author.

As any FFA officer will tell you, autumn is “county fair time”. Many local chapters compete in various contests, from cattle judging to tractor pulls. Nothing really compares to the sharp smell of sawdust on a chilly fall evening, or the bejeweled opulence of the Ferris wheel towering above a horse show. And what meal can compare to a cheeseburger shared with your high school sweetheart?

Near my hometown, the county fair was usually held in late September. Needless to say, the weather can be rather tricky in September- especially when it comes to hurricanes. The climatological peak of the season is September 10, but North Carolina can experience hurricanes much later. In fact, one date in particular seems to be favored- September 27.

On September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria made landfall along the Outer Banks. Although Gloria was a Category 4 hurricane at one time, she weakened on approach. Most of eastern North Carolina was spared from the dangerous “right-front quadrant” of the storm (where the highest winds/surge occur), but damages still exceeded $8 million. On September 27, 1958, Category 4 Hurricane Helene almost made a direct landfall in the Cape Fear Area. Thankfully, the worst of Helene’s effects stayed offshore, but winds of 90 mph were still reported in the Wilmington area.

It’s important to remember that late-season storms are rare in North Carolina. Less than 25% of major hurricanes struck after September 20 in the Cape Fear region.

(Jerry is now on facebook- Be sure to join his page for daily trivia, unique stories, and weather updates! Here's the link: Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson)

By: Jerry Jackson