WACKOS Okra Challenge

At the 2000 AKA Convention in Treasure Island, Fl., new AKA President-elect Dave Gomberg challenged each member present to sign up one new member to AKA by the end of the year. Further, he announced that he would call every member around the first of November to follow up on his challenge.

The folllowing is an exchange that occurred between the WACKOS and President Gomberg

October 23, 2000 - Jim Martin sent the following letter to Dave concerning the membership challenge. Dave responded quickly; his response is in Italics.
Dear President-Elect Gomberg:

I have communicated with the members of the Wings Across Carolina Kiting and Okra Society (WACKOS), which, as we are sure you are already proudly aware, is an Affiliated Club of the AKA, concerning your challenge for all convention attendees to recruit a new member by year's end.

And a darned fine club it is too!

Since you specifically singled me out in front of the assembled multitude when I came forward to claim my raffle prize, by asking if I personally would follow through and get you a new member, I have taken it upon myself to communicate with all the WACKOS not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of Mr. Groet and Mr. McNeill, the other WACKOS in attendance.  To meet your challenge, we owe you three new members.

However, I was surprised and gratified to discover that almost all of our regular fliers in WACKOS are already AKA members, making it hard to find three new folks for you.

So -- there's a great opportunity to get new member for BOTH organizations...

Further, as you are no doubt aware, many WACKOS are also satisfied Gomberg Kite Productions International customers, and since being a loyal GKPI customer leaves one with very little extra cash for things like AKA memberships, it was decided that we cannot let you have "something for nothing."  If you want your new members, you're going to have to PAY! 

Therefor, we have decided to counter-challenge you.  We have lined up three members of WACKOS who are not members of the AKA.  They are all willing to join and fork over the $30, and one additional bonus WACKO will upgrade to a family membership, netting the AKA a big $4 more!  They will do so upon receipt by the WACKOS of one (1) picture of President-Elect David Gomberg eating Okra.

Hmmmm. Now what am I to do if each of the 400 members in Florida responds with a similar challenge?? On the other hand, I get lots of free food.

With a smile.
A sincere smile.
You guys drive a hard bargain!

Knowing what we know of you from the Rok battle, ("Claim victory-Ignore the results!") is has occurred to us that it is possible to merely take a picture holding Okra near ones mouth, to use plastic okra instead of the real thing or even to electronically "doctor" the picture.  Of course, we would NEVER accuse our President-Elect of such chicanery.  Nonetheless, we'd sleep better if Susie confirmed you actually ate the stuff.  HER we trust implicitly.

I'll tell her you said that.

Alternatively, one of our members that I know of is planning to be at Carolina Kite Fest, where you are also scheduled to be next weekend.  If you are willing, we could provide him with a camera and a jar of okra pickles. 

Atlantic Beach this weekend. Pickels. Ocra pikles.

He could then act as photographer, witness and okra-rangler, allowing Susie to ignore the whole sordid business if she so chooses.  (I imagine the folks at the CKF would be willing to "announce" and "commentate" the event on the P.A., allowing you to work in a plug for AKA Membership to the spellbound crowd...)

Oh, I'm quite sure this would draw people to join in droves! I mean, if the president has to do things like *that* just to get members??

So, we'll have our guy meet you at CKF -- or you can just get to eating, and get us the picture.  Feel free to contact us, of course, for good Okra recipes.  We have some REALLY GOOD ONES.  Trust us.

OK -- let it not be said that David Gomberg was unwilling to eat just about anything for the good of AKA.... You send your people -- and your pickels. I'll be there with a smile. A smile and some pepto bismol...

Our three new members and one upgrade await this proof of your devotion to the AKA.

I'm looking for bonus members out of this!! For three you get a small pickel. For a big pickel, I get five. You have five days to decide...

With warmest personal regards, I remain

Yours sincerely,
Jim Martin
Public Information Officer, WACKOS
(Wings Across Carolina Kiting and Okra Society)

PS:  I trust you have recruited YOUR new member...

I wrote Dave hoping that the worst of the "free food" he expected was pickled okra. Some of the AKAers I met at the convention looked pretty creative.

Naturally, Jim responded to Dave about the number of new members required by different sized pickles.

It is the sense of the organization that we would be best advised to see the picture, judge the (rather subjective, after all) size of your okra and respond accordingly. Many a man in a similar situation has been known to overstate the size of his  okra.....

Never let it be said that letters from the WACKOS don't get distributed far and wide! We also received a response from Past President of the AKA, Adam Grow. Just to show you that there are no politics involved in the office of president, I'm including portions of Adam's letter.

I can't believe all the fuss that you WACKOS are making about getting David eating okra.You make is sound like okra is something awful plastic okra? and okra pickles to boot!  Why, I tell you there is no better eaten than good okra pickles!

No if you really want to get one over on ole David, forget wasting good okra by making him eat it.  Instead invite him back to the Carolina's next July and make him PICK a row (100 ft. long sound good) of okra for every new AKA member you get.  Make sure he is only wearing shorts with a short-sleeve tee shirt - and I'll even donate a tee shirt for this job.  You've got to make him work for this.

Mike McMullen volunteered to be the official on-site member of  the WACKOS to bear the pickled pod and take the photographs. His response to being asked to do so is interesting. Check it out! And don't forget "Never say never!"
I will be happy to be the OKRA provider and official photographer for the WACKOS, for this historic event. I will attempt to mark the spot in case at some point in time we wish to place a bronze marker to record this moment in history. I will fulfill my obligation to recruit new members into both the WACKOS  and AKA.

And yes I will offer all spectators a sample because I am not eating that sh**.

Now, you would expect the the president of any organization, country or the like would be above underhanded tricks. However, one of our members, who was going to be the official WACKOS photographer (but had to back out at the last minute due to a sick child) received a note from our illustrious President with the following postscript:

PS -- you know -- if we can kinda avoid actually swallowing this thing, it might have a positive effect on your next purchase...

Surely, Dave wasn't trying to weasel out of anything! After all, a challenge is a challenge. Would our President make good on his promise to consume the revered pod to gain new membership for the AKA? If you've come this far, you're hooked. You're going to have to click the dancing pods below to see what happened.