“Northwest corn rolled in reeeaaal butter! Right here, no waiting!” James Tilly’s voice projects from the South Everett Lions Club booth along with a wafting aroma of sweet corn that piques the interest of passers-by. Most can’t resist Tilly’s pitch, but if all else fails, he’s not too shy to try a guilt tactic.
“I can’t stand rejection!”
Sale or not, he always gets a laugh.
“I used to be a salesman,” says Tilly, grinning. At 84 years old he hasn’t lost a beat. He leans over the counter, his hands wave outside the booth, and he motions in a father and son. “Two people, two corns!” A pair of hot cobs with dripping butter emerge from a vat and Tilly cinches another transaction.
Working since 9 a.m., Tilly has helped sell more than 500 ears of corn in one day, raising money for the Northwest Sight and Hearing Foundation. At $2 an ear the Lion’s Club made well over $10,000 for the foundation last year.
Behind the scenes, you’ll find a dozen club members husking and washing corn with vigor. Mary Wheeler, 86, and Bill Motteler, 77, both of Everett, husked 16 dozen corn cobs in one sitting. Inside the booth are four large pots on a stove, all bubbling with cooking corn.
“We’ll have tired hands tomorrow,” said Wheeler with her wrist wrapped in a bandage for support.
“But we always get to eat an ear of corn.”