The New Jersey State Fair was coming to Hackensack Park, today was the opening night.  Jill, with her classmates, Barry and Liz wanted to attend the fair after school. They first went to the greeting table to purchase a book of tickets for rides. State Fairs usually have rides, games of chance, 4-H contests and food stands selling corn dogs, homemade fried Funnel Cake and sausage, peppers and onions with its wonderful smells hovering over the fair.

The classmates' delicacy cotton candy. They strolled around the fairgrounds as they enjoyed the cotton candy.

Barry posed a question to Jill and Liz. “Do you know another name for cotton candy?”

The girls looked at Billy confused,” UH!”

Billy had the answer “It was called Fairy Floss.” Bill continued to try to impress the girls.

“Do you know who invented the Cotton Candy Machine?”

Jill and Liz looked at him with a peculiar stare, Jill and Liz in unison quizzed Billy “Of course not! "Who?” 

Billy answered “His name was William J. Morrison.” Billy then added “he was a dentist.”  Also, the cotton candy machine was invented in 1897 and was introduced to the public at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO, where it was originally called Fairy Floss.

Both responding sarcastically “No dentist would invent a cotton candy machine.” “Why did he invent the machine?

Billy filled in the answers “He was trying to make a candy making machine, when he accidentally made a machine that would make something then called Fairy Floss.” 

Billy replied “It’s true he was even the president of the Tennessee Dental Association for a time” “He had a wide interest in both science and politics, added in a reflective manner of fact voice.    

Jill asked “Where did you get that tidbit of trivia?”

Billy answered “Don’t know just something I read once.”

The girls began to snicker “You read it somewhere!?”  Barry’s face turned bright red with embarrassment he put his head down and closed his eyes.

Barry was not known at school of being a reading scholar he barely passed reading last marking period.

Jill and Liz were ashamed of what they had said. “We apologized for making you sad Billy, then both girls gave him a high five to positively to acknowledge his neat tidbit.

The friends continued through the fair enjoying the rides and each other’s company.

At school, the next day Jill Liz and Barry were in the cafeteria eating lunch. Jill had a bottle of Snapple which gave Billy another opportunity to share his food trivia.

“Do you know why you drink is called Snapple?”

“No Billy, tells us.”

Bill gave them the 411 “The company noticed the caps snapped off when the bottle of carbonated apple juice began to ferment, thus Snap-apple.”

This time the girls were fascinated by the food tidbits Barry knew.

Another classmate questioned Billy “What’s up with you?” “This is a little weird.” “So with all the food trivia?” Billy confessed that I don’t know just liked to know these frivolous story about food has become something of a hobby.”

The girls along with the other students planned to try to stump Billy with they next question. “Okay smart aleck tell us “What makes German Chocolate cake German?”

Liz chimes in “DUH” “It comes from Germany, of course.”

Jill put her index finger to her lip to get Liz to wait.

“Right Bill!” Liz asked

 Billy broke the news to Liz “Well, sorry no it gets its name from the man who developed the type of chocolates used to make the cake.” “His name was Samuel German.”

The students called out “Wow Billy that’s so cool!”

Jill stood up and started to applaud“

“I would never have guessed you could be such an expert about food!” Jill confessed.

Billy was having a great time posed another question

“How did a Snicker candy bar get its name?”

Jill and Liz shook their heads no in unison “Tells us please!”

Billy was now in the limelight for the first time. He answered “The name is of the family horse.”

Others soon began to hear about food stories, then they bombarded him with food trivia questions.

Billy gave them another trivia question. “What sports drink was named for a football team?”

Just then a small timed voice entered the conversation. The Florida Gators. The team doctors developed it in 1960 to help the players combat the effect of the Florida heat and sun.”

The entire group turned around it was Jenafer Jill’s little sister who was in the fourth grade.

Billy said “Yeh that’s correct. How did you know the answer?”  “Just something I picked up some place along the way.” The group clapped and gave Jennifer high fives.

Billy’s teacher learned about his food story expert.  Next morning, before class Mrs. Dwess, the teacher, stood up in front of the class.

“Can I have your attention please!” “Students, I learned yesterday we have a strange food facts expert.” “I believe it would be important to address this expertise by this certificate which reads as follows. “Let it be known that on October 31, 2019 that the person named below has been conferred the honorary title of expert at the study of food’s strange trivia.” The teacher continued “in Mrs. Dwess 2019 5a reading class of PS 216. This person is William “Billy” Staube.” 

The class stood and cheered “Billy! Billy! Billy!”

It was Billy’s most exception day. A side note year Bill passed reading with a A.

A few years later Mrs. Dwess received a package in the school’s mail office. She opened the package it was a book. She opened to the inside page, there was an inscription on the front page. It was a copy of the certificate she had given to Billy that one day in October. Under it was a handwritten note

“Without your kindness and acknowledgement this book would never have seen the light of day.” It was a book of short stories, by Billy Staube. Mrs. Dwess smiled as she read the title “How I achieved expert status in my 5th grade reading class.”

Thinking to herself this is why we teachers work hard to inspire young people to be their best. At lunchtime, she shared the book with the other teachers reading some short stories in the book.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” ― Albert Einstein


This story is dedicated to all my teachers who ignited the love of writing stories and love of learning.



November 13, 2019 05:04

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